Wed, Apr 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Tsai government stifling freedom of speech: KMT

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus hold a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday to accuse President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration of oppressing freedom of speech and the press.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday accused President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration of stifling freedom of speech and the press in the name of curbing the spread of false news reports.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost the Nov. 24 last year elections due to a weak economy and stagnating cross-strait relations, but it chose to blame “fake news” for its failure, KMT Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) told a news conference.

It has proposed amendments to the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法) and seven other laws to limit freedom of speech, he said.

The public should join the KMT in condemning and opposing the proposed amendments, Tseng said, adding that the party plans to meet with National Communications Commission (NCC) officials soon to express its concerns.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has made the damage caused by the spread of false news reports a national security issue and used it to pressure the commission to crack down on them, KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said.

“The media should not be pressured into only reporting stories that are favorable to the ruling party. The DPP has a Web site to dismiss rumors and clarify disinformation or misinformation, but it chose not to do so. It is confusing people and attacking dissenters at the expense of the freedom of speech,” he said.

Tsai and the DPP have only themselves to blame for losing the elections, Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said, adding that the public is disappointed in Tsai, because she cares only about playing politics, not improving their quality of life.

She accused the DPP of holding a double standard when it comes to handling fake news.

For example, in Tsai’s speech on Freedom of Expression Day on Monday, the president cited a rumor that some people would pay NT$10 million (US$324,244) to buy a fan page, Lin Yi-hua said

“I want to ask President Tsai if she has verified that information before saying it in public. Rather than having the National Security Bureau check first if the information is true or not, the Presidential Office decided to talk about it at a media conference. Even Premier Su had something to say about it. Was Tsai not spreading fake news for citing such false information in public?” Lin Yi-hua said.

The DPP allowed the president to give a speech without first checking her facts, but it is amending laws to punish people for sharing information without verifying it, Lin Yi-hua said, adding that the president should focus on governing the nation rather than creating an atmosphere that legitimizes the proposed amendment.

Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said that the government is considering regulating online news outlets and holding Internet service providers (ISPs) accountable, which is a backward move in a democratic society.

ISPs are only providing a platform and should not be liable for contents, he said.

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