The daughter of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Yan Ching-fu (顏錦福) yesterday accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of returning the country to the White Terror era after she said her father’s recent application for a certificate of good conduct was denied due to his wrongful conviction for sedition five decades ago.
Yan, 76, a DPP founding member, recently filed for the certificate with the Taipei Police Department as part of a US tourist visa application at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to see his newly-born granddaughter.
Under the institute’s regulations, applicants for non-immigrant visas who have been arrested or convicted for any wrongdoings are required to present a criminal record certificate at their interview.
“My father was sentenced by the Taiwan Garrison Command in 1962 to two years in prison on charges of sedition only because he did not report an armed rebellion he knew about in advance,” Yan’s daughter, Taipei City Councilor Yan Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠), told a press conference yesterday.
Yan Sheng-kuan said the government cleared her father’s name and compensated him for the time he served in prison after it promulgated the Compensation Act for Wrongful Trials on Charges of Sedition and Espionage during the Martial Law Period (戒嚴時期不當叛亂暨匪諜審判案件補償條例) in 1998.
“The compensation was tantamount to an acquittal. The rejection of my father’s certificate application and the fact that his wrongful conviction still registers today prove that Taiwan is still overshadowed by its ‘White Terror,’ past” the city councilor said.
The Taiwan Garrison Command was a military security agency responsible for suppressing and killing many democracy activists during the 38-year-long White Terror era.
According to Section 6 of Article 6 of the Act Governing Issuance of Police Criminal Record Certificates (警察刑事紀錄證明核發條例), a penalty that has been abolished by the law should be excluded from the transgressor’s police criminal record.
Yan Sheng-kuan said she blamed the Ma administration, adding her father had served as a lawmaker under former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and had made multiple visits to the US during his tenure between 1993 and 2005.
“Who would have known that after Ma resumed office, a wrongful conviction from 51 years ago would become the reason preventing my father from obtaining a good conduct certificate and going to the US,” she said.
Police Department Foreign Affairs Section director Chang Pi-hui (張碧慧) said yesterday that Yan Ching-fu’s application for the certificate was pending confirmation from the Ministry of National Defense, which was expected in the next three days.
“When the former lawmaker applied for the certificate, the police department discovered records of his sedition conviction in the databases of both the National Police Agency and the department’s Criminal Investigation Division,” Chang said.
“Since there were no details, the department decided to run the application by the ministry just to be sure,” Chang said.
To avoid a recurrence of the incident, Chang said the department was mulling a plan to create a database of White Terror victims based on a list compiled by the Compensation Foundation for Improper Verdicts.
“We will then be able to set up a standardized protocol to process good certificates as quickly as possible,” Chang said.
Additional reporting by Ho Po-ching and Lo Tien-pin