Allen Chu (朱成志), a stock market analyst who often appears on television, recently wrote an article for investment advice magazine Marbo Weekly under the title “A lesson in credit transactions for a stupid president.” Subsequently, the Financial Supervisory Commission ordered Chu to stop writing articles, giving lectures or participating in TV talk shows for one month on the grounds that his article contained incorrect figures that would mislead investors and disrupt the stock market.
There is no precedent for a government department imposing such a severe penalty on a market analyst just for quoting incorrect figures.
Many investment analysts, including Chu, predicted that the TAIEX would rise to above 10,000 points following the election of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), but the index has plunged since Ma’s inauguration on May 20. The commission has not imposed any penalties on these analysts for “misleading investors.” Many media commentators are asking whether the real reason for Chu’s punishment was his use of the word “stupid.”
Mistaken reports about the stock market are common in the media, so why is Chu the only one to be punished? If the treatment meted out to Chu is going to set a pattern for the Ma government’s handling of such cases, what will become of freedom of speech and publication?
If criminal prosecutors operated in the same way as the commission then people would cry selective prosecution.
In the six months since Ma became president, his government has forbidden people from wearing anti-Ma T-shirts near the Presidential Office, ordered Central News Agency reporters to write according to the government line and prevented citizens from carrying the national flag, taking part in certain assemblies and marches or even playing the Song of Taiwan.
Each time there is a big street demonstration, the government treats protesters as suspects, blanketing the area with police and monitoring the event with video cameras. Opposition figures are being selectively prosecuted on trumped-up charges. Police ruthlessly disperse protesters who shout slogans against Ma, and some have even been taken in for questioning just for booing Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰).
The state of human rights after six months of Ma’s administration is plain for all to see. Quite frankly, Ma’s performance in upholding Taiwan’s freedom and human rights compares poorly with his predecessor’s, but as the saying goes: “A stupid horse will never know the length of its face.”
Market guru Allen Chu gave the “stupid president” a lesson in credit transactions. What the president needs even more is for the public to give him a lesson on human rights.
Lin Chien-cheng is a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at National Chiao Tung University.
TRANSLATED BY JULIAN CLEGG
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