Scholars Around the Globe Criticize Abuses Under Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT

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Saturday November 15, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

This JOINT STATEMENT of US, Canadian, European and Australian scholars/writers started the ball rolling. It highlighted numerous abuses of civil rights and liberties already clearly evident in the first five months that Ma Ying-jeou had been in office. This statement came out on November 4th, 2008, even before Chen Yunlin had completed his visit and further police brutality and violation of civil liberties would become evident. These scholars wrote to express concern about the growing political prosecutions in Taiwan under Ma Ying-jeou. It reads as follows.

The undersigned, scholars and writers from North America, Europe and Australia wish to express their deep concern about the recent series of detentions in Taiwan of present and former DPP government officials. To date there have been at least seven such cases (cf. listed below).

It is obvious that there have been cases of corruption in Taiwan, but these have occurred in both political camps. The political neutrality of the judicial system is an essential element in a democracy. It is also essential that any accused are considered innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.

We also believe that the procedures followed by the prosecutor's offices are severely flawed: while one or two of the accused have been formally charged, the majority is being held incommunicado without being charged. This is a severe contravention of the writ of habeas corpus and a basic violation of due process, justice and the rule of law.

In the meantime, the prosecutor's offices evidently leak detrimental information to the press. This kind of "trial by press" is a violation of the basic standards of judicial procedures. It also gives the distinct impression that the Kuomintang authorities are using the judicial system to get even with members of the former DPP government. In addition, the people who are being held incommunicado are of course unable to defend themselves against the misreporting and the leaks in the news media.

We do firmly believe that any alleged wrongdoings must be dealt with in a fair and open manner in an impartial court. Justice through the rule of law is essential to Taiwan's efforts to consolidate democracy and protect fundamental human rights.

We do not want to see Taiwan's hard-earned democracy jeopardized in this manner. Taiwan can justifiably be proud of its transition to democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It would be sad for Taiwan and detrimental to its international image if the progress which was made during the past 20 years would be erased. Taiwan needs to move forward, not backwards to the unfair and unjust procedures as practiced during the dark days of Martial Law (1947-87).


Nat Bellocchi, former Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan

Julian Baum, former Taiwan Bureau Chief, Far Eastern Economic Review

David Prager Branner, Director at Large (East Asia), American Oriental Society

Gordon G. Chang, author, "The Coming Collapse of China."

June Teufel Dreyer, Professor of Political Science, University of Miami, Florida

Edward Friedman, Professor of Political Science and East Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Bruce Jacobs, Professor of Asian Languages and Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Richard C. Kagan, Professor Emeritus of History, Hamline University, St. Paul Minnesota

Jerome F. Keating, Associate Professor, National Taipei University (Ret.). Author, "Island in the Stream, a Quick Case Study of Taiwan's Complex History."

Daniel Lynch, Associate Professor, School of International Relations, University of Southern California

Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania

Donald Rodgers, Associate Professor of Political Science, Austin College, Texas

Terence Russell, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Manitoba

Scott Simon, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Ottawa

John J. Tkacik Jr., Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, Washington DC

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, Professor of Political Science, University of Richmond, VA

Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania

Stephen Yates, President of DC Asia Advisory and former Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs

Coen Blaauw, Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington DC

Gerrit van der Wees, Editor Taiwan Communiqu? Washington DC


Specific cases of concern:**

--The arrest and detention on October 15th of former Interior Minister Yu Cheng-hsien;

--The arrest and detention on October 27th of former Hsinchu Science Park Director and Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection Dr. James Lee;

--The arrest and detention on October 29th of DPP Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen;

--The indictment on October 30th of DPP Tainan City Councilor Wang Ting-yu;

--The arrest and detention on October 31st of former National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general and Deputy Prime Minister Chiou I-jen;

-- The questioning of former Foreign Minister Dr. Mark Chen on November 3rd and insinuations in the press that he might be charged and arrested.

--The arrest and detention on November 4th of DPP Yunlin County Magistrate Ms. Su Chih-fen.