Taipei Police Need to Realize They are not the Beijing Police

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Friday April 09, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Anyone who has watched the antics of the Taipei police in the past year and a half would think that they are trying to imitate and/or curry favor with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou. In that time, Ma has of course been trying to curry favor with the People's Republic of China (PRC). Whether Ma's efforts reflect a secret desire to unify Taiwan with the PRC or whether they are driven by his trying to salvage Taiwan's economy which began to sag right after Ma was elected is a different matter. Whatever the case, let us focus for now on the antics of the police as they have repeatedly abused Taiwan's citizen's rights to freedom of expression.

During the visits of Chen Yunlin from the PRC, the Taipei police acted like they were in reality the Beijing police. They went out of their way to keep citizens from displaying the national flag anywhere near Chen; they shut down the Sunrise Record shop (over three blocks from the hotel where Chen was having tea). Supposedly the playing of Taiwanese songs in the record shop might offend Chen Yunlin, as if he could hear them inside the hotel some three blocks away. Finally the police felt free to exercise brutality on the Taiwanese people protesting. Ma's government gave them a superficial reprimand and then promoted the captain in charge.

It is for this reason that many in Taiwan were overjoyed when the Taipei District Court recently threw out and rejected a police fine given to a Falun Gong activist for distributing flyers in front of Taipei 101 when Chinese tourists were present. The police giving the fine said the person was "hindering traffic" at the building, a bogus charge if there ever was one. Anyone who knows the constant hustle and bustle that goes on there, could see through the impossibility that one man would influence or impact such constant comings and goings. Added to this was the bogus claim that an anonymous phone caller complained. Ironic that a similar anonymous complaint was cited when the police stomped into the Sunrise Record shop.

The court ruled the police had violated the civil rights of the Falun Gong representative and threw out the fine, but it did more and this is what is encouraging. Judge Lin Meng-huang went out of his way to point out how the police need to realize they are here to serve the people of Taiwan. They are not employees of the PRC even if President Ma either overtly or covertly supports that idea. Let us hope that at least the Judiciary branch of the government will do its job of putting Taiwan first, even if other branches do not.