Scholars Once Again Question the Ma Government on its Anti-Democratic Abuse of Power

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Monday April 11, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Most people in Taiwan have short memories. For example, the Control Yuan is Taiwan's watchdog agency. It is supposed to be free of political and party bias and influence. The members serve six year terms. They are appointed by the President and approved by the Legislative Yuan. Herein lies the conflict. From February 2005 the KMT controlled Legislative Yuan refused to approve any nominees of DPP President Chen Shui-bian to the Control Yuan. In 2005 Ma Ying-jeou became Chairman of the KMT and they continued this policy on up to 2008 when Ma became president and could make the nominees himself and have them rubber-stamped by the KMT controlled Legislative Yuan. For three years 2005 to 2008, the country suffered with a minimalist Control Yuan as members terms expired and no replacements were made. The KMT would rather that Taiwan have no governmental watch dog if it could not be dominated by "their people." Now the KMT appointed Control Yuan is being used by the president to harass the opposition. It is things like this that have prompted another letter by the scholars and writers below.

President Ma Ying-jeou

Office of the President Taipei, Taiwan April 8th 2011

Dear President Ma,

As you will recall, on a number of earlier occasions, we the undersigned, scholars and writers from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, have publicly addressed our concerns to you about a number of worrisome trends in Taiwan. We raised these issues as international supporters of Taiwan's democracy who care deeply about the country and its future as a free and democratic nation-state.

At this time we write you to express our concerns about a recent new development: the charges by your government that seventeen former DPP officials violated the National Archives Act and two other laws by "failing to return" some 36,000 documents during the DPP administration.

According to a statement by your government on March 29th 2011, the case is currently being investigated by the Control Yuan, which indicated that criminal charges might be lodged as well.

The list of names of those being investigated includes DPP luminaries such as former secretary-general of the presidential office and minister of transportation Yeh Chu-lan, former secretary-general and foreign minister Mark Chen, former deputy secretary-general and ambassador to Washington Joseph Wu, former deputy secretary-general and foreign minister Eugene Chien, and former secretary-general and prime minister Su Tseng-chang.

We are disquieted by the timing of this announcement. If any documents had been "missing," this should have been noted during the transition period between the DPP administration and your government in 2008. To come up with this matter three years later, when the primaries for next year's presidential elections are underway, does suggest a political motive.

Moreover, the announcement of the "missing documents" actually came one day before Mr. Su Tseng-chang declared his candidacy in the DPP presidential primary. Mr. Su will undoubtedly play an important role in the upcoming presidential elections, either as a candidate himself or as a supporter of the eventual candidate. Announcing an investigation of him and the others at this time certainly gives the impression of a political ploy intended to undermine and discredit the DPP and its candidates.

We also want to point out that, in any governmental organization, after documents are seen and reviewed by the high officials, they are processed and filed by lower level officials. These generally are civil servants, who do not change from DPP to KMT administration. In Taiwan's regulation-governed bureaucracy, they will not easily deviate from the established rules on handling of documents. As observers of political developments in Taiwan for many decades, we believe that these charges are unwarranted and politically motivated. Obviously, in a democracy there is a need to uphold the law, but this needs to be done fairly and evenhandedly, without any hint of abuse of power.

In our view, this move by your government is seriously lacking on both counts. It appears to be an attempt to use the Control Yuan and judicial system for political ends, in an effort to appear "legal" and avoid criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups.

We therefore urge you and your government to sustain Taiwan's democracy at the highest levels, and refrain from using the judicial system for political purposes.

The Taiwanese people worked hard to make the transition to democracy only twenty years ago. They deserve to have leaders who play by rules that are fair, balanced and unbiased.

Respectfully yours, 1. Ambassador Nat Bellocchi, former Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan

  1. Coen Blaauw, Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington
  2. Jean Pierre Cabestan, Professor and head, Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University
  3. Gordon G. Chang, author, "The Coming Collapse of China."

  4. Ketty Chen, Associate Professor of Government, Collin College, Texas
  5. Peter Chow, Professor of Economics, City College of New York
  6. Stéjphane Corcuff, Associate Professor of Political Science, China and Taiwan Studies, University of Lyon, France
  7. Michael Danielsen, Chairman, Taiwan Corner, Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. June Teufel Dreyer, Professor of Political Science, University of Miami, Florida
  9. Norman W. Getsinger, U.S. Foreign Service (Retired), The George Washington University Graduate Program, Washington DC
  10. Terri Giles, Executive Director, Formosa Foundation, Los Angeles
  11. Michael Rand Hoare, Emeritus Reader at the University of London, Great Britain
  12. Christopher R. Hughes, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, London
  13. Thomas G. Hughes, former Chief of Staff to the late Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Washington DC
  14. Bruce Jacobs, Professor of Asian Languages and Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
  15. Richard C. Kagan, Professor Emeritus of History, Hamline University, St. Paul Minnesota. Author, "Taiwan's Statesman, Lee Teng-hui and Democracy in Asia"; and other works on Taiwan
  16. Jerome F. Keating, Associate Professor, National Taipei University (Ret.). Author, "Island in the Stream, a quick case study of Taiwan's complex history" and other works on Taiwan's history
  17. Hon. David Kilgour, former Member Parliament and Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific (2002-2003), Canada
  18. Andréj Lalibertéj, Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada
  19. Daniel Lynch, Associate Professor, School of International Relations, University of Southern California
  20. Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania
  21. The Very Rev. Bruce McLeod, former president, Canadian Council of Churches and former moderator, the United Church of Canada
  22. Donald Rodgers, Associate Professor of Political Science, Austin College, Texas
  23. Terence Russell, Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Manitoba, Canada
  24. Christian Schafferer, Associate Professor, Department of International Trade, Overseas Chinese Institute, Chair Austrian Association of East Asian Studies, Editor Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia
  25. David Schak, Adjunct Professor of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University, Australia
  26. Michael Stainton, York Center for Asia Research, Toronto, Canada
  27. Peter Tague, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, Washington DC
  28. Ross Terrill, Fairbank Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA ; author of "The New Chinese Empire" and "Mao"
  29. John J. Tkacik Jr., U.S. Foreign Service (Retired), and former Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, Washington DC
  30. Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania
  31. Gerrit van der Wees, Editor Taiwan Communiquéj, Washington DC
  32. Michael Yahuda, Professor Emeritus, the London School of Economics & Visiting Scholar, George Washington University
  33. Stephen Yates, President of DC Asia Advisory and former Deputy Assistant to the Vice President of the United States on National Security Affairs