Is the Ma Government Blowing Smoke to Cover its Tracks? Part III

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Tuesday April 26, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

As was mentioned in the previous post, the TECO offices around the world were directed to contact signers of the Open Letter to Ma and both ask them if they really did sign it and that their name was not a forgery; further they were directed to invite them to come in and discuss why they felt that way about the Ma administration. One of the signers, Dr. Richard Kagan was asked if he would come to the Chicago office from his home in Dent, Minnesota; he declined but sent the following letter which encapsulates much of the thinking of the group that sent the letter. They are not questioning that Taiwan has laws, but that those laws are being applied selectively and with a double standard. Somehow, the Ma government just doesn't get it.

Dear Mr. Lin:

Thank you for your invitation to discuss our letter and your government's response. I think it would be best for you to meet with me up here in Dent. We could have a very good and comfortable conversation in my lake home. If the timing is opportune, we could fish or hunt deer in the forest with bow and arrow.

I have many times traveled to Taiwan to talk with officials there. I would like to host a representative of Taiwan in my hometown to show my appreciation for the kindness I have received while visiting your country.

Unfortunately, I find the criticism of our group to be very lacking. Let me begin with the most important declaration of Mr. Lo Chih-chiang's response. His basic defense is that "The Republic of China is a nation based on rule of law." This explanation for a government's questionable behavior is a common self-indulgent argument which stretches to the pinnacles of generalization and rhetoric, thus denying the specific reality and issues. We do not deny that you have laws. The relevant issue is: are you employing them justly? Our questions about this are not seriously answered when you reply that you have laws.

Mr. Lo, by your promulgation of Taiwan's "rule of law" are you implying that you are above criticism? Or that there can never be a contradiction between a law and its implementation? Are all laws equally applied at all times? Does not every government decide upon its priorities? Are you really suggesting that the time table for your accusations were spontaneous and without any degree of a political context or agenda? Based upon our combined knowledge and experience of your application of your laws, we feel that in this case they do not pass the criteria of objectivity and of just administration.

As for your implied suggestion that we are foreigners and our criticisms are "unfair and lack legitimacy," I would like to remind you that your government has signed many international conventions--including those pertaining to human rights as laid out by the United Nations. In doing so, you have justly entered into the realm of universal discourse and argumentation.

The Human Rights Report of the U.S. Department of State reflects our concerns: "Some political commentators and academics also publicly questioned the impartiality of judges and prosecutors involved in high-profile and politically sensitive cases."

I have taught International Human Rights law for many years. I have also written on the conditions of the legal system in many countries, and have testified in Congress. I have had negative responses of my remarks from the governments of North Korea, China, and the former Soviet Union.

Our group is aware that many international organizations have studied Taiwan"s democracy, human rights, military policy, and governmental behavior. Some have judged your government's actions as sliding down from heights that were commendable. In this light, we wish that your citizens would have the opportunity to "obey better laws."

Finally, I am not bothered by your questions of my motives and logic. I am bothered that your priority seems to be to question and critique us, and not answer some of our critics who have made provocative and wild accusations. In ruling by law, it is necessary for your government to maintain a truthful and rational dialogue with its people and with foreigners alike.

Though criticism may be non-factual and spurious, it is not illegal. However, a government's reputation is also based on its defense of ethics, and its commitment to a quality of life that avoids exploitation of rumors and prejudices. Although there have been many fantastic charges, I would request that you cherry pick the following for exposure: 1) that the letter was written first in Chinese, that the prime mover was the honorable Nat BellocchiXthe signees were listed in alphabetical order; that we were promoting a certain candidate or partyXI have written over a thousand pages on Taiwan. Please review them and the other publications of my group before making such outrageous charges about the allegiances of our group. Also, apply a rule of civility to the arguments by dismissing ad hominem arguments.

The charges made by some are irrational and purely fantastic. It is up to you to respond to those even more muscularly than to the more authentic and even more concerned feelings that we have toward maintaining the rule of law and the commitment to truth in your government.


Richard C. Kagan

Professor Emeritus

Hamline University