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, suggests a political motive.While this group of academics and Taiwan observers had fired off several missives before, none seemed to provoke the intense reaction that the this letter has. Perhaps because the Presidential Office attack on the DPP, with an election due early next year, looks so transparently political. I noted it in the earlier post, but let's say it again -- papers are handled and filed by peons, not high-ranking officials. If this were a real investigation, many lower-ranking officials would be included in the investigation -- including the DPP staffers that Presidential Office spokesman Lo claimed handled all these affairs in his apologia (see below). [ADDED: An article in the Liberty Times pointed out that the KMT staffers who handled the Chen-Ma transition should also be investigated.] But it appears to be aimed only at high level members of the DPP.
Moreover, the announcement of the “missing documents” came one day before Su declared his candidacy in the DPP presidential primary. 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 discredit the DPP and its candidates.
Note also the logical brilliance of the accusation -- it neatly puts the DPPers in the position of having to prove a negative: "I don't have the documents." How can that be proved?
The KMT talking points followed a predictable pattern... first they were announced on the talk shows, then the various spokesman repeated them:
1. the academics are ignorant foreigners (here)
Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said it was “unfair” for foreigners who knew little about the situation to “recklessly interfere in and criticize” the legal means President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has adopted to deal with the matter and label it as a “political ploy.”Actually, at least one of the signatories is a local citizen.
2. the academics are infringing on Taiwan's sovereignty -- an ironic comment coming from the KMT.
3. the academics are disrespecting Taiwan's rule of law. (here)
James Chang, the ministry's spokesman, said the government has a code that regulates the handling of the nation's files, and he asked that people from abroad respect the Republic of China's rule of law.
"We are acting in accordance with the law, " said Chang, who was referring to a recent open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou signed by 34 foreign academics and former officials, including former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Nat Bellocchi.
4. The academics are tools of the DPP -- several individuals made this accusation. That is, frankly, laughable. A couple of KMTers complained the letter was just a ploy on behalf of Su Tseng-chang, since the letter mentioned his name -- but only to note the timing of the accusation. This was just grasping at straws; the DPP had nothing to do with the drafting of the letter.
The KMT was eager to exploit this -- not only sending out the government agencies to blast the group of academics, but also the Presidential Office itself. This was a rather strange strategy, since if the KMT wanted to insist this investigation was not a political ploy, it probably shouldn't have handed off the rebuttal to the political side (!).
The Taipei Times editorialized on the affair, questioning whether the KMT with its "just following the law" approach was engaging in rule of law, or rule by law, Chinese style. It observed:
The full point by point rebuttal from the Presidential Office spokesman is given in this article. Some it is clever, other bits are lame. Interestingly, the China Post, the pro-KMT English paper, doesn't appear to have reported on this. Can anyone find me their articles?Worryingly, justification for police action against specific groups by claiming rule of law and order is an instrument the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has refined for more than 60 years. However anodyne the act, by arresting or harassing individuals the CCP has repeatedly quoted the law, in the process creating the illusion that the law-abiding state has no choice but to take action. In reality, it is the CCP, not the alleged “criminal,” that is the real enemy of the state, as rule by law is used to crush dissent and eliminate whoever threatens the party’s hold on power.
UPDATED: Good comments below, thanks SY.
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