Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Joint Statement on Detentions in Taiwan

A Joint Statement from international scholars and analysts concerned with the apparent politicization of the prosecutorial arm in Taiwan. UPDATE: Names are still being added, so contact if you want to add yours. UPDATE 2: Document is permanently hosted at Taiwan


November 4, 2008


US, European and Australian scholars and writers express concern about prosecutions in Taiwan

The undersigned, scholars and writers from the US, 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 (See list 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
Coen Blaauw, Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington DC
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" and other works on Taiwan
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
Gerrit van der Wees, Editor Taiwan Communiqué, Washington DC
Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, Professor of Political Science, University of Richmond, Virginia
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

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.


Ma Yung-cheng, another presidential office official in the Chen Administration, was taken into custody on embezzlement charges yesterday. Note how the wave of arrests has coincided with the publicity push over the Chen Yunlin visit.

Can we see some action in the international media on this? It would be a good way to put into perspective the lack of access to the Chen Yunlin visit that the media were complaining about.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you....

David said...

I never thought it would come to this. These actions combined with the way police are acting mean the clock has been turned back at least twenty years. It might seem alarmist or over the top to make statements like Taiwan's democracy or sovereignty is under threat. However, these actions all add up to a grave danger.

Anonymous said...

Proof that the Taiwan law enforcement authorities have shown the utmost restraint is the fact that CSB is still running around giving press conferences and inciting mobs.

Anonymous said...

This is extremely serious. Thanks for calling attention to it.

MJ said...

thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

David, you are not being alarmist. We have documented histories to back you up. They've done it before and Ma has never once confronted his and his party's wrongs. He has always been an advocate of "democracy with authoritarian characteristics". The Police don't know how to follow the rule of law and don't know they can refuse to follow orders.

Raise the alarm and raise it loud. Make people aware of the seriousness. Don't let it get dismissed by the talking heads on TV and take it to the streets.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese navy's Zheng He became the first warship from the country to dock in Cambodia when it arrived Wednesday, signalling deeper military cooperation between the two nations.

The ship, which carries more than 400 military personnel, will remain at Sihanoukville in the former communist country until the weekend, said a Chinese embassy statement after the Zheng He docked in Cambodia's main sea port.

Anonymous said...

China is democracy killer

Anonymous said...

I don't think David is being alarmist at this point. It has to be said.

When I saw signs of change in police conduct over the last few weeks, I kind of guessed where Ma was going. Some thought warnings at that time was too alarmist and blamed the DPP legislators for being over the top, raising concerns, but I've always disagreed with this complacent attitude because authoritarian regimes usually start taking away freedom bit by bit and it'll be full fledged before people realise. Lets not forget Ma used to write loads of articles supporting Chiang's approaches. If people are not warned and stand up to it (however minor in the early stage), things would get really bad before anyone can cry 'unfair'.

Taiwanese have seen this 60 years ago and a lot of people were very complacent about the Chinese troops and didn't think they would be that bad either. But things went downhill fast. Looking elsewhere, I don't think Hilter looked like he was going to do the horrible things he did from day 1 either.

If the police in Taiwan (they get more like the Chinese police) can restrain and hurt people this way today, there's no guarantee that's going to happen next. Now I don't know how soon Taiwanese will have to 'borrow' others' voices again.

When mainstream international press are full of articles being positive about those deals, ignoring the other side of the story, I am deeply grateful for you guys (Michael, David and many others) and those who put their names on this joint statement.

Anonymous said...

When is Ma going to start reforming his own party?

Anonymous said...

It's really time for Taiwainese people to stand up fearlessly against the impotent,corrupted pro-China regime led by "Mr." Ma(as he prefers to be called). Just as the brave Texan friend who broke the police blockade shouting: "Take responsibilities for your own country!",we should all fight till our voices are heard,national dignity rebuilt, and our country's sovereignty recognized internationally. I'll be brave,be proud,and be an responsible Taiwanese! Thank you so much for everything you've done for our country, Michael!

Tommy said...

This all has the potential to be a powder keg. It is a lot harder to force a wary population into a box than keeping a fearful population in a box. Ma is already unpopular. All it will take is for one "accident".... the police overstep their bounds and kill someone or severely hurt someone, or someone gets cocky and trumps up charges on the wrong popular opposition politician.

I would be interested to see what happens to Ma's popularity rating after this month. Will it continue to fall? Will the negotiations impress some people?

I am not on the ground there. How is the man on the street taking this sort of thing? Can anyone say?

Dixteel said...

"When is Ma going to start reforming his own party?"

Are you being sarcastic or are you joking? It looks to me Ma is the most traditional type of authoritarian KMT politician. And recent occurance of events re-affirm my believes.

If he actually "reform" his party his party would become worse for sure.

Ling Ying Lu said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

From Ling-Ying in Humanistic education foundation.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the KMT ever really had a chance to learn how to govern democratically. When under stress it's not surprising that they are reaching back into the well-worn bag of familiar tricks.

Echoing Thomas' "man on the ground" query, does anyone have a good sense of whether the folks protagonizing these skirmishes are mostly hardcore independence activists, or are there some people from the middle of the electorate that might have previously supported Ma? How much of it is attributable to the DPP's organizing, and how much is a spontaneous reaction to the initial incidents from Nov. 3? How are the protests being covered in the traditionally blue media, and what are the majority of people watching at home thinking when they see these striking images?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that it's all in the DPP's favor. Honestly, some Taiwanese don't think about democracy or treasure their freedoms.

To a portion of the population, all they see is that the flights are something they want, and the protests against China's politicization of the issue, they disagree with and so they take it in a negative light.

Sad, but I would prefer something really, really outrageous that really wakes everyone up to what the hell Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association are. As it is, it's really, really outrageous, but not in a way that everyone agrees that it is so.

I'm scared. The Greens are going to become a powder keg. Democracy is completely out of whack here. Over 40% of the population has not even 25% of the representation in the LY and nothing in the Executive. So they don't allow any protest--without an outlet, tension is only going to continue to build, and build, and build, and build.

One semi-bright spot--they say he's "black gold" (corrupt), but Wang Jyn-ping has stated the following:

1) Chen Yunlin should address him by his official title, Speaker of the Legislative Yuan. (He didn't)

2) For any signed agreements to be effective, they must be passed by the Legislative Yuan. (The Ma-Liu government hasn't shown the slightest intention of allowing this to happen)

3) China should remove the missiles aimed at Taiwan. (Chen Yunlin said, no political talk this time)

The KMT legislators have been completely quiet, but at least one (very powerful) legislator has said something and stuck his head out there.

Anonymous said...

When I posed the question, "When is Ma going to reform his own party?" I was thinking about something from Ma's inaugural address.

He said,"Taiwan's democracy should not be marred by illegal eavesdropping, arbitrary justice, and political interference in the media or electoral institutions. All of us share this vision for the next phase of political reform."

The recent arrests seem very political in nature and it makes me feel that Taiwan's democracy has taken a step back.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Anon, what about Wang Jyn-ping? He's ambitious as hell -- a guy who looks as hard as any for the main chance, and is that chance maybe now starting to present itself? He'll never have a shot at the presidency unless he transforms his image, and what could do that more than him being the one who makes real noise about what's going on? But yes, the "black gold" stuff, because maybe it’s Wang who is the real target of the detentions of DPP figures. Chickens and monkey.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate it very much for all the friends on the list who spoke for Taiwan's current situation. It worries Taiwan people a lot when the government try so hard to please the representative of China government who arrogantly refuses to call the title of our government officials including president ma. The huge army of police summoned to fight against striking people brought us back to 20 years ago when people went to street to cry for democracy.

Through the seven trial cases mentioned in the statement, we all witness prosecutors in Taiwan demonstrated how powerful they are! Human rights is not a major concern as long as they decided that a suspect might collude with his/her gangs. That was the exactly the case former Vice Chairman Hsieh, Ching-Chih, went through. He was put to jail for three months before being indicted for "corruption" in the case of Tainan Science Park vibration damping technology bid. The court of first instance later announced him to be not guilty.

The tragedy of Ching-Chih Hsieh frightened many intellectuals and public servants. When Taiwan people are facing such an unjust justice system, we are grateful for your friendship of reminding the world what is going on here in our country, Taiwan.

Dixteel said...

About Wang Jyn-ping...I am not totally sure what kind of person he is...But I would actually like to see him and his group break away from KMT to form another political party. But it might not be possible because KMT has truck load of money, and I am not sure how many KMT politicians are just there for greed alone.

Anonymous said...

"We do not want to see Taiwan's hard-earned democracy jeopardized in this manner."I can not agree any more.Thank you for this post.Thank you.

Yi-Cheng Tsai from sinica

Anonymous said...

I hardly appreciated your contribution to Taiwan's democracy.
Thank you!!

Chia Yang Chen

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for calling attention to it. Thank you x millon times...