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.