Thursday, January 30, 2003

DPP Suppression of Press Freedom and Free Speech

DPP Suppression of Press Freedom and Free Speech
by Fung Hu-hsiang, Ph.D., former Senator, Republic of China (New Party)
translated by Bevin Chu
January 30, 2003

March 2002

A Bureau of Justice investigative unit searches the premises of Next magazine.

Next magazine reports that Liu Kuan-chun of the National Security Bureau is guilty of accepting bribes. The Ministry of Justice responds. It announces that Next magazine is "under suspicion of leaking national secrets", therefore its premises are subject to search and seizure. The ministry further announces that "the search has no bearing on freedom of the press" and that "even a free press must obey a nation's laws."

September 2002

A Bureau of Justice investigative unit looks into the Hsing Rui Tu scandal.

Former President Lee Teng-hui and Liu Tai-yin embezzle NT$350 billion from the coffers of the KMT, accept illicit kickbacks from the Hsing Rui Tu and Chien Mei construction projects. Lee Teng-hui asks the Chen administration not go forward with its investigation of the crime. Chen Shi-meng, Secretary General of the Presidential Office freely admits to the media that an unnamed "elder" lobbied President Chen, and that is why Liu Tai-yin is being released and the individual who exposed Liu is being arrested and incarcerated instead.

December 2002

President Chen Shui-bian sues the China Times for slander.

In December 2002 the China Times reports that while campaigning for the mayorship of Taipei, President Chen accepted an illegal political cash contribution of NT$4.5 million from the developers of the Hsing Rui Tu construction project.

December 2002

Former First Lady Tseng Wen-hui sues Senators Fung Hu-hsiang, Hsieh Chi-tah and Dai Chi for slander.

Senators Fung Hu-hsiang, Hsieh Chi-tah, and Dai Chi voice suspicions that Tseng Wen-hui, following the March 2000 election defeat, absconded with 54 suitcases filled with US$85 million in cash. They voice suspicions that she landed at Newark airport where she was discovered by US Customs and forced to return to Taiwan two days later. Senator Fung raises these suspicions in the ROC Senate, where he enjoys immunity from prosecution. A district court clears him of wrongdoing, but he is later fined NT$10 million in media apology costs, an unprecedent, record-setting sum, and is sentenced to a four month prison term.

December 2002

Vice President Annette Lu sues the weekly news magazine, The Journalist, demanding that it "give back her good name".

The Journalist weekly implies that Vice-President Annette Lu is the person responsible for spreading vicious sexual rumors about the president and a young female aid. Vice-President Lu demands tens of millions of dollars in media apology costs. The High Court upholds the Lower Court's verdict, and the Journalist loses its appeal.

January 2003

Su Chien-ho and two accomplices are convicted of rape and murder. They are sentenced to death. Following an appeal they are suddenly declared innocent.

Su Chien-ho and two accomplices were originally sentenced to death, but after ten years of appeals their sentences are changed to innocent because President Chen, in a clear case of political interference with the judicial process, wants to exploit the case to publicize his "concern for human rights".

January 28, 2003

Soong Chi-li, a charlatan who publicly boasts he possesses "divine powers" is convicted of defrauding superstitious followers and sentenced to seven years. On appeal his sentence is changed to innocent.

Soong Chi-li commits fraud, and is sentenced to seven years. But Soong, being Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh's "spiritual guru", is acquitted on appeal, leading one to suspect judicial independence on Taiwan has fallen victim to political intervention.

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