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A suspect surnamed Lin covers his face as he stands behind a truck holding a 350-year-old orange jasmine tree he allegedly stole. Lin was questioned by police in Pingtung County yesterday.




Sun Moon Lake in quandary over Falun Gong protest

By Shelley Shan
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009, Page 2

“You can’t just penalize them for petitioning for a certain cause, otherwise they will accuse Taiwan of suppressing their freedom of speech.”— Tseng Kuo-chi, director of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration

Following complaints from several tourists, the director of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration said yesterday it did not know how to deal with the Falun Gong protesters at the nation’s premier scenic spot.

Tseng Kuo-chi (曾國基), director of administration, told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview that the protests by Falun Gong members were directed at Chinese tourists, who normally visit Sun Moon Lake, Alishan, the National Palace Museum and other popular tourist attractions.

“You can’t just penalize them for petitioning for a certain cause, otherwise they will accuse Taiwan of suppressing their freedom of speech,” Tseng said.

Tseng said his administration had tried to regulate the behavior of Falun Gong members with the statutes governing the display of commercial advertisements in national scenic areas because they had tied banners and billboards to trees. As a result, the members now just hold the banners and billboards in their hands.

Tseng said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Justice have exchanged views on the matter and both were concerned that the nation’s image would be tarnished if the situation were mismanaged.

Nevertheless, Tseng said the administration would continue to communicate visitors’ concerns with the group’s representatives.

The Taipei Times contacted Tseng after it ran a letter on Monday from Canadian Paul Gallien, a high school teacher who visited Sun Moon Lake last week and was disturbed by a Falun Gong display he saw at one of the shoreline temples.

“Part of the display included very graphic images of dead bodies, including a pregnant woman with parts of her skin and flesh removed revealing an unborn child within the womb,” Gallien wrote.

While he had “sympathies for any group that experiences hardship,” he wrote, he did not “appreciate being randomly exposed to these types of images, even if I am mature enough to handle the experience.”

Traveling with his two-year-old daughter and her five-year-old cousin, Gallien said he doubted the two youngsters “have necessary faculties to avoid being traumatized by such photographs.”



Corruption stains the KMT’s history

By Woody Cheng 鄭梓
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009, Page 8

Is history like a clear mirror, or is it no more than a conjuror’s trick and a means for politicians to deny guilt, promote their views and fool the public?

Consider the murky history of China’s feudal dynasties, stretching out over thousands of years. When you take away the family chronicles of emperors and generals, the plots and power struggles, the floods and famines, and the perpetual suffering of the common people, what are you left with?

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) heads a government that sees itself as the inheritor of what remains of the so-called “Republic of China,” but is really just the old, corrupt Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime returned to power. Now the Presidential Office and the Central Standing Committee of the KMT have launched, with great fanfare, a month-long series of activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), by which they seek to bask in the reflected glory of the dead dictator.

Just as the Chiang centenary was getting underway, however, a scandal broke involving bribery in the military. At the same time, a gang of navy seamen made headlines when they were arrested for breaking into a woman’s home and brutally stabbing her to death. And as if that were not enough, a Hong Kong-based risk consultancy company issued a report on corruption in Asian countries, in which Taiwan was rated as more corrupt than China.

Government and the opposition, serving and retired politicians, have all seized on this embarrassing and sordid series of events to launch attacks on one another. Retired general Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), who dominated Taiwan’s military for more than a decade while serving as chief of the general staff and minister of national defense under former presidents Chiang and Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), roundly condemned the present breakdown in military discipline, which he described as “unimaginable.”

Hau claimed that the era when Chiang was head of government was a glorious page in China’s history when the military was upright and free of corruption.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) cast doubt on the government’s ability to deal with the problems.

“The Political Warfare Bureau was instituted to act like white blood cells, preventing corruption in the military, but now it is completely useless. What is the use of relying on this same bunch of people to investigate corruption now?” Lin said.

Ma, who has been president for almost a year, rushed to the front line, calling a press conference and reading out a pledge that his government would take steps to put the military’s house in order within three months by combating corruption in the military and between military officers and civilian officials.

Barely able to conceal his emotions, Ma said that Taiwan’s successful democratization was the pride of Chinese everywhere and that corruption must not be allowed to obscure this success. With regard to the recent spate of bad news, Ma said he was “pained and anxious.”

Who should really be “pained and anxious” in such circumstances?

Who but the Taiwanese public, who have once more come under the rule of the KMT, a rotten old party with a decades-old tradition of corruption in government on both sides of the Taiwan Strait?

If you don’t believe it, have a look through the pages of the KMT’s history, where the stains of corruption abound. Let us consider just one example.

In August 1945, Japan surrendered to the allies. The KMT government declared a “bitter victory” over Japan and got ready to send its army to occupy Taiwan. On Oct. 25, 1945, the very day on which China formally took over control of Taiwan from the Japanese — what the government calls “Retrocession Day” — dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) sent the following urgent message from the Chinese capital of the time, Nanjing, to all members of the KMT government, the armed forces and intelligence agencies:

“According to reliable reports, military officers, government officials and party members in Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin are wantonly indulging in robbery, waste, whoring and gambling. In the name of the party, the youth league, the armed forces and the government, they have seized and occupied buildings belonging to the public … They swindle and bluff and act as a law unto themselves … On hearing this bad news, and seeing the extent of the corruption and decadence … I, Chiang Kai-shek, do not know what to do. I feel as devastated as if my parents had just died, as if our country had perished. How can China take its place among the nations and survive in today’s world? If military and government officials in all parts of the country do not promptly correct their ways, it will bring great shame on the nation. These enemies of our revolutionary army must be eliminated.”

Six decades ago, faced with a breakdown of military discipline and wanton corruption at all levels of government, Chiang Kai-shek, like Ma, claimed to be pained and anxious. He too, sent out the order to eliminate corrupt elements and even said he might as well kill himself if corruption could not be beaten.

Everything that followed, however, proved that his words were nothing more than ravings and lies told for the sake of a power struggle. The only part that turned out to be true was the bit about the country perishing, because Chiang and the KMT soon lost China to the Communists.

Shamelessly repeating the words of his predecessor and party elder from the last time the KMT was in power, Ma acts as if he were at his wits’ end, just as Chiang did.

It was not long before Chiang forgot the whole thing. Will Ma be any different?

Woody Cheng is a professor at National Cheng Kung University’s Department of History.



Taiwan’s status has yet to be determined

By Chen Yi-shen 陳儀深
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009, Page 8

During the recent 30th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), pro-independence political commentators raised some important questions and opinions. However, at a reenactment of the signing of the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty or the Treaty of Taipei at the Taipei Guest House in 1952, Academia Historica President Lin Man-houng (林滿紅) said the Treaty of Taipei could be used to benefit Taiwan and as a basis to establish that the sovereignty of Taiwan and Penghu belongs to the Republic of China (ROC).

The difference between Lin’s comments and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) traditional stance is that she admits that the status of Taiwan and Penghu remained undetermined at the end of World War II and that a new era began in 1952 when the ROC gained sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu.

Her comments strongly imply that the ROC on Taiwan is independent. There are, however, several things her comments cannot explain. The first is that the background to the Treaty of Taipei was that no Chinese representative had been invited to the San Francisco Peace Treaty talks and that the US after the Korean War purposely avoided clearly stating to whom sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu belonged, so that the Treaty of Taipei could only be based on, but not surpass, the San Francisco Peace Treaty.

Secondly, a question-and-answer session between Japanese legislators and foreign ministry officials in 1951 agreed that Japan was basing bilateral relations on the fact that the ROC government was the de facto ruler of Taiwan and Penghu and that sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu should be determined by the Allied Powers.

Lastly, when China and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1972, the Treaty of Taipei lost its significance.

We should realize that until the ROC was forced out of the UN in 1971, it relied on US support to be able to represent China at the UN. The US then severed diplomatic relations with the ROC, annulled treaties and withdrew armed forces from Taiwan in 1978. Since 1979 relations between the two have been regulated by the TRA, the only document that is still crucial today.

If this were not the case, why wouldn’t we emphasize the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954, which gave much more power to the ROC? The major goal of the TRA is to maintain Taiwan’s security and keep it free of threats from China. This is why the TRA states that US policy should “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”

In addition, the TRA was promulgated at the height of the Martial Law era and this is why it states that it is the US’ goal to uphold and improve the human rights of all Taiwanese. Times have already changed and mainstream official opinion in the US is that China’s rise has created an increasing number of common interests between China and the US. We should also remember that “moves toward Taiwanese independence” were not an issue back in 1979 and that such moves were later gradually viewed by the US as a threat to peace and security.

In conclusion, while the TRA cannot be expanded on to serve as evidence of Taiwan’s independence, it does stipulate that Taiwan’s future must be decided via peaceful means, which in reality is an extension of the idea that Taiwan should receive protection as its status is yet to be determined, the basis of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.

Chen Yi-shen is chairman of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.

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