Following the introduction of resolution calling for support for democracy and human rights in Taiwan by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) in early August, IEOM Report’s abridged version was published in Congressional Record in Mid-September. For the full text of Record, click here.
為了提供國際社會對台灣當代政治實際情況的直接了解，台灣公正選舉國際委員會籌組和贊助國際選舉觀察團 (IEOM)到台灣觀察2012年1 月14日舉行的總統暨立法委員選舉。觀察團包含了18位由台灣公正選舉國際委員會邀請的觀察員，他們分別來自澳洲、加拿大、丹麥、法國、日本、荷蘭、瑞典和美國，並且代表學術界、民選代表、宗教團體、工商界和公民社會。觀察團的主席是美國前參議員和前阿拉斯加州州長穆考斯基 (Frank Murkowski)。
The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) issued a press release on August 2. The full text is as follows:
US Senators introduce resolution calling for support for democracy and human rights in Taiwan
WASHINGTON (August 2nd 2012) — Today, Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) jointly introduced a resolution “Expressing the Sense of Senate that the United States Government should continue to support democracy and human rights in Taiwan following the January 2012 presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan.”
The Resolution cites the summarized conclusions of a recently released report by the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) to the International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan (ICFET) that the national elections held in Taiwan on January 14, 2012, were “mostly free but only partly fair.”
The report by the IEOM, which was made up of 19 observers from 8 countries, identified several diverse elements, including vote buying, violations of administrative neutrality, and attempts by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to influence the elections as worrying factors which may have affected the election outcome. The report also stated that some actions and statements by the US government revealed a lack of neutrality on its part.
Further stating that “Taiwan’s free and open society plays a stabilizing role in the Asia Pacific region and is thus conducive to the interests of states in the region, including the United States, in furthering peace, prosperity and stability, “the resolution outlines several recommendations in support of its stated goal of continuing U.S. support for democracy and human rights in Taiwan, including:
- encouraging the people and the Government of Taiwan to take steps to continue to strengthen protection of democratic values and human rights in their country, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press;
- encouraging the people and government of Taiwan to take into consideration the conclusions and recommendations of international election monitoring missions, including the final International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) report, as they seek to strengthen their democratic practices and human rights protections;
- affirming that the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully, in accordance with democratic principles, and with the assent of the people of Taiwan.
Former governor Frank Murkowski, who led the IEOM mission, states: “I am pleased to see the work of our mission culminating in the insertion of the report into the Congressional Record. It is a recognition of the hard work of the Taiwanese people achieving their democracy during the past two decades, but it is also a signal that much work still remains to be done in terms of fairness of the elections and establishing a level playing field.”
Professor Peng Ming-min, the chairman of the International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan (ICFET), who invited the mission to observe the elections, states: “We are grateful to governor Murkowski, Dr. Woodrow Clark (the lead author of the report), and the members of the observation mission for their work. It helps us in Taiwan in our fight to protect the values of democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech, assembly and the press. There has been an erosion of these values during the past four years. We want to ensure that Taiwan remains a free democracy.”
Dr. Mark Kao, president of the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs, also hails the introduction of the resolution, saying that “Each election in Taiwan’s young democracy represents a precious opportunity to improve its capacity for democratic practice.” Dr. Kao concludes: “Senator Murkowski’s resolution not only recognizes the value of hard-fought democratic freedoms in Taiwan, but will provide an enduring framework for the United States government to continue considering the lessons of the January 2012 election.”
（2012年8月2日，華府訊）阿拉斯加州共和黨參議員穆考斯基Lisa Murkowski）與民主黨參議員貝吉奇（Mark Begich）於今日共同提出標題為「參議院敦促美國政府應於2012年1月台灣總統暨立法委員選舉後，繼續支持台灣民主及人權」之決議案。
該決議文擷取「國際選舉觀察團」（International Election Observation Mission，IEOM）呈交給「台灣公正選舉國際委員會」（International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan，ICFET）的報告中之結論：「台灣於2012年1月14日所舉行之選舉雖屬自由開放，但其部分仍屬不公」。
The recent acquisition of China Network Systems (CNS, 中嘉網路) by media group Want Want-China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) controlled by tycoon Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) known for his strong pro-unification stance was approved by National Communications Commission on 25 July 2012. CNS acquisition gives Tsai’s media group control over 23% of cable TV subscribers in Taiwan. Yet, to Want Want-China Times Group displeasure, National Communications Commission (NCC), Taiwan’s regulatory body, imposed strict conditions on the deal that must be met should the acquisition proceed. “Based on the ruling, Want Want-China Times Group must fulfill three main conditions: Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) and his family members must completely dissociate themselves from the operations of the CTiTV (中天新聞台) news channel; the operational plan for the China Television (CTV, 中視) digital news channel must be changed to make it a non-news channel; and CTV must establish an independent editorial system,“ Taipei Times reported on 28 July.
However, NCC’s conditions have not mitigated the fears of an excessive control of the media environment in the hands of one person. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urged Taiwan government to review the deal. “Although the NCC has imposed conditions on the approval of the expansion of the Want Want China Times Group’s media ownership, the decision still raises cause for concern,” states IFJ Asia-Pacific. Source of grave concerns is Tsai Eng-meng’s business interests in China which, critics argue, overly influence work of media outlets already under Mr. Tsai’s control, e.g. China Times or Want Daily. “People are extremely uncomfortable to the point of being angry at him, knowing that he has a pro-China stance and that he has publicly advocated that Taiwan be part of China,” said Ketty Chen, a political scientist at National Taiwan University, in an interview for Financial Times (note: article accessible after registration).
Concerns over CNS deal are part of a larger set of worries about the state of media independence in Taiwan. “Kuang Chung-hsiang of National Chung Cheng University takes a pessimistic view of the future of Taiwan’s media independence, pointing to news programming that is already heavy with coverage of China’s rising economic power, but light on stories about human rights violations and rampant official corruption,“ Associated Press reported, suggesting that Taiwanese media are engaging in widespread self-censorship for the sake of gaining access to Chinese market.
Recent development does not contradict such claim. In May this year, SET-TV announced that Cheng Hung-yi (鄭弘儀) host of the popular talk show Talking Show (大話新聞), known for its pro-independence views, will leave the station. Show was eventually discontinued in the move that is seen as SET-TV’s step to secure access to China for its soap opera production. “Taiwan’s politically independent Wealth Magazine said SET’s decision to pull the plug on “Making Waves” was largely economic. It said that while the show generated 2011 advertising revenues of some $16 million, it stood to make more than four times that amount — $66 million — selling drama programming to the mainland,“ AP reported.
Following the NCC’s decision, impartiality of Want Want-China Times Group came into question after media under its control – namely CtiTV, China Times and China Times weekly – suggested that Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), Research Fellow at Academia Sinica, paid students who attended demonstration on the day of NCC’s decision. However, Taipei Times reported that journalists working for the group were forced to accept content from China Times Weekly while their contributions were deleted, ”“In fact, 90 percent of the report came directly from the China Times Weekly and what I wrote was all deleted [...] I complained about this several times, but the management simply ignored me,”” journalist revealed to Taipei Times on condition of anonymity. Thus, reports are seen as smear campaign against one of the most outspoken opponents of the CNS deal. On 31 July 2012, 700 people protested in front of CtiTV and demanded apology from Tsai Eng-meng. “In response, CtiTV spokesperson Huang Chun-ren (黃俊仁) reiterated that students had been paid to join the protest, and that Want Want-China Times Group had never said that Huang Kuo-chang was the real organizer of the student protest.”
Independence of Taiwan’s media has been under scrutiny of Freedom House. In its No. 66 issue of China Media Bulletin published on 26 July 2012, Freedom House draws attention to earlier suspicions about pressure on NCC to expedite its review.
International Elections Observation Mission’s report on the situation in Taiwan’s media environment
Among the major TV stations, Formosa TV and SET TV are not aligned with the KMT or the government. All others generally closely follow the KMT line, including CTS, TTV, CTV,
CTiTV, and TVBS. While most TV stations support the KMT, FTV and SET have larger
audiences than all of the other news stations combined. Furthermore, in newspapers, the
Liberty Times and Apple Daily have 3-4 times as much circulation as the China Times and
United Daily News. In short, the mass media is both important and partisan, though both sides of politics have important media support.
Yet the media exhibits aspects of its authoritarian past by frequently failing to distinguish
between news and editorial opinion. Thus, the media environment was open and free during the election campaign, but often the various media were also very partisan. Both the IEOM and ANFREL teams observed how one could detect the political affiliation of a particular media outlet almost immediately thanks to the preferential treatment of a particular party or candidates.
Such systemic imbalances have a negative impact on the development of the Fourth Estate and Taiwan’s democracy as a whole. A stable, mature democratic Taiwan needs an independent media without which its democracy will suffer and the political polarization
evident in some areas will grow. IEOM members acknowledged and reported that the mass media is also partisan and biased in such Western democracies as the US, Canada, and UK.
Control Yuan released figures on campaign spending. “According to the report, Ma’s campaign received NT$446 million (US$14.8 million) in donations, while Tsai’s campaign had NT$756 million.”, Taipei Times reported on 18 July. Official figures raised suspicions regarding the KMT’s spending, considering the widespread presence of election ads in newspapers and other media during the election campaign period.
The IEOM prepared two specific recommendations for more transparent campaign spending:
A) Thoroughly and honestly resolve the longstanding problem of KMT
party assets, including their source, use and investments that create
a huge imbalance in financial resources available to each party. This
imbalance distorts everything else in Taiwan’s elections, including
that which is otherwise fair. These hidden assets also provide huge
hidden funds to use for election media and other public relations
activities. President Ma has stated he wants to resolve the status of
these funds, but has not done so as yet. In his new term, the proof
will be in his actions.
B) Strengthen enforcement and public promotion of campaign spending
laws, and close the many loopholes that candidates and parties can
The International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan (ICFET) was formed in 2011 to bring together a new coalition advocating free and fair elections in Taiwan. It brings together 88 leading democrats from around the world to engage the moral authority and political leadership of the civilized international community and express solidarity with the people of Taiwan at this key juncture.
To provide the international community with direct knowledge of the actual conditions of Taiwan’s contemporary politics, ICFET organized and sponsored an International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) to come to Taiwan to observe the joint presidential and parliamentary elections on January 14, 2012. The IEOM consisted of eighteen (18) observers invited by ICFET from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, representing academia, elected representatives, religious groups, businesses, and civil society. The head of the mission was the Hon. Frank Murkowski, Former Senator and Former Governor of Alaska (USA).
Although many of the members of the IEOM are also members of ICFET, as observers, the IEOM acted independently of ICFET, in order to maintain their neutrality in their activities, records, and conclusions. On January 15, the IEOM issued its own press statement, “Preliminary Remarks by the ICFET International Election Observation Mission.”
Now, following further deliberations among the IEOM members and compilation of their detailed observations as well as relevant public information sources, the IEOM has completed its final assessment, entitled “Report on the National Election in Taiwan.” ICFET is pleased to publish the Report on behalf of the IEOM. However, ICFET notes that the content and conclusions therein are the sole responsibility of the IEOM members (the complete list of names is on p. 18 of the Report), and they do not necessarily reflect the views of ICFET as a whole.
Files for download:
Former Alaska Governor and Senator Frank Murkowski authored an op-ed in which he criticizes conditions of imprisonment of the former Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-Bian and draws attention to the forthcoming ICFET International Observation Mission report on 2012 elections.
For the retrospective of the 2012 elections, see March/April issue of Taiwan Communiqué (no. 135) published by Formosan Association for Public Affairs. Communiqué reflects on various elections-related issue, including influence of the external actors and free and fair nature of joint presidential and legislative elections.
March 22, 2012
According to a report published in Next Magazine last December, agents of the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) carried out intelligence-gathering operations against an opposition party and passed their reports to President Ma Ying-jeou via the secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC). Due to the severity of these allegations, the International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan (ICFET) issued a statement on December 31 expressing its grave concern and calling for an independent, impartial, and thorough investigation.
On March 7, newspaper reports (see citations below) reported that the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigation Division (SID) dropped its probe into the allegations, after what can only be described as a perfunctory effort. According to the press reports, the SID’s “investigation” consisted of reading the original Next Magazine article, reviewing some official press releases, and watching TV footage of Ma and Hu denying any wrongdoing. Apparently no interviews were conducted. Rather, the SID said the complainants should have produced more evidence.
The contrast with the aggressive way the SID moved to investigate the alleged improprieties in the Yu Chang case earlier in the election campaign, not to mention its ferocious attitude towards many members of the previous administration, is very stark. This differential treatment is a clear illustration of what the ICFET International Observer Mission cited in its January 15 statement (“Taiwan Elections 2012: Mostly free but partly unfair”) as “misuse of government power” and the “need for structural reforms including judiciary reforms.”
The SID’s conduct of this case so far in no way meets the international community’s expectations. It is almost certain that such intelligence operations were in fact carried out, and it is vital for the reputation of Taiwan’s democracy that responsibility for such a grave violation of democratic norms be assigned clearly and properly, and all those involved be strictly dealt with. While the president himself may possess immunity from certain forms of prosecution, that does not absolve the judicial authorities of their responsibility to clarify the extent of his responsibility, if any, as well as that of the other officials.
Therefore, we call upon the Taipei District Prosecutors Office (in charge of investigating the officials alleged to be involved (notably including the NSC Secretary General Hu Wei-chen, MJIB Director Chang Ji-ping, etc.) to disregard the bad example set by the SID and carry out a thorough, professional investigation, including the roles of the officials all the way up the chain of command. If for whatever reason they are unable to investigate the top officials, then the SID must reopen the case. The frivolous effort they have made so far cannot be allowed simply to stand as the final resolution of the matter.
ICFET resolves to remain vigilant in observing the further investigations, in the hopes that the rule of law can be preserved in Taiwan. Failure to resolve this case satisfactorily will be a stain on the democratic credentials of the government.
Related Media Reports:
- Taipei Times
- Liberty Times (in Chinese)
- Apple Daily (In Chinese)
- United Daily News (in Chinese)