By Cao Changqing 曹长青
Taipei Times, Feb 18, 2009
Ever since President Ma Ying-jeou’s (马英九) government came into power, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has irritated the public by using the judiciary as a tool to assault former president Chen Shui-bian (陈水扁) and pan-green camp supporters. This has caused strong protest within Taiwan and prompted Western academics to release three open letters criticizing the unfairness of the judiciary and the way in which human rights have regressed under Ma’s rule.
Even those who criticized the Ma government and emphasized Chen’s rights have come under attack and been defamed by pro-KMT media. The government is using detention to threaten the public and scare people so that nobody will dare voice differing opinions. However, squelching difference of opinion domestically is not enough for the Ma government, which recently set out on a mission to eliminate pro-greens stationed in Taiwanese embassies overseas.
In a column dated Feb. 13, China Times Washington correspondent Norman Fu (傅建中) wrote that not long after coming into office, Taiwan’s representative to the US, Jason Yuan (袁健生), caused much controversy by transferring two advisers who had been stationed in the US for less than one year to Greece and Switzerland. Fu said both advisers were pro-green and had received training at the Ketagalan Institute, which was established by Chen in March 2003. Yuan was reportedly uneasy about their political views and made a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have them transferred from the sensitive diplomatic battlefield that is Washington.
Getting rid of diplomats based on their political affiliations is still not enough for the Ma administration.
It is now meddling with academia in the US and trying to get rid of foreign supporters of Taiwan. One example is John Tkacik, a former senior research fellow of the Heritage Foundation who cosigned all three of the abovementioned open letters. Fu’s report tells us that Tkacik was forced to “retire” after the Ma administration pressured the foundation.
Tkacik, Fu said, had been particularly close to the pan-green camp during Chen’s eight-year rule and was well liked by the Democratic Progressive Party. However, during that time, the KMT viewed Tkacik as a serious hindrance. Therefore, after gaining power, the KMT insisted that Tkacik leave his post. The KMT even invited foundation president Edwin Feulner to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US to convince him, during face to face talks, that Tkacik should be removed from his post.
In the end, Tkacik did “retire.”
But why should a renowned US think tank yield to the Taiwanese government?
Foundation insiders have said that Taiwan’s foreign ministry donates hundreds of thousands of US dollars to the organization each year. That being so, did Ma’s government use public funds in the name of sponsorship to force Tkacik to retire? Fu is known for his sources and has a good understanding of the KMT’s internal affairs. His latest report proves that the Ma administration is aligning itself with its allies and pushing its foes out of the picture. It also shows that the KMT is so despicable that it would even attack pro-Taiwan academics in the US.
If we do not condemn and stop the KMT from employing these tricks, the KMT could very well use the foreign ministry’s funds to eliminate all pro-green academics in the US rather than using them to expand Taiwan’s international space.
The KMT’s arrogance and bullying are reaching intolerable levels.
Cao Changqing is a writer based in the US.
Published on Taipei Times
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG