Freedom House lauds Taiwanese, Japanese media

Freedom House lauds Taiwanese, Japanese media
Bevin Chu
April 29, 2006

Freedom House lauds Taiwanese, Japanese media
Taipei Times
April 29, 2006

Taiwan tied with Japan as the country [sic] with the most free press environment in Asia, according to the latest Freedom House report published yesterday. US-based Freedom House, an advocacy group that compiles political science data, published its 2006 Freedom in the World survey yesterday, ranking countries based on their level of democratic freedom. Among 194 countries or territories surveyed on press freedom, Taiwan ranked 35th, up from 44th last year [ ! ], tying with Japan. [Mainland] China, labeled “not free” in the survey, ranked 177th. The report assessed the degree of interference of law, politics and economic influences on media activities. Taiwan also scored well for its legal, political and economic environments. [ ! ]

Comment: In a previous article, entitled The First Atrocity: Freedom House’s Crimes against the Truth, I wrote:

The target of my criticism at the moment is the Orwellian-named Freedom House, a lapdog of the national security state in watchdog of democracy clothing. Freedom House is apparently determined to play the role of heartless, soulless, conscienceless mouthpiece for America’s global interventionist ruling elite. I have commented on this in the past, but Freedom House is a repeat offender, therefore my remarks bear repeating as well.

In fact, Freedom House is not merely a repeat offender, it is an escalating offender. Freedom House, despite being confronted with a mountain of evidence to the contrary, has become increasingly indifferent to the truth. Consider for example Freedom House’s annual “Freedom in the World” report, which classified Taiwan’s cronyist dictatorship as “Free” in the face of conclusive and damning evidence to the contrary, for at least two years in a row.

You can now make that three years in a row.

Local reporter fined for keeping silent on source
Taiwan News
April 25, 2006

A reporter with the mass-circulation United Daily News was fined NT$30,000 for refusing to provide the source of his information while testifying in court for a case of alleged insider trading that involved some senior government officials. UDN reporter Kao Yi-nien was one of six witnesses summoned by the Taipei District Court to testify … the court was trying to determine Lee’s contacts with Lin Ming-ta, the head of a group of speculators known as “The Vultures” who have been profiting from insider trading based on information provided by Lee. Kao reported in his story last year that Lee gave “The Vultures” advanced information on a government probe of the illegal trading of the shares of a small computer company called Power Quotient International Co. Armed with the information, “The Vultures” profited by “selling short” on the company’s stock. Kao appeared in the hearing, but refused to tell the judges how and where he had gotten information about his story on the grounds that he was obliged to protect the sources of his information.

Comment: The public on Taiwan knows why Kao was obliged to protect his news sources, and from whom. Kao was obliged to protect his news sources from the judiciary.

The judiciary on Taiwan today is not an independent branch of government, but an instrument of the executive branch. It is the Mafia consiglieri for Chen Shui-bian’s imperial presidency. It does not provide checks on the executive branch of government. It provides checks only on the legislature.

The judiciary on Taiwan under Chen regime rule is the guardian angel of the Pan Green kleptocracy, and the exterminating angel of potential whistleblowers who would tear the lid off the pork barrel.

If Kao were to reveal his sources to the judiciary on Taiwan, he would be turning them over to the Chen regime kleptocracy his sources just dropped the dime on. What would be in store for them next is anybody’s guess.

As of April 27, the courageous Kao has been summoned before the bench three days in a row, and fined NT$30,000 three times in a row, making his total fine so far NT$90,000. To his immense credit, he has flatly refused to either reveal his sources or to pay the imposed fines.

In late 1999, early 2000, then ROC president and KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui deliberately sabotaged his own party’s assured victory, paving the way for the pro independence DPP to become the ruling party.

Since then, Pan Green legislators, officials, academics, and pundits have changed their tune on every issue under the sun. I don’t mean they have modified their previous positions. I mean they have totally reversed their previous positions, on every issue they ever professed to care about, including limits on presidential power, prohibitions against cronyism, and most relevant to our current discussion, guarantees of “100% press freedom.” Their attitude, stated bluntly is, “The right people are in charge now, so why worry? The rule of law? What’s that?”

The Chinese language Liberty Times and English language Taipei Times have been at the forefront of the Pan Green camp’s betrayal of its once hallowed pinciples.

In an April 26, 2000 editorial entitled “Freedom, principles come at a price,” the Taipei Times tried to rationalize away flagrant Pan Green attempts to silence political dissent. To establish its bona fides, the Taipei Times first paid ritual lip service to press freedom.

Taipei Times: On Monday, the Taipei District Court fined United Daily News reporter Kao Nien-yi NT$30,000, saying the witness had no proper reason to reject the court’s request that he give testimony. Kao was fined again yesterday for continuing to stay silent about his sources during testimony in a case of alleged insider trading that involved some senior government officials. Kao is the first reporter in this country to be fined for refusing to reveal a source.

Comment: Congratulations. The Taiwan independence Green Terror has set an historical precedent, a negative precedent that even acknowledged dictators Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo never set.

Taipei Times: The judge’s actions have put an end to the unbridled freedom of expression enjoyed since the end of the Martial Law era. When dealing with conflicting values, judges will not necessarily give priority to protecting freedom of speech.

Protecting one’s sources is an important principle for reporters, and an important part of media ethics. It is both a moral responsibility toward the source and the basis for winning the trust of society at large. Once this principle is violated, sources will no longer trust reporters or media outlets, in effect declaring that they have no credibility. The media should not be put in this difficult position. Reporters should be applauded for protecting their sources, not punished.

Comment: So far, so good. But then come the weasel words, the ifs, ands, and buts. Did you expect otherwise?

Taipei Times: Of course, protecting the confidentiality of news sources is not a legal requirement, only a function of the freedom of expression that has long been the norm of the Fourth Estate. Those in the media might see it as an inviolable norm, but for other sectors of society, it is not a sacred standard. When there is a conflict of values, such as maintaining national security, investigating a crime or protecting the public interest, prosecutors and judges might not view protecting a journalist’s source as vital.

Comment: Did the Taipei Times actually trot out the terms, “national security” and “the public interest?”

Taipei Times: Since the end of the Martial Law era, the press has played an important role in the development of Taiwan’s democracy. President Chen Shui-bian has repeatedly stated his unwavering support for freedom of expression and press freedom. The rampant sensationalism and clear bias within local media, however, have caused the public to distrust the profession and its so-called ethical standards. Obviously the judge in the present case shares these doubts.

Comment: We know Chen has repeatedly stated his unwavering support for freedom of expression and press freedom. Nobody’s disputing that. The problem is Chen has repeatedly demonstated utter contempt for freedom of expression and press freedom now that he is the island’s dictator.

So “sensationalism” and “clear bias” justify suppression of press freedom? What constitutes “sensationalism” and “clear bias?” Who decides? Do we really need to ask?

Taipei Times: The media must begin thinking about how to uphold its responsibilities if it wants to maintain its freedoms.

Comment: So the fundamental human right to free expression has been demoted to the status of “freedoms,” i.e., privileges that may be revoked if one fails to uphold one’s “responsibilities.” What “responsibilities?” Responsibilities to whom? Do I really need to spell it out?

Taipei Times: The fines imposed upon Kao are not a violation of press freedom. They are simply a matter of making a decision under the pressure of conflicting values, and the media will have to await the public’s reaction to the case before determining whether the fines were appropriate.

Comment: Have you ever heard a more cavalier rejection of constitutional republican rule of law, and a more uncritical embrace of democratic populist mob rule?

Taipei Times: Reporters should protect the identity of their sources, but when they fail to win the support of the courts and society at large, they and the rest of the media have to make sacrifices in order to uphold their beliefs. This is the price of press freedom.

Comment: And Freedom House has the chutzpah to anoint this government one of two governments that demonstrate the greatest respect for press freedom in Asia?

As I said before:

Freedom House is not a watchdog of democracy, but a lapdog of the national security state. Freedom House helps reverse the roles of victims and victimizers, warmongers and peacekeepers, reactionaries and reformers. Freedom House’s first atrocity, its first crime, is against the truth.

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