Reporters Without Borders condemns Taiwan president’s failure to respect press independence

Various social groups went to the Legislative Yuan on Dec. 12 to support Public Television Service and to call on lawmakers to withdraw the proposal r

(Taiwan News) – Reporters Without Borders, an organization aims to safeguard press freedom and promote human rights, issued a statement on Dec. 17 with a topic of “Public media threatened, despite government denials” to voice concerns for the suppression of Taiwan media workers’ freedom of speech by the government, condemning President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) failure to respect press independence.

Reporters Without Borders calls on President Ma to keep his earlier promise to respect the independence of public media.

In a letter written to the organization’s secretary-general, Ma said that the accusations of the government’s intervention in Taiwan press come from false information or misunderstandings. But the organization responded that they had received unsettling reports pointing out the media independence being undermined by the ruling Kuomingtang decisions.

“We know political pressure to media is not new and existed in previous regimes. But the media should have a favorable legislative and political environment. We urge the president to start investigation in interference actions and to establish a mechanism ensuring press independence,” emphasized the organization.

The new Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Jean-Francois Juillard wrote in a letter last October, asking Taiwan government to present explanations to its interference in state media, especially the Radio Taiwan International and the Central News Agency. “Reporters Without Borders was informed that government officials used to call journalists and demand story re-writes. Now they attempt to exert a more general control by appointing government proponents to run media,” said the letter.

The board director and other ten top-level executives of the Public Television Service Foundation (PTSF), which monitors the Public Television Service, Hakka Television, Indigenous Television and China Television Service, issued a statement on Dec. 10, condemning the KMT’s attempts to control these media and urging to safeguard their independence.

As the Legislative Yuan decides to freeze half of PTSF budget, the KMT has initiated actions to reinforce their control over the operations of Public Television Service and other TV stations.

In resolutions by two Legislative Committees, when executing next year’s budget, Hakka Television, Taiwan Macroview Television, and Indigenous Television should ask for approval of governing authorities before use.

KMT lawmakers also proposed to amend the Public Television Law without a view to having a supervisory council controlled by the ruling party.

by Taiwan News, Website Editorial Staff