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President reaffirms commitment to press freedom

President reaffirms commitment to press freedom

Taipei, April 22 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou expects the legislative and executive branches to work together to allay suspicion that recent legal amendments might lead to excessive restrictions on press freedom, the Presidential Office said Thursday.
The office issued the statement amid mounting media criticism of a package of amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act that, if enacted, would require news organizations to obtain the consent of an individual before publishing his or her personal information.
The requirement is seen as likely to undermine press freedom and even stymie the operations of some local media organizations, particularly gossip tabloids and TV talks shows that thrive on sensationalist exposes.
Noting that freedom of the press is not only a constitutionally protected basic human right but also the bedrock of democracy, the statement said Ma is adamant that press freedom should be protected.
On the controversy surrounding the proposed amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act, the statement said the contention mainly results from the conflict between two basic human rights -- freedom of the press and the right to personal privacy.
Describing the proposed amendments as being aimed at better protecting the personal privacy of ordinary people, the statement said the move should actually be seen as a step forward for Taiwan's human rights protection.
Nevertheless, the statement said, the draft amendments might indeed cause improper restrictions on press freedom. In this regard, the statement said, the president hopes the legislative and executive branches will take steps to make necessary improvements and alleviate misgivings.
The ruling Kuomintang-controlled Legislative Yuan originally planned to complete a third reading of the contentious package Friday, but made a reversal Thursday following a media outcry.
After consulting with Cabinet officials, leading members of the KMT legislative caucus said they will ask the legislature Friday to postpone the third reading of the bill until April 27 to allow for more extensive discussion on the contentious points.
(By Garfie Li and Sofia Wu)