Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that the government began a campaign of transitional justice approximately two decades ago, adding that as president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), it is his responsibility to make sure that victims (and their immediate families) of political persecution are compensated.
Joseph Jen, former under secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, received an official certificate from the president yesterday morning, acquitting his father, Jen Hsien-qun, of the charges that were levelled against him in 1955. Joseph Jen's father, Jen Hsien-qun, was a KMT official wrongfully accused of cooperating with enemies of the government in 1955.
The president explained that he established regulations for compensating victims of the 228 incident while serving as head of the Ministry of Justice, adding that compensation regulations were later extended to victims of the "white terror "period as well.
The president said that more than 2,000 victims of the 228 incident have received compensation, adding that there at least 3,000 "white terror " victims on file that have yet to apply for compensation; the government, Ma promised, will make an effort to compensate all victims.
Joseph Jen said yesterday that many people around the world have suffered from political persecution, adding that Taiwan has made significant achievements toward compensating such victims. Jen also expressed his admiration of the president's efforts regarding transitional justice.
At a commemoration ceremony held Sunday, the president apologised to victims of persecution on behalf of the government, vowing to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.
Ma said that he was indicted wrongfully for embezzlement during his tenure as Taipei mayor, adding that luckily, the Republic of China was already a fully democratised nation by then; therefore, he was able to receive a free and fair trial. The president also explained that victims under the authoritarian regime were much less fortunate, and that he sympathised fully with their and their families' sufferings.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislators Chao Tien-lin and Chen Ting-fei criticised the president for his remarks, adding that the president's comparison between his case and the sufferings of persecution victims was laughable.
KMT spokeswoman Ma Wei-guo responded yesterday by saying that the president had made the comparison to highlight just how unfortunate the victims were, given that they weren't able to receive fair and free trials.
DPP lawmaker Chao Tien-lin argued that during Ma's presidency, freedom of the press and trust in the legal system had receded to levels comparable to the martial law period.
In response, KMT spokeswoman Ma Wei-guo said that according to a survey conducted by Gallup Inc. in March, Taiwan ranked 17th internationally in terms of press freedom, ahead of Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, France, Spain, etc. She also added that the president has remained adamant in his position to uphold the constitution, to defend human rights and to ensure judicial impartiality.