President Tsai Ing-wen (right) discusses strategies for deepening Taiwan’s democracy while meeting with overseas academics, experts and think tank representatives at the Office of the President June 26 in Taipei City. (Courtesy of Office of the President)
Strong cooperative relations with foreign advocacy groups and individuals are key to sharing the fruits of democracy in the future, Tsai said. Frequent exchanges, interactions and observations will help reverse the decline of democracy, fight fake news and safeguard freedom of speech, she added.
Tsai made the remarks while meeting with a delegation of democracy academics and think tank representatives at the Office of the President in Taipei City. The group, in country for celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, attended the TFD-hosted East Asia Democracy Forum earlier in the day.
According to the president, she was proud to spotlight the achievements of Taiwan’s people in the pursuit of democracy during her address June 25 at the TFD international conference. The vitality and passion of the country’s civil society is well known, widely acclaimed and shows what can be accomplished when the people move toward a common goal, Tsai said.
Taiwan boasts a number of democracy milestones in recent years. These include Belgium-headquartered International Federation of Journalists—the world’s largest organization of reporters’ trade unions—staging its annual conference for the first time in Taipei in May; Taiwan’s top ranking in Asia for the sixth consecutive year in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by France-headquartered Reporters Without Borders (RSF) the same month; the country’s listing as free for the 20th consecutive year in the annual Freedom in the World report by U.S.-based nongovernmental organization Freedom House in January; and the opening of RSF’s first Asian bureau in Taipei last year.
Tsai said the last big step forward for Taiwan’s democratic development is transitional justice. The government’s commitment in this regard is illustrated by the recently launched Transitional Justice Commission tasked with recovering and declassifying political archives relating to the February 28 Incident of 1947, as well as promoting reconciliation and redressing judicial wrongs.
The February 28 Incident of 1947 occurred when protesters demanded Gov. Chen Yi enact reforms. When these went unmet, people around Taiwan demonstrated, prompting Chen to call for military reinforcements from China who killed many during the crackdown.
Such measures will make sure democracy in Taiwan can only advance and never retreat, the president said, adding that authoritative voices from abroad have an invaluable role to play in this process. (JSM)