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On April 8th 2011, a group of international scholars wrote a letter to President Ma Ying-jeou, expressing concern about the prosecution of members of the former DPP government in the case of "36,000 missing documents." The letter was published in the Taipei Times on April 11th 2011, and in the Liberty Times on April 10th 2011

Earlier, the group had expressed its concerns about the proposed ECFA agreement with China, while between November 2008 and November 2009,the group expressed concern about the erosion of justice and democracy in five letters to the Justice Minister and to President Ma Ying-jeou.

Concerns about charges against former DPP officials on the 36,000 missing documents

"We therefore urge you and your government to ... refrain from using the judicial system for political purposes

April 8th 2011

President Ma Ying-jeou

Office of the President

Dear President Ma,

As you will recall, on a number of earlier occasions, we the undersigned, scholars and writers from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, have publicly addressed our concerns to you about a number of worrisome trends in Taiwan. We raised these issues as international supporters of Taiwan's democracy who care deeply about the country and its future as a free and democratic nation-state.

At this time we write you to express our concerns about a recent new development: the charges by your government that seventeen former DPP officials violated the National Archives Act and two other laws by "failing to return" some 36,000 documents during the DPP administration.

According to a statement by your government on March 29th 2011, the case is currently being investigated by the Control Yuan, which indicated that criminal charges might be lodged as well.

The list of names of those being investigated includes DPP luminaries such as former secretary-general of the presidential office and minister of transportation Yeh Chu-lan, former secretary-general and foreign minister Mark Chen, former deputy secretary-general and ambassador to Washington Joseph Wu, former deputy secretary-general and foreign minister Eugene Chien, and former secretary-general and prime minister Su Tseng-chang.

We are disquieted by the timing of this announcement. If any documents had been "missing", this should have been noted during the transition period between the DPP administration and your government in 2008. To come up with this matter three years later, when the primaries for next year's presidential elections are underway, does suggest a political motive.

Moreover, the announcement of the "missing documents" actually came one day before Mr. Su Tseng-chang declared his candidacy in the DPP presidential primary. Mr. Su will undoubtedly play an important role in the upcoming presidential elections, either as a candidate himself or as a supporter of the eventual candidate. Announcing an investigation of him and the others at this time certainly gives the impression of a political ploy intended to undermine and discredit the DPP and its candidates.

We also want to point out that, in any governmental organization, after documents are seen and reviewed by the high officials, they are processed and filed by lower level officials. These generally are civil servants, who do not change from DPP to KMT administration. In Taiwan's regulation-governed bureaucracy, they will not easily deviate from the established rules on handling of documents.

As observers of political developments in Taiwan for many decades, we believe that these charges are unwarranted and politically motivated. Obviously, in a democracy there is a need to uphold the law, but this needs to be done fairly and evenhandedly, without any hint of abuse of power.

In our view, this move by your government is seriously lacking on both counts. It appears to be an attempt to use the Control Yuan and judicial system for political ends, in an effort to appear "legal" and avoid criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups.

We therefore urge you and your government to sustain Taiwan's democracy at the highest levels, and refrain from using the judicial system for political purposes.

The Taiwanese people worked hard to make the transition to democracy only twenty years ago. They deserve to have leaders who play by rules that are fair, balanced and unbiased.

Respectfully yours,


Names of those who joined later are marked with a *

  1. Ambassador Nat Bellocchi, former Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan
  2. Coen Blaauw, Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington DC
  3. Jean Pierre Cabestan, professor and head, Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University
  4. Gordon G. Chang, author, "The Coming Collapse of China."
  5. Ketty Chen, Associated Professor of Government, Collin College, Texas
  6. Peter Chow, Professor of Economics, City College of New York
  7. Stéphane Corcuff, Associate Professor of Political Science, China and Taiwan Studies, University of Lyon, France
  8. Michael Danielsen, Chairman, Taiwan Corner, Copenhagen, Denmark
  9. June Teufel Dreyer, Professor of Political Science, University of Miami, Florida
  10. Norman W. Getsinger, U.S. Foreign Service (Retired), The George Washington University Graduate Program, Washington DC
  11. Terri Giles, Executive Director, Formosa Foundation, Los Angeles
  12. Michael Rand Hoare, Emeritus Reader at the University of London, Great Britain
  13. Christopher R. Hughes, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, London
  14. Thomas G. Hughes, Former chief of staff to the late Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Washington DC
  15. Bruce Jacobs, Professor of Asian Languages and Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  16. Richard C. Kagan, Professor Emeritus of History, Hamline University, St. Paul Minnesota. Author, "Taiwan's Statesman, Lee Teng-hui and Democracy in Asia"
  17. Jerome F. Keating, Associate Professor, National Taipei University (Ret.). Author, "Island in the Stream, a quick case study of Taiwan's complex history" and other works on Taiwan's history
  18. Hon. David Kilgour, former Member Parliament and Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific (2002-2003), Canada
  19. André Laliberté, Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada
  20. Daniel Lynch, Associate Professor, School of International Relations, University of Southern California
  21. Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania
  22. The Very Rev. Bruce McLeod, former president, Canadian Council of Churches and former moderator, the United Church of Canada
  23. Donald Rodgers, Associate Professor of Political Science, Austin College, Texas
  24. Terence Russell, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Manitoba, Canada
  25. Christian Schafferer, Associate Professor, Department of International Trade, Overseas Chinese Institute; Chair Austrian Association of East Asian Studies, Editor Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia, Vienna, Austria
  26. David Schak, Adjunct Professor of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University, Australia
  27. Michael Stainton, York Center for Asia Research, Toronto, Canada
  28. Peter Tague, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, Washington DC
  29. Ross Terrill, Fairbank Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA ; author of "The New Chinese Empire" and "Mao"
  30. Rev. Milo L. Thornberry. Author, "Fireproof Moth, A missionary in Taiwan's White Terror" *
  31. John J. Tkacik Jr., former Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and former officer at the Taiwan Coordination Desk, Department of State, Washington DC
  32. Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania
  33. Gerrit van der Wees, Editor Taiwan Communiqué, Washington DC
  34. Michael Yahuda, Professor Emeritus, the London School of Economics & Visiting Scholar, George Washington University
  35. Stephen Yates, President of DC Asia Advisory and former Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs