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Friday, January 22, 2010

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GIO goes after PTS again

Taiwan News is reporting that the GIO is piling the pressure on the PTS Chairman Cheng Tung-liao who filed a lawsuit against the Government for illegally planting 8 new board members, most of whom were chosen for their support for the Government or President:

The GIO accused Cheng of illegally using NT$2 million in foundation money to finance the case against the eight new board members. The use of the funds hampered the normal functioning of the foundation and harmed public interest, the GIO said.

The government department said it was considering demanding Cheng’s removal as board chairman and board member based on allegations of breach of trust, abuse of power and the misuse of foundation money.

The war of words between the Kuomintang government and Cheng escalated on January 11, when he took legal action which in effect suspended eight new members of the 21-seat board. The new members were seen as government supporters who were likely to support the early abrogation of Cheng’s three-year contract.

Three foundation supervisors and the Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog, ruled that the appointments of the eight board members did not proceed according to the rules.

Media reform groups and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party see the tussle over the public television board as part of a wider attempt by the government to strengthen its role in the media.

The GIO is stepping into dangerous waters here. Watchers of Taiwanese politics might be forgiven for seeing a pattern emerging of the Government or KMT using legal and financial pressure to eliminate possible opponents to their aim of tighter control / influence on the media and judiciary - a la Chen Shui-bian's case, the Control Yuan impeachment of the State's Prosecutor General and relaxing Government, party and military ownership of media shares. The danger is that in this democratic and information age the more it tries to control, ensure compliance and embed support (e.g. local government act that extends District Head's terms by 5 years without a vote), the more the public's support will slip through their fingers.

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