The health of democracy within the tiny nation of Taiwan came under scrutiny at the Heritage Foundation recently.
Former Deputy Minister of the National Science Council Ching Jyh Shieh described his 50 days of detention without trial at the hands of the Taiwanese government.
Crowded in small cells, Shieh had seen the pain of incarceration without trial. Arrests are arbitrary, he said, and the evidence circumstantial.
“One is jailed for supposed danger to others, reason of possible flight from the country, possibility to destroy evidence and to collude with others, yet often times there exist no grounds for any of these,” said Shieh.
He also argued that the shortcomings of the judicial system have been further exposed and dramatized by its propensity to be influenced by Taiwan’s media.
Stephen Yates, visiting fellow at Heritage’s Asian Studies Center, argued that there is an opportunity for the current president of Taiwan to do more for the cause of human rights, owing to his background as a former justice minister.
“China and other interested observers are looking to witness the open, just application of the law in Taiwan,” he said. Yates argued that the Taiwanese government is mistaken to perceive Heritage’s concerns over its human rights situation as criticism.
“There is never a bad time to start asking questions about a problem,” he said.
He argued that the rule of law and democracy project in Taiwan is not yet a finished product.
Shieh’s story was important, he said, because personalization of the process provides clarity on what must be done to move the country forward. Nevertheless, compared to the mainland Taiwan is transparency defined and justice for all.
For example, Freedom House ranks China as ‘Not Free,’ and Taiwan as ‘Free.’ Amnesty International, meanwhile, claims that half a million people in China “are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial.”
The jury is in: the conservative cause may well have taken a beating at the polls last month, but it certainly is not and cannot be dead.
“Conservatism is a body of ideas. The Grand Old Party is a political outfit. The GOP is not always conservative,” Heritage Foundation’s president Edwin Feulner said during a recent bloggers briefing at the think-tank.
Feulner argued that the movement must get its principles right once again, generate new ideas and market them smartly.
“We must not forget that ideas are important. Our friends at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have veered away from that understanding,” he said.
And he added: “The center-right is still on the ascendancy, and President-elect Barack Obama is headed there too.”
Expressing optimism that the conservative movement could rebound, he summed up the reasons for the GOP’s failure as:
• An incumbent who could not articulate conservatism.
• An incumbent who made bad decisions.
• The global financial crisis.
• A GOP candidate who is not a good listener.
• A demoralized GOP base.
Feulner, however, argued that he believes the GOP still has within its ranks leaders who could espouse conservatism while leading the party into the future.
The party, he added, must court Hispanic and Black voters more in order to counter the Democrats’ success with both demographics in the future.
“Let us take lessons from Newt Gingrich and learn some Spanish,” he said amid much laughter from the audience.
He noted that both Hispanics and Blacks may be politically liberal, but remain suitably conservative on cultural issues that could make them natural disciples of the GOP. He said bi-partisanship among conservative think-tanks would be much needed under the new administration.
He cautioned conservatives against changing for change’s sake, and urged them to secure America’s heritage so that future generations will not have to start all over again.