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November 14, 2017 - Updated on November 15, 2017

Taiwan: ministers cannot choose the questions they are asked

PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Taiwanese defence minister Feng Shih-kuan to reverse his decision to ban a reporter from his press conferences and points out that public servants do not have the right to choose the questions they are asked by the media.

During an appearance before legislators on 9 November about a fighter jet that went missing during an exercise over the sea, Feng publicly insulted a Radio Free Asia reporter and boasted of having asked his staff not to invite her to future press conferences.


In a question at a press conference the day before, the RFA journalist had suggested that the missing pilot may have betrayed his country and defected to China – a suggestion deemed to have been disrespectful to the pilot and his family.


RSF condemns the defence minister’s comments and asks him to reverse this decision without delay. It also calls on Prime Minister William Lai to ensure that his ministers fully respect media freedom.


“Public servants do not have the right to decide which journalists report the news or the questions they ask,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s Taipei-based East Asia bureau. “Journalists have an essential function to play in democracies and they must often ask difficult questions in the public interest.”


The Chinese world’s only democracy, Taiwan is ranked 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. When President Tsai Ing-wen received an RSF delegation in July, she expressed the desire to continue developing media freedom in Taiwan.