Newspaper article China Post

Not Only the US Struggles with Transparency

Newspaper article China Post

Not Only the US Struggles with Transparency

Article excerpt

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Hillary Clinton, presumptive Democratic contender for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, was on the defensive even before she formally announced her candidacy over her use of a personal email account for official business during her tenure as Secretary of State.

Her exclusive use of a personal account for emails could jeopardize national security as the electronic correspondence, which is stored in a private server in her home, might be vulnerable to hackers and spies. Clinton critics are also eager to highlight the practice as a sign of Hillary Clinton's habit of working outside the rules (the use of personal email is "not technically illegal," but "highly impropriate," said a former National Archives staffer and the head of a pro-transparency group) and her penchant for secrecy.

While the controversy over (the email Clinton used during her days as member of cabinet) is mainly regarded as an early skirmish in the 2016 campaign, the government transparency topic it highlights points to an increasingly important issue for Taiwan.

As the Republic of China will see the end of its third popular-vote elected administration in less than two years, President Ma Ying-jeou and his team should start reforming the nation's archive laws to ensure that proper preservation of government documents.

Government document archiving might not be a sexy topic, but protecting the public's right of assess to government documents is of fundamental importance to a democracy. The lack of transparency and proper records encourages corruption, worsens public distrust of the government and persuades officials to make shortsighted and irresponsible decisions.

Taiwan still has much room for improvement in this area given that it only began democratically electing presidents in 1996. The R.O.C. passed the Archives Act, the law governing the documentation and preservation of government files, only in 1999. The law was enacted even later in 2002, two years after former President Lee Teng-hui ([...]) left office. Some classified documents from the Chiang Kai-shek era, including files detailing the Generalissimo's plan to retake mainland China, were left in storerooms ready for disposal after Lee's presidency. …

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