Taiwan gets high ratings in Freedom House report
CNAWASHINGTON -- Taiwan, one of Asia's strongest democracies, was again rated a free country in an annual report compiled by Freedom House, a Washington-based human rights advocacy group.
January 17, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Retaining the previous year's rankings, Taiwan was rated 1 out of 7 for political rights and 2 out of 7 for civil liberties, Freedom House said in a press statement issued Wednesday.
In the rankings of political rights and civil liberties, 1 represents the highest level of freedom and 7 the least degree of freedom.
All the countries in the report are grouped into categories of “free,” “partly free” and “not free.”
“Taiwan, one of Asia's leading democracies, was again assessed as free” in the “Freedom in the World 2013,” the nongovernmental pro democracy watchdog group said.
It said President Ma Ying-jeou won re-election in the January 2012 poll that “was widely seen as free, fair and professional” following a vigorous race with opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen.
The ruling Kuomintang also retained control of the Legislative Yuan in concurrent legislative elections, though with a reduced majority, Freedom House noted.
In December 2012, Chen was convicted and sentenced to another 10 years in prison on bribery charges, the report noted.
Turning to the press, it said two major business deals “threatened to negatively affect press freedom by reducing the diversity of the media landscape and potentially increasing self-censorship on news perceived as damaging to owners' business interests in Taiwan and China.”
In July 2012, the report said, Taiwan's media regulators granted conditional approval for the purchase of the second-largest cable TV provider by a conglomerate with already significant media holdings and an owner known for his pro-Beijing stance.
Last November, the Hong Kong owner of Next Media Group agreed to sell his Taiwan assets to a consortium of Taiwanese businessmen, some of whom have significant business interests in China, Freedom House said.
“The media group included Taiwan's most widely read daily newspaper that had gained a reputation for nonpartisan and investigative, though often sensationalistic, reporting,” the report said, adding that final regulator approval of the sale was pending at the end of last year.
The number of countries ranked as free in the report was 93, three more than the previous year. Freedom House said 27 countries posted significant declines, while 16 showed notable gains, marking the seventh consecutive year that freedom in the world has shown more declines than gains worldwide.
Freedom House is scheduled to release the full report on the findings of its survey in the coming months.