Taiwan is in the middle of setting up a new National Communication Commission (NCC) – which will take over as a media watchdog from the Government Information Office. Given the incompetence of the current GIO head (my hero Pasuya Yao), and its long history of censorship and oppression, everyone approves of this.
However, there have been bitter (and bloody) fights over how to setup this body – the DPP wanted it to be selected by the Executive Yuan (currently controlled by the DPP), while the KMT wanted it to be selected by the Legislative Yuan (currently controlled by the KMT). The KMT got their way – after a small concession allowing the Executive Yuan to nominate some candidates for the NCC. This week, the process for selecting the members of the NCC started, and it didn’t take long before accusations of political bias appeared.
The process is pretty convoluted. 18 candidates are first selected: 3 by the executive yuan, and 15 by the Legislature (split 8-7 blue-green in line with the split in the legislature). Then a selection panel of 11 is selected by the Legislature (again in proportion to party size), who will select the 13 members of the NCC from the 18 candidates. This selection process happened over the weekend:
Thirteen nominees for first National Communication Commission were selected yesterday following a three-day intensive review process.
Of those selected, three are law experts, four are telecommunication technology experts, three are mass-media study experts, and three are communications economics experts. Only two are female – Liu You-li and Weng Hsiu-chi.
NCC Member Review Committee Chairman Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) said the selection process was not influenced by politics. He also said he hoped that political parties would not try to interfere in the operations of the NCC and that NCC members would undertake their new positions with professional judgment.
Although Wang was claiming the process was not influenced by politics, the fact that the Blue dominated selection committee selected all 8 KMT/PFP nominated candidates didn’t escape notice:
All six candidates recommended by the Kuomintang, as well as the two recommended by the People First Party were chosen. The review committee only chose two of the six nominations recommended by the Democratic Progressive Party and two of the Cabinet’s three candidates as NCC members. They also selected the one Taiwan Solidarity Union nominee.
While the DPP were muttering to themselves about this one of their selected candidates, possibly realising his selection had had more to do with politics than media regulation, panicked and withdrew his candidacy:
In a letter to Premier Frank Hsieh, Lu said he regrets that several political parties had packed the list of NCC nominees with their supporters, asking the premier to drop his name from the list of nominees of NCC members to be presented by the premier to the Legislature for confirmation.
Unfortunately, given the way the GIO and the NCC have become political hot potatoes recently, it would take a minor miracle to get a reasonably impartial NCC. The only question is whether they will be as amusingly inept as their predecessor.