People Merely Want the Truth
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
July 29, 2013
Summary: The Hung Chung-chiu case is already four weeks old, but the truth has yet to emerge. It is rumored that the Ma administration has made Minister of Defense Kao Hua-chu's resignation its "stop-loss point." If so, its calculations are both cheap and facile. They also misjudge public opinion.
Full text below:
The Hung Chung-chiu case is already four weeks old, but the truth has yet to emerge. It is rumored that the Ma administration has made Minister of Defense Kao Hua-chu's resignation its "stop-loss point." If so, its calculations are both cheap and facile. They also misjudge public opinion.
Whether Kao Hua-chu remains or leaves is not the issue. His resignation will do nothing to resolve public doubts. It might even intensify public anger at government incompetence. When the case first broke, this newspaper proclaimed in no uncertain terms that "Without the truth, there can be no forgiveness." The public wants the whole story, They do not necessarily want a long list of high ranking government officials to be punished. The Hung family merely wants to know what happened to Hung Chung-chiu during his last days on earth. They want to know why he was tortured to death. It is not their intention to deliberately make trouble for the military. Therefore the government must uncover the truth. Merely forcing the Minister of Defense to step down wiil not help the government to stop its losses. That is the wrong direction. .
President Ma is deeply concerned about the Hung case. He has instructed the agencies in charge to look into "integrating of military justice and criminal proceedings" instead of
court martialing those who abuse their subordinates. The Ministry of Defense has proposed 13 military reform measures. These are undoubtedly essential long-term institutional reforms. But they ignore the burning issue at hand. They leave unanswered questions about the case hanging. They trumpet long-term reform while watching the direction the wind blows. How can people not conclude that the government is merely putting on an act?
The public merely wants the truth behind the Hung Chung-chiu case. The government's response however, was to offer assurances of long-term reform. The Hung family wants justice. It does not want the military telling stories. Yet the government insists it must wait until the law is amended and the system is reformed before it can act. Day after day, it declares that it is investigating. But if it fails to uncover more facts, how can it possibly stop the bleeding?
We have reiterated the need for the truth. Only the truth can determine ultimate responsibility and avoid implicating the innocent. Only the truth will enable the Ministry of Defense to address the problem and implement in-depth reforms. The Army report has been revised repeatedly. Compare it to the Hung family's own investigation, and revelations by other soldiers. Outsiders already see the extent to which the incident has been obscured. Some obscurity is the result of the military's failure to conduct a thorough investigation. Some of it is the result of the military's deliberately withholding of the facts from outsiders. The result is that key parts of the larger picture have been "pixelated," making them difficult to read. If the military wants to dispel doubts among outsiders, it must first remove the pixelated portions of the picture.
The Hung family and the general public most urgently want to know four things. These are the things to which the military must give the highest priority. One. The military must make public the record of the proceedings in order to instill public confidence. The "Non-Commissioned Officers Evaluation Commission" investigation and solitary confinement of Hung Chung-chiu was conducted by Fan Cho-hsien of the Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company. The lack of higher level "Personnel Evaluation Commission" review was the result of indolence or self-interest. This too must be accounted for. Two. The military must make public the 813 Hospital medical report, in toto, from beginning to end. It must review the contents for signs of fraud, including who purchased beverages. Three. Was the CCTV monitor blackout the result of mechanical failure, bad connections, or deliberate erasure? This must be explained to the public's satisfaction. The personnel in charge of monitoring the CCTV system should be called on to explain. The public cannot accept vague conclusions such as "Somehow something went wrong." Four. The military must explain what happened during the final hours, when Hung Chung-chiu was in solitary confinement, including the forced drills and emergency rescue process. If necessary, the responsible personnel should provide evidence.
Perhaps the investigation cannot be fully opened to the public. But Chief Military Prosecutor Tsao Ching-sheng held a joint press conference with DPP legislators. The case raged on for more than 20 days. If the government fails to offer a convincing explanation, how can it quiet public speculation? The fact is local prosecutors joining the investigation shattered the military's ability to tell fairy tales. This includes the autopsy report, which was changed from "accidental death" to "homicide." These show that third-party involvement is essential. But what Taoyuan prosecutors can do remains limited. They cannot uncover more facts. President Ma has personally promised the Hung family that he will get to the bottom of the case. But when it comes to act, Ma erects barriers in his own way. He appears unwilling to do what is necessary to resolve the case. This is truly regrettable.
The military must remove the "pixelation." It must respond candidly to questions raised by the public and by the Hung family. Only then can it allay public doubts and public anger. It must clarify certain key points. Only then can Hung Chung-chiu's family let go of their pain and resentment. Only then can the public conclude that Ministry of Defense "military reform" is more than empty lip service. The more the military conceals the truth, the more the public will be forced to take over the case. The harder the Ma administration will have to work to repair its image.
The victims of the Hung case are not confined to Hung Chung-chiu alone. They include innocent officers and enlisted men who have been implicated and punished unjustly. They include anxious soliders outside, who have been caught up in the "witch-hunt." They include the military as a whole, whose morale and image have suffered. If the government refuses to tell the truth, but admits only to what investigators uncover, then it is merely spouting hot air.
2013.07.29 01:47 am