Friday, December 02, 2011

European election observers denied funding by MOFA

Although it will not provide financial help to foreign observers, a MOFA official said technical support would be provided on a case-by-case basis to any delegation seeking to experience Taiwan's democratic development

Academics from top European institutes said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has declined to fund their visit to monitor the January elections in Taiwan, a development that follows upon similar claims by Australian academics last month.

A European source told the Taipei Times on Wednesday that the European academic election observers group, whose members would have drawn from three of the most influential think tanks in Europe — Chatham House, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP Berlin) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute — had been informed that the ministry would not provide funding for their visit.

The source said the ministry had provided financial assistance to the European observer group for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential and legislative elections — under the administration of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), then of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and the Democratic Progressive Party.

This would mark the first time that the group would not be able to come to Taiwan, the source said, adding that the ministry did not provide reasons for the decision.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

UPDATE: Following publication of this article, I was informed that in the past, MOFA provided funds in the form of a donation to the Asia Research Centre at the London School of Economics (LSE), which covered a series of Taiwan-related projects, including election observers. The funds came from MOFA and the accounts had to be sent to the ministry, but to maintain academic independence they were channeled through the Centre. That Centre is no longer operative, as its director stepped down a few years ago and was not replaced.

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