Commonwealth Magazine infuriates Taiwanese for “tampering with freedom of speech”

By J.Fan

Commonwealth Magazine’s decision to take down Academia Sinica Institution Iurisprudentiae associate researcher Huang Cheng-yi’s article on its Independent Opinion Column has created a public uproar since November 4.

Commonwealth Magazine, one of Taiwan’s most respected political-economic magazines, is under attack after the editors decided to take down Huang’s article on Ma Xi Summit. Commonwealth Magazine deputy chief editor Lee Ming-hsuan responded to the criticisms on the magazine’s website, stating “Ma Xi Summit is a major public affair, in order to present a well-rounded and rigorous picture for our readers, it is important to present more diverse and wholesome opinions. Topic such as Ma Xi Summit is at a different level than other subjects, since other op-ed was not yet presented, we decided to take down Mr. Huang’s article. We are sorry to pose any unpleasant feeling upon Mr. Huang, we offer our most sincere apology.”

However, Commonwealth Magazine’s explanation did not ease the rage among the public, the political observers, the scholars and the independent journalists. Various economics, political scientists, scholars and writers have stated that they will stop submitting their articles to Commonwealth Independent Opinion Column and requested the magazine to take down their previous articles. They criticized the editors of Commonwealth Magazine for acting as a “goal keeper” in this situation. The editors intervened the Op-ed when they think the subject is at a level higher than the others. “Their negligence of independent opinions in Op-ed has destroyed the trust among the readers, the magazine and the writers,” commented the economists who end their collaboration with the magazine.

As a democratic country, freedom of speech is highly valued by the general public, writers and scholars in Taiwan. The decision of Commonwealth Magazine’s editors has backfired and damaged the reputation and credibility of the fourteen years old magazine. Despite their effort to reverse the circumstances, most people are dissatisfied with the magazine’s response.

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