Loose Threads of Martial Law
In 1987, Taiwan abolished 39 years of self-imposed martial law that began when civil war broke out between the KMT and the CCP. It was declared in the Constitution’s Article 14 that, “The people has the right to freedom of association and assembly”. Contrary to the rule is Article 11, Item 1, Rule 1 of the Martial Law stating that, “In districts under martial law, the highest commanding officer has the power to execute arrangements of the left…result in ceasing all freedom of assembly and association, petition marches, opinion lectures, news magazines, drawings, declarations and other publications that are harmful to the military…” Another additional regulation issued in 1942 granted the government absolute control over the people. The National Police was granted the power in 1949 to oversee, investigate and arrest any groups that were engaged in assembly, protest, strikes, etc. With the legal provisions, the government was able to control over the people’s freedom. Nevertheless, the voice of opposition toward the KMT’s system of government did not cease. The Formosa Incident of the 1980s, the creation of the outside party opposition movement, cooperation from a variety of social organizations and pressure from the United States internationally, compelled the KMT to have no choice but to adopt a series of liberalization actions. On March 1986, KMT Chairman Chiang Ching-kuo ordered a reform proposal to its Central Standing Committee. In September 28, the Democratic Progressive Party was established, and Chiang Ching-kuo didn’t use the law to suppress the DPP, clearly showing that the KMT “did not wish to clamp down”.
National Security Law – Three Principles Purely by Strong Volition
On October 7, in the interview with Katharine Graham from The Washington Post, Chiang Ching-kuo took the opportunity to announce the end of Martial Law. The National Security Law was issued in its place, which was a direct message from Chiang Ching-kuo to the DPP, or to any political party, that they must abide by constitutional law, stand by the basic national policy to oppose communism and draw a clear boundary in the Taiwan independence movement. However, these three principles represented Chiang’s personal power volition, and were not deliberated through collective debate. On October 15, the KMT’s Central Standing Committee passed a series of amendments, approving political groups to form and conduct activities. In January 8, 1987, the Executive Yuan made further amendments to correct the National Security Law, but still keeping the three anti-Constitutional violation principle, and the anti-Communist and anti-territorial separation principles. In May of 1991, President Lee Teng-hui announced the complete abolishment of any suppression. In the three principles of the National Security Law, the part containing “not to disobey constitutional law” was deleted, and to this day, the other two remaining principles are still preserved.