Friday, September 21, 2012

When public figures should shut up

ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin, left, and Master Hsing Yun
Han chauvinism, a mix of racism and exceptionalism, is on the rise (again), even among some 'Mainlanders' in Taiwan 

Two prominent individuals are head-to-head this week in the contest for “bad person of the week” thanks to the tactlessness of their public remarks. Our first candidate, Wang Shaw-lan (王效蘭), publisher of the Chinese-language United Daily News, showed her true colors in comments on the sidelines of a book fair in Taipei last Friday when she called Taiwanese “detestable,” adding that she did not want to live in Taiwan anymore because its people “angered” her.

While the 71-year-old is entitled to her opinions and can express those in democratic Taiwan, her remarks are nevertheless insulting in the extreme, given that her fortune — her father founded the UDN in 1951 — would never have been possible had it not been for Taiwanese buying the newspaper. Without that fortune, Wang could not have acquired such symbols of prestige as the Lanvin fashion house in Paris or enjoyed the high-class clubs she normally frequents in Taipei.

Wang Shaw-lan
Equally, if not more, offensive is the fact that Wang and her kin would likely be dead today had Taiwan not become their refuge as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), in which her father served as an army colonel, faced defeat to the communists in 1947. She was seven at the time. Had it not been for Taiwanese, Wang, assuming her life had been spared during the nightmare that followed the communist victory in 1949, could not have aspired to more than a life of want and misery in some reform camp overseen by the Chinese she so clearly admires. Nor, in the atmosphere that exists in China today, could she have gotten away with calling Chinese “detestable,” should she ever want to. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

1 comment:

Michael Fagan said...

"...but to insult the very people who made it possible for her to reach the social position she occupies today is unacceptable."

Without freedom of speech, how would anyone know who the racists and other collectivists are?

Her insulting remarks were not "unacceptable" as neither you nor anyone else can hold a legitimate veto over opinion, but it would be fair to call them "detestable" or "hypocritical", or even to say that they were "best taken with a pinch of bath salts" maybe.