Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joining TheNewsLens, and a few clarifications about the role of the KMT in anti-same-sex-marriage movement

Soon after “retiring” from the Taipei Times last month, I was approached by TheNewsLens, an online news startup based here in Taiwan, and asked if I would be willing to provide occasional articles for them. My first contribution, 下一代幸福聯盟」背後的藏鏡人是誰?— a Chinese-language translation of “Who is behind the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance?” — is available here. I sat down with the co-founders of the site last week, and the guys have a lot of good ideas for a product that shows great promise. I encourage you to visit it.

This gives me an occasion to provide a few needed clarifications about some of my claims in “Who is behind the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance?” Since its publication last week, a few critics have come forth and accused me of playing politics by singling out the KMT. It should be pretty clear from my years of writing about politics in Taiwan that I categorically refuse to regard the KMT, and the government, as monoliths. Consequently, a close reading of my piece should demonstrate that the individuals I mention who are associated with the KMT and the anti-same-sex movement, which itself appears to be led by the Christian right, do not stand for the KMT as a whole. Rather, as the factor of Christian nationalism in U.S. politics has made very clear (see Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg), if they are to have any impact on policy, religious groups from the right must recruit, or strike alliances with, legislators and officials in the ruling party, or with the party whose ideology is closest and most amenable to theirs. It goes without saying that not everybody in the KMT agrees with what the rightist Christian organizations are advocating. There are countervailing forces, and in fact there are many KMT members who support same-sex marriages, as there are members of the DPP who oppose amending regulations that would permit such unions.

I am well past launching parochial attacks on a single political party. But we must also be clear-eyed when it comes to rightist — and in this case alien — Christian organizations’ efforts to impact policies on matters pertaining to homosexuality, abstinence, abortion, and contraception. With the DPP a less than effective political force at the moment, it’s only normal that politicized Christian groups would seek influential allies within the ruling party.

Now on to TheNewsLens’ press release:

TAIPEI (Dec. 10, 2013)—, Taiwan’s fastest growing news website, is creating an international advisory board that will draw on some of the journalism world’s best-known figures. Joey Chung, co-founder and chief executive of, said the advisory board will provide counsel and advice to the editorial and business teams that have over the last six months helped the site to grow to almost one and a half million monthly unique visitors. The first two members of the advisory board are Marcus Brauchli, the former executive editor of The Washington Post and a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, and Sasa Vucinic, the founder and former chief executive of the Media Development Loan Fund (now known as the Media Development Investment Fund) that was started with the cooperation of George Soros’s Open Society Institute. “Marcus and Sasa have agreed to help me and our editor in chief and co-founder, Mario Yang, think about some of the challenges of managing a fast-growing, independent news product,” Chung said. “Not only that’s ambition to become the leading independent news source in Taiwan, both through aggregation and original content, makes a great deal of sense,” said Vucinic, who as head of MDLF was involved in backing more than 80 news projects in 20-plus countries over the last 20 years, "it is also executed in impressively innovative way". “As a longtime visitor to Taiwan, I’m pleased to have the chance to work with the entrepreneurial team at in building out what promises to be a genuinely ambitious and innovative new platform for news,” said Brauchli, who was a correspondent in Asia for nearly 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s. Brauchli and Vucinic also will become’s first outside strategic investors. Both Brauchli and Vucinic already have visited with the team at, and they will be back regularly, Chung said. He said he plans to invite others onto the board soon.

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