Sun, Mar 10, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Give Tsung a chance

The appointment of Christine Tsung (宗才怡) as Taiwan's minister of economic affairs was not exactly a reason for celebration. Tsung is a very capable and talented person. However, in view of the current economic stagnation in Taiwan, one had hoped the new minister would be much more familiar with Taiwan's economic situation. But, this does not mean Tsung deserves the kind of treatment she has been receiving at the Legislative Yuan.

Perhaps Tsung is not the best candidate for the position, but who is to blame for her appointment? While the opposition parties criticize Tsung for having the audacity to accept the post and the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration for picking a less-than-ideal candidate, to a great extent, the opposition should shoulder the responsibility.

The Chen administration had hoped to invite a number of former technocrats and experts in the financial and economic fields from the KMT to join the new Cabinet. Still suffering from sour grapes after repeated election defeats, the KMT naturally refused to cooperate.

As a result, the Chen administration had no choice but to seek candidates from the private sector. Unfortunately, most candidates turned down the government invitation. Many cited the unbearable and humiliating personal attacks ministry heads must suffer at the legislature as a major reason for their decision.

Under the circumstances, the KMT should blame its own selfishness, and opposition lawmakers should blame their vulgarity at the legislature before they point their fingers at the Chen administration and Tsung. Tsung really deserves a round of applause for accepting a job nobody wanted.

However, the treatment Tsung received at the Legislative Yuan was worse than would be expected even for someone legislators regarded as unsuitable for the job. It is Tsung's personal characteristics that make her a target.

Strictly speaking, it is not entirely correct to say the hostility toward Tsung was because of her gender. More precisely it was due, to a large extent, to her being a very feminine woman.

Anyone who pays attention will notice that all the women officials praised by Tsung's critics have very gender-neutral characteristics. From Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to former minister of transportation and communications Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) and former minister of interior Chang Po-ya (張博雅), they all lack the kind of femininity Tsung has.

While most male government officials and lawmakers may have evolved to the point of being able to accept and work with female officials who do not exhibit strong feminine traits, they cannot deal with those who do. Why? Their unconscious assumption is that only men, or at least people with some male characteristics, can do a "man's job."

Real sexual equality is not accomplished by turning women into clones of men. Rather, it is built on genuine respect and understanding between men and women, despite their differences.

Another explanation for the plight of Tsung is her inability to fit into any existing niches within political circles. She is a mainlander who only returned to Taiwan two years ago from the US, where she had lived for decades. The DPP legislative caucus and government comprise mostly Taiwanese who had fought side-by-side against the KMT regime during the martial law era. Tsung has nothing they can identify with. To the opposition parties, she is a mainlander traitor who jumped ship to the Chen administration. Their sense of hostility toward Tsung goes without saying.

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