Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The pro-China media onslaught

Recent media coverage of a series of political events has clearly, crudely and sadly illustrated the double standards that are applied to pan-green and pan-blue politicians.

The pro-China media in Taiwan enjoys a disproportionate presence in the local news market -- this much everyone knows. But their biased and selective reporting in such a brazen manner has become almost sickening.

Take the coverage of pan-blue legislators' sensational allegations against first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) as an example. Wu, caught in a political storm whipped up by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, was accused of involvement in corrupt and inappropriate activities including meddling in the management of state-owned corporations, insider trading and trading stocks after her assets had been placed into trust.

With the pro-China media so eager to dance to the pan-blue camp's tune, it seemed as if Wu was Taiwan's version of Imelda Marcos.

Sure, Wu has drawn much criticism for her investment activities. And given her position as first lady, she should have known better than to engage in commercial activities or meet with the executives of state-owned enterprises. Such conduct was, at the very least, stupid.

However, the critical -- some would say libelous -- coverage of Wu was out of all proportion to her alleged misdeeds, especially when compared with coverage of the KMT. The KMT's stalled deal last December to sell the party's three media outlets to the China Times Group has recently been clouded in controversy. Originally the China Times Group wanted to buy all three outlets from the KMT; now it seems they don't have the money to do so.

The whole thing smells like a sweetheart deal for one of the KMT's pro-China media pals. Naturally enough, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was able to avoid the issue without further questioning. This places a large question mark over the rest of the "privatization" program the KMT has in the pipeline for its stolen assets.

And then there was the news earlier this week that a number of Ma's Taipei City Government staff took more than 30 days of official leave to prepare for a Dragon Boat race. Had this happened while President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was Taipei mayor, or under any Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, the media would have had a field day.

But Ma, the media darling, was able to work his way out of the controversy with the response: "The city government is keen to promote the concept of a health-conscious city."

"Clean" and "transparent" were the catchwords of Ma's campaign for the KMT chairmanship last June. How much "cleanliness" and "transparency" has he really implemented since then? And how much attention has the nation's media been paying to this matter? The short answer to both questions is: not very much.

The KMT recently announced that its vice chairwoman Lin Cheng-chih (林澄枝) would be stepping down, with the vacancy to be filled by Legislator Chang Jen-chian (章仁香). Many members of the KMT's Central Standing Committee -- supposedly the highest decision-making body of the party -- weren't even aware that the appointment had been made. So much for Ma's transparency.

The media have a responsibility to keep the powerful in check. If the pro-China media really want Ma to win the 2008 presidential election, what they ought to do, for the sake of the country's welfare, is keep him to his word.

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