My gal Cathy Pacific's younger sister, Asia, was complaining to me on Wednesday about the frustrating TV coverage of Tuesday night's earthquakes. I couldn't agree with her more.
The "coverage" reminded us that we are held hostage by egomaniacal talkshow hosts who couldn't stand to be upstaged by live crosses to the disaster zone -- and that was for the stations who bothered sending out cameras. So they continued banging on about stupid political stuff. And this was after a quake that triggered a tsunami alert.
But what really got my goat was Thursday's spectacle of a child -- whose mother was killed and home destroyed by the quake -- being harassed by reporters from SET, ETTV, CTI, CTV and ERA (there may have been others), asking: "Where is your home? Where is your home? Where is your home?"
The child, needless to say, was upset and mute throughout.
When I see reporters harassing a bereaved minor in this way I think of Thomas Hobbes. Yep, Hobbes of "state of nature" fame. If these turd reporters are so bereft of professional responsibility that they would add to a child's suffering, then they enter the State of Nature. The Law of the Jungle. They and their studio supervisors, I submit, should have no complaint if a Taiwanese Leviathan appears from nowhere and beats the living shit out of them.
And don't come blubbing to Johnny about press freedom, my friends, because each and every one of you just lost the right to call yourselves journalists.
I am therefore proud to bestow upon this group of leeches with microphones the first of this year's Neihu Awards honoring manipulation of and by the media: the Abu Ghraib Prize for unconscionable behavior in the field.
Gallup Taiwan almost won the WhoseTube Award for most brazen theft of media intellectual property. But the winner is a dark horse: the Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank promotions unit, whose cartoon pig character Pukii looks like the bastard offspring of the popular Taiwan Life Insurance hippo-dragon. I wonder why? The cutesy jingle for the ad was even more obviously a steal, though it was replaced fairly quickly. Either way, the sight of anorexic women in mini-skirts and men in suits dancing and grinning like mentally ill children in front of a blushing pig with a revolving beer gut was enough to make me Pukii all over my television.
The From Little Things Big Things Grow Award for best seduction of media hacks by political progeny goes to Lien Sheng-wen (連勝文), who follows in a long line of Liens who until now have proved more creepy than competent. This dynasty started with shyster historian, Japanese shill and opium apologist Lien Heng (連橫), then Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) shill Lien Chen-tung (連震東), then perennial loser, Chinese Communist Party shill and honorary KMT whatsit Lien Chan (連戰). Now there's Lien Jr, whose unearned wealth, lack of military service and superior air make him a worthy inheritor of the family name.
The media is going berserk over the "Divine Pig" marrying the gorgeous Tsai Yi-shan (蔡依珊), who herself belongs to a filthy rich family. Damn that's smooth. Lien Jr was quoted by Big Red (the Lien-friendly online People's Daily) on May 29 as saying that Tsai is his "lucky star." Oh crap, now I've Pukiied all over my computer screen as well.
Anyway, guys, in all seriousness, if you do decide to have children, for pity's sake make sure they are girls.
With the Chiang clan in disarray, it's now all up to the Liens to give the true blue among the KMT a sense of lineage and attachment to the Chinese Nationalists' fading past. You can't have an empire without royalty and a stubborn sense of entitlement, and the fact that Tsai Yi-shan is distantly related to Chiang Kai-shek (
The Life Achievement Award goes to Mike "Harry Reems" Chinoy. Photographic evidence suggests that Mike and Harry were separated at birth -- and how different their careers have been! Still, if there is a common thread to their years of toil, it's the reliance on method acting. Mike has left CNN and journalism for a think tank, which to me seems a bit of a step down, although he has bewildered Taiwanese viewers with comments on local politics in guest spots on a pro-blue-camp cable station. Memo to Mike: Your long lost brother left erotic grappling behind long ago and is now in rural real estate, which gives him more credibility than the combined staff and output of 30 think tanks.
The I Need DPP for My Bunghole Prize for most idiotic statement by a DPP legislator: Well, as you would expect there had to be a rigorous shortlisting process to determine this award. Hsiao "Charlie's Angel" Bi-khim (蕭美琴) came very close with her clanger that North Korea tested a nuke to piss off the Japanese prime minister. Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) would have won for saying that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) daughter-in-law should have her baby in Taiwan for the sake of the DPP, but he's not a legislator any more. So the award goes to You Ching (尤清), the DPP's would-be Taipei mayoral candidate, who found to his chagrin that party central preferred a blank ballot to one with his name on it. Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) ended up filling the gap, but not before You opined: "The primary must be run according to the rules and we hope party members will obey those rules." Dude, how long have you been in the party? Truly a worthy winner.
The Paradise Lost Prize for fallen idols goes to -- who else -- Shih Ming-teh (施明德) for his reputation-destroying flight of revolutionary fancy. Some liken him to Nelson Mandela, but judging from the kooks surrounding him to this day and his advisers' inept dealings with foreign media, Jim Jones of Jonestown massacre fame is a more apt comparison -- minus the laced soft drink.
The Sledgehammering Keyboard Award for relentless commentary goes to the Liberty Times editorial team, who told us on 360 out of 363 possible occasions this year (and counting) not to invest in China. That appears not to have stopped anyone from doing so, least of all those among the Liberty Times readership who actually make a buck.
We now move to the top prizes. Brace yourself: It gets bloody.
The Silver Neihu Award for foreign journalism on Taiwan: Tough competition for this one, but if my column has shown anything this year it's that half-assed or gullible coverage of Taiwan loves company. So, nothing personal, folks: It's a systemic problem. And while there have been Beijing-based journalists who have bucked this trend -- the Australian newspaper's Rowan Callick and Keith Bradsher of the New York Times come to mind -- by and large it's been a dispiriting year. The Silver Neihu must therefore go to someone or some agency that gets to the essence of it all. Without further ado, I congratulate Amanda Spratt, whose delirious travel reportage in the New Zealand Herald in May captured the spirit of "If it's Tuesday this must be Taiwan" scribework. Come back soon, Amanda, and don't forget to strap on your parachute.
The Golden Neihu Award for Taiwanese journalism: No other candidates came close to the inaugural winner of what is already the nation's most prestigious prize for journalists. Take a bow, Apple Daily editor-in-chief Chen Yu-hsin (
It wasn't just the copious blood and injury, or the fact that it was taken on hospital property, or even that its publication would have pointlessly distressed Shaw's family and friends. No, this genius gets the gong for pixillating a tiny part of Shaw's body in a mock display of decency and then claiming the public had a right to see how traumatized she was.
Mr Chen, as Sean Connery's James Bond might say, you smell like a tart's handkerchief. But Chen deserves special mention for talking complete shit with a straight face: There was no invasion of privacy, he said, and the newspaper was obligated to run the photo because the public might be interested in seeing it. With the heat rising over its coverage, the paper backed down the next day, running an apology that read: "With the picture, we hoped to present the actuality of a news scene. ... We apologize if readers feel uncomfortable about it," which was just the "non-apology apology" that you would expect from these pornographers.
Congratulations, sir! Your Golden Neihu -- a trophy featuring a fedora with the word "Press" and skid marks across the brim, valued at NT$17 -- is on its way to you right now, courtesy of my local tricycle-riding recycler of newspapers and cardboard boxes.
Dear reader, it's been a middling year for news. But something tells me that things might just hot up a little in 2007 as the Chicoms realize that time is not as languid as a Songhua River chemical spill. The Taiwanese, you see, are growing less inclined to place stock in what Chinese huffers and puffers say, and less inclined still to tolerate media bullshit. Not even a Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) presidency will change that.
Happy New Year, my friends. May you be at peace with your color -- blue, green and everything in between.
Heard or read something particularly objectionable about Taiwan? Johnny wants to know: firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to reach me, with "Dear Johnny" in the subject line.
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
As Taiwan is engulfed in worries about Chinese infiltration, news reports have revealed that power inverters made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co are used in the solar panels on the top of the Legislative Yuan’s Zhenjiang House (鎮江會館) on Zhenjiang Street in Taipei. However, what is even more worrying is that Taiwan’s new national electronic identification card (eID) has been subcontracted to the French security firm and eID maker Idemia, which has not only cooperated with the Chinese Public Security Bureau to manufacture eIDs in China, but also makes the new identification cards being issued in Hong Kong. There might be more
All lives eventually come to an end. Over the years, my friendship with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had its ups and downs. Lee’s passing was a heavy blow and has left me deeply saddened. We experienced a lot together and the memories have come flooding back. Lee was born several months earlier than me. During World War II, he was studying at Kyoto Imperial University, but halfway through his studies, he was forced to change his name and enter military service. I was studying at Tokyo Imperial University, but went into hiding to avoid military service, and I was later