Two stories about the callous indifference of some humans made headlines this week, and while the details are completely different, the protagonists’ blinkered view of the world unites them.
The first story was about a 23-year-old man who died during a marathon gaming session at an Internet cafe and whose body sat unremarked by other gamers for more than 12 hours. Police said they were surprised that the other patrons were barely disturbed from their screens while they conducted their investigation. It was that reluctance to stop playing that was offensive. One might also ask why police did not clear the venue, after taking the patrons’ details and statements, and make them go out into the real world.
However, far more disturbing were comments from China Times owner and Want Want Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), who made headlines this week for an interview published in the Washington Post on Jan. 21.
Tsai told the Post that he used to fear the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and did not want to do business in China, but he changed his mind after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, which he does not consider a massacre at all. He said he was struck by the image of a lone man standing in front of a line of tanks and that the man wasn’t killed.
“I realized that not that many people could really have died,” he was quoted as saying.
Since he gained the spotlight with these comments, Tsai has said his remarks were taken out of context and he would ask the Post for a correction. One might ask why he took three weeks to realize that there was a problem with the story. Perhaps he was too busy jetting back and forth to China in his bright red corporate plane to have the Post story translated.
Or maybe he just dismissed it, just as he apparently dismissed other images from Tiananmen, of bicycles crushed under tank treads and pools of blood on the road, of wounded people being rushed to hospitals in wooden carts and on friends’ backs. One wonders just how many people would have to be killed before Tsai would consider it a massacre?
However, it was not just the comments about Tiananmen that were offensive. He also thinks that China “is very democratic in lots of places” and that elections are fine, but economics should come first.
“From the standpoint of ordinary people, the most important thing is to eat a little better, sleep a little better and be a little happier,” the Post quoted him as saying. No wonder he gets along so well with the CCP and wants to see Taiwan united with China as soon as possible. His vision of democracy is in sync with that of the CCP leadership.
Tsai may not think much of elections, but most Taiwanese value their hard-won chance to have a say about who governs them and how. Why should they go back into the dark ages of the Martial Law era, which is what Chinese rule would bring. It certainly would not make them sleep better or feel happier, no matter what Tsai thinks.
He also told the Post that he only wants to help Taiwan get over its wariness of China. What he does not seem to understand is that it is Beijing’s own actions — events like Tiananmen, the imprisonment of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), the persecution of people like Ai Weiwei (艾未未), Gao Yaojie (高耀潔), Tibetan and Uighur rights activists and far too many others, the laughable system that Beijing calls its judiciary and the outright venality of CCP officials — that has made Taiwanese wary of China.