Mon, Feb 09, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Koo’s overt chauvenism cheapens discourse

By Winston Dang 陳重信

A few days ago, the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper reported comments made by former presidential adviser and Taiwan Brain Trust founder Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) about what happened when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her international spokesperson, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), met with US officials at the White House in September 2011.

According to Koo, Tsai and Hsiao did not give any answer to three questions that they were asked, and were very vague. Koo says that the US side wondered how, in view of Taiwan’s importance in East Asia, it could be placed in the hands of “these young ladies” who could not answer any question they were asked. According to Koo, this was the main reason why the US finally decided to support President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in his bid for re-election.

After reading the report, it is shocking to see how prejudiced Koo is against female politicians. In calling Tsai and Hsiao “these two young ladies,” Koo did not accord them even the slightest respect or courtesy. He should realize that the world is changing and female presidents and prime ministers are popping up all over the place in Europe and Asia.

I would like to inform Koo that I was sitting next to White House officials at the same White House breakfast meeting. When those in attendance were talking about cross-strait relations, Taiwan-US relations and so on, Tsai said very clearly that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must maintain peaceful and stable relations, adding that it was very important for those relations to be based on mutual respect and understanding of each other’s sovereignty. We also met together with four heavyweight US senators, and Tsai spoke with the same discretion and humor as she did in her speech at Harvard, emphasizing Taiwan’s democracy, sovereignty and freedom.

Koo belongs to an older generation of Taiwan’s democratic movement, but he really lacks an up-to-date understanding of US government officials and members of Congress. Having served as a US government official myself, I am left speechless every time he talks about such things. Having spent 40 years in the US, I can at least say that I have no less experience of interactions with Americans than Koo has. One or two officials from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) have often dropped by my office for a chat over the past three or four years.

These officials tell me that they have also visited quite a lot of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) figures, and even they have told these AIT officials that the DPP has nobody but Tsai who could beat the KMT in next year’s presidential election. All these conversations took place before the local elections held on Nov. 29 last year, or before March 18 last year, when the student-led Sunflower movement started its occupation of the Legislative Yuan.

William Lai (賴清德), who is now mayor of Tainan, was my fellow legislator from 2005 to 2008, and he is someone I have great respect for. Lai has wisely decided not to let Koo “enlist” him as a candidate in the DPP’s upcoming presidential primary election. If he had accepted, he would have lost female voters’ support by association with Koo’s prejudiced male chauvinist attitude, and that would be extremely unfair. Koo might be wealthy, but money is no measure of wisdom.

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