Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Stop the blind worshiping of Ko

By Chang Kuo-tsai 張國財

A public opinion poll conducted in May showed that Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) approval rating, at 44.6 percent, was the lowest out of the heads of Taiwan’s six special municipalities, but in the latest poll, taken after the enthralling Taipei Summer Universiade, his approval rating easily surpassed 70 percent.

There have even been calls for him to stand in the next presidential election. It just shows how easily public opinion can change.

However, the signs of blind idolatry are worrisome.

Just as criticism makes good people better and bad people worse, a great city is marked by a relentless scrutiny of its politicians. How difficult can it be to dispense with superficial quibbling and deal with issues head-on?

There is no need to find fault for its own sake or to let emotions rule over common sense. All that is needed is careful, cool and rational thinking.

At the Universiade, Taiwan won more medals than Taiwanese had dreamed possible — 26 golds, 34 silvers and 30 bronzes — placing it third among the 134 countries that took part.

Its placing is an incontrovertible fact, as is the fact that not one of those gold, silver or bronze medals was won through Ko’s personal talents.

Ko was not the coach or trainer of any medal winner, nor a family member, who quietly supported an athlete over years of training.

To put it bluntly, what on earth do all those medals have to do with Ko?

When Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳) broke a world record in women’s weightlifting, did Ko help her lift even one kilogram out of the 142?

When Cheng Chao-tsun (鄭兆村) broke the Asian javelin record set at the 2014 Asian Games, the javelin he threw had not been paid for out of Ko’s own pocket, nor was it supplied by the Taipei City Government. It had been loaned to Cheng by Japanese javelin thrower Kenji Ogura.

Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎), the world’s top-ranked women’s badminton player, gave up the opportunity to compete in the Badminton World Federation World Championships, in which she could have won up to 12,000 ranking points as well as NT$3 million (US$99,980) in prize money from the government’s National Honor Prize program.

Instead, she chose to compete in the Universiade hosted by so-called “Chinese Taipei.” What was her motivation? Was she inspired by Ko’s magnificent statement that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family”?

As she said after her Universiade win, she competed because “showing Taiwan to the world is a beautiful thing” and “as a Taiwanese, to support this competition and strive and struggle along with everyone, staying here was the right thing to do.”

As head of the Universiade’s host authority, Ko’s performance should be judged by how well or badly his administration ran the Games, not by the number of medals won by Taiwanese competitors.

Let us consider it from the athletes’ point of view.

Were the competition schedules or venues defective in any way? Did the food and accommodation at the Athletes’ Village make the athletes feel welcome? Did the transportation arrangements work? Was order kept among the spectators so that nothing disrupted or affected the flow of the Games? Were the judges fair and did they handle complaints in a way that everyone could accept?

These are the things that mattered to the competitors and their staff.

Now let us look at it from the host’s point of view.

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