Fri, Aug 09, 2013 - Page 8

Who is really to blame?

Has the whole story of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu’s (洪仲丘) death not been reported in the Taipei Times?

The minister of national defense resigns, an investigation continues. However, the minister of national defense had little, if anything, to do with this young man’s death. The commanding general possibly had some minor role in this untimely death.

What about the non-commissioned officer (NCO) or non-commissioned officers who meted out the punishment and the company grade officer or officers who approved it in the first place?

Place the responsibility squarely where it should be: on the shoulders of those in “first line contact.” If the commanding general is guilty of anything, it is probably negligence. However, the “first line NCOs” and company grade officer may be guilty of murder or complicity in murder. Does there need to be some revision in the military justice manual?

Probably, but first, there is a family who deserves straight and honest answers.

Tom Kuleck

Greater Taichung

Green camp also ‘old boys’

Chu Ping-tzu (祝平次) pointed to institutions such as the armed forces, the police, special operatives, prosecutors and others as the “old boys” that stifled democratic reform in Taiwan (“Democratic reform is being stifled by old boys,” Aug. 6, page 8).

Chu’s concerns are valid, but the “old boys club” concept is not limited to the institutions mentioned in the article. Such mentality is, ironically, also prevalent in the green camp, among those activists of the supposedly more democratic, advanced-thinking Taiwan independence proponents, be they real or self-purported ones.

As an illustration, a woman friend of mine who is an accomplished political science academic, was told to her face by a World United For Independence (WUFI) member, that women are bad for nation-building because “women are busy looking for a husband and then busy looking after the husband.” On another occasion when she attended a conference in Taiwan, upon an inquiry as to who she was, the conference organizer, an “old boy,” answered, without hesitation: She is “just” an assistant. However, she was actually the speechwriter for the keynote speaker at that conference!

In an online discussion forum where participating members all hold doctorates or are medical doctors, that is, well-educated people, it was not uncommon to see very disparaging comments containing blatant sexism against former Democratic Progressive Party chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during the last election campaign. Calling her a “neighborhood girl without real capability” was one of the tamer comments.

There were also comments attacking Tsai as “not qualified because she has never married, hence she would not know how to handle complicated relationships.” She was also called “a hen in charge of the house in the morning.”

There were many more negative comments that were remarkably judgemental coming from an “educated” group of people. These educated people explicitly said that Tsai “owes” everything she is or has to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁); their logic was, if not for Chen’s appointment of her, she would not have achieved anything by herself.

Really? Such comments illustrate not only sexism, but also feudal and anti-democratic thinking. In a democratic society, when the president appoints his or her Cabinet, the appointments are not favors distributed by the president, but an indication of ability. Moreover, the major reason Tsai became the DPP candidate was due to her impressive, nearly impossible feat of pulling the DPP together after its heart-wrenching, devastating defeat in the 2008 election — a disaster partly due to Chen’s endless family scandals.

Historically, worldwide, there have been many examples where women’s professional achievements were not appreciated or recognized appropriately, perhaps also due to the “old boys club” mentality. For example, most people remember Martha Gellhorn as “Ernest Hemingway’s third wife,” forgetting that she was a trailblazer in journalism who was one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. While Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize for identifying the human DNA structure, Rosalind Franklin’s work on crystallography was critical to the identification of DNA; yet she is not a household name like those of Watson and Crick.

The famous “Tiffany Glass” designs were not by Louis Tiffany, but by a female employee, Clara Driscoll, who was the real mastermind behind them. Clara had been without proper recognition for a long time until a group of letters was uncovered decades later in which her work was described.

As indicated by history and more recently in Taiwan, there is still a long way to go to eliminate the “old boys club” mentality. This mentality is an impediment to achieving real democracy in Taiwan, both in the established institutions and the purported “green” camp.

Tiffany Hsiao

Rockville, Maryland