Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Golden Horse may lose funding after Chen snub

FESTIVAL FEUD:The film festival's organizers said they want to keep the event apolitical, but the GIO might stop funding it after the president was denied an invitation

By Tsai Ting-I and Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Government Information Office (GIO) is considering ending its funding of the Golden Horse film festival, after the event's organizing committee reportedly rejected a request to invite President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to its award ceremony in Kaohsiung tomorrow.

"We will consider ending our sponsorship of the event because of this," GIO Director-General Arthur Iap (葉國興) told reporters yesterday.

"The film festival is a non-governmental event. It would be great for us to see such events operate independently. No disputes over political issues would be caused if we stop our sponsorship," he said.

The GIO exclusively organized the festival from 1962 to 1989, after which civic organizations began hosting the event. The GIO has contributed NT$16 million a year since 1990 to fund the festival, which this year cost NT$31 million.

Wang Ying-hsiang (王應祥), chairman of the Motion Picture Development Foundation, said he was not concerned about the GIO's plans.

"It's not a big deal at all. Dropping the sponsorship would be easier for us," Wang said.

The foundation is in charge of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee.

According to the Chinese-language media, the committee declined a request by the government for Chen to attend the award ceremony and to give a speech at the event, saying that the event preferred to "maintain its independence from politics."

The Presidential Office, however, told reporters yesterday that the president decided on Monday to attend an Aboriginal event in Miaoli that would be hosted at the same time as the award ceremony.

"There shouldn't be any problem with [the committee's] refusal," it said.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun also cancelled his scheduled attendance at the award ceremony yesterday. He said he made the decision on Wednesday after reading reports of Chen being denied an invitation.

"There are other events for the premier to attend Saturday night," said an aide at the premier's office who declined to be identified.

"We thought the film festival is important for the premier to attend, but the schedule was changed after today's incident," the aide said.

The organizers said that they welcomed all politicians to attend but have to follow the event's tradition that politicians cannot give speeches.

"We have followed three principles since 1997, that politicians may not go on stage, give speeches or award prizes. No politicians have taken the stage in the past five years," Wang said.

Wang said the principles had been adopted because of security problems in 1995 and 1996, when former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) attended the events.

Another sponsor of the event, Kaohsiung City Government, said yesterday that Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) hadn't yet decided whether or not to attend the awards ceremony and that his decision "would depend upon his Saturday schedule."

Kaohsiung City Government has injected NT$15 million into the event this year.

TSU lawmakers yesterday called for an end to the government's funding of the event because they believed the organizers had succumbed to Chinese pressure.

TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) accused the organizers of caving into a reported demand from China that no government officials should speak at the event, lest Chinese actors decide not to attend.

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