Wed, Apr 01, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Clashes, car chases dog Kuo's return

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACESWith help from the head of the Bamboo Union gang, the discredited GIO official's exit from the airport turned into a death-defying car chase

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former Toronto-based diplomat Kuo Kuan-ying, second left, is jostled by people holding banners calling him ‘‘shameless” and demanding that he apologize as he arrives at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday following revelations that he posted offensive comments about Taiwan and Taiwanese on the Internet.

PHOTO: YAO KAI-SHIOU, TAIPEI TIMES

Disgraced former Toronto-based Government Information Office (GIO) official Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英) returned to Taiwan yesterday amid clashes between supporters meeting him at the airport and dozens of protesters led by members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Chang An-le (張安樂), the fugitive former leader of the Bamboo Union gang in China, said in a telephone interview that he had asked people to pick Kuo up at the airport “for his safety” as “I have known [Kuo] for years.”

Kuo was stripped of his civil servant status last Monday in the wake of a controversy over online articles he wrote under the pen name Fan Lan-chin (范蘭欽) smearing Taiwan and Taiwanese.

The GIO had ordered Kuo to report to the office by today to complete paperwork, hand over his diplomatic passport and GIO identity card before leaving office.

“I don’t know where the GIO is. I need to check the map. What kind of institution is that place? Let me find out what [the GIO] is. If there is any relevance between me and [the GIO], definitely I will go there. People should never forget their origins after all,” Kuo told reporters.

Kuo said he was saddened that his Paris-based colleague Pan Shun-yun (潘舜昀) was reprimanded by the a GIO for lending Kuo his name for an opinion piece published in the Chinese-language United Daily News defending Kuo.

“Although [Pan] signed his name, it was my article,” Kuo said.

Asked whether he worried that his return would cause ethnic disturbances, Kuo said: “[The ethnic problem] is not something that can be resolved by my offering an apology. I am not the cause of [the ethnic problem.] It’s here already. There is no way that [the ethnic problem] can be resolved,” Kuo said.

Appearing impatient when a reporter asked him why he made such remarks if he loved the country, Kuo said: “You ask me questions. I can ask you: ‘What the hell are you?’”

As Kuo walked toward the lobby, he was confronted by a group of DPP supporters including Taipei City Councilor Wang Hsiao-wei (王孝維), Chang Chia-ling (張嘉玲) and Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培). The latter two have expressed an interest in running in city council elections later this year.

“Kuo Kuan-ying apologize, Kuo Kuan-ying apologize,” the crowd shouted, while others said: “I am a taibazi [“Taiwanese redneck,”台巴子],” referring to a term Kuo used in one of his articles to describe Taiwanese.

Flanked by about 20 men wearing black, Kuo did not respond, but some of his supporters shouted back: “What nonsense are you talking about. Why should [Kuo] apologize?”

A fierce melee then broke out between DPP supporters and Kuo’s escorts, with Wang later claiming that Kuo’s escorts beat up several DPP supporters and reporters.

Kuo was pushed into a waiting vehicle, prompting a high-speed car chase by several reporters’ vehicles on the freeway from Taoyuan to Taipei and then along streets in Taipei City.

The chase ended when Kuo got out of the car and walked onto Minquan Bridge in Neihu, with photographers in hot pursuit. Kuo then jumped into a waiting taxi, which sped away.

DANGEROUS MANEUVERS

Kuo’s driver performed a number of dangerous maneuvers while driving at high speed to try to lose chasing cars. At one point, he drove the wrong way down streets, running red lights and hitting an ETTV cable channel vehicle while making a high-speed turn near Wuxing Street.

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