Thu, Oct 21, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Interview controversy takes new twist

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE:The DPP chairperson said President Ma Ying-jeou needed to watch his words, saying he risked giving the impression of cross-strait instability

By Vincent Y. Chao and Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporters

A controversy surrounding an Associated Press (AP) interview with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took a new turn yesterday after Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) sent a letter to John Daniszewski, the international editor at AP, requesting that the news agency “investigate the causes of distortions in the interview piece” and make corrections as soon as possible.

At the heart of the controversy is a section of the interview published by AP on Tuesday where Ma’s remarks are portrayed as suggesting that sensitive political talks with Beijing, including security issues, could start as early as his second four-year term, provided he is re-elected in 2012.

Ma denies providing a timeline or tying such talks to his re-election.

In a press statement, the GIO said AP did not “correctly reflect” the views expressed by Ma during the interview and “misled” readers by printing remarks that Ma did not make, which “runs against the code of ethics universally adopted in international journalism.”

An interviewer who imposes arguments that either depart from the interviewees’ opinions or are created out of nothing will cause irreparable damage, especially on highly sensitive issues such as cross-strait relations, the statement said.

The GIO’s overseas office in New York has been in talks with AP in New York and was informed that the organization would look into the matter, the statement said.

On Tuesday, the Presidential Office requested that AP make corrections to its story. AP, which said it stood by its report, made minor changes, but Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the Presidential Office remained unsatisfied with the revised version.

The interview quoted the president as saying that his administration was not “intentionally delaying talks on political issues [with China].”

Asked whether the discussions would start if he were elected to a second term, Ma said: “It depends on how fast we move.”

After the interview came out, Ma called an impromptu press conference where he denied providing a specific timeline for political talks. The only timeline mentioned during the interview, he said, was that economic matters would come before political ones.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said the president needed to watch his words.

“It seems to be a recurring theme. [Ma] needs be especially careful when speaking on such sensitive matters to foreign media,” she said. Any mistake, she said, could give an impression of instability in cross-strait policies.

DPP spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the president should strive for consistency in his comments to media.

“He shouldn’t just say something now and something else later,” Tsai Chi-chang said. “People will start thinking he’s double-dealing and delivering different messages to international media and to Taiwanese.”

Conducted entirely in English, the interview focused on cross-strait economic issues, but also addressed political talks and US arms sales to Taiwan. It quoted the president as saying that a political union between Taiwan and China would require Beijing to first adopt democracy and respect for human rights.

This was not the first time the president claimed he was misquoted or his views misrepresented during interviews with foreign media.

This story has been viewed 13650 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top