Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said his remarks made in a recent interview with Foreign Policy magazine were grossly misrepresented and asked that foreign reporters be more accurate when translating in the future.
In an online version of the interview published on Thursday, Ko was quoted as saying: “For the [world’s] four Chinese-speaking regions — Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mainland China — the longer the colonization, the more advanced a place is.”
The reported statements have drawn flak from academics and legislators for overlooking the problems created by colonization.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
In response to reporters’ questions yesterday on the reactions to that statement, Ko said the idea he was trying to convey was that, with the rise of modern civilization, the longer a society comes into contact with a modern civilization, the more civilized it will become.
“How was that translated into: ‘The longer the colonization, the more advanced a place is.’ Good grief. They are miles apart,” Ko said on the sidelines of a book launch in Taipei that he attended.
Accurate translation should be ensured the next time foreign media outlets report, he said, adding that he would also reflect on how to answer questions more precisely.
Elaborating on his idea, Ko yesterday said that the rise of modern civilization was influenced by the Renaissance and began as Spain and Portugal discovered new sea routes around the globe. As such, the earlier a region is introduced to modern civilization, the more profound the influence, he said.
The main point of his remark was that a civilized society is not built overnight, Ko said.
“Habits such as stopping at red lights and going when the lights turn green and staying on the right side of the road take decades of education to foster,” he said.
He said that China, for example, was capable of boosting its GDP and developing nuclear energy in a short time, but the above habits that form part of a civilization in their subtle ways take a long time to enter the public consciousness.
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