Members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday accused former premier Simon Chang (張善政) of discriminating against women, while the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) vice presidential candidate said that his words had been misconstrued.
At a campaign event on Thursday, Chang said that while being unmarried is not wrong, “President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has not given birth, so she would not understand the feelings of a parent,” as he spoke about health policy for immigrant women during pregnancy.
At a briefing at Tsai’s Taipei campaign office, DPP Taipei City Councilor Chien Hsu-pei (簡舒培) said that Chang had previously appeared cultured, “but now he speaks with odious words filled with discrimination.”
Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times
“It makes people wonder whether he has caught the [Kaohsiung Mayor] ‘Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) virus,’ which has changed him into another person,” Chien said.
Han is the KMT’s presidential candidate.
Tsai said that her work justified her.
“I am a woman who is not married and does not have children, which some have made into a big issue,” Tsai wrote on Facebook.
“However, I have joined many women immersed in public affairs who have worked extra hard to achieve greater things and we have proved ourselves,” she wrote.
“Times are changing and Taiwan is making progress,” she wrote. “A woman in a skirt can become the supreme commander of the armed forces. Whether we have children does not diminish the resolve in our hearts and minds to build a better future for the next generation.”
“I am working to expand childcare services and to set up a better social welfare net,” Tsai wrote.
“Looking back to when Chang was premier, what did he do for our children?” she asked.
DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yu (林靜儀), an obstetrician and gynecologist, said that people must not use sex and physiology as criteria when choosing a president.
“To have good leadership and competency to govern a nation, as well as empathy for common people, a person needs a brain,” Lin said.
“We ask the KMT candidates to use their brains and not just think about reproductive organs,” she said.
Chang told reporters that “if people did not understand what he was saying, he could withdraw and rephrase them.”
“President Tsai, please have sympathy for parents who are pregnant and for immigrant women who are pregnant, but have no health insurance,” he said.
“Please support our policy and give them health insurance,” he said.
Chang asked reporters whether they grasped his point, adding: “There is no discrimination.”
It was online commenters trying to spin his words as if they were discriminatory against women, he said.
“I urge everyone to check what netizens were saying,” Chang said. “It was online bullying — an Internet army seeking to influence public opinion.”
“The online comments were pervasive in their criticisms and took my words out of context,” he said.
“Han has been vilified in this way for a long time and now I start campaigning and netizens are attempting to smear me, but they found that it was not so easy, so they twisted my words to make them malignant,” Chang said.
“It pains my heart to see this,” he added. “I have not seen clean campaigning, because the DPP has no achievements to tout, so it is resorting to negative tactics.”
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiao-guang
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