The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday called on the Taipei City Government to replace action star Jackie Chan (成龍) as spokesman for the Deaflympics.
“Jackie Chan is unwelcome in Taiwan and the Taipei City Government should immediately remove him from the Deaflympics team,” DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) told a press conference.
Having Chan as spokesman would not bring positive publicity to the Games, Cheng said.
He said Chan did not believe in democracy and was used to living in an authoritarian regime.
“This is not the first time Jackie Chan has made ridiculous comments criticizing Taiwan,” Cheng said.
Chan said at the Boao business forum in Hainan on Saturday that freedom may not be appropriate for China.
“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” he said. “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”
Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said, had made those societies “chaotic.”
Chan’s comments drew applause from an audience of Chinese government officials, but foreign reporters were shocked.
DPP caucus whip Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the caucus would propose a bill requesting that the Executive Yuan stop funding the Deaflympics if the city government did not replace Chan as spokesman.
In response, Emile Sheng (盛治仁), chairman of the Taipei Deaflympics Organizing Committee (TDOC) and Taipei City’s Research and Development Evaluation Commission, said that while he personally disagreed with Chan’s comments, Taiwan was a society of democracy and tolerance.
He also said the TDOC would tell Chan the city’s concerns about his comments via the appropriate channels.
No plans to appoint a new Games ambassador have been made, Sheng said, adding that if they replaced Chan over a single comment, it would hurt Taiwan’s international image as a democracy.
Instead, the committee wishes to let sports be sports and politics be politics, and hold a sporting event that transcends politics and tolerates different points of views, he said.
He said that in this way Taiwan’s multi-faceted values and democratic tolerance would be reflected.
Asked if the committee would invite Chan to attend future TDOC events, Sheng said: “Allow me to reserve that possibility.”
Sheng said Chan was invited to be one of the 12 ambassadors for the games because of his international fame and his severe hearing impairment as a result of shooting action movies.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Justin Chou (周守訓), convener of the Foreign and National Defense Committee, disagreed with calls for Chan to be replaced.
Chou said Chan should spend more time in Taiwan so that he can gain a better understanding of the nation. Chou said he might also invite Chan to the legislature so he can sit in on legislative meetings.
However, KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) accused Chan of creating a furor in a bid to save his movie career.
“He’s getting more and more ridiculous. He criticized China, Taiwan and Hong Kong as if he were the greatest thing in the world,” Chiu said. “Does he think he became a real super-cop and savior of the world after starring in Police Story?”
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Tourism Board Chairman James Tien (田北俊) said yesterday that he had received many complaints about Chan’s comments.
Tien said that as Chan was an internationally known star, his comments were influential, adding that the board was dealing with the complaints.
Tien said it was still being discussed as to whether Chan would be stripped of his Hong Kong Tourism Ambassador title.
Internet users in Hong Kong have called for a boycott of Chan’s movies and any products he endorses and have demanded that the Hong Kong government remove his title and his civil servant status.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG