Global weekly The Economist has blamed Taiwanese media for “gross mistranslations” of its article that branded President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a “bumbler” and caused a recent stir in Taiwanese politics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday
Ministry spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said Dominic Ziegler, Asia editor of the weekly magazine, said he had noticed that “bumbler” had been “irresponsibly mistranslated” by some Taiwanese media as “笨蛋” (or “dimwit”), which he said was a “gross mistranslation.”
Ziegler said the two Chinese characters used in local media were an incorrect translation of “bumbler.”
Ziegler sent an e-mail reply to Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), Hsia said, in response to the ministry’s reaction to the article titled “Ma the bumbler” in its current edition, which in its body calls Ma an “ineffectual bumbler.”
Hsia quoted Ziegler as saying that the word “bumbler” is not an insult to Ma because it describes a man “who acts indecisively or in a slightly confused manner.”
Ziegler, who is on a trip overseas, also expressed his willingness to explain the matter in person to the Taiwanese government, Hsia said.
The Taipei Representative Office in the UK “registered concern” over the article, which was published on Friday last week, and received the reply from Ziegler on Monday, Hsia said.
The Ma administration reacted strongly to the article.
On Friday night, the Presidential Office called an impromptu press conference, timed to give a response to the piece, followed by Ma’s remarks the next day that he felt “distressed and wronged by incorrect reports,” in an apparent reaction to the article.
On Sunday, the ministry was reportedly told by the Presidential Office to file a complaint with The Economist, which was met by the disapproval of politicians across party lines. That led the ministry to clarify the issue to the media, saying that it had contacted The Economist to explain Ma’s policies, not to lodge a protest.
The Taipei Representative Office in the UK is preparing an article addressed to The Economist to explain in detail the achievements the government has made in every field since Ma assumed office in May 2008, Hsia said.
The Taiwanese economy posted an average growth rate of 3.43 percent between 2009 and last year, outperforming both South Korea and Hong Kong; while Taiwan outpaced the UK in terms of per capital income when adjusted for purchasing power parity last year — known as PPP-based per capita GDP — for the first time in history, Hsia said.
“Not to mention the achievements in diplomacy and cross-strait affairs — Ma’s policies have resulted in the signing of 18 cross-strait agreements, the maintaining of relations with all 23 of the nation’s diplomatic allies and the granting of visa-waiver privileges by 129 countries and regions,” Hsia said.