Sat, Mar 09, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Women rally behind struggling economics minister

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Instead of criticism and lectures for her poor performance, Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Tsung (宗才怡) yesterday received flowers and encouragement from a group of female DPP lawmakers who were trying to restore her confidence.

Tsung herself obviously has not been discouraged, despite doubt over her competency and calls for her resignation from opposition lawmakers.

Tsung said she "has survived" Taiwan's legislative culture, which the group of female lawmakers likened to a "beast jungle."

Celebrating Women's Day yesterday, DPP lawmakers Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津), Tang Pi-o (唐碧娥) and Chou Ya-shu (周雅淑) handed over three bouquets of roses -- in red, white and pink respectively -- to Premier Yu Shyi-kun during an interpellation session in the legislature and wanted Yu to present them to Tsung, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and his own wife.

The three lawmakers said Tsung is like a red rose that symbolizes passion and beauty and splendor, while Tsai is like a white rose, symbolizing composure, implicitness and purity.

They said Tsung and Tsai should emulate each other's key qualities, so that both could become pink roses.

According to the lawmakers, Tsung has received public criticism that her performance does not match her appearance, and that Tsai's calmness has made her as plain as a black-and-white film.

In reply, Tsung said that though her speechwriting and communication skills may be insufficient, communicating is not directly linked to ability.

Tsung said that given a little more time, she will show the people that she can do the job.

She also said criticism was a part of politics and democratic development and that political disputes often lead to unfair attacks -- something she says she will have to get used to.

Tsung said she remains willing to take part in the process in the hope that some day partisanship and ethnic background will no longer rule Taiwan's politics.

Women's rights groups voiced support for Tsung yesterday, urging male lawmakers to stop their sexual discrimination against female Cabinet members.

In a statement jointly released by the Female Studies Association (女學會) and the Awakening Foundation (婦女新知基金會), the groups said that the Legislative Yuan should be the first to abide by the Gender Equality Labor Law (兩性工作平等法) that took effect yesterday and create a work environment free of sexual discrimination.

The groups pointed out that male lawmakers including Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) and Chiu Chui-chen (邱垂貞), both from the DPP, had given Tsung "instructions" in a patriarchal manner when questioning her in the legislature.

Among the examples cited, Chiu tried to teach Tsung the right way to bow and Shen had said Tsung should have turned down the position of Minister of Economic Affairs, because he himself had rejected the offer to become the head of the Department of Health.

In addition, a KMT lawmaker wanted Tsung to help find him "a wife who is as beautiful as the minister."

The groups said such a remark was humiliating because the lawmaker was conjuring up the image that Tsung could be his wife.

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