Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 3 News List

City government threatens to sue DPP over commercial

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government yesterday threatened to sue the De-mocratic Progressive Party (DPP) for libel after Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was allegedly associated with pro-China activists in a TV commercial.

"If the DPP does not offer an apology in major newspapers within three days, we will sue the ruling party for libel," city government spokesperson Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said.

Wu said the commercial, produced by the DPP's Department of Culture and Information, suggested that Ma has an intimate connection with China, which "has seriously harmed Ma's reputation and personal image."

Wu said he had expressed strong opposition on behalf of Ma to the director of the DPP's Department of Culture and Information, Mason Yang (楊孟勳), after they had received reports from concerned citizens about the advertisement.

Wu said he had made a telephone call to Yang, asking him to correct the commercial's content, which Wu described as "untrue and malicious."

"I also asked Yang to stop the airing of the commercial immediately, yet it was still being shown the very next day, Oct. 31. It was aired six times on Much TV, and this version had been only slightly revised," Wu said at yesterday's municipal meeting.

The advertisement, which had been made to attract supporters from across the country to join in the referendum parade held in Kaohsiung on Oct. 25, starts with the catchphrase "supporting referendums -- accelerating Tai-wan's new constitution" and then presented footage of a Chinese flag in a motorcade during an anti-independence parade that took place on Sept 7.

This is followed by footage of a flag-raising ceremony that Ma had attended on Oct.10 at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館). At the same time, an old veteran cries out: "Long live Hu Jintao(胡錦濤)!" The commercial fades out with the words: "There is no need to fawn over China like this, even if you dislike Taiwan."

Wu said the commercial was made using non-related takes in an attempt to imply that Ma has a close relationship with the Chinese authorities. This can already be considered libel, Wu said.

According to Wu the DPP's new version of the commercial only changed the captions from "a flag-raising ceremony held by the city government" to "a flag-raising ceremony held at Sun Wen Memorial Hall (孫文紀念館)," which actually denied the existence of the Republic of China and did not identify the nation, Wu said.

Ma said yesterday that, after watching the revised version, he thought the DPP seems to be insincere about changing the commercial.

"I hope the ruling party would not to attack its political rivals by offending other people's human rights," Ma said, adding that the city government would not rule out filing a lawsuit against the DPP if they did not react appropriately.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) had re-sponded last Wednesday that the commercial did not target a specific person, nor does it vilify anybody.

Lee yesterday expressed the same sentiment during a meeting of the DPP's Central Standing Committee.

"We just want to appeal to our supporters to join in the parade with that commercial. We will face the lawsuit with an easy attitude if Ma insisted on suing us," Lee said, indicating that the DPP would not publish an apology in newspapers as the city government had demanded.

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