Sun, Nov 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Controversial lawmaker faces DPP flak

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-fang with a headband reading ``Hunger Strike'' vows to fast till tomorrow to protest against what he called unfair TV reports by Formosa TV, in the FTV building yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Chi-fang (蔡啟芳) was in the TV spotlight this week because of an unfortunate slip of the tongue.

On Monday, Tsai lost his temper at the Legislative Yuan while commenting on the results of a magazine survey of parents and teachers from primary and middle schools on the "cleanest" politicians in Taiwan.

Tsai expressed his dissatisfaction with the result by labeling Taiwan's teachers as "bastards."

Opposition legislators and representatives of the national teachers' association blasted him for making an improper accusation in his capacity as lawmaker.

Tsai was forced to apologize for his words later the same day.

He offered another apology the following day, accompanied by DPP colleagues.

But reporters wanted more signs of repentance from Tsai and dogged his steps at the legislature over the following days.

"I have apologized twice for my misconduct. Admitting my mistake and doing the right thing were certainly much better than the conduct of lawmakers who never admit their mistakes," Tsai said.

Tsai attributed his inappropriate words when referring to the teachers to his disappointment in the results of the magazine survey.

"The people interviewed voted Taipei's mayor [Ma Ying-jeou, 馬英九] as the cleanest politician in Taiwan. They had apparently forgotten that Ma had just offered an apology for improperly receiving a reward from a big businessman who later took over the ownership of his city's municipal bank," Tsai said.

"As for People First Party [PFP] Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), the teachers and parents ranked him as a cleaner politician than President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), which was even more ridiculous."

He said that the former KMT heavyweight has not been able to convince the public that he was innocent of the alleged embezzlement of KMT assets.

But condemnations from certain pan-blue lawmakers swamped Tsai, while the DPP also deemed that recklessness resulted in his inappropriate comment.

"Tsai should be aware of his legislative position. We know that he is good-natured, but also worry that his careless style of talking could be easily presented negatively, especially in news coverage," said DPP legislative leader Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯).

Tsai Huang-liang said that the legislator from Chiayi needs to modify his way of expressing himself, such as reminding himself that he is talking in his capacity as lawmaker.

The "bastards" dispute offered a chance for KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to mock Tsai on Wednesday.

Hung advised Tsai "to go home for more study before coming to the legislature to wield this sacred power."

Moderate KMT Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) said that Tsai could have defamed all teachers devoting their energy to the education profession with such a reckless comment.

"Tsai's improper remark hurt most teachers when he criticized a very few unqualified teachers in Taiwan," Yang said.

She said that the way in which Tsai insulted educational professionals presented an opportunity to the media and general public to categorize legislators as a source of social chaos, due to the misconduct of a small number of lawmakers.

"That was unfair to the majority of the legislature trying its best to carry out its duty," Yang said.

But Tsai said that "reporters' partial usage of my comment resulted in the misunderstanding."

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