Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Professor regrets fracas over jokes about president

LECTURER Pan Jung-kuang said that he is sorry for the controversy generated by allegations that he said Chen's `brain needs to be cured by radiation therapy'

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A professor who has become the target of public censure for making jokes about President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) while giving lectures to the military yesterday apologized for the first time for his behavior.

Pan Jung-kuang (潘榕光) said he was sorry for the controversy that has arisen because of the jokes he made about Chen.

The apology came after four lawmakers with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) filed charges against him earlier in the day, accusing him of "inciting servicemen to disobey."

The lawmakers included Wang Sing-nan (王幸男), who led a group of people to protest against Pan on Sunday at the Taichung-based Chungtai Institute of Health Sciences and Technology, where Pan teaches radiation technology.

Pan initially planned to make the apology today in Taipei but gave up the idea for reasons he did not divulge.

Responding to a telephone inquiry from the Taipei Times yesterday, Pan denied that he made the jokes with any malicious intent.

"The jokes have been blown out of proportion by news reports," he said.

Though having become a target of criticism, Pan insisted that it is a matter of "different interpretations."

Pan has been under the spotlight since last Wednesday when a local newspaper exposed the jokes he made about Chen while giving lectures to officers with the combined logistics command on four different occasions in October.

The jokes include comparing Chen to a man "whose brain needs to be cured by radiation therapy," a leader "who is so incompetent that his subordinates all become crazy," and one "who needs to be put under bio-chemical experiment and sent to China for autopsy," according to the newspaper.

Pan admitted to having made only some of the jokes and said they were not as reported by the newspaper.

Investigations by the combined logistics command did not provide any evidence to show that Pan had made the jokes as reported.

The office of DPP Legislator Chang Ching-fang (張清芳), who professed to be the source of information for the newspaper, said they did not have any solid evidence to prove that Pan had made all the jokes as reported.

"What we have is mainly an eyewitness account from one of the combined logistics command officers who had listened to Pan's controversial lectures," said an aide to Chang.

"The officer provided a copy of a paper that Pan used in the lectures. The paper contains a picture of President Chen, which was placed side by side with some radiation therapy equipment," the aide said. "Pan also left two lines of text at the end of his lecture notes, which highly suggest a comparison of President Chen to an incompetent man."

Pan said he is willing to cooperate if he is put under investigation by legal authorities.

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