Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lu labels critics as `dark terrors'

SCATHING REPORTS The vice president gave no quarter to her opponents, slamming scornful media outlets as vehicles for a new form of persecution

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu condemns media critics for their ``dark terror'' attacks on her at a public hearing discussing land protection at the Presidential Office yesterday.

PHOTO: LUO PEI-TEH, TAIPEI TIMES

A combative Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday fired back at scathing media reports, saying that the "malicious attacks" by the media were just like "dark terrors" and abused freedom of speech.

Lu was speaking yesterday at the Presidential Office during a hearing into land protection quickly arranged by her office following the devastation brought by Tropical Storm Mindulle to the center and south of the country.

Lu used the occasion to advance proposals for rebuilding the natural environment, as well as to attack media outlets for criticizing her performance and, in her view, stirring up trouble. She said that criticisms of her comments about Aboriginal people and mountain area residents generally reflected a new form of persecution.

"Although the White Terror era is behind us now, there are new `dark terrors' that are harming our society bit by bit," she said.

"The `dark terrors' do not refer to government oppression of the people, but to those who have the power to dominate the press and abuse that power, rashly criticizing others and maliciously spreading irresponsible reports," she said. "These raise panic in our society, destabilize the country and provoke ethnic conflict."

Lu's office prepared a three-page document entitled The dark terrors memorandum, which listed what it claimed to be incorrect stories that tarnished her reputation.

"Those who have deliberately stirred up tensions between myself and [mountain area] residents, should shoulder responsibility for their actions," she said.

Lu acknowledged that she had claimed the nation's Aboriginal peoples were not originally from Taiwan, but insisted that her sincere concern for the welfare of Aboriginal communities should not be misunderstood.

"It is utterly ridiculous that Aboriginal communities have become angry because of certain malicious reports and the distortions of some politicians," Lu said.

"I merely said that the government should have a more advanced emigration policy to solve the crisis of over-developed mountain areas," she said.

"But [the media] misinterpreted what I said, claiming that I wanted to force all residents of central Taiwan to move to Central America," she said.

While expressing concern about the government's post-typhoon relief efforts, Lu had blamed people living in areas devastated by the typhoon for over-cultivating the country's natural resources and seriously damaging mountains and rivers.

"Rescuing those people who should be held responsible for the spoiling of soil and water resources around central Taiwan should not be praised as `mercy.' Victims who live in these areas could move to Central America to start new careers," Lu said while inspecting areas devastated by the storm last week.

Lu's remarks riled residents and local politicians. They blasted Lu for "lacking humanity," even after the Presidential Office issued a clarification through a number of press releases.

Yesterday, Lu said that "those who have the privilege of free speech should each eliminate these malicious rumors and smears. And I hope that this time all media outlets will react positively to my appeals."

Asked for his comment on the wording `dark terrors' used by Lu, Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), while visiting the Association of Taiwan Journalists in Taipei yesterday, said: "I do not dare to make any comment about our vice president."

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