Fri, Aug 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Disaffected Shen feels the blues and makes the right polling moves

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) is a long-time activist and champion of Taiwan's independence, but he has found himself under attack from colleagues over his political line following a quarrel with popular pro-independence commentator and talkshow host Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖).

Shen accused Wang of harping on the issue of patriotism and aggravating ethnic divisions, words which Wang did not take kindly to.

The resulting week-long media ruckus reached a climax yesterday when Shen launched a book in which he talked of having a "dead heart" and that he could no longer "cure Mother Taiwan's illness."

The recent row between Shen and Wang started during an April edition of Taiwan Voice, Wang's talkback TV show. A discussion between the two degenerated into an argument, and after the show screened, Wang claimed he had received more than 2,000 phone calls from viewers who wanted to protest Shen's remarks.

Wang then invited another batch of commentators to lambaste Shen, whose behavior was likened to Wu San-kui (吳三桂), a Han Chinese collaborator who helped the Manchurians overthrow the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century.

But Shen was already a divisive figure within the DPP. He first came to wider public attention and created a big stir when he gave credence to allegations by the tycoon-turned-fugitive Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) that the latter had presented a donation to first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), naming Shen as a witness to the transaction that had allegedly taken place 10 years before.

Shen's unwillingness to testify against Chen's accusations threatened to derail President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election campaign in the week before the election.

Since then, Shen has been sharply criticized by pan-green supporters, who have denounced him for being a DPP apostate and for making connections with pro-blue figures such as independent Legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜) -- also a DPP defector -- and UFO Radio chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康), a unification fundamentalist.

In April, Shen publicly urged pro-green politicians to cease using the phrase "love Taiwan" as an encapsulation of their pro-localization stance and a barometer of determining whether a person loves Taiwan or sides with China. Shen said the pan-green monopolistic use of this phrase polarized loyalty for the country and was detrimental to ethnic harmony between the majority Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) and Mainlanders who came to Taiwan after 1945.

Shen's rhetoric soon drew criticism from pro-green supporters, Wang among them, who has spared no effort on his show since then to denounce Shen's remarks.

In recent days the conflict between the two escalated into a media war when Shen condemned Wang for hosting the new political talk show Taiwan Advancement on the Chinese Television System (CTS).

Shen said that Wang, through his new talk show, would instigate ethnic conflict to boost ratings. He said the way Wang hosted the show seemed like he was possessed by spirits.

Furious, Wang quit the show after only a few days, citing pressure from China and the accusations from Shen, a move that led to DPP leaders worrying about party instability.

But Wang returned to the show on Monday, with observers suggesting that support from former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Chen Shui-bian and new CTS president Chiang Hsia (江霞) was critical in getting him back on board.

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