Fri, Nov 04, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Officials receive death threats over TVBS furor

ANGRY Some people feel so strongly about the war of words between the government and a cable TV station that they have been calling members of the Cabinet

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Amid the ongoing furor over a controversy involving a television station, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has received threatening phone calls against him and his family, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday.

Making remarks to the press, DPP legislative whip Chen Chi-jun (陳景峻) said that the information had been confirmed by the National Police Administration.

Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Pasuya Yao (姚文智) also complained yesterday that constant calls have interrupted the lives of his staff and family ever since Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers publicized his office and home numbers.

"I once again urge the public not to make these kinds of calls, because these have seriously interfered with many innocent people, including my staff members and my family members," Yao said, referring to threatening and abusive phone calls.

Yao made the remarks at a press conference held at the GIO, during which he played recorded clips of calls for the press.

"Tell Yao ... if he dares to shut down TVBS, he had better watch his back," an anonymous man shouted on the phone.

"Tell Mr. Minister that it is ridiculous for the government to hammer a TV station like that," another caller said on the phone.

Some of the clips contained only strings of non-stop profanities.

Aside from the first clip telling Yao to "watch his back," none of the other clips played contained threats against Yao's life.

However, a senior staff member at the GIO who wished to remain anonymous told the Taipei Times that several threatening calls had been made, but that the clips were not made public because the police are investigating them.

"I really do not know why lawmakers would do this [make public my numbers]. But what they did has seriously bothered me, my co-workers and my family members," Yao said. "We will not change our policies because of these calls. I also sincerely hope that politics can be removed from this."

KMT legislators Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) made Yao's numbers public on Monday and encouraged people to call him to complain about the GIO's investigation of TVBS' foreign shareholding status, and warning that the government could suspend TVBS' operating license.

"In addition to bothering my co-workers, these callers bombard my home phone as well. That scares my family members," Yao said.

Yao said he has filed a request with the National Police Agency for bodyguards. In the meantime, his local police have increased security measures for Yao, his family and his residence.

Asked how Hsieh had responded when told about the harassment, Yao said, "He only told me to be careful."

Regarding the TVBS issue, Yao said that today will be the deadline for the station to explain its foreign shareholding status, and he will be expecting a clear explanation. He said he also learned from a magazine that TVBS chairman Norman Leung (梁乃鵬), who is also the former chairman of the Hong Kong government's Broadcasting Authority, is now in Taiwan.

"If that is the case, I would be more than happy to meet him in person here at the GIO and hear his explanation," Yao said. "However, if [today's] report is clear enough, it will not be necessary to meet Leung."

Meanwhile, Connie Lin (林育卉), director of the Broadcasting Development Fund, said she hoped that the TVBS problem would be resolved as soon as possible.

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