Altering the official minutes of press conferences by deleting phrases or questions from reporters does not constitute censorship, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) told the Taipei Times yesterday when confronted about changes the ministry’s press officers made to the record of last Tuesday’s weekly briefing.
“It’s not censorship. We just take out phrases or words that are not so appropriate,” said Joanne Ou (歐江安), section chief of the Department of Information and Culture Affairs, which handles press relations.
Ou did not clarify the ministry’s definition of “inappropriate.”
MOFA spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said that since the minutes were for public viewing, the ministry usually “polished” the content.
However, a MOFA official speaking on condition of anonymity said that during the previous administration, alterations to the minutes were mainly restricted to correcting verbal slips and slang.
On Tuesday, the Department of Central and South American Affairs reported on developments in the nation’s diplomatic efforts in the region. After the department made about two minutes of minor announcements, the Taipei Times asked department Deputy Director-General Diego Chou (周麟) for details.
Chou said he had nothing more to report. Latin America is the nation’s diplomatic stronghold, with 12, or more than half, of its allies.
Asked about the nation’s future prospects in the region, Chou said: “If you really want, I could tell you what we did last month.”
The reporter then asked why — unlike the heads of other MOFA departments — Director-General Joseph Kuo (郭永樑) of the Latin America division rarely attended media briefings, to which Chou replied: “You would have to ask him.”
When another reporter asked Chou to share his thoughts on the presidential elections in El Salvador and Panama, two of the nation’s allies, Chou declined to discuss the stances of the candidates on relations with Taiwan, but suggested reporters read the news to follow the races.
In the minutes posted on the ministry’s Web site, much of the exchanges between Chou and the reporters were altered or deleted.
The question on the director-general’s attendance record was deleted, as was Chou’s suggestion that he talk about what the department did last month rather than discussing future developments.
On the elections in El Salvador and Panama, the minutes claimed Chou had responded: “The wires have many reports on it already and we are not in a position to comment on our allies’ elections.”
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”