Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) yesterday apologized to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for calling her a “scoundrel” (hundan, 混蛋) on Monday at a dinner held by the Foundation of Asia-Pacific Peace Studies. If necessary, he said, he would call Tsai to convey his apology.
Kao made the remark when asked about the DPP’s opposition to the possibility of Taiwan signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) with China.
Stating that a CECA was purely an economic issue and not related to politics, Kao cited the EU as an example of success in consolidating economies.
“Tsai is a scoundrel for criticizing [CECA] when she fully understands [the implications of a pact],” he said.
Later, Kao sent a text message to the press apologizing for “using inappropriate language” when referring to Tsai. He said the aims of the agreement had been blurred and this would cause “severe detriment” to the development of industry if the misunderstanding continued.
DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) told a press conference yesterday that Kao’s first apology via text message demonstrated that he was insincere.
The DPP asked Kao to resign, or else the DPP caucus would begin boycotts in the legislature. He said Kao was not competent to serve as one of the top negotiators in the cross-strait dialogue.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) defended Kao yesterday, saying that Kao did not really mean to call Tsai Ing-wen a scoundrel.
“Although the phrase he used was inappropriate, the gaffe only showed that he is very concerned about the economy,” Yang said.
But KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said Kao set a poor example by making such a comment, adding that he should have been open-minded enough to accept criticism.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG AND FLORA WANG