Ming Hwa Yuan opera director Chen Sheng-fu (陳勝福) yesterday said he would sue Next Magazine for slander over a report that it was taking money to support the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in campaign events.
In its latest issue, the magazine carried an article titled “Unjust Canvassing — the government subsidized Ming Hwa Yuan NT$280 million [US$9.2 million]; Sun Tsui-Feng (孫翠鳳) backing pan-blue camp for government funds.”
Sun is Chen’s wife, as well as one of the troupe’s top performers.
The article said the magazine had received a tip alleging that the government was abusing its power by subsidizing Ming Hwa Yuan so that it would promote the KMT.
The article also said Ming Hwa Yuan had won 139 government agency bids, totaling NT$280 million, over the past three years.
Using government funds to promote the KMT’s election campaign is an obvious violation of the principle of administrative neutrality, the report said.
Chen, accompanied by lawyer Lee Yung-jan (李永然), held a press conference in the afternoon to deny the allegations.
The picture included in the magazine’s article was taken during a benefit performance by the troupe when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was running for office in 2007, Chen said, adding that he suspected the image had been tampered with.
Ming Hwa Yuan is one of many troupes subsidized by the government and as there were no candidates on stage, it is difficult to see how this could have promoted the KMT’s election campaign, the opera’s director said.
The troupe also frequently performs in southern Taiwan and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) county commissioners and mayors often ask it to perform, Chen said.
DPP Legislstor Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the Ming-Ju Taiwanese opera troupe, in contrast, had only received NT$1.1 million in subsidies from the Ma administration during the past three years, against Ming Hwa Yuan’s NT$280 million.
In response, Chen questioned whether Ming Hwa Yuan could be considered to have helped Tsai’s election efforts when she asked to go on stage during a performance in Caotun Township (草屯), Nantou County, two years ago.
Chen said the magazine should provide proof that the troupe took government money to campaign for the KMT, adding that if the magazine did not respond, legal action would be taken.