Want Want China Times Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) said yesterday Academia Sinica’s Yu Ying-shih (余英時) was misguided in his perception of the group, adding that Yu’s recent remarks about China’s attempt to buy Taiwanese media through Taiwanese businesspeople contained many “misunderstandings.”
Tsai’s open letter to Yu was published yesterday in the Want Want China Times Group’s Chinese-language China Times following a massive student protest over the sale of Next Media’s operation in Taiwan at the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday.
Tsai was reported to be one of the local tycoons who purchased the media outlet by Next Media (Taiwan), which had previously heavily criticized Tsai when the Want Want China Times Group mulled purchasing the cable television operator China Network Systems.
Apart from the public letter, China Times also ran a story on Tsai’s new book telling the story of his success as a businessman on the front page of the paper with a full-page introduction to the book inside the paper.
A distinguished historian, Yu said in a letter earlier this week that he was glad to hear young people in Taiwan are engaging in an anti-media monopoly movement and are demanding the government make a public statement on where it stands on Next Media deal.
He further advised them to look to similar movements in Hong Kong.
“In the past 15 years, the younger generation in Hong Kong has been fighting bravely against the People’s Republic of China and its representatives,” he said.
“What happened in Hong Kong serves as an example and a warning to people in Taiwan that the independence of the Republic of China must be preserved using all means possible,” Yu said.
In response, Tsai said he took over the China Times Group realizing the role that the group had played in the development of Taiwan’s democracy. He added that he wanted to maintain the ideals of the group’s founder Yu Chi-chung (余紀忠) and did not bring in any new personnel to take charge of the group’s editorial and finance departments after the takeover.
“I am neither a politician nor a media person, but I was repeatedly entangled in the conflicts of Taiwan’s politics,” he said in the letter.
“I was often accused of receiving funding from China because of my background as a Taiwanese businessmen in China. Some of the statements I made were carefully inspected, as if I was being placed under a microscope,” he said.
“Personnel changes within the group were construed as representing a purge of dissenting opinions. Even the fact that I salvaged the nation’s cable television systems from the hands of overseas investors was being interpreted as the creation of a media monster,” Tsai said.
“All these allegations are baseless and have severely damaged my character and image,” he said.
He also spoke about his comments on the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre earlier this year in an interview with the Washington Post. He was quoted as saying that reports of the massacre were untrue and that reporters need to carefully consider the consequences of writing anything critical, even though they have the freedom to do so. Tsai said he had asked the newspaper to make corrections but the reporter in question has refused to make public the transcript of the interview.
Tsai said the story in the Washington-based newspaper has made him a target for attacks and his ideas are now constantly censored by the public.