A group of people sued by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) yesterday called the lawsuit an “intimidation attempt” that is harmful to “citizens’ freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Lu filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against a professor and four students that he believes lead a “passing-by” event outside his Hsinchu office on April 23, which left a paper replica of a tortoise shell with his name on it that he took to mean he was being labeled a “head-retracting turtle.”
The protesters had complained that he was toeing the KMT’s party line instead of following the will of the people.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
The lawmaker accused the five — Taiwan Association of University Professors president Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津), National Tsing Hua University’s Radical Paper members Dennis Wei (魏揚) and Wang Yu-deng (王昱登), and National Hsinchu University of Education’s Youth Awakening Front members Wang Yu-chun (王昱鈞) and Hsu Jung-kai (許榮凱) — of libel and deliberate humiliation.
The five held a press conference in Taipei yesterday, accompanied by lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and author Neil Peng (馮光遠), to criticize Lu Hsueh-chang’s action and clarify their appeals.
“We as citizens are asking for Lu’s opinions on recent controversies that have drawn society’s attention, such as the future of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and an oversight bill on cross-strait agreements,” Lu Chung-chin said. “We are demanding Lu [Hsueh-chang], a representative of the people, to respect the public will.”
Photo: Wang Chun-chien, Taipei Times
Wang Yu-deng said the lawmaker was not at the office at the time of the protest.
“It was his office director who came out and immediately went back in after saying a few words,” Wang said.
Wei, who is also a member of the Black Island National Youth Front that played a crucial role in the Sunflower Movement, said the lawsuit highlighted the protesters’ complaints.
“If the lawmaker decided to sue us for likening him to a head-retracting turtle, he is not only substantiating the claim, but also acting like a member of the strawberry generation,” Wei said.
“Strawberry generation” is a term used to refer to young people whom the older generation feel are not able to handle adverse circumstances and are easily bruised, like strawberries.
“A legislator who cannot handle criticism from the public and turns to lawsuits when he is upset does not have broad enough shoulders for politics,” Wei said. “Calling him a head-retracting turtle is not a false accusation since he has been hiding under the party’s umbrella during all the disputes.”
Koo said “banter” is within the bounds of free speech voiced toward public figures or public affairs.
“If a paper tortoise shell can become the target of a libel case, I would suggest all those KMT legislators who have been singled out by the recall project launched by the protesters bring all of them [the protesters] to court in one fell swoop to straighten the matter out once and for all,” he said.
“Otherwise it will be too much hard work for us lawyers,” Koo said jokingly.
When asked by reporters about Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) alleged comment that “passing-by protests” are no longer needed, Peng said the burden of justification is on the person who first came up with the idea.
“We all know who that is,” he said.
Peng also had a question for Guo.
“Guo ardently supported Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), a world-certified bumbler, in the 2012 presidential election. Should not he be held accountable for his choice?” he said.
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