Independent Taipei mayoral candidate and physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday spoke regarding remarks he made in the past two days that drew fire from politicians across party lines, accusing him of discriminating against women.
“I should change the way I talk as my identity changes — I think I am still having a hard time transforming myself from a doctor to a politician — I am not making the change well enough,” Ko said during a campaign activity. “If what I said makes people uncomfortable, I should improve myself and apologize.”
“I would never discriminate against women. I used to work at the intensive care unit and 99 percent of my colleagues were female nurses, so women are important to me. But I am a poor speaker, I should work to improve that,” he added.
Ko was responding to accusations that he has sexist attitudes.
On Saturday, when taking part in a campaign activity for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chiayi mayoral candidate Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), he said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chiayi nominee Chen Yi-chen (陳以真) is incapable of handling a mayor’s role, adding that, since Chen is “young and beautiful,” she would be better off as a receptionist or appearing in a tourism advertisement.
On Sunday, when speaking to students at National Yang Ming University about choosing to work as a surgeon, he said that he eliminated departments he did not like when starting at National Taiwan University Hospital.
He eliminated the obstetrics and gynecology department because he said working there would mean that he would have “only one hole” to deal with, adding “I would have to make a living between women’s legs, so, just forget about it.”
Ko’s remarks fueled protests from female politicians from the KMT and the DPP.
“Ko should face up to his problem, especially when he is making people uncomfortable. He should apologize,” DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that she discussed Ko’s comments with women’s rights advocate Liu Yu-hsiu (劉毓秀) and they recommend that Ko read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, adding that they hope “he would use his ability to learn quickly to understand the true meaning of gender equality.”
KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) said he could not believe Ko’s comments.
Lien’s campaign spokesperson Yu Shu-hui (游淑惠) said she did not think Ko’s comments were sincere.
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