Fri, Nov 06, 2015 - Page 3 News List

MA-XI MEETING: Removal of article sparks outrage

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff Reporter

The retraction of an article calling for the impeachment of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on an independent online platform has caused other columnists to withdraw their articles in protest and stirred up debate over media censorship.

Academia Sinica associate researcher Huang Cheng-yi (黃丞儀) published an article in the online CommonWealth Magazine’s Independent Opinion section, calling on the legislature to initiate impeachment proceedings against Ma in the wake of the announcement of a meeting between him and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

The article was taken offline a few hours after its publication.

According to Huang, who disclosed the incident on Facebook, his editor said that the article “has been taken offline because the bosses are worried that the readers might mistake it for the magazine’s official stance.”

“Is it not clear enough that the Independent Opinion section, since its launch, has clearly indicated that it is a platform contributed to by independent commentators and has a disclaimer at the bottom of each page saying that the opinions expressed are solely those of the authors?” Huang asked.

“If the platform has to be worried about every article published being mistaken for the stance of CommonWealth Magazine, it probably should not have bothered to set up this platform in the first place,” he added.

CommonWealth magazine later issued a statement apologizing for the “displeasure the retraction has caused to the author,” saying that despite the disclaimer, articles “are often interpreted differently.”

“Extra discretion is required for handling the issue of cross-strait relationship, which is key to Taiwan’s fate,” it said. “The Ma-Xi meeting is a major public issue, [the platform] believes the public is entitled to a comprehensive understanding of the matter so we are to invite more articles of different viewpoints to be displayed in juxtaposition with each other.”

The incident has prompted an exodus of a group of intellectuals from the platform in protest, who each publicly announced their disapproval of the retraction, as well as their decision to stop writing on the platform and the request to have their previous articles removed.

The list includes but is not restricted to: Chang Chuan-fen (張娟芬), an advocate of the abolition of the death penalty, Rex How (郝明義), publisher and former national policy adviser, Ku Yu-ling (顧玉玲), former secretary-general of the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, Chiu Hua-mei (邱花妹), assistant professor of sociology at National Sun Yat-sen University, and Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民).

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