Tue, May 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

King loses another defamation lawsuit against Peng

By Chang Wen-chuan and Shih Hsiao-kuang  /  Staff reporters

Author Neil Peng (馮光遠) on Friday was found not guilty of defamation by the Taipei District Court for calling former National Security Council secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) a “court-certified male prostitute, a jerk, a scumbag and a wretch.”

Neil was first sued by King after he said that King and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had a “special/sexual relationship” (特殊性關係).

After the Taiwan High Court in March last year ruled that Peng was not guilty of defamation, Peng wrote an article in which he labeled King “a court-certified male prostitute, a jerk, a scumbag and a wretch.”

King promptly filed suit against Peng for public humiliation and defamation, as well as filing an appeal over the High Court ruling.

He won the appeal on Oct. 6 last year, with the judges ruling that Peng should pay King NT$1 million (US$30,848 at current exchange rates) in damages and publish apologies, but Peng appealed that verdict.

The lawsuit over the comments in the article was decided on Friday, with the judges ruling that the subject of Peng’s comments in the article was how his freedom of speech had been violated by the first lawsuit and how the nation’s politics is affected by bureaucrats directly appointed by the president, therefore they could not be considered vitriolic and did not amount to humiliation.

As to the defamation charge, the court said that King, a former top official, was a public figure and Peng’s comments pertained to public interests.

Although Peng’s comments were rude and not necessarily appropriate, they were not intended to tarnish King’s reputation, it said, adding that it should be deemed that the comments were made out of goodwill and within reason.

King said he would appeal Friday’s verdict, adding that it was “unacceptable” that the judges deemed Peng’s criticism was made “out of goodwill.”

Peng’s response to the verdict was that the “vile and undemocratic” system predicated by Ma and King has ended, and that he hoped the incoming government would have the magnanimity to accept criticism.

“However harsh and rude criticism might be, [the government] has to withstand the heat in the kitchen of politics,” Peng said. “Public servants serve the people. Is there any sense in public servants suing people over just a couple of reprimands?”

Peng said he wanted to send King a message that many people have said that they would file suits against King’s “master,” Ma.

Peng said he believes that with the help of transitional justice, those who were “bullied” by Ma and King would come forward to seek justice.

“I hope King will get a taste of how I felt over the past eight years, having to be summoned by a court, appearing in court and being put to trial every once in a while,” he said.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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