Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) election campaign office yesterday said baseless accusations should not be made for electoral gains and asked US author Ethan Gutmann to explain why he changed his attitude about accusations that Ko was involved in organ harvesting in China.
The office made the remarks after a news conference in Taipei yesterday, when Gutmann answered questions about his 2014 book The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem in which Ko was one of the interviewees.
Wu Hsiang-hui (吳祥輝), a political pundit and owner of Butterfly Orchid Cultural Creativity who plans to publish a Chinese-language version of the book, on Sept. 3 took out a full-page ad in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) featuring excerpts from the book and claimed that Ko knew that many organs transplanted in China came from Falun Gong members.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
Ko the same day said that Gutmann had already clarified in a written statement in 2014 that Ko was not acting as an “organ broker” or was in any way involved with purchasing organs.
Wu on Sept. 4 said that he believes what Gutmann wrote was the truth, adding that he would sue Ko for damaging his reputation.
After several people commented on Gutmann’s Facebook page, the author shared a link to a 2014 video, in which he explains his interviews and e-mail correspondence with Ko.
“In my book, I do not describe Dr Ko as an organ broker. I described him as a man of singular courage,” Gutmann said in the video, adding that Ko has created an electronic form that would identify the source of every organ and if Chinese doctors were required to use it, it would make the process transparent and hold doctors accountable.
However, in yesterday’s news conference, Gutmann was asked if he had changed his mind about Ko and answered “yes” when he was asked whether he thought Ko was a liar.
Gutmann showed a group photograph of Ko attending a conference on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation training in China and said Ko had told him he knew about organ harvesting of Falun Gong members in 2005, but he had discovered that the conference took place only three months before he interviewed Ko.
“Dr Ko did not say explicitly [in the interview] what he did in the mainland,” Gutmann said, adding that Ko did not tell him whether he was making money or arranging for patients to receive organ transplants in China.
The best description he could come up with is that Ko was a “middleman,” Gutmann added.
“Ko was a potential conduit to Taiwanese patients,” he said, adding that this created a “perverse incentive” to harvest the organs of Falun Gong members.
Ko’s campaign office said Ko was working at National Taiwan University’s Intensive Care Unit at the time and did not see outpatients, adding that organ transplants must be conducted by a medical team, not a single doctor.
It also criticized those who are using the issue to hurt the medical community for electoral gain.
A series of discussions on the legacy of martial law and authoritarianism are to be held at the Taipei International Book Exhibition this month, featuring findings and analysis by the Transitional Justice Commission. The commission and publisher Book Republic organized the series, entitled “Escaping the Nation’s Labyrinth of Memory: What Authoritarian Symbols and Records Can Tell Us,” to help people navigate narratives through textual analysis and comparisons with other nations. The four-day series is to begin on Thursday next week with a discussion between commission Chairwoman Yang Tsui (楊翠), Polish-language translator Lin Wei-yun (林蔚昀), and Polish author and artist Pawel Gorecki comparing
‘EFFECTIVE DETERRENCE’: If the Biden administration suspends arms sales to Taiwan, the military could still ready a nimble fighting force for defense, an analyst said The “US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” last week sparked debate among analysts after US President Donald Trump declassified the document 20 years ahead of schedule. Trump on Tuesday last week released the document that had governed US strategic action in the region since the US leader approved its use in 2018. The document, which outlines US priorities in the region, emphasizes the importance of defending Taiwan against military aggression and facilitating the country’s development of asymmetric strategies and capabilities. The overall directive of the document is for the US to prevent China from establishing sustained air and sea dominance inside the first
MOVING OUT: A former professor said that rent and early education costs in Taipei are the nation’s highest, which makes it difficult for young people to start families The population of Taipei last year fell to the lowest in 23 years due to high rent, more transportation options and the expansion of northern cities into a single metropolis, academics and city officials said on Monday. Data released this month by the Ministry of the Interior showed that the capital was home to 2,602,418 people last year, down 42,623 from 2019. The decline is second only to 1993, when the population fell by 42,828 people, while Taipei’s population was the lowest it has been since 1997. Taipei saw the biggest drop among the six special municipalities, while Taoyuan led the group in
A legislator yesterday called for authorities to investigate the sale of Chinese-made, Internet-connected karaoke machines containing “propaganda songs.” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said she was approached by a person who had discovered Chinese patriotic songs such as My Motherland (我的祖國) — which is commonly referred to as China’s “second national anthem” — in Chinese-made karaoke devices sold in Taiwan. The machines are popular, as they can connect to the Internet, providing access to thousands of songs, she said. One retailer, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the machines first entered the local market about three years ago, starting with