Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Monday apologized on Facebook for using the wrong example when he spoke about transitional justice on Saturday, while his election campaign director Hsiao Yeh (小野) yesterday said Ko’s controversial remark had been an accident.
At a cultural symposium on transitional justice with National Women’s League chairwoman Joanna Lei (雷倩), Ko said that transitional justice should be about solving current problems first, followed by preventing them from happening again, while investigating liability for past incidents should be the least important part of the process.
Ko also said that the league and the China Youth Corps are now operating legally and past incidents — apparently referring to illegal profits from so-called “donations” during the former Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) rule — would not happen again, so why does the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee care about what happened in the past?
His remarks drew a backlash across party lines.
Ko wrote on Facebook that “transitional justice is necessary in the process of a nation’s democratization. The attitude that the government holds in facing what has happened in history will also guide how the society deals with current issues.”
“Dealing with current problems, soothing the victims’ pain, preventing the incidents from happening again and investigating liability for past incidents are equally important,” he wrote.
When dealing with an issue concerning more than 1,000 illegal residential units built in designated business zones in Neihu District (內湖), Ko said he looks to solve the current problem first and then modify the regulations to prevent further such cases.
He said his experience of transitional justice is limited to his own experience gained in local government and also from being a doctor of emergency medicine — dealing with urgent problems, preventing further damage, and finally finding the cause and associated liabilities.
“I will reflect on my words and I am sorry for using the wrong example,” he said. “Transitional justice is more difficult than I imagined, but I believe having peaceful dialogue is the beginning of solving disputes,” he wrote.
Hsiao yesterday said that transitional justice is not something that a city mayor should have to deal with and when Ko said he had dealt with issues involving the China Youth Corps, it was only land leasing issues.
Ko’s example was not on the same level as the more serious issues of transitional justice, so it was something of an accident, he said, adding that Ko sometimes makes remarks that seem to come out of the blue because he is a non-linear thinker, but usually if people listen to the full speech they understand the context of his remarks.
Separately, Public Television Service yesterday announced that the first televised debate between the Taipei mayoral candidates is to be held at 1pm on Nov. 10.
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