Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Talk show host criticized over Deng Nan-jung jibe

By Chen Yu-hsun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Nylon Cheng Memorial Foundation and netizens have criticized YouTube talk show host Brian Tseng (曾博恩) over his comments last week regarding democracy advocate Deng Nan-jung’s (鄭南榕) self-immolation.

Tseng was accused of saying of Deng: “If everything we burn in life is replicated in death, won’t there be two Dengs in the afterlife?” at an open mic event.

Born in Taiwan in 1947 to a family from China, Deng advocated Taiwanese independence. Deng espoused freedom of expression and in 1984 established the Freedom Era Weekly (自由時代週刊).

On April 7, 1989, he set himself and his office on fire in defense of “100 percent freedom of expression” as police broke into his office following 70 days he had spent barricaded in the magazine’s offices after he was charged with sedition for the anti-government stance of his magazine, which in 1988 published a draft “Republic of Taiwan Constitution.”

The foundation on Wednesday said in a statement that while humor is an important element of a liberal society, it nonetheless hoped that citizens would respect the memory of Deng’s immolation.

It also extended invitations for people to visit the Nylon Cheng Memorial Museum to learn more about Deng and his ideals, as well as the “true meaning” of freedom of speech.

“We hope that the public remembers that freedom of speech is a necessary facet of democracy,” the foundation said. “Had it not been for Deng and others who campaigned for freedom and independence 30 years ago, we would not live in a democratic and free Taiwan now, where we can, contrasted with modern-day Hong Kong, speak our minds freely and vote for our own political parties. However, we must remember that this freedom is not safe from threat.”

The foundation said that Taiwan has a responsibility as a member of the international community to safeguard the universal values of freedom and democracy.

Every Taiwanese has a responsibility to seek the truth, to be responsible for their actions and words, to do their best to safeguard democracy and to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, it said.

The STR Network on Wednesday said in a statement that it is halting all collaboration with Tseng, as well as temporarily suspending his executive power at the company.

Writer Shih Ming-chin (石明謹) said on Facebook on Thursday that if the intent of commentary is not to sooth grievances, then it is not humor.

Tseng yesterday apologized for his comments and added that he would step down from hosting the show.

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