Minister Tu slams local journalists

LOSING IT: The Association of Taiwan Journalists called on Tu Cheng-sheng to apologize to a cameraman he had pushed against a wall after losing his temper

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Aug 17, 2007 - Page 2

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) slammed local reporters in a hastily called press conference yesterday, a day after swiping at a reporter's microphone and pushing a cameraman against a wall at the ministry's headquarters.

Tu apparently lost his temper on Wednesday as reporters surrounded him at the ministry and asked questions about his son, Tu Ming-yi (杜明夷), who was recently filmed by a security camera fighting in a Tainan City KTV parking lot.

The Tainan fisticuffs allegedly broke out after a male acquaintance flirted with Tu Ming-yi's girlfriend. No injuries were reported in the scuffle, and Tu Ming-yi was not charged with a crime, despite police intervention.

Visibly irate yesterday, Tu Cheng-sheng defended his own physical outburst as a reaction to reporters' invading his personal space and otherwise infringing on his privacy.

"My son is an adult; his activities have nothing to do with this ministry," Tu Cheng-sheng said.

A ministry press release yesterday called on the media to respect government officials' right to privacy and to refrain from physically blocking them or invading their personal space.

"If that cameraman hadn't deliberately blocked me and infringed on my rights, I would apologize to him," the minister said, referring to the cameraman whom he had pushed.

"Microphones are covered in bacteria, and that one had already hit my face," he said, referring to the microphone that he had swiped at.

Wednesday's altercation was just one in a series of scuffles between reporters and their subjects. A security guard protecting first daughter Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤) allegedly struck a TVBS cameraman who, along with other reporters, had come too close to Chen.

Various local TV networks yesterday claimed that a bodyguard had attacked the TVBS camerman, bruising his abdomen, but footage of the incident was inconclusive.

Local reporters also scuffled with fugitive Wang Chin She-ying (王金世英), the wife of wanted Rebar founder Wang You-theng (王又曾), in Los Angeles, California, where the couple fled to avoid embezzlement charges.

In a statement yesterday, the Association of Taiwan Journalists called on Tu Cheng-sheng to apologize to the cameraman and said the media and government must respect each other's rights.

Wednesday's incident marked the second time a KTV visit by Tu Ming-yi, 27, has landed his father in hot water. In January, Tu junior was photographed in a private KTV bar in Taipei with scantily clad women in violation of military service rules. He was performing mandatory military duty at the time.

Tu Cheng-sheng forcefully grabbed at least six microphones from the hands of TV reporters who had approached him for comment on the matter shortly after news of the incident broke.

The incident had nothing to do with him, Tu Cheng-sheng had said.