A comment by Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), a member of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) voluntary medical team, describing the former president as a “wreck” due to his deteriorating health, prompted an angry retort from dozens of people with disabilities, who yesterday called for more respect for people with impaired physical conditions.
The gathering was initiated by mathematician Sun Jia-liang (孫嘉梁), who has cerebral palsy and works at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Mathematics.
“We are not ‘wrecks’ and we don’t want residual welfare,” the group shouted in front of National Taiwan University Hospital, where Ko works.
When a nation adopts the residual concept of social welfare, it does not offer assistance to people in need until all other channels of help have been exhausted, and the assistance is often temporary and minimal, they said.
After it was reported that trembling hands, stuttering, inability to walk in a straight line and depression were among Chen’s ailments, Ko concluded that Chen is now a “wreck.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese who stutter, have trembling hands, cannot walk in a straight line, are depressed or have worse physical ailments. Are they all ‘wrecks’?” the protesters asked.
The aim of the gathering was not just to criticize Ko, the protesters said, but more importantly, to right the mistaken view that people with disabilities are “wrecks,” an assumption subconsciously embraced by much of society.
Sun said that Ko’s comment is a reflection and the perpetuation of the social discrimination that has always been around. What is worse is that Ko, a professional physician, “has abused his authority by backing up this discriminating, false view,” Sun said.
The protesters said that society evaluates a person’s worth by his or her physical well-being.
One protester, surnamed Liu, said he had been advised by a landlord not to rent an apartment, but to live in a nursing home.
Ko could not be reached for comment.