Ko Wen-je refuses to apologize for ‘fat’ comments

WAR OF WORDS::The Taipei mayor also said that Tuan Yi-kang should swallow some hockey pucks before saying sorry to Han Kuo-yu for remarks he made on Facebook

By Tsai Ya-hua  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Sep 07, 2019 - Page 3

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday refused to apologize for describing Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) as “a fatter version of [Kaohsiung Mayor] Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜),” saying that “fat” and “thin” are mere adjectives to surgeons like himself.

Ko, who was a surgeon for 30 years before being elected mayor in 2014, made the comparison when responding to media queries by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), who wrote on Facebook: “Ko Wen-je is a Han Kuo-yu who did better in exams.”

Later in the day, when asked by reporters whether he would apologize for his remarks concerning Chen, Ko said: “No.”

“If [I was wrong for] saying Chen Chu is a fatter Han, the other way around would be to say that Han is a thinner Chen. Would that be all right?” Ko said.

Words such as “fat” and “thin” are mere adjectives describing a condition, he said, adding that if the word “fat” is forbidden then it should be removed from the dictionary.

The point of the discussion is that “Han Kuo-yu” has become a label and an adjective, Ko said, adding that Taiwanese society often fixates on one word that someone says and then labels it “speech crime” of sorts.

“I hate it,” Ko said.

When asked why in November last year he considered Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) remark that Chen was “a fat sow” harmful to the KMT, Ko said the way in which Wu formed his speech spelled trouble.

Asked whether his description of Chen constituted body shaming, Ko said that was not what he had in mind.

Asked whether Tuan’s faction should apologize to Han, Ko said that Tuan should swallow a couple of hockey pucks first.

Ko was referring to two incidents, the first being Tuan’s dare before the Changhua County commissioner election in 2014 that if then-candidate Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) had not embezzled funds from the Ministry of Education during his time as Republic of China Hockey Association chairman, he would swallow three hockey pucks.

The second was Tuan’s accusation that Han forced up produce prices in 2016 during his stint as Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co general manager, to which Han responded that if Tuan’s claims were true, he would swallow a stack of hockey pucks, and that Tuan needed to just swallow one if his claims were proven false.

Later yesterday, Han responded with laughter when asked by reporters about Ko’s remarks concerning Chen.

Yet, DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) slammed Ko, saying on Facebook that he is a “crasser Han Kuo-yu.”

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday called for rationality and discretion, saying that people should not make discriminatory remarks and set a negative example as competition before next year’s presidential election intensifies.

Meanwhile, Ko yesterday denied having breached the privacy of top Taiwanese model Lin Chi-ling (林志玲).

Ko in a recent media interview said that Lin is pregnant.

He yesterday said he read about the rumor on the Internet, adding that no physicians at National Taiwan University Hospital — where he served as a physician before becoming Taipei mayor — had disclosed any such information to him.

“I will apologize if there is a need to,” Ko said.

The hospital yesterday said it would not comment on the matter.

Additional reporting by Lin Chia-yu, Hsu Kuo-chen and Wu Liang-yi