Alas, the honeymoon is finally over.
Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not about to go off on capitulator-in-chief Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). For me, his honeymoon was over about five minutes into his inauguration speech last year, about the time he said: “The Republic of China is now a democracy respected by the international community.”
The coupling I’m referring to is what is probably the strangest dalliance since Britain’s jug-eared, eternal heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles allegedly got it on with super-schnozzed US crooner Barbara Streisand (don’t believe me? Check the Internet, it know all). The oddest couple, indeed, since Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.
The unholy union I’m concerned about is Hong Kong-Taiwan media mogul and Chicom baiter Jimmy Lai (黎智英) and media scholar and occasional extremely-close-confidante-of-the-president King Pu-tsung (金浦聰), who got together in February when Lai decided to offer King the position of chief executive officer of Next Media group’s new TV station.
Apparently “the King and Lai” have fallen out after the emergence of professional differences reminiscent of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in that movie with a similar name.
The process of “getting to know you” has been troublesome, according to those in the know, and the two are finding themselves at loggerheads.
The crux of the disagreement, so say TV and Web news reports, stems from Lai’s desire to use the gory, no-holds-barred graphics that are a trademark of Apple Daily news coverage as the centerpiece of his new 24-hour cable news station.
Jimmy wants animated graphics to give viewers a fuller picture of news events, while King’s conservative streak is flashing a red warning light.
Then again, some would say it was a match-up that was always destined to fail.
Lai, an elementary school dropout from a poor Guangzhou family who made his fortune in the clothing business after sneaking into Hong Kong on a boat aged 12, founded his own establishment-challenging media empire based on lowest-common-denominator tabloid journalism.
King, a thoroughbred scion and cousin of the last Qing emperor Pu Yi (溥儀), is a journalism professor and former deputy Taipei mayor who moves between the worlds of academia and politics with a smoothness that makes his buddy Ma look like a drunken teenager fumbling with his girlfriend’s bra strap.
Chalk and cheese.
Now, news of the disagreement may lead the cynics among us to ponder whether King was being used by anti-Lai forces all along as a Manchurian candidate — with the aim of scuppering Lai’s much anticipated, and by some much feared, venture into television.
Given his ancestry he is certainly qualified.
But others reckon they know King better.
Commenting on the partnership to Kyodo News in a February interview, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), who had a taste of Lai-style journalism in 2006 when the Apple Daily ran that front-page photo of his severely injured wife (she later recovered, minus an arm) being wheeled into hospital following a car accident, said: “I still have my reservations about Jimmy Lai ... but [King] is no puppet. I have the utmost confidence in [him].”
The same cannot be said about King’s extended family.
In the meantime, I have a dinosaur-sized bone to pick with a certain South Korean daily.
Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but there are some modern-day phenomena that I just cannot abide, and this latest one is just plain ridiculous.
It’s up there with wearing your trousers so low that your butt appears to be hanging around your knees.
The phenomenon I speak of is portmanteau, in which two words are combined to form another.
Although it is not new — think smoke and fog for “smog” or breakfast and lunch for “brunch” — it is experiencing a kind of renaissance that coincides with the general dumbing-down of language by the global news media and the rise of celebrity gossip culture.
As far as I can tell, this latest phase all started back in 2002 when big-bootied Latino songstress Jennifer Lopez got together with actor Ben Affleck. The pair were christened “Bennifer” by asinine Hollywood gossip rags.
This was quickly followed by “Brangelina,” a hybrid of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, before “TomKat” was invented to describe Tom Cruise and his mid-life-crisis hook-up with starlet Katie Holmes.
Then it started getting silly, permeating the world of geopolitics with “Chindia,” coined by lazy journalists so that they could refer to the world’s two fastest growing economies in one word instead of three.
Lately, US President Barack Obama jumped on the bandwagon when he lumped Afghanistan and Pakistan together into a convenient, all-bases-covered, al-Qaeda-encompassing mass with “AfPak.”
But South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo daily took it too far in 2007, coining “Chaiwan” to describe the combined economic power of Taiwan and the Chicoms.
The reason I mention it now is that this Chaiwan story has been doing the rounds in the Chinese-language media this week — part of the pan-blue media’s propaganda push for even closer cross-strait ties, I suspect. Come on … is it possible for us to get any closer without having to stick our nose in their sweaty Chicom armpits?
The Koreans have us half swallowed by China even before Prez Ma has had the chance to complete his sacred mission of unification.
The South Koreans have now managed to piss off the Chicoms with their ridiculous neologism, with the China Daily Web site on June 3 quoting Zhang Guanhua (張冠華), humorless deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Taiwan Studies, as saying that Chaiwan “wrongly puts China and Taiwan side-by-side, when Taiwan is part of China.”
Trust me, Comrade Zhang, this is not the kind of name rectification we independence supporters had in mind, either.
How would the South Koreans like it, for instance, if we started mucking around with their national title and joining it with that of their archenemy?
Stick North Korea and South Korea together and you come up with “Nouth Korea,” or “Norea.”
That’s enough bastardization for one day.
I’m off for a frappucino, a slice of banoffee pie and a lie down in a darkened room.
Got something to tell Johnny? Get it off your chest: Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, but put “Dear Johnny” in the subject line or he’ll mark your bouquets and brickbats as spam.
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