A business mogul who recently ignited a firestorm of criticism over his remarks about the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests yesterday published an open letter in one of his newspapers saying the public should not doubt his commitment to democracy and freedom of speech.
Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), chairman of the media conglomerate Want Want Group and the Chinese-language China Times, said he was upset over the recent controversy regarding his statements that the 1989 crackdown in Beijing did not constitute a massacre.
“From the bottom of my heart, I am very sad that the intellectual community has decided to boycott the China Times because of a misleading report that was obviously trying to hurt me,” Tsai said in the letter, published on page two of the China Times.
Tsai was referring to a recent interview with the Washington Post in which he appeared to say that the reports of a “massacre” were false.
According to the Washington Post, in an article written by Pulitzer-prize winning correspondent Andrew Higgins based on an interview he conducted, Tsai said in 1989 he was struck by footage of a lone protester standing in front of a People’s Liberation Army tank, before adding that the man was not killed showed that reports of a massacre were not true.
“I realized that not that many people could really have died,” Tsai was quoted as saying.
His comments sparked strong criticism among academics, journalists and human rights activists in Taiwan, including Wang Dan (王丹), an exiled student leader of the 1989 protests.
In addition, more than 60 local academics and civic group members launched a campaign on Tuesday to boycott the China Times and demanded that Tsai clearly explain his views to the public as promised.
However, in yesterday’s letter, Tsai said he could not keep that promise because the organizers of the campaign had already developed a bias against him.
“The group has prepared certain ‘topics’ for me to answer, which makes it an ‘open trial’ against me personally, instead of a dialogue,” he said. “How can I respond positively?”
In its boycott petition, the group raised a number of questions, including the issue of how media moguls should deal with editorial judgement and freedom of speech.
That question was in reference to one of Tsai’s comments in the Washington Post article that journalists are free to criticize, but they “need to think carefully before they write” and avoid “insults” that cause offense.
Meanwhile, in his open letter, Tsai offered to apologize if anything he said during the interview was disrespectful to the “mainland compatriots who suffered during the Tiananmen incident” or had hurt his Taiwanese compatriots.
“I love Taiwan,” he said. “I have always respected press freedom.”
In response, the civic group said they did not accept Tsai’s explanations because he had once again used one of his media outlets as his mouthpiece.
“May I ask what, or who does the China Times represent?” said Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), president of the Taipei Society, of which Wang is member.
“The letter only proves that our decision to boycott was the right one,” Huang said. “Tsai’s letter is a well-written article — that’s all.”
The latest issue of the Chinese-language Business Today quoted Higgins as saying that the Washington Post stood by the story, adding that the article did not take Tsai’s comments out of context.
Individual tourists who arrive in Taiwan from tomorrow are eligible to receive limited-edition lucky bags to mark the Lantern Festival, Tourism Administration officials said yesterday. The Lantern Festival-themed lucky bags each contain a Year of the Dragon red envelope, a mini lantern, a NT$300 coupon for an amusement park ticket and a NT$500 Taiwan PASS coupon, the officials said. To get a lucky bag, visitors must present a passport or residence certificate and proof of their date of entry at a tourism center at either terminal at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) or Kaohsiung International Airport, they said. The
TAKE PRECAUTIONS: Never hike alone and prepare food, water and appropriate equipment for Taiwan’s mountains, particularly in the winter, officials said Two mountain hikers were rescued yesterday, a day after a body was airlifted out of Yushan National Park, one of several deaths related to mountaineering or hiking in the past two weeks, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. A Nantou County mountain rescue team called for a helicopter while responding to a call yesterday morning. They said a woman surnamed Chen (陳), 31, and a man surnamed Lin (林), 32, got lost in the mountains around the Batongguan Historic Trail (八通關古道), while traveling west toward Dongpu Township (東埔). They were directed to a nearby alpine meadow, where the helicopter landed with four
‘CORRECT CALL’: The navy said the captain was right to send crew out to fix an issue with a buoy, and that the buckles connecting two of them to the safety line came loose Equipment and environmental reasons, not human error, were to blame for the loss of three submariners on Dec. 21 last year, the navy said yesterday. The navy would not punish any of the Hai Hu’s (海虎) crew after an investigation determined that the captain was correct in sending crew to retrieve a safety buoy, it said in a news release. Three crew members — a master chief petty officer surnamed Lin (林) and two petty officers surnamed Yen (顏) and Chang (張) — are still unaccounted for after being swept from the submarine’s deck by a wave while trying to retrieve the
A student at a Taichung high school who committed suicide in February last year was bullied by school officials, the school said on Saturday, reversing its previous findings after the student’s father asked that the case be reinvestigated. In a statement, Feng Yuan Senior High School said its latest investigation found that four staff members — the director of student affairs, the chief military instructor and two safety instructors — bullied the student, who killed himself on Feb. 18 last year. That contradicted its previous conclusions that the staff’s actions had not amounted to bullying. The student’s father said his son was subjected