In a gesture of support, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Monday sent former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Yang Shih-chiu (楊實秋) and Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) each a basket of flowers and bitter gourds after they — along with three other outspoken critics of the party — were expelled by the KMT on Thursday last week.
Yang praised Ko’s initiative on Facebook, saying: “We have seen the cold-bloodedness of politicians, but we have also seen a politician’s warmth.”
It was the second time Ko had sent ex-KMT members a gift after their expulsion: He sent a similar basket to former legislator-at-large Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) — who lost his status as a lawmaker as a result of his expulsion — on Friday last week.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Taipei City Government adviser Hung Chi-kune (洪智坤) on Monday published photographs of the baskets sent to the three on Facebook, with a comment saying: “Ko’s bitter gourd is detoxifying and fights the heat. After the bitter comes the sweet.”
The gift baskets came with encouraging messages from the mayor.
“Speak up for the people. Keep it up,” Ko wrote in a card to Yang.
“A brave man has no fear,” Ko wrote in the card to Lee, quoting from Confucius’ Analects.
“We can see the virtue of different politicians in [the expulsion of the five],” Yang said.
“As Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said: ‘Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice.’ I believe all politicians are clever, but are they kind to people and sympathetic to them?” Yang said.
“Elections are certainly important, but when leaders cannot put themselves in the public’s shoes and are indifferent to the growing unemployment rate and misery, how can they lead people to a better Taiwan?” Yang asked.
Lee said Ko’s gift heartened him, because it came at a time when he was in distress, adding that he would adopt Ko’s words of encouragement as his political motto.
The bitter gourd symbolizes a well-meaning character who gives “harsh, but earnest advice,” Lee said, which was how he acted with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and other KMT authorities to no avail.
Taipei City Government spokesperson Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said Ko’s gifts were simply a way of showing his support for the three.
“There are fewer people willing to give help when others are down,” Lin quoted Ko as saying.
A city staffer said it was Ko who thought of sending the gifts, and the staff only arranged them.
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