News outlets should maintain the fourth estate’s integrity instead of becoming political propaganda agencies or tools for personal power, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday after reporters asked him about comments Want Want China Times Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng made (蔡衍明) on Saturday.
Tsai called out Ko in an article published on Saturday in the Chinese-language China Times, five days after the relationship between the two men became the subject of intense media interest.
It began on Monday last week, when Ko said in a TV interview that Want Want China Times used to support him, but had distanced itself from him because he was not very “obedient” in making remarks they wanted him to say.
“The stuff that poured out of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) mouth was what Want Want China Times had initially wanted him to say,” Ko added.
Asked by the show host whether he meant Want Want China Times was telling Han what to say, Ko said that news media can have their stances, but they should not go too far and become propaganda tools.
For the rest of the week, reporters repeatedly asked Ko what Want Want China Times had wanted him to say.
In a magazine interview published on Wednesday, Ko said Han was supported by the Want Want China Times, and that the company receives instructions from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO).
Ko on Friday told reporters that Tsai had wanted him to support the “colorless wake up, 10 proposals” (無色覺醒十大主張) initiated by Want Want China Times in August last year.
The idea was based on reason and practicality, and were aimed at providing an action plan for Taiwan to break through the political struggle between the pan-blue and pan-green camps, as well as the deadlock in cross-strait relations, the company said at the time.
The 10 proposals include acknowledging that “Taiwanese are Chinese,” helping Taiwanese understand the Chinese Communist Party and for Chinese people to understand the needs of the Taiwanese, discussing a unification process and model that both sides of the Taiwan Strait can accept, supporting Chinese direct investment in Taiwan and supporting the death penalty.
In an article published in the Chinese-language China Times on Saturday, Tsai urged the Taipei mayor to clarify just when and in what situation Tsai had asked him to promote the 10 proposals.
He personally identifies with the idea that “Taiwanese are Chinese,” Tsai wrote.
He believes that only when cross-strait relations are good and peaceful can Taiwan become better, so his actions come from a “loving Taiwan” standpoint, Tsai added.
“You [Ko] and I have met more than 10 times, do you not understand my true aspirations and real love for Taiwan?” Tsai wrote.
Ko should be open and honest, and tell the public about his relations with Tsai and the TAO, the tycoon added.
Ko told reporters that he had not read Tsai’s whole article.
“However, the media should maintain the integrity of the ‘fourth estate,’ and not become a tool for expressing personal power,” he said.
If China Times founder Yu Chi-chung (余紀忠) knew what his newspaper had become, he would surely cry bitter tears, the mayor added.
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