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Clashes, car chases dog Kuo's return

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES: With help from the head of the Bamboo Union gang, the discredited GIO official's exit from the airport turned into a death-defying car chase

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling
Wednesday, Apr 01, 2009, Page 1

Former Toronto-based diplomat Kuo Kuan-ying, second left, is jostled by people holding banners calling him ‘‘shameless” and demanding that he apologize as he arrives at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday following revelations that he posted offensive comments about Taiwan and Taiwanese on the Internet.


Disgraced former Toronto-based Government Information Office (GIO) official Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英) returned to Taiwan yesterday amid clashes between supporters meeting him at the airport and dozens of protesters led by members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Chang An-le (張安樂), the fugitive former leader of the Bamboo Union gang in China, said in a telephone interview that he had asked people to pick Kuo up at the airport “for his safety” as “I have known [Kuo] for years.”

Kuo was stripped of his civil servant status last Monday in the wake of a controversy over online articles he wrote under the pen name Fan Lan-chin (范蘭欽) smearing Taiwan and Taiwanese.

The GIO had ordered Kuo to report to the office by today to complete paperwork, hand over his diplomatic passport and GIO identity card before leaving office.

“I don’t know where the GIO is. I need to check the map. What kind of institution is that place? Let me find out what [the GIO] is. If there is any relevance between me and [the GIO], definitely I will go there. People should never forget their origins after all,” Kuo told reporters.

Kuo said he was saddened that his Paris-based colleague Pan Shun-yun (潘舜昀) was reprimanded by the a GIO for lending Kuo his name for an opinion piece published in the Chinese-language United Daily News defending Kuo.

“Although [Pan] signed his name, it was my article,” Kuo said.

Asked whether he worried that his return would cause ethnic disturbances, Kuo said: “[The ethnic problem] is not something that can be resolved by my offering an apology. I am not the cause of [the ethnic problem.] It’s here already. There is no way that [the ethnic problem] can be resolved,” Kuo said.

Appearing impatient when a reporter asked him why he made such remarks if he loved the country, Kuo said: “You ask me questions. I can ask you: ‘What the hell are you?’”

As Kuo walked toward the lobby, he was confronted by a group of DPP supporters including Taipei City Councilor Wang Hsiao-wei (王孝維), Chang Chia-ling (張嘉玲) and Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培). The latter two have expressed an interest in running in city council elections later this year.

“Kuo Kuan-ying apologize, Kuo Kuan-ying apologize,” the crowd shouted, while others said: “I am a taibazi [“Taiwanese redneck,”台巴子],” referring to a term Kuo used in one of his articles to describe Taiwanese.

Flanked by about 20 men wearing black, Kuo did not respond, but some of his supporters shouted back: “What nonsense are you talking about. Why should [Kuo] apologize?”

A fierce melee then broke out between DPP supporters and Kuo’s escorts, with Wang later claiming that Kuo’s escorts beat up several DPP supporters and reporters.

Kuo was pushed into a waiting vehicle, prompting a high-speed car chase by several reporters’ vehicles on the freeway from Taoyuan to Taipei and then along streets in Taipei City.

The chase ended when Kuo got out of the car and walked onto Minquan Bridge in Neihu, with photographers in hot pursuit. Kuo then jumped into a waiting taxi, which sped away.


Kuo’s driver performed a number of dangerous maneuvers while driving at high speed to try to lose chasing cars. At one point, he drove the wrong way down streets, running red lights and hitting an ETTV cable channel vehicle while making a high-speed turn near Wuxing Street.

An employee at the China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP), established by Chang An-le, said the party had arranged for different cars to carry Kuo during the chase, including two taxis belonging to the Grand Chinese Taxi Association, a chapter of the party.

On one occasion during the chase, Kuo walked into 〝Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT station, where he was confronted by Chang Chia-ling and her supporters, with several passengers cheering for Kuo.

Meanwhile, the GIO said last night that Kuo had reported to the office between 3pm and 4pm and completed the paperwork relating to his dismissal.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) urged Kuo to stop making remarks that could incite ethnic conflict.

“Taiwan is really unfortunate to have a figure like Kuo Kuan-ying,” KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said, calling Kuo “arrogant” and “ignorant.”

But KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民) said Kuo was a product of politicians’ manipulation of ethnic issues.

“If the manipulation continues, there will be numerous Kuo Kuan-yings and numerous [former Ministry of Education secretary-general] Chuang Kuo-jungs (莊國榮) [who created an uproar with remarks last year relating to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) father],” Shuai said.

At a separate setting, Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), director of the DPP Department of Youth Development, said Kuo never showed remorse for what he did.

He said the black-clad men’s violent actions against reporters and protesters may have broken the law, adding that the DPP had asked the police to investigate.


DPP caucus whip Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said the government should swiftly offer a policy on ethnic integration to avoid similar incidents from happening again.

“A public servant cultivated by this country turned out to be a person who hurt the nation seriously. The government should review its civil servant system as some public servants might be confused about national identity,” Lee said.

DPP Legislator Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said Kuo might have been in contempt of authority under the Criminal Code for saying: “What the hell is the GIO? What is the GIO?” during an interview with TVBS prior to his departure from Toronto.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office yesterday defended Ma’s handling of the controversy, saying he was not weak, but rather had abided by the rule of presumption of innocence.


Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said some people have criticized Ma for being weak because he waited 14 days before coming out to denounce Kuo, but the president had a legitimate reason for doing so.

When the news broke, Wang said there was no concrete evidence proving that Kuo was Fan.

“As the president, how could he not know a person should be presumed innocent before he is proven guilty? How could he not wait until the truth was uncovered?” he asked.

Wang said credibility and correct judgment were essential to Ma, especially when it concerned human rights.

“Once the president gets into the habit of being too strong, he or she might be criticized for ignoring human rights or behaving like a dictator,” Wang said. “We are still haunted by the horrors of the White Terror, are we not?”

“At least our president attaches more importance to protecting human rights than cultivating an image of strength,” he said. “Affirming human rights might seem weak, but in reality it’s extremely strong.”



North Korea says it will try pair of US journalists

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2009, Page 1

Euna Lee, left, and Taiwanese-American journalist Laura Ling are pictured in these undated photos.



North Korea said yesterday it would put on trial two US journalists arrested this month on its border with China, stoking tensions with Washington ahead of a planned rocket launch that has already alarmed the region.

The reclusive state accused the two women reporters, Taiwanese-American Laura Ling (凌志美) and Euna Lee, both from the US-based media outlet Current TV, of unspecified “hostile acts.”

The reporters were arrested two weeks ago by the Tumen River, which runs along the east side of the border between North Korea and China, while working on a story.

“The illegal entry of US reporters into the DPRK [North Korea] and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements, according to the results of intermediary investigation conducted by a competent organ of the DPRK,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.

“The organ is carrying on its investigation and, at the same time, making a preparation for indicting them at a trial on the basis of the already confirmed suspicions,” it said.

KCNA said the reporters would be allowed consular access and treated according to international laws.

The US has no diplomatic relations with the North and uses the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang to act as its mediator on such issues.

A US State Department spokesman said Washington was trying to solve the problem through diplomatic channels.

Peter Beck, a Korean affairs specialist at the American University in Washington, said the arrests could provide a means for Pyongyang and Washington to talk to each other.

Beck said he expected Stephen Bosworth, Washington’s envoy for North Korea, to be dispatched in the weeks after North Korea’s planned rocket launch, which could take place as early as this weekend, to secure the release of the two women.



Butterflies gather on plants at the butterfly garden on the campus of National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu yesterday.




Legislature ratifies UN rights treaties

COVENANTS: The Presidential Office said the ratification of two UN human rights conventions showcased smooth cooperation between the government and the KMT

By Flora Wang
Wednesday, Apr 01, 2009, Page 3

The Legislative Yuan yesterday ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 42 years after the nation signed the two UN treaties in 1967.

The legislature also approved the Act Governing Execution of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (公民與政治權利國際公約及經濟社會文化權利國際公約施行法), giving the two ­international covenants legally binding force in Taiwan.

The act states that government agencies on all levels should protect human rights and requires the government to establish a human rights reporting mechanism in accordance with the two conventions.

Although the nation’s then-­ambassador to the UN Liu Chieh (劉鍇) signed the two covenants on behalf of the government on Oct. 5, 1967, the two covenants had never been validated by the legislature.

The Executive Yuan had referred the two covenants to the legislature in a bid to promote the nation’s human rights standards after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in February pushed for the ratification of the two human rights conventions.

Meanwhile, the legislature also passed a proposed amendment to the Employment Insurance Act (就業保險法) to allow the Council of Labor Affairs to extend the eligibility period for unemployment subsidies from six months to a maximum of 12 months in accordance with the unemployment rate.

Lawmakers also agreed to allow employees on parental leave to apply for subsidies to care for children under three years of age. Applicants will be able to receive the subsidies, which are limited to one subsidy per couple, for a maximum of six months.

The amendment sets the subsidy at 60 percent of an employee’s average insured salary six months prior to the application.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英), who had been pushing the bills, said their passage was meaningful and would help ensure social stability.

DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) described the bills as the government’s “small presents” to the unemployed, adding that the bills were also expected to reduce discrimination against pregnant women.

The legislature yesterday also approved a proposal by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) that would allow employees over the age of 60 to apply for retirement.

It also passed an amendment to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) to impose a 10 percent tax rate on individuals who earn profits from interest on short-term transaction instruments, securities, government bonds or corporate bonds. The regulation will take effect on Jan. 1 next year.

The Presidential Office yesterday expressed gratitude for the legislature’s ratification of the two UN conventions, saying it showcased the smooth cooperation between the government and the KMT.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the two conventions had been sent to the legislature for approval several times since 2001.

That they were passed yesterday highlighted another achievement in the administration’s efforts to protect human rights, he said.

Wang said that before the two treaties go into effect in Taiwan, the president would like to see government agencies conduct a thorough examination of existing laws and regulations in a bid to advance the implementation of the two conventions.



Taipei City councilors and local borough chiefs protest at Beitou Park yesterday against the redesigning of a fountain in the shape of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) sun emblem.






Taiwan was part of China

Whilst agreeing entirely with Michael Wise’s comments (Letters, March 29, page 8), I feel I must correct his statement that “Taiwan has never been a province of China.”

In or about 1683, Taiwan was incorporated into the Chinese empire as a prefecture of Fujian Province and Chinese officials controlled contact between the mainland and the island. Taiwan was named as a full province in 1885; indeed it must have been part of China or it could not have been ceded to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki following the Sino-Japanese War (see The Search for Modern China by Jonathan Spence, 1991).

Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, Taiwan was reclaimed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, and God willing, that it never will be.

Dacun, Changhwa County


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