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Thursday, August 16, 2007

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Miss Fu(福小姐)And Hearsay

Update (8/18/07): Tim Maddog pointed out that I associated "Miss Fu" with a wrong event. I have made some corrections. The point that I wanted to make before the correction remains. Thx a lot, Tim. I apologize for mixing up "Miss Fu" and "Little Nurse" (see below). But maybe I deserve a pardon -- pan-bluers have practiced "evidence cooking" on every chance they got. It's hard for me to keep track of their shows.

Thomas Huang, a Junior Physics & Political Science major in Iowa, posted some comments on Michael's blog article Ma: Acquitted.

In response to his comments, I have some of my own that seems to get too long for a comment. So I put them here. I'll invite Thomas over for further interactions.

Thomas: A deep-green Taiwanese poli-sci professor I knew, who was President Chen's close adviser, once said to me that Ma's case is indeed kind of a revenge from the DPP, whose President Chen was troubled by corruption charges initiated by blue politicians.

This is not a convincing way of establishing an arguments. Thomas is trying to give his arguments based on an extremely damaging hearsay that is not verifiable. It is not different from spreading a rumor.

If you watch Taiwan politics for some time, you would have found that it is the way pan-blue commonly used to launch their attacks. For example, in the infamous Ear-Licking Scandal (舔耳案,then PFP whip Diane Lee [x]Li Chin-An (李慶安) vs. the acting director-general of the Department of Health (DOH) Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲)) in 2002. Li set up a press conference to introduce a senior schoolmate of Twu's who claimed to be with Twu and witnessed Twu when the so-called sex scandal happened. It later turned out that there wasn't such a schoolmate of Twu's and the entire witness show was a setup by Li just to incriminate Twu.

Another example happened on March 19, 2004, after two bullets were fired at DPP presidential candidate pair Chen and Lu during their campaign. Sisy Chen (陳文茜, an advisor to KMT's president candidate Lien-Chan)[x]Sissy Chen (KMT's campaign manager, I believe) held a press conference, in which [x]she presented a "witness", Miss Fu (福小姐), a self-claimed nurse saying that she saw how Chen's people faked the event in the hospital where Chen was treated for his gunshot wound. Of course the nurse was "anonymous" and her face covered such that nothing of this person and her words is verifiable. After the conference she was no where to be found when the investigation started. she said (ref,ref) that an "anonymous nurse" had seen Chen's people faked the event and the doctors in the hospital tampered the medical records to conspire with Chen's story. The "anonymous nurse" never showed up, and the accusation of conspiracy was quickly dismissed by the hospital.

Not long after the "Little Nurse in Chi-Mei" show, pan-blue's legislator Chou Hsi-Wei(周錫瑋) put up another one. Another anonymous witness, Miss Fu (福小姐), with her face half-covered and unrecognizable, was introduced in Chou's press conference to claim that she has a video proving that the 319 shooting was a conspiracy. Her accusation was later dismissed by forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee(李昌鈺博士).

Since then the term "Little Nurse" (小護士) or "Little Nurse in Chi-Mei" (奇美小護士; "Chi-Mei" is the name of the hospital), as well as "Miss Fu" (福小姐) have become the symbols of pan-blue's imaginary witness or cooked up evidence.[x]Since then the term "Miss Fu" has become a symbol for describing the way pan-blue cooks up evidence. If you visit pan-green forums and mention these terms, every frequent poster knows what you are talking about.

More examples can be drawn from those so-called-scandal exposing press conferences held by pan-blue's legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅). Most of his accusations on so-called DPP scandals are base-less, unverifiable hearsay that was cooked up by you-know-whom. If there's a chance for these accusations to go to the court of law, the so-called witness or evidence will be either no where to be found or discarded by the court. I believe deep down Chu Yi knows that, and that's why he held press conferences before the investigation such that by the time the investigation starts, the public is already brainwashed by his false accusations. As I pointed out last year ([0606] Society-breaking conspiracy in Taiwan and here), this is the formula pan-blue follows to paralyze the society:

(pan-bluers)... exaggerating the suspicions, adding up all circumstantial evidences and making it look guilty. This process provokes the public. Then, a looked-guilty, people-outraged case is investigated. If it ends up with not-guilty charges, Chiu then has the outraged people to support him to ramp the court.

If he goes legal way, all those circumstantial suspicions will have no chance to be manipulated. Only by provoking public first, by which he can tag those suspicions with his own judgement, can he turn doubts into something more.

You can easily spot this pattern on almost every attempt pan-blue work their way to attack pan-green.

I am not saying that Thomas intended to spread cooked-up information to pollute the society like that. Obviously I have no way to determine that, for one thing the story is not verifiable. It's just that this sort of hearsay won't help on building any solid argument, and certainly will hurt your credibility seriously, especially when it becomes a routine --- in another comment on the same page, Thomas did it again:

Thomas: Earlier, a high-rank official from the Clinton administration told me that he once tried to help the two sides negotiate a treaty of "maintaining the status-quo." Contrary to public perception of greedy Communists, Beijing was very interested in the plan and agreed that Taiwan can be given more room of international visibility under the treaty (even participation in WHO and UN, etc). President Chen, on the contrary, was lukewarm about the idea. To him the NAME of independence matters more because of elections. So in some cases, the more you fight, the less you get.

The way Thomas described both stories bears the similar characteristics of 福小姐:

(1) Authority - came directly from top or whom close to the power center;
(2) Covert - secrets you can hear from nowhere but me;
(3) Damaging - so damaging such that it renders the target defenseless;
(4) Non-traceable - readers have no way to verify its credibility.

This kind of "hearsay spreading"[x]opinion expression has huge negative impact on the society. It is a fortune that most Taiwan-politics-related English blog articles are free of this sort of hearsay-spreading style talking. But if you visit some Taiwan forums (in Chinese language) long enough, you can spot these sort of hearsay frequently. People grow up in that environment would certainly pick up those "hobbies". But that doesn't justify the act. IMO, whoever intends to put up such an "unverifiable hearsay" should assume responsibility and think more on what kind of negative impact those hearsay could bring to the society.

I applaud "A Bit about My Viewpoints" on the front page of Thomas' blog:

Just like Beijing's cornering Taiwan only alienates people from their already dwindling tie with China, unfair or unfounded criticism to the PRC also helps it justify its isolation of Chinese people from outside.

My studies tell me that engagement always works more effectively than containment; peaceful penetration always works more efficiently than armed confrontation (haven't you had enough for Iraq?) - and less costly.
Listen carefully, watch thoughtfully, and speak reasonably; back up a little bit, calm down, and things will work much better...

I also welcome Thomas' attempt for interactions. Unlike most participants in the circle of Taiwan-politics-related English blogs (should we come up with a term like TPREB?), Thomas seems to represent more on the pro-china side of Taiwan political spectrum. The interactions Thomas initiated are much needed for healing and mutual understanding and will contribute significantly to the future of Taiwan. But it will achieve nothing if we turn the interactions into "hearsay competitions."

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8 Comments:

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

There's a news piece up at the KMT newsite that claims a DPP heavyweight says his internal polls show Ma will win. He's not named, of course.

Sure. I believe it.

Great post, man.
Michael

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

Look, your response is more of an attack on the way of arguments rather than the arguments themselves.

The way Thomas described both stories bears the similar characteristics of 福小姐:

(1) Authority - came directly from top or whom close to the power center;
(2) Covert - secrets you can hear from nowhere but me;
(3) Damaging - so damaging such that it renders the target defenseless;
(4) Non-traceable - readers have no way to verify its credibility.


OK. So what if I tell you the person is Dr. Kenneth Lieberthal (go google the name), and his words were delivered at a lunch talk on his visit to Iowa this February, and also published on March 1st 2007's Hong Kong Economic Journal?

Sometimes I prefer not to name my sources unless requested, and it is up to you to decide whether it is worth believing or not. I personally consider it unfriendly to make derogatory such comparisons without prior investigation. It is far less like rumor spreading than other "anonymous" comments on Michael's blog, as at least I leave the information that people, if found being fooled, can trace back and hold me accountable for my words.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

And also, I won't say I am necessarily the pro-China (or pro-PRC) one, and I support status-quo purely for the sake of status-quo. Why? Simply because now is not the time to attempt for an outright solution. PRC is in transition, and ROC's democracy is still young; bitterness still remains between blue and green, red and green. That's why Mr. Kenneth Lieberthal proposed the interim agreement which I mentioned in my "rumor": after a few decades, when people from two sides become more reasonable and have better mutual understanding, they will find a better way to achieve a bilaterally acceptable solution.

I agree that not naming my sources does hurt credibility, but if you request verification, I will comply if I can (if I can't, take it as a rumor as you please). Look, there's a difference between making an argument and bringing up a point. I did not intend to argue with anybody, since winning an argument on blogs does not help anything (my English writing, perhaps?). So even if what I said was completely cooked-up, would you not take it as "another way to look at things?"

If you read Chinese classics (or let's say, the Bible!), there are lots of made-up stories that can be easily disproved even without any knowledge about history. But that doesn't mean we can't learn from the ideas they bring up. Therefore, as my intention was to bring up viewpoints instead of making concrete arguments, I felt unnecessary to name my sources explicitly unless requested. Therefore, your concerns about "hearsay competitions" are unnecessary, because I will not come up with further "hearsays" on the same issue without clarifying the previous ones. And I believe that if you are a person reasonable enough, you will not respond a "hearsay" with a "hearsay." Instead, you will first request for verification, and if you don't get any, you will just treat the "hearsay" as a pure rumor and ignore it without making any response. So, either way, how can it get into a war of words on "hearsays?"

So, to summarize, on my side, I take your suggestion about the "rules of the game" and I will try to be clear and credible in the future. On your side, I hope you will consider refocusing on real conversations as you proposed. Is that fair enough?

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger hzchang said...

funny i'd always thought that lieberthal, the michigan prof, was a strongly pro-china guy.

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Also, despite your kind intention of further conversation, I am not sure about the meaning of the tags of the post such as 洗腦 and 陰謀. I have never done a single bit of green-bashing: instead, I seek for consensus. Yet I see plenty of irrational blue-bashing here.

 
At 12:13 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

If not supporting either independence nor outright unification means "pro-China," Mr. Lieberthal may be; but I highly doubt if anyone would define "pro-China" like that.

In fact, it seems to me that he's just a typical moderate whose stance works well no matter which party is in the White House.

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...

Thomas, I just updated the article. Nothing to do with your part, but just let you know that I will get back to you tomorrow.

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...

Thomas: your response is more of an attack on the way of arguments rather than the arguments themselves.

Exactly. But how can people argue on your argument if it is unverifiable and the only thing left for readers is "believe it or not" ? The problem is therefore not on the subject but the way it was presented.

OK. So what if I tell you the person is Dr. Kenneth Lieberthal (go google the name), and his words were delivered at a lunch talk ...

If it indeed is a public topic, it makes no sense to tell it in a covert way, right ?

I won't say I am necessarily the pro-China (or pro-PRC) one

It doesn't matter what you "pro." I would fire at whoever trying to convey unverifiable + damaging hearsay-style info even they are pro-deep-green.

there's a difference between making an argument and bringing up a point... even if what I said was completely cooked-up, would you not take it as "another way to look at things?"

No. What you say was not "making a point." You described a "process", an unverifiable description of an event, not a personal point of view.

If you are still puzzled, let me give you an example.

"One of my good friends married to the daughter of a very close friend of Ma Ying-Jeou's wife. He is very close to Ma's family, and he told me in many occasions that Ma is, in fact, a gay."

Ok, that's a description of an assumed fact --- covert, coming from someone close to the subject, nobody said it but me, damaging and unverifiable --- exactly like those you presented.

People from the blue camp might say that nobody is gonna believe it. But how about those green supporters, or those in the middle?

I can assure you that at least half of green supporters are gonna believe it in a split of second, and some large portion of middle voters are gonna be convinced too--- especially after they watch the infamous womanizing voice of "沒有啦" Ma showed off a while ago when he was drunk.

This unverifiable story increases people's disgust and hatred against Ma, and certainly splits the society further more.

Can I simply throw out unverifiable statements like that, and say "it's up to you to believe it or not" ?

No, I can't. Saying "Who needs verification can ask me" is irresponsible, 'cos not all readers have the chance or time to reach me, and many of them are simply too lazy to do so so some choose to believe it instead. It's like firing a machine gun into a crowd, and say, "whoever wants to live should have wore a bullet-proof vest."

This is not about my or anyone's credibility, it's about what kind negative effect this unverifiable hearsay is gonna bring to the society. Any responsible person/party should avoid doing things like that.

 

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