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Thursday, November 04, 2010

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Freedom of speech in Taiwan being oppressed again

Chinese KMT gov't to the people: "It's our party, and you'd better not mock it!"

The latest example of Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government infringing on free speech (see earlier examples at the bottom of this post) involves a video parodying a campaign ad by incumbent Taichung mayor Jason Hu (胡志強). After mocking a candidate from the ruling party, the creator of the video -- Kuso Cat (AKA 廖小貓) -- was threatened with a lawsuit by Mayor Hu and is being watched by all sorts of government eyes, and the media has been reporting it incessantly as a top story.

Here's the kuso version of the video:

4:00 YouTube video: "台中胡錢豹九週年慶_唬屎狗_廖小貓出品"
Translation: "Taichung Hu Qian-bao's [a play on the name of the 金錢豹 nightclub] 9th Anniversary - Hǔ Shǐ Gǒu [Bluff Shit Dog] - by Kuso Cat"

I don't completely agree with the Taipei Times' characterization that the video "portrayed the young women as working as hostesses at a nightclub in Taichung." An important bit of context that's missing from the related coverage is this this October 29, 2010 news story about police alerting the girls at a Taichung night club of an impending raid. The video of the girls sneaking around fits perfectly. In both the original video and the parody, Jason Hu calls these girls "Everybody's girls!" Although the vehicle for the parody is the video and the girls seen within, its real target is the public figure they're promoting: Jason Hu.

David Reid has a detailed intro to this incident and several related links in a blog post titled "KUSO and freedom of speech in Taiwan."

The sort of attention the government is giving this video (despite prosecutors' denial that there will be an indictment, the kinds of threats implied in the Ministry of Education's letter asking National Taiwan University to "carefully monitor" the political discussions on PTT's "Gossiping" forum) provides yet another example of how things that are critical of Chinese KMT politicians draw swift attention from the law while attacks against politicians from the pro-Taiwan/pro-democracy DPP are ignored. Because Taiwan suffered for decades under the Chinese KMT's martial law and White Terror (which ended not so long ago), and since so many setbacks to Taiwan's democracy have occurred so rapidly since Ma's inauguration in May 2008, it's easy to get the impression that we're very quickly returning to that kind of rule.

Questions to counter the media memes
* Who "portrayed the young women as working as hostesses at a nightclub in Taichung" first? Or should I say Hu "portrayed the young women as working as hostesses at a nightclub in Taichung" first?! (Hu: "Everybody's girls!")

* How could these girls -- who claim to have made this video just "with friends" -- get the chance to sit down with Mayor Hu and record him saying the things he says while their video camera is rolling?

* When businesses like the Golden Jaguar (金錢豹) are still flourishing -- despite promises by Hu that he would clean Taichung up -- doesn't this kind of parody practically write itself?

* Isn't the period of time just before an election the most likely time someone would mock a campaign ad? What kind of person would think there's anything at all "unusual" about the timing of the kuso video's appearance?

* On November 27, 2010, who will the citizens of Taichung elect to be their mayor for the next four years?

Remain alert!

Compare this!
Here's the source video for comparison. Note the multiple double entendres in the original title, including the play on Hu's Mandarin name:

3:14 YouTube video: "Hu's Girl MV-胡志強招募青年志工 "
Translation: "Jason Hu recruits young volunteers"

David Reid's post (linked above) also contains a video of Taiwanese bloggers in support of Kuso Cat.

A small sample of related incidents:
* December 9, 2008: The Chinese KMT "blatantly launched a drive to control the news reporting and programming of Taiwan's Public Television Service Foundation (PTSF), which manages the Taiwan Public Television Service (TPS) on behalf of our nation's citizens." TPS includes Taiwan Public Television, Hakka Television and Indigenous Television, and the China Television Service.

* December 10, 2008: Chinese KMT legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) -- bastard son of Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) -- speaks at Tainan's Chengkung University (成功大學), ROC flags are removed because Chinese students are present, a Taiwanese student protests, Chiang tells the student to "be open-minded" and LIES, saying that there wasn't a flag to begin with. But the removal of at least one flag was already captured on video. A woman on the stage asks the student to "be respectful" -- but what happened to respecting the students of the university who are citizens of Taiwan?

* December 11, 2008: Just four hours after Human Rights Day has ended, 200 or so police round up the Tibetans sitting in Liberty Square (自由廣場) and take them -- some who can't speak Mandarin -- off to the hills of Neihu and Guandu. The police also evict the students from the Wild StrawBerries movement (a group of students protesting the outdated Assembly and Parade Act [集會遊行法]) from the square. Check out some of the police violence that was caught on camera.

* December 17, 2008: The home of Chen Tsung-yi (陳宗逸) -- manager of the recently-demised New Taiwan Weekly (新台灣週刊) -- is searched by agents from the Taipei City branch of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. Chen claims that the agents attempted to intimidate him, and were deceptive about what they were looking for.

* December 19, 2008: The Wild StrawBerries' live broadcast disappears from the Justin.tv web site. A notice says that it was "for violating the Terms of Service." An inquiry I sent to Justin.tv gets me only a form letter reply.

* January 16, 2009: The large teapot-shaped object in Taipei which just over a year ago was renamed the "National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall" (國立台灣民主紀念堂) is retrogressing to its original name of "Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall" (蔣介石紀念堂) to honor the late dictator and mass murderer that the Chinese KMT still worships. Here's a related editorial cartoon ("Out with the new, in with the old. More authoritarianism, less democracy.").

* March 6, 2009: An 18-year-old senior high school student in Chiayi shouts at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), telling him to "step down" (下台). He is taken in and fingerprinted by police. Taiwan Echo has another post on the subject.

* March 29, 2009: Police with video cameras intrude upon a private meeting of bloggers demanding personal information from attendees. The police were unable to explain their presence, and superiors denied having ordered the intrusion. Despite police "apologies" two days later, incidents which indicate a return to the days of White Terror continue to occur all-too-frequently.

These were just a few examples I already had conveniently available. Please submit your own "favorite" examples of the erosion of freedom of speech under the Chinese KMT administration of Ma Ying-jeou in the comments section below. Include links, please.

The natural conclusion
Unless you pay close attention to these kinds of incidents, they will continue to happen, and your freedom of speech will continue to rapidly erode.

Pixel chillers: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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1 Comments:

At 1:39 AM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

A reader submitted some examples of "examples of the erosion of freedom of speech under the Chinese KMT administration of Ma Ying-jeou" via e-mail. I've formatted his links and edited out the beginning, but the main content remains untouched:
- - -
I hope you find these useful.

(1) (One of your reports actually). It concerns the actions of some thugs against protesters at a temple which Ma Ying-jeou was visiting.

(2) This was about police preventing protesters from crossing a street to, ironically, where Ma Ying-jeou was signing two UN human rights covenants.

(3) The whole circus around the Chen Yunlin visit.

(4) This concerns the failed attempts by a pirate radio station to get a license (always denied), and the police moving in to close them down.

Another incident I remember, but haven't been able to track down, is an incident during a Ma Ying-jeou motorcade, where a couple of women were holding up protest signs. Just before the motorcade passed by, the
police pushed the signs down. Not violently, nor did they touch the women (that I can remember), but I found it very chilling - the women were clearly no threat, yet the police found it necessary (in their minds) to prevent even the appearance of protest to reach the delicate eyeballs of the president. I don't recall things like this happening during Chen Shui-bian's term. I was shocked at how easily the police slipped into their old martial-law era habits.

Note that this was *not* during the Chen Yunlin visit. I thought it happened in Tainan, but I'm probably wrong. I seem to recall it happening at around the same time as (1) above, but I could also be wrong about that.

Yours truly,
Brian Schack
- - -

Thanks for the reminders, Brian!

Tim Maddog

 

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