[0609] Pan-blue's Propaganda on BBC

Shih Ming-Te interviewed by Caroline Gluck from BBC (09/07/2006)
As the "anti-bian" sit-in in Taiwan started on September 9th, 2006, journalists from all over the world were drawn to this hot event. Among the news reports written, I am surprised to see one that shows not only the lack of knowledge of the writer on the subject but also is heavily biased (Protests against Chen gain ground By Caroline Gluck, BBC News, Taipei). Especially, presented on BBC website as the representative point of view, it starts to make me wonder the professional level of BBC's work.

Democracy by counting dollars?

Ms Gluck started the article with the "donate money to show your anti-bian intention" donation summoned by Shih:

Within six working days, more than a million people signed up to support him, donating a symbolic NT$100, a little more than US$3, each.

The speed and the scale took many by surprise, including Mr Shih and his supporters.

What surprises me is that Ms Gluck reports "more than one million people" as a fact. The truth is, Shih never disclosed the exact count of people who donated the money. What he announced is "dollars", not "heads":

( The accounts for "Promising Fund" for One Million People Anti Bian Movement was closed as of 8/25/2006. The sum of donation is NT$111,211,563元 )
[See here]

During the donation campaign, Shih repeatedly requested people to use money as a measure to show their anti-bian determination. Under such a provoking, there were probably a considerably large portion of anti-bianers happily donated "much more than NT$100" to show how determined they are. So, even Shih kept announcing "NT$100 for one person, 100 million dollars means 1 million people", any one with some basic sense will know right away that 100 million dollars never really means 1 million people. In an extreme possibility it could mean one very rich guy donating 100 million dollars alone.

Unfortunately, Ms Gluck took it at the face value and went alone with Shih's trick that there were more than one million people based on the sum of donation. I am wondering, since when the vote-counting in democracy is based on how rich you are?

Before Shih's anti-bian movement, pan-blue legislators have launched a movement in the Legislative Yuan to unseat the president but failed. It indicated that the "anti-bian" movement couldn't gather enough people to reach the head counts required by law. Anti-bianers then sought for a different approach "endorsement over the internet," which is by no way close to be democratic, and thus suffered another definite failure.

Now, knowing that they could not possibly gather enough people to unseat a president who was legally elected by 6.3 million people, anti-bianers came up with another trick: counting money instead of counting heads. Any one who has basic democracy concept in mind-- even he or she never followed Taiwan politics-- would know that it's violating the very basic principle of democracy -- one person one vote -- and is simply a trick to create "fake measure" of anti-bian head count. It's a shame that a reporter from BBS failed to see this trick and went along to dance with those politicians.

Historical reputation

Ms Gluck went on to state that Shih's reputation is the key element for this movement :

His place in the island's history and his personal reputation were factors in the huge public response.

Obviously Ms Gluck has no idea at all how Taiwanese look at Shih nowadays.

Yes, Shih was once a hero of Taiwan for his fight against KMT. However, in the past ten years or so, he has probably used up all the credits he earned and Taiwanese no longer have much respect for him. His famous credits-wasting efforts include, but not limited to, his behaviors during his three terms of legislators (1992~2001)-- he was reported partying all nights in bars, going home to sleep in the morning, and thus missing most of the legislative sessions during the days. The result is that he was ranked the last or the last two in all Legislator rankings -- including the laws he involved, the sessions he actually appeared, not to mention the laws he actually studied, submitted and pushed. What people saw Shih as a legislator was no longer a hero but a rotten politician who did nothing but waste people's tax money.

As a result, Taiwanese kicked him out of the Legislative Yuan when he was seeking the fourth term. Facing that loss, he didn't have any wee bit of self-examination but blamed Taiwanese with a remark that is still famous to this day,

"Not voting me is Taiwanese loss but not mine."

Shih did have a heroic role in Taiwan history, yes, which we shouldn't deny (although even that heroic role has been questioned and put under thorough re-evaluation now). But that is indeed a "history", shouldn't be confused with the current Shih. In reality, Shih couldn't possibly win any election nowadays, due to his behavior no longer deserves much respect from the Taiwanese. The brutal evidence was the pathetic counts of vote he earned when he campaigned for KaoHsiung City Mayor (don't forget that KaoHsiung City is his home town) in 2002:

( Shih Ming-Te campaigned for Legislator in 2001 and 2004, and both failed with 24925 and 26974 votes, respectively. He campaigned for KaoHsiung City Mayor in 2002, failed with 8750 votes )
[Shih's wiki]

Compared to how popular Shih was back in 1992, when he campaigned for Legislator the first time and won it with the highest vote in Tainan, the poor support he got in 2002 simply shows how rapidly he trashed his own reputation.

These information is no secret. The fact that Ms. Gluck closes her eyes to such easily available information and presenting readers a one-sided view jeopardizes not only the reputation of hers but BBC's.

No partisan involvement ?

Next, again, Ms Gluck cited Shih's words without challenging or any counter statement :

I think I am following the people's will," he told the BBC. "The anger towards President Chen is so widespread. It doesn't differ with regard to region, or ethnic groups, or even partisan positions. This whole island is angry.

The truth is, just like any other political events in Taiwan, the anti-bian movement does have regional and ethnic factors. As pointed out by Michael on BBC on Anti-Chen Campaign, with a photo showing "Shih Ming-te flanked by Blue leaders KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou on his left, and PFP Chairman James Soong on his right":

Non-partisan? There's Shih seated with two pro-Blue leaders. Shih himself has been cooperating with the Blues for the last five or six years.

Jason also mentioned in his comment about Ms Gluck's report:

Both chairmen of the opposition Kuomintang and People's First Party not only showed up at Friday's event, but posed for photos with Mr. Shih, who seems quite tickled at the partisan company.

These protests are nothing more than a partisan attack on the elected government of Taiwan dressed up in populist pageantry. It's a shame your correspondent didn't bother interviewing someone who recognizes this fact.

Whole island is angry --- about what ?

"The whole island is angry" is probably a fair statement -- but, angry about what? Is Ms Gluck interested that maybe at least half of them are angry at Shih and anti-bianers for trying to destroy the structure of democracy by, for example, counting money? ( Tim also pointed that out here )

Immoral accuses others of immoral?

Ms Gluck then talked about the "moral standards" by citing a pan-bluer, Emile Sheng, professor of politics at Soochow University, currently the media spokesman of Shih's anti-bian movement, without any counter argument or background information.

"For me, this is a social movement to rebuild the moral standards of Taiwan politics," he said. "Moral standards are not something Taiwan politicians really care about.

"I think by putting people's attention on anti-corruption, it's going to send a message directly not only to the president, but also to every politician in the future in Taiwan. To let them know that we as a people really care about moral standards and want politics to be conducted in a civil way."

Does Ms Gluck care to provide views of anti-Shih people, that if "moral standards" be the main subject of this movement, then Shih is probably the last person in Taiwan having the right to accuse others ?

Other than the above-mentioned political misconduct that Shih presented, his way of life is nothing close to "having any moral standard" at all. For example, his famous "3 Noes" toward females,

"No initiative, No rejection, No responsibility"

How on earth does a person who can't take responsibility for what he did thinks he has the right to question other's moral standards?

Other immoral conducts of Shih:

Shih's ex-wife confirms Shih begged for forgiveness when he was jailed
--Begging for forgiveness from then-president Chiang (instead of behaving like a no-regret hero who he has been painted on);
-- playing hero as a jail riot leader after a riot but actually he was hidden away from the riot during that riot;
-- Sleep with 5 women at the same time ;
-- Claiming that he is so righteous by giving up the compensation money (for wrongful jailing time) but actually he gave it up so he could apply for another much bigger compensation (which was turned down by the court recently) ...

As any other Shih-related information, this is widely spread, easily available, and again, conveniently left out by Ms Gluck, leaving her interview full of unchallenged words from one side.

Anti whose corruption?

Ms Gluck also took the point (of Emile Sheng) of anti-corruption without any counter argument, making it look as though that Chen's administration is such a corrupted one.

Does Ms Gluck know that the members from KMT involving(and convicted) in corruption is far more than that from DDP? Does Ms Gluck know that Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou has publicly admitted that he put the government money in his private pocket? Does Ms Gluck know that Ma's KMT still unwilling to return the estates that KMT had stolen from the people ? Does Ms Gluck know that, if a movement is aiming at "anti-corruption," then KMT would be the first one on the list?

Without providing these counter information to the readers but simply repeating what the interviewee said, Miss Gluck has successfully turned a BBC report into a tool of political propaganda favoring the interviewees.

Redefining "noise" ?

Next, Miss Gluck talked about a creative campaign against "Mr. Chen". She mentioned,

There will be no noisy horns. Organisers say the silent power of the large crowds will speak louder than chants. They have vowed to continue the protests until the president steps down.

I have no idea where all that came from. The fact is, the organizers, even though they told the reporters that their will be "no noise", actually planned to have "32 huge heavy bass speakers" since the very beginning:

百萬人反貪腐運動總部昨天公布,將以大型重低音音箱... 讓音波震撼總統府,搭配三十萬人齊聲喊口號 ...
( One-Million Anti-Corruption Headquarter announced yesterday that they will use large bass speaker to broadcast ... to let the sound wave shock the President Hall, plus the slogan-shouting from 300 thousand people ... )
[See here]

Rehearsal noise
And during the "practice protest", they actually used speakers. As a result, not only in site reporters have to block their ears, but also, a near-by high school was reported to have the glass windows shaking like what happens in earthquake:

( The noise made the glass windows of First-Girl School shaking, shocking the students wondering if an earthquake has occurred )

NTUH map
The above report was published on September 2nd, 5 days before Ms Gluck concluded that "there will be no noisy horns." How can a professional reporter so naive on the subject she is reporting ?

The environment-hazard level of noise continues to bother people after the sit-in was officially started on September 9th. In nearby National Taiwan University Hospital ( NTUH):

倒扁活動昨日正式登場,號稱「靜」坐的活動,卻害得台大醫院病患不得安寧 ... 倒扁重低音喇叭不時發出隆隆巨響,聽似雷聲、更像電影「侏羅紀公園」中的暴龍逼近時的腳步聲。每當重低音放送,C、D棟六到八樓窗戶都會明顯震動,甚至發出龜裂聲。"
( Anti-bian movement was officially launched yesterday. It was called 'silent' sit-in but cost the peace of patients in NTUH. ... Heavy bass speakers generate loud grounding sound from time to time, sounded like thunderstorm, or even worse the stamping sound of a closing T-rex dinosaur. Whenever it happens, the windows on floor 6~8 of Building C and D would shake, sometimes even make cracking sound. )

As a result,

- 家屬忍無可忍,衝下樓抗議
(protest from patients family)
- 在十四樓病房陪病的黃小姐表示,她七十四歲的老父剛離開加護病房,卻被吵得睡不著,只能向護士要安眠藥助眠.
( Ms Huang, accompanying her father on the 14th floor, said that her 74-year old father was just transferred from the Intensive Care Unit, was unable to sleep due to the noise and had to ask the nurse for sleeping pills )
- 一位王姓護理人員無奈表示,這次抗爭吵得不得了,嚴重打擾病人靜養,有不少人乾脆「請假」回家養病。
(a nurse, Wang, said that this demonstration makes unbearable noise, seriously interferes the quiet time that is needed by patients. Some patients simply "take a leave" and go home)

In the sit-in area:

( Coming to the sit-in, people can't help but block their ears to avoid the loud sounds from the speakers )

Now, against all these "noisy" reports, Ms Gluck tried to tell readers that it's a "no noise" event. Should we believe that Ms Gluck doesn't have an agenda of her own ?

Other than the incorrect report on the 'no-noise' of the practice protest, Ms Gluck said,

A "practice protest", designed to test the campaign volunteers' organisational abilities, drew large crowds.

Once again she conveniently left out the fact that the practice protest has to be closed down before the scheduled time due to the lack of participants [See here].

People-elected "Mr" Chen ??

At last, I spotted from the legends of two attached photos about President Chen, Ms Gluck doesn't even bother to recognize Chen as a 'president':

Organisers have pledge a creative campaign against Mr Chen
Opinion polls suggest Mr Chen has lost public support

In the 6+ years that Chen has been in the president seat, that's exactly the attitude of pan-bluer's -- refuse to recognize Chen as a legally elected president. Does Ms Gluck agree with that point, or she was just plain rude ?

Shame on BBC

Overall, Ms Gluck's report shows how poorly informed she is on the subject and how less effort she tried to study the subject or challenge the interviewees. She is not doing a report but providing BBC as a platform for those interviewees to dance. During the time when I was writing this article to counter-argue Ms Gluck, I found that almost every sentence that she wrote is questionable, which is really unbelievable. Without presenting any counter arguments against the words of the interviewees, she has aligned herself with the unprofessional pan-blue politicians, turning herself and BBC into a tool of pan-blue political propaganda. It's a shame on BBC to have a such an unprofessional journalist doing such a lousy job.

Further readings


Anonymous [19/9/06 00:40] said...

No to Taiwan independence!
No to communist China!
Yes to a united, free and democratic China comprising mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Maccau!!!

Patrick Cowsill [1/3/07 21:08] said...

I think you need to be at least a bit sympathetic, especially if the man is suffering from "Stockholm Syndrome."

Very interesting and informative post.

Anonymous [27/1/09 12:43] said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.