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Talk of the Day -- DPP chairwoman's sexual orientation

2011/04/17 20:51:36

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Shih Ming-te'scall for incumbent DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen to announce her sexualorientation has stirred up Taiwan's rumor-mill and political circles.

The topic is drawing attention because Shih made his call exactlyas Tsai was running neck-and-neck against a male party heavyweightfor the privilege of representing the main opposition party in the2012 presidential election. If she wins the primary, her 2012 rulingKuomintang (KMT) rival will also be a man.

Following are major newspapers' coverage of the issue:

China Times:

Tsai has responded to Shih's challenge by stating that she "wasnot angry, did not care, and did not need to reply."

Tsai said she need not reply because if she did, she would beacknowledging that Shih has the right to question other people'ssexual orientation -- which would make her an accomplice incommitting "sexual persecution."

However, she added, "this incident shows that human rights needto be improved in Taiwan and that more efforts are needed to protectthe human rights of the weaker sex."

She promised she will do everything she can to make Shih's brandof sexual persecution disappear from Taiwan.

Su Tseng-chang, a former premier and former DPP chairman vyingwith Tsai for the party's nomination to face the KMT's Ma Ying-jeouin 2012, lambasted Shih for using such slimeball tactics.

"Politics should not become like this. This is very bad, " Susaid.

Hsu Hsin-liang, another former DPP chairman who is running ahopeless campaign against Tsai and Su in the DPP primary, said it wasjust Shih's "personal view," which Hsu said he did not agree with.

Former Vice President Annette Lu, who has quit the DPP primary,said privacy should be respected in Taiwan, a country where humanrights are highly regarded.

"Besides, no one should be held responsible for their sexualorientation as it is something predestined by God, " Lu said. (April17, 2011)

The United Evening News:

Shih's controversial questioning of Tsai continues to burn acrossmany sectors of local society, with some analysts believing Tsaimight actually win sympathy votes in upcoming public opinion pollsthat will decide who wins the party primary.

Meanwhile, as Tsai and Su are running a close race in the DPPprimary, a party insider said Su is trying to gain an advantage fromthe Tsai campaign's attempts to link him to "hidden KMT support" inthe polls.

The insider, who requested anonymity, said Su knows the partygrassroots better than Tsai and is trying to paint himself as avictim of the Tsai campaign's smear tactics. His efforts have paidoff, the insider added.

However, Shih's questioning of Tsai's sexual orientation hassuddenly turned her into a victim of "male bullying, " which will winher many sympathy votes, said the insider.

Sissy Chen, a well-known media figure, said that while she wassurprised by Shih's remarks, Tsai's response has proved her anexcellent leader, "so I'd say probably God was helping her."

Joanna Lei, a former KMT lawmaker, said she was deeplydisappointed by Shih's remarks as he is a political figure with somesocial status.

"I hope that Taiwan society will not degrade itself so much thateach person must be stripped naked to be examined," Lei said.

Wang Ju-hsuan, minister of labor affairs and a former humanrights lawyer, acknowledged that Taiwan has not progressed to thestage in which there is 100 percent respect for others.

"Now we are at a stage where respect for other people's privacyis of utmost importance," she added.

To a certain extent, Wang said, publishing one's sexualorientation has some political significance -- as gays and lesbianscan get political support from people who empathize with them -- butTaiwan has not yet reached this stage, because the issue can turn thesubject into a target for political attacks.

Tsai for her part has said it is an issue that must be faced byTaiwan as a whole, not just by the DPP alone. (April 17, 2011)

The Liberty Times:

Shih has become this newspaper's "focus of the week" column.

He is seen in a cartoon commentary as on a par with "SlappingXiao" (Hongci of China) who has been ordered out of Taiwan foradvocating a folk medicine approach of slapping massage andstretching to achieve self-healing power .

"Slapping Xiao" has not just been fined and expelled, he has beenbanned from entering Taiwan in the near future.

Declaring his mind is not yet dead to Taiwan's politics, Shih hasrecently tried to launch a campaign to collect 100,000 signaturesonline in an attempt to sway the 2012 presidential race.

Now, his demand that Tsai should disclose her sexual orientationhas been vehemently criticized by gay groups as well as women'srights groups.

"Slapping Xiao" has finished his game in Taiwan and it seems that"Slapping Shih" has played his game on the wrong person in hisattempts to "sexually torture" Tsai. Shih has a small enough role toplay in 2012, anyway. Game over, Mr. Shih. (April 17, 2011)

(By S.C. Chang)
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