An article about the tragic life story of a little-known veteran running for Taipei mayor went viral last week only for it to be revealed later that it was fraught with errors.
The article on Chao Yen-ching, a 78-year-old ROC veteran from Shandong in mainland China, was written by National Taiwan University Ph.D. student Chiang Ping-lun.
"Paying NT$2 Million (US$64,240) to Tell a Story" -- a reference to the fee candidates must post to run and will not get back unless they earn a certain percent of the vote -- tells how Chao used his life's savings to pay the deposit knowing he stands little chance of winning.
Chiang wrote that Chao did it to bring to light the story of children who fled to the Penghu Islands and were forced into military service -- and the fates of those who were executed for not doing so on July 13, 1949.
Despite its popularity on the Internet sparked fury toward the ruling Kuomintang, which at that point headed the government that fled to Taiwan after being defeated by communist forces on the mainland, the article has been found to portray a motivation for Chao throwing his hat into the race that is different from the facts.
Chao was a student who fled his hometown to Penghu, an island chain off of Taiwan's coast, but his running for Taipei mayor is not to air grievances about the past, but to act as a voice for the disadvantaged.
What called the credibility of the article into question was the fact that the author never interviewed the veteran, but the more absurd development was all of the indignant readers who accepted the article as fact without checking its details.
Media outlets are also to blame for failing to verify the article before carrying it, misleading many as a result. (Editorial abstract -- Nov. 22, 2014)
(By Scully Hsiao)