Yu Shyi-kun PK China Times

(Liberty Times; Apple Daily)  Yu Shyi-kun is the chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan.  The DPP party central has issued an order that all DPP central members shall not answer questions from the newspaper China Times anymore.  According to Yu, this action was taken in reaction to the long-term smearing of the DPP by China Times, which he characterized as a KMT party organ and KMT Ma Ying-jeou's personal newspaper.  Yu also specifically referred to China Times chief editor Wang Chien-chuang by name: "As long as Wang Chien-chuang is in charge there, the boycott movement will continue."

DPP deputy secretary-general Tsai Huang-liang explains that this means that the party chairman and senior officials will not respond to questions from China Times.  The party central has not imposed a ban on China Times reporter from entering their office building.  China Times reporters can continue to cover the DPP at their facilities and events, but the party central will not respond to any questions from China Times reporters.  Tsai emphasized that there was no alternative even though the DPP is a political party and had no intention to go to war with the media.  But the long-term attacks and distortions by China Times against the DPP forced the party to use a boycott.

The Taiwan Journalist Association said yesterday that when the media publish inaccurate reports, the subject has the right to ask the media to retract/clarify as well as take legal action.  Public figures have the obligation to be monitored by the media and criticized by the public.  The Journalist Association asks public figures not to resort to tactics such as refusing to be covered because the public's right to know and the freedom of press should be respected.  Meanwhile, the media should stick to the professional duty to report accurately in terms of investigating and commenting.

Yesterday nineteen journalists on the DPP beat signed a joint letter to criticize the DPP for violating the reporting rights of the media.  But the appropriate DPP officials called and applied pressure at several electronic media outlets.  Shortly after the letter was released, the reporters from FTV and TTV withdrew their names from the letter.

DPP legislator Huang Wei-Cher said that Chiang Kai-shek even read People's Daily.  He believes that a boycott of China Times would have no effect.  Another legislator said that the people of Taiwan generally suspect that the media are biased, and Yu is merely reflecting that belief.  The boycott of China Times this time can be considered a tactical ploy by Yu in his presidential run.

(Taipei Times)  DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming said Yu's boycott of the paper was the result of Yu's personal resentment of the paper.  "Chairman Yu has a personal grievance with the China Times, but that should not be elevated to party level," Ker said. "We 100 percent respect freedom of the press, but we also hope the press maintains impartiality."  DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng agreed with Yu's decision and said yesterday that, in view of the "high trumpeting of the Fourth Estate," he could not think of other better ways to protest against the paper.  

(ETtoday)  Concerning the spat between DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun and China Times, DPP's Frank Hsieh responded today to the media that he believes the relationship between politicians and media is an art.  He believes that Yu Shyi-kun should respond only to specific instances, rather than expand this in a way that can be represented as a general suppression of the freedom of press.

(China Times; China Times)  With respect to DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun's ban on the specific rights to collect information by a specific media outlet, Premier Su Tseng-cheng said that he personally does not have a "black list."  Premier Su said that "sometimes I am mad as hell" about reports that depart from the facts.  He said that the media is the watchdog of public figures and it is their duty to let the people know what is going on.  The relationship between public figures and media is sometimes tense and sometimes relaxed and there should be a good interaction and mutual trust.  That relationship is built through interaction, with each side observing the rules and the absolute morality.  Even though sometimes reports deviate from the facts, this is generally speaking due to the viewpoints or over-interpretation.  He does not sense any malice.  When the media can accept his explanation to restore the truth, he feels very good.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou yesterday said it was inappropriate for Yu, as a party chairman, to boycott the paper.  "I believe that many politicians have mixed feelings about the press, but the media is, after all, the Fourth Estate, which is an important tool to guarantee diversity in a democratic society," Ma said, adding that he believed Yu had overreacted.  When asked by the press to comment, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said he felt awkward discussing the matter.  "Whatever I say would be interpreted as a criticism of [Yu]," Wang said.  Wang said Yu's action was understandable, but he added that he would not do the same thing if he were Yu.  "I was often [misunderstood] by the press," Wang told reporters. "You often made a fuss over what I said, but I chose to leave it at that."

The following is the translation of the statement from the China Times' editorial department:

1. Yu Shyi-kun should stop smearing China Times.  His speech is clearly libelous.  China Times has always respected the freedom of speech, but it must severely condemn Yu Shyi-kun's fascist statements that are hurting the Democratic Progressive Party.

2. Fighting for respecting the freedom of speech has always been a firm core value of the Democratic Progressive Party since when the party was in the opposition.  Ever since Yu Shyi-kun became the party chairman, he has continuously suppressed freedom of speech inside and outside the party.  When a comrade dissents, he/she is treated as a traitor.  If the media sing a different tune, they are labeled as "pro-unification elements."  This type of of political terrorism has seriously violated the party spirit of the Democratic Progressive Party at its inception, and caused severe damage to the image of the Democratic Progressive Party.

3. The Democratic Progressive Party central decides its policies on the basis of democratic processes.  Due to personal bias, Yu Shyi-kun went ahead to deprive the right to information of a designated media outlet and this is a case of a dictatorial decision.  Since the Democratic Progressive Party receives more than NT$100 billion in political party subsidies paid for by taxpayers, and therefore does not have the right to refuse media coverage.

4. China Times handles political news with the liberal tradition of "right is right and wrong is wrong."  It never played the role of a tool controlled by political figures.  Yu Shyi-kun labeled media watchdog criticisms as smearing, and this shows that he has no clue about the role and function of the media in a democratic society.

5. Yu Shyi-kun represents himself and not the entire Democratic Progressive Party.  But his recent series of extreme speeches has caused serious antagonistic hatred between the Party and society, with huge damage to the Democratic Progressive Party.  This newspaper urges Yu Shyi-kun to stop hurting the Democratic Progressive Party.  All those who care about the image and future of the Democratic Progressive Party should serious monitor, discipline and correct Yu Shyi-kun's wrongful actions.

(Taipei Times)  Editorial: Yu slaps himself in the face.  December 30, 2006.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun's announcement that party officials will cut off communication with the Chinese-language newspaper China Times is self-defeating.

Yu's complaint stems from a piece of shoddy China Times journalism that erroneously attributed an ethnic slur to the DPP chairman in attacking people attending an anti-President Chen Shui-bian rally on Sept. 25. Yu has proceeded with a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, despite it admitting that the report was nonsense.

Yu is certainly entitled to legal action against the China Times, which is no stranger to inflammatory editorializing and publishing fiction disguised as reporting. The real question is whether he is entitled to cut off contact between the newspaper's reporters and the DPP.

Strategically speaking, Yu's actions are laughable. The ban on contact is simply unenforceable in a democratic society, and whatever contact takes place -- there are now hundreds of new tantalizing sources for China Times reporters -- from this point on can be painted as "leaks" or as "DPP sources speaking on the condition of anonymity." Neither portrays the party in a credible light, and distracts the public -- including that paper's readers -- from more important issues at hand.

The withholding of DPP press releases from the China Times is equally risible: They are readily available elsewhere and mostly hardly worth reporting anyway.

Yu has said that editor-in-chief Wang Chien-chuang is behind all the misbehavior. Even if this is the case, directing all responsibility at him seems to misread the structures and complexity of Taiwanese media. Describing the China Times as a "KMT mouthpiece" is also absurd, no less absurd than describing the Liberty Times, for example, as a mouthpiece for the DPP. The KMT and the DPP are not one-note juggernauts; they have factions (official or not), disputes and splits, and it is often the "mouthpiece" newspapers that provide the best information on instability within the parties.

There is no doubt that the China Times has been up to mischief -- and it is not the first time by a long stretch -- but it is hardly the only media organization to stoop to misreporting. And if the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) did something similar and banned contact with a green-leaning newspaper, the DPP would be outraged and rightfully accuse the KMT of behavior unfit for a democracy.

This silly spat does nothing to salvage Yu's disappointing term as DPP chairman. What could have been a sensible legal response has become a pointlessly political game that makes the DPP look undemocratic. To its credit, there was dissent in the ranks yesterday, including from DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, who wisely said that Yu's boycott was the product of a personal feud and should not extend to others in the party.

As the man responsible for such poor strategy and intra-party communication, Yu's time as chairman of the DPP is surely under threat now, and not just because of the China Times affair.

If Yu is to survive in the post and contribute anything to the recovery of DPP morale before the legislative and presidential elections, he will need to place more trust in the wisdom of his colleagues -- and the general public -- rather than lend semi-martyr status to a media organization whose reputation doesn't need his commentary.