Monday, March 09, 2015

Ko attacked for "gaffe"

Nantou tea farms.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je got himself involved in another mess with a remark that Taiwan has "imported" 300K brides. The Taipei Times reports:
Dozens of members of Taipei’s New Female Immigrant Care Association yesterday staged a protest outside city hall to demand an apology from Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) over his recent off-the-cuff remark describing the foreign spouses of Taiwanese men as “imported foreign brides.”

“I came from China and have been married with a Taiwanese man for 14 years. There are more than 480,000 immigrants in Taiwan. We are human beings, not some products for sale,” association executive secretary Li Xia (李霞) said as she led the protest, which consisted of women like her from
The focus on the word "import", which is very commonly used in this situation in which a nation brings people in, including brides...
Where was the outrage then? Didn't exist, because it is perfectly normal for human beings to be referred to in this language in other contexts, never mind this one. For example...
OMG a double slam, referring to human beings as mere imports and talents! Technology workers of the world, unite!

I'll stop. Anyone with Google skills can find numerous examples of the term "import" used with various words representing human beings. Just google the term "import workers", for example. Nothing is meant by that; economic framing helps explain key issues of supply, demand, and social effects.

So to return to Ko Wen-je above, note that the bride organization with the long name appeared backed by two KMT city councilors, then called on the DPP to join them. The anti-DPP framing here makes it obvious what is going on -- the KMT has old links to the foreign bride organizations (note that the leader of the organization is Chinese), and simply saw this as a moment to invent a gaffe and attack Ko. Ko himself knew exactly what was going on:
Asked if he wanted to apologize for his comments, Ko said he said that he had said many things at the forum, but only two words were taken out of context and then put under the magnifying glass.

“I am confused and troubled by this kind of social phenomena,” Ko said.

“If we believe someone does not harbor malice toward a subject, then there is no need to blow it out of proportion,” Ko said, but added that he would correct any mistakes that he made.
Ko is so refreshing precisely because he has not yet learned to treat his every word as potentially abused by malice driven responses, unlike many veteran politicians in Taiwan. It will be a sad day when he has to lose that authenticity...

UPDATE: Some claim the term is not used that way in Mandarin. Hogwash. A Google search from March of 2000 to March of 2014 turns up multiple usages in reports, scholarly papers, media, translations, and online forums. For 進口外配   a similar search turns up numerous usages in similar contexts.
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Marc said...

You got to admire Ko's repostes. He knows how to call people on their shit. This reposte implies, "What kind of psychodrama are you people playing at?"

Michael Turton said...

Yes, and he does it so bluntly too.


les said...

Of course some people are going to complain at the implication that Chinese are foreigners here. No need to mention who those people might be.

Anonymous said...

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame coined a word to describe this:

Anonymous said...

KMT is really worry about Ko. I think they were expecting Ko to lose popularity quickly so they will go on attack every chance they get. New election is coming up and KMT is still in chaos. Kick dirt on Ko's face is fun for them but taking the eyes off the ball will cost KMT in the long run. Money is life blood of the politics. KMT need money to win election. As political wind changes, donors are also hedging their bet. No wonder Mr. Wang is putting on a brave face and claim that KMT can still win the election.

les said...

Don't worry, sooner rather than later Ko P will upset the wrong applecart and the owner will have his pet dog the mass media bite him. It takes an alignment of the right forces but when it happens they will drive anyone from office. Everyday the public will hear how everything is his fault, from the economy to relations with China, to the weather, to how your breakfast tasted a bit off this morning. Public opinion is fickle, and the masses love to pillory the one they put on the pedestal just yesterday.