"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

BBC continues Taiwan deception

Says Chen Shui-bian is just a "leader" and
tens/hundreds of thousands are merely "thousands"

After three posts [1, 2, 3] and several complaints to the BBC about their harmful coverage of Taiwan, they're still at it.

The day after the 916 rally on Ketagalan Boulevard to support Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian, another article with no byline appears, written in a style which observant readers would realize is designed to not provoke China, a country whose unelected leaders constantly behave like 3-year-olds who've just had all of their toys taken away.

Reading through the head-lie
The headline of today's imbalanced piece reads "Thousands rally for Taiwan leader." The people who won't see anything but the headline far outnumber those who will actually read the article, and that's the impression that will remain.

The subhead tells us something a bit different:
Tens of thousands of Taiwanese have taken to the streets of the capital, Taipei, in support of their embattled President, Chen Shui-bian
But there's more. The remainder of the article refers to Chen as "the president" two more times and as "Mr Chen" a total of five times.

Let X = X
Chen Shui-bian is Taiwan's president. He's the democratically-elected president of Taiwan, the nation. Hu Jintao is an unelected "leader" of a country ruled by authoritarians. Shih Ming-teh is an unelected leader of a mob that wants to use extralegal means to "depose" President Chen (see how easy it is to type?), despite having legal means at his disposal. Even school children can be "class leaders."

Titles have meaning. If you called your physician Mr./Ms. Chen instead of Dr. Chen (or whatever his/her surname actually is), he or she would naturally feel strange. Even the infamous literary character Dr. Jekyll is addressed with either the appropriate title or none at all, but never as "Mr. Jekyll."

How many "thousands" is 100,000? I'm sure even the editors at BBC could answer that. While 100,000 is still a number of thousands, words mean things, context changes meaning, and care should be exercised by media professionals.

Even if we go with the figure of 60,000 provided by police [NOTE: Sunday's Taipei Times tells us that police "refused to offer any figure" and "that from now on it would not release such statistics."], the BBC headline downplays what happened in reality. If we read further, the article diminishes the importance of Saturday's pan-green rally by making a comparison to the red-shirted rallies the previous day in which people were mobilized by the Shih camp.

The numbers apparently are important to some people.

The BBC doesn't even let us see with our own eyes how many people were there. In the image accompanying their article, you can count 2-1/2 faces and a single hand from each of two more people. Therefore, we can only see five people in the photo. Sunday's Taipei Times gives us a much better photo, although they make the exact same "mistake" with the numbers in their head-lie. (I bet a computer program could do a decent job of telling us how many people are in such a photo.)

Each time they report about demonstrations, instead of playing games with the numbers, why not offer the readers a photograph that shows as much of the crowd as possible -- like from a helicopter -- and let us determine the numbers for ourselves? Could it be that they have ulterior motives?

Misunderstood characters: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

The side of 916 Taiwan's media won't show you

They don't get it because they don't want to

As expected, there was unfortunate violence associated with Saturday's rally to support democracy and Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian. A man wearing a "Taiwan Nation" (台灣國) shirt was attacked by people wearing red shirts even as he left the Taipei train station under police protection. On Friday evening, opponents of President Chen had moved their "sit-in" to the train station to intimidate people arriving for the pro-Chen rally on Saturday. It's surprising that we didn't see more of this. Perhaps the media was looking the other way.

At the scene of the rally on Ketagalan Boulevard, a CTI anchor had to be whisked away as the crowd around his platform got riled up. As he fled the scene with the help of police and DPP legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅), it looked like one person may have landed a blow to the back of the anchor's head. Pan-blue media showed the footage every 10 or 15 minutes for the rest of the day. A cameraman for FTV (usually seen as being pro-green) on the scene was foolishly wearing a red jacket and had a "Depose Chen" sticker on his camera. Unsurprisingly, he was not welcomed by the people there.

In all of these cases, the reactions seem unjustified, but we certainly can't count on the media to tell us the full story in any case.

[UPDATE: Here's some video of the cameraman where you can see the sticker on his camera, found on Wang Ben-hu's (汪笨湖) BBS.]

My wife relates that an anchor on ETTV described the people at the rally as being comprised mostly of betel nut chewers, people with foul mouths, and others who came because they were paid or for free boxed lunches. (I should remind readers of the free massages said to be available at Shih Ming-teh's "sit-in.")

[UPDATE #2: Wang Ben-hu's BBS comes to the rescue again by linking to cartoonist Yufu's (漁夫) blog where he put up some nice video showing that the crowd included lots of young, educated, non-violent people. The video is accompanied by the pro-Taiwan song, "Taiwan is Our Baby." My wife helped me dig up an article on the ETToday web site which pretends to be news, but comes across as little more than a factually-challenged editorial. It says (my translation) that "60% of the crowd was male... Half of the men were aged 40 - 50; of the other half, 2/3 are above the age of 50... Among the 40 - 50 group, most Chen supporters were smokers and betel nut chewers, and their conversation was full of vulgarities... There were many gangsters with tattoos... Of course, there were refined people there, but their numbers were few... Half of the female Chen supporters were middle-aged... The numbers can be attributed to the DPP's male chauvinism..."]

It's nicer on the green side
But if you've ever been to a pro-green rally, you would find most of the above a bit peculiar. Pro-green rallies are full of life, energy, music, and families. The people who attend come from all walks of life. Teachers and students, farmers and housewives, doctors and lawyers, bloggers and readers, but the common denominator is that they're mostly friendly and aren't the least bit confrontational -- unless provoked.

If you're interested in seeing some footage shot on Ketagalan Blvd. on Saturday that's different from the distorted pan-blue media coverage, I found a 30'15" Windows Media video (77.6 MB, in Taiwanese and Mandarin) via a comment on Wang Ben-hu's (汪笨湖) web site, where you can now also watch his web-only show.

Complicated figures: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Friday, September 15, 2006

BBC still not getting Taiwan right

Still making unconvincing excuses

After two posts (on both INDIAC and Taiwan Matters!) about Catherine Gluck's very one-sided BBC article which failed to challenge the lies spoon-fed to her by Shih Ming-teh's crazed anti-democratic campaign in Taipei to "depose" the democratically-elected president of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, the BBC still hasn't posted any comments to the original article and is still pretending that they're trying hard to get it right.

I'm still not buying it.

Smoke and mirrors won't do
In response to my e-mail back to the BBC about the still-missing comments, I received another e-mail, this time from Samanthi Dissanayake. At first glance, the e-mail appears to display genuine concern and interest, but it takes only a slightly closer look to see a less attractive side.

Let's do a point-by-point analysis of Dissanayake's letter.
Dear Tim,

Thanks very much for your emails. I'm sorry that you didn't see any comments posted. Actually, when we put a postform on a story it is largely because we want to collect people's views and experiences for a more substantial piece - so it would amount to more than comments posted at the end of an article.
First, I didn't just "not see" any comments. They really weren't there! Next, what was Gluck's 31-paragraph article -- some kind of a "quick take"? It seems to have done "substantial" damage, nonetheless.

Dissanayake continues:
In this situation, we avoid putting comments up on the story immediately, because we want to use some of the best comments and people for a longer-form piece.
Again, she treats Gluck's article on an anti-democratic attempt to depose a democratically-elected president as relatively unimportant. The choice of the word "immediately" also rings hollow. A whole week has passed since Gluck's article -- practically an eternity in the news business -- and Shih's mendacious campaign of hate has been cheered on by Taiwan's pan-blue media for a whole month now. And while Dissanayake might want to save "some of the best comments," I'm confident that there were enough comments submitted to that article that they could have put up 40 or 50 without even touching "the best" ones.

Let's see what else she has to say about things which don't exist.
When we put up a debate that is also on the Have Your Say page, then we do have the ability to post up most of the comments sent in. Perhaps we should have done a debate in this instance.
As I already mentioned, there are exactly zero comments below the original article, and there are only four Asia stories on the "Have Your Say" page. (Continue reading to see about the "debate" part.)
I am very interested in doing some kind of piece on the political situation in Taiwan and this involves exactly the sort of conversations you recommend we have with people outside Taipei.
They just failed miserably at uncovering the truth about what's going on in Taiwan. They failed so badly, it looked like it was on purpose! Why would I trust them to do a better job this time? Does Dissanayake have special knowledge of Taiwan's situation that she can bring? What does she know about Taiwan? Anything that would let her write (or even edit) a serious piece on Taiwan politics? Let's check, shall we?

A Google search for [Samanthi Dissanayake Taiwan] only comes up with five hits, none of which seem to show that she has actually even written anything about Taiwan at all. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but those results are not too promising. Let's try an image search.

A Google image search for [Samanthi Dissanayake] brings up three hits, all related to Hong Kong.

Even using BBC's own search function to look for [Samanthi Dissanayake Taiwan] brings up nothing where she writes about Taiwan. Does the BBC expect to fix the damage done by an unquestioning reporter by replacing her with one who has no experience reporting on Taiwan, or are they doing it on purpose, expecting most people to not notice?

Further searching brought me to a page by someone who received a similar reply from Dissanayake, but the author of that post seems to have bought her story in the long run. I'm certainly more skeptical than that of the reasons for the unbalanced reports.

Getting back to her e-mail to me, she still fails to impress:
I will certainly be getting back to a number of people who emailed the debate to get a sense of their views. We are very eager to represent the variety of opinion there.
Wait! I thought she just said "we should have done a debate." And why is the part about "getting back to" these people still being stated in the future tense? She's already ignored them for an entire week.

Nearing the end of the e-mail, she's still ignoring the obvious:
I was wondering if you would also be willing to talk to me? Are you in Taiwan? What are you doing there?
This was contained in the bottom of her reply in the section which quoted my previous e-mail:
- - -
> >From: Tim Maddog
> >Email address: [myname] [at] hotmail [dot] com
> >Country: Taiwan
>Tim Maddog, Taiwan
- - -

Notice the extreme lack of attention to detail there. Does it look like she did a bit of skimming? Does she expect me to trust her to do an accurate piece on anything?

In closing, I get this:
I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

BBC News website
Be careful what you wish for. You might get an earful.

I think I will write back and let her read this post -- and this and this and this and this.

Details that need attention: , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BBC angers all who care about Taiwan

They sure look like they're doing it on purpose

On Monday afternoon, I blogged (on both INDIAC and Taiwan Matters!) about a very one-sided BBC article which failed to challenge several blatant falsehoods spoon-fed to them by purely partisan participants of Shih Ming-teh's absurd campaign in Taipei to "depose" the democratically-elected president of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian. By unquestioningly dishing this poison back to its readers, the BBC has done a terrible disservice to the whole nation of Taiwan.

Let's look once more at one of the biggest spoonfuls:
"We don't want any partisan support. We try to keep this as pure as possible, as a movement of the people," said Emile Sheng, professor of politics at Soochow University, who has joined the protest camp as a media spokesman.
And let's look again and again at a photo from the actual event and see if we can spot any "partisan support" or anybody who looks excessively happy about getting such support lavished upon him:

Not a SPECK of green... except for all that friggin' envy
"We're not partisans,
we just play 'em in our roles
as chairmen of the anti-Chen parties"

Doh! It's PFP chairman James Soong
and KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou
making a Shih Ming-teh sandwich!

Caught red-handed
I was but one among a throng of commenters who submitted our thoughts on the article, but strangely, none of our comments appeared below that post hours and even days later. The scenario grows worse below, but even at this relatively early stage, I knew that something was terribly amiss and that it was time for further action.
I submitted this feedback to the BBC:
I and several others have tried to add comments to the Caroline Gluck piece "Protests against Chen gain ground" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5323466.stm], yet not a single comment has appeared. I submitted my own comment over 24 hours ago. According to the socialforce.org web site in Taiwan, there are many complaints about the inaccuracy of the article. [http://www.socialforce.org/phpBB/topic_15415.html] Please let me know something, as I strive for accuracy in my own writings.

Here's the reply I got from the BBC Tuesday night:
Thank you for contacting us about the article. We are sorry that readers' comments were not added at the time the article appeared, as they should have been. Please send any complaints about the article to this address, and they will be forwarded to the relevant editor.
This was far from being satisfactory. I wrote back immediately:
What does this mean?:
- - -
>[...] Please send any complaints about the article to
>this address, and they will be forwarded to the relevant editor.
- - -

Which "this address"? The one I just wrote to? I still don't see any comments below the article I complained about? Is something preventing you from doing so now? Better late than never, but if you don't put any of those comments there, the many already-disappointed readers will only become even more so.

Please forward my comments (quoted below) [above, in this post] to "the relevant editor" at least once, and let's see if you can do something to counter the perception that the BBC is participating in a coordinated media effort to smear the Chen Shui-bian government. You need someone who's outside of Taipei to tell you about the feelings of the average Taiwanese toward Shih Ming-teh. You need to understand the opposition parties' hold on the media in Taiwan and the way it affects the public's perception of events. The pan-blue media is a 24-hour-a-day Chen-smearing machine.

You also really need someone who can read Mandarin to look at this:

That's just a sampling of the people who are closely watching what you're writing.

They're "sorry that readers' comments were not added at the time the article appeared." Does that mean that they'll do it now? Better think again!

More than 12 hours after receiving that mail, not one comment has yet been published, and it's pretty certain they won't ever be. How can I be sure? The comment submission form has been completely removed from the page. (I'd be more than happy to be proven wrong on this. BBC?) Are you suspicious yet?

Your turn
Give 'em your feedback on both the article [URL] and on their handling of the comments. You know the routine. Keep it polite, but be direct. Present your case in your own words. Don't expect them to change, but for sure, make them aware that you're paying close attention, that you know what they're up to, and that you're not buying the crap for one moment.

Feedback loops: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Monday, September 11, 2006

BBC gets Taiwan all wrong

Is it on purpose?

A reader of this blog sent me a link yesterday afternoon to a very one-sided BBC article about Shih Ming-teh's inane protest in Taipei. Writer Caroline Gluck, despite being stationed right there in the capital, got so many things so glaringly wrong, I couldn't help but compose a long comment to the article.

An e-mail to fellow blogger Michael Turton revealed that both he and Jason of Wandering to Tamshui had submitted similar comments there, and all of us had done so independently of each other.

None of our comments has been published. In fact, no comments at all have.

Action, reaction
So Michael blogged it, Jason restated his own submission in comments to Michael's post, and I'm now going to reprint my own comment here [with two typos corrected, some links added so that anyone can verify the facts of the matter, and a bit of formatting]:
What the people quoted in this article say isn't necessarily true, and Ms. Gluck, you leave too many distortions unchallenged.

When Shih says "This whole island is angry," he implies that everyone is angry at President Chen. The fact is that many people in Taiwan are angry at Shih himself, as his own ethics are questionable. Shih's current connection with Chen Yu-hao, who is wanted internationally after fleeing justice with hundreds of millions of NT$ NT$60 billion in debt and who now holds a Chinese passport, goes unmentioned.

When you tell readers about President Chen's "public approval ratings falling to all-time lows," you fail to tell them that the polls which say so were done by opposition newspapers like the United Daily News and the China Times which are known for telling obvious lies in their front page headlines. Also, you could point out that 80 - 90% of the news media in Taiwan is run by opponents of Chen Shui-bian, remnants of the KMT's party-state. Again, this is unfair and unbalanced "coverage" of a complex story.

Emile Sheng is constantly portrayed in the English-language media as a "neutral observer." He's given the space here to deceive readers with quotes like "We don't want any partisan support," but he's been anti-Chen for as long as I can remember. Sheng's employer, Soochow University, is curiously named after a place in China. Shih's movement has exactly the same goals as the unelected authoritarians in China: to use extralegal means get rid of the democratically-elected president of Taiwan. Taiwan, you might remind your readers, is an independent country where Chen's title doesn't need to be put in scare quotes the way it is in Xinhua reports.

You unquestioningly say that the red clothing demonstrates the protesters' "anger at corruption." Did you think to look behind the curtain and see if you could find evidence of China's connection to this event? Lin Cheng-chieh, the chairman of a pro-unification party who recently beat a Chen supporter on live TV, supports the movement, and he's connected to gang leaders in China such as Chang An-le. Why no mention of this?

You say that there will be "no noisy horns," yet you fail to mention how the event is disturbing patients at the nearby Taiwan University Hospital. Again, this favors Shih and fails to present a clear picture of what's really happening.

Why is there no mention of any of this?

As for the title of this article, these so-called sit-ins (in Mandarin, "jìng zuò" or "quiet sit") aren't "gaining ground" they're merely getting noisier.
No wonder Michael said at the end of his post, "I can name two dozen bloggers who could come up with a better piece than that."

For the records: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taiwan group political blog unveiled

歡迎光臨, Taiwan Matters!

While it's already day 17 of posting at the new group political blog, Taiwan Matters!, it seems to be time for an "official" commencement, so here it is:


Please visit our blog, re-visit it, bookmark it, submit your comments, add it to your RSS feeds, and tell everyone about it.

What's there to tell? Well, in addition to what you can see there with your own eyes, we hope in the future to be bringing you some of the best commentary on Taiwan available. We also hope to have some Chinese-language posts and translations. I've already tackled one small translation job along the way. Perhaps we can get a bit more of exchange happening between Taiwan bloggers on either side of the language divide.

Michael Turton of The View from Taiwan made the push that got the ball rolling last month with a call to Taiwan bloggers to join the pro-Taiwan, pro-democracy project.

The name grew out of discussions between me, Michael, and Jason about the need for something like Media Matters to correct the very wrong impression of Taiwan that the world gets from English-language media. While China has around 800 missiles targetting Taiwan, is constantly making military threats, has blocked WHO assistance from reaching Taiwan during the SARS crisis, and exercises economic terrorism via its "one China"
policy, Taiwan is still the one that takes a beating in the long run while China runs amok.

Two days after Michael made the call to collaborate, he posted the text of a talk given by Dr. David Plott (University of Hong Kong) in which the self-described "outsider" asked, "Does Taiwan matter?"

The answer came naturally. While we may not have the resources that Media Matters does, we're not gonna let that get in the way, because Taiwan matters a lot to us!

On board so far are the following bloggers:
* Tim Maddog (that's me)
* Feiren from Rank
* Jason from Wandering to Tamshui
* Taiwan Echo from Echo Taiwan
* Wulingren from The Mandate of Heaven
* Taiwan Matters (that's Michael)
* Friend across the strait
Michael put up a template, made some adjustments, and he, Jason, and myself tweaked it further still. So far, there are at least 34 posts from 5 of the above bloggers, and the blog has already had more than 900 visits from around the globe.

We want to do our part to straighten out many of these misrepresentations by showing you facts, connecting the dots, and promoting democracy in order to help Taiwan be recognized for what it is -- a democratic nation that doesn't belong to China, the KMT, or anyone other than the people who live here and identify with Taiwan.

Say it loud, and say it proud: Taiwan Matters!

Matters of import: , , , , , ,

Saturday, September 02, 2006

How the anti-Chen crowd perpetuates the hate

If you did something stupid or evil, would you videotape yourself and put it on the web?

Imagine someone who hates Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian and his family, says that they are corrupt, and thinks that they and others who have similar ideas should be in jail. Imagine that the only person among them who has been formally charged with anything -- and just as importantly, not yet convicted -- is Chen's son-in-law.

The above may not be so difficult, as the pan-blue media continually tells us to hate these people. So let's take it a step further. Imagine, if you will, a father proudly teaching his 2-year-old daughter this kind of hatred. Can you?

It's not your imagination running away with you
Unfortunately, every bit of the above scenario is true, and you don't need to imagine it at all. The father has posted the video on YouTube to demonstrate how "even a 2-year-old" opposes President Chen. See for yourself.

00:23 YouTube video:
"Ting-ting topples Chen Shui-bian"
Click here for YouTube help.

Translation: The father begins to say the names of political figures, including Chen Shui-bian, Lee Teng-hui, and Chen-haters Chen Wen-qian (Sisy Chen) and Jaw Shaw-kong, but he lets the daughter finish saying the last word of each name. The last name the father mentions is the president's son-in-law Chao Chien-ming. He then asks if Chao and a few others close to the president are corrupt. Each time, the daughter answers, "Yes." The father suggests, "Make them step down, okay?" and "Send them to jail, okay?" The daughter answers each question, "Okay!" The father's voice is cut off at the end as he says "Well done!" and it comes out sounding instead like the Mandarin equivalent of "Fuck!"

Family tradition?
Child abuse is said to be like an "infection" which "creates a downward spiral through generations, each victim more likely to infect more and more victims."

Did the father's parents teach him to be this way? Did he learn such behavior via pro-unification politicians? Is the media both the reflector and the director of such behavior?

If you discovered such a video of yourself as a child being programmed with such hatred, how would you feel toward your parents? Would you begin to question everything? Would you worry how it would impact your own children?

And what about the victims who have no idea that such abuse occurred -- what happens to them? Victims of emotional abuse tend to have "social, cognitive, and economic difficulties" when they grow up. How many among the anti-Chen crowd are the result of such emotional abuse?

Exhibits A through H: , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!
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