Cheng Hung-yi's Crocodile Tears
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 10, 2010
An uneventful election has made people sleepy. But a shocking campaign rally has made people queasy. Yesterday evening Cheng Hung-yi mounted the podium and denounced President Ma, shouting, "F**k your mother!", again and again. The next morning however, he wrung his hands in anguish, and wept in sympathy for the widows and orphans of Taiwan. His mercurial mood shifts are truly astonishing. Cheng Hung-yi can apparently change his demeanor at the drop of a hat. But what about the mobs whose resentment and anger he has adroitly stirred up? Who will help them resolve the hatred in their hearts?
Cheng Hung-yi's subsequent apology brimmed with calculation and hypocrisy. He admitted he should not have spewed obscenities. But he spun his intemperate outburst as boundless compassion. He attributed it to his dismay at seeing Taiwanese suffer. Only then, he insisted, did his obscenities slip out. But Cheng Hung-yi expressed no regret whatsoever for the false accusations he leveled against others. Cheng Hung-yi's inappropriate behavior was contrary to his role as a media star. He fabricated rumors for political motives. He incited mob hatred. If an individual occasionally lets slip foul language in a moment of passion, or confuses the facts out of ignorance, he can be forgiven. But to deliberately incite social divisions, and to deliberately fabricate falsehoods, is unforgivable. The tears that fell from Cheng Hung-yi's eyes that day were not tears of compassion, but tears of deceit.
Cheng Hung-yi knew full well that the 30,000 NT subsidy for Mainland students was originally instituted by the Lee Teng-hui administration. He knew full well that the policy was continued by the Chen Shui-bian administration, which increased the amount. The policy was maintained by Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and Tsai Ing-wen. How can Cheng Hung-yi blame it all on Ma Ying-jeou? How can he assert that it is all President Ma's fault? Tsai Ing-wen and Joseph Wu felt the subsidies would help the Mainland better understand Taiwan's position. But when the Ma administration did exactly the same thing, why was it suddenly accused of "pandering to [Mainland] China" and of "indifference to whether people on Taiwan lived or died?"
Cheng is a recognized political commentator with strongly held political beliefs. That is his prerogative. As a media figure, Cheng Hung-yi may boldly show his political colors. But he may not deliberately disseminate rumors in order to incite mob passions. Cheng Hung-yi not only over-estimated his own role as a media star and as a Green Camp mouthpiece. He lept onto the political stage and assumed that his halo would provide others with a boost at the polls. In the end however, this talking head lost all sense of his own worth. Even Su Chia-chuan, the candidate Cheng was stumping for, was afraid to acknowledge that Cheng was speaking on his behalf.
Cheng Hung-yi was not the only one who wound up looking like a fool. So did the entire Green Camp. Is Tsai Ing-wen truly unaware of the origin of the subsidies for Mainland students? Yet she played dumb, in the hope that scapegoating the Blue Camp would give the DPP a boost in the five cities election, on the cheap. Are Joseph Wu and other DPP legislators truly unaware that the DPP issued these very same subsidies for years? Yet they remain tight-lipped and say nothing. They hide in the shadows and cackle at poor Ma Ying-jeou, who is taking the rap for "selling out Taiwan." Whose mother was insulted is irrelevant. Cheng Hung-yi insulted every mother on Taiwan with his obscenities. Yet normally aggressive women's organizations and educational organizations remained utterly silent about Cheng Hung-yi's vulgar display.
This is the paradox inherent in the five cities election. Public sentiment resembles a pendulum. It detests the old and yearns for the new. The Democratic Progressive Party's initial strategy was to keep a low profile. This appeared enough to create an image of rationality. The DPP would be able to do nothing, yet shatter the myth of KMT "governing capability." Now however, Chen Hung-yi's "F**k your mother!" incident has reminded us that confrontation within Taiwan society continues unabated. The brief peace during the current election is an illusion. So-called "ethnic divisions," (more accurately termed "social divisions") are not obvious in Taichung. Yet the Green Camp is attempting to use them to scapegoat political rivals and sow social divisions. This shows that the calm prevailing during the current election is merely the eye of the hurricane.
Elections on Taiwan are haunted by the spectre of Adolf Hitler. His ghostly image appears in many guises. It appears in cabbies who rip up newspapers. In elected officials who incite mobs to tear down signs. In zealots who issue CDs and DVDs filled with political smears. In politicians who shout themselves hoarse. At first glance, they brim with enthusiasm for reform. At first glance, they gush about fairness and justice. In fact their goal is to fan the flames of hatred and confrontation. In order to incite public passions, their words and emotions must become ever more more extreme. In order to intensify their appeals, they knowingly spread lies and distortions. The DPP issued subsidies to Mainland students for eight years. Chen Hung-yi said nothing. But as soon as the Ma administration issued the very same subsidies, it became a "traitor to Taiwan." Other than hatred and prejudice, what possible motive is there for such accusations?
Actually, this was not a solo performance by Cheng Hung-yi. It was a group performance by the entire Green Camp. Chen Hung-yi choked back tears and gushed sympathy for the downtrodden. But what really stuck in his craw, was his contempt for Ma Ying-jeou, Mainland students, and Mainland China. Using justice as a pretext for individual political bias was the modus operanda of Adolf Hitler and his ilk. Have we forgotten how the German people danced to his tune back then?