Disinformation, Defamation, and Stonewalling: Stepping over the Corpses of Farmers
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 30, 2011
Summary: Agricultural issues have long been considered the DPP's strong suit. But the DPP committed a major blunder with its "persimmons for only two dollars a catty" propaganda campaign. Flagrantly false allegations that persimmons were being sold at fire sale prices seriously hurt fruit growers. But everyone in the DPP from Chairman Tsai Ing-wen on down continues stonewalling. The DPP has yet to issue a single word of apology. Is this the behavior of a party that trumpets its solidarity with farmers?
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Agricultural issues have long been considered the DPP's strong suit. But the DPP committed a major blunder with its "persimmons for only two dollars a catty" propaganda campaign. Flagrantly false allegations that persimmons were being sold at fire sale prices seriously hurt fruit growers. But everyone in the DPP from Chairman Tsai Ing-wen on down continues stonewalling. The DPP has yet to issue a single word of apology. Is this the behavior of a party that trumpets its solidarity with farmers?
The DPP has long played the agricultural card. The subsidies for elderly farmers controversy left the KMT battered and bruised, and forced to play catch up. The Mainland recently signed contracts with fish farmers in Tainan's Xuejia District for farm raised milkfish. Some fishermen said that even though they had accepted purchase orders from the Mainland, they would still vote for the DPP. The DPP has probably concluded that it has a lock on the traditional farming and fishing industry vote. Therefore it can ignore the plight of these grass roots voters. It has probably concluded that in order to undermine the ruling party, it can get away with distorting the facts, falsely claiming that persimmons are being sold at fire sale prices, and inflicting serious harm on farmers.
In order to depict the KMT as inept, the DPP is willing to undermine fruit prices again and again, forcing fruit growers to endure massive losses. The DPP launched a "Wasted Labor" fruit calendar propaganda campaign. Each month the calendar features a fruit whose price has plummeted. The DPP's intention was to make the KMT look bad, The fruits featured include oranges at 4.8 dollars per catty, oranges at 6 dollars, bananas at 2 dollars, papayas at 3 dollars, longans at 4 dollars, lychees at 10 dollars, guavas at 5 dollars, top-grafted pears at record lows, grapefruit at 4 dollars, persimmons at 2 dollars, and apple pears at prices that have fallen precipitously. Finally, the month of December features a giant question mark, rhetorically demanding, "who's next?"
Prices for agricultural products are unsatisfactory. This may be due to problems with production and marketing, resulting in harm to farmers. The government should be concerned and should seek solutions. But the DPP's propaganda campaign contains considerable misinformation or disinformation. It has raised considerable controversy. For example, the month of May features longans. But longans are not in season until July and August. Another example is persimmons in October, at 2 dollars per catty. This is not the actual market price, and has provoked anxiety and anger among persimmon growers. Once this DPP propaganda was released, fruit wholesalers and consumers demanded that persimmon growers sell them persimmons at these artificially concocted prices. Wholesalers were forced to return 60% of their consignments. Even consumers concluded that persimmon prices were too high and refused to buy.
The DPP's propaganda campaign destroyed the persimmon market, It caused innocent persimmon growers untold harm. Not a single person up or down the ranks of the DPP has expressed regret, Party Chairman Tsai Ing-wen took the lead. She said the two dollars a catty price referred to the price at the first point of sale, the orchards. President Ma said the price referred to was the wholesale price. Tsai Ing-wen called Ma Ying-jeou ignorant. But as soon as Tsai Ing-wen's remark got out fruit growers confirmed that the price at the first point of sale was the wholesale price. Tsai Ing-wen was the one who revealed her ignorance while feigning expertise. Tsai Huang-lang then chimed in. He said the persimmons referred to in the DPP's propaganda campaign were not upscale persimmons, but beefheart persimmons from Taitung. But this attempt at damage control was immediately refuted by Taitung farmers. Fruit growers said that beefheart persimmons were low volume products. Even beef heart persimmons were 20 to 30 dollars per catty. They could hardly be the persimmons selling for two dollars per catty shown in the DPP's fruit calendar campaign. Besides, the persimmons illustrated in the DPP's propaganda campaign were clearly sweet persimmons.
The DPP then made a third attempt at damage control. Spokesman Chen Chi-mai said the DPP got its information from a local paper, the China Times. Chen said that according to the China Time, Taitung beefheart persimmon prices had plunged. The wholesale price was only one or two dollars per catty. He said the DPP campaign cited this data. But the reporter responsible for the article explained that the price was only for seconds. it was only for defective produce. It was not the price for normal produce. It was not the price for the high grade persimmons illustrated in the DPP's propaganda campaign. Furthermore, as the China Times reporter explained, the news report said the price was "two dollars each." This was a far cry from the "two dollars per catty" for high quality fruit cited in the DPP's propaganda campaign, It was the price for seconds. It was clearly a unit price. Yet the DPP claimed it was a per catty price. The DPP misled consumers and wholesalers, It hurt farmers. It even undermined fruit vendors.
Seeing no way to escape the persimmons fiasco, Tsai Ing-wen passed the buck onto DPP propaganda personnel, saying they may have used the wrong photograph. She said they "regretted" what they did. But what exactly did Tsai Ing-wen regret? Did she regret the fact that the DPP's carelessness and sloppiness caused farmers unnecessary losses? Or did she regret the fact that DPP "mishaps" angered farmers, the flames scorched the DPP, and undermined its election campaign?
This is hardly the first time the DPP has spread disinformation and undermined the price of agricultural products. Persimmons are hardly the sole example. The DPP has repeatedly poor mouthed guava and banana prices, forcing wholesalers to sell their inventory at fire sale prices, and allowing consumers to snap them up on the cheap. Su Jia-chyuan was once Chairman of the Council of Agriculture. He ought to understand the farmers' plight, The DPP has long maintained that farmers are a key source of its political support, It has been only too ready to demagogue farm issues. Yet the DPP is apparently indifferent to farmers, In order to lash out against the KMT, it has no qualms about shooting off its mouth and incurring losses among farmers. The DPP has probably concluded that farmers are "yellow dog" DPP supporters. They will continue to support the party no matter how shabbily it treats them. What can one do but sigh? Do these politicians even have consciences?
2011-11-30 00:58 中國時報