Monday, March 9, 2015

Immigrant groups demand Ko apologize for bride gaff

Immigrant groups demand Ko apologize for bride gaff

IN TROUBLE AGAIN:In response to Ko’s reference to ‘imported foreign brides’ an activist said his remarks were discriminatory and had kept her awake all night

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, background left, looks on yesterday as a man holds up a sign protesting against Ko’s use of the word “imported” to describe foreign spouses.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

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 China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.
Li was referring to remarks Ko made during a gender forum on Saturday, when he commented that he was bewildered by the fact that there were more single men than women in the nation, given that “the nation has imported 300,000 foreign brides.”
Ko declined to further elaborate on his comments when asked by reporters on the sidelines of the event whether the use of the term “import” was appropriate when describing foreign spouses.
“Today is International Women’s Day, but it is the hardest day for immigrant females in Taiwan. Ko’s remarks were discriminatory against women like us, and those words kept me up all night last night,” Li said yesterday.
“We demand that Ko issue an apology to new immigrant women and urge other women’s rights groups and the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Women’s Development Committee to join in condemnation of the mayor,” she said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City councilors Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) and Angela Ying (應曉薇) also attended the protest.
Ying urged Ko to acknowledge his mistake, while Lee said that immigrants are also a part of the city, and that the mayor should treat these people with equality rather than discrimination.
Later yesterday, Ko said he did not mean any harm when speaking at the forum and admitted that there was plenty of room for improvement in the language he used.
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.
Later yesterday, when told that his mother, Ho Jui-ying (何瑞英), also believed that he should apologize for it, Ko said: “I will apologize then.”
Asked to comment in a separate setting, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that “import” was not the best choice of word to be used in the situation.
“[Ko] should be especially cautious choosing his words,” Tsai said. “However, I think he would be more considerate after we remind him repeatedly.”

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