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Apple Daily: Handshake of death and a mean-spirited mayor

Apple Daily: Handshake of death and a mean-spirited mayor

After finally shaking hands with President Ma Ying-jeou, Taipei's new mayor Ko Wen-je confided that he was wondering at that moment during a flag-raising ceremony on New Year's Day whether Ma's infamous "handshake of death" was more powerful than Ko, a former surgeon, and his "hands that heal." Web users, who are largely responsible for the myth of the highly unpopular Ma's accursed handshake, jumped on the quip and exhorted Ko to visit a temple to break the jinx of having shaken the president's hand. Former presidential aide Lo Chih-chiang, however, blasted Ko for "murdering human kindness and reason" with the comment. The phenomenon owes its roots to Ma's unpopularity after nearly seven years in office. While the fantastical stories of people dying after shaking the president's hand have allowed people to vent their anger, it is nothing more than urban legend. On that note, Lo said that Ko's remarks have damaged the empathy and respect that should exist between people and said that comments of this sort will not help Ko become a better mayor. A week into his mayorship, Ko has demonstrated remarkable efficiency and promised actions that are certain to give local politics a new look. Even though the effects of his new policies remain to be seen, most people have expressed optimism during his honeymoon period with Taipei voters. It must be noted, however, that criticisms made by Ko over Ma's time as Taipei mayor offer no real value and his latest reference to the handshake of death meme only diminishes the trust that the city's residents have placed upon him. While his presidency has been much maligned over the past few years, Ma did win re-election as mayor of Taipei with a record number of votes in 2002, building a popularity that catapulted him to the presidency six years later. Ko's disparaging comments clearly do not resonate with the people who have supported Ma. As president, Ma still controls the resources of the central government, and damaging the already weak relationship between them can hurt Ko himself as he tries to run the city. Just as Lo pointed out, for Ko to talk about the handshake of death degrades human dignity and is not in line with the warm character of the average citizen. Ko himself admitted in the run-up to the election that he has a bad habit of passing disparaging comments, saying it is something he needs to rectify as an elected official. But the applause that he has received since winning the mayoral election on Nov. 29 has apparently made him forget what he had seen as a problem. He would be well served by listening to calls against arrogance. The citizens of Taipei would not appreciate their new mayor denigrate their former mayor at all opportunities. This is not about politics but human nature. This hyperactive mayor should not be a petty one as well. (Editorial abstract -- Jan. 3, 2015)


Updated : 2021-09-22 16:57 GMT+08:00