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Taipei mayor's 'scrap metal' comment about U.K. gift turns heads

Taipei mayor's 'scrap metal' comment about U.K. gift turns heads

Taipei, Jan. 26 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???), well known for his off-the-cuff remarks to reporters, made news again Monday when he said he would forward a pocket watch presented to him by a U.K. minister of state to a scrapyard because he has "no use for it." In what a city hall spokesman later called "just a joke," Ko made the remarks about the watch given to him by U.K. minister of state for transport, Baroness Susan Kramer, who is visiting Taiwan for exchanges on transportation and trade. Giving clocks or watches as gifts is traditionally seen as taboo in Chinese culture because the phrase "giving a clock" (??) is read the same as "bidding farewell" to the deceased (??) at a funeral. Asked by the media if he felt uncomfortable with the gift, the physician-turned-politician said he was not worried because he and his wife "are both doctors" and do not care for superstitions, citing the fact that he lives on the fourth floor -- an unlucky number because "four" (?) is a near-homonym with "death" (?). But it was Ko's other comment that drew the most media attention when he laughed and said: "I can just regift it to someone or take it to a scrap metal dealer and sell it for cash." Taipei City Government spokesman Lin Ho-ming (???) later said that the mayor's comment "was just a joke," that the gift has been stored in the city repository, and that they "would not possibly resell it." In his meeting with Baroness Kramer, Ko spoke to the baroness in English as they discussed rail transport and urban renewal, important topics for Taiwan's capital city as it prepares to host the 2017 Universiade. Ko received the pocket watch from his visitor afterwards and presented her with a miniature of Taipei 101, the nation's tallest skyscraper. There was no word on what Baroness Kramer thought of the gift.
(By Ku Chuan and Wesley Holzer)


Updated : 2021-09-18 17:47 GMT+08:00