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Ko praises colonization in Foreign Policy interview

Mayor says he will not run for president in 2016

Ko praises colonization in Foreign Policy interview

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In an interview with United States-based Foreign Policy magazine, Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je said Singapore was an example because of its long colonization and promised he would not run in next year’s presidential elections.
Since taking office last December 25, Ko has frequently made headlines with strongly worded pronouncements and quarrels with tycoons and officials.
In the January 20 interview published on the Foreign Policy website, Ko makes several remarks about China, Taiwan, the United States and politics in general.
The mayor questioned the state of Taiwan’s democracy. “Real democracy means politics belongs to the people. Taiwanese politics belongs to corporations and is controlled by political parties,” the magazine quoted him as saying in the condensed version of the interview published on its website.
About the January 16, 2016, presidential election, Ko said he would not be a candidate, despite recent praise from people like ex-President Lee Teng-hui that he could be a good candidate.
“I will try to keep neutral. I will not run for president. That’s a clear-cut answer,” he was quoted as saying.
Ko made a rather controversial remark about the impact of colonization on East Asian countries. “For the four Chinese-speaking regions – Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mainland China – the longer the colonization, the more advanced a place is. It’s rather embarrassing.”
He said Singapore was better than Hong Kong, Hong Kong better than Taiwan, and Taiwan better than Mainland China.
Because of criticism of those statements in Taiwan Saturday, a city spokesman told reporters that the mayor had meant that opening up had its advantages and disadvantages. International academics sometimes pointed out that colonization had also brought economic development, the spokesman said.
On Beijing’s insistence on One China and unification, Ko told Foreign Policy that a free and democratic Taiwan was more in China’s interest than unification. Beijing had also failed to explain clearly what its One China meant. “If a girl is to marry into another family, you have to tell her what that family is like.” He added that cooperation was more important than unification, and that the latter could never be successfully achieved without the former.
He also said Taiwan and China could only move closer if the cultural gap between the two was bridged. Instead of talking about “One Country, Two Systems” like leaders in Beijing always did, maybe “Two Countries, One System” should be the right slogan, he suggested.
Ko said he had a better understanding of China’s Communist Party because he liked reading and had read a lot of books about its history. He praised China’s communist government for succeeding in feeding the country’s people, but also said that Taiwan worked as a positive example, showing the world that ethnic Chinese people could build a working democracy and be civic-minded. “Take a look at Taiwan’s subway. It’s cleaner than the New York subway,” he said.
Asked about the United States, Ko said there were more important things than technological development. “A cultivated nation is not about having nuclear weapons, spaceships, or high-speed rail. It is about the realization of basic social values and letting citizens live like human beings: democracy, freedom, rule of law, human rights, and care for the underprivileged.”
Described as “fiery” in the Foreign Policy headline, Ko said he was only being himself. “The country has been shaken up by me. I am just being myself. In our society, no one dares to be themselves.”
“Politics isn’t that difficult; it is about finding your conscience again. So, just do what is right. Doing the right things is more important than doing things right,” Ko told the magazine, which claims 3.5 million monthly online readers.


Updated : 2021-09-23 08:51 GMT+08:00