TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An elderly man suffered third-degree burns on 36 percent of his body on Wednesday evening (Dec. 2) after he set himself on fire in an apparent protest of the closure of pro-China news outlet CTi News (中天新聞).
On Nov. 18, the National Communications Commission (NCC) unanimously denied Chung T'ien Television's (中天電視) CTi News a new broadcast license. The news station is part of Want Want China Times Group, which has repeatedly come into conflict with the authorities due to its pro-China stance, having been fined for 21 violations over the past six years that range from spreading disinformation to biased reporting.
On Wednesday evening, a 70-year-old man surnamed Sun (孫) entered the lobby of the CTiTV building in Taipei's Neihu District and handed a red envelope to a security guard inside, requesting it be given to TV show host James Tai (戴立綱) and saying: "Don't give up CTi News!" He then walked back out the entrance, drenched himself in gasoline, and set himself on fire, reported UDN.
In a video of the horrifying incident that has surfaced online, Sun can be seen casually walking around as his entire upper body is engulfed in flames. He was reportedly overheard shouting "Why is CTiTV being shut down?" and "Why did you fire [TV host] Wang Yu-cheng? Where is Wang Yu-cheng?"
A security guard quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher, doused the flames, and called for an ambulance. Incredibly, Sun appeared calm and conversant with paramedics when they arrived at the scene.
He was soon rushed to Tri-Service General Hospital for emergency treatment. Although initial reports stated that the man had suffered second-degree burns, CNA later reported that he had suffered third-degree burns to 36 percent of his head and upper body and that he had been intubated and placed in the intensive care unit.
CTi News stated that it was "dismayed and distressed" by the man's actions, reported Mirror Media. It announced that the man's identity and the reason for his self-immolation are being investigated by police and called on viewers who are concerned about CTi News to "behave rationally."
Peng Cheng-kang (彭成康), director of the Department of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, remarked UDN that while the man's behavior was abnormal, people in certain mental states can suppress pain, even from severe burns. He said that when faced with an extreme situation, the body generates a great deal of adrenaline, and certain mechanisms can reduce pain.
Peng also said that the prognosis of patients who suffer third-degree burns is closely related to the location of the burns and age. The larger the area and the older the patient, the worse the prognosis.
BCC News reported that the red envelope left by Sun contained a suspected suicide note, which revealed his dissatisfaction with the Tsai administration. The note also allegedly stated that he refuses to eat "poisoned pigs," an apparent reference to Taiwan's lifting of a ban on imported American pork products containing residual ractopamine.
(Taipei City Police Department photo)
Scene of the incident. (CNA photo)