User:Setting a democratic precedent/sandbox/One of Taiwan's PBS directors resigned amid political pressures


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Friday, January 21, 2022

During the Finance committee on January 18, 2022, Fai Hong-Tai, who is serving as the general coordinator for the KMT party's caucus in Taiwan's legislative parliament, suddenly called a halt to the process of deciding on the Ministry of Culture's presenting annual budgetary plan for the reason that one of the Public Broadcasting System's directors "threatened" to hold a press conference in order to appeal to the public the KMT's private demand for dropping the contract with the specific fact-check institution it found having double standards in covering KMT's affairs.

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is a public service of broadcasting in Taiwan, similar to Public Broadcasting Service in the United States and BBC in the United Kingdom.

"I have served as the lawmaker for 18 years and this is the first time I have heard about someone ordering us. Wow! He (the director) scared us out of our wits! If this director has guts, then don't take a penny from the government! If this blatant threat is not properly handled as soon as possible and DPP is not going to replace this director, KMT will leave the committee because KMT refuses to be treated like a nobody. ", said Fai Hong-Tai. "This director's belonging television system has been operating at a deficit for years and reliant on the government's subsidy. That's why we ordered it to suspend the contract and focus on its main business.", KMT's secretary added.

Fai Hong-Tai's DPP counterpart expressed his shock and disapproval of the director's behavior. "I am also extremely dissatisfied with this director's work because I was so dismayed for being widely criticized in the media for my proposed amendment to the laws that would make it possible for Hsinchu to be promoted as Taiwan's new special administrative region.", said DPP's general coordinator. "This director deserved it. If this journalist has no idea about how politics works and cannot accommodate himself, then whom should be replaced shall be replaced.", DPP's general coordinator added.

The minister of culture was soon summoned and arrived at the scene in 30 minutes and responded "I am ordering PBS's board to address this incident in one month."

Afterward, the parliament's speaker, who is of DPP, announced the suspension of the committee's task and will resume in the next day, while called on the director to take a long and hard look at his behavior.

In response, the director released a statement explaining that the contract with the fact-check institution already ended in March 2021, and political parties' interference in media should be a matter of considerable concern for the entire society. "When facing KMT's threat to cut PBS's budget planned for the normal operation of Taiwanese Minnan TV, I vowed to appeal to the public for the sake of media's dignity. Is it democratic to label a press conference aiming to clarify the matter as a threat?", said the director.

After a day, KMT still insisted on calling on its members to boycott the financial committee until the director left his job while the director insisted on defending the integrity of the media. "My belief of defending media's freedom of coverage doesn't change. I have rallied in favor of this principle and will keep the determination. The retention of my job is not worth discussing. What is concerning is society's cool response to the political meddling in the case.", the director said.

When asked about KMT's responsibility to ensure the task of deliberating on the government's budget finishes on time, Fai Hong-Tai replied "KMT certainly wants to keep deliberating and DPP also feels about our sincerity. But we will just wait for DPP's handling of the director, given that the budget review can be, in fact, 'finished as soon as in just two days' so long as political parties enter into the phase of legislative negotiation. "

As the parliament was idling the time away, the board of PBS announced that it was having a monthly meeting to discuss corporate policy and the ripple from the parliament. And then, the Managing Director of the board decided to hand over the case to its affiliated executive board for further discussion, which, she said, would be held in a month. However, one day later, the director pronounced that he would resign from serving PBS during this moment that he had no regret for himself and society and that PBS had reached its golden age. "This is the dream ending I have wished for and is best for the public.", the director wrote. His decision was later ratified by the aforementioned executive board on the same day.

In interviews, the minister of culture responded "I respect the decision made by all sides.", emphasizing that "it is as important as PBS being subject to scrutiny by parliament as defending media freedom. Both are elements that make up a better country. "

When the correspondent asked the minister whether he felt political meddling in the case, the minister responded that he acknowledged the presence of a number of external influences. "Pan-green, pan-blue and voices from other oppositional parties. But they are part of the diversity of society. PBS's board members always make decisions based on their profession and would not have been affected by these influences.", the minister said.