“Self-immolation in Taipei”: what ESWN doesn’t want you to know

phpt1b9bhI noticed something very odd at the ESWN weblog today.   In a comment titled “Self-immolation in Taipei“, ESWN quoted two reports of the same incident that took place this Tuesday at downtown Taipei.  The incident involved an old man setting fire on himself in protest of Ma Ying-jeou’s subservient way of handling the recent visit of top Chinese official Chen Yunlin.  ESWN, in his usual muffled tone, wrote cynically: “Here is a comparison of the sanitized western media coverage compared to the raw coverage in local media.”  Following that he quoted a very badly written short report from Reuters, and some ghastly sensational images from the Apple Daily.  Then he swiftly moved on to the next topic about Chen Shui-bian’s arrest.  I noted that ESWN did not quote the report in the Apple Daily at all as he had done with the Reuters report.

It’s fair enough to criticise the quality of journalistic reporting.  But what is the point of quoting two extreme cases of bad reports for comparison?  Wouldn’t it be more effective to use a well written report alongside a bad one to highlight the differences?  Or perhaps ESWN is suggesting there is no good report of this incident available, or that the incident is not worth reporting except for sensationalistic political purposes.  In either case, ESWN is saying in effect that Reuters is wasting time reporting a non-story, and they desperately need the guiding hand of a real China-hand such as Roland, even though he is either unable or unwilling to specify why the story is not worth covering.

I’m not in a position to advise readers whether this story is worth reporting; it is up to them to decide.  But I can say for sure there are better quality (and more accurate) reports of this story around, both in English and in Chinese.   I particularly recommend the Chinese report from Liberty Times.  In fact Liberty Times is one of the few less politically driven Taiwan newspapers.  It is well known for its neutral reporting in contrast with other major newspapers (such as China Times, United Daily News and Apple Daily).  It is probably the only objective mainstream newspaper in Taiwan.

ESWN also failed to mention that the old man who set himself on fire had been handing out copies of a suicide note to passersby before he attempted to take his own life.   You can find a very clear copy of the suicide note at this Flickr site.  For those who find reading traditional Chinese characters challenging, there is an accurate English translation here.   This blog also contains a first hand account of the event, as well as a link to a video.

After you have finished reading all these reports and blog posts, you may have a better idea what ESWN doesn’t want you to know.

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3 Responses to “Self-immolation in Taipei”: what ESWN doesn’t want you to know

  1. nanheyangrouchuan says:

    Ah Bian as a martyr?

    Taiwanese ex-leader in hospital
    Taiwanese police hold back Chen supporters outside the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Panchiao
    Police formed a human chain around the hospital in Panchiao

    The jailed former president of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, has been brought to hospital and put on a drip, days after beginning a protest hunger strike.

    Police cordoned off the clinic close to his remand prison in the capital Taipei to keep back supporters angered by his arrest without charge for corruption.

    A doctor said Mr Chen seemed to be suffering from dehydration and would be kept overnight for treatment and tests.

    Earlier, Taiwanese media said there were plans to force-feed the ex-leader.

    Mr Chen began his fast on Wednesday, hours after being arrested, saying the case against him was politically motivated.

    He is accused of money-laundering and abusing a special presidential fund and could face up to four months in detention without charge to prevent him contacting other suspects.

    Mr Chen left office in May after eight years in power, during which he championed Taiwanese independence.

    His successor, Ma Ying-jeou, has been forging closer ties with Beijing to the anger of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the ruling party when Mr Chen was president.

    Intravenous drip

    Doctor Tsai Kuang-chao at the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Panchiao told reporters:

    Chen Shui-bian raises his handcuffed hands after being detained on Tuesday
    Mr Chen is being held without charge pending further investigations

    “We found he was apparently dehydrated… therefore, we decided to give him an intravenous drip.

    “His heart beat was slightly faster than normal, otherwise, his overall condition is okay.”

    The deputy warden at the Tucheng detention centre, Li Ta-chu, earlier confirmed that as of Sunday morning Mr Chen had still been refusing to eat.

    He was feeling “tightness in his chest and general soreness, with his blood pressure and blood sugar levels at the edge of normal ranges”, the official was quoted as saying by Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

    The detention centre authorities, he added, were “planning, after consulting his doctors, to have the former president sent to the nearby Far Eastern Memorial Hospital for forced nutrition injections”, he added.

    Reporters later witnessed Mr Chen being brought to the hospital under heavy security.

    Corruption allegations

    The former president and his family have been mired in corruption allegations since 2006, when his son-in-law was charged with insider trading on the stock market and then jailed for seven years.

    Mr Chen is under investigation for allegedly embezzling 14.8m Taiwanese dollars (US$480,500, £306,000) from the government.

    The charges damaged the reputation of the DPP, observers say, but the party has used his arrest to step up criticism of the ruling Nationalists’ China policy.

    One DPP parliamentarian, Kao Chih-peng, said he was worried about Mr Chen’s health.

    The hunger strike, he told AFP news agency, was “the former president’s silent protest [against] the political persecution by the Kuomintang [Nationalist] government”.

    Taiwan has been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. The defeated Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan to create a self-governing entity.

    But Beijing sees the island as a breakaway province which should be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

  2. anonymous says:

    Just found an easier link of EastSouthWestNorth: ESWN.info.

    I concur and Roland does seem to have his underlying bias. That’s why multiple sources of information are important and Michael Turton does a lot of excellent works at Taiwan Matters.

    (I don’t know either of them)

  3. C.A. Yeung says:

    This is just an update about Liu Bo-yan. According to Taipei Times, Liu died in National Taiwan University Hospital on 14 December 2008 after he had eight skin graft operations over the past month.

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