TAIWAN: Jason Hu let 'terror' poster stay in circulation

The Taichung mayor and KMT powerbroker had expressed shock at the pan-blue camp's poster but did not recall it or warn aides against using such material

Taipei Times
Saturday, March 27, 2004

By Martin Williams and Joy Su

Taichung City Mayor and former foreign minister Jason Hu was aware that pan-blue campaign literature featuring an image from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York City had been distributed, but took no action to recall the posters, according to his aides.

"Hu was shocked by the campaign literature and said that it was not a good way of doing things," said Huang Wen-ming, secretary to the Taichung mayor.

However, KMT officials also said that Hu, the director general of the pan-blue campaign headquarters in Taichung, did not take any action to stop the circulation of the poster or prevent future campaign literature from using similar material.

"The poster was only distributed once, mostly as newspaper inserts. Hu never asked the campaign headquarters to put a halt on distribution or to recall the posters that had already been given out," said Chen Ching-fu, head of the publicity department at the KMT's Taichung headquarters.

Featuring pictures of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda terror figurehead Osama bin Laden and the destruction of one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the campaign poster warns the public against voting for President Chen Shui-bian.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim, the director of the DPP's International Affairs Department, yesterday called the poster "outrageously offensive and insulting."

"Chen has spent his life fighting for democracy. To call him a dictator or terrorist is an insult. It is an insult not just to Chen, but to all those who support democracy," Hsiao said.

"The use of images from an atrocity on the poster is highly inappropriate and is culturally insensitive," she said, adding that Hu had previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

GUGGENHEIM

Meanwhile, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, with whom Hu has been in difficult negotiations for months over establishing a satellite museum in Taichung, said yesterday through press officer Jennifer Russo that it would not comment on Hu or the KMT-People First Party alliance using images of the destruction of the Twin Towers or Adolf Hitler.

Hu must still secure a significant proportion of funds from the central government for the museum project to proceed.

On Thursday, the Taipei Times contacted several representative offices for their response to the endorsement of the "terrorism" poster by the former foreign minister.

David Miller, an assistant information officer from the American Institute in Taiwan, declined to comment on the content of the poster, saying that it was an "internal affair."

Maggie Yeh, head of press and public affairs for the British Cultural and Trade Office, said director general Derek Marsh was not prepared to comment on the matter.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US killed 68 British nationals.

Howard Lin, press officer at the Israel Economic and Culture Office in Taipei, also declined to respond, saying that it was an "internal affair" and that it was not possible to comment at this "sensitive political moment."