TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je responded to media questions yesterday about his choice of terminology when referring to foreign spouses as being "imported" into Taiwan by saying that he did not have malicious intent.
Ko said he did not realise he had upset the crowd with his words.
Ko reasoned that perhaps he worked at the National Taiwan University Hospital for too long and has lost touch with social mores.
While admitting to the press that he had misspoken, Ko also blamed the media for focusing on certain words in his substantially long speech.
"I should have said 'most of the 500,000 foreign spouses that immigrated to Taiwan in recent years are female,'" Ko was quoted by the Awakening News Networks as saying.
The mayor has yet to issue a formal apology as of press time.
The new director-general of the Taipei branch of Female Immigrant Care Association, Li Hsia accompanied a dozen mainland Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Burmese and Thai foreign spouses along with their children yesterday to protest in front of Taipei's city hall against Ko's remarks about "import brides."
Ko's slur about female newcomers to Taiwan discriminates against immigrant women, said Li.
Li said she wants Ko to apologise to all new female immigrants and further called on women's right groups as well as the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Sisterhood to condemn Ko.
Chao Erh-chuan, a member of the care association and a foreign spouse from China who has been in Taiwan for more than 10 years said Ko's remarks "trample on their dignity."
New immigrants are also residents of Taipei and deserve equal treatment from the mayor, said Li, who is also the director of the National Immigrant Care Association.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said in a statement yesterday that Ko's remark is inappropriate. Taiwan is an immigrant community where the newcomer deserves to be respected, said the DPP.
'Import' Foreign Brides
At a gender equality forum held over the weekend, Ko made a speech where he questioned why data showed that there were more single men than women in Taiwan.
"How is it possible if there are foreign brides and when we have already imported 300,000 of them?" Ko asked at the conference.
Immediately after speaking, Ko received backlash from audience members questioning his offensive wording. He did not respond, but promptly left the venue.