Taipei mayor slammed for slip of tongue at gender equality forum

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-Je, who promised public nanny service in his mayoral election pledge.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je caused yet another hubbub yesterday after making what many deemed to be an "inappropriate remark" aimed at foreign spouses in Taiwan.

Today is International Women's Day, and the first anniversary of the establishment of the Taipei City Government's Gender Equality Office. Yesterday, Ko participated in a gender equality forum that is being held over the weekend.

Ko brought up the topic of how he discovered that there are more single men than women in Taiwan, and said that the phenomenon is "strange."

"Didn't we import 300,000 foreign brides already?" Ko asked, immediately provoking many in the audience to question his choice of words. Citizen groups slammed the use of the word "import," and followed Ko around after he left the forum, expressing their annoyance.

In the mayor's opening speech, he stated that the forming of a policy consists of three elements: the people's opinions, the value and the professionalism. "If one wonders why the law is not included, it is because I feel that the law serves the people instead of the other way around. And I do not have much to comment on regarding the subject of the female gender," said Ko.

The mayor also registered surprise over statistics showing that there are around 300,000 to 400,000 gay people in Taipei, saying that he did not know this.

"From what we can see in numbers, Taipei has the lowest male population and there are an abundance of women; the ratio is 92:100. I don't know if it's that the girls like to live in Taipei, or that the guys have run away," Ko joked.

Remembering that he had once stated "women who do not marry are a national problem," Ko said that his beliefs used to deviate from the norm and that he was mistaken. Yet the citizen groups appeared to feel that Ko had not learned from his mistakes, saying that he should be docked points for his comments.

Ko did not respond to the citizens protesting at his seemingly discriminative remark.

Hsu Li-min, head of the government's Gender Equality Office, stated that the forum was held to allow all organisations and groups to explain their points of view and opinions, regardless of how avant-garde the opinions may be.

"People have given us instructions and advice in their speeches. In the following year, what we aim to do is to meet the people's suggestions made in these two days," said Hsu.