Women's rights groups ask Taipei mayor for apology

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Several women's rights groups yesterday publicly appealed to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je to make an official apology for his "import brides" comment when referring to foreign spouses, and to reflect on his mistakes for the sake of gender equality.

The mayor used the controversial terminology while attending a gender equality forum last weekend.

During his speech, Ko used the widely condemned phrase in a statement, asking how is it possible that there are more unmarried men than women in Taiwan when the country has "imported" 300, 000 foreign brides.

Following outspoken rebukes from the audience at his choice of words, the mayor left the conference without answering the audience.

Local women's rights group the Awakening Foundation's secretary-general, Lin Hsiu-yi said yesterday that Ko's rude comments during the conference toward new residents and unmarried people clearly shows that the mayor lacks gender awareness.

Lin also said that Ko does not understand the issues of new residents, which brings the efforts of the mayor into question.

Lin went on to say that although Ko did not mean anything by the comments, and that the words were indeed just words spoken by mistake, the mayor has yet to apologise for his comments. Ko must stop shirking the issue and address the problem head on Lin said, and should learn from the mistake to prevent misspeaking in the future.

TransAsia Sisters Association, Taiwan (TASAT) also addressed the issue yesterday, stating that the organisation was disappointed by the lack of perception from public leader.

The organisation also said that it is angered by the fact that Ko is capable of delivering sexist and racist statements so casually without showing any sensitivity.

TASAT explained that Taiwan has spent a lot of resources in recent years to achieve democratic progress.

A lack of responsibility by local politicians who don't show sensitivity in day-to-day speeches would make efforts pointless, and would be a catalyst to disunity and prejudice.

KMT Taipei Councillor Mocks Mayor's Budget Government Housing Plan

Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei City councillor Wang Hong-wei made a public statement yesterday, mocking the Taipei mayor intends for only rich youths to be able to rent budget apartment projects.

Wang's comment stemmed from the revelation that the cheapest of Ko's budget housing project tailored for local youths has been priced at NT$19, 400 (S$852), meaning that it could only be afforded by young people with a average monthly income of NT$58, 200.

Wang stated that various real-estate professionals have publically advised that rent should never exceed a quarter to a third of an individual's monthly salary.

The councillor said that the current price would force tenants to spend the majority of their salaries on rent itself, which would negatively affect an individual's quality of life.

Wang went on to point out that of the 570 units in the mayor's initial proposal, there are only 25 units in Taipei, while the other 545 units are located in New Taipei City.