What to do about the media saying foreigners use drugs


#1

Two largely fabricated media reports of Sunday, June 23 presented the image that all or most foreigners in Taiwan are involved with drugs, specifically ecstasy and marijuana. Though this will probably come to nothing as many of the made-up reports in the Taiwan media do, the chicken little in me says that Taiwan is becoming paranoid about its growing drug problem, has no idea what to do about it or how to control it, and needs a scapegoat. Foreigner could be the answer.

After I wrote one article and one editorial about the media’s specious reporting and what was behind it (Taipei Times, June 27), a number of people informed me of several other stories of xenophobia combined with media negligence. Perhaps not coincidentally, Power TV figured in several of them. Examples include the following: one man was captured on camera at a Superbowl party at Dan Ryan’s, but the clip was later aired in relation to a story about ecstasy use, prompting his Chinese mother-in-law to call him and ask him if he was on drugs (Power TV); a number of foreigners shown in the June 23 report were shown on Power TV with the implication that they were drug users, and many later had to answer to spouses, coworkers and relatives about their “drug use”; one woman was secretly filmed walking out of a convenience store, and the clip appeared in a media report about foreigners with the voice-over: “this woman refused to talk to us”, even though the woman was never aware of the news crew’s presence (this story is second hand, and the teller could not clearly remember the content of the news item or the network that aired it); one foreigner in Tainan reported that the June 23 Power TV story “stirred up suspicions and comments amongst some shop/bar owners and others(students’ parents,…)” – these were naturally directed at foreigners.

To briefly recap what happened on June 23: Power TV repeatedly broadcast a report showing foreigners and describing all party-goers as “under the influence of Ecstasy and marijuana”. They also made statements like: “It is a place where foreigners gather, so it’s not strange that there was selling and buying of drugs going on.”

The same day, the China Times Express ran a front page headline that read: “Foreigners on Ecstasy invade Huashan Arts District.”

Power TV also ran a clip of Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-jian saying: “Taipei is becoming a foreigners’ drug [lit. ecstasy] heaven.” Wang made other derogatory and accusatory comments against foreigners at his June 23 press conference, which he held with City Councilor Yan Sheng-guan. It is likely that Wang and Yan conspired with Power TV to produce the news segment. Both are DPP, and their aim was to attack Mayor Ma and also get their faces in the press (Yan is the daughter of a senior DPP politician, and her track record in office so far is virtually nil).

So what can be done?

I suggest complaints over lawsuits. Lawsuits, even for those captured on video, will be difficult unless damages can be proved. Furthermore, it is extremely unlikely that AIT or the Canadian, British or Australian trade offices would undertake anything like a class action lawsuit on behalf of their wronged citizens. However, that does not mean that they should be contacted.

By my reckoning, complaints can be made along at least three avenues:

  1. For those affected, complain to Dan Ryan’s or any other establishment where your image was captured so that it could be misrepresented later. Tell them to never let Power TV back in the door.
  2. The Government Information Office (GIO), which has an office for monitoring complaints on media reports. This is the mainstream channel for such complaints, though one suspects it is underused. Maybe it’s time to give them something to do.
  3. The Mayor’s office. Mayor Ma not only tends to be sympathetic to foreigners, he also has City Councilors Wang and Yan as adversaries. Complaints to his office could prove effective.
  4. Your national representative office.

Faxes are also suggested over emails and phone calls. Faxes provide physical documents that must be dealt with. Also, include your full name and contact information on your complaints to make them credible.

Contact information:

Government Information Office: TV Broadcasting Department, section 4; tel: 3356-7938 ;fax: 2321-4197

Taipei City Mayor’s Office; tel: 2727-7726; fax: ; email: mayor@mail.tcg.gov.tw

Australian Commerce and Industry Office: contact Lauren Hu, Manager of Public Relations; tel: 8725-4113; fax:2720-2846

Canadian Trade Office: contact Michael Otton, Director of Administration and Consular Affairs; tel: 2544-3000; fax: 2544-3592

British Trade and Cultural Office: contact Alan Dillon, head of British Assistance & Services Section; tel: 2192-7056; fax: 2394-8673; email: btco@ms18.hinet.net

American Chamber of Commerce: tel: 2581-7089; fax: 2542-3376; Email: amcham@amcham.com.tw

American Institute in Taiwan: contact the American Services Section; tel: 2709-2000, ext. 2306; fax: 2709-0908; email: aitamcit@mail.ait.org.tw


#2

There are two other forums about this. One of them is “Foreign population slandered by legislator” and the other is “Hwashan Foreigner Drug Scandal”


#3

So, do you want a cross-post?? Or are you just adopting policing the Oriented boards as your hobby these days?

Seriously, I don’t see where there’s any harm in having multiple threads, especially when the focus might be a bit different. Usually multiple directions of discussion arise in a complex thread like the Hwashan incident. Demanding that they all be in one thread is rather like saying that there should be only one thread, rather than an entire forum, on Teaching. After all, it’s all the same banana, right?


#4

By Iron Lady

quote[quote] it’s all the same banana [/quote]Terri, it doesn’t matter how much publicity you give it, I’m tipping it never takes off.

#5

Juba was probably just trying to let David and others see where they can read more about this easily.

Bri


#6
quote:
Originally posted by ironlady: Are you just adopting policing the Oriented boards as your hobby these days?...Demanding that they all be in one thread...

There are already two closely-related threads on this. Since I’ve been posting on both, I for one am getting a bit tired of jumping around. And yes…I did always want to be a policeman. Do you think I could get an ARC as a traffic cop?


Juba


#7

With graphics like that, I’d hire you on the spot.

Heck, I guess I’ll have to give up on the Great Banana Idiom Promotion Challenge. Oh well.

Terry


#8

Oh well, anyway…who cares about the thread thing. Thread schmead.

Hey Frazier! Welcome!

But you know guys, a lot of foreigners DO take drugs, don’t they? I know of people at the Huashan (whashang) event who really were on ecstacy. I hate to say it, but…

The point is that Taiwan is trying out this “war on drugs” but have they considered that ecstacy users and marijuana smokers aren’t the ones going around disturbing the peace, beating people up, and robbing ATMs? Noooo…the legal barbituate is the culprit, of course. duh.
And if it were such a threat to the moral fibre of Taiwan society, wouldn’t they be closing down ecstacy dens (discos), taking down mafia rings, and singling out corruption in the government left and right if they wanted to get to the suppliers and make it near impossible for folks to purchase the stuff?

So, what’s the point to all this? Anti-ethnic sentiment? Ignorance? Scapegoat? Hot news item?

Power TV needs a major lawsuit slapped on them, and fast, or they might show up at an ORIENTED happy hour one day.


#9
quote:
Originally posted by Alien: And if it were such a threat to the moral fibre of Taiwan society......

If people were really worried about Taiwan’s moral fibre (or lack thereof) things could be considerably improved if half the Li-Fa Yuan were publically executed.

quote:
So, what's the point to all this? Anti-ethnic sentiment? Ignorance? Scapegoat? Hot news item?

All of the above.


#10
quote:
Originally posted by Alien: Power TV needs a major lawsuit slapped on them, and fast, or they might show up at an ORIENTED happy hour one day.

Can you imagine how fast a lawsuit would be filed if something like this happened in the US? “Los Angeles: A Taiwanese Haven for Illicit Drug Use–Lawsuit at 11:00.”

I’m surprised [ ] none of the US papers have picked up on the story: “Non-Asian Foreigners the Only Drug Users in Taiwan: Corruption of a Society.”


#11

Where’s your Taiwan Relations Act / SFPT / 14th Amendment now ?


#12

please dont tell me that ANY of you are actually surprised at foreigners being given the blame of creating/causing and furthering the drug problem in taiwan…read the papers and government regs and it seems we’re responsible for AIDS in Taiwan too…and the bad economy…and unemployment…and ethical disintegration in the society…and quite possibly higher rates of cynicism.


#13

Frazier, thanks for digging up all the contact info. Hopefully, people will actually submit complaints to those sources instead of just here.

I heard that Professor Lin had trouble with some of his work as a result of the slander, and, although I haven’t seen the footage yet, I have also heard that people have been circled and singled out in it as drug abusers.

As such, I don’t think that damage would be that difficult to prove. As serendipity mentioned, in the US, this would be like winning the lottery.

I suppose the problem with legal efforts here would be that, given the lack of precedent here, there may not be much of a settlement in the end. However, Chu Mei Feng is going for NT$50 million, and, for a professor to be slandered as not only a drug abuser but as a sort of pied-piper of ecstacy, I think there is definitely grounds for him to be making claims for at least half that much, if he so desired.

I would expect that someone in any respectable position to be slandered as a drug abuser could aim for a decent portion of what Chu Mei Feng is asking for. Still, that case is ongoing, and who knows how much, if any, she will get in the end, and that could drastically affect what would be available for damages here.

I doubt that any of the injured parties has the funds for legal fees, and, given all the uncertainty, I doubt that any lawyers here would take the case on contingency (do they even do that here at all?).


#14

Who gives a shit about lawsuits – Juba gave us Wang’s address, so he’s getting a burning paper bag of shit on his doorstep for sure. That’s just for starters.

And Alien’s also right – most of the people I know who go up to Huashan get wasted there, but they’re not all foreigners.


#15

Originally posted by Frazier:

quote:
By my reckoning, complaints can be made along at least three avenues: 2) The Government Information Office (GIO), which has an office for monitoring complaints on media reports. This is the mainstream channel for such complaints, though one suspects it is underused. Maybe it's time to give them something to do.
If you or someone else wants to write this up further, I can make sure it gets to the right people.

#16

Am I alone in wishing some of these “media” cockroaches would try to approach me about something like this? I can only imagine how they would make me look after editing