Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) yesterday accepted an apology from political commentator Chen Hui-wen (陳揮文) and decided not to sue him for calling him a professor from a “third-rate university.”
“With the desire not to waste judicial and media resources on an issue that does not pertain to public interest, I willingly accept the apology,” Lo’s statement read. “[I] hope the incident will end here and not happen again.”
The statement came in response to Chen’s open letter published in the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday, in which he offered an apology for having recently used the term “third-rate university” to describe Soochow University, where Lo teaches political science.
Criticizing Lo’s recent visit to China in his capacity as an academic, Chen said on his radio show on Friday: “If you were simply a political science professor at a third-rate school, would they [China] invite you?”
The comment drew a response from Lo, who said that he would file charges against Chen for defamation and slander.
Chen’s remark also sparked off heated comments from faculty and students from the university’s department of political science.
According to Chen Li-kang (陳立剛), a Soochow graduate, the connection made by Chen Hui-wen of the university to the political pan-blue and pan-green standoff was unfortunate, adding that whether Soochow is a third-rate school was for the public to judge.
“The issue can’t be decided by the comments of one pundit. If so, then how do you rate a pundit?” Chen Li-kan said.
Soochow’s department of political science student council head Chou Cheng-wei (周政偉) said that Chen Hui-wen’s comments completely ignored the hard work of the student body and teachers in the department.
Referring to a quote often attributed to French philosopher Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” Chou said he recognized Chen Hui-wen’s right to freedom of speech, but also added that the premise of that freedom is that such comments should not impact others.
Chen Hui-wen’s “third-rate university” comments had already hurt Soochow University’s name, Chou said, adding that students have set up a Facebook page and held a signature drive in a display of protest.
Chou cited many of Soochow’s famous graduates, including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) and Lo Shu-lei (羅淑雷), as well as former Council for Cultural Affairs minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁). Former premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) was once the dean of the university, Chou added.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer