Wednesday, August 26, 2009

China Post lost in translation

Reading a China Post article recently on Wang Chien-hsuan (王建煊) and his admonishment of Ma's apologies to the people. At first I was shocked at how Taiwan's ombudsman "called on President Ma Ying-jeou to stop apologizing for the delays in helping Morakot victims" and not to "'get on [his] knees and kowtow or make a deep bow lasting for 10 seconds or hug members of the bereaved families anymore'".

I couldn't believe that this was happening, apparently for no reason, but to 'stop apologizing' as the headline said. After further investigation I found that the story had been totally misconstrued by the English writer and his quotes taken out of context. It appears that Wang is telling Ma stop apologizing (for something you didn't do) and get on with it, when in Chinese he was really saying we need to get on with cleaning up after the flood and the President and Premier should be administrating and not concentrating on PR.

I'm not sure of the politics of this one, but this deliberately depicts Wang as callous towards typhoon victims, downplays the tragedy, calling it a tropical rainstorm, and makes it seem like Ma shouldn't be sorry for what has happened. Oh, then again, I guess I am sure of the politics in this one: make Wang the target, downplay Ma's responsibility and pretend it was only a rainstorm. 'nuf said.

I wrote the following hasty letter to the China Post. Hasty because I doubt they will post it:

This story totally misrepresents Mr. Wang's comments. He told Ma and Liu that their time would be better spent working on reconstruction and settlement and that they had to move beyond apologies and think about how to best help the victims of the flood.


He said, "I want to hug and pay my respects to those who lost people in the disaster, but right now Ma and Liu's time is better spent thinking about what we should do in the disaster's aftermath!" [contrast this to the quote from the China Post article above]

His main point was that Ma and Liu 「不能老在那裡臨場反應」 stop reacting to the disaster and start anticipating [how to overcome it].

Your story misrepresents this as Wang telling Ma to stop apologizing (i,.e. he didn't do anything wrong)--when the connotation of Wang's words was that Ma could be of greater help overseeing the bureaucratic process.

Also your characterization of a typhoon and flood disaster as a "tropical rainstorm" downplays the seriousness of this situation and is an insult to the lives lost during this tragedy.

Your translators and editors should be impeached!

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