DPP, Chinese Dissidents Accused of Wave of Sexual Assault Cover-Ups

by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: William Lai/Facebook

THE DPP HAS been hit by successive scandals involving cases of sexual harassment or assault within the party. These incidents were mostly publicized on social media.

The first incident was of a former party worker who reported being told by a superior, a current deputy secretary-general of the party, to simply downplay the case after being sexually assaulted by a DPP contractor. The person cited hit TV drama Wave Makers, which dramatizes a fictionalized version of the DPP, in that one of the primary plot threads of Wave Makers concerned a case of sexual harassment that the party tries to cover up. Specifically, the protagonist of Wave Makers, Weng Weng-fang, attempts to help a subordinate that experiences this, and the poster cited not having a Weng Weng-fang in her life–hence having to play this role himself.

Facebook post by the DPP on the series of incidents

The subsequent incidents mostly proved similar, in that two other women reported cases of being told by superiors in the DPP to ignore cases of sexual harassment, or were generally dismissive.

One of the cases, however, involved DPP Taipei city councilor He Meng-hua reported that a case of sexual harassment had occurred to a subordinate. According to He, she sought to respect the wishes of the victim, but her subordinate eventually declined to go through with pursuing charges, because this would have led media exposure to focus on her. She expressed dissatisfaction with how the DPP proposed handling the case, including simply transferring the culprit away.

A fifth online allegation involves former Tiananmen Square student leader Wang Dan, accusing him of attempted sexual assault. The poster frames Wang Dan as close to the DPP, a somewhat strange framing, and states that he has received support from city councilors Sabrina Lim and Froggy Chiu, who believed his story. Lim and Chiu are both pan-Green independents. The poster linked the allegations against Wang to the wave of other posts about alleged sexual assault or harassment in the DPP.

Wang denied the allegations, but since then, another individual has alleged attempted sexual assault by Wang. The allegations have sensitive timing, since they emerged two days before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4th.

DPP deputy secretary-general Hsu Jia-tian and Lin Nan-gu, vice chair of the political affairs department, have resigned. Hsu is accused of covering up the first case, while Lin is accused of being the culprit of the case brought up by He.

Subsequently, there have also been reports of sexual harassment by a presidential advisor. The Presidential Office has requested the Friends of Xiaoying Association to investigate this.

Since then, DPP chair William Lai has apologized and vowed to provide corrective measures in the future, to prevent a repeat of issues regarding sexual harassment or assault.

Promotional image for Wave Makers

Although some initially viewed the wave of sexual harassment allegations and its link to Wave Makers as a case of life imitating art, it is now reported that the scriptwriters likely drew from real-life events in the DPP for the story of the TV drama. Namely, both scriptwriters worked or had links to the DPP.

To this extent, one of the scriptwriters of Wave Makers, Chien Li-ying, has accused Chinese dissident poet Bei Ling of sexually assaulting her when she was in college. Bei Ling was most recently in the news after publicizing the detention in China of publisher Fucha. Bei Ling has denied the charges.

Unsurprisingly, the KMT and pan-Blue camp as a whole has latched onto the issue, accusing the DPP of being a party that wantonly allows sexual harassment and assault to take place within the party. It is to be seen if the issue of sexual harassment and assault will figure in the upcoming elections, then, as a major campaign issue. The KMT and pan-Blue camp will probably use this in line with the comparisons to the Taliban that the party leaned into after the sexual violence faced by DPP legislator Kao Chia-yu.

It is probable that the DPP will next move to defend itself by targeting cases of sexual harassment and assault within the KMT. This would prove similar to how the DPP responded to plagiarism allegations that sunk its Taoyuan mayoral candidate, Lin Chih-chien, in the last set of elections, in unearthing similar allegations about pan-Blue candidates.

KMT Facebook post attacking the DPP over the issue

Nevertheless, this points to what extent that the issue of sexual harassment and assault will probably used for domestic politicking and partisan mudslinging, rather than taken up in its own right as a serious issue that plaques Taiwanese politics as a whole and is in need of address.

Moreover, it is unlikely that the issue will become a major campaign issue. Misogynistic statements have not proven an issue for former Taipei mayor and TPP party chair Ko Wen-je, for example, from becoming one of the major presidential frontrunners. Ko has been known to engage in body shaming statements directed at former Kaohsiung mayor and democracy movement activist Chen Chu, deriding gynecologists as “making a living between women’s legs,” and commenting that women were “scary” without make-up. Either way, one expects political parties to lean into such criticisms for their own purposes.