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Is it fair? How government react?

December 3, 2010

On November 17th, one of the Taekwondo athletes from Taiwan at an Asian games tournament 2010 was disqualified after her electronic socks were failed to meet official standards. The athlete, Yang Shu-chun, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, was favored to win the gold medal at this time. While she held 9-0 in semi-final, her victory seemed to be a sure thing due to which the referee ended the game suddenly accusing her of cheating and disqualified her from continuing the game. Yang was shocked and angry therefore she sat in the middle of the mat crying as a protest against the judgment but could not help to change any final result.

The main reason for her being disqualified was her electronic socks (sockgate). This equipment in any official taekwondo game, according to World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) rules are used to make judging fairer by detecting when a taekwondo competitor scores a point by landing a kick on their opponent. Based on Yang Jin-Suk, secretary –general of WTF, first he said old-model sensor socks she wore were banned, then he said she stuck the sensors in the wrong place, he insisted that Yang cheated by sticking illegal sensors on her heels. But the pictures, videos all the evidences contradicted his words. In fact, all checks are made before the game began and Yang’s equipment was examined and passed prior to the fight which included checking the electronic sensors in her foot guards. The explanation they use of disqualification to all Taiwanese athletes and people hence didn’t make any sense at all.

The news soon disseminated all over Asia, arousing the rage of Taiwanese people being accused of “shocking act of deception”. Taiwanese cannot forgive such an insult to the pride and ask for truth. The reason why people become so angry is not hard to imagine because of what has happened in the past. One year ago the other player of Taiwan was attacked aforethought during the game by the player of South Korea, at that time the arbitrator is the same person who judge Asian game this year whom he from South Korea, neglected all the evidence we provided and unwilling to admit mistake during arbitration. Since then the resentment to South Korea has grown gradually.

At the same time, some Taiwanese claims it is a conspiracy that disqualified Yang before she reached the gold medal race. Because of doing so China’s contestant will now supposedly face a much weaker opponent in the gold-medal round. This statement also inflames the old controversial issue of supremacy between Taiwan and China. People believe that it is China joint Korea to suppress the development of Taiwan.

Even though government has appealed people to stay calm, protesting with rational methods, the reactions of people in Taiwan now has lost control. They calling for a boycott of Korean products, burning Korean flag, raiding on Taipei Korean School with eggs, launching Facebook campaign, putting videos on Youtube and posting blog to abuse both people from South Korea and China, there are even hackers attacked Asian Taekwondo Union (ATU) website to satirize both countries.

Tracing back to the responsibility of public affairs in government, one of the government official appealed all Taiwanese to counter this event with endurance infuriates public opinion. As a democratic country what people need is to know the fact instead of telling them what to do. People expect more from all level of government which also foster their participation and support. That is, asking for endurance can not mitigate public anger especially when the issue involves countries, polity, race and patriotism these sensitive topics. Moreover, government didn’t reply the issue at first moment made people had suspicion that whether government try to hide anything from publics. For example, government was thought to trade some political profit with China by losing the game. No matter what government concerned about, public affairs should inform publics as soon as possible clarifying the situation and promise people with solution. In this case, even though Taiwan’s government demanded an apology for ATU’s statement that Taiwan team played “shocking act of deception” and claimed the disqualification was unjust, they still had to take responsibility for the citizen’s irrational behavior.

In my opinion, irrational behavior came from the low credibility that people have to the government. In other words, people can not just sit and wait for government to respond or they would loose any belief that government can provide a justifiable answer to the event. This stimulates them to do something crazy to catch the attention. It works, although some methods were not appropriate, people did seize attention of all over the world and won the support. However, the gap between Taiwan, China and Korea worse day by day is a thing that government should worry about. If public affair in government did react decent they may stop some of crazy behaviors. Now their first job turns out to be ease public fury, prevent enmity between countries and appeal to the public to focus on event instead of doing useless things. After all what we want is just a fair game.

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