Chip Tsao rails at growing sway of narrow minds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 April, 2009, 12:00am

Society had become more narrow-minded, controversial columnist Chip Tsao lamented yesterday, and urged those in the news and creative industries to speak out against political correctness.

'The world, ironically because of websites and the internet, has grown more and more narrow-minded, and more emotional, instead of the other way round,' Tsao said on the ATV programme Newsline.

Last month, the Philippine government branded Tsao 'an undesirable alien' for his column, 'Politically Incorrect', published in HK Magazine on March 27.

Satirising conflicting claims to sovereignty over the Spratly Islands by China and the Philippines, Tsao wrote: 'As a nation of servants, you don't flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.

'As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.' He made a formal apology to embassy officials, but 7,000 Filipinos and supporters rallied on April 5 to express dissatisfaction with the apology, saying it lacked sincerity. Facebook groups called him 'Cheap Tsao'.

Tsao said yesterday he did not want to comment on the incident again, but stressed he never intended to be offensive. 'The word satire doesn't exist in many foreign languages,' he said.

Political correctness meant a world of self-censorship devoid of laughter, he said. He noted that he recently read a newspaper headline about an old man getting bitten on the genitals by a wild pig. 'I laughed. It was laughter that was my first reaction ... It doesn't mean I thought the old man deserved the bite.'

He said recent controversy over a New Yorker magazine cover that depicted US President Barack Obama in traditional Muslim dress did not 'mean the editor endorses that view', he said. To the contrary, it ridiculed those who held such views.

He said the episode had made him more cautious about his columns, but he would continue to write in a satirical style. 'It's bad for all of us, for all of Hong Kong ... if we allow the views of political correctness to spread.'