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May 28, 2017

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What a ludicrous dispute the ECFA manga controversy is!

If there's any more ludicrous dispute than the one currently going on between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, we don't know what is. The only good news is that it seems to have come to an end.

The contemptibly and amusingly vain dispute was kicked off by some brainless spin doctor from the ministry that is trying whatever it can to promote an economic cooperation framework agreement between Taiwan and China, which is designed to bring more benefit to the former than the latter but is greatly opposed by the pro-independence opposition party that professes not to have anything to do with our giant neighbor. The ministry's maestro of propaganda came up with a manga comic, with two caricatured figures talking about what is dubbed in Hoklo as "Echo-huat," which is made to sound like ECFA, the abbreviation of the pact Taipei wants to sign with Beijing before the end of this year, if at all possible.

One of the figures is named Yi-ge in Mandarin. Literally it means First Brother. But it is basically equivalent to "echo" in Hoklo, which means a better or more chance. "Huat" in Hoklo is pronounced "fa" in Mandarin. The other figure, Fa-sao in Mandarin or Huat-so in Hoklo meaning Lady Rich, enlightens First Brother on the benefit of the ECFA. One clever catch, at least the clever adman so believes, is: if "so" or "sao" is dropped, the combination of the two names reads like "Echo-fa" which he wants the viewers to associate with "a better or more chance to get rich" with the conclusion of the ECFA.

Cartoons are often used in ads. But by and large children are the audience targeted. For a serious matter like the ECFA, admen certainly should target eligible voters, educated middle-class people in particular. (We are certain some of them who are in their 20s love manga.) By putting out the cartooned figures who chat about the ECFA, the MOEA is insulting sway voters it hopes to win in the event of a likely referendum on the ECFA that the opposition party is trying to call. The voters are not look-alikes of First Brother, a nincompoop hailing from Tainan who speaks Mandarin with a heavy Hoklo accent and can't even express himself well. We can only wonder if the authorities are attempting to dissuade voters from supporting its pet agreement.

Even more ridiculously far-fetched, however, are the charges Cheng Wen-tsan, spokesperson for the opposition party, is pressing against the ministry. He identifies First Brother as a native of the home county of disgraced former President Chen Shui-bian, who is standing trial for forgery, corruption and graft, and money laundering.

Cheng has conveniently forgotten Yiin Chii-ming, minister of economic affairs, is a native of Tainan. Of course, it's impossible for the author to tell Cheng of the true identity of the caricatured figure.

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