Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was unapologetic on Monday about his description of Hong Kong as an island "without the soul for freedom," although the comment has angered some in the special administrative region.
Ko told reporters he felt there was no need to apologize over the comment, as it was based on what he perceived to be the "outcome" in Hong Kong over the past few years.
The mayor made the controversial comment during a speech at Eslite Bookstore in downtown Taipei on Sunday, in which he boasted about Taiwan's democracy and discussed the situation in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Hong Kong.
He said Hong Kong "does not even have elections" and its people have lost "their soul for freedom," while describing Singaporeans as "caged canaries."
The remarks immediately drew protest from Hong Kong democracy activist Gary Wong (黃梓謙), who was in the audience.
Wong said although there is indeed no democracy in Hong Kong, people there still retain their desire for freedom or they would not keep fighting for democracy.
Ko explained on Monday what he was trying to say was that democracy, freedom and pluralism in Taiwan should be valued.
Referring to his description of Singaporeans as "caged canaries," Ko said this was not the first time he made such a comment, revealing that he said something similar to a senior Singaporean official during a previous visit to the city state.
Ko, who once indicated his interest in moving to Singapore, said he had changed his mind after seeing what it is like to live there.
(By Liang Pei-chi and Y.F. Low)