Ghost shows ‘scaring children’

The Straits Times, 13 August 2000

Parents rail against feast of such programmes in Taiwan, which have made their kids scared of the dark and is encouraging ‘ghostspeak.’

TAIPEI—Taiwanese parents and teachers are complaining that too many television programmes about ghosts is breeding an unhealthy fear of the dark among children, and is also encouraging ghostspeak in society.

A woman from central Taiwan said it took her a long time to help her children overcome the fear of sleeping alone after the trauma of last year's devastating earthquake, only to have them scared by such programmes again.

My children are now suffering a relapse of fearing the dark, to the extent that they dare not go to toilet to brush their teeth. They are afraid that ghosts may be lurking around them, she said.

Junior high-school teacher Chen Ting-chun said children were afraid to be alone and refused to go outside in the evenings.

Taiwan has seen a surge in the number of locally made shows about ghosts, in recent years. Talk shows hosted by celebrities also bombard viewers with spooky discussions about mysterious encounters.

In conjunction with the so-called Chinese ghost month which began two weeks ago, more drama serials of this genre have hit the television screen, and are telecast almost every night, the mass-circulation China Times reported.

The Hungry Ghost Festival began on July 31 and lasts till Aug 28. Also known as the Seventh Month celebration, it marks the period when the gates of hell are supposed to open, leaving spirits to wander the world looking for food and other necessities.

At a press conference on Thursday, the Taiwan Media Monitoring Fund revealed a study which showed that 80 per cent of ghost programmes were produced by the two cable TV stations, Sanli and Pata.

Deriding the stations for being driven by profits alone, president Ho Te-fen also criticised President Chen Shui-bian for indulging in ghostspeak when he remarked that his victory in the March presidential election was helped by the spirit of late navy Captain Yin Ching-feng, reported Hongkong's The Sun Daily.

Capt Yin was murdered in 1993 over a kickback scandal involving naval requisitions. Mr Chen was a legislator then, vehemently calling for an investigation into his death.