A baker at the center of a controversy over the state of a former president’s health, sold out of bread in just twenty minutes today, as people flocked to his stall to show their support.
[Cover Photo: United Daily News]
In mid-October, the baker Huang Shi-fu took pictures and video of former President Chen Shui-bian, as Chen took a stroll near the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. Chen is on medical parole after serving 6 years of a 20-year prison sentence for corruption.
Mr Huang was in the habit of setting up a stand near the museum because his small bakery stall is located in a suburban street without much passing traffic.
The pictures Huang recorded went viral on social media. Huang commented that Chen walked like a any regular person taking a stroll.
Two weeks later, he took video of President Chen and a man accompanying the former president. In the video, the president threatens to sue the baker. Mr Huang denies uploading the video, and says he merely sent it to a friend. Huang claims he made the video to protect himself, not to harass Chen.
Threats and intimidation followed publication of the photographs. Along with threatening messages like “please bite a bullet,” reports to tax and health authorities resulted in investigations, and visits by government authorities. Even his landlord has ordered the baker to move out of the premises by December.
Mr Huang has stated several times that he is just a little person in society, with a family to feed. He fronted the media after calling a press conference yesterday, to tell the media and “people with power” to stop harassing him.
The baker claimed the tax and health bureau investigations had been excessive. Health Bureau officials countered that they were obliged to act on reports by members of the public, and that Huang had been found to be in violation of regulations due to insufficient protective shielding for the products on display.
Mr Huang said that he would no longer set up his stand near the museum.
The controversy and media attention however, has resulted in a boom for his bread business. This afternoon, his first batch had sold out after just 20 minutes, as people flocked to his humble street-side stall to show their support.
One customer, Mr Chen, told reporters that he had traveled 50 minutes on his scooter, just to buy bread in support of the baker. Chen said the baker’s plight was akin to a little shrimp confronting a whale. He said that in a democratic nation people have freedom of speech and freedom of movement, and he hoped the issue wouldn’t create social division. Chen believes the baker has been treated unfairly, and he called on the people of Kaohsiung to support Mr Huang.