MOFA is non-partisan
Your editorial "Nervous nellies or diplomats?" (March 1, page 8) was apparently based on a lack of thorough research of the subject. We write to express the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) position on the matter.
The ministry has not proceeded beyond the stage of deliberation and evaluation on the question of whether to rename our representative offices, although the media have covered the issue over the past year. Your editorial stated that information was deliberately leaked to the "pro-China media" in the wake of US President George W. Bush's Asian trip. This was indeed a misunderstanding.
According to the Constitution, the president shall decide on the country's foreign policy. The ministry's role is that of the enforcer of such policy. Consequently, all foreign policy matters, including a decision to add "Issued in Taiwan" to ROC passports, are submitted to the proper higher authorities for approval. Furthermore, the ministry conducts itself in accordance with the law.
MOFA's role is to pursue the national interest and the people's well-being, not the interests of any political party. Statements accusing MOFA of being "a bastion of reunificationist conservatism" do not reflect reality.
Information and Cultural Affairs Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
228 not an `incident'
I am concerned about the title of the article "A Reflection upon the 228 Incident" (Feb 28, page 8).
According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "incident" has the following meanings: "something dependent on or subordinate to something else of greater or principal importance;" "an occurrence of an action or situation that is a separate unit of experience;" or "an accompanying minor occur-rence or condition."
For the word, "massacre," on the other hand, the dictionary gives the following meanings: "the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty;" "a cruel or wanton murder;" "an act of complete destruction."
In my opinion, the word "incident" in your title is ambiguous and imprecise. I strongly feel that the word "massacre" would be more appropriate and suitable to this historic event. "Massacre" would not only express the true meaning of the event to both Taiwanese and to the rest of the world, but it would also serve as a mirror to our future generations, reminding them not to repeat this agonizing history ever again.
I ask you to seriously consider my suggestion and use the word "massacre" in any articles for next year's 228 anniversary.
Leone Z. Young
Death penalty unacceptable
In your excellent editorial on the death penalty ("The death penalty must be killed," March 4, page 8), you refer to Peter Hodgkinson as a "prominent campaigner for the abolition of the death penalty."
As one of his hosts during his recent visit, I noticed that he never liked to use the word "abolition." He always stated that he worked for the "replacement" of the death penalty. This is a point worth bearing in mind in the future as it is less likely to provoke an immediate reaction from death penalty supporters.
Secondly, while it is true that he did admit that the Ministry of Justice's plan to grant judges discretion in the use of the death penalty might be acceptable as an interim measure, his meaning was that such a measure would not be acceptable in the long run. He also said that he would never trust UK judges with such discretion as they would inevitably abuse it. In this respect he would be in total agreement with the conclusion of your editorial: The death penalty is unacceptable.