Fri, Mar 15, 2002 - Page 12 News List

Letters:

Debate will set you free

I read with interest Lee Yuan-tse's (李遠哲) article ("Taiwan needs to take a more rational approach," March 8, page 13). What I found in the article was that it was all about "what is" and "what should be;" it did not say anything about "how." Yes, people in Taiwan today have a terrible lack of communication and problem-solving skills and very often show little respect and tolerance toward their fellow countrymen. However, unless scholars with Lee's stature come out and offer some concrete steps to be taken, the old habits are unlikely to die.

In my humble opinion, debate seems to be too foreign a concept to the people of Tai-wan in general and to scholars in particular. But does Lee know that debate, when used during elections can filter out a lot of garbage from the legislature and local governments? Does Lee know that debate, when televised can draw and educate a large audience without all that garbage that one sees and hears on all those call-in programs? Does Lee know that debate will also more likely produce leaders who are for the people of Taiwan?

The people of Taiwan have been doomed to having communication problems because they have not been able to freely communicate in their own languages, much less to participate in debate.

Unless the people are freed from having to speak the foreign language of a foreign culture for their entire lives, the people are doomed to remain poor communicators.

Shouldn't the Academia Sinica that Lee is heading do a scientific study and prove my analysis scientifically wrong? Isn't this a more important issue facing Taiwan today than all the talk of semiconductors and wafers?

Thomas Liu

Taipei

Being PC on language

As for political correctness -- re your editorial ("Adrift on an island of babel," March 11, page 8) -- why don't we abolish Mandarin as the national language? There is no national language in China or the US.

As far as a national language policy is concerned, Taiwan can learn from both countries.

Mandarin is considered the "common language" in China. In the US, English is commonly used but is not considered the national language. In both cases, political correctness is preserved.

In Taiwan, Hokkein is the "naturally" common language spoken fluently by 75 percent of the population. Mandarin is the "artificially" common language spoken by nearly 100 percent of the population.

However, a majority, including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun, speak with broken Mandarin, sometimes ridiculed as the "Taiwanese national language."

Can Taiwan be as strong as the US and China if Taiwan also adopts a policy of no national language?

Charles Hong

Columbus, Ohio

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