Sun, Mar 07, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Letters

Government is for the people

On Monday night I visited Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), not at his home, but on the street, in the cold, in front of the Legislative Yuan. By then, Lin was on his tenth hour of a 24-hour fast to protest the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-controlled legislature, which has not carried out its promise to halve the number of legislative seats.

I was amazed as I looked on. Lin and seven others were sitting still and silent. And I could feel the weight of their cause. Although cars were passing by, it felt silent and intensely earnest. Some of you might ask, why fast? I think that it sends a message loud and clear that this matter is not trivial.

Elected officials have to understand that the government is for the people. It does not exist to give them a thrill of power or to fill their bank accounts with cash. They must be accountable to the people who elected them.

I hope all Taiwanese will refuse to vote for anyone who remains in the old KMT way of thinking. I hope they remove from office all those who have shown themselves to be false. And if you want to see a contrast, please go out and visit Lin and others on the sidewalk fasting in front of the Legislative Yuan.

Joel Linton

Taipei

(Editor's note: Joel Linton is Lin I-hsiung's son-in-law.)

Taiwanese identity not new

It has been repeated recently by the Western media that "a sense of a separate Taiwanese identity has emerged" ("Taiwanese identity in the spotlight," Mar. 2, page 4). The Western media may be discovering the existence of a Taiwanese identity now, but it is not one that has recently emerged, just as the Americas existed before Columbus laid eyes on them.

Almost all Western news media are either ignorant of or simply forget about the history of the Taiwanese identity: We used to be many groups of people (Aborigines and pioneer immigrants alike) co-existing on a Pacific island without a sense of "us"; then, for the first time, in 1895, we came together under the banner of "Taiwan Republic" (the first call for a republic in Asia) to deal with a sudden collective-existence issue. In the 50 years that followed, we further fought for our collective rights under Japanese rule.

The Taiwanese identity was born and grew between 1895 and 1945. Social, cultural, philosophical and political debates among us were much more active and livelier then than between 1945 and 1990. For instance, the first "[Taiwanese] homeland literature debate" occurred between 1930 and 1933, resulting in the sense shared among the intelligentsia that "One lives under the Taiwanese heaven and stands on the Taiwanese soil, one cannot realistically write about anything other than the people of Taiwan and their life."

The "emergence" of the Taiwanese identity that the Western media are witnessing now is really a "re-emergence," a coming out of the closet after hiding for many years under the Chiang family's terror.

We would give the thumps-up to the first Western media outlet that stops the practice of regularly regurgitating in their reports about Taiwan the mantra that "Taiwan split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949."

We existed before 1949; as ourselves, Taiwanese.

Sing Young

Taoyuan City

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