Fri, Dec 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Chen must cultivate a Taiwanese personality

By Bob Kuo 郭峰淵

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) wants to promote economic growth. Over the past five years, he has proposed several policies, such as the "active opening, effective management" cross-strait investment policy and the "two-trillion, two star" project, aiming to increase the production value of the domestic semiconductor and panel display industries to more than NT$1 trillion (US$31.6 billion) by next year. The government has also invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the development of biotechnology and wireless technology. However, the results have been ridiculous -- the nation has been drained of its capital, and the disparities between urban and rural areas have widened, as has the gap between rich and poor. It looks as if only a handful of capitalists and Taipei City have enjoyed the benefits of economic development.

The strange thing is that it is these powerful people who constantly ask Chen to improve the nation's economy. It seems there is nothing wrong with seeing the poor in the countryside suffering while the rich are whining about their dwindling incomes. Clearly, the latter will emerge as the winners if Chen falls for their tricks.

This phenomenon indicates a cruel fact: Too much of the nation's economy is concentrated in Taipei, where it is dominated by a handful of privileged people. Therefore, Chen has to come to his senses and re-establish a Taiwanese consciousness among the public rather than focusing all his attention on the economic growth rate.

Ever since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000, it has indeed attempted to appeal to centrist voters by sidestepping the issue of the sovereignty of Taiwan, and some party members have even regarded the issue as a real vote loser. Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) unexpectedly took the opportunity to promote the idea of localization and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) even wrote an article to extol the achievements of Taiwanese writers such as Lai Ho (賴和) and Yang Kui (楊逵). He also claimed that the KMT's victory in the recent local government elections was "a victory for Taiwan." I believe that the DPP, a self-professed "localized" political party, should find this very ironic.

I would like to suggest that the DPP should openly promote Taiwanese literature, art and music, and that the Ministry of Education should include the literary works of Taiwanese writers into the elementary school curriculum. The Examination Yuan could also include such works in their civil servant examination while the Council for Cultural Affairs could hold competitions with local Taiwanese themes.

In addition, Taiwan's media outlets are focused on Taipei and this has contributed to social tension. The just-concluded local government elections were obviously manipulated by the media outlets based in Taipei, and the results also catered to the expectations of people living in Taipei. Therefore, the government should move state-run media outlets out of Taipei in the near term.

As a result of the last dozen years of education reform, the proportion of students in cities, particularly Taipei, continuing their studies have increased, while schools in rural areas have become a shelter for incompetent teachers or temporary bases for teachers intending to transfer to better schools. This is also something the government has to deal with.

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