Letters - Taipei Times
Wed, Dec 21, 2005 - Page 8 News List


Create a Taiwanese identity

I read with great pleasure Bob Kuo's (郭峰淵) article ("Chen must cultivate a Taiwanese personality," Dec. 16, page 8). In it Kuo encourages President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to promote Taiwanese art and culture as a means of revitalizing the spirit of democracy in Taiwan. This, in my view, is the very epitome of wisdom.

Kuo's point is basically that culture -- the indigenous, native Taiwanese culture of this island republic -- should be the driving force behind the President's campaign to revitalize faith in Taiwanese democracy.

The indisputable fact is that Taiwan already has a unique cultural identity and history which is distinct from any other in the world. The problem is that for many politicians, and often the average Taiwanese person, it appears that Taiwanese culture is still considered something of an embarrassment -- and frequently treated like some proverbial "redheaded stepchild" of Chinese civilization.

As a result, Taiwanese politicians and leaders often neglect to talk too much about what Taiwan really is. This is apparent even in everyday life. If you ask the typical Taiwanese student whether they are Chinese or Taiwanese, more often than not they simply cannot respond or become confused by what is actually a very simple question. This need not be the case.

As schoolchildren in the US, we all had to take "Civics" classes, which explained to our young minds the workings of US democracy. We learned what the Constitution is, who Benjamin Franklin was, and why the US didn't fall from the sky but was formed by events concerned with our revolt against English rule.

In the process we learned many a valuable thing about how to become good US citizens by participating in elections, civic organizations and the overall process of democratic citizenship.

Kuo's article highlights the need for improved teaching about what it really means to be Taiwanese, and I heartily join him in encouraging President Chen to promote a specifically Taiwanese identity through museums, the arts and educational reform. If Taiwan's democracy is to continue to flourish -- and avoid a collision with Chinese authoritarianism -- the young people of Taiwan must learn what it means to be Taiwanese, and to be proud of that.

Isn't it time students started learning the truth about who they are -- despite what a minority might think -- and what they might one day be called on to fight for?

Ron Judy


Tips for procurement

The IT month expo is a huge event that attracts lots of people who are crazy about sophisticated computers and electronic gadgets. At the show you can see how fast technology is developing. Most people go to the expo for the same reason: to purchase the very latest electronic devices and software.

Things to remember when purchasing what you have long been waiting for include: make sure the item is something you really need and also make sure the price is affordable and, last but not the least, move fast or the opportunity could slip away from you.

The issue of national defense is in some ways similar. Now that Taiwan finally has the chance to buy the advanced arms that it has been waiting for the US to approve, it should not hesitate.

We all understand why people buy life and car insurance. It's simply to give oneself peace of mind.

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