Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Finally, Doraemon comes of age ... in the shape of a revolutionary vandal of MRT stations.

What's up with the MRT?

Dear Johnny,

Two things struck me during an MRT ride this week which I thought you might be able to shed some light on.

First, I got on the MRT at Taipei City Hall Station and changed trains, as many people do, at Taipei Main Station. There, I bought a few items at a 7-Eleven before boarding the red line.

The items I procured entitled me to a collectible Doraemon refrigerator magnet (at least I assume it's for my refrigerator). As my fellow passengers soon discovered by the squeal I volunteered, I was lucky enough, on my 22nd try, to be the proud owner of the Taiwan Doraemon magnet!

However, my euphoria was euthanized when I saw that my beloved Xiao Ding-dang (小叮噹) was pictured standing in front of a long wall at the National Palace Museum -- the ultimate symbol of Chinese colonialism in Taiwan -- beating a drum, wearing a shit-eating grin. What's up with that?

I'd rather he be tagging the wall with 台灣就是台灣 ("Taiwan is Taiwan") or maybe 台灣獨立 ("Independent Taiwan"). That's what Xiao Ding-dang would do.

Then, on the Red Line, I quickly passed through the impossibly long-titled National Taiwan University Hospital Station (why can't that voice-over woman just say "NTU Hospital Station"?) and arrived, still fuming, at the equally long-titled Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station.

Now ... why hadn't I noticed this in seven years in Taipei? The walls at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station are bereft of advertising -- any advertising -- while Sun Yat-sen's (孫逸仙) eponymous MRT station is bedecked with it! Is Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) memorial more hallowed ground than his teacher and mentor Dr Sun Yat-sen? What's up with that?

And so I have an offer. There is a costume shop in Ximending (西門町) that rents Xiao Ding-dang suits. To the first person who rents one of these suits, wears it riding the MRT to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station, alights there and tags the walls with 台灣就是台灣, I will give all 22 of my collectible Doraemon refrigerator magnets. All I want in trade is a photograph of them doing so -- something to put on my refrigerator where my magnet collection used to be.

Name withheld

Taipei

Johnny replies: Quit your whining, NW; you don't know the half of it. I opened my free 7-Eleven Hello Kitty international flower collectible a few months ago (to give to my granddaughter, of course) and discovered Hello Kitty sitting on a twig of peonies next to the title "People's Republic of China" -- and a look of horrified embarrassment on her normally blank face. I nearly stabbed myself with the safety pin from the shock of it all. As for your problem with MRT station names, how about we change the one named after the Old Thief to Johnny Neihu Temple of Fun Station (強尼內湖樂廟站), or Nineimiao Station (尼內廟站) for short? Commuters would then be encouraged to write on or throw whatever they want at the walls (when the train isn't at the platform).

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