For every person brought up in a free world, a referendum is an instrument of democracy and joining a referendum is fulfilling one's civil duty. Before joining the EU, Poles were asked in a referendum whether they wanted to be members of the European community or not (75 percent said "yes"). Now, ahead of the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon (amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community), many Poles hope they will be given a chance to decide whether to support or reject the treaty through the referendum.
The principle of sovereignty requires that the consent of the people be given on certain questions of public or national concern.
Hearing that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is urging people to boycott the referendum, one can't avoid asking the questions: Is this a party that believes in democracy? Can it safeguard the sovereignty of the country while attempting to take the right to decide on matters of national concern out of the hands of the people?
After all, there is already a Chinese state where people can't express their consent or disapproval. Would the KMT prefer to follow the form of rule imposed on the Chinese people by the Chinese Communist Party?
Blueprints of the future
An editorial in your newspaper titled "The environment must come first" (Page 8, Dec. 14), said that the results of "new research from the US predicts that the Arctic could be ice-free in summer as early as 2013" and added: "[The] apocalyptic scenes from the movie The Day After Tomorrow may not be too fanciful."
I was glad to see that the Taipei Times is taking global warming seriously. In an effort to show what the distant future might look like if global warming events turn out to be disastrous for humankind, a Taiwanese illustrator named Deng Cheng-hong, who runs a small advertising sign company in southern Taiwan, has come up with a series of computer-generated blueprints of what an envisioned "sustainable population retreat" to house survivors of climate change might look like.
Deng's artwork is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and can be viewed online at: http://pcillu101.blogspot.com.
His illustrations are both reassuring and ominous. Reassuring, because they speak of survival and hope; ominous, because time seems to be running out.
Being an American lawyer (Washington State), a foreign-law member of the Taipei Bar Association and a native speaker of English, I am fairly able to appraise the neutrality or bias of language relating to issues in controversy. I respectfully object to the choice of prejudicial terminology in the article "Chinese missile threat growing: Chen" (Jan. 2, page 1). I refer particularly to the last part of the sixth paragraph of that article, which reads in full: "However, Chen said, the biggest hurdle for the improvement of cross-strait relations was Beijing's precondition of adhering to the `one China' principle."
Irrespective of the fact that the negotiating position or demand in question is put forth by a foreign entity (the Chinese Communist Party or "Beijing") in its own terms, good journalism does not include the use of prejudicial terms in reporting on issues in controversy. Use of the term "principle" glorifies and honors what is simply an expansionist policy that Beijing tries to justify by puffing about "territorial integrity" of an undefined "motherland."
An honorific term like "principle" should not be adopted in news coverage, as it is the propagandist terminology used by Beijing. Such glorifying terminology in this context tends to mislead local and international readers of the Taipei Times as to what President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said, and also casts a taint on Taiwan's position by suggesting that Taiwan is not adhering to a principle.
Beijing's demand that Taiwan assume a subservient position, as the price of dialogue, is wholly unprincipled and should never be glorified and honored by use of the term "principle." The phrase "adhering to the `one China' principle" should never be used in reference to Beijing's demand for subservience to its unprincipled Taiwan policy.
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