Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - Page 8 News List

[LETTERS]

Needless cruelty

I would like to voice my opinion on the picture showing visitors to Penghu “try[ing] out a traditional fishing method using a net called a seine to encircle fish in shallow water in Penghu” (“Old Times,” Dec. 4, page 2). The picture shows a group of adults and children standing around gawking nervously at a sizeable quantity (at least 50) of Porcupine (puffer) fish dying painfully, while gasping out their last breaths on the sand.

What was the purpose of this “demonstration of traditional fishing methods?” Who did it benefit and how was it educational?

Puffer fish are not generally regarded in Taiwan as food, as their internal organs are highly poisonous. This “demonstration” was not only wasteful of valuable marine life but also cruel and valueless as a teaching aid.

This highly wasteful method of fishing is used around the country and throughout Kenting National Park.

It contributes to the needless death of thousands of non-food fish such as pufferfish every year as well as dozens of endangered Hawksbill turtles, which suffocate in the nets slung around the beaches. It is a threat to the Hawksbill nesting grounds at Sand Island and Baishawan beaches in the Kenting National Park area.

Wouldn’t it be better to encourage visitors to Taiwan’s beautiful oceanside to preserve the environment and teach them something about the beauty of the marine life living along our shores instead of needlessly killing these creatures?

If officials do not wake up and make an effort to preserve the marine environment in places such as Penghu, Xiaoliuchiu, Kenting, Orchid Island, Green Island and Fulong, there will soon be nothing but memories of the abundant marine life enjoyed in the “old times.”

I would like to urge the government to promote the preservation of Taiwan’s marine environment and create marine parks around Taiwan as soon as possible.

ANDREW GRAY

Kaohsiung

Strawberries leave their mark

Dec. 7 may well turn out to be a portentous day in the history of Taiwan — the day when members of the Wild Strawberry Student Movement, motivated by compassion and their regard for Taiwan, confronted the police and other agents of state power.

The grievances of the Wild Strawberries are reasonable; and their act of civil disobedience is quite sensible and understandable. They seek redress in the form of a revision to the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法), an atavistic fossil belonging to a by-gone era. The continued existence of such a law is a shameful disgrace.

This “law” is nothing more than a flimsy excuse to deprive the Taiwanese of their civil rights. Such a sham has no place in a society that would call itself democratic.

Civil liberties are fundamental and crucial to the well being of a nation. They are what the English Puritan author Richard Baxter would have called “necessary things.” Civil liberties are so crucial that they demand and require the unity of all people in society.

May God bless and protect the brave “wild strawberries” of Taiwan.

As Baxter said: “In necessary things, unity; In doubtful things, liberty; In all things, charity.”

As William Sloane Coffin, the former Yale chaplain, said: “Let us all remember what Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi never forgot — how frequently compassion demands confrontation.”

MICHAEL SCANLON

East Hartford, Connecticut

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