Wed, Jul 29, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[LETTER]

Comic strip no accident

We strongly object to the offensive comic strip that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) published on July 20 to promote the government’s proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China and we demand its immediate withdrawal.

The ethnic profiling and stereotyping in the comic is unmistakably insulting and discriminates against Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese.

This outrageous comic consequently resulted in an ethnic uproar.

So far, the best that the government has done is urge the public not to be offended.

What is worse is the explanation offered by the MOEA deputy minister, who said: “The comic characters were the result of long, painstaking efforts by public relations experts.”

It is crystal clear that this was no accident. The officials involved approved the publication of the comic strip.

A spokesman for the Democratic Progressive Party said: “The comic strip is extremely offensive and derogatory. It describes those who oppose the ECFA as stupid and unaware of current events. This is glaring racial and class discrimination.”

The citizens of a democracy have the fundamental right to question their government’s policies. It is the government’s responsibility to persuade the public to support its policies. In the case of the proposed ECFA, the government has not even made known the content of the proposed agreement with China, let alone explain it.

The public is naturally concerned and nervous about likely damage to Taiwan’s sovereignty and economy from the ECFA. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to insult the people who have spoken up against the proposed agreement.

There is no place in a democracy for such state-sponsored discrimination against any ethnic group.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) cannot remain silent on this public relations disaster. As the elected leader of Taiwan, he cannot avoid his responsibility to rid members of the government of their mentality of ethnic discrimination. We ask that Ma learn from US President Barack Obama, who rushed to quell racial uproar in Boston.

BEN LIU

President, North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association,

Princeton, New Jersey

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