It’s no wonder it has been so tough to establish and enforce intellectual copyright protection in this country when the leadership continually claims credit for others’ ideas and work. Of course, this isn’t really anything new. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the government was claiming full credit for the expansion or renewal of projects that were planned under the Japanese colonial administration.
Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) proudly told a Rotary Club function on Thursday that most of the events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China (ROC) next year have been finalized. He’s in a good position to know, since he is chairman of the Centenary Celebration Preparation Committee.
However, his list should have raised some eyebrows. Siew said the anniversary program would include 15 theme events and seven international functions.
Among those seven international events are the International Design Alliance Congress in Taipei, the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Conference in Chiayi City, the International Flora Expo in Taipei and a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament. The first three were well in hand long before the centenary committee was established and their organizers should feel miffed, at the very least, that some of their glory is being expropriated by the committee — which for all intents and purposes means the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
The Taiwan Floriculture Development Association, with the backing of the Taipei City Government, won the bid to host the 2010 flora exposition back in April 2006. The Chiayi International Wind Music Festival is almost two decades old, which was probably a contributing factor back in July 2007 to Chiayi City winning the right to host the 2011 World Wind Music Conference, which includes the 15th WASBE conference and the 2011 International Band Festival. As for the design congress, the announcement that Taipei was awarded the event was made on Oct. 9, 2007.
Claiming credit for others’ ideas just isn’t sporting. Taiwanese golfer Yani Tseng’s (曾雅妮) father, Tseng Mao-hsin (曾茂炘), asked the government last year to fund a tournament, but President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Sports Council dismissed the idea at the time on the grounds that it would be too expensive.
Eily Ho (何麗純), manager of the Peitou Kuohua Golf County Club in Taipei, has said she discussed the idea of an LPGA event in Taiwan in October next year with LPGA officials in Florida in February and said they had responded positively.
Lo and behold, last month the Golf Association of Taiwan announced that Taiwan would be hosting an LPGA event for three years, starting next year, and that a key factor for starting next year was to celebrate the centennial.
Siew isn’t the only government official seeking to link already planned events to the centennial.
In May, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) was quoted as saying: “Next year’s ROC centennial celebrations will be the perfect platform for showcasing the innovative values of Taiwan’s design industries.”
It is terrific that Taiwan will be playing host to so many international events next year because that means that more people will visit Taiwan and have the opportunity to see our beautiful nation.
However, the KMT and the government should not try to claim credit they don’t deserve, and especially not by linking the ROC centennial to so many outside events, thereby politicizing them. The best way for them to truly celebrate the centennial would be by showing some initiative and originality themselves. After all, they are celebrating what was a rather original idea at the time — the establishment of a democracy in Asia.