No to anthem in schools
The recent debate over the compulsory singing of the national anthem in schools reminds me of two fond memories.
One is when the anthem had to be sung in movie theaters before any movie. When I first went to see a movie here in the early 1990s, I was quite surprised at the fact that everybody, young and old, stood up to sing it. I refused, and remained seated eating my popcorn with my Taiwanese girlfriend, who was quite scared at the possible reaction of everyone around us. She was right. One guy behind me tried to punch me in the nose, yelling out how disrespectful I was of his country and da da da.
This immediately brought up another memory. When I was invited as a visiting fellow in one of Munich’s best institutions on public health, I was at first living at my professor’s house. He was the head of the institute. His teenage son and I soon became good friends.
One day, I asked him what his most memorable experience was when he did a one-year stint studying in the US. He said “the first day in school.”
What happened is that the school, like many in the US, also requested the singing of the Star Spangled Banner at the beginning of the school day. He, like me, refused to stand up and sing. The teacher could not try to beat him up, like my fellow moviegoer tried with me. He was a foreign student with a reputed father. Instead, the teacher asked him to explain to the class why he wouldn’t at least stand up like the others, thinking maybe the poor kid didn’t know the words of the Star Spangled Banner.
His reply was simply this: “Hitler got us in Germany to do this hyper-nationalistic stuff. I can’t agree with this.”
Wise kid. Is there a need for Taiwan to return to the bad habits of the past?
US-China relations are built on a series of fabrications about Taiwan. In fact, one of the major reasons the US-China relationship is so contentious right now is that Chinese belligerence is exposing these carefully constructed fictions to common sense. Readers know the story. In the 1970s and 1980s, American officials said what they needed to make common cause with Beijing vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Diplomats couldn’t talk about Taiwan as a “country” — let alone an independent one — which it so clearly is. They enshrined in US policy that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there
International travelers arriving in Taiwan on long-haul flights have since Tuesday been required to take a polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 upon landing, and wait for the results before finishing airport entry procedures. The policy was implemented after several airport workers were infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, leading to local transmissions and cluster infections over the past two weeks. The Central Epidemic Command Center on Friday reported that 139 people among 1,837 inbound passengers, or about 7.6 percent, tested positive after landing in the first four days, exceeding the center’s expectation. The peak of returnees before the Lunar New Year
Once a month, a government vehicle pulls up outside Government House, the official residence of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), and an official from the Treasury Bureau alights to deliver a case laden with wads of Hong Kong dollar bank notes. Like the godfather of a mafia organization, Lam stockpiles her monthly salary in cash at her home. This is because Lam, who earns an annual salary of HK$5.2 million (US$667,517) and is one of the world’s highest-paid leaders, has no bank account. After Lam colluded with Beijing to impose a new National Security Law on the territory in
The start of any new year is always a good time for introspection, reflection and resolutions. This advice is appropriate for all. In Taiwan, it should clearly be heeded by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which continues to have its share of troubles. The KMT has had so many difficulties in the past decade that it almost seems to revel in them with the celebration of each new year. What then could be done? The KMT can begin by examining the present and slowly tracing backward to see how the dots are connected. Whether the party admits it or not, it