Wed, Nov 17, 2010 - Page 8 News List


Formosan black bear travails

Recently, a Sky1 English TV series featured coverage of the Great Wall of China as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At one site near the Great Wall, the program presented a bear enclosure that featured a number of Asian black bears — close cousins of the Formosan black bear in blood and appearance.

Not normally a fan of any kind of zoo or enclosure for wild animals, the sight of these bears in a barren pit begging for food from tourists both upset me and immediately raised in my mind a comparison with the treatment of pandas at Taipei Zoo.

The pandas at Taipei Zoo have an indoor and outdoor enclosure, lots of bamboo and a stylized design that supposedly makes them “feel at home.” Nothing like that exists for the cousins of the Formosan black bears. They get a sand pit with some climbing equipment and food thrown at them by tourists. The difference in treatment is like that of the Hilton and the average squat.

This differential treatment of the bears can also serve as a clear political analogy. Taiwanese are the black bears, locked in a barren enclosure they can’t get out of (the Republic of China [ROC] constitutional polity), being thrown scraps by tourists (purchasing visits by Chinese delegations), while the pandas — Chinese officials such as Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) — are given five-star VIP treatment (hiding, confiscating and destroying ROC flags to avoid hurting the Chinese people’s feelings).

The arrival of the pandas was supposed to signify warming relations between Taiwan and China, but the truth of Beijing’s real attitude to Taipei is seen in its treatment of the close cousins of our protected indigenous species — for Chinese officials, Taiwanese should be constrained and appeased and have no real long-term concessions offered to them.

If the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) wants to posit former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) acquittal from a set of bribery charges as a reason for Taiwanese not to vote for the Democratic Progressive Party, then surely the treatment of the endangered cousins of the Formosa black bears by Chinese while at the same time President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration bends over backwards to please China should be a good reason for voters to not believe anything the government says about Taiwan-China (read KMT-Chinese Communist Party or Chinese Taipei-People’s Republic of China) relations and to vote for a genuinely pro-Taiwan party instead.

Finally, isn’t it high time we ditched Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) as the “Father of the Nation” and instead called for the Formosan black bear (and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin while we’re at it) to become the national symbols of the independent Taiwanese nation? Perhaps then, this myopic and ultra-Chinese nationalist KMT government will finally understand that Taiwanese do not want to be re-Sinicized into some imagined, imported and imposed “Greater China.”



A reform to Ma’s liking

There has been talk recently of “judicial reform.” If this comes to pass, I have a suggestion: Perhaps the Presidential Office should inform the courts beforehand of its preferred outcome in high-profile trials and judges could simply state in the published decision whether it was “respected” by the national leadership, or if it rather buttressed the need for further judicial reform. This would save journalists and readers alike a lot of time.

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