Sun, Jan 02, 2011 - Page 8 News List


One Pinyin system, please

I’m a big fan of WikiLeaks, which recently leaked an English-language transcription of excerpts from a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) standing committee meeting, which apparently was not reported in the local media, including the Taipei Times. The transcription reads:

“You know the KMT is going to vote to allow ‘free,’ independent travelers to come to Taiwan. How can we leverage their arrival to help close the huge rich-poor divide?” one leader, code-named “English,” asked at the beginning of the session.

“I know!” shouted another DPP member, code-named “Loser,” according to the leak. “Visitors from China can only read simplified characters, and they all use Hanyu pinyin, so let’s change everything we can to Wade-Giles!”

“Brilliant,” said another man. “Let’s put one version of pinyin on our giveaway Taipei maps, another one on the internal bus display, and make sure they’re both different from the signs at the MRT stations, street signs and Google maps. We’ve already made achievements in this area!” he boasted. “If you’re trying to go to Gongguan MRT station, the sign on the bus says ‘Kungkuan.’ Hahaha!” He laughed out loud insanely. “That will really screw with all the foreigners!”

English spoke up. “But how will this help us narrow the rich-poor divide?”

“You’re an idiot,” said Loser, using the colloquial Taiwanese expression for when someone says something either totally stupid or too-intentionally cute. “Taxi drivers are some of the poorest people in Taiwan. After all, statistics show that 95 percent of their time and gas money is spent driving around, trolling for fares. The more foreigners that get lost, the more money the taxi drivers will make!”

“Right!” shouted the unidentified speaker. “At least half of Taiwanese taxi drivers can’t speak Chinese anyway, so their passengers will get hopelessly lost! Maybe confused tourists will get driven to ‘KeeLung!’” he added. “The more taxis foreigners have to take to get where they want to go, the more Taiwan’s rich-poor divide will shrink!”

English agreed: “Yes, the best way to ensure financial prosperity for Taiwan’s poor is to use as many different versions of pinyin as possible!”

I’m surprised that the Taipei Times hasn’t perused this WikiLeaks goldmine of inside information. Where’s Johnny when we need him?

Torch Pratt


Let Chinese see democracy

Your editorial on ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) (“Security overkill robs envoy, public,” Dec. 23, 2010, page 8) was quite a good read and made a very good point in its conclusion.

The final line suggested that if Taiwanese had the right or opportunity to grill President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in public, then why did the government and police not allow the same treatment to be doled out to the chairman?

A further point could have been made about how after allowing Chen to hear protests, Chinese officials would perhaps start to understand a little bit about what democracy means.

Moreover, using tactics to allow Chen to avoid seeing our national flag also reminds us of the weakness of “Mr Ma’s” government.

The government can only be strong with a strong democracy. Let the Chinese elite hear it and see if back door negotiations continue.

In a true democracy, people’s voices are heard. What a shame that Taiwan seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

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