Thu, Apr 28, 2011 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Comic book is no laughing matter

What happens when comic book meets ideology? Answer: An absurd distortion of history. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government has exemplified that in the most blatant way with its recent publication of a comic book history of the Republic of China’s (ROC) military.

The Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday launched the comic book, titled Eternal Glory, and meant to illustrate the grandeur of the ROC military’s might and perseverance as part of the KMT government’s celebration of the ROC’s centennial. The comic, however, dexterously managed to totally omit any mention of former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Even though Lee and Chen’s years of governance combined takes up one-fifth of the ROC’s 100-year history, the ministry said its 280-page comic book did not have enough room to include every president. And yet, with the limited number of pages as claimed by the ministry, it somehow brilliantly managed to mention President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is merely in the third year of his presidency.

To be fair, the ministry deserves some kudos for wanting to connect with young people by coming up with the idea of a comic book to introduce the military’s gore and glory to the nation’s youngsters.

However, as it looks unlikely that the ministry would publish a sequel to Eternal Glory called The Missing 20 Years, elaborating on the history of the nation’s military under Lee’s and Chen’s presidencies, it is absolutely despicable that the ministry used taxpayers’ money for a publication that presents a distorted version of history. The distorting of historic facts in the comic book could also be seen as a violation of the principle of administrative neutrality.

Indeed, how convincing does the ministry expect the comic book to be if it depicts the evolution of the ROC’s military without a mention of Chen’s governance, under whose eight-year presidency the task of nationalizing the military was accomplished, a move that mirrored the nation’s democratization?

The level of destruction and damage caused by the massive earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999, resulted in far more devastation than the flood brought by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009, and Lee’s role as the president at the time of the 921 Earthquake disaster, during which he issued an executive order to activate an emergency decree, is without doubt more worthy of mention than the relatively small role played by Ma during the Morakot flooding.

The advanced weaponry the nation acquired under Lee’s and Chen’s presidencies is worth at least a mention, but this appeared to be lost in the ministry’s depiction of the nation’s military history.

So much for the ministry’s statement at the press conference on Tuesday held to launch the comic book that “staying true to history” was the approach it took when creating the comic.

This brings to mind how the KMT, when in opposition during Chen’s presidency, used to accuse the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of ruling the country by ideology, describing the administration’s work promoting Taiwanese consciousness as “de-Sinicization” (去中國化).

The KMT government appears to have taken “rule by ideology” to another level by unashamedly editing out historic facts from the comic book in line with partisan bias.

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