Sat, May 07, 2011 - Page 8 News List


Missing the point

Arron Beck’s response to my article makes no attempt to address my essential point — that is, linguistic expertise rather than being a native speaker needs to be part of Taiwan’s efforts to improve the quality of its English language output (Letters, May 5, page 8 and “Experts better than native speakers,” April 29, page 8).

Beck resorts simply to abuse (“Mr know-it-all”), pedantry (mailbag/mailbox), politics (Chinese/Taiwanese) and arrogance, not to mention hypocrisy (“I give you a failing grade, sir”). What has he got against experts?

The views expressed in my article reflected my experience of writing, editing and translating in Taiwan throughout the best part of the past 20 years. The fact that debate continues about how to address Taiwan’s English-language woes suggests that throwing legions of native-English-speaking non-experts at the problem is no solution at all. Beck’s flaunted capacity for missing the point simply underscores that.



Don’t destroy wetlands

The movement for preserving the mangrove wetlands at Jhuwei (竹圍) on the banks of the Tamsui River (淡水河) began in the 1980s. As a result of a housing construction project, conservationists and academics fought to save the mangroves. They stopped the project and in the end, the wetlands were made into a nature reserve by the government.

In 1997, the first proposal for the Danbei expressway (a proposed 4.7km expressway along the north bank of the Tamsui River) alarmed people who care about the mangroves. Many groups, including environmental, cultural and community organizations, formed an organization to protect the Tamsui River.

They made posters, held forums, put on concerts and visited legislators, as well as the Taipei county commissioner. In 2000, an environmental impact assessment ruled against the project. The mangroves were saved again.

The former Taipei County government proposed a shorter version of the expressway in 2008. Once again, the mangroves were in danger. I joined the anti-Danbei movement last year and since then I have been working together with local citizens and environmental organizations.

In every environmental impact assessment review meeting by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), Taipei County and its successor, New Taipei City (新北市), have insisted that the expressway would not infringe on the Tamsui River Mangrove Nature Reserve.

The third preliminary review meeting was on April 15. One week before the meeting, a document provided by the New Taipei City Government said that it completed a scene survey with the Forestry Bureau, which confirmed that the planned expressway would not be located within the nature reserve.

However, when we went to the places they surveyed, we found that one of the road stakes was 60cm inside the land boundary stake of the nature reserve.

At the April 15 meeting, the Forestry Bureau admitted after our persistent inquiries that one of the road stakes was indeed within the nature reserve. The city government gave several explanations about the stakes. These explanations were conflicting and none of them clarified the issue. With such a big problem, the meeting should have been halted.

However, it continued and the result of the preliminary review was a “conditional pass.” The EPA is helping the city pave a road into the mangrove wetlands.

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