Mon, May 23, 2011 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Racism begone

The very good recent editorial on racism toward Aborigines was well-written and to the point (“Racist remarks cannot be tolerated,’’ May 18, page 8). Racist remarks by any public figure, be he or she a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), should never be tolerated in this multi-ethnic nation.

So shame on Liao Wan-lung (廖萬隆), a member of the KMT, for wondering out loud in public “whether it would be possible to discourage intermarriage between Aborigines and other ethnicities to ensure the preservation of Aborigines’ cultural heritage.’’

And shame on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for his “tepid response [to Liao that] simply did not go far enough.”

Although, to tell the truth, the KMT is not the only party to say racist things about Taiwan’s Aborigines. A few years ago, a DPP legislator in Taipei referred, in public, to Aborigines with the racist word Huan-ah — a slur in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) that literally means “wild savages.” I read about this incident in the Taipei Times, by the way.

One more note, speaking of racism: I have also noticed that sometimes — not always, but sometimes — when a front page or inside photograph depicting Taiwanese Aborigines appears in your newspaper, it is often given a witty yet mocking title and caption, insulting the spiritual beliefs of Aborigines in some instances or gently mocking their clothes, their facial tattoos or their customs.

You would never permit photo headlines or photo captions that mock African Americans or Christians or Muslims, yet for some reason your copy editors (and their supervising editors) sometimes allow photo headlines and photo captions that treat Aborigines in a jocular, mocking and yes, racist way.

If it’s wrong for KMT and DPP legislators to make racist comments about Aborigines, and it is, then it is also wrong for the progressive and liberal Taipei Times to treat Aboriginal customs and beliefs in racist, Han-supremacist ways.

I hope future photo captions and titles will reflect my concerns.

ARRON BECK

Kenting, Taiwan

Raising standards

John Fleckenstein’s letter did not come too late — it just should have popped up as banner headline (Letter, May 17, page 8).

Taiwan’s seemingly helpless Ministry of Transportation and Communications has never tackled the issue of “idling engines,” despite sufficient information and literature about the waste of energy and money, insanity and health damage caused by idling engines.

Taipei’s scooters are only one example. Another is the dozens of tourist buses whose engines are left running with the air conditioning on and the door open (frequently with a sleeping driver inside). One can see this every day at all the tourist spots.

A further example: Families with babies and young children sleeping in their vans and cars as they enjoy a fine Sunday afternoon, with their air conditioning and engine running.

Never heard of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide? Don’t these people care about their fellow citizens or the environment?

Taiwan has enough schools and education institutes, unfortunately populated by many students who are also idling, since learning is intended primarily for exams. How much do Taiwan’s students learn about life or a “life with higher qualities?” What about a life that respects humans and nature or a life with morals, caring for others and responsibility?

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