Sat, Jun 09, 2012 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

In defense of the unpopular

Thank you Georg Woodman and thank you to the Taipei Times for always publishing letters with diverse opinions.

The words expressed in his letter (“A god among mere mortals,” June 5, page 8) draw an impartial portrait of a majority of Taiwanese society, more precisely their drivers and riders of all kinds (buses, cars, scooters and even bikes).

Georg Woodman’s straightforwardness also shows that he is concerned about Taiwan and its people (aren’t we all, if we decided to come here?) and, as I do too, he toys with the hope of seeing this country embrace a brighter perspective.

Nearly a year ago, in a letter published in this newspaper, I was still debating “in vain” about the Taipei’s traffic. I now agree with Woodman that “social conduct” is a more appropriate topic for discussion.

I happen to express the same sincerity in my conversations when I am invited to give my opinion about Taiwan. I have gathered that this is not the best for being a crowd-pleaser, but I always conclude by stating that the Taiwanese working class deserves a better environment, better living conditions and a more hopeful future. I mean it.

Looking at how the young generation is straining under the pressure of long working shifts for meager wages, commuting daily on public transport, behaving nicely and patiently with an obvious sense of civility that you will no longer see on a subway in Paris — it all still surprises me and touches my heart.

This is all compared with the other part of the society which appalls me: The selfish old-school followers whose views are anchored to the past with no vision or ambition for their country and who justify their obnoxious behaviour by claiming it is their democratic right. A democracy for which they did not even have to fight, basically these people are deeply individualistic.

My opinion will no doubt surely raise objections from many locals who will often skirt around the issue by replying: “Why do you stay here then?”

I have my personal reasons to be here and this is absolutely not the point. Too many Taiwanese favor this kind of argument, which allows them to simply dismiss any foreigner who happens to hold a view which is critical of their society.

Well, if we followed such reasoning in our respective countries, then foreign residents who use their right to express criticism there would be few in number.

I still feel tenderness for many Taiwanese. I feel compassion for those who are helpless and so prone to pessimism, but I also feel disillusioned when I look at the other half of the citizens who are inconsiderate, self-satisfied and self-indulgent, and who do not possess even the slightest propensity for self-criticism and who deliberately waste the great potential that this island has to offer.

The “betterment of Taiwanese society” still has a long way to go.

Alexis Sanders

Paris

If you do not like it, lump it

In response to Mr Georg Woodman’s recent letter, I would like to say that as a longtime visitor to Taiwan, who is also married to a wonderful Taiwanese woman, in my humble opinion it is time for you to take your pompous attitude and simply fold up your tent and go home ... wherever that might be.

It is people just like you who give Westerners an undeserved “black eye.” You are a visitor. Maybe you are on a resident visa, but you are still a guest in Taiwan. Act like it.

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