Sun, Jun 15, 2014 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Al-Jazeera to return

My daily routine is that I make breakfast and sit down to watch the al-Jazeera world news channel supplied on the cable television network through Chunghwa Telecom, formerly a government monopoly.

Al-Jazeera provides hard-hitting coverage not just of the Middle East, where it is headquartered, but also reports critically on environmental problems and social injustice around the world. Al-Jazeera reported on the antinuclear movement in Taiwan, for example.

It helps to get at least partly past the US/European business bias of the BBC, CNN and other much more jingoistic media.

No wonder it is carried by almost no cable servers in the US; although al-Jazeera has all its programs available on its Web site.

I was enraged on the morning of May 31 when I found that channel 216 carried an announcement that al-Jazeera would no longer be run. I immediately called the Chunghwa complaint lines, but got no explanation. I surmised that the cancelation was likely part of the dumbing-down and narrowing of news and programs within Taiwan over the past five years as China increasingly buys into and grips the media of what should be a free and informed country.

After a few days it occurred to me that I should ask al-Jazeera directly before launching a protest against Chunghwa.

Al-Jazeera responded immediately to my inquiry, and a manager called me.

There was no wrangle of international players behind the scenes; al-Jazeera had overlooked some of its administrative and legal considerations in its contract with the Taiwanese server.

Most importantly, they expect to be back online by the end of the year and might seek to provide fuller service to the Taiwanese audience by providing Chinese subtitles for their half-hour special reports.

This is all great news that I thought I should share with others who might be, like myself, suffering from al-Jazeera withdrawal symptoms.

Linda Gail Arrigo

New Taipei City

Writing tests should go

A Control Yuan committee said that the composition section is the most contentious part of the Ministry of Education’s Comprehensive Assessment Program (“Blame game won’t solve exam problem: minister,” June 13, page 3), but the section should be dropped entirely.

Testing students on writing proficiency makes no sense. Studies show that people’s ability to write using accepted conventions of organization and mechanics is largely the result of reading, which is why reading and writing scores are always so highly correlated: Those who read a great deal do better on reading and writing tests.

Essays are also the hardest part of language exams to grade, requiring consultation among graders and a great deal of tedious work.

Stephen Krashen

Los Angeles

Chinese wake-up calls

Two recent events delivered a wake-up call to China. When asked by a professor at Fudan University about Taiwanese independence, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said that an independent Taiwan is the consensus of Taiwanese.

While promoting her latest movie in Shanghai, actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie pointedly described Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (李安) is Taiwanese, not Chinese, in response to a reporter’s question about who her favorite “Chinese director” is.

China, an economic powerhouse, is a one-party country in a world with few remaining tyrannies.

To boost its image and drown out negative feedback, China claims noteworthy Taiwanese achievers, like the Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin (林書豪) and Lee as Chinese. Sorry, China — Taiwan is a democratic, independent country.

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