The brazen hypocrisy of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government has once again been on blatant display this week after a revelation by opposition lawmakers and civic organizations that the new edition of high-school textbooks has failed to give proportional mention of — or even simply omitted — historical events, such as the 228 Massacre and the White Terror era.
Many might recall that in recent years at events marking the anniversary of the 228 Massacre — a brutal crackdown by the then-KMT regime starting on Feb. 27, 1947, against tens of thousands of Taiwanese that subsequently ushered in the White Terror era — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could be seen wiping away tears during speeches that touted his understanding of victims’ suffering and how his administration’s efforts “to protect human rights and act in accordance with the law will not stop.”
Ma also pledged that he would instruct the Ministry of Education to increase the amount of educational materials dealing with this tragic page in Taiwan’s history to teach the next generation.
However, as the 228 Massacre fails to secure a proportional mention in the new edition of the high-school history textbook, and the phrase “White Terror” has been erased from the new high-school civics textbook, it proves once again that Ma can only talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk.
The ministry’s changes to high-school social studies curriculum guidelines stirred controversy last year. The changes prompted much criticism from academics who accused the ministry of ideological bias, describing the ministry’s design process as opaque and an attempt to push through a “brainwashing” policy that would see the new curriculum reflect a more China-oriented perspective.
And yet, despite a verdict handed down by the Taipei High Administrative Court in February ruling against the ministry’s decision to implement this controversial national high-school curriculum adjustment, the ministry not only implemented it anyway, but also advanced its efforts by blocking out public scrutiny of its ongoing review of the 12-year national education curriculum plan.
According to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君), the meetings held to discuss the issues have been conducted in an opaque manner, where names of meeting participants were not mentioned and opinions presented during the discussions were not recorded in meeting transcripts.
It is more than regrettable that in Taiwan, which often prides itself as a democracy, such a ministry exists: One that would resort to a “black box,” opaque and despicable approach in leaving out factual historical events such as the White Terror era from children’s civic education.
So much for Ma’s talk about his government’s efforts to uncover the truths about incidents such as the 228 Massacre, his emphasis on how justice can be served and lessons learned, and his pledge to safeguard the nation’s democracy. The truth is that the ministry’s brazen actions — in its insistence on implementing the controversial high-school social science curriculum and its failure to adhere to procedural justice in the discussion of the 12-year national education plan — clearly demonstrate that the Ma administration is in effect attempting to “brainwash” the youth of Taiwan with a China-oriented perspective, while making a mockery of the nation’s democracy.
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