Wartime history sought
As an enthusiast of World War II history, I found a feature story by Han Cheung (“In remembrance of a ‘needless sacrifice,’” June 24, page 12) enlightening, though it was a somber read.
Though I knew that Taiwan was colonized by Japan and fought on its side in the war, I was not aware of the executions of US airmen in Taiwan near the end of the conflict, nor the places where anti-Japan leader Lo Fu-hsing (羅福星) and the martyrs of the Miaoli Incident were executed. Fortunately, these events were brought to light from the fading pages of history by the Taipei Times’ coverage.
My mother wants to read a Chinese version of the story in the Liberty Times [the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper], while I was inspired to look for more information on the Taiwan POW [prisoner of war] Camps Memorial Society Web site.
I am also impressed by Westerners’ attitudes toward the lives of their citizens and their allies, including those who became POWs. In eastern nations, relatively little effort was put into taking care of veterans, let alone tracing the whereabouts of or holding remembrance services for unsung wartime heroes.
I look up to society director Michael Hurst, who for more than a decade has devoted himself to revealing the history of POW camps in the nation. The camps set up in Taiwan during World War II actually integrate the nation’s destiny with world history, but most Taiwanese do not even know they existed.
Therefore, I look forward to reading Hurst’s new book on the POW camps of Taiwan and hopefully a book review in the Taipei Times.
A Taiwanese ‘baptism’
I have lived in Taiwan for more than a year. There are a number of world-class advantages that I love, while there are few drawbacks.
If you wake up at 5:30am and go to an elementary school, you can see many ordinary athletes of all ages and both sexes at the sports fields. They go jogging, walking and do qigong unobtrusively and well.
I have encountered extraordinary Taiwanese, including one lady who continuously generates gas in her bowels and sounds like a frog, and who suddenly shouts: “Wah-ha-ha.” At first, I was surprised, but then realized I had just undergone a Taiwanese baptism.
Health awareness among Taiwanese is a marvel. Their early morning exercises reduces the risk of immobility in an aging society. Does aging lead to weakness in elderly people? No. I’m sure inactivity brings bad effects physically and psycho-socially.
At Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, you can easily go through formalities using automated gates like at London Heathrow Airport and Narita International Airport in Japan. This is a convenient gateway to the nation.
EasyCards are of great convenience in the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit system, as well as for buses, stores and government agencies. YouBikes, a public bicycle-sharing service, is also excellent and a go-ahead attempt at protecting the environment. Bicycle sharing reminds me of the US’ car-sharing systems, such as Zipcar or car2go in Austin, Texas.
Driving etiquette is one of the more challenging problems. People in developed nations in the West or Japan are taught that pedestrians have the right of way. In Taiwan, it is not the case — it appears that drivers have the right of way. Aggressive drivers should improve their driving and parking ability. Most importantly, they must stop for pedestrians at crossings and should not park near intersections.
Why do the authorities not launch a campaign on road safety? I think good mannered drivers reduce accidents and build a safe, gentle and decent society.
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