Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: No place for party-state ideology

Taiwan’s transformation from authoritarianism into a democracy without bloodshed has often been touted as a success story. However, while Taiwanese take pride in the nation’s democratic achievements, a petition launched by a student group at National Chengchi University (NCCU) comes as a reminder that the nation is a young, fragile democracy where transitional justice is still lacking.

Pointing out that the lyrics to the university’s anthem are propaganda for “party-state ideology,” members of the Wildfire Front earlier this week started a signature drive calling for the school to abolish the song.

Indeed, as the nation progresses toward consolidating its democracy, party-state ideology and practices that used to permeate the nation during the authoritarian rule of the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime ought to be publicly discussed and addressed.

As such, it is laudable that the students are taking the initiative to rid the nation of the vestiges of authoritarian thinking that sought to control minds and thoughts.

A glance at the NCCU anthem shows just how ridiculous it is for students today to sing such words as a way to build up esprit de corps.

“Carrying out the Three Principles of the People (三民主義) is my party’s mission,” one line reads, while another sings of “Developing the Republic of China (ROC) is my party’s responsibility.”

The “party” in the school anthem, without doubt, refers to the KMT, and harks back to the first line in the Republic of China anthem: “The Three Principles of the People, our party’s aim shall be (三民主義,吾黨所宗).”

Granted, there was a legitimate reason behind the song’s party-state-inspired lyrics, as the school was founded in 1927 in Nanjing, China, by the KMT as an academy to train party leaders. However, things have since changed.

It is now a national university that is funded by taxpayers’ money — not the KMT. Moreover, pledging allegiance to a party — whether they are members or not — runs counter to the spirit of democracy and equality.

The school anthem is a product of an authoritarian age, and as times and circumstances have changed, the university administration ought to keep pace with progress and changes in values.

Some may argue that the lyrics form a common memory shared by all NCCU students and alumni; however, as the lyrics now run counter to the democratic spirit and yearning of its students, it is time for university authorities to give a serious thought to changing the outdated words.

Young people have often been accused of being apathetic and chided for enjoying the fruits of democracy without thinking of how they might contribute to and solidify those achievements.

Rather than brushing aside students’ opinions, the university administration should be proud of them for showing a willingness to contribute to the nation’s democratization and act on the values they believe in.

The university would do well to heed the students’ call and implement long overdue transitional justice on campus. Its reluctance to address the issue would make it as culpable as anyone else for allowing an authoritarian party-state mindset to continue.

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