Wed, Jul 27, 2016 - Page 8 News List


Ethnic inequality in Taiwan

Ethnic inequality started when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) first occupied Taiwan in 1947. Hatred between residents and waishengren (外省人, Mainlanders) who came over with Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) has endured. Taiwanese aged 65 and older can clearly point to the ways ethnic inequality has affected their lives.

At one point, waishengren secured at least 90 percent of administrative positions in all public-funded jobs, while Taiwanese were more than 90 percent of the total population! This included jobs in civil service, education, diplomatic corps, the military, public-owned enterprises, the judicial system and more.

The situation gradually changed after democratic elections. And it improved noticeably when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidency in 2000. Besides obvious ethnic inequality, who can forget the 228 Massacre, the Formosa Incident (美麗島 Incident) and the repressive martial law on the island continued for 40 years?

Citizens were fined for speaking their Taiwanese dialects (all other dialects from the mainland were perfectly fine) in schools and popular Taiwanese songs banned. Taiwanese studying abroad (mainly in the US) with any hint of criticizing the KMT government were forbidden to visit Taiwan. KMT-employed students spied on fellow students, and the list goes on and on.

Now, new leaders of the KMT are speaking of ethnic inequality. What a shame! The first step toward eliminating ethnic inequality is to replace the current chief of the KMT, who is obviously pro-China. Even worse, the latest development is the pan-blues (mainly high-ranked government retirees or recently defeated administrators) banding together with Chinese bigwigs to retaliate against the pan-green officials, entertainers and businessmen. It is an ominous occurrence that Taiwanese cannot ignore. An unfortunate part for Taiwanese is the corrupt judicial system. In the old days, without paying a bribe (through professional intermediaries), the accused were most likely found guilty. Rampant corruption in all levels of the KMT government continued.

Unfortunately, the DPP inherited this corrupt system in 2000, lingered through the 2004 terms. The KMT continues to dominate positions in the judicial system, diplomatic corps and high-ranking offices.

Taiwan’s people expect the unfairness to improve continuously under the new DPP government. Political corruption has dominated all facets of the economy, even up to today, Taiwan ranks eighth on the world’s cronyism index. Chummy contractual arrangements and their consequences are apparent in the airport constructions and management, telecommunications, fuel kickbacks in electricity production, monopoly in alcohol and tobacco, and more. Ms Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the newly elected president, has begun to tackle this issue.

It is obvious that all residents in Taiwan are looking forward to ethnic harmony. Without cleaning up the KMT itself, there is no hope.

Yu-Chong Lin

Honolulu, Hawaii

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