Hold leaders accountable
A recent survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation on public perception of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) raises a central question about her presidency: Who are we Taiwanese to have elected a person who clearly lacks deep understanding of the crisis Taiwan faces regarding increasing infiltration, aggression and pressure from China (“Tsai’s approval rating drops to 31.2%,” Sept. 18, page 3).
Tsai has been in office for more than 800 days, but has failed her most important election promise: To reform the justice system.
The people chose her to lead Taiwan in a new direction, but what real action and result does the Transitional Justice Commission bring? It is absurd that the entire judicial system still remains under the control of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) remnants.
Tsai has made it clear she is out of step with what the public wants: “Taiwan,” not the Republic of China (ROC), becoming a UN member, and a new constitution.
Alas, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has let us down; it is a shame no DPP lawmaker dares stand up to her and challenge her decree.
If ever there was a time for us to do some soul-searching, it is now. Tsai’s administration is no different than the KMT’s rule. Her election promises were not real; they were made merely to earn votes.
Her lack of courage, leadership and loyalty to Taiwan in the face of an ever-increasing show of force by Chinese war planes and naval activities surrounding Taiwan is deeply troubling.
We have a long way to go for Taiwan to realize its full potential as a self-governed, strong, secure and respected nation. It will take constant vigilance against corruption.
We must use our voting power in the coming elections to insist that our officials serve the people, and to hold them accountable to us.
Some people have expressed reservations about, or even open opposition to, Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) excellent and vitally important proposal to promote English as Taiwan’s second official language. There is no need for such negativity.
Carrying out this proposal in no way implies any diminution of the role and significance of Mandarin, or of the importance of any of the nation’s other native languages.
It is not anywhere near as monumental a task as some have tried to paint it. It is well within the means of this nation to achieve its basic goals and achieve them well.
All it needs is for other local governments to follow the policy of the Tainan City Government after then-Tainan mayor Lai in 2015 set up an Office of English as the Second Official Language.
Despite working with a limited budget, the office launched a wide range of initiatives that have proven highly effective in enhancing Tainan’s English environment and promoting the city’s internationalization.
It has provided children with much better opportunities for learning and using real-life English; has greatly improved the provision of English information online and upgraded all kinds of English signage; has translated self-government ordinances that are relevant to foreign residents and foreign investors; and has launched a scheme for certifying service providers, including hospitals and clinics, that are able to deliver their services in English (similar to the English Services Emblem program that the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission conducted until it was inexplicably dropped after being transferred to the Ministry of Education, and which ought to be revived).
There is no reason other local governments should not be able to follow this example according to their resources. With support from the central government and an adequate, but not necessarily massive budget, a great deal could be achieved toward raising the English proficiency of Taiwanese, making Taiwan a much friendlier place for foreign residents and visitors, and giving a strong and highly beneficial boost to Taiwan’s internationalization.
It is wholly in Taiwan’s interests to proceed with this policy at full speed and I heartily applaud Lai for introducing it into the government’s agenda.
Linkou, New Taipei City
There is a movement to allow more English in preschools in order to promote better English development. The belief is that “the earlier children start learning a language, the quicker they begin to use it,” which would, it is assumed lead to faster language acquisition (“Premier seeks easing of rules barring English,” Sept. 28, page 1).
However, research has consistently shown that older children acquire second languages faster than younger children. Also, there are several cases of older adults who have acquired second languages very well.
Canadian polyglot Steven Kaufman speaks 15 languages and has acquired eight of them since age 61.
Have faith in military
To keep peace, the ROC must maintain its formidable defenses until China comes to respect democratic elections and free speech.
Tanner Greer, a foreign policy analyst who has lived in Beijing and Taipei, wrote in a blog post that the ROC’s “mismanagement of the conscription system ... is criminal.”
“At the end of the day, the freedom of Taiwan depends on two things only: 1. Are there men and women willing to die to keep Taiwan free? 2. Do the Chinese understand how committed they are? ... If they are willing to sacrifice what must be sacrificed to maintain a credible deterrent, then their autonomy will be preserved,” Greer wrote.
Greer on Sept. 25 published an article in Foreign Policy, “Taiwan Can Win a War With China,” and in a blog post about the article, he wrote: “Taiwan’s greatest weakness is resolve. As I discuss in the article, the Taiwanese people have little confidence in their military. The Chinese invasion strategy is designed to take advantage of this. [Ian] Easton’s research reveals that their plans are centered on shocking the Taiwanese into submission. The success of the Chinese invasion strategy thus turns on the morale of the Taiwanese citizenry. That morale, in turn, will turn on the confidence the Taiwanese have in their own defensive systems. If the true strength of their position is not communicated to average people, their position will have no strength.”
“A long-range SSM [surface-to-surface missile]costs far less than any ship it might hit in a US carrier strike group. But the same is true for missiles launched from Taiwan... Add this to the incredible difficulties inherit in organizing the largest amphibious invasion of human history, the unique hurdles posed by the geography and weather of Taiwan, and the general lack of training and experience on the part of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] forces that will be doing the invading. The potential for failure is high in the best of circumstances. With minimal military investment the Taiwanese can ensure it would be the worst of circumstances,” he wrote.
ROC citizens must know not only that their military is capable of defeating an invasion from China, that military service is critical for continued democracy, but also that we should not lose hope in the imperfect possibilities of democracy.
Human history is not infinite and democracy only exists in a few thousands of those recorded years. It is too soon to say that the messiness of democracy does not offer less oppression, less suffering and more possibilities.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport