Letter: Spare Sun Yat-sen's legacy

By Li Chen-ching  / 

Wed, Feb 07, 2007 - Page 8

As the debate over the planned revision of history textbooks for high schools continues, it is unfathomable that the recognized status of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) as the founding father of the nation could be nullified.

As mentioned in your newspaper, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) rightly said that the planned revision of high school history books is aimed at teaching students "to know our own nation and its history" ("Su defends planned textbook changes," Feb. 1, page 3).

And yet, while Su technically supported Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng's (杜正勝) decision to drop the reference to Sun as the "father of the nation," the vast majority of the intelligentsia perceive that there could be political implications to the revision.

With his political openness, broad knowledge and understanding of international education, Su should not allow his judgement to be swayed by politics.

I fully endorse Su's contention that all Taiwanese should care about our homeland.

This is why and how in the past 50 years the nation has managed to become a globally recognized high-tech power.

The title Taiwan has earned as one of the "Four Little Dragons" is the accomplishment of the Taiwanese people and has come about because of the joint effort from every sector, regardless of birthplace or political affiliation.

Aside from the lengthy list of industrial and economic developments over the past several decades, the nation's democratization is the accomplishment that Taiwanese can be most proud of, despite all of its imperfections.

All these successes were derived from, or are compatible with, the the early national reconstruction draft laid out by Sun.

As a medical scientist educated at Honolulu's Iolani School, Sun set an example for us to follow in the areas of internationalization, democracy and even economic policy, all of which are needed for developing a harmonious society.

This reality should not be ignored despite the current ideological conflict between China and Taiwan. Bearing this in mind, Sun's legacy should not be sacrificed.

Instead of rewriting history, the government should urgently work to reinvigorate the nation's international competitiveness by shoring up the education system, enhancing general knowledge and promoting compassion for all.

To offset the nation's rapid loss of international competitiveness resulting from the poor functioning of the executive and legislative branches, the Ministry of Education should focus on education and the need of the younger generation to develop a passion for diverse areas of knowledge, foreign languages, international affairs and morality.

The dispute over whether to drop Sun from history texts is merely a reflection of political ignorance or personal bigotry and has no justification from an educational point of view.

Li Chen-ching