[LETTER ]

Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 8

Heritage smeared over Tkacik

Cao Changqing’s (曹長青) commentary “The KMT is a master at silencing dissidents” (Feb. 18, page 8) is plain wrong; indeed, the whole article is unworthy of the Taipei Times’ editorial page, which has many sound analytical and commentary pieces.

Dr John Tkacik was not forced out of The Heritage Foundation. He retired for personal reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with Ambassador Jason Yuan (袁健生), the KMT or Taiwan funding for The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation has made a number of statements to this point.

Dr Tkacik wrote on many issues in addition to Taiwan. His work was always well researched, principled and deemed a valuable contribution to US policy toward Asia. It never demonstrated any characteristic other than full-forced support for US interests in Asia, not as a proxy for domestic Taiwan consumption — even if some of his material was used by third parties in that manner. Taiwan as a nation benefited from Dr Tkacik’s commentary and analysis regardless of political affiliation.

Finally, The Heritage Foundation is one of the world’s leading think tanks with significant resources raised in many quarters of America and the world. It is wholly implausible that any possible unrestricted contribution from the Taiwan government, which would surely represent significantly less than 1 percent of the institution’s annual budget, could or would be leveraged to force personnel changes. Such a position runs contrary to the reputation of The Heritage Foundation built over decades.

This story is a complete canard.

RUPERT HAMMOND-CHAMBERS

President, US-Taiwan Business Council

Clearing the air

With the change in leadership in the US government, it appears the US finally understands the seriousness of global warming and the need to wean itself off carbon industries and build a green economy. Do the political leaders in Taiwan have the vision and willpower to make changes and improve the air quality?

Most of the major cities in Taiwan have terrible air quality much of the time, which especially affects children and the elderly. Although creating more bike paths and MRT lines is important, unless the government reduces the sources of pollution, asthma rates and other health problems will continue.

In the Taipei basin alone there are millions of gasoline powered scooters polluting the air. With the fourth-largest foreign exchange reserves in the world, why not give government incentives to create or invest in electric scooters? In addition, how about making all public buses run on natural gas?

In other cities, it is petrochemical and other industrial plants that are causing most of the air pollution. From my friend’s rooftop in Kaohsiung on a rare clear day, one can see the four or five industrial plants whose smokestacks blanket the city and county in a smoggy haze. It is shameful that those few plants are affecting the air quality for 2 million citizens. The government should phase out these toxic industries as soon as possible.

A massive investment in a green economy would be a “win-win” situation. Not only would the fundamental quality of life improve, but Taiwan could be the “Little Tiger” leading the way for other Asian countries to a sustainable future.

JEFFREE PIKE

Taipei

The US fears Taiwan

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits Asia, and like every other US official, she bypasses Taiwan. What is it about Taiwan that strikes fear in the hearts of US leaders? It is an island no bigger than Louisiana, home to 23 million people laboring for democracy and is a friend of the US.

The fortitude of the Taiwanese in fighting tyranny and oppression while striving for hope and democracy is to be admired and emulated.

Could it be that when the US government acknowledges Taiwan, it must confront its own Janus-faced reflection? The US, which prides itself on supporting democracies like Taiwan, must recognize its willful business relations with communist countries like China.

And what of China, a country that has given us SARS, tainted food products and toxic children’s toys, oppresses civil and political rights and restricts freedom of the press?

The US has been straddling the Taiwan Strait for decades and the longer she tries balancing herself with one foot on China and one foot on Taiwan, the more likely she will end up all wet.

NORMA CHRISTIANSEN

Taichung

Nice to be different

Steve Painter (Letters, Feb. 19, page 8) criticized the Tongyong Pinyin system as “a laughably poor attempt to create something ‘different’ from the one used in mainland China and to politicize the teaching of the Chinese language to foreigners.” “Street signs are an international laughing-stock,” he said.

Painter painted Tongyong wrong. Tongyong (literally “common use”) is a masterpiece created by a panel of linguists specializing in English, Mandarin, Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages. It can be applied to all languages used in Taiwan. In contrast, Hanyu (literally “Han language”) can be applied to Mandarin only. For example, Hoklo has certain sounds which cannot be transliterated with Hanyu Pinyin.

Tongyong was created to facilitate teaching children to speak Taiwan’s languages so that these languages will not die out.

For example, many Hakka children do not know how to speak Hakka. It has nothing to do with politics. On the contrary, promoting Hanyu Pinyin has a hidden political objective of teaching Mandarin only. The drastic budget cut for teaching Hoklo is a clue and, in the midst of a recession, millions of dollars will be spent to convert Tongyong to Hanyu Pinyin. By insisting on the latter, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is the one causing a laughable situation.

CHARLES HONG

Columbus, Ohio