Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - Page 8

Television the real monster

I congratulate the Taipei Times for the 82 Facebook likes the editorial “Smartphones are making us dumber” (June 26, page 8) had received as of Saturday.

This is no mean feat.

However, the piece ignores the historical context. What did previous generations do with their spare time before the proliferation of smartphones? They zapped through TV channels.

From the 1960s to the 2000s society did not do much else apart from sit on the sofa starring at the box, passively soaking up content created by others.

In better-off countries, a family of four would have typically had four TV sets running in four separate rooms on any given evening. Social interaction: zero or very little.

Fast-forward to the smartphone age. At least the “zombies” described in the editorial do something. They interact and maybe create content, however silly.

Television is the monster, not the smartphone.

Jens Kastner


The truth about Taiwan

At the fourth “Witness Taiwan Democracy” forum on Saturday, Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) criticized those who assert that Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China (ROC) and that the ROC is Taiwan. He quoted former US secretary of state Colin Powell’s statement: “There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy,” made on Oct. 25, 2004, in China.

Hau told the audience that Taiwan is not an independent, sovereign country, but he seriously misled them by then saying that no one in the world would say that the ROC is not a sovereign country.

Hau, like most Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians, twists Taiwan’s status by metaphorically wearing a two-sided jacket, one side labeled ROC and the other Taiwan. When abroad, they have no hesitation in abusing Taiwanese goodwill, but when they return home they reverse the jacket to show the ROC side.

If Hau paid any attention to international affairs he would remember that Dennis Wilder, White House National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs, on Aug. 30, 2007, said: “Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community. The position of the United States government is that the ROC, Republic of China, is an issue undecided, that it has been left undecided, as you know, for many, many years.”

Hau should remember that the ROC is not a member of the UN. It is crystal clear that the international community believes the ROC is an exiled government, not a sovereign country.

No one questioned that Taiwan was part of Japan’s territory during World War II and after the war Japan renounced all rights, titles and claims to Formosa and the Pescadores.

Taiwan came under Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) military occupation from Oct. 25, 1945. The ROC left the UN in 1972 and the US downgraded it as the governing authority on Taiwan within the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. Today, the ROC is an exiled government relying on Taiwan to keep it alive.

As far as the development of Taiwan’s democracy is concerned, it is important to understand the truth and facts, not the twisted rhetoric. Yes, Taiwan is not a sovereign nation, nor is the ROC. Yes, Taiwan is not independent yet, but Taiwanese are entitled to delayed self-determination.

John Hsieh

Hayward, California

Don’t look to US on gay rights

Professor Chang Sheng-en’s (張聖恩) article “US lead in gay rights should be emulated” (July 1, page 8) only gets it half right. While we should laud the significance of the decisions in Hollingsworth v Perry and US v Windsor handed down by the US Supreme Court, we should be careful about heaping any praise on US President Barack Obama or attributing any sort of leadership to the US on the issue of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) rights

Obama famously flip-flopped on the issue of same-sex marriage based on political expediency.

As a candidate for the Illinois Senate in 1996, he unequivocally supported same-sex marriage. By 2004, as he was rising up the political ranks and running for the US Senate, he stopped supporting same-sex marriage. Four years later, as a presidential candidate, he proclaimed that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman and adamantly held this position until six months prior to his re-election last year.

His latest “evolution” coincided with public opinion polls showing that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. Some commentators also believed the change was an attempt to energize the liberal base that has been disillusioned by his broken promises or compromises on immigration, Guantanamo Bay and healthcare reform, among other issues.

There is no doubt that LGBTQ rights are human rights and same-sex marriage should be legal in Taiwan. There is no doubt that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) never attempted to deliver on their promises on gay rights. It is time LGBTQ people were afforded equal rights in Taiwan and the US Supreme Court cases may be good starting points to turn the empty talk into action.

However, we should hesitate to look to Obama or the US, where currently more than half of all states ban same-sex marriage, for leadership. The Netherlands, Belgium and certain parts of Canada had already legalized same-sex marriage in the early 2000s, when sex between consenting adults of the same gender was still criminalized in a handful of US states. Same-sex marriage is a fundamental right that needs no foreign inspiration, but if we insist on any type of leadership, it should not come from the US.

M. Bob Kao