Pingpu not in cool club
Salmon grew up in a meandering river in the mountains of central Formosa, living a happy and adventurous life, and learning the languages of the other fish amid the rush and flow.
One day, a messenger bird flopped down on a rock near Salmon, talking in bird-speak. Salmon didn’t understand what Bird said because he only knew fish-speak. He splashed a bit, but Bird didn’t understand Salmon’s communication either.
Bird was passing on a message to the animals: “We’re having a party for all the cool species. You’re invited! It’s on the top of the mountain!”
Salmon didn’t understand, but he couldn’t go even if he wanted to. His main pool was at the bottom of a waterfall, and the other animals could walk or fly. Salmon skipped the party.
As expected, Formosa’s unique species showed up: Black bear and Sikka deer were there, along with a few interesting snakes, some butterflies and an out-of-breath Turtle. It was a large group, but obviously Salmon couldn’t participate.
“Welcome to the Cool Club,” the animals said as they met each other. In a democratic vote, the animals decided to let all the species who were there join the “Cool Club” and had what could be described as a dance, whether lumbering, prancing, slithering or flitting. Turtle just lay there, taking a rest.
During the years that passed for Salmon, he saw the clean areas of his stream becoming dirty or more dangerous, although for now, he was still safe under the waterfall.
By the time Salmon was old, he had learned to sing the songs of the birds by “holding his breath” then poking his head out of the water.
Another day, a different messenger bird appeared, and this time Salmon could have a conversation with it by imitating, albeit squeakily, the sounds of bird-speak. “Everything’s been decided by majority. It’s a small club, and unfortunately you’re not in it,” the bird told Salmon.
“That’s about what I expected,” Salmon told Bird, chirping in his fish-speak way. Bird hopped up and down to show that he understood, bobbing his head to say “yes.”
“You don’t seem upset,” Bird said.
“I’ve seen this coming for a long time,” Salmon replied.
“And another thing,” Salmon squeaked, “Can you ask the other species to stop shitting in the river that leads to my waterfall?”
I hope this simple fable illustrates both the plight of the Formosan landlocked salmon and also the many Pingpu tribal groups who are fighting for cultural recognition and survival on our island.
There’s also the environmental aspect to consider, where members of today’s “cool club” are raping Formosa and covering everything with concrete in the name of economic growth, unique species be damned (or dammed).
Disgracefully, Aboriginal and Native Tribes, who have thousands of years of experience forming balanced relationships with the land, animals, weather and seas, are getting a total lack of respect from the “civilized” people. Today heavy-handed state-sponsored discrimination and prejudice affects traditional communities all over the globe. This must end. Recognize the Pingpu now.
Yonghe, New Taipei City
Mad as a March hare
While March Madness is sweeping through the United States, Taiwanese college students are experiencing a very different kind of frenzy. They are occupying the Legislative Yuan, protesting a non-transparent trade negotiation and agreement with China. Over 20,000 students are protesting by occupying Taiwan’s Legislative Chamber, demanding transparency and a full review of the agreement.
Imagine a situation where US President Barack Obama sends a trade negotiation team to China. A trade agreement is reached behind closed doors and this agreement is then brought to Congress and introduced to the Senate where Democrats hold a majority. A mere 30 seconds later, the Senate approves the agreement, which is now ready for Obama’s signature.
This is what has happened in Taiwan. Perhaps the analogy is too simplistic, as there are two chambers of Congress in the US but only one in Taiwan’s legislature, the Legislative Yuan, which is dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which holds 64 of the 113 seats.
In an attempt to disperse students, the Taiwanese government began using brute force on Monday morning, which led to an eruption of violence. Whether this leads to widespread political unrest remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: While March Madness in the US ends with a clear victor, establishing a winner between the Taiwanese government and the student protesters will be a much more difficult and uncertain task.