Fri, Jun 16, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet ratifies bill making Hakka a national language

PUBLIC COMMUNICATION:A new foundation is to be established to promote Hakka culture, as well as to manage Hakka TV and Hakka Radio once it is launched

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Hakka Affairs Council Minister Lee Yung-te yesterday gestures at a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

A draft amendment to the Hakka Basic Act (客家基本法) that makes Hakka a national language has been approved, with a language center and a media foundation to be established to promote its use, the Cabinet said yesterday.

The bill grants official status to Hakka and recognizes it as a national language, the Hakka Affairs Council said.

The use of the Hakka language in everyday situations is to be encouraged in areas where one-third of the population uses it as a mother tongue, the amendment says.

The nation is losing its Hakka heritage, as in recognized Hakka communities only 14 percent of residents aged between 20 and 29 can speak the language, while for those younger than 10 years old, that figure falls to only 7 percent, Hakka Affairs Council Minister Lee Yung-te (李永得) said.

“I hope people can accept and familiarize themselves with Hakka, and respect people’s right to use their native language — only then can Taiwan become a nation with cultural pluralism,” Lee said, citing an incident in which an prison inmate was prohibited from speaking Hakka during a family visit.

To encourage Hakka education, Hakka-language proficiency is to be included in the criteria of promotion eligibility for civil servants and school teachers in key Hakka communities, Lee said.

The government should also help implement the use of Hakka as a teaching language in schools and kindergartens to ensure citizens’ rights to instruction in their native language, the amendment says.

The amendment stipulates that the central government should help establish a Hakka language research center and a Hakka public communication foundation to promote Hakka culture.

The public communication foundation is to be responsible for managing Hakka TV, Hakka Radio, once it is launched, and Hakka publications, Lee said.

Hakka Radio is to be managed by the council during its initial stage, but to prevent government intervention in the media the foundation — an independent public organization — is to take over its management, Lee said.

In key Hakka communities, government agencies are to be required to provide services in Hakka and Hakka-language courses would be offered in schools as required rather than elective courses.

Only Kaohsiung and Hualien award bonus points to students with a Hakka-language proficiency in school entrance exams, Lee said, adding that other local governments would be encouraged to do the same.

The government should help establish cross-municipality Hakka culture organizations to promote the development of the Hakka language and the cultural rights of recognized Hakka communities should be protected, the amendment says.

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