A teacher at National Chiayi Senior High School on Friday caused controversy by asking students to answer a question about a “President Tsai-englishit’s” “silly” behavior in an English-language course exam.
The fill-in-the-blank question, which appears on the test paper for the school’s 11th-grade students, reads: “President Tsai-englishit made some silly ____ in her speech.” Students were given four choices — amateurs, disasters, parades, or comments — to complete the sentence.
The teacher, surnamed Chang (張), denied that the question had anything to do with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Photo: Wang Shan-yen, Taipei Times
“Tsai-englishit” is definitely not a translation of any real politician’s name and is unrelated to any particular political party, he said.
He designed the question to test students’ understanding of the word “comments,” he said, adding that the word is easily associated with politicians.
Chang said he has not joined any political parties and has little interest in politics, but he is aware of the public perception of politicians as often making silly comments.
For example, a central government official once said a coal-fired power plant would use “clean coal,” he said, referring to then-premier William Lai’s (賴清德) remark in March last year.
The test question was meant to be a “friendly reminder” that politicians’ comments are not always true, he said.
He used dramatic words in the question to make fun of politicians in general, as it was not a formal midterm exam, he said, adding that he thought that the over-the-top word choice would prevent people from connecting it to people in real life.
School principal Liu Yung-tang (劉永堂) said that Chang did not devise the question to promote any political stance, but to spark students’ interest in English.
Since many found it inappropriate, the school would convene a meeting to discuss the matter and ask teachers to avoid making the same mistake, he said, adding that the school would be more careful in the future.
Chiayi City Councilor Tsai Yung-chuan (蔡永泉), of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, who had taught English for more than 20 years, said he found it hard to believe the question was not intended to insult Tsai.
“Tsai-englishit” is similar to Tsai Ing-wen and contains the word “shit” in it, he said.
There are plenty of ways to spark students’ interest other than making fun of someone’s name, he said.
Lawyer Chen Tse-chia (陳澤嘉) said the test question is not illegal, because insulting the president is not banned by law.
The incident highlights the freedom of speech that people enjoy in Taiwan, something that would not be tolerated in a communist country, he said.
Taiwan is a diverse and free democracy and the president would surely just laugh it off, he added.
After learning of the incident, Tsai yesterday wrote on Facebook that the word “comment” is commonly used in news reports.
She gave two example sentences for the word: “President Tsai Ing-wen rejects Beijing leader’s unfriendly comments,” and “As there is no censorship in Taiwan, Brother Caramel can freely comment on public affairs.”
The president is aware of the discussion sparked by the school exam and did not mind it, Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said.
The school principal and teachers can rest assured that there is nothing to worry about, he added.
Additional reporting by Su Yung-yao
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
CAUTION: Taiwanese should be alert, even if they have just liked or shared posts that would breach Beijing’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, the council said Due to the newly implemented Hong Kong national security legislation, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has drawn up a list of what it described as “high-risk groups,” cautioning them not to travel to Hong Kong. People who support independence for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” concept; and those who donated to or voiced support for the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement are urged to refrain from visiting Hong Kong, the council said on its Web site. It released two posts on
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters