DPP criticizes KMT government over stamp name shift

By Ko Shu-ling and Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 1

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday slammed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration’s plan to remove characters for “Taiwan” from the nation’s postage stamps, asking if the move was a bid to divert attention from the recent energy price hikes.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on Wednesday issued a statement strongly condemning the DPP government for “deviating from the law and rashly changing the name of the nation from ‘Republic of China’ to ‘Taiwan.’”

The DPP government printed 33 sets of stamps — seven of which have yet to be released — that bear the characters for “Taiwan” instead of “Republic of China.” The first set — a 228 Peace Memorial Day stamp valued at NT$5 per stamp — was released in February. The last of the sets — a ‘Taiwan Aborigine culture’ collection — was scheduled for release on Aug. 1.

Even though the ministry “strongly reprimanded the DPP’s decision to print the ‘Taiwan’ stamps, it agreed, in accordance to the Taiwan Post Co’s [TPC] suggestion, to issue the seven sets of stamps as scheduled.”

A last minute change, it said, would not only be costly, but could also hamper the release schedule and cause a stamp shortage.

Stamps issued after Aug. 1 would carry the words “Republic of China (Taiwan)” in English, a TPC official surnamed Yen said yesterday, not just the “Republic of China” as stamps issued before last February were labeled.

DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said it was a sign of progress that “Taiwan” was being used to identify the country and its state institutions.

Changing the stamps would only increase social costs, he said, adding the country would plunge into confusion the next time there was a transfer of power and the new government wanted to overhaul the stamps.

If the country wanted to see improvement, Cheng said, any change to government institutions must require public debate and go through proper procedures. If the authorities thought they could do whatever they wanted just because they were in power, it would create unnecessary conflicts, he said.

DPP Secretary-General Wang Tuoh (王拓) said a bigger priority for the government should be to stabilize commodity prices rather than changing the nation’s title on national stamps.

It would be unwise to use the incident to divert attention from rising fuel prices, he said.

Also see: Taiwan Post pours cold water on stamp rumors