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Thu, Mar 22, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Seventy-year-old thesis still seen as valuable today

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

A doctoral dissertation completed decades ago is still considered valuable today because, in the opinion of one historian, the advice provided by the author regarding public education in Taiwan under Japanese colonization is still valuable for today's educators.

"What makes the theories provided by Mosei Lin (林茂生) meaningful is that 72 years ago, he had already come to realize the importance of educational freedom and the awareness and recognition of one's culture. Lin deserves to be admired because his advice remains true in spite of the changes of time and space," said Li Hsiao-feng (李筱峰), a professor of political history at Shih Hsin University, at a press conference for the book's release yesterday.

Lin's dissertation, entitled "Public Education in Formosa Under the Japanese Administration: A Historical and Analytical Study of the Development and the Cultural Problems" -- written in English in 1929 -- has been translated into Chinese and turned into a book.

The history professor said he recommended the book because it details Taiwan's educational system under Japanese colonial rule, pinpoints mistakes made by the intruding regime in its disrespect for Taiwanese culture and history and stresses the value of a country's history and culture to its people.

Therefore, he said the book could be used as a guideline for our government and educators today.

Hsu Fu-tong (徐福棟), president of the Taiwan Renaissance Foundation, an organization founded in 1997 in commemoration of Lin, said he should be lauded for his early realization that it was heresy to believe that assimilation in language led to racial assimilation.

"Lin was right when he pointed out that it was wrong for the Japanese government to force Taiwanese to learn Japanese and neglect the teaching of Taiwanese languages at schools, as [Japanese] believed [this] would facilitate their administration. But in Lin's view, a more effective strategy would be to conform to the local culture and gradually win the hearts of the people being governed," Hsu said.

Mosie Lin, born in 1887, was the first Taiwanese to obtain a bachelor degree from University of Tokyo and also the first Taiwanese to receive a doctoral degree from Columbia University.

During his studies at Columbia University between 1927 to 1929, Lin studied under Professors John Dewey and Paul Monroe, and was greatly influenced by the liberal academic environment and democratic political system of the west.

Once the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts of National Taiwan University, Lin committed himself to the refinement of Taiwanese culture, introducing the spirits of liberty and democracy to Taiwanese students. Lin was considered a social elite of the time.

After the second world war when Taiwan was finally rid of the Japanese colonization and Lin's talents were needed the most to help lift the educational and cultural standards in Taiwan, he became one of the victims of the 2-28 Incident. But up to now, his body remains unfounded.

The incident was a brutal military crackdown on civilian protests that broke out on Feb 28, 1947 against the KMT administration on Taiwan. Thousands of Taiwan's most prominent citizens and leading intellectuals were dragged from their home to be killed or vanished without explanation as the KMT waged war against Taiwan's Japanese-educated intelligentsia.

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