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Thu, Jun 14, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet inaugurates new Hakka Commission

PROGRESS Fulfilling one of his campaign promises, president Chen Shui-bian has set up an agency to represent the interests of Hakkas at the Cabinet level

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A singer from a Hakka folk song and theater group sings traditional Hakka songs yesterday at a Grand Hotel dinner reception held by the Executive Yuan in celebration of the opening of the Cabinet's new Hakka Commission. The Hakka Commission will be officially established today.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Cabinet's new Hakka Comm-ission (客家委員會) is expected to hold its founding ceremony today, realizing one of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) campaign promises.

The president has appointed lawyer Fang Kuang-chun (范光群) as the head of the commission, government spokesman Su Tzen-ping (蘇正平) said yesterday.

Su also announced the appointment of Liu Yung-pin (劉永斌) as the commission's deputy head. Liu is currently president of the Taiwanese Hakka Association of the World (世界台灣客家聯合會).

Fang, a national policy advisor to the president and a noted attorney, once served as a member of the president's advisory group on cross-strait relations, a member of the Judicial Reform Foundation and helped Chen draft national policies during the presidential campaign.

Fang has maintained a close relationship with Chen ever since Chen was Taipei's mayor.

But while Fang's political credentials and professional background are unassailable, some observers yesterday said that they were worried about his lack of previous involvement with Hakka affairs.

A former leader of the Hakka movement, Chung Chau-cheng (鍾肇政), told the Taipei Times that "the appointment is a bit inexplicable to me."

However, he hoped that Fang would later demonstrate his enthusiasm in promoting the Hakka culture.

Echoing Chung's view, DPP legislator Hsu Chung Pi-hsia (許鍾碧霞) said that Fang hasn't been a very active member in Hakka groups, but she believed he would be capable of the job.

Nevertheless Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), Hakka heavyweight and vice chairman of the KMT, said he held Fang in high regard. "His legal background will help with certain legislative bills that promote Hakka culture," Wu said.

In addition, Wu said that the commission should focus on preserving the Hakka language, religion and its folklore, "preferably by setting up academic research programs to further study Hakka culture."

"I hope the president will soon found the I-ming University [義民大學] as he promised during the election," Wu added.

Chung, the Hakka movement's former chief, said he expected the commission to coordinate with all Hakka groups in the country to promote Hakka identity.

Other members of the commission include former Hsinchu County commissioner Fan Chen-tsung (范振宗), who was once tapped as a possible candidate to lead the commission, and a former member of the National Assembly, Li Chin-shiang (利錦祥).

Scholars on the commission include sociology professor at Academia Sinica Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌), environmental activist Tseng Kuei-hai (曾貴海), executive deputy director of the Hakka Monthly magazine, Jesse Fan (范振乾), and former DPP deputy secretary-general, Lee Wang-tai (李旺台).

There are more than three million Hakka people in Taiwan. The Cabinet has earmarked roughly NT$300 million for the commission.

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