Fri, Mar 01, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Peace foundation launches group to monitor media for racial-abuse cases

ETHNIC STRIFE The Monitoring Committee for Racial Peace will keep close tabs on Internet and broadcast media to ensure politicians and program hosts don't use offensive rhetoric

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

While the government held memorial events yesterday on the 55th anniversary of the 228 Incident, a committee was founded to monitor the broadcast media and Internet for what it termed "racial abuse."

The Monitoring Committee for Racial Peace, comprising politicians and communications experts, was launched at a press conference by The Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan.

The committee plans to monitor all TV and radio call-in shows and Web sites in a bid to eliminate abuse by program hosts and politicians, especially during elections.

The committee will focus on the broadcast media and the Internet because they are the main forums for discussion and debate.

Independent scholars and members of the foundation voiced general concern about racism in Taiwan, which is generally considered to be home to four distinct peoples: Chinese, Taiwanese, Aborigines and Hakka.

With an undercurrent of tension in Taiwanese politics surrounding ethnic and national identity issues, scholars worry that the nation's four dominant groups have never actually reached an accommodation with one another.

They scholars added that applying pressure on the media to moderate its content would set a positive example for the rest of society.

"Such [racial] rhetoric is unethical and the cheapest means of attracting public interest," said Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), associate professor of public administration at Tamkang University.

According to data collected by the foundation, many of the insults involve references to members of other races as animals or imputations of mental illness, such as "Taiwanese dog," "Chinese pig" or "deranged Aborigine."

A common racial slur made by members of the younger Chinese generation aimed at ethnic Taiwanese describe the latter as "illegitimate offspring of Taiwanese Aboriginals who were raped by the Japanese."

Scholars warned that verbal racial abuse has been on the rise since 1987, when martial law was lifted.

The abuse has increased over the years as Taiwan's democratization has gradually enabled the nation's independence and localization movements to flourish, and, more recently, as political discussion and call-in forums have proliferated in the media, the scholars said.

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