Sat, Sep 27, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Hakkas unite against Hokkien

TESTY The inclusion of Hokkien-language test questions in government exams has sparked a backlash among Hakka groups who are accusing the DPP of chauvinism


Several Hakka groups formed a task force yesterday, with support from People First Party (PFP) legislators, to deal with the issue of language usage in the national examinations.

They plan to demand an apology from the Examination Yuan, and ensure that no more questions in the Hokkien language will appear in future national examinations.

To illustrate their ire, they plan to ask Hakka-speaking legislators to question their Hokkien-speaking colleagues on the floor of the Legislative Yuan.

In the national promotion exam for customs officials and the admittance exams for police this year, there were a few questions on the reading-comprehension part written in the Hokkien language.

The passages used traditional Chinese characters, but made sense only to speakers of Hokkien. The situation roused anger from various non-Hokkien quarters, especially among the Hakka.

There have been a number of conferences held since mid-September dealing with the issue, culminating in yesterday's seminar of Taipei City Bureau of Hakka Affairs, the World Hakka Federation (世界客屬總會) and several other Hakka groups which concluded that they shall form the task force to ask for an apology for test questions they consider discriminatory.

"What we are looking for now is an apology from the Examination Yuan, and a guarantee that no more questions in the Hokkien language appear on future national examinations, said Liu Sheng-liang (劉盛良), chairman of the World Hakka Federation and convener of the task force.

"Meanwhile, we also demand all points lost on the questions in the Hokkien language in this year's national examination be marked correct on every exam," Liu said

Liu said that if the government did not respond favorably to their demands, they might consider taking to the streets to protest against what they say is the Democratic Progress Party's (DPP) discrimination against Hakka people.

Chen Shih-shan (陳石山), the publisher of Hakka Magazine, condemned the questions in the Hokkien language as an example of Hokkien Chauvinism.

"We hope that society can consider harmony of all cultures as the top priority and give politics little consideration. Harmony of all ethnic groups and cultural diversities are what we are striving for," Chen said.

PFP Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), who is of Hakka descent, also criticized what he called the DPP's Hokkien chauvinism.

"The DPP has been bullying the ethnic minorities for a long time. By allowing questions in the Hokkien language, they again showed their discriminatory attitude toward other ethnic groups," Lu said.

"To make the DPP see their own discrimination, I will try to have my other Hakka colleagues in the legislature question government officials in the Hakka language. We will also put ads in the newspapers to protest against the DPP's discrimination against the Hakka people."

Lee Yung-ping (李永萍) and Pang Chien-kuo (龐建國), PFP Legislators and second-generation mainlanders, were also present at the seminar to show their support.

Lee threatened to support budget cuts for the Examination Yuan next year if the body could not guarantee that in future questions in the Hokkien language would be stricken.

"The questions in the Hokkien language this year were very difficult to answer. Hokkien people who were not familiar with Hokkien words had problems answering them too," Lee said.

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