Tue, Nov 30, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Tests must be related to Taiwan, says Lin Yu-tee

Outspoken Examination Yuan member Lin Yu-tee whipped up a deluge of controversy with his recent contentious remarks about the national history and geography tests in January's basic-level civil servant recruitment examination, and about the nation's founding father. `Taipei Times' staff reporter Ko Shu-ling caught up with the educator-turned-civil servant to shed some light on his statements and way of thinking

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Lin Yu-tee gestures during a recent interview held at the Examination Yuan.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has publicly endorsed your argument on the national history and geography test, saying that the test on history and geography should not cover China and Mongolia. What are your thoughts on this?

Lin Yu-tee (林玉体): Basically what he said is just repeating what I've said before. A Chinese saying goes: the saint of the east thinks alike with the saint of the west. I'm not a saint, but President Chen and I do share the same thinking. I didn't know in advance what his stance was on the issue. We think alike because the answer results from logical thinking.

TT: What do you think of the opposition camps daring Chen to enshrine the "one country on either side of the Taiwan Strait" theory in the new constitution he is trumpeting?

Lin: It's a good idea to enshrine the theory in the new constitution, but I'd dare the opposition parties to support such a politically sensitive constitutional reform. It's a highly challenging task, even a mission impossible, for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to push for such constitutional reform, because the opposition parties enjoy the majority in the legislature.

We know for a fact that China will oppose such reform because it's our enemy. I suspect the US would respect the decision of the Taiwanese people, because democracy is the founding spirit of the US and it's that democratic spirit that wins the respect of the world and keeps it going around.

TT: Do you think Chen would breach the "five noes" promise he made during his inaugural speech in 2000 if the "one country on either side of the Taiwan Strait" policy is eventually enshrined in the new constitution?

Lin: The "five noes" principle has one precondition, and that is China must not have the intention to use military force against Taiwan. President Chen is not bound by the pledge if the premise is breached.

Frankly speaking, I'm not very much pleased with the president's pledge because it's an unnecessary statement. It's like the fabric wrapped around the "golden lotus" feet of Chinese women during the Ching Dynasty: it's not only asphyxiating but also stinky. It doesn't win the appreciation of China and it also disappoints his base supporters.

TT: Don't you think Chen, as the head of state, is obligated to take various complicated elements into consideration during his decision-making process, instead of rushing to a conclusion and pleasing only one particular group?

Lin: I agree. I suspect the US government might have struck a deal with him, pledging to facilitate cross-strait negotiations if he agreed to make the "five noes" promise during his inauguration speech.

I'd really hate to say that the president has been fooled by the US government, but what I've seen over the years is that the US government failed to make any efforts to precipitate cross-strait talks.

Another thing that really upsets me is that the president's inauguration speech has to be approved by the US government. Such a move, in my view, is gravely humiliating to the national dignity.

TT: Before the "one country on either side of the Taiwan Strait" theory is enshrined in the new constitution, do you think it's legitimate to test examinees only on Taiwan's history and geography in January's civil service examination?

Lin: There's no doubt about testing only on Taiwan in the "national" history and geography test, no matter whether the theory is enshrined in the constitution or not.

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