Sun, Jan 28, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan Society Hakka inaugurated in Taipei to promote solidarity in Taiwan

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, center, holds up a banner presented to him at the inaugural meeting of the Taiwan Society Hakka in Taipei yesterday. The text reads: ''You bring good times to the Hakka of Taiwan.''

PHOTO: CNA

A Hakka organization with the ambition to promote Taiwanese consciousness, democracy and solidarity was inaugurated yesterday in Taipei.

"Many Hakkas in Taiwan identify themselves as Hakkas before they identify themselves as Taiwanese," Lee Chiao (李喬), a well-known Hakka writer said.

"The future of Taiwanese Hakkas is bound to the future of Taiwan," he said.

Hakkas must stand in solidarity with other ethnic groups to fight for the nation's future, he added.

In its mission statement, the Taiwan Society Hakka stated that its goals are to "build Taiwanese consciousness among Hakkas, defend national sovereignty, consolidate democracy and the rule of law and enhance harmony among ethnic groups."

"Most of the other Hakka organizations focus softer issues," the press release said, "but the Taiwan Society Hakka stresses the national sovereignty of Taiwan."

Chang Ye-sen (張葉森), the head of the organization, called on Hakkas "to no longer be guests but to make Taiwan their home."

"We are masters of Taiwan, not guests," he said, referring to the Chinese character for the word "Hakka," which means "guest."

"Hakkas and Taiwan are in the same boat -- Taiwan is the only place we can call home," he said.

The Hakkas, sometimes referred to as the "Jews of the East," have a long history of migration because of wars or economic reasons.

As they settled in new places, Hakkas were often called guests by local inhabitants.

The name lingered even after generations of Hakka lived in the settlements.

Many scholars attribute the sense of identity among Hakkas to their history of migration.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) appeared at the event yesterday, agreeing that Taiwanese could learn from the Hakkas' "determination to defend their homes and to always stand in solidarity."

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