Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Su defends planned textbook changes

WHICH COUNTRY?The premier said the revisions aimed to instill love of nation and its history, while China and Ma Ying-jeou condemned the changes as politically motivated

By Jimmy Chuang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH AGENCIES

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday voiced his support for Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) over the recent controversy arising from planned revisions in high school history textbooks.

"[Tu] only wants to teach the next generation to know our own nation and history. This is surely the right thing to do," Su said at the weekly Executive Yuan meeting yesterday.

Su was referring to planned changes in high school history textbooks, including changing the way China is addressed -- which will be changed from "mainland" to "China" -- and dropping the reference to Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) as the "father of the nation."

"We grew up here in Taiwan. What is wrong with paying more attention and learning more about our native land?" he said.

Su said he learned a lot about China in school, but never learned much about the land where he was born.

"For instance, in high school, everybody had to remember the three most famous products in northeastern China -- ginseng, ermine and carex meyeriana," he said. "But, up to now, I have yet to see what a carex meyeriana looks like."

The premier also mentioned a map currently on display at the Bank of Taiwan's recruiting center in Yangmingshan.

The map was drawn by the Japanese during the colonial era and showed their determination to map out the geography of Taiwan.

"Although they did not belong here, the Japanese showed their concern for the land where they lived," the premier said. "What about us?"

"During the past 50 years of Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] rule, the government only cared about China and always dreamed of returning to China one day," he said.

"People showed no care for Taiwan where they grew up. This is not right," he added.

However, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday condemned the education ministry for altering the content of history textbooks for "for political purposes," vowing to seek a constitutional interpretation to prevent the ministry from "damaging academic freedom."

Arguing that the "Republic of China" is an "existing reality," and Sun Yat-sen was the "founding father" who established the "first republic in Asia, rather than seizing power like a feudal lord," Ma accused the ministry of attempting to confuse public cognition and value with the planned revisions.

"A minister of education seeks to deny the history of our country by editing history textbooks. Does this make sense?" Ma said in a written statement, which also accused the Democratic Progressive Party administration of trying to "control academic freedom" by turning the "history of the Republic of China" into the "history of the Republic of Taiwan."

"Curbing academic freedom is a violation of the freedom of expression and speech as protected by the Constitution," Ma said.

Meanwhile, China lashed out at Taiwan yesterday for plans to drop phrases from high school history textbooks that link the two as one country, saying the move was another step toward promoting independence.

One of the most important changes would be replacing the phrases "our country," "this country" and "the "mainland" with the word "China."

"We've noticed the developments. The political motive behind it is to transform the island's education into an ideological one for `Taiwan independence,'" said Yang Yi (楊毅), spokesman for China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top