Sun, Jul 22, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Forum discusses issues hindering normalization

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although Taiwan is a democracy, changes in mentality and education are necessary to normalize the nation, panelists at a forum on national issues concluded yesterday.

"If Taiwan is a house, then we can say that its roof has been renovated through democratization, but its pillars are still old and rotten," Michelle Wang (王美琇), vice chairwoman of the Taiwan Northern Society, told the forum hosted by the New Century Foundation.

"If we don't fix the pillars, the house will eventually collapse," she said.

One of the nation's "pillars" is education, Wang later said.

Wang said a "greater China" ideology still permeated the education system, adding that a Taiwan-centric focus was imperative for normalizing Taiwan.

"After all, if the public has `abnormal' ideas, how can we have a `normal' country?" Wang asked.

Another panelist, Yang Ching-chu (楊青矗), agreed and suggested concrete measures. The first step, Yang said, is to preserve traditional Taiwanese culture.

Yang said he had published a collection of 300 Taiwanese poems including translated classical Aboriginal poems and poetry written in classical Chinese by Taiwanese poets.

Yang said such a book helps promote Taiwan's unique culture.

Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages should be languages of instruction in schools where those languages are spoken by the majority of students, he said, adding that government employees should be required to speak local languages.

Yang said it was important to teach Taiwanese history from a Taiwanese perspective.

"We must teach our children Taiwan's history from a Taiwanese point of view and make Taiwanese history the main subject in history classes," Yang told the forum.

Taiwanese must shake off a mentality that Chinese culture is superior to Taiwanese culture, he said.

"Of course there are good things about Chinese culture, but is Chinese culture superior, is it as important as some people claim?" Yang asked.

"The majority of subjects taught at universities today -- economics, law, business administration -- are from the West," Yang said, adding that most modern apparel such as shirts and shoes follow Western style, while cars and airplanes are Western inventions.

Lee Min-yung (李敏勇), a poet, said that the mentality that bigger countries are superior must end.

"Look at Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, we should strive to make Taiwan a small but beautiful and peaceful country like those," he said.

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