Thu, Aug 06, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma determined to develop nation's cultural diversity

By Ko Shu-ling  /  By Ko Shu-ling

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday emphasized the importance of cultural diversity, saying Taiwan was lucky to have different “Chinese cultures” and that he was determined to build the nation into a “development center” of Hakka culture.

Underlying biological diversity was paramount to the survival of all species and it would be conducive to a nation’s cultural development if different cultures were well preserved, he said.

“Taiwan is very lucky to have different Chinese cultures,” he said. “They meet here, influence, respect and appreciate each other. This is a rare chance. We must make an all-out effort to advance the development of all the nation’s different cultures so that our children can learn how to respect, tolerate and appreciate each other, and get along harmoniously with each other.”

Ma made the remarks while addressing the World Peace Conference, organized by the World Hakka Association, at the Ambassador Hotel yesterday morning.

Lauding his cross-strait policies, Ma said both sides of the Taiwan Strait resumed bilateral talks when he took office in May last year and have signed nine agreements and one consensus, dramatically easing tension across the strait.

“The Taiwan Strait was once a battlefield, but now it has become a road to peace and prosperity,” Ma said. “Taiwan’s role as a peacemaker has made our neighboring countries and the international community breath a sigh of relief.”

Speaking briefly in broken Hakka, Ma said the Hakka language has been disappearing at an alarmingly rate, losing about “1 million users annually between 2000 and 2005.” Hakka language and culture would perish at an even faster pace if no efforts were made to preserve them, he said.

As Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties have large Hakka populations, Ma said his administration plans to make Hakka one of the languages civil servants must speak if a county’s Hakka population reaches a certain percentage.

His administration also intends to build Taiwan into a “development center” of Hakka culture and promote other related culture and creative industries, he said.

This year’s government budget earmarked for the Council for Hakka Affairs was also increased by 33 percent, significantly more than the 23 percent he proposed during his election campaign, Ma said.

At the same setting, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), a Hakka, said Hakka believe that Taiwan and China are all yan huang zisun (炎黃子孫), descendants of emperors Yan and Huang, and belong to the Chinese nation.

It would be “stupid” if both sides of the strait could not be at peace, Wu said, adding that both sides must avoid war and replace conflict with negotiation and mutual tolerance. Although cross-strait ties have developed in a “sound direction,” both sides must develop mutual respect and equality, he said.

This story has been viewed 2364 times.

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