A Taipei junior high school orchestra was forced by a consultant with the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission to take the national anthem off its concert program in Brisbane, Australia, during the orchestra’s Australian tour, a Taipei City councilor alleged at a press conference yesterday.
The daughter of the commission’s consultant, Chen Chiu-yen (陳秋燕), allegedly asked the Zhongzheng Junior High School orchestra by telephone the night before its second Brisbane concert to take the Republic of China’s national anthem, the opening song on the program, off its set list, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Wei-you (周威佑) said.
“The request was an act that belittled Taiwan’s integrity and the students felt hurt. And this time it was done by a Taiwanese, not Chinese,” Chou said.
Organizers had asked the orchestra to perform the national anthem, which was never listed on the program in previous trips abroad, said Lin Li-hui (林麗惠), the school’s dean of academic affairs, adding that the song was “inadvertently” taken off.
Lin declined to identify the person behind the decision to scrap the national anthem, saying she did not accompany the orchestra to Australia.
The orchestra performed the national anthem in its first concert in Brisbane before being asked to scrap the song in the second concert, DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) said, citing information provided on condition of anonymity by the parents of an orchestra member.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday said the national anthem was taken off because the students were not ready to perform it, describing the incident as a “procedural error” and miscommunication between the organizer and the orchestra.
The commission said in a press release yesterday that it had met Chen, who was in Taipei, and reiterated that Chen did not interfere with the orchestra’s performance, nor had he asked that the national anthem be taken off the program.