The three presidential candidates yesterday spent an hour each fleshing out their ideas and fielding questions from civic groups regarding their cultural policies.
Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was the first to speak at an event sponsored by the Preparatory Institute of the Foundation of the Inaugural Year for Culture.
She criticized the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, led by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), for allowing political ideology to play too big a role in the nation’s cultural policies.
In answer to a question concerning her cultural and foreign affairs policy, Tsai said the worst thing that could happen is to demand that arts and culture officials carry out political missions.
When asked whether she thought the Taiwan Academy should vie with China’s Confucius Institute to exert influence abroad, Tsai said there is no need to try to outdo China when it comes to Chinese cultural characteristics as Chinese culture has been assimilated into Taiwanese culture.
What the government’s Taiwan Academy should do is to promote the fine parts of Taiwanese culture and its attractions, she said.
In response to the a question posed by poet Yan Hung-ya (閻鴻亞) on how the cultural budget would be allotted, Tsai said there must first be a good finance minister to make clear priorities and to avoid politics interfering in or destroying such a structure, adding that there must also be a process of gradually increasing cultural funding so that it is able to meet demand.
People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said Taiwan cannot compete with other countries in terms of its size and population, but its educational development, multi-cultural tradition and high-tech achievements can be combined to give it an edge in “soft power.”
He pledged to increase the cultural budget if elected and to lead a government that would make Taiwan a creator of local culture, a protector of Chinese culture and a communicator of world culture.
Ma said his government has set up a special fund to help the cultural sector and that his government has ensured that cultural centers in 17 cities and counties are operated in a more professional way.
If re-elected, Ma said he would set up a series of national cultural forums in which all the players in the sector could exchange views and put forward their policy proposals to the government.