Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) yesterday said she hoped that cultural policies would be served by politics rather than serve political purposes.
Speaking at the inauguration of the new Ministry of Culture, which was attended by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), Lung said she hoped that over the next four years, “culture will not serve politics, but will be served by politics.”
Lung expressed hope that cultural officials could be independent, knowledgeable, have an international perspective and a will of their own.
“Ruling parties can come and go,” Lung said, but if cultural officials are independent-minded, they could withstand political influence and carry out cultural work to the benefit of the country.
Lung said if culture can permeate the central government’s policymaking decisions and play important roles in Taiwan’s education, foreign relations, economic and industrial policies, “then Taiwan will really be able to bring into full play its cultural advantages.”
She compared the establishment of the new ministry, which she described as “the project of the century,” to a relay race, saying that it is the cultural sector’s many years of efforts that have made the ministry possible.
In response, Ma said in a speech that if politics is a “fence,” then culture is “the pair of wings that fly over the fence.”
“Construction work can make a city larger, but only culture can make a city great,” Ma said.
He echoed Lung’s remarks about political interference in cultural affairs, saying that while culture agencies have served political purposes in the past, he would try to turn that around.
He said he hoped to provide more resources for the ministry in the future and that he expected the establishment of the ministry would spread “Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics” around Taiwan and the world.
The ministry was upgraded from the Council for Cultural Affairs after a Cabinet reorganization took effect on Sunday, and took over some responsibilities from the Ministry of Education, the now-defunct Government Information Office (GIO) and the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.
George Hsu (許秋煌), a former deputy minister of the GIO, assumed office as the administrative deputy culture minister, while Chang Yun-cheng (張雲程) and Lin Chin-tien (林金田) were appointed political deputy ministers.
The ministry’s seven departments and two bureaus are tasked with general policy planning, fostering international cultural exchanges, development of the arts, the publishing industry, the cultural and creative industry, cultural resources and film, television and popular music, as well as protecting the country’s cultural assets.
Several people from the arts and culture sector attended the ceremony, including poet Chou Meng-tieh (周夢蝶), director Li Hsing (李行) and singer Lo Ta-yu (羅大佑).