Pointing to the Ministry of Culture’s increased budget request for its “appraisal of media environment in China” program, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday questioned whether the ministry was attempting to implement the “ultimate unification” policies of the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration.
The ministry’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year not only increased funding for the promotion of cultural interaction with China — allotting NT$123 million (US$4.1 million), a NT$97 million increase from this year’s NT$2.6 million budget — but, when the NT$12 million for the promotion of cross-strait affairs is added, the proposed budget would exceed this year’s budget by four times, Lin said.
Next year’s budget for the promotion of international cultural interaction — totaling NT$380 million — is a 68 percent increase from this year’s NT$150 million, Lin said, adding that the 400 percent increase in funding for cross-strait culture interaction is proof that the Ma administration has an increasingly pro-China attitude.
Lin also pointed out that under the items listed for the promotion of cross-strait affairs, the ministry budgeted NT$1.2 million for a series of visits to China, Macau and Hong Kong in order to appraise the local culture and media environment in those places.
“It is an absurd idea,” said Lin, adding that China is a one-party, autocratic country. “Why is the Ma administration budgeting money for such a ridiculous idea, unless he is considering ‘communizing’ Taiwan’s media, or learning how both Hong Kong and Macau maintain a monopoly on what the media say?”
“I’m not against increasing the cultural budget, but it has to be at a normal rate and not so that Taiwan is trapped into simply interacting with China,” he added, saying that he would be taking a strict approach when reviewing the ministry’s budget in this legislative session, which convened on Tuesday.
“I will do my best to remove all of the unreasonable budgets,” Lin said.
In response, the ministry’s media and public relations division quoted the ministry’s Cultural Interaction Department chief Patrick Wang (王振臺) as saying that the media-related affairs were moved to the ministry after the abolishment of the Government Information Office (GIO), the visits to China, Macau and Hong Kong were to further understand the background of the 10 Chinese media outlets which operate branches in Taiwan.
According to Wang, they would be primarily visiting Beijing and Fujian Province and would also be meeting up with media managers there.
Under the current governmental restructuring which began in January, the ministry is now responsible for the tasks that once fell under the jurisdiction of the council for cultural affairs, the GIO and the national youth commission.
Additional reporting by Ling Mei-hsueh