Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Country Boys band gives voice to public grievance

By Kuo An-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The establishment of the Central Taiwan Science Park has long been controversial due to the amount of farmland it was expropriating. Farmers said the location of the park, in Changhua County’s Erlin Township (二林), was a fertile rice-producing area and the policy was stepping on farmers’ rights of ownership.

The establishment of the park has also led to questions of water usage. The government’s plans to install pipes capable of channeling 130,000 tonnes of water for park use — water that was originally used by farmers in the area to irrigate their fields — has come under fire from the media and activists.

“The band is very active in central and southern Taiwan and often receives invitations to perform at temple-hosted events or rural areas. It is also very active in social affairs,” Chiang said.

The band has been at Sijhou for more than 24 hours to lend moral support to a farmers’ protest, Chiang said, adding that he has also taught the farmers several songs to better convey their dissatisfaction.

During protests against a naphtha cracker that Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology intended to set up in Changhua County’s Dacheng Township (大城), Chiang attended a press conference and sang for Formosa Petrochemical general manager Tsao Mihn (曹明) Song of the White Dolphins (白海豚之歌) to voice his feelings against the project.

Faced with Tsao’s impatience and anger, Chiang stood his ground and asked Tsao to “respect my profession as a singer” and stayed to finish the song.

The Kuokuang Petrochemical project was part of a government plan to stimulate the economy under the Chen administration. However, the project has been controversial because the location is close to the habitat of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, which was declared an endangered species in the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

Despite being a social activist, Chiang said social activists needed to look inward and think about how to implement their ideologies instead of succumbing to the feelings of self-satisfaction that their slogans and songs arouse.

Chiang said he often asked himself: “What am I going to do with my life after cussing the government?”

He said that he came to the conclusion that he did not want to use music to incite his fans to become anti-government or to oppose certain issues.

“I just want to settle down in an agricultural society and live out my ideals,” Chiang said, adding that by living what he was preaching, he was sending out a stronger message.

When asked about his own ideals, Chiang laughed deprecatingly and said he had no grand ideologies, wishing only to live a simple life and make friends through performances and talks.

Chiang said he hoped to be a part of helping society change, adding that ein very performance or talk he attended, he usually asked an assortment of questions and listened to other musician’s answers to better understand them.

Having grown up in Changhua County, Chiang said many of the development projects in central Taiwan were ridiculous.

“Changhua is one of the main rice and grain production areas in Taiwan, but instead farmers are asked to let their fields lie fallow and decrease overall food production,” Chiang said.

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