Sun, Aug 23, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Tsai pledges to focus on reviving Hakka culture

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter, in Miaoli

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen, at podium, is surrounded by local Miaoli politicians as she speaks at the establishment of a support organization for her presidential bid in Miaoli County yesterday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday vowed to overturn a linguistic injustice to revive the Hakka language through a series of policy proposals, such as making Hakka a language of instruction at schools in predominantly Hakka communities.

“Due to a past policy of language repression [during the Martial Law era], many Hakka people, such as myself, are no longer able to speak Hakka. I believe many of your children or grandchildren are not able to speak Hakka fluently either,” Tsai told a crowd of more than 1,000 people, mostly Hakka, during a rally in Miaoli County. “I have said that one of my major policy objectives is to bestow transitional justice on society, and reviving Hakka is part of that objective to realize justice in language use.”

She said she would try to revive Hakka through creating a Hakka-friendly environment, including establishing schools, from kindergarten to elementary, in which the language of instruction would be Hakka in predominantly Hakka regions.

Tsai said the DPP is the only party that truly cares about Hakka culture.

“When the DPP was in power [from 2000 to 2008], we created the Hakka Affairs Council and Hakka TV,” Tsai said, adding that, if elected, she would increase the budget for Hakka TV, so it can produce more programs that appeal to both Hakka and non-Hakka audiences.

“If you go to [sections of] Provincial Highway No. 3 in Taoyuan, and Hsinchu and Miaoli counties that runs through Hakka communities, you would find abundant and diverse historic, cultural, artistic and agricultural resources,” Tsai said. “I often wonder why, when foreign tourists come to Taiwan, they often go to Taipei and then to the south or to the east, without visiting Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties. This is why I would like to make Provincial Highway No. 3 Taiwan’s own ‘Hakka Romantic Road’ to attract more visitors.”

While Hakka people, especially those in Miaoli, are generally considered pan-blue supporters, there was a surprising number of attendants from Hakka communities in Miaoli County, including traditional Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) grassroots campaigners, such as councilors, township mayors, Farmers’ Association officials, and borough and village wardens.

“When I speak to people during my campaign, I feel people’s desire for change, and the nation’s development can only happen through change,” Tsai said when asked if she was attempting to connect with KMT campaigners.

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