Mon, Sep 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Independence groups call for education localization

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Pro-independence groups yesterday called for President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to implement localized education and full referendum rights to reinforce Taiwanese identification.

The Taiwan Society and affiliated groups praised the administration’s efforts to settle the issue of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) assets, reform pensions and introduce the “five plus two” innovative industries, as well as its New Southbound Policy and Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

However, they called for advancement in educational reform and full referendum rights to deepen democracy and nationalist identification.

Southern Taiwan Society vice president Tiunn Hok-chu (張復聚) said educational reform should focus on native languages to increase Taiwanese identification.

Native language education is now a “mere formality,” as native language proficiency is not part of the college or high-school entrance exams, so students are not committed to learning the languages, Tiunn said.

“People under 30 do not speak Hoklo [commonly known as Taiwanese] at home at all and native languages will not be spoken in another 30 years if the situation persists,” Tiunn said. “Taiwan could lose its multilingual and multicultural heritage and become monopolized by Mandarin, which is not what Taiwanese want.”

Native languages should be a formal part of entrance exams, while a public TV channel devoted to Hoklo language and culture should be established for Hoklo-speaking people, who make up 74 percent of the population, he said.

The share of classical Chinese in language education should be reduced from 50 percent to 30 percent and the focus of history courses should be shifted from a China-centric perspective to a broader worldview that places Taiwan in the frame of East Asian history, Northern Taiwan Society deputy chairman Lee Chuan-hsin (李川信) said.

Citing a promise made by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials that an amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) would be approved by the end of the year, participants urged the government to honor its promise.

The groups called for full referendum rights that would allow citizens to vote on any issues except budgets, taxation or private sector issues.

Currently, a national referendum cannot be held for issues other than reviews of laws; launching or reviewing legislative principles; important policies; or amending the Constitution.

The groups urged the initiation of judicial reform to institute a jury system and eliminate judges who they said were politically biased or had little social experience.

The judiciary “persecuted” former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) while it acquitted former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of charges of corruption and leaking state secrets, they said.

They also urged the government to phase out borough-level elections to root out vote-buying practices they said are common in such elections, echoing calls made by the pan-green camp, which hopes to reduce the KMT’s dominance in local constituencies.

Meanwhile, the groups criticized Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) for banning flags and banners displaying Taiwanese independence symbols inside Taipei Summer Universiade venues.

Doing so amounted to “eliminating Taiwan” in favor of “Chinese Taipei,” they said.

People carrying independence-leaning flags were forced to hand them in and some were even interrogated by police, and this hurt Taiwan’s democracy, Central Taiwan Society president Liao I-en (廖宜恩) said.

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