US Taiwanese vent rage at organization’s name-change plans

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 3

Twenty-five different Taiwanese-American groups have jointly complained to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about his administration’s decision to change the English name of the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council.

“We strongly object to the use of the word ‘Chinese’ in the title of a government agency whose main mission is to maintain contacts with members of the overseas community from Taiwan,” reads their letter to Ma.

“The term ‘Chinese’ is confusing, as it gives outsiders the impression that this is an organization under the control of the People’s Republic of China and its Communist government,” it adds.

The groups, representing the views of thousands of Taiwanese-Americans, have also criticized the administration for making the change in a “secretive way.”

According to the groups, the Legislative Yuan was not consulted and there was no communication with the overseas Taiwanese community.

They want the authorities to retain the old name for the Council or change it to the Overseas Taiwanese Affairs Council.

This last name, they say, would more fully represent “a free and democratic Taiwan.”

The letter to Ma says: “We consider ourselves Taiwanese and we are proud of our identity and heritage ... The reversal to an old title dating back to the period of the repressive Kuomintang [KMT] regime also brings back memories of a one-party totalitarian system under martial law. This represents a setback for democracy and human rights in Taiwan and is an insult to those courageous individuals who helped to bring about the country’s momentous democratic transition.”

Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) president Mark Kao (高龍榮), who initiated the letter, said: “We need to call the Council what it is — an organization for cultural, educational, economic and informational exchanges between Taiwan and overseas Taiwanese.”