Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday questioned the effectiveness of a government-sponsored student exchange program run by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, mocking it as a “drinking program” after many of the participants mentioned drinking as their most unforgettable experience in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Chen raised the issue during a question-and-answer session with Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission Minister Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) at a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee.
“Before the trip, the chairman [of the Mongolian and Tibetan Foundation] invited us to a meal and gave us special training on alcohol tolerance, dining etiquette, and drinking skills. It was very interesting,” Chen read from a trip report written by a Chang Gung University student surnamed Lee (李), who was one of the 17 students who took part in the commission’s exchange program last year.
One student said in his report that before going on the trip, he never drank because he did not like the taste of alcohol and was concerned that it would harm his liver, according to Chen.
“After the trip, it was proven that I have a good tolerance for alcohol. My mind is still clear after a lot of drinking. I would feel a little dizzy, but my face would not turn red,” Chen quoted the student as writing.
“I feel hyper, and more rational,” the student wrote.
A Soochow University student surnamed Hsu (徐) wrote that her father warned her before the trip not to drink, Chen said.
“But Inner Mongolians were so hospitable and welcoming, I could not resist having glass after glass of an alcoholic drink,” Chen said, reading from Hsu’s report.
“At the end, some people passed out, some became scared of drinking,” the student wrote.
“What is this? The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission spent so much of the taxpayers’ money on organizing exchange programs, but the only thing the students learned was how to drink?” Chen said. “This is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
The political impact was even worse, Chen said, since one student wrote in the conclusion of his report that he had realized during the trip that “people on the two sides of Taiwan Strait are actually one family.”
Commission Minister Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) told Chen that drinking was only part of the cultural experience.
“Students in the program visited many cultural and historic sites. Drinking during meals is a custom among Mongolians, it is also a cultural experience for the students,” Lo said.
“Many of them probably wrote about drinking because they had never had such an experience in Taiwan,” Lo said.