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New Zealand is currently holding a referendum on whether to change its national flag. The referendum offers voters a choice between a silver fern flag — the silver fern being a sacred object for the Maori people — and the current flag, with the Union Jack.
Giving the people of New Zealand the opportunity to choose their own national flag is one way of increasing their sense of identification with the country’s core values and ideals. If the public plumps for the change, the new flag will be flown in the Olympic Games in August.
Putting aside for the moment that New Zealand is a former colony of the British Empire, and that about half the population favor keeping the original flag, the fact the government has the courage to listen to what its public wants and to put the issue to a referendum vote is an example of genuine democracy at work, and as such deserves our approval.
The national anthem used in Taiwan and the national flag — the white sun against blue sky on a red ground — are historical products left over from the period of authoritarian rule at the hands of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The national anthem found on the Presidential Office Web site is a variant of the KMT party song, and the flag is clearly a version of the KMT party emblem.
Neither, then, can fully represent Taiwan’s own culture or unique history.
The claim that Taiwanese singer Chou Tzu-yu’s (周子瑜) brandishing of the flag on a South Korean TV show should be interpreted as her having sympathies for Taiwanese independence stirred up mass indignation throughout Taiwan, once more bringing the issue of the national anthem and the national flag to the fore.
Taiwan has moved on, as was confirmed in the presidential election, in which the KMT candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), received only one-third of the votes.
How is it that a minority of people get to insist that Taiwan continues to use a national anthem and flag stuffed to the nines with ideological meaning?
Could we not learn from the example set by New Zealand, and change our national anthem and national flag through a national referendum? It is certainly worth exploring.
New Taipei City
In a Facebook post on Wednesday last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) wrote: “The KMT must fall for Taiwan to improve.’ Allow me to ask the question again: Is this really true?” It matters not how many times Hsu asks the question, my answer will always be the same: “Yes, the KMT must be toppled for Taiwan to improve.” In the lengthy Facebook post, titled “What were those born in the 1980s guilty of?” Hsu harked back to the idealistic aspirations of the 2014 Sunflower movement before heaping opprobrium on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP)
The scuffle between Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji and a Taiwanese diplomat at a Republic of China (ROC) Double Ten National Day celebration has turned into a public relations opportunity for the government, Beijing and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Although the incident occurred on Oct. 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) downplayed it, only for the story to be picked up by the foreign media, forcing the ministry to respond. The public and opposition parties asked why the government had failed to remonstrate more strongly in the first instance. It is still unclear whether the ministry missed a trick
US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, are holding their final debate tonight. In their foreign policy debate, China is sure to be a major issue of contention for the two candidates. Here are several questions the moderator should pose to the candidates: For both: In the first televised US presidential debates in 1960, then-Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy and his Republican counterpart, Richard Nixon, were asked whether the US should intervene if communist China attacked Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu. Kennedy said no, unless the main island of Taiwan was also attacked.
For most of us, the colorful, otherworldly marinescapes of coral reefs are as remote as the alien landscapes of the moon. We rarely, if ever, experience these underwater wonderlands for ourselves — we are, after all, air-breathing, terrestrial creatures mostly cocooned in cities. It is easy not to notice the perilous state they are in: We have lost 50 percent of coral reefs in the past 20 years and more than 90 percent are expected to die by 2050, a presentation at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California, earlier this year showed. As the oceans heat further and