Before we go on to the main event here, I'd just like to take a moment and ask who is in charge at DPP HQ? Are they smoking crack over there? Just when the island needs US support, and when the DPP needs backing from its Congressional and government allies, it up and decides to foment public agitation against US beef imports -- the one export item our government is obsessed with importing into Taiwan. Great move guys -- thanks for making the job of Taiwan advocates in Washington that much harder.
Onwards and downwards.....
Big news in the local papers as the government passes a revised political neutrality law aimed teachers. In Taiwan, teachers are central government employees. The law extends neutrality rules that applied to public servants to all teachers and professors with administrative responsibility, such as Deans or Department Chairs, in public schools, along with all research fellows in public institutions. The new restrictions include hanging, posting, or wearing political symbols of political parties or candidates; holding meetings, initiating rallies, or leading petitions; signing on ad in public media; speaking, rallying, or calling for support on behalf of candidates.
The law is obviously aimed at anyone criticizing the current administration from a position of importance in an educational institution, and is clearly meant to muzzle such individuals. As a commentary in the Liberty Times noted today, the law is vague, and implies that anyone who speaks out on policy from the bully pulpit of a deanship or similar can be criminally charged with abuse of administrative resources. Even part-time administrators appear to fall under the law, and since many ordinary teachers in universities do administrative work or have titles like "Director of Overseas Cooperation", they might well be vulnerable. Imagine too that any Academia Sinica researcher could conceivably be charged with "being political" for commenting in public on an ongoing policy -- say the environmental concerns of the Suhua Highway or a new program to re-introduce Chinese history as the only history in the public schools. The mere fact of having to consider this possibility may have a chilling effect.
It is hard to see how this can have a positive effect on the government's avowed intention, through three Administrations, to internationalize the university system here. The very basis of a university is the open exchange and critique of ideas.
As I've noted before, to move closer to China is to move farther from democracy.
REF: Op-Ed in Liberty Times
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