On Monday, the ministry unveiled a four-frame comic strip featuring a male character named Yi-ge (一哥) and his female counterpart Fa Sao (發嫂) as part of its efforts to advertise the ECFA.There's so much to unpack here, one hardly knows where to start. Clearly Fa Sao is presented as the very image of Taiwanese modernity -- fluent in English and Japanese, works in a trading company, watches market trends. The class issues practically scream off the page -- informed, modern upwardly mobile forward-looking people support ECFA. People in traditional industries are not modern or informed, are ignorant, and don't support ECFA.
A ministry press release said the purpose of the comic strip was to “allow people of all ages to easily and clearly understand the purpose and content of the ECFA.”
The comics portray Yi-ge as a 45-year old Hoklo-speaking man from Tainan City who works as a salesman in an unspecified traditional industry. According to his profile, Yi-ge is a vocational school graduate who speaks “Taiwanese Mandarin” and knows very little about the proposed ECFA. He is content being a follower in all things, but when it comes to protecting himself, he “goes all-out.”
His profile also says that he lacks the sensitivity for danger, lives life in a carefree manner and never cares to improve himself because he has a steady job. He has had some conversations with his colleagues about the ECFA and even though he knows nothing about the subject, he is worried about losing his job once the pact is signed.
One of Yi-ge’s acquaintances is Fa Sao, a 40-year-old Hakka from Hsinchu who works as a supervisor at an import-export company. She is described as an active, self-motivated and highly capable married woman who is fluent in English, Mandarin, Hoklo and Japanese. She is always hungry for knowledge and eager to learn more about money-management. Her profile suggests she keeps herself well-informed and is a keen observer of market trends. Fa Sao was recently promoted to company spokesman. Her knowledge of cross-strait trade has prompted her to learn all about the ECFA.
Modern ethnic politics in Taiwan are a KMT invention, and it has long exploited them to maintain its grip on power. Here too the Ministry works in the Hoklo vs. Hakka ethnic rivalry, with the position of superiority assigned to the Hakkas, who have long been a stalwart group of KMT supporters. The Hakka is from Hsinchu (hint: science park, think technology and all those positives), while the Hoklo is from Tainan, the center of Taiwan nationalism. The construction of the Hoklo is a smear that reproduces the KMT claim that Taiwanese speakers, especially southern Taiwanese speakers, are low-class, uneducated scum who can't even speak Mandarin properly ("Taiwanese Mandarin").
The Ministry's explanation is a classic:
Deng said the two characters were the result of long, painstaking efforts by public relations experts to reflect the make-up of the general public.The Hakka is a blonde (a high status hair color), while the Taiwanese has red hair. As a friend snarkily commented, this is because those two hair colors reflect the make-up of the general public.
In truth, the characters so faithfully reproduce KMT ideological claims and ethnic stereotyping that it wouldn't surprise me that PR staff at the Ministry had put in long, painstaking efforts to create them. That kind of stupidity doesn't happen by accident -- it takes years of indoctrination, combined with that specially bureaucratic kind of insular, arrogant, groupthink necessary to put such hogwash out in public without realizing what the obvious message was.
The DPP commented acidly:
“The comic strip is extremely offensive and derogatory. It describes those who oppose the ECFA as stupid and unaware of current events. This is glaring racial and class discrimination,” DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said._________
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