The struggle over language in Taiwan continues. The KMT news org reported on it from a Chinese nationalist perspective:
The term “Guo Yu (National Language),” which is used in “language skill indicators” in elementary and junior high school textbooks, will be replaced by the term “Hua Yu Wen (ethnic Chinese language)” starting next year, causing a public controversy. Some scholars accused the government of following the former DPP government’s “de-sinicization” policy. 【Translator’s Note: Up to 2000, under the KMT administration, the terms Mandarin Chinese and National Language were used synonymously. However, the DPP administration (2000-2008) changed the definition of National Language to include Mandarin, Hoklo, Hakka, and 11 aboriginal dialects.】What struck me was the editor's note:
The Office of the President yesterday expressed its position on the issue, saying, “The language used by nationals should be addressed as “Guo Yu (National Language)” and the term used in ‘language skill indicators’ in the textbooks should follow this principle for consistency. In response, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that it would study the issue following the guidance of the Office of the President.
[Editor’s Note: Mandarin Chinese is National Language, which means the language of this nation. However, Mandarin Chinese is used by other nations, such as Singapore. Therefore, in those countries, Mandarin Chinese is not called National Language, but ethnic Chinese language, meaning language used by ethnic Chinese. The DPP government (2000-2008) downgraded Mandarin Chinese to just one of the 14 national languages of this country and tried to get everyone to call it “Hua Yu” (ethnic Chinese language), the language used by “ethnic Chinese” in this country. “Hua Yu” is a term commonly employed in other countries for the language used by ethnic Chinese residing in these countries; therefore, the term is not appropriate to be used in this country. In fact, Hoklo (Min-nan) and Hakka are different pronunciations of the same Chinese language, using the same characters (Kanji), not different languages.]Hakka and Hoklo are not different languages from "ethnic Chinese language"? The KMT's Han chauvinism and assimilationist rhetoric really stand out. Note that this issue is so important that the President's office stepped in publicly to ensure that it was settled in the "right" way. Language is a key aspect of the creation of a KMT Nationalist Chinese identity for Taiwan.
ADDED: Had the DPP won in 2008, English would probably have been one of the official languages of Taiwan. ADDED: See comments below for good insights.
Meanwhile, down in Taichung -- political games as usual? A "bribery" probe of the DPP's Su Chia-chuan, the party's candidate for Taichung, stinks of political motivation, says the DPP:
“This issue doesn’t look like it has anything to do with bribery — yet they are [wasting] the resources of police and prosecutors,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, referring to the event in which Su, while meeting with the coach and players from Shi Yuan Senior High School hours before they left for the World Junior Baseball Championships in the US last month, gave the group a NT$20,000 donation and promised them a dinner when they came back.As the article notes (1) there is an exception in the strict vote buying laws for politicians giving money to temples or other cultural events and entities and (2) oh yeah -- Su is not officially registered as a candidate yet, so he can give money to whomever he likes. Jason Hu, Su's KMT opponent for the mayor's job in Taichung, feted the team before in his role as mayor.
When Ma came to power there was a spate of "corruption" cases in which DPP officials appeared to be targeted. After international complaints the situation quieted down. Hopefully this thing against Su is an isolated case cause by a purely local complaint.
Take it as a backhanded compliment -- Su is becoming a quietly effective candidate. With the DPP currently doing well in 4 of the 5 municipalities up for election this November, the KMT is feeling the heat. Within the party there is quite a bit of disaffection with Ma's leadership, with the rightist President criticized for being weak, ineffective, and too close to/not close enough to China. Moreoever, his appointment King Pu-tsun as his hatchetman within the party has been unpopular. If the DPP wins big in November, it will be interesting to see how the KMT treats Ma.
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