Taiwan Students’ Invasion of the Ministry of Education a Major Political Issue

Michael Turton , July 28, 2015 9:38am

Noah Buchan commented in an excellent editorial in the Taipei Times:

A culture war is raging in Taiwan, and it has been going on for decades. It is a time when Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) statues still cast shadows in public parks; when denials of Han privilege course through the media; when the Ministry of Education (MOE) snubs its nose at the courts and pushes through China-centric adjustments to curriculum guidelines — ones that euphemize the Japanese colonial period; and when the nation’s largest political party believes that it still controls, or should control, land it has not controlled for close to 70 years, at the expense of land it has controlled for most of that time. From this perspective, it is hard not to imagine that a culture war is precisely what is being witnessed, even if it has not been framed as such.

The culture war is being played out in this election, with a KMT diehard running for the Presidency. The latest battleground is the updates to the high school textbooks by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which the students are rightfully protesting. Solidarity has a translation of the adjustments and changes. The Ministry has not formally released the names of those on the revisions committee, but the names leaked are mostly ultra Chinese nationalists. FocusTaiwan gives a rundown in a long article on the fracas over the textbooks:

On Friday, police detained 24 students and 33 other people, including three reporters and six members of the public, after they entered the MOE building. Nine of the 24 students were from middle schools and 15 from colleges.

Vice Education Minister Chen Te-hua (陳德華) said Sunday the MOE’s decision to prosecute the law-breaking students remained unchanged, but he called on school administrators not to discipline those involved in the protests.

As to the three journalists who had been released without bail, Chen said the MOE will drop the charges against them if they could prove that they were doing their job as reporters and not leading or participating in the protest.

The awesome Mayor Ko of Taipei has already apologized for the arrests, since the journalists were merely doing their jobs. The students were arrested after the third protest at the MOE. The DPP has asked the MOE not to prosecute the students and pointed out that the curriculum changes were illegal.

KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu has seized on the affair to abuse DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen about her stance on the affair.

Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), on July 24, visited TianHou Temple (天后宮) in Changhua County and said that the students who broke into the Education Ministry building had the right to make mistakes, but they still needed to abide by the law because it was prohibited to break into the Ministry. Hung went on to say that society would collapse without the rule of law.

On July 26, Hung stated that the adjustments to the textbook guidelines were intended to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and she questioned why Tsai opposed the new textbook guidelines made to align the historical record with the Constitution of the Republic of China.

Hung pointed out that the so-called “democratic progress” meant that everyone should respect and tolerate different ideas and resolve differences in a civilized and rational manner. Hung added, “If I disagree with you, I can do whatever I want” is the meaning of democracy for the DPP, is her party qualified to be called the “Democratic Progressive Party”?

“Rule of law.” Here’s video of Hung Hsiu-chu attacking a policeman. Of course, this is the same Hung Hsiu-chu who publicized the home phone numbers of government officials in Nov of 2005 when the DPP gov’t revealed that TVBS was 100% Chinese-owned (maddog has collection of “rule of law” KMT violence).

Hung has dismissed the changes as “minor” and challenged Tsai. Her “challenge” is sooo 1990s:

The adjustments to the textbook guidelines have caused a controversy. On July 26, Hung stated that the adjustments to the textbook guidelines were made to align the historical record with the Constitution of the Republic of China, so if Tsai disagreed with the framework of the Constitution, she asked Tsai to honestly admit that she supported Taiwan independence. Hung went on to say that if Tsai should be elected President, logically she should fight for her beliefs and author a new constitution as well as push for a plebiscite on Taiwan independence.

Hung thinks of herself as 100% ROC Chinese, the kind of mind that imagines that being pro-independence is unspeakably bad. Whereas for most people it is their position, and for the minority who are not pro-independence, they are used to it in the people they deal with. Everyone already knows Tsai is pro-independence. Hung can’t win this way…

The current DPP strategy is to let Hung talk, which seems to be working well. So far, she has said very little on domestic policy, except to reiterate her support for nuclear power and accuse KMTers who have come out against it as giving in to populism.

We’re waiting now for PFP leader James Soong to publicly announce whether he will run for President, thereby splitting the KMT vote. There will be no Wang-Soong ticket; all indications are that Wang Jin-pyng, rival of Ma Ying-jeou and leader of the Taiwanese KMTers, is going to remain in the KMT.

REFS: Student activist details curriculum concerns (Taipei Times)
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Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.