Thursday, April 23, 2009

KMT "Greater China" government ideology opposing revival of plains-tribe Austronesian culture

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) of the KMT-controlled Taiwan national government has been active in opposing the rediscovery of Austronesian plains-tribe ancestry and revival of their Austronesian Siraya culture. Whereas Ma Ying-jeou pretended to a Taiwan-centric consciousness during the presidential campaign, upon his election and inauguration, he has pursued the ruthless Greater China ideology of the authoritarian one-party KMT dictatorship of his father's generation.

In the past two centuries, many of the lowland Austronesian peoples were forced to take on Han surnames of the larger Hoklo or Hakka ethnic groups and additionally the non-Chinese Manchu cue to symbolize submission to the Manchurian empire which had conquered and ruled several nations including China for several hundred years. The Pazeh and Siraya peoples were absorbed, their cultural distinctives almost completely destroyed. The Kavalan people of the I-Lan plain escaped this fate by moving to Hualien and living among the still culturally-strong Austronesian Amis people. Fortunately for the Siraya people, they had registered their ethnicity in the Japanese colonial era, and some had taken very unique Han surnames. So their descendants have been able to ascertain their ancestry and now seek to reclaim their cultural heritage while throwing off the Han culture that was forced on their ancestors.

But with the colonialist "Greater China" ideology of the Chinese Nationalist Party now currently in power in Taiwan, any attempts to revive non-Chinese Austronesian culture are either treated with neglect and indifference or even suppressed if neglect and indifferent do not do the trick to put out the fire of the cause. This arrogant dismissal of the legitimacy of these people's rights to reclaim their ancestors' culture that was taken from them illustrates the brutal elitist attitude of both the Chinese Nationalist Party in power and two thousand years of Chinese culture that consider all outside their domain as barbarians and almost less than human.

Please see the following news report. Taiwan needs representatives of every ethnicly distinct cultural group in Taiwan -- whether Hoklo, Hakka, Ami, Atayal, Bunun, Kavalan, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Sakizaya, Seediq, Thao, Taroko, Tsou, or Yami -- to speak up. If you do not stand up to the Mandarin Chinese colonialist attitude now, your cultures will also one day die, through a slow death of neglect and even suppression by the government you yourselves helped elect.

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Following is a link to taiwanschoolnet.org about the revival and restoration work for the Siraya language.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ethnic equality can only come through Language equality

Taiwan is a diverse nation. The homeland of the Austronesian peoples, it still can claim the greatest diversity of Austronesian languages around the world. But native speakers are dwindling fast with the relentless onslaught of a China-focussed Chinese Nationalist Party that has always ruled the legislature since it seized power in Taiwan in 1945. It organized the educations system to promote a "Greater China" ideology that sought to erase any loyalty to local cultures in Taiwan -- basically any non-Mandarin cultures -- whether Hakka, Hoklo, or any of the 13 14 government-recognized Austronesian people groups in Taiwan. The school systems around the nation are still functionally restricted to Mandarin-only instruction through both momentum of the education culture of the "prestige" Mandarin environment, and also through the culpable neglect or even suppression of any attempts to expand a non-Mandarin learning environment.


A recent example in the legislature where the ruling party was confronted for its elitist dismissive attitude towards Taiwan's non-Mandarin languages


Under the Tân Chúi-píⁿ (Chen Shui-bian) administration (2000-2008), a one-hour per week mother-tongue class was added in the elementary school. But that is not enough. Information and knowledge must be taught in other languages. Works must be written and read in other languages for the languages to be preserved in this era.

"What are the most important factors in the survival and spread of a language? The crucial point is to sustain and grow the speaker community. This may be done by natural growth in a fertile environment -- which may be quite an exploitative and objectively ruthless process, if the environment has been obtained through conquest and dispossession. But it may also be achieved through taking over another advanced community, as French spread in the 18-19th-century Russian high society; there, competence in a new language, symbolic of interest in new developments, was no threat to the substrate language, Russian. Provided that their speaker populations stay physically robust, the only threat to a language comes from a decline in speaker attitudes toward it: speakers must associate it with a least some of their daily needs or higher aspirations..." (emphasis added) - Nicholas Ostler in an interview with the California Literary Review, 6/1/2005

Ethnic equality will only come through language equality. Until that happens, there will be an inexorable degradation and exponentially decreasing population of any cultures other than the current prestige language and culture in Taiwan.

Chi Chun-chieh, Associate Professor at the Institute of Ethnic Relations at National Dong Hwa University write on the issue in a recent opinion editorial.

What can be done since the KMT-controlled legislature is intransigent on this issue?

* Use non-government organizations to give respect, honor and prestige to the non-Mandarin language teachers in Taiwan.

* Encourage each non-Mandarin language-community to develop their own wikipedia language encyclopedia. There is already one for Hoklo Taiwanese.

* Organize students in mother-tongue classes and societies in upper elementary, middle, and high school to regularly add entries to both wikipedias and wiktionaries. (As these students see a result and a value, they will continue to pursues studies in their mother-tongues.)

* Develop video production student organizations to produce Youtube reports and video pieces in their non-Mandarin mother tongues. (N.G.O's could award prizes such as computers and video cameras and editing software to poor communities specifically for student-produced video material in the non-Mandarin mother-tongues of Taiwan.)

* Set-up publishing funds and prizes for non-Mandarin literature in Taiwan.

* Create non-Mandarin bloggers associations to cross link and encourage weekly blogging articles in the non-Mandarin languages of Taiwan.

* Set up joint non-profit mother-tongue language and cultural promotion offices around Taiwan. Have these offices to be provide libraries and also the available purchase of non-Mandarin mother-tongue language material -- video, audio, and printed matter. However large or small these offices are, special attention should be paid to the interior design to instill a high class, high culture, prestige to these languages that they will be valued.

* Create a nation-wide catalogue and online ordering center for non-Mandarin mother-tongue works.

* Christian churches need to also take responsibility, because they are one element of community-level organization. For the Christian population in Taiwan, translate the children's catechism (question & answer) from Mandarin and English into the non-Mandarin languages, In non-Mandarin churches around the nation, have part of the curriculum for the children to be catechism drills. They will learn both language and Bible teachings. For the youth, help them learn and encourage singing and Bible reading in the mother-tongue.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Continuing Degradation of Austronesian Culture

"“[Government policies] have forced Aborigines into mainstream society, where they are forced to live the Han Chinese way of life,” Liu Chien-chia (劉千嘉), a doctoral candidate in sociology at National Chengchi University, told a conference on changes in the Aboriginal population.

“But different ethnic groups have different lifestyles and different ways of thinking,” she said.

Starting in the 1970s, the pursuit of better living standards drove a large migration from rural, Aboriginal towns and villages into major cities such as Taipei and Kaohsiung, as well as into Taoyuan County, where a large number of factories are located, Liu said."

article Taipei Times 2009/4/12

Friday, April 10, 2009

Trend of Cultural Annihilation -- from the KMT

"... The Ma administration is gradually redefining Taiwanese culture as more "Chinese" than Taiwanese."

"... Mr. Ma is not the first Kuomintang leader to do this. The KMT embraced "Chinese-ness" for an entirely different reason: From the 1950s to the 1970s the dictatorial KMT-led regime legitimated its rule over the island by declaring that Taiwan was "Chinese," brutally suppressing local identities. Acceptance of local identities grew after Taiwan's transition to democracy in the 1990s.

Given this history, the claim that the people on both sides of the Strait belong to the zhonghua minzu is clearly colonialist: To say that someone belongs to the zhonghua minzu is to assert that they and their territory are part of the Chinese nation. It is thus common to hear Chinese nationalists define such disparate peoples as Manchus, Tibetans, Mongolians, Uighurs and Taiwanese indigenous peoples as "Chinese" and therefore, inevitably, part of China. To the Chinese, who constantly refer to their "brothers and sisters" across the Strait, this language legitimates China's drive to swallow Taiwan."

excerpt from "The Culture of Taiwan: President Ma Ying-jeou's symbolic gestures matter." - By MICHAEL TURTON | From today's Wall Street Journal Asia.

[中文]

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Some Taiwanese youth have found their identity.



These artists have no ambiguity about their identity.