"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pan-blue crybabies find Taiwanese incomprehensible

Do they even know they're in Taiwan?

In an address to the people of Taiwan last night, President Chen Shui-bian spoke for 2 hours responding to several allegations given by the pan-blues as their reasons for initiating a presidential recall.

Just a couple of hours after the address was over, the China Post had an article online saying that the address "fail[ed] to clear things up" and "failed to turn the tide to [Chen's] side." (The same article appeared on the front page of today's print edition.) In this supposedly "non-editorial" article, the paper called Chen's address ethnically divisive because (they claim) they couldn't understand him!

President Chen used a lot of Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) language in his address (by my own estimate, about 70%). The so-called "non-editorial" article called this an "elaborate choosing [sic] of using the local dialect" which was made "to speak only to his supporters in southern Taiwan." The article cites unnamed "critics" who said that "using the dialect and ignoring people who do not comprehend the language, [sic] shows that Chen only wanted to address the people who choose to stay on his side."

The article then refers to these faceless/nameless speakers as "analysts" who go on to say that "Chen's refusal to use mandarin [sic] is a major flaw in his defense."

And they want to paint Chen as the one who's ethnically divisive?

Ironically, it's the China Post which "fails to clear things up." The facts are these:
* During his address, Chen spoke in a mixture of Hoklo and Mandarin, a habit that is common all across Taiwan due to the oppression of the use of the Taiwanese language during KMT rule. ("[R]efusal to speak mandarin [sic]," my ass!)
* Even the BBC's Caroline Gluck, who was present when Chen gave his address, apparently understood enough (or cared enough to acquire a translator) to write a report on it.
* There are also some people in Taiwan who speak little Mandarin -- for example, some of my in-laws who are fervent pan-blue supporters! (It's very difficult for me to communicate with them in Mandarin.)
* Chen was speaking to "the 23,000,000 people of Taiwan" -- you know, the island country of which he's the president.
* Taiwan isn't just "southern Taiwan." Taipei is in Taiwan, too. It's the capital, in fact. People there can -- and do -- speak Taiwanese, too, though not as often as in the south.
* According to Omniglot.com:
Today about 70% of the population of Taiwan (15 million people) speak Taiwanese and most also speak Mandarin. Outside Taipei most people prefer to speak Taiwanese, though will speak Mandarin if they have to. Mandarin tends to be used in formal situations while Taiwanese tends to be used in informal situtations. [see my earlier related comment about the reason for this]
* The KMT appears to think that this 70% of Taiwan's population is "not worthy." That's not democracy.
* As recently as last April, pan-blue gangsters were beating up people for speaking Taiwanese.
As Chen said during his address, this is not a problem of "ethnic divisiveness" (as the pan-blues so often claim), but rather a problem of political identity, as the China Post shows us without even having to say it.

The response to the response
Taipei Mayor, KMT Chairman, and metaphor-mangler Ma Ying-jeou responded to Chen's address this evening in a 30-minute speech which was followed by a lengthy press conference. I only got to hear the last couple of minutes of the speech, but according to the questions that followed, I thought I heard him say that he used Mandarin, Taiwanese (which he referred to as "閩南語"), and Hakka. Is there a double standard here?

Lastly, the response to the response to the response
As soon as the press conference ended, ETTV News anchor Lu Shiow-fang editorialized that Chen's address last night "left many questions unanswered," but gushed that Ma was "smart" and "spoke very clearly." What she failed to clarify, however, is that her sister, Lu Shiow-yan, is a KMT legislator (and Ma Ying-jeou hugger) and that her father-in-law, Hsu Li-teh, is a former Vice-Premier.

Can you say "pan-blue media"? I thought that you could.

Further reading:
* An article in the 11/26/2001 edition of ETToday News features a photo of Ma Ying-jeou holding a (paintball) gun as he helps Lu Shiow-yan canvass for votes in Taichung prior to the 2001 legislative elections
* An article from Bloomberg after Chen's address chooses quotes which paint the president as "combative" and talks about the stock market dipping.
* An article in today's Taipei Times about Chen's address
* An op-ed by Taipei-based political commentator Liu Kuan-teh in today's Taipei Times which fails to note that the media and the KMT are much more than "hand-in-hand"
* CleverCLAIRE's post where I found the Bloomberg and BBC links used above.
* Michael Turton at The View from Taiwan blogs on the address.
* Jason at Wandering to Tamshui gives it his usual humorous treatment.

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