Friday, July 24, 2009

Taiwanese, are you 一哥(EC) or 發嫂(FA)?

  1. 07/24 -大話新聞-一哥與發嫂 藍營指控綠營挑撥族群? 誰挑撥?

  2. 發嫂, however high-class she might be, is not a good citizen. Note that no detail of ECFA has been published. A responsible citizen should not support something whose detail she knows little about.

  3. Michael Cole:

    How to insult a people

    The characters were the result of long, painstaking efforts by public relations experts to reflect the make-up of the general public and were “absolutely not” meant to discriminate against anyone from any social stratum. Thus spoke Ministry of Economic Affairs Deputy Minister John Deng (鄧振中), defending a comic strip explaining the intricacies of the proposed economic framework cooperation agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China.

    Of course they were not. One character is Fa Sao, a 40-year-old Hakka from Hsinchu who works as a supervisor at an import-export company. Fa is active, self-motivated and highly capable. She is a married woman who is fluent in English, Mandarin, Hoklo and Japanese. She is 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.

    Yi-ge, meanwhile, is a 45-year old Hoklo-speaking (that is, native Taiwanese) man from Tainan City who works as a salesman in a traditional industry. Yi-ge is a vocational school graduate who speaks “Taiwanese Mandarin” (whatever that is) and knows very little about the proposed ECFA. He is content being a follower, but when it comes to protecting himself, he “goes all-out.” If, for example, he were ever accidentally short-changed by a clerk at a breakfast restaurant, he would do almost anything to get the money back, even if it was just NT$5.

    One is rational, educated, and works in the business sector. As she is in exports and imports, she likely does business with China. From her description, Fa could therefore be seen as “a good, rational Chinese.” Yi-ge, however, has an “extremist” and “irrational” streak, adjectives that interestingly have often been used by both China, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and pro-big business media to attack their pro-independence nemesis, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), as well as the Democratic Progressive Party and independence activists in general.

    Deng can say all he wants about the ministry not wanting to insult anyone, but the fact of the matter is, surely, at one point in the process of creating the cartoon, someone in the army of “public relations experts” that came up with this brilliant idea would have noticed that by design or accident, the depictions were prejudicial, if not outright racist. Surely, someone would have raised an objection, or called for caution. If this happened, then that person was silenced, as often happens in government. If no one did, then it means that whoever was involved in the creative process all agreed on what can only be seen as defining characteristics based on biology, which is the first step toward outright racial discrimination.

    According to the cartoon, Taiwanese natives (Hoklo speakers) are less educated, know very little, “go all out,” are finicky about money and followers, while non-natives (mainlanders, Hakka and so on) are active, self-motivated, highly capable, fluent in many languages, hungry for knowledge, well-informed, eager to learn and in big business. Yes, all of this is an accident, as if it were not part of a long, sad pattern of describing the people in Taiwan using different terms. In fact, to this day people in China — the big happy Chinese family, who care so much about Taiwanese they want to bring them in their fold, by force if necessary — describe Taiwanese as “primitive,” “uncouth,” “uneducated” and “low-class.”

    If you’re informed and from the “upper class,” you are for an ECFA. If you’re uninformed and from the supposed lower social stratum, you’re against it. This is a perfect Manichean view of the world, one that has no room for opposition to an ECFA based on “irrational” fears that it is part of Beijing’s long-term efforts to annex Taiwan by creating undue economic dependence. The message is that people oppose an ECFA because they are ignorant, and that Taiwanese tend to be more ignorant than Mainlanders, Hakka and so on.

    Surely, then, Taiwanese natives like former presidential candidate Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), who speaks Hoklo, Mandarin, English, Japanese and French, who penned revolutionary articles in French and Japanese about the laws of space before anyone had even conceived of the need for such things, and who wrote documents calling for political reform in Taiwan during Martial Law in such impeccable Chinese that KMT officials were convinced that Peng and his friends had been helped by Mainlanders, are just an aberration. Or my wife, for that matter, who speaks impeccable Hoklo and Mandarin and English and is learning French far faster than I ever will Mandarin, who as a 16 year old just arrived in Canada with her family single-handedly filled all the forms — in English, at a time when she barely spoke it — so that her family members could immigrate to Canada and who went on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, in English and, since we relocated to Taiwan, earned a number of diplomas in the teaching of Mandarin and so on. She, too, must be an aberration, like all the “low class,” Princeton- and Cambridge- and Cornell-educated Taiwanese that I have come to know since I moved to Taiwan, some of whom are professors at NTU, in the top echelons of the country’s primary financial institution, heads of the Rotary Club, talented architects, Japanese translators for major businesses, officials in High Court, and recruits at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many of them do not agree to an ECFA, or at minimum would like to get more information about it before they make a decision. But none is low-class, uninformed, uneducated or extremist, as the comic suggests.

    The MOEA’s comic is insulting, discriminatory and no accident. Nothing so sensitive, so downright incendiary, would have been allowed to see the light of day had there not been someone at the top who permitted its release. It belittles an extremely capable people who put literacy levels in China (the real levels, rather than fudged official figures) to shame. It is also part of a long history of attempts by the KMT and China to erase achievements in education made during the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan.

    If the ministry is not responsible for its contents, whoever is, from the writers to the public relations experts, should be fired and forced to apologize to all Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese and those who love them, as I do. This is state-sponsored racism, paid for with taxpeyers’ dollars, and it has no place in a democracy.
    posted by MikeinTaipei at 5:39 PM
  4. My dear Taiwanese, are you 一哥(EC) or 發嫂(FA)? Would you leave a comment to let me know? By the way, why does the Ma government refuse to let us know the detail of ECFA?


  1. I am EC, an ivy-league Ph.D., and am against this black-box process of ECFA.
    EC & FA are racial profiling and should not be allowed.

  2. My family is Hakka, has been in Taiwan for hundreds of years, were colonialised with everyone else under Dutch and Japanese rule, intermarried with Taiwanese and aboriginal people, suffered under martial law and struggled too when Taiwan's economy was down. And yet they are "non-native" Taiwanese? I find this very insulting. Don't mistake the real people for the stereotypes assigned to them by a stupid PR team.