Living in Truth? Or in Fakery? --- Taiwan LamentTo Taiwan and its People I Care Kengchi Goah; 吳耿志 12/2018
In the past few days, numerous discussions examining DPP’s massive failure in the 2018 mid-term election had been either published in hard print or circulated in various websites. A majority of those essay focus mainly on three issues: economic activities, political wrangling with China, and Nationalist Party’s dominance; which were viewed as lobe sided by both domestic and foreign observers. Some attempt to examine the root cause, but are unable to pinpoint it. A scanty few, out of utter sense of hopelessness, even suggest a total pull back, withdraw, or giving up.
Clearly, Taiwanese dream was once again broken and confidence shattered. Worst yet, Taiwanese are losing sense of direction at this moment. The situation is dire and deserves our collective attention.
Exactly what are the fundamental missteps leading to yet one more failure? How does Taiwanese American as a collective body look for solutions? And, where can we find guidance?
So far, most discussions available in the open media seem, in my humble opinion, to miss the mark.
Given Taiwan’s infancy in democratic development, perhaps we shall look for inspiration beyond the horizon encircling Taiwan.
On Dec. 18, 2011, former Czech President Vaclav Havel passed away. A great poet with immense language skills and a superb thinker with insightful observations, President Havel left behind in 1978 an iconic essay, “The Power of the Powerless” in which, beginning with a greengrocer’s action displaying a slogan, he went into great length dissecting the nature a totalitarian regime exploits psychological weakness, which exists in each and every human being, manipulates people under its control sphere, and locks a society in a form of equality; in actuality a choking conformity. However, derived perhaps from also being a talented play writer and keenly aware of the fact that decency and decadency coexist in an individual, President Havel, with penetrating belief and articulation, did also call out the bright sides of a person; any common citizen. That is the inner desire of a living being who wants to live in truth and harmony without any form of external coercion. Planting the seed of changes more than a decade after Russian tanks rolled into Prague in 1968, the article circulated widely underground in almost all Eastern European countries under communism and was also smuggled to the Western world. With unyielding conviction and emotional persuasion, unshakable even to the last moment of his life, President Havel asked his fellow countrymen, and people under totalitarian rule for that matter, to examine their personal conscience, to take stand for truth, to make a distinction between mere existence and living a life, to be responsible, to refuse being manipulated, and most important of all, to take action dismantling the structure of lie laying over the entire society. Surprisingly, and believed to a large extent either directly or indirectly effective, the in-depth analysis might have contributed to the eventual collapse ten years later of the Soviet Union in 1989 and to all subsequent changes, deemed impossible years ago, in all USSR satellites.
Core Issues Taiwan facesSo, does the concept offered in that 80-pages-long, thought provoking essay shed light on Taiwan’s path going forward?
Prior to giving a definitive answer, several critical issues Taiwan face must first be illuminated. The task of self-examination ought to be performed on the basis of facing the truth, however painful it may be, squarely on.
Numerous factors have been shackling the island and its people. Key among them are natural resources, real technical capability, collective and individual value/vision, societal resolution/endurance, and education.
Taiwan lacks natural resources. Worst yet, what it has, for instance forest and water, have been abused. Taiwan does have good human resources. But, the existing language, education system, social value, and ultraconservative political structure turn the majority into zombie.
LanguageConsidering the order of priority, language issue comes first.
For countless reasons, Taiwanese’s language proficiency in all forms – reading, speaking, and writing – is extremely inadequate. The condition may be traced to the worst fact that the native language spoken by almost seventy five percent of the total population has no written form. Some scholars may argue that it does have correspondence to Chinese Mandarin. However, except for academic self serving, the argument does not at all provide any comfort.
In the absence of a written language, Taiwanese are given no choice but accept Mandarin; which is, judged by modern standard from the viewpoint of linguistic efficiency, a fatal language with inferior expression capability and low competitive edge.
As if not sad enough, tens of thousand Taiwanese studying abroad also suffer the same deficiency in using many western languages. After several decades residing in the U.S, Canada, England, and other European countries, many, as of this date, still do not master the language of their adopting countries. For instance, paying attention to e-mail traffic among Taiwanese American community members, one easily came across numerous poor writings being circulated. Worst yet many emanate from supposedly highly educated professors in highly respected institutes.
As a consequence, Taiwanese in general do not present their views, or positions, well and are easily manipulated.
Without the support of a population base equipped with a solid language skill and further trampled on by the Chinese Nationalist who has been clinging onto the anachronistic, Confucian view, Taiwan’s education system has failed to raise and nurture new generation of leaders, thinkers, and innovators capable of managing the country in all fronts. According to the latest count, Taiwan, about the same geographical size as New Jersey, has more than two hundred colleges and universities. But readers understand that numerical superiority alone does not mean much. What ail Taiwan’s education are quality, content, and conformity.
Beside the shortcoming in language that manifests in inability in articulation, Taiwan’s elite in the past had been, and to this date still are, immersed in the dogmatic idea of advanced degree. RCA AstroSpace center (West Windsor, NJ) was established in the 1950s, there were less than a dozen employees with Ph.D. out of a total of several thousands in the 1980s. However, by the 1990s when acquired by GE, the organization had successfully designed, built, tested, and launched many satellites for communication, weather, defense, and science. On contrast, at the inception of Taiwan National Space Program in 1991-1992, the Program had almost 100 Ph.D. After more than twenty five years, there is not much to show.
This is the weakest link Taiwan is facing on the road to salvation.
While, in the past thousand years, European countries had gone through sequence of culture renewals including the Renaissance beginning in the 14th century in Italy, lasting into the 17th, and marked by blossoming flowering and rooting of more humanistic yearning , the island of Taiwan sank in dark age.
A brief window of opportunity opened when, in 1895, China ceded Taiwan to Japan in perpetuity. Recognizing the geographical potential of the island, Japan put in place plans and actions, including policy allowing political participation for local natives, to develop the island country. By 1940, Taiwan enjoyed a high standard of living the envy of the rest Asian countries. However, the faint hope evaporated when, in 1941(Dec. 07), Japan invaded Pearl Harbor and was defeated in 1945 (Aug). Subsequently, by a twist of fate and war-time chaos, Taiwan was brought under the authoritarian, at time brutal, rule of the Chinese Nationalist. In short, Taiwanese never ever had a peaceful time span sufficiently long to develop its identity, or entity, with distinctive characteristics. All along various periods of colonial intrusion or imperial occupation, Taiwanese had carried on with their life more in keeping with biological existence, less with inspirational yearnings as a true free man endowed with consciousness, judgment, conviction, belief, and choice. Deprived of what constitute the core of a human being with higher dimension in awareness that separates human from animal, Taiwan’s individual citizen, leader included, does not uphold personal integrity when facing bribery, coercion, or threat and, worst yet, does not discern the boundary that separates personal business from public service.
In other words, Taiwanese have been living in fissure. Strolling in any city big or small in Taiwan, one sees street vendors taking up unimaginable tiny space in such a disorganized way in almost every alley. Taiwanese, collectively and individually, tend to view every thing in short term -- survival only, instead of life. Survival is just an animal instinct. Life involves more cerebral judgment including morality, value, belief, conviction, and passing of torch to the next generation.
A quick examination of interactions among regular folks and top elected officials reveals several typical, but disturbing if probed further, pattern. For instance, rich families of higher echelon often request the presence of “national President” in personal family activities like wedding or funeral. Requestors seem to be blind to the fact that the President of a nation is elected to make, nearly hourly, hard decisions that bear enormous consequence with uncertainty. President’s duty and responsibility is not to mend fence with supporters on a personal level. However, Taiwan’s leaders are not devoid of ignorance either. In many occasion, expressing his view on the matter of Taiwan Independence, President Chen Shue-bein said “What President Lee Teng-Hue was unable to accomplish, I cannot do it either.” President Chen did not seem to understand that a new national leader is purposely chosen to finish what the former failed to reach.
Ironically, President Chen’s ignorance has now come back to haunt him and placed even his own life in jeopardy because, without a strong guiding principle and conviction, he did not in his two terms infuse Taiwan’s populace with core belief in a fundamental way, which is the individual freedom and responsible decision free of external, coercive manipulation. Lacking of the latter, Taiwanese tend to easily confuse arguments between legal and ethical issues, place expectation on others rather than on him self, and pass irrational judgment on leaders.
There are also other troubling sights that raise questions on Taiwanese belief system. Walking along major city thoroughfares, one frequently notices merchants build open-flame, in store front, performing religious rite but ignoring fire danger. Worst than that, dialysis centers are every where to be seen; a result of ignorant practice using Chinese herbal medicine that frequently contains heavy metal, fungus, and other unknown toxic ingredients.
For more than sixty years, the misnomer “Republic of China” has fooled more than three generations of people in Taiwan to accept it as a nation. In reality, it is an exiled political organization. China, or the state of China, as a land mass over the past tens of thousand years has never been moved, changed, or recreated. Either ROC in 1912 or PRC in 1949 formed, not a new nation, rather a new government to represent, administrate, and rule China. ROC did not move China to Taiwan. PRC did not create a new China. For any intellectual to say “中華民國建國獨立了一百年”, it shows how pitiful a highly educated person can be brain washed to the point he, or she, is unable to make a distinction between nation and government. Why is that? It all boils down to the impreciseness of Mandarin, or the intentional word game Chinese Nationalist has been playing. After all, Chinese language and the inefficiency associated with it have dragged down the nation and its people for so long. Unfortunately, Taiwan is snared in exactly the same trap and is heading for disaster.
It has been said again and again that peace is not merely the absence of war. Peace must be a state also free of threat and coercion. With thousands of missiles aiming at Taiwan, there is no peace in the Taiwan Strait.
It has also been said repeatedly that democracy is not merely the practice of election. A true democracy must have at least two essential characteristics: election free of bribery and ignorance and debate free of indoctrination and dogmatism.
Simply put, the current political state of Taiwan is a farce, a scam, and a big lie.
Economy (Technology capability, priority,..)
In the past decades, Taiwan has been trying to forge its own industry starting with automotive, e.g. Yu-Long, and ending with biomedical. Along the way, there were ITRI, precision machinery, semiconductor (digital, not analog), space program, condensed matter (superconductor) center, synchrotron radiation center, jet fighter, and etc. However, all end up with dismal results. ITRI claims to have almost 1,600 staff including more than 1,000 with PhD and 400 with M.S. Given so many personnel with advanced education, its accomplishment in the past thirty years has been proportionally low. At the present, machinery industry still depends on foreign sources for high impact ball bearing, e.g. automotive wheel or aircraft landing gear. Taiwan can produce only bearing grade for motor cycle. Case in point, following March 11, 2011 Sendi (Japan) tsunami, Taiwan’s precision machinery industry in Taichung was forced to shut down. Taiwan imports almost all semiconductor processing equipments including crystal growth furnace, wafer cutting/polishing, laser source, photolithographic optics, you name it. TSMC (Mr. Morris Chang) is basically a digital memory fabrication house. Each i-Pad sold (US$500), Apple Computer makes US$160 while Foxconn (Kuo Tai-Ming) shares only $6. The Smart phone maker, HTC, recently fails a legal fight against Apple and its products have been banned from all forms of sales. Even worse, Taiwan does not possess ability to produce magnetic ferrite core, let alone ferromagnetic raw materials. Without it, how does the newly formed NTU (National Taiwan U.) Green Energy Center pursue its goal? With all these facts, one must admit that Taiwan’s real capabilities in all aspect of modern technologies are dubious. Let’s face it, Japan was able to mass produce Zero fighter powered by piston engines in the 1940s. Taiwan, at this date, cannot produce the same aircraft.
Such a miserable fact can be attributed to a short-sighted mentality Taiwan’s industries have been holding: Technology transfer from abroad. The practice, and the expectation of short cut and leapfrogging competitor, utterly misunderstands the nature of technology development. A spacecraft requires a dozen subsystems. Each subsystem may contain half a dozen electronic circuit boards. Each circuit board is designed, built, tested, and integrated with hundreds of components. Each component is selected based on highly analytical design process and evaluations. Unlike circuit diagrams that are eventually released as sets of drawings, detailed analyses are not necessarily documented. Technology transfer involves only the paperwork, not the design philosophy; which is often protected by patents or treated as trade secrets. Without understanding the underlying essence, a truckload of schematic remains just tons of useless paper.
Military and Civil Defense
The most imminent security risk Taiwan faces is however not related to the issues mentioned above. Rather, it is the lack of sense of urgency in the mind of Taiwan’s general population, and the following precarious conditions.
Almost every citizen of the island does not know how to operate simple weapon like pistol or rifle. The society is completely defenseless in both physical and psychological readiness.
In most cities, big and small, merchant and vendor use propane tanks at will disregarding the danger it present. Even more alarming is the fact that retail propane tanks stores are located right in city center.
In the past fifty years, Taiwan’s military has never actually engaged in any real, hot conflict that will test its fighting capability.
In one sentence, Taiwan does not possess, at the moment, adequate civil or military defense against invasion.
Urgent Tasks ahead
in Language issue,
Abolish Chinese Mandarin. Korea did that. Japan did that. Vietnam did that. Taiwan must do exactly the same.
Not attempt to use Ming-Nam language. Instead, Taiwan shall just adopt English.in Education direction,
Not blindly idolize college education. We shall believe that a person will find his way and talent and release his creative mind given an environment free of inhibitive forces.
in Value system,
Refuse to live in lie.
Refuse to join evil.
Refuse to be judged by material possession.Understand the truth that without a national boundary, one’s fortune does not exist.Realize that a cell has membrane, an egg egg-shell, a person skin, and a nation independence.
in Political Truth,
Reject all lie Chinese Nationalists have imposed on Taiwan.Accept the truth that “Republic of China” is neither a state nor a country.Accept the fact that Taiwan is not yet a sovereign state.Defend the fact that Taiwan is not part of China. Declare, at some point in time in the future, founding a new nation.
in Economic future
Reprioritize our own order of importance and reexamine our industrial capability based on the resources we have.
Abolish the existing transportation mode linked heavily to imported petroleum and private, gasoline powered vehicles.
Refocus activities more on food production, water/soil/forestry preservation.
Stay away from energy intensive industries.
It is a highly competitive world out there.We must honestly face our self, strengthen our abilities, and be willing to pay the price.We shall not expect sympathy, for it is a suicidal expectation.The Creator endows Taiwan with mountains, forest, water, sunshine, and food.As long as we do not abuse those precious resources the envy of others,We do not have to dance with Facebook,
We do not have to dance with Evil, material possession.
We just have to be the
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.It matters not how strait the gate,