2013年12月12日 星期四

Hungarians must face their Nazi past, not venerate it (by The Guardian)

"History cannot be erased, nor forgotten. Discovering and understanding the past is the duty not only of governments and political parties, but also of the people, the whole nation. We must face it together – even when it is not pleasant – and try to learn from the consequences. Hungarians have not yet been through this process."

The words above are excerpted from the press article in the Guardian, with the title "Hungarians must face their Nazi past, not venerate it.

I think the message here should be taken seriously by Taiwanese people as well. Please think about how you guys would like to cherish the democratic values, those that you always utilize as the symbols indicating the difference between Taiwan and China. Democracy as well as any kind of freedom is not natural but artificial, which means the value is the way you prefer to be governed by whom you recognize. If you like them, pour efforts into safeguarding them. If not, fine, let it be and stay where you are.

2013年12月2日 星期一

Pink is not the warmest color

London gay parade 2012
That day I didn't turn up to take a close look because I thought it would not be worth going. However, I am wrong. It turned out to be such a fascinating field where I could observe grotesque bigotry and hatred emerging on the basis of abuse of freedom of assembly.

On 30th November, there were thousands of people taking to the street in an attempt to stop the amend of Article 972 of the Civil Code, which is tempted to redefine the concepts of "marriage" and "family." According to Taiwan Family Guardian, the civil partnership right will shatter the traditional values. In addition, the same-sex marriage will have such negative impacts on Taiwanese society as labor force and child welfare. The latter refers to the circumstance where the children are allowed to learn the different mannerism and disposition between a man and a woman and thus will grow up soundly healthily. 

What a jarringly splendid remark! Really impressive! Are they saying that DINK as well as being single is sin? Or the people who, for whatever the reasons are,  are not capable of fertility should be charged with not having offspring? Or widow and widower have to marry again otherwise they might fail to raise their kids, if any, one the basis of a world comprising one man and one woman. In other words, the people who devote to the safeguard of marriage and family simply make a disgustingly contrived world by dismissing (consciously or unconsciously?) and hiding the social relations that they can't see. You know what? It is not of traditional value at all. On the contrary, It marks your line with eugenics that actually provokes racism. It also implies class violence and sexism. 

However, the protest taking place on that day completely went beyond my imagination  in a sick way. Ok, to be fair, I was not there, so my judgment is mainly based on those articles like "A feast of hatred" and "Bigotry and hatred under the sun." (Please see the details as the lines show; I don't intend to repeat the details here.) If what these articles described were true, then I would have to say that this "Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance has to come under huge criticism for the creepy things that you did not expect to witness in a democratic country. Well, it might partly explain why a guy dared to dress in Nazi uniform, citing the anti gay statement in reference to Nazi. His insane mannerism not only besmirched Taiwan's reputation but also profaned the metaphysical figure his spotless faith has always rested on. This guy's hatred, by coincidence, matched the pink as the color theme of the protest (please see A feast of hatred mentioned above).

To me, the traditional values embodied by "marriage" and "family" are nothing more than sufferings. Well, it is so due to my childhood experience. I just want to say that we should not overly deify or metaphysicize any single social system. Marriage would be too cheap if its holiness only lived for the moment couples saying " I do." Family would be too industrial if it was seen as the basis of population/society (are those guys going to safeguard the values seen in Industrial Revolution?). The value and holiness do not rest on the gender and labor division with a family; they are built upon family members' love and supportive characters. Marriage, followed by family, is not a certificate of love. It's the first step to establish a emotional shelter for all. How come civil partnership right is going to collapse the nation?

That day I turned up as a tourist in the London gay parade. The most touching moment was the moment when two Nigerians showed up with the crowds applauding for their mighty braveness. Their tough appearances signified the uneven distribution of risk faced by people across the world who have chosen to voice how they want their body to be lived differently. In this sense, people in Taiwan are lucky because they won't get killed (but bullied...) for being different. Although the hideous behaviors akin to those staged in that event will be consistently seen, the bright future is no doubt ahead of us.

2013年11月30日 星期六

Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall: What are you thinking about, Taiwanese people?

Figure 1 

As could be seen in figure 1, there is a tube station called "Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall." What is it? Well, it is one of Taipei's most famous tourist site noted for ...well, actually I have no clue regarding why people would like to come. Seriously, I don't think any single person with social conscious should go there for whatever the reason he or she harbors in mind. Why? Because this place is  built in honor of the dictator that had ravaged the island for decays. 

So why does Taiwan as an allegedly amazing example of newly democratized country in East Asia have such a thing that poses paradox here? The answer is very simple; because we don't deal with the dark side of the history soundly and comprehensively. Namely, we did not undergo the process of the so called "transitional justice." Of course the country has confessed that how hideously and brutally the wrongdoings had been conducted by the then official. Every year the president or some other politicians would attend one ceremony or another to memorize the 228 massacre. There are also a bunch of lawful measures and actions done by civil groups aimed for compensating the traumas and mars caused by the totalitarian regime. Researchers and activists have also engaged with putting together all the jigsaws to make historical landscapes clearer.

However, all these works only identify the events and the victims. Who had conducted the crimes were dismissed and forgotten. People supposedly know that Chiang's regime and the party he belonged to, Kuomintang (KMT), should be blamed for. But people seem to stay apathetic about  the transitional justice thing. Partly due to how economy had rocketed from 70s through 80s under KMT's office, partly due to the democratization was hatched on the basis of KMT's compromise (well partly), anyway, the works of transitional justice has staggered over twenty something years. In addition, the lack of lustration law makes the political landscapes; KMT can take the office again by democratic election, and its politicians, who had played important part during totalitarian era, still occupied the top these days. 

Figure 2

Under this situation, it is not surprising to see this mammoth standing in the city, nor is to see the exhibition that displays creepy nostalgia as figure  2 shows. (In figure 2, the Chinese name of the exhibition hall does not get translated. It literally means "the exhibition halls 'items of the forever-recalled leader'") It would less so when you get to know that the island is actually like a macro Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall; There are a myriad of roads/streets as well as schools across all over the  whole island are named after Chiang's another name "Zhongzheng." 

Well, all these facts and landscapes do not imply that Taiwanese people would like to go back to totalitarian rule. Some people are merely apolitical and not sensitive of the totalitarian roots. Or, they just do not associate those things with the legacy that connotes to the Holocaust. So, Nazi salute can be seen on and off, the chants related to Ustase movement were echoed in Croatia, and Stalin statue is still enshrined in Georgia

To look on the bright side, you might say, Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall has become is now attracting tourists and making money for the country. The spacious plaza ahead of the hall is used not only tourists but also dancers, students, social movement activists, and so forth. In other words, the landscapes or the legacies have been translated into the things that carry different meanings. Therefore, collections of buildings dating back to communist era are still being used in Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, you are not going to see any single road named after Hitler or Goebbles. You won't see a monument build in honor of Nicolae Ceausescu either (am I right about this...?).

I believe that there must be a number of people who did have good days during the totalitarian era and therefore have got good reasons to have nostalgia. To put it differently, justice is contested, multifaceted, and constructed. Human right, democracy, justice, whatsoever, can be called into question as with the authoritarian rule. So, if we take the concept "transitional justice" extremely further, we have to tear down our president palace and other Japanese-style buildings because they concisely point to the colonialism. And we have to displace at least ten million Taiwanese people because they reside in the places where aborigines had thrived and prospered long long time ago. 

So, how should we perceive and deal with Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall provided that the concept "justice" is so controversial? Well, since many parts of the world see "justice" as something metaphysical and should be abode by, we can simply preserve this place. Keep Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall tube station, and exhibit how humorous it is that so many Taiwanese like to claim how liberal, democratic, civilized, and accommodating they are.

2013年7月29日 星期一








2013年6月30日 星期日





我不知道為什麼很多台灣人還有臉說這塊土地是民主自由的。如果真的民主自由,為什麼會有集遊法這種惡法在限制我們表達的自由? 如果真的民主自由,為什麼我們的轉型正義成果進展如此緩慢? 如果真的民主自由,為什麼我們的土地與環境正義會敗退地如此之快? 明哲保身的台灣人,現在就是在賭而已,賭政治不要在有生之年踢破城牆。這種沒有世代正義的價值,或許也多少說明了現在的社會困境。


2013年4月20日 星期六

A scorched sun doesn't make any silver lining at all

Vienna, summer 2011

Both Before Sunrise and Before Sunset have been quite famous since they were released in 1995 and 2004 respectively. The way of storytelling based on conversations demonstrates how unique they are and why some people are obsessed with them.

After finishing watching Before Sunrise for the first time, I did really like it.  But what impressed me more was the idea of taking train from Budapest to Paris Lol.  I told myself that I must go to Europe and do the same thing! Well, I mean taking trains across the Continent, not meeting random girl, which is good of course. Anyway, I did fulfill this self promise during my two-year study in Europe. Thanks to Schengen agreement, the good transportation system and interrail pass, I could indulge myself in the ecstasy emerged from all the unrestrained moving. Moreover, the added values of all the journeys were the people I met, the stories I go to know and how they've taught and encouraged me. All in all, PEOPLE, wherever I met or bummed into, are the most supremely beautiful elements comprising my days in Europe. 

No sooner had I come back to Taiwan than I realized how much I changed. All the changes should have been blessings. But now they look like courses and afflictions that join forces to torture me. I am not going to dive into the details.  Anyway, I did really miss Europe, and therefore I watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset the other day again Lol. I was so emotional as soon as I finished Before Sunrise this time. It reminded me of the freedom I have been in pursuit of. Most important of all, it partly exemplified the answer to life I have been looking for. I did find it somewhere and I knew how different life would be if I stuck to it.  

Someone might say that I simply romanticized what I've experienced. Well, I believe that we as human beings somehow usually incline to romanticize the thing we think of as "this is it". Furthermore, the romanticization might become more formidable if this thing is lost or taken away. I think this is the reason why I could partly get what Julie Delpy said in Before Sunset (even though it was not the same with my case) :

 "I was fine, until I read your fucking book! It stirred shit up, you know? It reminded me how genuinely romantic I was, how I had so much hope in things, and now it's like, I don't believe in anything that relates to love. I don't feel things for people anymore. In a way, I put all my romanticism into that one night, and I was never able to feel all this again. Like, somehow this night took things away from me and I expressed them to you, and you took them with you! It made me feel cold, like if love wasn't for me!" (note 1)

Paris, spring 2012

The family and the friends we are close with always want the best of us, and therefore they adopt the so called "positiveness" as the principle to help us out of the difficult time we suffer from. I did really appreciate of what my people have been trying to help me.  But what I need is not only being positive but also understanding my deep dark sides. Wiping out wounds is good. But if there are scars, you have to take different measures since the legacies will stand there everlastingly. If you merely keeping disguising them with "bright sides", it just like a propaganda. This is why I love so much Julie Delpy's saying as quoted in Before Sunrise:

"I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt." (Note 2)

It was this space where I saw my answer.  It was this space where some sort of essential nature was able to transcend both cultural and language barriers.  It was this space where the darkness was recognize! Positiveness didn't make any difference. Why? Because it's not about dark side. It's about me! It seems that so many people simply forget that the silver linings have always come from the back of clouds. Of course bright side does play a crucial  role in tackling problems and in pursuing the ideal lives. However, overwhelming sunshine is not called silver lining. It is, on the contrary, the sunlight  that will scorch the eyes. 

Now I am here. I am in this adorable Taiwan and I suffer more from  solitude than I did during the days in Sweden. I grotesquely lose the ability to feeling the lovely temperature. I am like a crazy, spoiled zombie who bites people randomly. It is so ironic, isn't it? 

But I will keep trying to reestablish the space and then recapture the answer as I have promised. If it doesn't work, I will just leave. I will lust leave...

Note 1: 
Please see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Before_Sunset

Note 2:
please see http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/368938-before-sunrise-before-sunset-two-screenplays

2013年2月24日 星期日


                                           "Happiness only real when shared " 
                                                                                    - Christopher McChandless 


來到芬蘭朋友也曾遊歷的孤寂國度後,我好像才慢慢開始瞭解何謂快樂因分享而真實。但是,如果Christopher McChandless當年得以重返熟悉的社會,他是否會重新思考這句話的意義呢? 畢竟,如果沒有相同的經歷,那種憾動人心的光景,要如何讓旁人感知呢? 在這種情形之下,愈發真實的,其實是孤寂,而不是快樂。





2013年1月21日 星期一

Reflections upon the acquittal of Haradinaj: re-examining my two days in Kosovo in 2011

Pristina, 2011

Ramush Haradinaj has been cleared of the war crimes for the second time. I read this news in an article published in Weekly Balkan(周刊巴爾幹), a Taiwanese magazine paying attention mainly on the Balkan areas. This article was talking about the suicide committed by Serbia's ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic, last year (2012). The author inferred that there were some probable factors contributing to the self-destruction. Among them was the acquittal of Haradinaj's case, which made him disillusioned with the values lobbied by the so called democratic West. 

    What intrigued and stunned me was the angle of Serbians as victims this article proposed. This perspective was not new to me as the Montenegrin guy I met in Tivat told me that both sides - Serbia and Kosovo - delivered filthy conducts during the war in late 90s. However, I seemed to accentuate Kosovo Albanians as victims more and meanwhile perceiving Serbians as perpetrators. Moreover, I composed an article called The Duet Performed by Kosovar and Taiwanese to indicate the similar historical courses of oppression from powerful neighbor mainly; Serbia is to Kosovo what China is to Taiwan. After reading some articles and one related chapter in Michael Radu's book, Dilemmas of Democracy and Dictatorship, I deeply regretted that I was so insensitive/biased that I didn't think about how many dimensions this tragedy could present.  

    Defining the appearance of a war is never easy.  Diverse narratives will be unfolded upon different actors involved within and beyond the battle land. Even though the Hague Tribunal acquitted the accusations against Haradinaj, it seemed that the evidences were ample. According to the Voice of Russia, Haradinaj was allegedly "involved in the killings, tortures, raping, ethnic cleansing and tormenting of Serbs." In addition, "108 criminal cases involving murders and terrorism have been opened against him in Serbia." Moreover, as a former commander from Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Haradinaj was also convicted of committing inhuman crimes against Albanians who were "perceived to be collaborators with the Serbian authorities, or otherwise not supporters of the KLA" (note 1). This could echo what Michael Radu's (2006, 119) pointing out that the KLA eradicated not only Serbs but also the Albanians who were moderate  in or opposed to the use of violence in the conflicts (note 2).

    What's even more controversial was that the KLA utilized average folks to manipulate  their image of victimhood. The KLA knew that any single atrocity against civilians would trigger the emotion and action from the Western Countries. So, what the KLA had done was to irritate the Serbian force, whose typical brutality would eventually lead to indiscriminate retaliation against armless civilians (Radu 2006, 123). This strategy proved to be right. CNN's coverage, though actually incorrect and biased, also strengthened more of the victimhood the KLA had been eager for.  As Radu (ibid) pointed out, "... this sort of 'coverage' paints an inaccurate picture, and heightens the anti-Serbian sentiment that the KLA depends on." In a pro-USA country like Taiwan, CNN's images have tremendous leverage over the portrait of international issues. NATO's air strike on Belgrade also "re-affirmed" Serbia as the perpetrator, which deserved the bombs. So, it might not be so surprising to see how the image of Kosovo Albanians as the victims has carved such a strong and vivid story line out of my stiff brain. 

    I believe local knowledge of the war must be to some extent different from the propaganda shaped by the KLA and that by international community. Kosovo versus Serbia or Albanian versus Serb has myriad facets, but only the one with the most power and resource will be made the splendid facade.  It would be dangerous to stick to any one of them exclusively. However, you may also say that it would be ineffective and impractical to encompass as many perspectives as possible to outline the truth. I think this is the contradict and dilemma that will be confronted when tackling justice issues. But, in my opinion, paying attention to diverse views of point is still important. For example,  If I had talked to one of the Kosovar people, I would have had the chance of listening to different perspective and subsequently broken what I was told and taught. Different meanings rather than hatred or nationalist might probably emerge during the process of interaction and exploration. 

    Sounds like utopia? Yes, it does. Nevertheless, I know what attitude I should harbor in my mind when I am going back to Balkan areas in the future. Under this condition, I believe a new appearance of Balkan Peninsula will unfold in front of me.

1. Please see http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/kosovo-if-they-are-not-guilty-who-committed-war-crimes-2012-11-29

2. Michael, Radu. Dilemma o Democracy and Dictatorship: Place, Time, and Ideology in Global Perspective. New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Press, 2006.

2013年1月5日 星期六

Transitional justice, neoliberalism, and apathy in Taiwan

We had free elections,… we elected a free parliament, we have a free press, we have a democratic government. Yet…[t]here still exist and work the powerful structures of the former regime…Many places are governed by the same people as before. They are connected to managers of industrial enterprises. There exist immense bureaucratic colossuses that preclude rational economic behavior of individual enterprises and firms. The old bureaucracy persists in all levels.

(Václav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic. Quoted in David, ‘Lustration Laws in Action’, 394.)

This article contains lines that some readers may find radical, offensive and disturbing.  

2012 just passed. It is not a peaceful year for the 23 million people in Taiwan. The blog "妖言" (in Chinese only) lists the issues that haunts the island for the past one year as followings show:

(1) Nuclear Power
(2) The Land Rights / The Right to Reside
(3) Economic Issues
(4) Media Monopoly 
(5) Death Penalty 
(6) Labor Rights
(7) Environmental Issues

All these issues mentioned above are truly worthy of continuing attention and debates among us as the citizens. They are the manifestations of neoliberalism. They precisely demonstrate how the lives these days are defined by figures, numbers, and accompanied rankings. Some people are so insanely obsessed with all these "indicators." They believe their countries should pursue the best numerical outcomes, and one of the ways to reach it is liberal market in every sense. With government's interventions aimed to eliminate all the obstacles in the market, so many things that are actually incommensurable in the commercial world are transformed to commodities for competition in the "free market." Under this situation, the government, which should have protected its people, comes to be the conspirator with giant enterprise whose own motto is making money. 

All those seven issues above (and others) trigger so many concerns, attentions, and subsequent movements. Tons of related articles are shared on social media like Facebook. Unfortunately, all these pieces of information don't succeed in box office. For example, I do concern about the media monopoly and therefore I paint the wall on my Facebook with related debates and words. Interestingly, the friends who are willing to share and discuss are so few, and they always form the same cast. The rest of my friends? Ok, some seldom log in on FB and thus are not able to see all of the stuffs. Some are apparently optimistic and would like to say something to support the government as possible as they can Hence, they tend to share the seemingly objective reports that fight against the activists and question the legitimacy of the opposition side. I really don't understand why there are still many people believing the government and the market mechanism. But at least they are openly being what they are and openly demonstrate what they think. Under this situation, the discussion and debate are possible. 

However, there is a group of the FB users can be seen, appearing to dissatisfy with the status quo  as well. But they usually distance themselves from all the issues. They just don't share or like what's going on. It doesn't mean that they simply skip, dislike, or disagree with all the perspectives. It doesn't mean that they are not concerned about the issues either as I've said they are not pleased at the situation right now. Nevertheless, I do think it still to some degree embodies what life people these days want to live and how they would like to change the world and made it better. Furthermore, it also points to what kind of future they would like to leave for the coming generations. Ok, maybe you would say that I am imposing my own ideology and doctrine on those who don't share the same faith and value with me. Hence, it's their right to determine what to read and what to share on their FBs. Ya...you are right...

The answer to this apathy/indifference might partly lie with Taiwanese nationality referring to conservatism and money-driven rule, and partly with the nature of transitional justice which is not copes with at all. I do think these two elements are interdependent  on each other. But I argue that the factor of transitional justice plays the most part on leading to the situation these days. Due to the unfinished transition justice, elites who took high-ranking position in every sphere before continues reproducing their privilege and success today. They also use their resource and power to downplay what they have done in the past and how important it is to look backward if the society would like to move forward. With this premise, Taiwan has no lustration law which can to some extent prevent the persons who had close relationships with the past regime from taking important societal positions. On the other hand, Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation barely makes any ripple to intrigue people due to its invisibility as well as its politicized nature, which may provoke antipathy and untrustiness among average folks. 

This adverse circumstance for justice establishing, combined with (some) Taiwanese people's addiction to money making, or the so called stable life pursuing, has made this island a perverted case among other post-authoritarian countries. Some youths take all kinds of freedom they enjoy as granted while a group of people  grew up in that non-free era perceive the bad old days as an actually better one owing to the staggering economic growth and   accompanied GDP soaring. However, the fact that we could still log in on Facebook and YouTube doesn't mean we have a truly sound democracy and unfettered civil society. It doesn't guarantee that the human rights will be with us forever and ever either. It will fade away if we don't explore and learn it more! The authoritarian devil can definitely return to get us, not to mention that it is actually lurking in the neighborhood. On the other hand, many of the economic developments do have their dark sides such as the seven issues mentioned previously. In other words, not only the relations of production but also the social values and knowledge are obscured by varied forms of fetishism underpinned by the immense neoliberalism. All these factors make a vicious circle, which subsequently drive the society insane and frantic.

So, what should we do? Or, what we can do now when the tumor is at late stage? Change the legal system? Redesign the educational programs? Launch a revolution when some threshold is reached? My own answer is that we have to face the history first. Namely, we still have to deal with the transitional justice even though it can probably tear apart the society. By doing it, we might restore the trust in politics. By doing this, we may bring people back to the forefront of social issues with diverse perspectives. By doing this, the dark history might not be repeated in future generation. 

But what is the measure then? Sorry, I don't know yet...