《民意誰說了算?》 - 以理性心態來面對近年來隨著一波又一波社會運動而來的雜音

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我老闆的一位朋友田蒙潔律師最近出版了新書《民意,誰說了算?》。為了一探田律師的寫作理念,我及一位同事特地專訪了田律師。

田律師的經歷很有趣,在將近50歲時才到美國念法學院,並取得美國律師執照。2011年開始,田律師開始在社區大學裡上課,目的就是希望讓台灣人能夠對於社會上形形色色的輿論辨明事實與觀點,而不是被偏激的價值觀牽著走。

這本書能讓讀者看到台灣媒體界、法律界的一些問題。田律師一再舉出例子說明台灣媒體報導、電視新聞節目的過度主觀性 - 甚至有些記者在報導殺人案時莫名其妙的變成了無所不知的敘事者,在沒證據的情況下還能清楚地交待被害人在死前最後一秒的想法和動作。田律師認為,這一切的問題都是因為台灣的教育系統沒有著重分辯事實和意見。

在讀到這一點的時候,我便開始有些疑慮 - 這是相對於哪裡?田律師偶爾提到的「正常社會」到底為何?台灣人沒辦法分辯事實和意見,那歐美人就有辦法了嗎?那我在台灣大學的台灣籍碩士班同學怎麼都很理性?後來經過跟田律師的討論,我發現她針對的是體制性的問題,而不是個人問題。她論及「東方」沒有像「西方」一樣,從封建社會漫長地經過啟蒙時代而進入一個所謂的「現代性」,而是經過了「壓縮的現代性」(Compressed Modernity)時期便很快地從封建社會轉變成一個現代的社會。在過程中很多體制是借來的、或在殖民統治下被移植的,而不是自然從人民的需求或社會紛亂的結果而成形的。田律師坦言美國本身不是她的理想,而是美國體制的這種成形過程。儘管在本書中美國的法律界、新聞界常被拿來跟台灣的比較,但我覺得田律師指出的問題在每個國家都會有的,尤其是在現在一個資訊越來越多的、常規一直在改變的時代。

田律師在書中詳細地剖析台灣最近幾年的新聞議題,從洪秀柱的碩士學位是不是從美國一所「野雞大學」所取得,到黃丞儀遭天下撤文的事件是不是牽扯到「言論自由」問題、太陽花運動學生所抗議的服貿提案的審議過程是不是「黑箱」的、以及反課綱有沒有出現「日治」和「日據」兩個字眼。田律師不是單純的以她自己的主觀政治立場來反駁當事人,而是提供讀者一種發掘事實的辦法。換言之,她要的不是讀者聽她的,而是要讀者平心地、客觀地分析、判斷、印證事實。

這本書可以當作是最近幾年民粹政治的回應,目的是理清事情的真相如何、要怎麼以一個理性心態去應對隨著最近幾年的這一波社會運動而來的雜音。

田律師想看到的台灣人是以他/她職業為傲的、能夠以「思辯」(critical thinking)的方式分辯真相和假象的、能夠自制和自律的。

6月25日起《民意,誰說了算?》可以在博客來購買。

(謝謝Anita和Clarence校對)

 

Old lady with Taiwanese song sheet on the bus 方怡萍的「夢袂醒」

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Spotted this old lady practicing her Taiwanese song skills on the bus – I wonder if she was just getting her KTV on point or is planning get her man back? Before looking more closely at the lyrics I’ll admit that I thought it was a hymn sheet. Have you seen song sheets like this? There seems to be a cool notation system a little bit like TAB for the guitar.

The song is “Not yet awake from a dream” or 「夢袂醒」bāng bōe chhíⁿ  by Fang Yi-ping:

People in Mainland China can watch it here.

The lyrics are as below – it’s pretty easy as it’s just one section repeated over and over:

英暗的這杯酒 是咱最後的溫柔
This glass of alcohol tonight, is the last warmth we have
過去親像夢一場 明日咱變成朋友
The past seems like a dream, tomorrow we become friends
講要牽手天長地久 為何對我下毒手
We said we’d hold hands for eternity, why are you plotting against me
無論怎樣苦苦哀求 擱懇求返來這個巢
However miserably I beg and beseech you to return home

放你自由甭強求 我的心肝結歸球
I’ll set you free, there’s no point in forcing you, my heart is in a knot
叫我怎樣來接受
Making it hard for me to accept

英暗的這杯酒 是咱最後的溫柔
This glass of alcohol tonight, is the last warmth we have
過去親像夢一場 明日咱變成朋友
The past seems like a dream, tomorrow we become friends
講要牽手天長地久 為何對我下毒手
We said we’d hold hands for eternity, why are you plotting against me
無論怎樣苦苦哀求 擱懇求返來這個巢
However miserably I beg and beseech you to return home
放你自由甭強求 我的心肝結歸球
I’ll set you free, there’s no point in forcing you, my heart is in a knot
叫我怎樣來接受
Making it hard for me to accept

講要牽手天長地久 為何對我下毒手
We said we’d hold hands for eternity, why are you plotting against me
無論怎樣苦苦哀求 擱懇求返來這個巢
However miserably I beg and beseech you to return home
放你自由甭強求 我的心肝結歸球
I’ll set you free, there’s no point in forcing you, my heart is in a knot
叫我怎樣來接受
Making it hard for me to accept

Some useful words in case you need to shout at your boyfriend for breaking up with you:
英暗/盈暗 êng-àm (今晚/晚上) this evening/evening
過去 kòe-khì (過去) the past
親像 chhin-chhiūⁿ (好像) to seem as if
朋友 pêng-iú (朋友) friend
kóng (講) to say
下毒手  hē-to̍k-chhiú (下毒手) to plot against someone
自由  chū-iû (自由) free (as in liberty)
結歸球 kat-kui-khiû (糾成一團) to be tangled in a knot
怎樣  chóaⁿ-iūⁿ (怎麼樣) how
接受 chiap-siū (接受) to accept

It seems like a great simple song to start you learning Taiwanese if you don’t know it already!

Jolin Tsai up for a Cabinet Position? (Joke) 蔡依林內閣 (笑)

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I was watching another KMT/blue-leaning political talk show earlier today and came across the following joke from talking head Tang Hsiang-lung (唐湘龍):

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A rough translation is as below:

I could call it the Tsai Yi-lin (Jolin Tsai’s Chinese name) cabinet

Because it looks as if Tsai Ing-wen (Jolin shares a surname with the president)

Is relying (the word for rely “依” is the second character of Jolin’s name) on Lin Chuan’s (the premier of Taiwan; his surname makes up the last character in Jolin’s name) methods

To form the cabinet.

I don’t know enough about the politics to comment, but just thought it would be amusing to see the kind of jokes that can be made in Chinese.

See him in action here:

 

Photo credit: Hsiao Lee

Multiculturalism in Action: Fish Crackers from Malaysia

The sales manager at my company recently went on a short trip to Malaysia, and, as per Taiwanese custom, brought back a bunch of snacks for the whole office.

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Malaysian packaging is language overload:

First we have Malay:

“Muruku Ikan”

“Ikan” means fish in Malay, whereas “Muruku” is a borrowing from the Tamil language – “முறுக்கு” (Murukku) – a word that means “twisted” and which has been adopted as a word for the snack all over India and in Tamil diaspora countries. You can see why the word twisted is used to describe the snack once we open the bag:

13389203_10102538902842129_825311224_o It may not be the most twisted thing in the world, but there’s definitely some curvature there. So essentially it means “fish twirls”. That’s more or less what it tasted like too.

Next up is Arabic:

موروكو  ُيكن

More specifically, this is the traditional use of Arabic characters to write Malay words, known as Jawi script. I’m indebted to Penang local @SimTzeWei for this correction, he wrote:

The Arabic letters are actually Malay. The Malay language was written in the Arabic script before the arrival of the Europeans. This script is called the Jawi script.

It is pronounced “maruku uykn” in standard Arabic romanization, and Maruku Ikan in Jawi script, according to Sim Tze-Wei.

Then it’s English with “fish maruku”

The Chinese has a more complex name:

「香化美味魚肉豆餅」

“Fragrant tasty fish bean pastry”

The 「香化」 for fragrant is a little odd in Mandarin as pointed out by Weibo user 「守望者青年客栈」(watcherxm).

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This is because it means “fragranced” or “fragrancified”, which is a rather unnatural way of expressing it.

The other interesting thing about the packaging is that the company’s name 「天祥」 is romanized using Hokkien or Southern Min, more commonly known in Taiwan as Taiwanese. I posted previously about a piece of wall art in Malaysia featuring the language that my friend spotted on a trip there.

The 「天祥」 is romanized as “Thien Cheong”, which is likely meant to represent a similar sound to the Taiwanese romanization “Thian-siông“.  Most Malaysian Chinese speak Hokkien so it’s not overly surprisingly that it makes an appearance on the packaging. There are also many speakers of the language and its variants in Fujian province in China. In terms of definitions, it literally means “divinely auspicious”, but I could only find it listed as a place name in the MOE dictionary.

@SimTzeWei suggested, however, that it might be Cantonese or Hakka rather than Hokkien and that it was just non-standard Cantonese spelling. The Jyutping Cantonese romanization for 「天祥」 is tin1 coeng4.

He stated:

‘Thien Cheong’ is probably Cantonese. Some people like to alter the spellings of their names to prevent them from having an obvious meaning in another language (in this case English). Instead of spelling it as ‘Thin Cheong’, they insert an ‘e’. It could possibly be Hakka or another Chinese language.

Food is definitely one of the highlights of Malaysia, as there are many Indian expats there and no shortage of curry buffet gardens. I got chatting to one of the waiters that served us at a place near Petronas Towers where we were staying. He had quite a dim view of incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who belongs to the Hindu nationalist party the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party, and Modi himself, is seen as unfriendly to Muslims, and many of the Indians I met there expressed concerns about him, some were Muslims themselves, while others were simply concerned for their countrymen.

This post was updated from the original on 15th June, 2016 to reflect suggestions made on Twitter.