Anti-Taiwanese vandalism on International Mother Language Day

I’m not sure quite what was going on with this angry red spoldge of red spray paint on the 「拍謝」 on the construction site sign below:

「拍謝」 is the informal way to write the Taiwanese term 「歹勢」 or “phái-sè”, which is the Taiwanese equivalent of the Mandarin term 「不好意思」 (sorry).

I’m curious about the motivations of the vandalizer. Are they against the use of Taiwanese on a formal sign? Are they against the borrowing of Mandarin sounds to represent Taiwanese, rather than the 「歹勢」 that is used more commonly? Or are they against the use of Chinese characters to represent Taiwanese at all? Or was it just a random stain that got on the sign somehow?

Given the history of its suppression, language tends to be a sensitive issue in Taiwan. Writer Huang Chun-ming (黃春明) even took off his shirt during a lecture back in 2011 due to a disagreement with Associate Professor Wi-vun Chiung (蔣為文) in the audience over the necessity for Taiwanese-language instruction for primary schools and Huang’s unwillingness to adopt Latin script to represent the Taiwanese language (as implied by the sign below).

Taiwanese writers don’t use Taiwanese language, but use Chinese language to create, oh the shame!

Ironically you’ll see Professor Chiung uses the Simplified version of the character 「國」 in his sign. Linguistic hardliners are not really my cup of tea, and I much prefer the hodge-podge of English, Mandarin and Taiwanese that the construction site sign portrays.

Year of the Ox: Door Dressing Guting

Walking around Guting, even though most buildings are apartment blocks, most were displaying couplets by their door. I’ve featured some of the more interesting ones below.

This doorway was funny because I imagined dueling households displaying couplets from President Tsai Ing-wen and Lai Ching-te vs. Ma Ying-jeou and his wife Chow Mei-ching respectively. President Tsai has gone with the classic idiom 「扭轉乾坤」(niǔzhuǎnqiánkūn) “to turn luck around” (literally, to upend heaven and earth). As 「扭」(niǔ to turn) and 「牛」(niú ox/cow) are near homonyms, the 「牛」 for the year of the ox stands in for it.

Former president Ma Ying-jeou and his wife, meanwhile, have called for equanimity and optimism in what was largely been interpreted as a dig at President Tsai‘s popularity with the words of the Hongwu Emperor 「心天之心平常心、樂天之樂金牛樂」. Ma’s explanation is that the son of heaven (read president) must respect the wishes of the people to rule properly, and that people need to be optimistic despite the pandemic and the ractopamine pork imports (video here).

I was (perhaps naively) surprised to see a Baptist church joining in on the fun:

「合體字」 compound characters featured heavily in a lot of the door dressings. The one on the right below is the same as the Presidential one above: 「牛轉乾坤」 with a stylized 「牛」.

There were even some compound characters from phrases in Taiwanese, like the one below: 「好孔來阮家」 hó-khang lâi góan ka (good things come to our family). Right beside it is 「黃金萬兩」 (10,000 taels of gold).

The banner below shows five different compound characters:
Looks like 「大利大吉」 (profit and fortune)
「日進斗金」 (a dou of gold enters every day)
「日日見財」 (every day meet with fortune)
「黃金萬兩」(10,000 taels of gold) (repeat of above)
「招財進寶」 (attract fortune and enter treasures)

The door below doesn’t seem to have been updated despite the fresh-looking colours, but the compound version of 「吉祥如意」 was cute enough:

There are a whole load more below!

The one above features 「犇」 bēn, made up of three 「牛」s.

Join the National Central Library with your EasyCard!

Do you feel like subtweeting your arch enemy isn’t quite enough for you? The solution may be going through their master/doctoral thesis to point out minor spelling errors and format issues (if it’s good enough for the KMT it’s good enough for me). Now you don’t even have to squeeze your National Central Library card into your already overstuffed wallet to gain access to the ivory tower and your enemy’s vulnerable sentence structures.

All you have to do is bring your ARC or passport and your EasyCard (including virtual Easycards) to the registration counter with an application form (available in the registration area). They’ll take a quick photo and tie your library card account to your EasyCard. You’ll also get a library card, but you can use your EasyCard in its place for all functions. They’ll give you a small sticker for your EasyCard to remind you about your library membership:

The library card has been updated from the laminated one of old, and now looks like this:

And away we go…

(Love you really)

But… more seriously, if you need access to a doctoral or masters thesis and it’s not online, you can click 點閱 beside the paper thesis listing and a number will be assigned to your query. You can then check your collection number by swiping your EasyCard on the computer beside the collection counter and a screen will tell you when it’s ready for collection:

BTW President Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis is real.

Taijimen Tax Protests Follow-up

The Taijimen tax protests I posted about previously are still ongoing. The protesters seem to have lots of money to spend on leaflets. Normally leafleteers ignore me and give leaflets only to Taiwanese people, but this guy was very keen to shove this into my hand:

“When taxation is the only objective of the government, what will be left for the next generation?”
“Let’s protect taxation human rights together”

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Taijimen Tax Protest

Since I started working near Taipei Main Station there have always been tax protests outside the Control Yuan, but over the last few weeks, there has been a much bigger presence and the mention of Taijimen 太極門, which is (in name at least) a qigong institute.

太極門無罪無稅 – Tai Ji Men NOT GUILTY NO TAX EVASION – Unlawful Auctions and Serious Persecution by the Government

Hung Shi-he (洪石和), the leader of Taijimen, who goes by the alias Hung Tao-zi (洪道子), was fined NT$28 million for allegedly failing to pay over NT$10 million in taxes on income from 1991 to 1995. He appealed the fine with the National Tax Administration and his appeal was denied. He then launched an administrative appeal against the National Tax Administration decision at the Taichung High Court (104年度訴字第228號), which was rejected. He then appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court (107年度判字第422號), and the original verdict was overturned and it was sent back to the Taichung High Court and the case (107 年度 訴更一 字第 19 號和解筆錄) was subsequently settled. He has also been involved in a series of other cases, which you can search for by entering his name 洪石和 into the court verdict database. It’s actually quite fun to trace back all of his re-appeals to his appeals.

And the topic is still very much alive, as this article in ET Today suggested that 52 pieces of real estate in his name in Miaoli were being auctioned off at the end of last month.

There was a modest protest outside the Control Yuan yesterday with people handing out flyers like the one below:

Caption reads: Why do we pay taxes to keep these officials in house and home. (Names has been censored by me).
A timeline of the Taijimen case according to Taijimen
An appeal to Tsai Ing-wen
Rhetorical questions posed by Taijimen to the public.

According to their leaflets, all the tax owed has been adjusted to zero, except for 1995. I haven’t had time to sift through all the cases on the website to verify the info yet.

KMT Protest Against Chen Chu’s Appointment as President of the Control Yuan

KMT supporters protesting Chen Chu’s (陳菊) appointment to the presidency of the Control Yuan, with the slogans 「拒絕酬庸撤換陳菊」 (Reject cronyism, withdraw Chen Chu), 「民主已死,暴政必亡」 (Democracy is dead, tyranny must fall) and 「民心已死,還我民主」(The hopes of the people are dead, give us back our democracy). There was a middling crowd outside the Legislative Yuan in the morning, where KMT legislators occupied the floor. These were taken after work.

Protesters still going on about President Tsai’s doctorate (sigh) on her 2nd inauguration

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People protesting on the morning of President Tsai’s 2nd inauguration. The sign has the not-so-catchy slogan you’d expect from someone who still doesn’t believe that Tsai has a doctorate:「妳有沒有羞恥心 當總統 沒有博士 真騙子」 ‘Don’t you have any shame? Being president without a doctorate, what a cheat’:

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Eric Chu gets called out on Zhongzheng Bridge

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Someone isn’t an Eric Chu (朱立倫) fan. This poster is still displayed on the Yonghe side of the Zhongzheng Bridge in New Taipei:

朱立倫
你的政治生命己經
結束,你當市長期
間,連民法第53條
第1﹑第2項都不
知道。又故意曲解
法律,以掩飾錯誤
。縱容公會違法。
(顯)然失職,實在(不)
適合選總統。

“Eric Chu, your political life is over! During the time you were mayor, you didn’t even know clauses 1 and 2 of Article 53 of the Civil Code. You also deliberately twisted the law to cover up your mistake. You tolerated illegal activities from guilds, which was a clear dereliction of duty.  You’re clearly not suited to run for president.”

For your reference, the Article in question is listed below:


Art. 53: “The resolution concerning the alteration of the bylaw of a corporation shall be passed at a meeting at which the majority of the members of the corporation are present, and by a majority of over three-fourths of the members present, or when over two-thirds of the members of the corporation declare their consent in writing.
The alteration of the bylaw of a licensed corporation shall be approved by the authorities concerned.”

The wording is vague enough that it could refer to a wide range of allegations, but I saw a few articles like this, which give you a general feel. 

The person behind the poster is likely Wei-Shyue Chang (張維學), who was behind previous posters in this position, opposing Japanese imports,  supporting Hong Shu-chu, and on the Diaoyu Islands and the comfort women issue

Whoever it is, the neighbouring political banners give you an idea of where their support lay in the KMT primary:

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The slogan on this Han Kuo-yu banner is a call for us to “Think of the children, to save society,” which has echoes of the anti-gay propaganda in the run-up to the referendum on gay marriage.

選舉

我在台灣沒有投票權,跟政治人物的接觸也頗為有限。我們里的里長出來拜票的時候,看到我,一直貼在嘴巴上的僵硬微笑會一時鬆開。有時候某些候選人一不留意就會伸手過來要跟我握手,一抬頭看到我的白臉就會立刻把手收回來。但是當一個外來者也有好處。其一是朋友之間或在工作場合,不用跟人表達你家的政治立場,就算你想要告訴別人,也沒人要聽;同時你的政治立場也不會在潛意識的層面上,被同事或朋友察覺出來。簡而言之,台灣人不會以他們一般的標準來對待你,因此你可以很自(白)由(目)地詢問他人的政治色彩。不過久而久之,你不用問也多少會感覺到。

 

講到這一點也不是很準確,因為你可以大概從一些細節,猜測他人的家庭是藍是綠是紅,但這也不代表在投票箱前,他們就會聽話地投給父母要他們投的那位候選人。我待過不同「顏色」的學術和工作單位:藍的綠的大學、綠的科系、紅媒體到白的公司,後來也算是回到一個(還帶一點藍的)綠色單位。在每個單位都需要看很多宣傳品,也因此很容易被洗腦。在藍的單位時也許會覺得綠營做事不踏實,不懂得妥協;在綠的單位時也許會覺得藍營只有在看錢、沒什麼原則。可能都有;可能都沒有,不過也許都是因為我們以不同框架看,所以會有不同的印象。

 

講到框架,我以前一直對柯文哲有一種說不太出口的反感,可能是略受媒體的影響,說他恐同、親中、自我感覺良好等等。媒體最近也有報導他父母在最後時刻替他到中選會登記連署,最後卻遲到了。媒體報導這則新聞的大方向帶有一點幸災樂禍的意味。但就算深綠的人看到這則報導,儘管讀起來很爽,應該也很清楚這大概不是真相。柯文哲若真的想選,不會拖到這時候,還派老人家幫他登記。剛好我最近在看柯文哲寫的《白色力量3》,柯P對民進黨很失望不是因為民進黨對他的直接攻擊,而是他們在明明知道一個污衊他的假新聞報導是偏頗的情況下(如器官移植的葛特曼案),還去煽動爭議。 

 

也許當一個選民最重要的,是能夠離開同溫層,用不同的框架反省政治立場。

 

ㄟ對啊,我忘了……你上次總統大選是投哪一位?

The Control Yuan vs Getting 3 Meals a Day 「逐工就是顧三頓」

shabu-shabu-foodTVBS’s ‘The Situation Room’ has returned to talking about the impeachment proceedings launched by the Control Yuan against National Taiwan University President Kuan Chung-ming after he’d been in the post just a week. The discussion reveals a lot of interesting theories about the role of the「獨派」, or ‘pro-independence’, faction within the Democratic Progressive Party, who President Tsai is said to have appointed to the Control Yuan as a compromise, but who are now allegedly going rogue.

Kuan has been accused (so far) of having a second post while being an official, writing editorials in Yizhoukan (一週刊), although there is a lot of debate as to whether or not this constitutes a second post, as contributing to magazines and newspapers is quite a common practice among officials.

In the course of this debate, Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) used a Taiwanese phrase *09:50* to try and communicate what she feels is the disconnect between the priorities of the DPP and of the public:

老百姓(in Mandarin) 逐工著是顧三頓爾(in Taiwanese)

逐工 ta̍k-kang 就是 tiō sī 顧三頓  kòo-sann-tǹg 爾爾 niā-niā*

逐工 ta̍k-kang is equivalent to 每天 in Mandarin (every day)

就是 tiō sī is the same as Mandarin (are just)

顧三頓 kòo-sann-tǹg is equivalent to 顧三餐 in Mandarin (to concern oneself with getting three square meals)

爾爾 niā-niā is equivalent to 而已 in Mandarin (and only that)

*I’m not sure if she says niā once or twice here. 

From the context of her comments, we can guess why she chose to use a Taiwanese phrase. She’s talking about and appealing to the common man who hasn’t got time for politics, and Taiwanese is a way of appealing to this Taiwanese everyman.

Interestingly in the 五月天 (Mayday) song ‘I Love You無望’ both the phrase 逐工 ta̍k-kang (0.20), and ‘每一工’ muí tsi̍tkang (0.31) are used, to mean “every day”. In Mandarin 逐日 is more formal and is closer to on a daily basis, whereas 每天/每一天 is less formal. I’m not quite sure of the differences in Taiwanese, although one Taiwanese friend suggested that 逐工 can mean “the entire day”.