Using Hakka in Taiwan’s legislature

After the head of Taiwan’s Cabinet-level Council of Hakka Affairs gave a report in Hakka last week in the Legislature, KMT Legislator Zhū Fèngzhī (朱鳳芝) complained, saying this was a “self-abasing action” showing a “lack of confidence,” according to a report in the Taipei Times. This led to harsh words from representatives and organizations from the Hakka community.

According to Peter Lo (羅能平), the secretary-general of the Taiwanese Hakka Association of the World, Chu’s comment indicated that many Taiwanese politicians do not respect different ethnic groups and minorities.

“Chu’s comment was disrespectful and degrading to the Hakka people, and we want her to give an open apology to our people,” Lo said.

Yang Chang-chen (楊長鎮), director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Department of Ethnic Affairs, spoke of the discrimination he had received as a schoolboy for speaking Hakka, adding that Mandarin should not be imposed on everybody.

Yang said the opposition paid lip service to diversity, but in reality practiced “fake” diversity and imposed a “cultural quarantine,” in which Hakka rights were suppressed.

The department is pushing to establish a language equality law, and has encouraged Aboriginal legislators to give their official reports in their mother languages.

Former DPP chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄) said that the Legislative Yuan had “no class,” and that politicians were causing racial segregation and discrimination in Taiwan.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that conservative legislators have complained about the use in the Legislature of languages other than Mandarin.

2 thoughts on “Using Hakka in Taiwan’s legislature

  1. Of course, in the same session and exhibiting the same vile spirit, the DPP legislator Chhî Kok-ióng [???] objected to Lí using translation to empower himself to speak Hakka. Lucky for Chhî, he has largely escaped criticism as Chu [?]’s unwitting (and quite irrational) choice of words made herself the greater target. The real question is why this do-nothing legislature has not bothered to institutionalize multilingual translation. Taiwan has, after all, at most some dozen viable languages, many fewer than, say, Papua New Guinea. Instead, politicians of all stripes prefer uttering meaningless mantra about “respecting diversity” to truly enabling its practice, least of all in institutions of power where minority languages stand to benefit the most from greater visibility.

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