The Stifled Voices of the Taiwanese

The Stifled Voices of the Taiwanese
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It’s the final hours before Taiwan’s general election, yet a 16 year-old girl, Chou Tzu-yu, is dominating the news cycle. Having being accused of being a Taiwan independence activist, she was placed in front of the camera and, in essence, apologized for calling herself Taiwanese. This has taken the news cycle by storm because of her high profile as being a member of a K-pop girl group and the sensitive timing right before Taiwan general elections.

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JYP CEO JY Park says that he apologizes for Chou’s action and that due to her young age, him and his company “are at fault for not teaching her well in place of her parents.” However it begs the question of what is it that she has to be taught. Is it to have their stars no express pride in their nationality or to answer to bullies that have a large money market?

Just a few days ago, another similar story where a student was scolded for speaking his mind. Lin Chung-yi is an exchange student from Taiwan to China. Before returning to Taiwan to cast his ballot, he held a campaign board from Tsai Ing-wen’s campaign. The campaign was one where individuals would fill out “I am lighting up Taiwan from ___.” He fills out China and takes a picture in Tienanmen Square. Just like the Chou incident, this enraged many Chinese netizens.

Photo Credit: Tsai Ing-wen

Word of this news came back to Taiwan and Minister of Education Wu Se-Hwa states that the student must 入境隨俗, which is Chinese for, “do as the Romans do.” This comment caused a lot of people to wonder why this specific term was being used. Instead of simply asking the student to be aware and careful of his speech due to his location, he asks the student to follow the customs in China.

Again, this is an example of Taiwanese expressing their own support for Taiwan, yet gets told to learn how to act. Citizens around the world are taught to patriotic and yet Taiwanese seem to always be told to keep their heads down and don’t tell others they are Taiwanese.

With these incidents happening so close to the election, it has made the Taiwanese citizen more fired up to exercise their rights as a Taiwanese and to vote. A picture is even floating around Facebook stating, “Tonight, we sleep well. Tomorrow, let’s wake up and use our ballots to bring justice to Chou Tzu-Yu.”

Edited by Olivia Yang