Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Opinion: What Students in Taiwan Can Learn from the Curriculum Revision Controversy (Pt. 4)

     This is Part#4  of my newsworthy article "Taiwan Curriculum History From Inside Noah's Ark ." In Part #1,  I criticized the student leaders' misappropriation of the IWW phrase
 "An Injury to One is an Injury to All"  and the  controversy against KMT revisionist history.  Part #2 was a review of the curriculum controversy. Part #3 detailed what the Taipei Times 
editorial omitted in criticizing Sinification of Taiwan by the KMT; Americanization of Taiwan.

      In Part #4, I will explain what the students need to be protesting against in a neo-liberal multi-party state: it’s the economy, not revisionist history, and not only PRC-Taiwanese trade pacts. 
     Teach-ins, of a sweeping nature, are missing and needed in Taiwan : Study groups must agitate, educate, organize themselves. The student protests against the "17 Changes" in Taiwan history textbooks must be discussed in depth by unaffiliated teachers. It won't happen naturally in this atmosphere of political polarity.

     As an ESL teacher for thirty-five years,  ten in Taiwan, twenty-five in New York City, I know how language can have  surreptitious meaning to disarm a youth when taken literally. The stories I told students about labor struggles in school in the U.S. about Haymarket, Lawrence, Patterson, Matewan, Triangle Factory,  all have correlations in Taiwan history. Political parties are unreliable sources of "the truth." A people's history had to be developed in the U.S.. It has to be developed in Taiwan as well.  

     The connection with our youth has to be made by educators to encourage a better world or the meaning will gets lost, befuddled, or co-opted in the media, as the DPP and KMT have done. Simply put, Taiwan's workers need jobs and a living wage; something the DPP and KMT have both failed to address. 

     We know what the KMT-dominated Ministry of Education was trying to do; they failed because they are no longer trusted economically by many people in Taiwan. There must be a third way because the DPP doesn't have the solution, either, pandering to laissez-faire, anti-union American corporate-imperialist interests. 

      The "Sunflower Movement," and the tie in with the anti- curriculum reform movement, while concerned with an unfair trade pact the KMT led government made with The People's Republic of China, neglects to address and never protests against the U.S. trade pact with the Taiwan government, a pact which promotes unfair trade and suppression of workers' rights to unionize. The role of the U.S. in oppressing Taiwan workers was intentionally ignored in the Noah Buchan editorial  in the Taipei Times and is not addressed by the DPP as they try to commandeer the "Sunflower Movement" for their own political purposes:
Sweatshop Abuses by American Companies through Taiwan 

Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Critics accuse Nien Hsing  Textile Co., Taiwan of operating sweatshops
Andrew Perrin, Chronicle Foreign Service  

Nike workers 'kicked, slapped and verbally abused' at factories making Converse. New allegations follow years of outrage over child labor and sweatshops
Taiwanese contractor makes Converse shoes, a supervisor ordered six female workers to stand in the blazing sun after they failed to meet their target of completing 60 dozen pairs of shoes on time. Indonesia is Nike's third-largest manufacturing base, after China and Vietnam, with 140,000 workers at 14 contract factories. Of those, 17,000 produce its Converse line at four factories.

Apple Supplier Accused Of Labor Abuses By China Watchdog  07/29/2013 
BEIJING -- A labor rights group Monday accused a Chinese company that makes iPhones for Apple Inc. of abuses including withholding employees' pay and excessive working hours.China Labor Watch said it found violations of the law and of Apple's pledges about working conditions at factories operated by Pegatron Corp., a Taiwanese company. Conditions in Chinese factories that produce iPhones and other popular Apple products have been under scrutiny following complaints about labor and environmental violations by a different supplier, Taiwan's Foxconn, a unit of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

Chentex Strike
Sunday, February 18, 2001 Associated Press Writer
TIPITAPA, Nicaragua {AP}—  a four-day strike last summer to demand better pay and working conditions at a factory that sews blue jeans for the U.S. military by the Taiwanese plant, one of 48 foreign firms that hires tens of thousands of Nicaraguans to work in factories in the country's free-trade zone. Activists in the United States have sued a U.S. unit of the Chentex factory, owned by Taiwan's Nien Hsing business consortium. Workers also complained about poor ventilation, hot working conditions, limited bathroom breaks and even physical abuse,  Since 1992, Taiwan has given more than $180 million in aid to Central America — including $14 million to build Nicaragua's presidential palace and its foreign ministry. Central America, for its part, is a rare stronghold of support for Taiwan in its efforts to resist mainland China's attempts to strip the island of international recognition. Nien Hsing employing more than 13,000 people in Nicaragua alone.

     Taiwan business people pay lower wages, and have lower work place safety standards at factories outside of Taiwan. Improvement in working conditions in China and Vietnam are causing Taiwan companies to outsource to factories in Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar. 

     Furthermore, wages in Taiwan have stayed at the same level for 16 years, eight of them under a KMT president, eight under a DPP president. Foreign laborers invited into Taiwan are  oppressed by local labor laws and prejudices. Few workers have job security and most jobs are part-time or temporary.  

     The Taipei Times reported Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) a few days ago compared the “diversity of historical interpretations” in changes to high-school social studies curriculum guidelines to the “juxtaposition of creationist and evolutionary views in biology textbooks in the US.” Wu said: “We have heard different opinions about historical facts, about the status of our nation and about the interpretations of historical contexts, and there is nothing right or wrong about them.We want to allow students to be exposed to different views which could make learning more healthy,” Wu said, citing an editorial from yesterday’s Chinese-language United Daily News, in which he was quoted as saying that biology textbooks in the US, “definitely introduce the fact that some, based on religious beliefs, still uphold creationism, in addition to the evolutionary view, despite the fact that the latter has been supported by an abundance of scientific evidence, out of respect for those who have religious faith.”

     Wu Se-hwa could have chosen better examples of government intervention in writing revisionist history; there are plenty of examples ( ) but his point is well taken. 

     Students in Taiwan have to do their homework and not rely on public school textbooks, political parties, or ex-pat blogs to understand their place in Taiwan history and the world struggle against oppression of workers rights . 


For One Big Union
Solidarity Forever
"An Injury to One is an Injury to All." 

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