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Taipei mayor's comments on benefits of colonization draw rebukes

Taipei mayor's comments on benefits of colonization draw rebukes

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je's (???) remarks that "the longer the colonization, the more advanced a place is" have drawn flak from scholars and lawmakers for overlooking the problems created by colonization. Ko's comments in an interview published Thursday by Foreign Policy only look at the issue from one simple angle, failing to reflect the fact that colonization is a historical tragedy and ignoring the trauma the process causes, said Professor Chang Ya-chung (???) of National Taiwan University. Chang said that during the colonial rule of Taiwan, Japan-led development of the island was aimed at benefiting the Japanese homeland, and Taiwanese were seen as second-class citizens. "Nobody likes to be colonized, and colonization is a misfortune," said Hsueh Hua-yuen (???), a professor of Taiwanese history at National Chengchi University. He explained that under the principle of cultural relativism, different cultures should not be compared as better or worse than one other. Wang Hsiao-po (???), a prominent commentator and professor at Shih Hsin University in Taipei, pointed to the United Nations declaration in 1960 on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples on the conviction that colonialism hampers world peace. He said that progress cannot be attributed entirely to the length of colonization of a place as it involves geographic and historical factors as well. Citing the example of Hong Kong, Wang said its prosperity is due to a long-term closed-door policy in China's other regions that made Hong Kong the only export harbor; for Singapore, its success comes from a superb location for shipping in the Malaccan Strait. Lawmakers from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and its allies were also quick to criticize Ko's comments. "Nobody should beautify colonial rule in any form, especially an intellectual in a former colony," KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (???) said, noting Japanese violence against Taiwan's indigenous people during its 50-year rule of Taiwan. Wu Yu-sheng (???) also of the KMT said Ko should apologize for this "serious gaffe." Yok Mu-ming (???), chairman of the minor New Party allied with the KMT, said: "I don't understand Ko's words." He argued that if colonial rule brought so many benefits, colonized countries would not have to fight for their independence. Taipei City spokesman Lin Ho-ming (???) came to Ko's defense, arguing that colonization leaves "bad memories, but it also has an influence that can be assessed positively." "Colonialism means opening the door, which is bound to bring the shock of cultural diversity, but will naturally bring influences like civilization and institutionalization," he said. Institutions and infrastructure brought by rulers of the past "objectively speaking have an undeniable positive effect, but at the same time, the historical scars they leave must be addressed," he said. (By Hsieh Chia-chen, Chen Chih-chung, Tseng Ying-yu and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-17 06:55 GMT+08:00