Written by Kar-Yen Leong. In an article by Franklin Zimring and David Johnson, we are reminded of the importance of studying the death penalty in Asia as it is the site of “…at least 85 per cent and as many as 95 per cent of the world’s execution.” The authors add that the region is a key battleground as to whether this practice will continue or become a remnant of a less civilised past. This struggle is no more intense than in East and Southeast Asian states, where the death penalty is not only an indelible part of only their legal systems but also their very societies. The decision to retain or abolish the death penalty has become a matter of intense soul-searching among states such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, navigating landscapes replete with ghosts of colonial and authoritarian pasts. For these countries, the state’s power over life and death is a direct extension of its sovereignty. Giving up this power is to lose that sovereignty, but it also means the loss of a weapon of last resort forged to keep the forces of chaos at bay.
Written by Doris Yang. In 2021, five artists/researchers from Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan gathered to present their project, The Malay World Project: Roots & Routes, in an online event held by Taipei Performing Arts Center. This event was inspired by a research project asking, ‘Where do the Malays originate?’ Not only did the project study the diaspora of Malay peoples around the Asia-Pacific, but it also created a space for dialogue between Taiwan’s Indigenous people and Malay in Singapore and Malaysia on the issues of identity and belonging. This article compares the advocacy experiences of Malay people in Singapore and Indigenous people in Taiwan. I argue that there is space to foster additional connections and collaborations between the civil societies among these two groups.
Written by Liang Liang. Like most once-colonised countries, Taiwan has experienced a chequered history. However, the unique part of Taiwan, which may not be so similar to the rest of the world, is that the historical remnant has resulted in its awkward (but de facto independent) status, hence making Taiwan a coveted land to China. As a result, Taiwan has been identified as the “canary in the monetary coal mine” globally when China’s sharp power grows unprecedentedly. While Taiwan gradually receives interest from all over the world, including Southeast Asia, “the world” used to signify only China and the United States to the Taiwanese government and society. Located at the crossroads of Northeast and Southeast Asia and frequently using the slogan “The Heart of Asia” in its global tourism advertisements, it had, however, rarely shared the same interests and consciousness with its southern neighbours.
Written by Yin-An Chen. The connection between Whiteness and Protestant Christianity does not simply result from its relation to Western missionaries but is consolidated by the power of Western Christianity in its theological language, ideology, and hierarchy. In other words, what Whiteness maintains in Protestant Christianity is not about whether white European and American people established Protestant churches—it is about who can talk about God and explain the doctrine. It is about the power of speech and authority instead of skin colour. Whiteness, in this sense, is a method of securing the power of speech and authority.
Written by Mark Hsiang-Yu Feng. It is common to see that many Taiwanese musicians employ Western compositional concepts, theories, and approaches to express Taiwanese identity through music and musical performance. For example, during the 2020 presidential and general election in Taiwan, Legislator Freddy Lim, the vocalist of a renowned Taiwanese metal group called ChthoniC, gave a live concert called Taiwan Victory to congregate voters and solicit votes in front of Taiwan’s Presidential House. Many Taiwanese people showed interest in his performance, as he sang heavy metal songs to gather voters and fight against political infiltration from China. After the concert, The Guardian’s report highlights Lim’s unique career trajectory from a musician to a politician in Taiwan and the creativity of bringing music to the campaign.
Written by Hsuan Lo. Translated by Yi-Yu Lai. In Taiwan, a narrative concerning the opposition of migrant and Indigenous workers appears to be a continuing source of contention. In 1997, director Ming-hui Yang released a documentary, “Please Give Us a Job.” One of the film’s impressive scenes depicts an off-duty Indigenous worker sobbing uncontrollably in front of the camera while lamenting the employment difficulties caused by the introduction of migrant workers. In 2016, Chen Ying, a DPP legislator from the Puyuma Indigenous community, brought this issue back into the public eye by highlighting the impact of “illegal migrant workers” on the employment of Indigenous workers. Unfortunately, the notion that “migrant workers take jobs from Indigenous workers” has become deeply ingrained.
Written by Remaljiz Mavaliv. Translated by Yi-Yu Lai. Taiwan is a beautiful country with diverse cultures, the Indigenous peoples of which are often viewed as significant worldwide highlights. Currently, sixteenth Indigenous groups are officially recognised in Taiwan. However, this does not protect them from discrimination and unfair resource distribution. After successive colonial regimes arrived in Taiwan one after another, colonialism and imperialism profoundly influenced the Indigenous population, and the political repercussions have persisted to the present day.
Written by Chen I-Chen. Is Indigeneity a self-evident category? Or is “Indigenous” defined differently by the policies and politics of each nation-state? On June 28, 2022, a constitutional review of the Supreme Court’s debate on the Indigenous Status of the “Plains” peoples (the “Pingpu,” 平埔族群) shed light on the discussion surrounding Taiwan’s national recognition of Indigenous status. The “Plains” peoples, headed by the Siraya, had fought for more than three decades to have their Indigenous status recognised under the category of the “lowland” Indigenous peoples (平地原住民)”. As a crucial result of the long struggle for the Plains peoples’ legal status, the final judgement will be declared no later than this late November.
Written by Daniel Jia. Since Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office as President of Taiwan in 2016, China is becoming more hostile than ever toward the self-ruled democratic island. As China sees its chance of “reunification” with Taiwan through mutual consent is diminishing, taking Taiwan by force becomes China’s only option. The matter of China’s invasion is evolving from the “if” in the past to the “when” today. And it could happen sooner than any rational calculation would have predicted.
Written by Mei-Fen Kuo. A recent exhibition mounted by Australia’s government office in Taiwan––“40 years, 40 stories”––highlights the importance of people-to-people ties linking Taiwan and Australia since the office opened in Taipei in 1981. These are timely stories. In an exhibition of its own, Beijing recently lobbed missiles over Taiwan’s people’s heads to show that its territorial claims to Taiwan will not be slighted. Australia does not challenge those claims, but it does maintain close relations with people in Taiwan through trade, education, technology, and cultural exchanges, which have flourished despite the lack of official recognition.
Written by Jasinder Singh Sodhi. Relations between India and Taiwan have improved significantly over the last two decades, even though the two nations do not have formal diplomatic ties. This is because India officially recognises China as part of its One-China Policy. In the political field, India and Taiwan are both grappling with the Chinese standoff in the Himalayas and Taiwan Strait, respectively. Therefore, reinforcing India-Taiwan relations can stand up to the expansionist plans of China since China is incapable of launching a two-front war on India and Taiwan simultaneously. Thus, the stronger relations India and Taiwan have, the better results it will have for mutual national interest and national security.
Written by Jiun-Yu Liu. Taiwanese scholarship of government sponsorship for overseas study is considered the most prestigious scholarship issued by the government because of its long history, low award rate, and the amount of financial support. In addition, the applicant needs to pass the examinations to receive the award. The Qing government started the predecessor of this scholarship in imperial China, then sponsored by the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program, and finally became the current award that administrates the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Taiwan. Over the years, this Taiwanese scholarship has sponsored many talented researchers who contribute significantly to Taiwanese society. Still, we also see opinions on cancelling this award and adjusting the scholarship rules. As a former awardee and archaeologist, I share a few personal observations and thoughts.