Roots and Routes in the Malay World and Beyond: Dialogues Between Singapore and Taiwan

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.

‘Dissertation Gate’, Candidates’ Background and the 2022 Local Elections in Taiwan

Written by Mei-Chuan Wei. The term ‘Dissertation Gate’ has been used by the media and general public to highlight an issue which marked the 2022 local election campaign in Taiwan. It refers to the phenomenon unseen before the mayoral by-election of Kaohsiung City in 2020, when the candidate of the Kuomintang (the KMT) Mei-jhen Li (李眉蓁) was fiercely criticised for plagiarism in her Master’s dissertation. Li publicly apologised for her plagiarism after the university from which she obtained her Master’s decided to revoke her degree. Whether or not plagiarism was the major factor contributing to Li’s failure in the election remains to be proved. Yet negative campaign strategies focusing on candidates’ dissertations, specifically plagiarism, have become increasingly popular among almost all parties since then.

Why Does Education Affect Local Elections in Taiwan?

Written by Yu-tzung Chang. What is more worrisome is that the majority of candidates in this local election have adopted a negative campaign strategy and have not put forward specific policy proposals, which may lead to more confrontation in society in the future. Political polarization has produced a crisis of democracy in Western countries. Traditional political polarization is being replaced by affective polarization, in which partisans are hostile to supporters of other parties and regard them as the main enemy. Taiwan is no exception to these developments. This will have a potentially negative effect on the development of Taiwan’s democracy.

Taiwan Government Scholarship Award: An Awarded Archaeologist’s Observation

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.

Incubating Overseas Talents for the Future Policy? Uncertain Investment in the Taiwanese Scholarship

Written by Yu-Kai Liao. A doctoral scholarship is crucial for many PhD students to start their academic careers without financial worries. This article illustrates how the Taiwanese scholarship incubates overseas Taiwanese doctoral students for future policy. However, it is an uncertain investment for the Taiwanese government since there is a foreseeable gap between governmental visions and individual interests. In addition, even though doctoral students receiving the Taiwanese scholarship must return to serve in Taiwan, it is very flexible in practice to complete this obligation and contribute to Taiwanese society.

To Return or Not to Return? A Dilemma of a Taiwanese Scholarship Recipient

Written by Kalesekes Kaciljaan (Yu-Chi Huang). In 2019, I was awarded a Taiwanese scholarship of government sponsorship for overseas study from the Ministry of Education of Taiwan to support my pursuit of doctoral study in public health at the University of Hawai’i. The reason I did so was that the financial status of neither myself nor my family could provide me with the funds for studying overseas. Unfortunately, many other Indigenous scholars from Taiwan, like myself, also went through the same path I did, owing to our people’s averagely lower financial status. I am grateful that I could have the scholarship to support my dream to study abroad and be a researcher devoted to Indigenous health. Unfortunately, however, certain scholarship regulations are outdated and greatly hinder the path of students whose research interests relate to Taiwan. As a result, we are forced to choose between our ideals and our promised benefits. Therefore, I would like to elaborate on my own experience to provide a deeper insight into the problems we recipients face when returning to Taiwan to conduct our research.

Taiwan Indigenous Students Study Overseas—A Choice Between Food and Tuition Fees

Written by Nikal Kabala’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu) . The Ministry of Education (MoE) is the highest authority of the Republic of China (ROC) government in implementing educational policies in Taiwan, which includes governmental-led Indigenous education. This article focuses on the “Scholarships for Indigenous People to Study Overseas” (Hereinafter “the Scholarships”). Since the Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education, multicultural, and equal opportunities are some of the current key concepts for MoE to plan the related policies, I suggest the authorities could consider more about the Scholarships following the starting point in supporting Indigenous students to study aboard.

Promoting Taiwan Studies is about spending money strategically: My user’s experiences as a senior abroad professor in Taiwan Studies

Written by Yi-Ling Chen. The dialogue about if Taiwan studies can be a part of Sinology (Perkuhn and Chien v.s. Wang and Achen) is interesting. Both groups mention the problems of job markets and the sustainability of the institutions. Thirty years ago, the choice of Taiwan research could be academic suicide. Nowadays, the situation is improving only slightly because of the persistent challenges of job opportunities and attractiveness for students and audiences. As Taiwan Studies is a part of soft power, strategic thinking is necessary for the funding agencies to ensure success.

A Further Response to Sinology’s Involvement in Taiwan Studies

Written by Hung-yi Chien. In short, I would argue that “being Sinitic” is not inconceivable. New students of Taiwan studies in overseas countries need elements of sinology to grow up. The lesson from the Taiwan studies programmes in Taiwanese universities suggests that a new discipline requires a fertile ground to nurture it. In countries where sinology is available, this “politically incorrect” discipline is inevitable to play an important role in recruiting new students to Taiwan studies.

Cultivating Support from a Distance: The Transnational Activism of Taiwan Alumni Associations in Southeast Asia

Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP). 

Matsu Language: A Language Too Unique To Forget

Written by Kai-Yang Huang. In 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen signed the National Language Development Act and announced its implementation. For a long time, pragmatism has had a significant impact on Taiwan. People believe that by promoting the use of English to become a “bilingual country,” Taiwan will be able to keep up with the rest of the world. Little do they know that what distinguishes Taiwan in the international community is the very distinctiveness of Taiwanese cultures. As a result, the primary principle of promoting natural language as a national language is to re-inherit a local worldview that has been around for a long time. This will strengthen the worldwide competitiveness of Taiwanese college students. 

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