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.

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.

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). 

Two Young Indigenous Scholars are Promoting Indigenous artists – in Taiwan and Beyond.

Written by Fanny Caron. Lin and Ismahasan’s academic disciplines and the career path they have chosen to highlight a change in Taiwan Indigenous studies on an international level. These choices enable them to play a part in shifting the discourse on Indigenous Peoples from “objects” of study to active “subjects” of their own (counter-) narrative, supporting their affirmation of Indigeneity and tribal sovereignty.

A Bilingual Nation? What are the Efforts from Southern Taiwan Stakeholders?

Written by Brian Doce. In 2018, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced the government’s objective to transform Taiwanese society into a bilingual nation to elevate the English fluency of the Taiwanese people and upgrade the country’s national competitiveness. Looking at the current blueprint published by the National Development Council, the plan’s enumerated key performance indicators (KPI) show a government-centric outlook by emphasising the simultaneous use of Mandarin and English by government agencies for respective services.

The Global, the Local and Intercultural Communicative Competence in Taiwan

Written by Jenna Lynn Cody. Since its inception, the “Bilingual by 2030” initiative has drawn widespread criticism, primarily focused on a single titular keyword: bilingual. Social media posts citing “Mandarin” and “English” as the target languages of “Bilingual by 2030” by Vice President William Ching-te Lai certainly didn’t help. An initial focus on the possibility of making English a “second official language” in Taiwan and a failure to assuage worries that everyone would be forced to learn English made matters worse.

Taiwan on the eve of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages: a comparative perspective

Written by Brett Todd. Amidst the upheavals of this pandemic period, few would recall that 2019 was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and fewer still realise that the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 is about to commence. Both were declared by the UN General Assembly, a space in which Taiwanese voices are not heard. However, Taiwanese Indigenous representatives have participated in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which joined UNESCO in calling for urgent action to arrest the declining use of native tongues worldwide.

The ‘Sahara’ of Taiwan: A New Local Geopark and the Potentials of Sand Dunes

Written by Viola van Onselen and Tsung-Yi Lin. How does it feel to walk through a desert-like landscape of highly dynamic dunes, and how can Virtual Reality educate people in an interactive way about such an environment? You can now experience this in a new local geopark of Taiwan, the ‘Caota Sand Dunes.’ This geopark promotes the values of coastal dunes, and ongoing research explores new management strategies, local community involvement and the geological history of this environment. This short article highlights the potentials of dunes, the status of dune environments in Taiwan and how this local geopark can set an example as a foundation for Nature-based Solutions.

On the Many Reasons People Study Endangered Languages

Written by P. Kerim Friedman. We often assume that all language learning serves the same purpose: communicating with native speakers of the target language. The truth is that this is not always the case. There are many other reasons people might decide to learn a language: It might be a requirement for school, work, or citizenship. A philosopher might want to read German, and a linguist might only desire to learn enough Japanese to analyse the language’s grammatical or phonetic structure. Many people worldwide learn Hebrew, Latin, or Arabic as part of their religious training and only use those languages in that limited context.

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