Written by Andreas Sierek. A migrant construction worker was enjoying himself at a river. We might have disapproved of him being drunk, drugged and naked. We even might have been incensed by his rampageous behaviour. But shooting him dead? Like a stray dog infected with rabies? Not with one bullet but with nine? Insisting that the man – while lying on the dirt, in a pool of blood, dying – must be handcuffed before medics can approach him?
Written by Elsa Sichrovsky. Due to Taiwan’s geographically strategic position in Southeast Asia and proximity to the Golden Triangle of the heroin trade, it has had a long relationship with narcotics, dating back to opium smoking in the Qing dynasty. In the 1800s, the opium trade thrived following the Opium Wars in China, bringing in more than half of Taiwan’s revenue by 1892. During the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945), the Japanese established an opium monopoly in Taiwan which benefited them economically while they maintained an appearance of opposition to opium smoking. Through sales to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies around the world, opium composed up to 46 per cent of yearly colonial income from Taiwan until 1904.
Written by Cheng Li-jung. In recent years, “Animal writing” is a developing issue in literary research. Many studies have given a focus on animals and social culture since the 1980s. They combined with cross-field animal research and attempted to rethink the history of animals in the context of ecological ethics and animal protection. Now it can be said that animal history is a new historical perspective and emerging field.
Written by Chinghui Liao. Hunting traditions are common across many indigenous communities in Taiwan, and maintaining food security has been an important cultural practice for thousands of years. Recently, however, certain endangered animal species have faced greater risk due to commercial hunting. These cases often involve indigenous communities, and this has made the issue difficult to resolve. In order to protect a functioning and biodiverse ecosystem, the “wildlife conservation law” regulates hunting behaviour and limits legal practise to only specific indigenous ceremonies.
Written by Yu-Hsien Sung and Chin-shou Wang. For many years, Taiwan has suffered from substantial amounts of corruption. The dominant political party used voting-buying machines to secure popular support and elicit cooperation from elites. Following the changes in the political environment during the democratization period, the old mechanisms gradually failed in their effectiveness. In recent global surveys on governance and corruption, Taiwan is considered as one of the best performers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, during the past year, several Taiwanese politicians and government officials were involved in bribery scandals.
Written by Erik Mobrand. Assessments of the state of corruption in Taiwan show wildly diverging conclusions. Corruption scandals break out regularly, seeming to keep the island in a series of emergencies. At the same time, global surveys laud Taiwanese authorities for successfully fighting corruption. If Taiwan is so clean, why do corruption scandals happen? Or, if corruption scandals are so regular, how can Taiwan be assessed as an anti-corruption success story?
Written by Hsu Hung Bin.The history of doctor outflow in Taiwan tells us that doctors of all eras are continually reflecting on what it means to be in the medical profession and what the “good life” of a doctor is. The unique history of Taiwan’s medical system is an essential resource as we come to reflect on the issues of today. This history reminds about the diverse sets of values (not all of which have been good) that have existed within the system. It also provides clues of what a new system might look like.
Written by Hsu Hung Bin. The phrase “五大皆空” (all the key fields are lacking) has become common, referring to the lack of doctors in internal medicine, surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics and emergency care. There has also been discussion of the net outflow of doctors from Taiwan. All of this brought doubts to the once hopeful students as they began their medical education. I often hear students asking questions like “is the medical system here really going to collapse?” “Do we have to leave Taiwan and start a new life abroad?” “Did I make the right choice for my career”?
Written by Frank Hsiao. The basic idea of his Cornell thesis was a two-sector model of economic growth: namely, the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors (instead of usual growth model of consumer good and investment good sectors).). Based on the idea of “primitive capital accumulation” by Karl Marx—whom LTH did not mention explicitly—he investigated, in the absence of foreign resources (foreign direct investment, loans and aid), whether the surplus-value in the agricultural sector could be exploited (transferred) as capital flow to the financial and foreign sectors, along with government taxes and levies, and also to the non-agricultural sector for industrial development.
Written by Frank Hsiao. Lee had an extensive collection of books, as his followers in Taiwan were proposing to build a library under his name to house his books. This made him quite different from other politicians. He read widely, had an excellent memory, could express his learning and thinking eloquently, and could write fluently. He was a very rare and talented scholar.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. When the impact of COVID-19 was at its height in Asia this April, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, publicly accused Taiwan of continuously attacking him with racist slurs for months. Although these accusations have been proven to be false, with the ongoing Black Live Matters campaign taking place, it does give a good opportunity to reflect on whether racism exists in Taiwan. More importantly, how this contributes to the formation of Taiwan’s identity in the contemporary epoch.
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. Former President of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui passed away this summer. The Beijing/Unification faction hated Lee, and the Independent faction/Mike Pompeo praised him as the Father of Taiwan Democracy, if not the Father of Taiwan. How do we evaluate Lee? What is Lee’s vision of where and how Taiwan is heading in the next century? How do our perspectives of him reflect our Taiwanese identity?