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3120 Edition
December 12-18, 2011
Headline News

Indigenous groups petition presidential candidates to address self-rule policies during debate

Reported by Chiou Kuo-rong

Written by Lydia Ma

Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan (IPACT) and various indigenous organizations recently called a joint press conference on December 8, 2011, on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Palace. They urged all 3 presidential candidates running for next year’s election, namely, Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai Ing-wen, and James Soong, to disclose their platform concerning securing indigenous peoples rights.

IPACT especially emphasized that the candidates should affirm that the relationship between indigenous groups and the R.O.C. is indeed that of a partnership and not a relationship between colonizer and colonized. It also urged them to comply with the United Nation\s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Omi Wilang, IPACT’s General Secretary who also serves as PCT Indigenous Ministries Secretary, said that IPACT regrets that none of the presidential candidates discussed policies related to indigenous peoples during their televised debate on December 3. “If this happens again in the next debate, it means that none of them is truly concerned about indigenous peoples. In other words, it means that they think we are people that can be exploited and gobbled up.”

Omi Wilang underscored that though all 3 candidates had addressed indigenous people’s rights to self-determination at some point during their campaign trail, but the fact that the issue wasn’t raised at all during the televised debate, nor any issue specifically pertaining to indigenous peoples, had raised some concerns. For this reason, IPACT is asking that all 3 candidates affirm that indigenous peoples are equal partners of the Republic of China.

Atayal Democratic Assembly (ADA) Moderator and Ulay Pinzitan Presbyterian Church pastor, Rev. Utux Lbak, underscored that ADA had always maintained that indigenous peoples are the traditional masters of Taiwan and the Republic of China government must return lands appropriated from them. “My hometown is beautiful and has many natural hot springs,” he said. “But we can’t enjoy these hot springs because they have been taken over by corporations.”

He added that not only have corporations occupied indigenous people’s ancestral lands, razed and destroyed them, but indigenous peoples now have no legal rights to the land their ancestors have lived for hundreds of years. He also said that indigenous peoples have even been prosecuted for something as small as picking and collecting branches on those lands.

According to Indigenous Peoples Policy Alliance, in the past 12 years of the Chen and Ma administrations, very little has been done in terms of advancing autonomy for indigenous groups despite campaign promises to do so. Therefore, indigenous leaders’ hope the next president will be more pro-active. For this reason, they are asking current presidential candidates to address autonomy issues and promise that the new Republic of China government will be a good partner to indigenous peoples.

After this press conference, indigenous leaders drove to the campaign headquarters of the 3 presidential candidates to personally deliver their petition.


 

 

 
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3120 Edition
December 12-18, 2011
Headline News

More than 300 PCT pastors attend prayer rally for Taiwan

Reported by Lin Yi-ying

Written by Lydia Ma

More than 300 PCT pastors from across Taiwan donned their pastoral attire on the night of December 9, 2011, to attend a prayer rally for Taiwan on Ketagalan Boulevard sponsored by PCT General Assembly. Wearing raincoats and hats typically worn by farmers in Taiwan, pastors gathered to sing hymns and pray for Taiwan despite a rainy day.

At 4:00 p.m., PCT pastors from across Taiwan had begun to trickle into Taipei 228 Memorial Park. By 5:40 p.m., every pastor had a lighted candle in his hand and began following General Assembly Moderator Chiohh Lyiam Syian and General Secretary Andrew Chang in two processions toward Ketagalan Boulevard. On the way, they passed by many people waiting for the bus or riding scooters and though some people looked on curiously, others gave the pastors a thumbs-up sign.

The prayer meeting on that day revolved around 3 themes or segments, namely, “Past – Thanksgiving and Confession”, “Present – Entering into People’s Suffering”, and “Future – Loving the Country of Taiwan”. The whole meeting was emceed by PCT Indigenous Ministry Committee Secretary Omi Wilang, Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching, and Taiwan Church News General Editor Fang Lan-ting respectively.

During the first segment of the meeting, former PCT General Assembly Moderator Wang Nan-chieh gave a brief overview of the PCT’s public statement “Statement On Our National Fate” issued in 1971. His presentation was followed by a prayer of confession led by current PCT Vice-Moderator Pusin Tali to conclude this segment.

For the second segment, there were reflections based on a few key issues of concern such as the illegal Meiliwan Resort Hotel, the controversial Kuokuang Petrochemical plan to build a naphtha cracker, and the plight of indigenous peoples still living in permanent housing units following Typhoon Morakot. Following these reflections, Paiwan Presbytery Moderator Ripun led everyone in prayer.

Speaking on the trials of securing national sovereignty during the third segment, Taiwan Alliance Chairman Huang Kun-hui said that the reason the Ma administration had been so eager to push treaties such as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and a peace treaty with China is because it seeks to secure economic integration with China to pave the way for political integration.

Huang pointed to the banning of displays of Taiwanese flags during ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin’s visit to Taiwan, Taiwan’s participation in the WHO as a “Province of China”, and the emphasis over the non-existing “1992 Consensus” as merely a few examples of questionable behavior on the part of the President.

“We believe that You are a God who hears prayers. Our national leader’s behavior, our environment, and the relationship between ethnic groups in Taiwan are all in critical condition. We bring before you our suffering and plead for You to save us and save Taiwan!” Church and Society Committee Chairman Avai Niahosa prayed aloud.

Following this prayer, General Secretary Chang gave a sermon on “Loving Taiwan and Spreading the Gospel of Christ.” After the sermon, more than 800 PCT pastors and members joined in the recitation of the  “PCT Confession of Faith”. Children and youths were also present at this meeting and some were invited on stage to share about their future hopes for Taiwan.

The meeting concluded with the singing of “Taiwan the Formosa” and the placing of lighted candles in the shape of the island as well as a final prayer by Moderator Chiohh.

  

 
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3120 Edition
December12-18, 2011
Church Ministry News

Taiwanese opera brings to life biblical stories and proclaims the gospel in rural districts

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

What kind of Taiwanese opera would attract a large crowd of seniors enough to get out of their warm beds and sit in the cold outside on a cold winter’s night? Well, a new evangelistic Taiwanese opera managed to do just that recently when it staged a show in Wanggong region, Changhua County.

Sponsored by 6 local churches, this Christmas outreach event took place in the evening of December 10, 2011, and featured the Taiwanese Opera Troupe, which performed “Joseph’s New Coat” before a crowd of more than 800 people. The show began with choir performances of Christian hymns before Ren-Ai Presbyterian Church pastor, Lin Hsin-cheng, opened the show with a brief prayer.

The entire opera lasted about two hours and was followed by a brief message from Rev. Li Yu-hsia, who also issued an altar call after the message. The outreach then ended on a high note with a lottery draw for prizes.

Taiwanese Opera Troupe’s director Liu Nan-fang is a Christian and a Taiwanese opera researcher and producer. He has spent many years touring across Taiwan with his troupe proclaiming God’s love. He has also partnered with local churches on several occasions for evangelistic events and performed on special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Ghost Month, and Christmas.

On that cold night, many seniors and local residents braved the harsh weather and stayed until the end of the show. Though the opera featured a story from the Bible that no one in the audience had heard of before, it nevertheless captivated their undivided attention. Event coordinator and Wang-Kong Church’s elder, Lin Hsiu-man, said that most seniors in the area are illiterate and would understand long sermons. “But these folks grew up watching Taiwanese Opera and understand it.”

Lin added that due to some superstitions from folk religion, many in the audience would never darken the door of a church. However, when the audience received invitations to attend this event, they gladly accepted it and even thanked the church for giving them such a nice treat.

Despite this outreach event’s success, Rev. Li Yu-hsia said afterward that many of her staff were worried at first about how the show would be received because local shrines have also organized Taiwanese opera or Taiwanese puppet shows before to thank the local gods, but their events rarely yielded large crowds. Despite these concerns, her staff kept on praying and believing in God and they eventually saw God work a miracle before their very eyes.

Li said she was very touched by the effort and passion of local pastors in helping make this event possible. She added that she was grateful to see such a strong sense of mutual understanding and solidarity on the part of local churches in preparing and hosting this event. 

 
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3120 Edition
December 12-18, 2011
General Assembly News

PCT responds to Chu Hung-yuan’s report on 228 Massacre

Reported by Sam Lee

Written by Lydia Ma

On December 12, 2011, The China Times ran an article indicating that a new report on the 228 Massacre written by Chu Hung-yuan, a research fellow at Academia Sinica, singled out the PCT for conspiring with hoodlums, Taiwanese-Japanese soldiers, and underground Chinese Communist Party members in inciting an insurrection during the 228 Massacre.

In response to this allegation, PCT General Secretary Andrew Chang exclaimed, “This is a serious insult to the PCT!” He also said that it is evident from Chu Hung-yuan’s report, which has yet to be made public, that the KMT is anything but sincere when apologizing for the 228 Massacre.

Chang underscored that two important factors to take into consideration when it comes to Chu’s report are the interpretation of historical events and the reliability of historical data. Since all PCT archives are public, the PCT will convene with scholars to study matters more closely before responding to these allegations.

According to a December 12, 2011 news report by The China Times, Chu and his team were given funding by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, whose current chairman is Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, to research the 228 Massacre. The research yielded a few new findings, one of which was that the PCT was also a culprit in this national tragedy. Chu reported that details about how the PCT became involved are still under investigation. He added that he had contacted Chang-Jung Senior High School on numerous occasions, but the school wouldn’t disclose any information related to this matter.

In response to this news report, Chang replied that various PCT members and pastors, including Tamkang High School Principal Chen Neng-tung, had perished in the 228 Massacre. To allege now that the PCT collaborated with thugs is a grave insult to the PCT.

PCT General Secretary Chang added that, just a few days ago, on Human Rights Day, President Ma had issued an apology for the government’s violation of human rights during the Martial Law era. But from this news story, it’s apparent that Chu’s report not only fails to evaluate the KMT’s role in this massacre but also hides the KMT’s wrongdoings and places the blame on the church.

Chang said it’s evident from this story that the KMT’s apology, issued by President Ma, is a façade for a political party that has yet to reflect seriously on its actions. Moreover, the fact that this story should make the news barely one month before the presidential elections is not only an affront to Taiwanese but also an emotional trauma as well, for this massacre has been used to fan ethnic and religious strife. Chang warned that if this story and Chu’s report were intended to be negative campaigns, the KMT’s ploy will backfire and it’ll wind up getting burned as well.

Responding to Chu’s assertion that he wasn’t able to secure documents for his research, the General Secretary said that all PCT historical documents and files are public. “There are no secrets because everything is recorded clearly!”

He underscored that Chang Jung High School is merely a museum. In other words, it is not the main location where all PCT historical documents are filed and stored. Almost all of the files are stored at the PCT Research and Development Center and they are also available at seminary libraries, a digital archive system at the National Central Library, Taiwan Church News, and Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History. Hence, for a scholar by trade like Chu to claim that the PCT wouldn’t disclose information not only reflects ignorance and sloppiness on his part, but also indicates that the credibility of his research deserves careful examination.

According to reports, to promote the R.O.C Centenary Celebrations, Chu has planned a series of speaking engagements in the U.S. on the theme of “The Christian Nature of the Chinese Revolution,” where he credits Christian values for the revolution and the founding of the R.O.C. Chu also believes the 228 Massacre is also pregnant with Christian undertones, only this time, an established Christian church in Taiwan, the PCT, collaborated with hoodlums to incite a rebellion.  

That being said, Chang admits that the PCT did not participate or reach out enough during the 228 Massacre. As a result, it was after much introspection that the PCT issued a statement and an apology in February of 1990 and began promoting 228 remembrance movements and theological reflections. The PCT believes that what happened during the 228 Massacre can be forgiven, but should never be forgotten.

Speaking as a historian, Taiwan Theological College and Seminary history professor Rev. Cheng Yang-en said that Chu’s statements are a matter of interpreting history based on existing convictions and viewpoints. Moreover, Cheng notes that both the Revolution of 1911 and the 228 Massacre are instances of people rising up against tyranny. The fact that the former would be viewed favorably while the latter would be viewed negatively is indeed a matter of historical interpretation. Hence, Cheng advised the General Assembly to go over Chu’s report with Taiwanese historians so as to provide a detailed answer to each of Chu’s arguments.

From the General Secretary’s point of view, the fact that Chu would publish a report painting the PCT as a villain in the 228 Massacre so soon after the PCT issued a public statement on the current political situation in Taiwan and staged a pastoral prayer rally in front of the Presidential Palace is indeed worth pondering upon deeply.

Editor's Note: This article previously cited "The China Post" as the newspaper that published Chu's story. The correct name of the newspaper should be "China Times". Corrections have been made accordingly.

 

 
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3120 Edition
December 12-18, 2011
Editorial

Editorial: A modern day version of King Saul’s rampage

Translated by Lydia Ma

On December 12, one of Taiwan’s biggest newspapers The China Times ran a story about some new findings in the latest research about the 228 Massacre done by Chu Hung-yuan, an Academia Sinica researcher. The research concluded that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had already infiltrated all levels of the Republic of China government at the time of the massacre and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) had also colluded with the CCP and Japanese soldiers to incite a revolt.

Chu allegedly said that details surrounding the PCT’s involvement in the 228 Massacre are still under investigation, but “the problem is that PCT will not let us look at their archives.” He added that there is information stored at Chang-Jung Senior High School in Tainan that he had repeatedly tried to access, yet he was unable to obtain any information from this source.

It’s evident from this news story in The China Times that Chu considers the 228 Massacre as a peasant revolt and there are still people who think likewise today. Though the PCT archives are indeed voluminous and generally accessible to anyone in academia, there are other research institutes in Taiwan that already have a lot of PCT documents. Ironically, Chu is the only scholar so far who hasn’t been able to access these archives and yet has managed to write a conclusive report nevertheless.

What makes Chu’s report more suspicious is that it should make the news so shortly after the PCT issued a public statement concerning the upcoming presidential elections in 2012, and barely one week after more than 300 PCT pastors wearing their uniforms held a prayer rally in front of the Presidential Palace. The fact that The China Times should print this story comes as no surprise as well because it’s public knowledge that it’s a pan-blue newspaper supported by the KMT and at the Ma administration’s beck and call.

This incident calls to mind two Old Testament stories found in the Bible. The first story is that of Pharaoh found in the book of Exodus. Afraid of losing slaves, Pharaoh became more stubborn and turned to violence. The second story is that of King Saul. Afraid of losing his kingdom and his popularity, King Saul persecuted David and anyone who supported and followed David.

The Bible records that after David killed Goliath, Israelites who were oppressed by Saul and unhappy with the status quo began following David. When the priest Ahimelech prayed to God on David’s behalf and gave David food and Goliath’s sword, he and 85 other priests were executed by one of Saul’s treacherous officers.

Based on various recent controversies, including the latest Yu Chang Biologics scandal, it’s clear the KMT is determined to retain power using any means. The PCT’s recent statement supporting a presidential candidate that advocates anti-unification and pro-Taiwan policies is enough grounds for the Ma administration to dub it as a “big hooligan” and see it as a stumbling block to power.

This incident is also another instance of history repeating itself because when the PCT issued its “Statement On Our National Fate” 40 years ago, it was also discredited and demonized by the KMT. However, regardless of how the KMT tries to demonize the PCT using all kinds of antics, these will not change the PCT’s resolve to care for and speak out on people’s welfare, national politics, and the future of Taiwan.

 

 


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