Taiwan Church News
May 20-26, 2013
Editorial: Enough with the tantrums!
Translated by Lydia Ma
As the dispute between the Philippines and Taiwan concerning the fatal shooting of the fisherman aboard the ship Kuang Ta Hsing No.28 in disputed waters heightens in intensity, more and more Taiwanese are surprised to discover that the Philippine government could be so savage and proud. Many Taiwanese find the Philippine government’s attitude to be a stark contrast to the friendly and honest Filipino workers that we are accustomed to seeing in our parks or in our homes helping our elderly people.
People who are well acquainted with the Philippines say that this country has been riddled with corruption at the government level and poverty among its citizenry in the past 20 years and such a phenomenon has become a vicious cycle. People who travel often to the Philippines can attest to the fact that shoving a wad of bank notes at customs can clear up questionable x-rays in no time because poverty, corruption, crime, and internal disarray is a prevalent problem in the Philippines. Despite such circumstances, we did not expect that our seemingly friendly and Catholic neighbor would pull the trigger and then turn its back on its religious roots and Christian convictions this time around.
The Philippines, which for now has an advantage over Taiwan in the opinion of the international media, has decided to obstruct justice and fool the world this time around. However, as this dispute becomes more and more heated, past wrongdoings committed by the Philippine government against Taiwanese fishermen are coming to light one by one. Many of these past wrongdoings have resulted in loss of life and exorbitant amounts of extortion. The Taiwanese people are determined to address these past wrongdoings in the light of day once and for all. It should be clear by now that lies can only take a country so far before they are exposed in broad daylight and bring shame to a country.
As for Taiwan, many government representatives and entertainment stars have gone on the offensive, eager to show-off their patriotism by proposing war with the Philippines. Frankly, their efforts would be better spent toward reforming our government and making it a clean, honest, and capable institution. As it stands now, their war rhetoric only makes us nervous because if a real war between Taiwan and the Philippines were the only way out, having such a “brilliant” commander-in-chief directing our armed forces is definitely something we should worry about!
The Hong family understands that they must revere providence and nature and they most likely will remain in the fishing industry as it’s their only way to make a living. However, who can vouch that this is the last time that such a tragedy will ever happen to Taiwanese fishermen? As long as Taiwan’s international status, national sovereignty, and lack of formal independence cannot be firmly established, the Philippines will have plenty of opportunities to do whatever it likes. Taiwanese fishermen who leave our ports are not going to be safe wherever they are.
There have been hundreds of incidents in the past 10 years where Philippine authorities have stolen from or taken advantage of Taiwanese fishermen. These problems have been perpetuated over and over again because Taiwanese don’t want to stir up trouble and accept their lot and bad luck with resignation too easily. Such a soft stance on our part has emboldened the Philippine government to impound more Taiwanese vessels and even to consider such actions as means to make a fast buck.
The Philippine government has just recently expressed confidence in its ability to deal with the freezing of Philippine worker applications by the Taiwanese government. But if that were the case, it would make no sense for the Philippine government to at the same time pretend to be the victim in front of foreign media and to blacken Taiwan’s image by claiming that Taiwanese are unreasonable and rude toward Filipinos. Our response to such rhetoric is to ask this government how it would describe people who shoot and steal other people and their boats.
Forgiveness without justice is called a “cover-up” and such a strategy is Satan’s prime tool used to expand its kingdom. However, responding to such an injustice with military force or war is neither rational nor intelligent. As Taiwanese, we have tolerated our government’s weakness and incompetence for so long that we have lost many opportunities to right wrongs and impose sanctions and address problems as they arise. We must examine our own past record of indifference.
As Christians in Philippines and in Taiwan celebrate the Pentecost, we are reminded of the fact that Christian principles are our ultimate and best arbitrators in this dispute. Exhortations from churches around the world shouldn’t be brushed off as unimportant because they can pressure the Philippine government to be more open and to give an account. But after all is said and done, an honest apology from the Philippines can win back respect, but before then, the breaking of diplomatic ties and the imposition of sanctions are only reasonable courses of action.