"Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above" More Than Meets the Eye
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
November 28, 2013
Summary: "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above" offers us a bird's eye view from the air. A "Taiwan Through the Microscope," on the other hand, would reveal how everything is broken, everything is out of order, and would leave people aghast. Premier Chiang was moved to confront the problems. But problem solving requires addressing the root of the problem. Otherwise the ad hoc group will merely watch "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above" then write a report. It will hold a meeting to discuss concerns but will not get to the root of the problem. The problem will worsen. No remedies will be found for the disease. The result will be "Governing the nation by watching movies."
Full text below:
Director Chi Po-lin's film, "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above" has won awards and created a sensation. Those who have seen the film have been so moved they want to translate their feelings into action. Business firms and individuals have purchased group tickets to spread the message of love for Taiwan. Governments at all levels have used the film as environmentalist teaching material. Premier Chiang Yi-hua ordered the formation of an ad hoc group, aimed at those who have harmed Taiwan's natural environment. He ordered inter-ministerial consultations and set a deadline for improvements.
"Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above" was deeply moving because we remain strangers to Taiwan's geography and culture. Mountain regions account for 70% of the island's surface area. But restricted access to these magnificent mountain regions has long prevented the public from feeling close to them. We pride ourselves on being a "maritime nation." But access to the coastal regions was restricted during martial law. The shores of Taiwan are lapped by ocean waves. Yet Taiwan has no maritime culture. Development has been limited to local industrial development. The public sits between the mountains and the sea. But it remains far removed from their beauty. It may care about them, but has not been able to translate that care into action. Its concern is always belated.
Having seen Taiwan from on high, Premier Chiang has acted from up close. Premier Chiang's actions should be acknowledged. But Taiwan's land has been destroyed. Improper development and pollution are hardly limited to what can be seen from a bird's-eye view high above. Forests and cities contain pollution that cannot be seen from a bird's eye perspective. Government business collusion remains rampant. Saving Taiwan requires root cures. Land planning and land surveying must be completed as soon as possible. Attention to every link in the chain is the only solution.
Existing land planning is top down. It includes "Comprehensive Land Development Plans," "Regional Plans," "Directly Administered Municipality, County or Municipal Comprehensive Development Plans." Only then do county and municipal urban planning and non-urban land use planning come into play. High level land plans have no legal basis. Top-down control leaves huge loopholes. This has resulted in all talk and no action.
Nearly 20 years separate the "Land Restoration Ordinance" from the "Land Planning Act." The Legislative Yuan has repeatedly entered and left the scene. Today the matter remains in stasis. The key reason is the manner in which aboriginal populations in the alpine forest regions are classified. Some regions are designated as autonomous regions. Others are designated as central mountain regions. Consensus has been hard to achieve.
If the status of aboriginal peoples in alpine forest regions cannot be defined, the Land Planning Act will remain empty talk. The aboriginal peoples are at one with the alpine forest regions. One must understand the mountains. If the mountains abide, man abides. If the mountains perish, man perishes. Aboriginal peoples are always the first line of defense in conservation. People sitting in government offices on the flatlands have no call to tell aboriginal peoples how they should live. Aboriginal peoples revere and cherish the mountains. They have a sustainable approach to alpine forest region resources.
One tribal leader who tried to define the role of aboriginal peoples in the alpine forest regions resigned in despair. He said, "Aboriginal peoples are dedicate guardians of the alpine forest regions, the land where their ancestors are buried. They care more about the alpine forests than anyone else." He said the ministries that introduced agriculture and alpine tourism were responsible for 70% of the damage to Taiwan's mountains." Aboriginal peoples are at one with the mountains. This must be acknowledged. A minimal but critical budget to hire aboriginal park rangers to serve as alpine forest guardians will allow the alpine forest regions to remain healthier than planning by people from the flatlands.
Aboriginal peoples have been subject to unreasonable delays in national land planning. The Land Planning Act has remained frozen in the Legislative Yuan. A comprehensive survey cannot go forward. Typhoon Herb, the 9/21 Earthquake, and Typhoon Morakot were painful lessons. They made the public aware of the need to coexist with nature. Nevertheless we have long lacked sustainable land development planning and controls.
After Premier Chiang saw "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above," he became alarmed. He concluded that alpine forest region development and maritime policy must be changed. For example, roads obviously must not be opened merely to to increase tourism. Large tour buses should not be allowed into the alpine forest regions. Yet they are still being approved. Mountain agriculture policies formulated by bureaucrats in air-conditioned rooms introduces capital from the flatlands. Aboriginal Peoples know this is not right, but they are unable to block it.
The nation's land is an undivided entity. Taiwan is an island ecosystem. From the mountains to the sea, it requires an overall plan, for disaster prevention if nothing else. National land planning and a national land survey remain stalled. No sustainable land planning chain exists. All we have is one discrete lower level development plan after another. This enables government business collusion to profit through pollution. How under such conditions, can we protect our rivers and mountains? The Executive Yuan has just passed a 60 billion dollar special budget for flood control. If the watershed is managed piecemeal from its headwaters to the sea, if we refuse to admit error, how can we make the slightest difference?
"Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above" offers us a bird's eye view from the air. A "Taiwan Through the Microscope," on the other hand, would reveal how everything is broken, everything is out of order, and would leave people aghast. Premier Chiang was moved to confront the problems. But problem solving requires addressing the root of the problem. Otherwise the ad hoc group will merely watch "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above" then write a report. It will hold a meeting to discuss concerns but will not get to the root of the problem. The problem will worsen. No remedies will be found for the disease. The result will be "Governing the nation by watching movies."
2013.11.28 03:18 am