China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 30, 2015
Executive Summary: The “fine tuning” or final editing of texts used in twelve year compulsory education has long been a political football. This August, the process will be complete. This prospect has touched off a new wave of controversy. Controversy formerly centered on history texts and the national language. More recently controversy has spread to civics texts and social studies texts. Controversy over the texts now involves the key to all political disputes, namely, what view of history do we wish to instill? A cosmopolitan view, or a Taiwanese nationalist view? The expanding controversy requires a society wide, in depth investigation. The president, the legislature, and the political parties must give it careful consideration.
Full Text Below:
The “fine tuning” or final editing of texts used in twelve year compulsory education has long been a political football. This August, the process will be complete. This prospect has touched off a new wave of controversy. Controversy formerly centered on history texts and the national language. More recently controversy has spread to civics texts and social studies texts. Controversy over the texts now involves the key to all political disputes, namely, what view of history do we wish to instill? A cosmopolitan view, or a Taiwanese nationalist view? The expanding controversy requires a society wide, in depth investigation. The president, the legislature, and the political parties must give it careful consideration.
Opposition groups have formulated a comprehensive strategy. First, they have defined the Ministry of Education final edit of the textbooks as a "black box operation". They are attempting to discredit the Ministry of Education edition on procedural grounds. They have invoked Taiwanese nationalist sentiment and denounced the curriculum as a "three peoples edition". They have alleged that the High School Citizens and Society text redacted sections about the White Terror and illustrations of the 2/28 Incident, and added content relating to "Chinese tradition and culture". Even more extremist protest groups such as the "Taiwan Centric Textbook Alliance" have demanded the "rejection of a Chinese colonial curriculum," and the "creation of a Taiwan centric curriculum". Allegations of "black box operations" and "colonialism" have been hurled left and right. How did the Ministry of Education respond? It meekly explained the minutiae of its bureaucratic procedures in excruciating detail. The media battle has only just begun, and the government is already in retreat.
Worse still, the Ministry of Education finds itself in an embarrassing position regarding legal procedure. The Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other organizations say that when the Ministry of Education edited the texts, it failed to fully disclose information and made unreasonable and unlawful decisions. They have demanded that the Ministry of Education provide their minutes of meetings, voting rosters, membership lists, and other information. The Ministry of Education says some of the information cannot be disclosed. The Taiwan Association for Human Rights responded by filing an administrative lawsuit. Recently the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled against the Ministry of Education, adding to the impression that the final editing of the curriculum was a "black box operation" that "lacked legitimacy". DPP ruled counties and cities will continue using the old texts, and reject the new texts. As matters stand, the government has suffered a crushing defeat. The courts have ruled that it engaged in black box operations. Worse still, it has been painted as an enemy of Taiwan centrism and democracy. Implementation will now be even more difficult. But are the new texts really so execrable?
First, let us establish the facts. The final versions of the civics texts and social studies texts merely deleted comparisons of the White Terror and 2/28 Incident to the Nazi Holocaust. History texts already cover the relevant historical facts. They do not need to be repeated. The final version of the history texts did not avoid mention of the White Terror. On the contrary, it described it in far greater detail and gave it far greater emphasis. It stressed the importance of the era to Taiwan's history. Charges that educational authorities conspired to whitewash the history of the White Terror are ludicrous.
Second, the civics texts and social studies texts mention "multicultural society and globalization". They stress the importance of multiculturalism. They note that "Taiwan society is deeply imbued with traditional Chinese culture" and that "This means Taiwan society includes traditional Chinese culture". Under "politics and democracy", the texts mention the "founding spirit and purpose of our Constitution". Under "evolution of cross-strait relations." the phrase "the basis for Taiwan's China policy" is revised to read "the basis for our national policy toward the Mainland". Opponents assert that this is "de-Taiwanization" and "re-Sinicization". But the point of departure for the revised Ministry of Education texts is the Republic of China Constitution. Its goal is constitutionality. It is clearly fully justified in this endeavor.
Sad to say, amidst all the controversy, the Ministry of Education issued long winded and cumbersome press releases. Lower echelon officials issued feeble and impotent rebuttals. Where was the government of the Republic of China? Nowhere to be found. Where was the cabinet, armed with powerful arguments, able to fight back? Nowhere to be found. The truth was drowned by an ocean of saliva. No one stepped forward to champion the defense of the constitution, adherence to the constitution, and implementation of the constitution. When Chen Shui-bian was in power, the presidential palace, the ruling party, and the Executive Yuan, all rallied behind Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng. They defended his "concentric circle theory" of Taiwan independence and de-Sinicization. Can the KMT do any less?
Educational authorities used the term "fine tuning" to reduce controversy and avoid questions. They revealed their lack of character, courage, and ability in the face of controversy. Assuming the spirit of the ROC Constitution is one's point of departure, the texts require more than "fine tuning". They require wholesale revision. Such revisions are hardly subtle administrative procedures. Nor are they tedious academic arguments. Rather, they are the defense and implementation of the Republic of China's founding philosophy, spirit, and history. These are matters of right and wrong which must be set right.
No one, from educational authorities to upper echelon Presidential Office and Executive Yuan officials, had the courage to stand up and offer an effective defense. They doomed the text revisions to oblivion, and consigned themselves to self-imolation. The Ma administration has been in office nearly seven years. It was slow to correct the texts. This made the process more difficult. Now the entire enterprise may be stillborn. How can one not be distraught?
One simply must ask. Is there anyone in the ROC government or cabinet with the capacity to govern? Or have they all become zombies? The fate of the revised texts now hangs in the balance. Society must think rationally. What does the future hold for Taiwan? Will it carry forward traditional Chinese culture? Will it connect with Chinese consciousness? Will it use the opportunity to preserve a cosmopolitan view of Taiwanese history rooted in China's heartland? Or will it mire itself in de-Sinicization and collide head on with the CCP by embracing "Taiwan Nationalist History"?
即將於8月上路，新一波戰火再度點燃。 先前課綱爭議集中在歷史與國文，近來更延燒到公民與社會。 課綱微調爭議涉及當下所有政治紛爭的核心： 我們究竟要建構何種史觀： 是開闊的台灣人史觀或台灣民族主義史觀？面對爭議延燒， 社會各方有必要深入探究，府院黨也要慎謀能斷。
黑箱」微調，在程序正義上先否定掉教育部版微調課綱， 進一步訴諸台灣民族主義情緒，指控「三民版」 高中公民與社會教科書去掉了「白色恐怖」 的篇幅與二二八事件歷史插圖，卻增加了「中華傳統與文化」 相關內容。更極端的抗議團體「台灣主體課綱聯盟」更喊出了「 拒絕中國殖民課綱」、「制定台灣主體課綱」的訴求。 左一句黑箱作業，右一句殖民主義， 教育部卻只在官僚作業技術面做出澄清， 在媒體攻防戰上已經先落居下風。
台灣人權促進會等團體認為教育部微調課綱的決議過程沒有充分公開 資訊，決策過程不合理、不合法， 行文教育部要求提供相關的會議紀錄、表決名冊、委員名單等資料。 教育部認為部分資料得不公開，台權會便提起行政訴訟， 日前台北高等行政法院判決教育部敗訴，更加深了課綱微調「 黑箱作業」、「缺乏正當性」的惡劣印象。 民進黨執政縣市也決議未來將延續使用舊課綱， 拒絕微調後的新課綱。事件發展至此， 政府的課綱微調似乎已經一敗塗地，不但是「法院認證」 的黑箱課綱，更是去台灣、反民主的罪人，在執行上也難上加難。 然而新課綱是否真的如此不堪？
只是在公民與社會課程「人與人權」主題下，將白色恐怖、 二二八事件和納粹大屠殺等例證刪去， 原因在於歷史課程中已經詳述相關歷史事實，不再重複。 微調後的歷史新課綱，不但沒有刪除「白色恐怖」，反而將其由「 說明」之欄位，提高到「重點」的欄位，表示對此階段歷史的重視。 要說教育當局意圖湮滅白色恐怖等歷史，恐怕是過甚其詞。
在維持原來重視多元文化理念的同時，增加了「 台灣社會具有濃厚的中華文化傳統」、「 說明台灣社會所具有的中華文化傳統」。另外，在「政治與民主」 主題中，增列了「陳述我國憲法的立國精神與宗旨」，在「 台海兩岸關係的演變」主題中，則是把「台灣的中國政策依據」， 改成了「我國的大陸政策依據」等等，反對者皆認為是「去台灣化」 、「再中國化」，但是教育部新課綱修訂的出發點卻是「 中華民國憲法」，目的是追求「合憲」，自然有相當的正當性。
繁瑣的新聞稿，和事務層級官員的蒼白無力辯駁外， 完全看不到中華民國政府、看不到內閣團隊強而有力的論證與回擊， 非但讓事實真相淹沒在口水之中，更看不到、聽不見本於護憲、 合憲、行憲之大義名分，而做出的立場捍衛和理念辯論。 回顧陳水扁任內，從總統府、 執政黨到行政院全面捍衛當時教育部長杜正勝建構「同心圓理論」 的去中國化台獨史綱，國民黨能無愧乎？
顯示其缺乏面對爭論的格局、勇氣與能力。 若從中華民國憲法精神出發，課綱需要的不僅僅是微調， 而是明確的改正。改正決不是細微的行政程序， 也不是繁瑣的學術論證，而是中華民國立國理念、 精神與歷史的捍衛與貫徹，這是真正屬於大是大非的課題， 也是撥亂反正的要務。
堅定有效政策辯護的心態與作為， 已經注定課綱微調不但將是一場空，更反而引火自焚。馬政府執政近 7年，在課綱改正上起步緩慢，推行艱難，如今更有胎死腹中之勢， 怎能不令人扼腕、浩歎？
內閣是否還有施政能力，還是早已成為僵屍？ 在課綱微調案存亡關鍵時刻，我們期待社會冷靜思考， 台灣的前途究竟是要發揚中華文化傳統、連結中國意識、 保留逐鹿中原機會的「開闊的台灣人史觀」，或去中國、 與中共對立的「台灣民族主義史觀」。