Monday, March 31, 2008

Lonely Planet's history of Taiwan


Well I've received an overwhelming response to my first really political blog entry. I thank all the contributors.

I just want to make a few remarks. First, about the suggestion that some real scientific polling ought to be done rather than just going on my informal poll. Great idea! However, easier said than done. Anyone willing to try it? I thought so.

My informal Blogger poll is definitely to be taken with a grain of salt. I can't say with any certainty that this is only a judge of 'foreign' sentiment as some of my readers are Taiwanese and, of course, are very welcome and interesting contributors.

Besides, I think a real poll would have to be ran very careful in order to determine if the voters were Taiwanese living in Taiwan, Taiwanese living abroad or everyone else (or maybe there are some other groups that might be considered). Just who comprises a foreigner would also have to be determined. So that would rule out the first category. Essentially, it would require some real thinking out in order to be authoritative in any way.

(BTW, I have read a lot about polling done in Taiwan to judge Taiwanese positions in the papers. However, I have yet to receive a call asking to do a survey. None of my colleagues or local friends, upon asking them about being polled, responded that they have participated in such polls. So it makes me wonder if anyone has had the experience and who does the polls and how they are administered. If anyone knows, please share the experience with us here!)

As my original post was primarily centered on the 'everyone else' I have also started to wonder about another source of default foreigner sympathy towards the Greens: the Lonely Planet. I recall reading Robert Storey's Lonely Planet Taiwan as a newbie to Taiwan. As anyone who has a copy of a Lonely Planet knows, there is always a historical backgrounder in the guide. It is probably the first time a lot of people get acquainted with Taiwan's culture and history.

I also recall being left with a strong sense that the KMT were a bunch of baddies and it definitely colored my view of them. Subsequent reading of Sterling Seagrave also left me with this impression. This, however, is in strong contrast a great number of people in Taiwan who lived through these times and who may largely have put history behind them (I am by no means am saying that these people are, however, in the majority).

I don't deny a lot of the past KMT wrong doing but I do know this: political parties can and do change. Witness the flip flop of the then slavery supporting Democrat party with President Lincoln's Republicans in the late 1800s to the Democrats and Republicans of today. This change was accomplished well within 100 years. By today's standards the 1800 Democrats might seem extremely repulsive to a lot of voters. Today, however, that backwards party has long been forgotten and has been replaced by a new political animal. The KMT may just have reinvented itself as well.
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