Open letter to the President of NCCU

Gate of National Chengchi University campus in Taipei
Photo by Ken Marshall, flickr (Creative Commons licence)

The following letter, which I co-wrote with Ben Goren, was published in the Taipei Times today. Addressed to Edward Chow, the President of National Chengchi University, it calls on the university to change the school anthem and make greater efforts to align the university’s values with the pluralistic democracy of contemporary Taiwan rather than paying homage to the historical party-state.

As alumni of National Chengchi University (NCCU), we have followed the news about students boycotting the school anthem during a university choir competition with great interest (“Students boycott ‘outdated’ anthem,” Dec. 6, page 3).

We would like to make a public call to NCCU president Edward Chow.

We applaud and stand with the students who want to change the anachronistic anthem with a song that reflects Taiwan’s democratic values and seeks to establish the political neutrality necessary for the school to be taken seriously as an international institution. Continue reading “Open letter to the President of NCCU”

New book: Taiwan Since Martial Law

Taiwan Since Martial Law book cover

A few days ago I received a long awaited package from Taiwan in the mail. It contained copies of a new book, Taiwan Since Martial Law: Society, Culture, Politics, Economy.

I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the book because it contains a chapter I wrote titled, “Nation vs. Tradition: Indigenous Rights and Smangus.” The chapter is based on the research I did for my thesis in the Masters of Taiwan Studies program at National Chengchi University (NCCU).

While it is great to finally hold the book in my hands it is important to acknowledge the great amount of work that went into its production. Thanks must go to David Blundell for his tireless work as the editor. Many others were also involved in the project. The quality of the final product shines through in the beautiful artwork and design on the cover. Continue reading “New book: Taiwan Since Martial Law”

Farewell to Formosa

It is more than a decade since I first came to Taiwan. During that time Taiwan has played a big part in my life, but my time there has finally come to an end and I am returning to Australia. This news may come as a surprise to some readers of this blog, but I have spent the past few weeks meeting with and saying goodbye to friends in Taipei and Taichung.

These past few years in Taiwan have been a rich learning experience. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to study at National Chengchi University (NCCU) where I completed a Master’s degree in Taiwan Studies. Dr David Blundell gave me some great guidance in the process of writing my thesis. David is currently editing a book titled Taiwan Since Martial Law. I have written a chapter for the book based on my thesis research and it should be published in the next few months. I will post the details of the book on this blog when it is available. Continue reading “Farewell to Formosa”

Prediction market for the five cities election

Election campaign posters in Taichung

The five cities election (五都選舉) is exactly one month away. On 27 November voters will go to the polls in the newly merged and upgraded special municipalities of Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taichung as well as Taipei City and Taipei County (which will be renamed Xinbei City/New Taipei City). The latest numbers from National Chengchi University’s Prediction Market Centre give some pointers to the likely results.

Greater Kaohsiung

  • Chen Chu (DPP) 64.1
  • Yang Chiu-hsing (Ind) 26.5
  • Huang Chao-shun (KMT) 8.7

Greater Tainan

  • William Lai (DPP) 85.0
  • Kuo Tien-tsai (KMT) 9.4

Greater Taichung

  • Jason Hu (KMT) 67.0
  • Su Jia-chyuan (DPP) 31.5 (Su is not actually listed, price is for “other”)

Taipei County (soon to be renamed)

  • Eric Chu (KMT) 49.4
  • Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) 50.6

Taipei City

  • Hau Lung-bin (KMT) 45.5
  • Su Tseng-chang (DPP) 51.5

Continue reading “Prediction market for the five cities election”

Completed my Master's, now in Taichung

I recently completed my Master’s thesis, about two and half years after I began studying for a Master’s degree in Taiwan Studies at NCCU (國立政治大學). Although I still have a few administrative matters to complete before I can get my degree certificate. My thesis is titled “Indigenous Rights in Taiwan and the Smangus Case”. It examines the Smangus Beech Tree Incident which I have written about in a number of articles on this blog.

I moved to Taichung this week. After more than five years living in Taipei I look forward to experiencing life in another part of Taiwan. I am now a research assistant in the Research Centre for Austronesian Peoples at Providence University (靜宜大學). It is a good chance to continue doing research work in the same field as my thesis.

International students in Taiwan


Two articles recently published on contain some useful information and advice for foreign students studying in Taiwanese universities.

Jeana Jack, a student at NCCU, has written a survival guide for international students that is full of good advice. She discusses choosing a university, learning Mandarin, finding a place to live and other important things.

I had lived in Taiwan for several years before I became a full-time student here so this made adjusting to university life quite easy. I imagine it must be more difficult for people who have just arrived in Taiwan and have to simultaneously deal with adjusting to life in a foreign country and starting a university course.

The second article was written by me. I interviewed three students from different backgrounds about their experiences studying Mandarin in Taiwan. They talk about the positives and negatives of language learning in Taiwan as well as giving some advice about learning Mandarin. The most common advice for successfully learning Mandarin is that you need a lot of patience.

*photo from used under Creative Commons licence.

AIT Director speaks at NCCU


William Stanton, the Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), gave a speech at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University (國立政治大學) this morning. He addressed the topic of US-Taiwan relations highlighting the close ties between the two countries especially in the areas of education, trade and military exchanges.

Last week Taiwan lifted a ban on US beef imports that had been in place since 2003. This topic seems to be of great interest to the Taiwanese media and there were cameras from a number of Taiwan television stations present. (All the cameras left immediately after Stanton commented on the beef issue.)

Stanton addressed the beef issue early in his talk saying, “There’s never been one case of any person getting Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease from eating US beef. I’d like to point out in contrast that in 2008 1,034 people tragically lost their lives riding motorscooters in Taiwan. There really is no risk eating US beef.” He added that more than 50 countries in the world import US beef. Continue reading “AIT Director speaks at NCCU”

End of the last semester at NCCU

The end of this semester marked my completion of the coursework requirements in the Master’s of Taiwan Studies program at NCCU (國立政治大學). The classes I took this semester were Political Development of Taiwan and International Relations of Taiwan. They were both great classes — Taiwan presents a vast amount of rich subject matter on these topics.

In International Relations I gave a presentation on “Taiwan and the Pacific Island Nations”. This topic is very worthy of further research, particularly looking at Taiwan’s relations with the Solomon Islands and the effects of China’s growing influence in the region.

On Monday I presented my thesis proposal to my thesis committee. The thesis looks at the current situation of indigenous rights in Taiwan based on a case study of the Smangus Beech Tree Incident. The proposal was passed and now I need to work hard on writing my thesis over the summer.

Although the semester is over next week there is a conference of the Society for East Asian Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association at Academia Sinica. A group of students from the Taiwan Studies program are presenting posters with the theme of “Latitude 121° East: Locality in Our Time”. My poster is titled “Indigenous Rights in Taiwan and the Smangus Case”.