Youth can change Taiwan!

My recent letter in the Taipei Times ended by saying that youth must speak out to protect freedom in Taiwan. After I posted a link to my letter on Facebook Michael Turton commented that the youth also need to vote.

It seems very timely that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) just released a campaign video featuring rapper Dog G (大支) titled “Change Taiwan” (改變台灣). The DPP writes in the description of Dog G’s video that they want youth to actively participate in and contribute their ideas to the election campaign. They go on to write, “the DPP wants to promote an overall increase in the youth vote. It is not just concerned with the overall breakdown of votes between the parties. The key point is that youth should play a key role in this election!” Continue reading

Taiwan and the biodiversity crisis

Michael Turton has posted an excellent interview with Dr Bruno Walther about biodiversity in Taiwan. Dr Walther is a visiting professor at Taipei Medical University and also works at the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute. In the interview he discusses some of the key challenges Taiwan faces to protect its biodiversity.

Dr Walther and Klaus Bardenhagen have co-produced a documentary about the biodiversity crisis called Crisis of Life. It features interviews with a number of leading scientists. The trailer of the documentary is embedded above and you can watch more videos on the website.

Film festival to promote dialogue on death penalty issue

The Murder by Numbers Film Festival  (殺人影展3:亞洲與世界的對話), featuring films and documentaries on the theme of the death penalty, is on from 8-10 October in Taipei. It will be followed by screenings in Hsinchu and on university campuses later in the month. The festival coincides with the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October.

The festival is the third to be organised by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (台灣廢除死刑推動聯盟). The first festival was held in 2004 and the second in 2007. The theme of the third festival is a dialogue between Asia and the world. Asia is one of the regions of the world where the death penalty is most frequently carried out. Taiwan had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty from December 2005 until April this year when four prisoners were executed. These executions again brought the death penalty debate into the spotlight and showed that Taiwanese society is deeply divided on the issue. Events like this film festival provide an important opportunity for people to engage in dialogue about the death penalty issue. Continue reading

Tears and transitional justice

I reviewed Tears (眼淚) last year after I saw it at the Golden Horse Film Festival. The movie is officially released in Taiwan today. The movie tells the story of Guo, an old policeman who employs some unethical policing methods and eventually has to face up to his past.

The movie is being widely discussed in Taiwan for its theme of transitional justice. I have selected a couple of articles on the topic and translated part of them. In the Liberty Times (自由時報) Wang Dan (王丹), who recently spent six months in Taiwan as a visiting professor at NCCU, wrote:

做為「轉型正義」三部曲的第一部,鄭文堂並沒有去處理白色恐怖這個政治性的轉型正義議題,而是從員警執法的 社會層面入手,我認為這是很值得肯定的努力。關於轉型正義的議題,我一向認為過去的討論太政治化,反而不利於這個議題的深入進行。其實在社會層面,也有很多轉型正義的面向要去處理,這些面向涉及的是人性和人與人之間的關係的問題,因而來 得更加復雜。同時,這也是政府和國家權力無從處理,而需要公民社會本身來處理的問題。

In the first of a trilogy of films about transitional justice, Cheng Wen-tang didn’t deal with the issue of the White Terror period. Instead he began by looking at how the police enforce the law in society. I think this is a commendable effort. With regard to the topic of transitional justice I always believe the discussion in the past was too politicised and it’s not really favorable to discussing this topic deeply. Actually at the social level there are many issues of transitional justice that need to be faced. These involve human nature and the problems in relations between people. As a result they are more complex. At the same time this is something that the government or the power of the state can’t manage. It requires the citizens and society itself to manage.

Continue reading

Supreme Court repeals verdict in Smangus case

The Supreme Court last month ruled on the Smangus Beech Tree case sending the case back to the High Court for a reexamination. The news seems to have been almost ignored by Taiwan’s media, but Taiwan Indigenous Television provided some good reporting. In addition to embedding a video of the English news report from TITV Weekly, I have also translated a report (中文) from Taiwan Indigenous Television which provides more details.

On 7 December the Supreme Court repealed the verdict of the second hearing in the Smangus Beech Tree Case. The original verdict in the second hearing found the three Atayal men who moved a wind fallen beech tree back to their village were guilty. In addition the Supreme Court emphasised that there should be respect for indigenous peoples’ traditional customs. It was the first time since the beginning of the Smangus beech tree case that the judge’s verdict had included the wording of “indigenous peoples’ traditional territory”. It affirmed indigenous peoples’ right to use their traditional territory. It also raised the spirits of the Smangus community. Continue reading

Politics and social media in Taiwan


With local elections approaching the campaign is not just being run on the streets but also in cyberspace. The screen shot from the DPP website above shows the party’s candidates for mayor or county commissioner in the end of year local government elections. Beneath each candidate’s photo there are icons linking to Plurk, Facebook, blogs, websites and YouTube. It shows that candidates are actively using social media as tools in their campaign.

A number of leading DPP politicians including Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) are active users of Plurk. Frank Hsieh has just published a book called “Frank’s Plurk Diary”. He began using Plurk in April this year and now has 11,447 friends and 3,519 fans. Plurk is currently much more popular than Twitter in Taiwan because it has a Chinese-language option. Continue reading

ChthoniC takes it to the extreme


Taiwanese extreme metal group ChthoniC’s  (閃靈) new album Mirror of Retribution (十殿) was scheduled for release in Taiwan on 8 August. However, as Typhoon Morakot hit at the same time, the release was delayed for a few days and the autograph signing activities in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung were cancelled. ChthoniC have responded to the disaster by donating several large boxes of long-sleeved t-shirts to people in the disaster areas in the south of Taiwan.

I finally picked up my copy of the Taiwanese edition in Taipei today. Mirror of Retribution was released in the UK on 10 August and is set for release in the US on 1 September. The album was recorded in the US last year and produced by Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano. Continue reading

Formosa Betrayed trailer

Formosa Betrayed has released its trailer and updated its website. Visit for more news and information.

The movie will have its premiere at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York on 24 July. It will also show at the Montreal World Film Festival and San Diego Asian Film Festival in coming months. A private screening for investors was held in Los Angeles on 28 February this year.