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August, 24, 2016

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Commentary > China Post > Joe Hung
Leo Tolstoy, the celebrated Russian author of War and Peace, once quipped anybody who wasn't a Communist before he was 30 is a fool and those who were still Communists after they were over 30 are fools as well.
 
While I was studying toward my master's degree in journalism at Southern Illinois University, I took a required public opinion survey course. Only seven graduate students took it, and I was the only non-American foreigner. Our professor demanded that every one of us hand in a poll as a term paper. So, all of us concocted it by first deciding on the results and then collecting all the necessary data to fit without choosing the samples. We just made it up. All of us passed cum laude.
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Altogether 14 officers, including three generals, were disciplined last Friday for involvement in a controversial search of a private citizen in New Taipei City, which is turning out to look like a bad dream for many people. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) released a list of the punished officers, among whom were Lt. Gen. Wen Cheng-kuo, director-general of its Political Warfare Bureau (PWB); Lt. Gen. Hsu Chang, commander of the Military Police Command (MPC); and Maj. Gen. Chao Tai-chuan, director of the PWB Security Department.
 
Gene Loh (陸以正) and I met for the first time in 1961. He was nine years my senior, and headed the Second Division of the just-created Government Information Office in charge of "international public relations" (國際宣伝). I was working for the U.S. Information Service in Taipei as chief press editor.
 
Sixty-nine years ago yesterday, the February 28 Incident occurred in Taiwan, and changed totally the relationship between the natives of Taiwan and the people from the Chinese mainland. Shortly after the island's retrocession to the Republic of China on Oct. 25, 1945, the people of Taiwan considered the Chinese on the mainland their brethren upon whom they looked for assistance in recovering from its war-ravaged economy.
 
After I read your latest book, "The Remaining Years of Life: My Life Journey and Taiwan's Democracy," I have decided to write this last open letter to my revered former president.
 
What is public opinion? It dates back to the 17th century work by John Locke in "An Essay Concerning HumanUnderstanding," which contains an early consideration of the importance of public opinion in the ordering of politics. It was introduced by James Madison that for a government to be democratic, it would be essential to have strong and knowledgeable citizens who hold educated opinions that could be shared and expressed.
 
A 19-year-old girl in Tainan was on her way to school in 1942. What the Japanese called the Greater East Asia War was going on, though it was peaceful in Tainan where she wanted to attend a girls' middle school in their colonial Taiwan.
 
Japan is known for making diplomatic faux pas. One grievous mistake was made in 1933 when the Land of the Rising Sun withdrew from the League of Nations after the Mukden Incident that sired the puppet state Manchukuo.
 
Japan and South Korea solved their Korean "comfort women" dispute last week with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offering an apology for the victims and pledging US$8.3 million to create a foundation to help provide support for them. The pledge isn't considered governmental compensation that the Koreans had demanded. Moreover, the deal was made orally and there isn't a written accord.
 
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