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May 27, 2017

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Course adjustment again sparks clash among lawmakers

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ruling party and opposition legislators yesterday lashed out at each other over the high school course adjustment at a public hearing.

The Legislative Yuan's Education and Culture Committee held a public hearing yesterday and invited experts to provide their opinions on how to make the adjustment.

According to the decision reached on Jan. 27 by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the course adjustment includes content about the Japanese Colonial period, the White Terror period and the 228 Incident. The decision triggered disputes in society and the media.

Associate professor of Chinese literature at National Tsing Hua University Chu Ping-tzu (祝平次) said that the government often uses the laws and the Constitution to bully people with different thoughts.

Chu cited a poll that had the government's approval rating at nine percent, asking what legitimacy does the government have in telling its people what to do if it cannot figure out how it lost so much public support?

Chu's speech triggered the Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers' strong dissatisfaction, resulting in an interruption of the public hearing.

KMT Lawmaker Chen Shu-huey (陳淑慧) said that the experts' opinions should match the topic of the public hearing.

However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) said that the public hearing cannot be turned into a review on people's right to free speech and all participants should respect scholars' right to speak.

Ruling and opposition party lawmakers yelled at each other for about 10 minutes before the public hearing could be resumed.

Chu went on to say that legislators and MOE officials who are kidnapped by political power should not attempt to reform students' brains in order to protect the ruling party's ideology.

Chu's speech again sparked the KMT lawmakers' protests, but the public hearing was not interrupted.

Both experts and scholars who support and oppose the course adjustment scheme attended the public hearing. Wu Quen-tsai, a history professor at National Chiayi University said that when history scholars emphasize the historical meaning of the 228 Incident and the White Terror period, students only care about whether or not 228 Memorial Day is a holiday.

Wu said that the core issue is that students do not understand history, and he worried that students might hate studying Taiwan's history if they have to memorize everything for history exams.

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