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A Taiwanese school student told off and threatened by teacher for expressing his views to Ma Ying-jeou



A student, Su, at Taipei Jianguo Senior High School (one of the best senior high schools in Taiwan) yelled ‘Ma Ying-jeou! Stop all the publicity stunts! Stop selling out Taiwan!’ while he saw Ma leaving the school after attending a celebration as an alumnus. The student was pushed and dragged away by Ma’s guards but he was not faltered. He asked the guards ‘I am a student here. Are you going to take me away?’ At the time, a lot of people wondered how the student would be treated by his teachers. The headmaster, Tsai, Ping-kun emphasised that Jianguo High School has always encouraged and safeguarded freedom of speech and he was actually proud that a student had the courage to express his thoughts.


However, 6 days later, it was reported that the student’s teacher, Ms Chou, Li-li, chided the student for his behaviour in front of the whole class for 50 minutes. She told the student that if he had the guts to do this, he shouldn’t have covered his name and student number on his uniform. She also told the student that if he had the audacity to do it, then he shouldn’t be afraid to receive demerits for it. She said that his behaviour deserved punishment greater than demerits because he left where he was supposed to be during an important school event and yelled at the president. During those 50 minutes, she heavily defended Ma by repeating several times that she didn’t see any indication of Ma selling out Taiwan.


The whole class remained silent during her telling off and some of Su’s classmates told a reporter that they did not agree with their teacher and would not distance themselves from Su because they thought Su was ‘cool’ and brave but they also said that they wouldn’t dare do what Su did in the future because of their teacher’s reaction.


The school and Ms Chou was heavily criticised for her behaviour but Headmaster Tsai defended her and the school. He emphasised that he never told Ms Chou to threaten the student or tell him off and also defended her right to express her own political views. He claimed that he only told her to talk to the student because he was concerned about the possibility of the student being alienated or mistreated by his peers after the incident. Tsai also told reporters that he telephoned Ma Ying-jeou immediately after the incident and Ma kept telling him to go easy on the student and tolerate different political views. One question: why does a headmaster have to talk to Ma about it? If the student behaviour is inappropriate, he can decide on a proper measure to deal with it as a headmaster. The conversation he disclosed seems to indicate that he believed the student’s view was inappropriate in the first place and was concerned about Ma’s reaction. Isn’t it ironic that Su didn’t get much trouble from his peers but from his teacher?


Following the reports on Ms Chou’s action and Mr Tsai’s defence, someone pointed out that when students from Jianguo High School protested against Former President Chen a couple of years ago, there was never any report on those students being told off or threatened by their teachers about their behaviour or political views. There was no news report on any teacher defending Chen to the extent that students were threatened or persecuted. A DPP legislator, Huang, Wei-Jeh, pointed out that US Presidents Bush and Clinton had also been hackled by students before but we never heard about anyone being punished or persecuted for doing so. 


It seems OK for teachers to express Blue-leaning views but not necessarily the other way round. When a Blue-leaning teacher expresses his/her views, headmasters are likely to defend their freedom to do so but if a Green-leaning teacher expresses their views, headmasters are more likely to tell them not to talk about politics with the students. Also bear in mind that the KMT has always made sure that the military sector, teachers and government employees receive more benefits than those who work in private sectors so that those groups are more likely to support the KMT. As such, what kind of education do Taiwanese actually receive? Is the educational system conducive to independent and critical thinking? Is the educational system conducive to freedom, social justice and fairness? Can Taiwanese always be blamed for not being able to spot KMT’s political tricks/propaganda or think/stand up for themselves under this kind of educational system, being taught by this kind of teachers? More importantly, in order to improve the quality of education, should teachers like Ms Chou be allowed to continue teaching? 



7 Comments leave one →
  1. 15/12/2008 00:01

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. 15/12/2008 02:53

    The issue you raise about teachers being in the palm of the KMT is no small one. It is deep-rooted political corruption such as this that the people of Taiwan must fight if they want democracy to be their defense against China. What a powerful symbol that a student can raise so much commotion. It is almost a “the king has got no clothes” moment.
    I think it is also sad that Taiwanese politics is so divisive and partisan that young children have such strongly formed opinions.

  3. Claudia Jean permalink*
    15/12/2008 03:17

    Hi Steve,

    You are right that Taiwan must deal with the whole structure. Over the past 8 years, the DPP was in office but NEVER in power because the majority of media, government workers and teachers etc. are occupied by the same people who were brain washed by the KMT for 5 decades.

    I also accept your view that Taiwan is very divided. I think the unfair system created by the KMT and the ‘blue camp can do no wrong and green camp deserves all the crap they get’ double standard in the society is the fundamental cause for this split. A lot of people feel compelled to fight back harder and shout louder when feeling unheard or unfairly treated. The really sad thing is that their behaviour is often interpreted as being irrational and ridiculed by those who put them at disadvantages in the first place. Some blame the Green camp for overusing the victim’s role to get sympathy but I am inclined to believe that if the KMT does not bully first, the Green camp wouldn’t be able to use it as an excuse.

    I also think the student’s behaviour reflects the widespread fear in the society about Ma giving away Taiwan’s sovereignty and it is not uncalled for.

  4. Vidrienne permalink
    15/12/2008 07:18

    Thank you Claudia for your detailed description this situation. If I was the student, I would be doing to exact same thing he did back at his school. Considering the point that all the KMT actions are signs of selling Taiwan away, just by using econmics, and diplomatics to hide their real intentions.

    Taiwan’s education, till now despite Chen’s administration still requires alot of reforms and there a long way to go on that.

  5. Lan permalink
    15/12/2008 11:11

    I am absolutely offended by what the teacher said and her reactions. Not only was it not her place to say anything, but how dare she preach her views among the students?!! Taiwanese should be praised to speak up, after so many years of being suppressed for their speech. This student should be applauded.

  6. jerome permalink
    16/12/2008 00:59

    Sorry to butt in, but I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to remind you, Formosans, that the ROC law is not the Formosans’ law. Behaving out of that law should be of no adverse consequence except for hastening the fading of the ghost. All the more since Mr. Ma and friends don’t have the balls of raising their ROC flag and claiming ROC territorial sovereignty over Formosa in presence of a Zhongnanhai underling.

    Actually they are correct in not daring to claim a sovereignty that was never meant for them to enjoy. CSB & al. have been misleading their constituency when colluding with the exiled Chinese KMT in perpetuating the ROC. You, Formosans, are entitled to your rights under the US Constitution. Claim those rights in front of AIT while you still can.

    The following is lifted from my comment to J. Michael Cole’s December 11 post on the subject of the eviction at dawn of the Wild Strawberries in his “Far-Eastern Sweet Potato” blog.

    A caricature of the old kmt dictatorship. roc lite for sensitive twenty-first century Formosans. That is what the Ma administration is about.

    How long will it take for the Formosans to smell the horseshit and throw a tantrum? Ma is offering them on a platter an opportunity to do just that and a renewed chance at nation building.

    And, please, no “taiwan is roc” or “roc on taiwan” bs this time around.







    Why the Japanese language comments? Because had not it been a hair-brained notion sprouting in an arrogant cripple’s mind in far-away capital in a time of struggles sixty-five years ago, Formosa would be by now an independent nation with its own constitution. A constitution written in Japanese, Japanese being the official language of Formosa. If you are Formosan and can not figure the Japanese out, go ask your ojiisan or obaasan.


  1. Links 15 December 2008 - David on Formosa

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