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Culture minister hopes new ministry will not serve politics

2012/05/21 18:12:33

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai expressed hope Monday at the inauguration of the new Ministry of Culture that cultural policies will not serve political purposes but rather that they will be served by politics.

At the inauguration ceremony, which was attended by President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Sean Chen, Lung said she hopes that over the next four years, "culture will not serve politics but will be served by politics."

Lung, the country's first minister of culture, expressed hope that cultural officials can be independent, knowledgeable, have an international perspective and a will of their own.

"Ruling parties can come and go," said Lung, but she added that if cultural officials are independent-minded, they can withstand political influence and carry out cultural work that benefits the country.

Lung said that if culture can permeate the central government's policymaking decisions and play important roles in Taiwan's education, foreign relations, economic and industrial policies, "then Taiwan will really be able to bring into full play its cultural advantages."

She compared the establishment of the Ministry of Culture, which she described as "the project of the century," to a relay race, saying that it is the cultural sector's many years of efforts that have made the ministry possible.

In response, Ma said in a speech that if politics is a "fence," then culture is "the pair of wings that fly over the fence."

"Construction work can make a city larger, but only culture can make a city great," said the president.

He echoed Lung's remarks about political interference in cultural affairs, saying that while culture agencies have served political purposes in the past, he will try to turn that around.

He said he hopes to provide more resources for the ministry in the future and that he anticipates the establishment of the Ministry of Culture will spread "Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics" around Taiwan and the world.

The new ministry was upgraded from the Council for Cultural Affairs after a Cabinet reorganization took effect a day earlier, and includes elements of the Ministry of Education, the Government Information Office (GIO) and the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.

George C.H. Hsu, a former deputy minister of the GIO, assumed office as the administrative deputy culture minister, while Chang Yun-cheng and Lin Chin-tien were appointed political deputy ministers.

The ministry's seven departments and two bureaus will be tasked with general policy planning, fostering international cultural exchanges, development of the arts, the publishing industry, the cultural and creative industry, cultural resources and film, television and popular music, as well as the protection of the country's cultural assets.

Several people from the arts and culture sector attended the ceremony, including poet Chou Meng-tieh, director Li Hsing and singer Lo Ta-yu.

(By Christie Chen)