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Draft national language development act clears legislative floor

2018/12/25 20:08:25

Taipei, Dec. 25 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan passed a draft act promoting Taiwan's national languages Tuesday, paving the way for the establishment of a Taiwanese-language television station.

The Cabinet-proposed draft bill aims to ensure language diversity and equal development of all languages and cultures, according to Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君).

Cheng said at a previous legislative session that the bill is based on the idea that languages are not merely a tool for communication but also a medium for culture and history.

Under the draft bill, national languages refer to spoken languages or sign languages used by all ethnic groups residing in Taiwan.

The draft national language development act states that all of the languages spoken in Taiwan should be treated equally and that the use of national languages should not be subject to discrimination or limitations.

The draft bill also includes a clause that the government should promote publications, movies and TV productions in Taiwan's various languages and that non-profit communication organizations receiving funding from the government should provide diversified services in various national languages and can set up radio broadcasting and TV channels.

Cheng hailed the passage of the bill, calling it a historic moment in Taiwan's history.

The ministry began drafting the bill in 2016 with the aim of ensuring the rights of various ethnic groups to the use of their mother tongues for education, communication and public services.

In light of the promulgation of the Aboriginal Language Development Act and the Hakka Basic Act in June 2017 and January 2018, respectively, which list Hakka and Aboriginal languages as national languages, there is a lack of legal basis for the preservation and revival of other languages used in Taiwan, according to Cheng.

The act means that Taiwanese (or Hoklo) can be recognized as a national language and that a TV channel dedicated to the language can be established, similar to the TV channels for the Hakka ethnic group and indigenous peoples in Taiwan.

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the act provides a legal basis for the establishment of a Public Television Service Hoklo TV channel.

The draft act also requires the educational authorities to set up compulsory courses on national languages three years after the implementation of the 12-year compulsory education curriculum in elementary, junior and senior high schools starting in 2019.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Evelyn Kao)
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