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Home The News News School drops bowing to Sun Yat-sen

School drops bowing to Sun Yat-sen

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A screen grab taken yesterday from Kao-hsiung Municipal Senior High School’s Facebook page shows an announcement that the school is to abolish the practice of bowing to portraits of the Republic of China’s founding father Sun Yat-sen.
Photo: Fang Chih-hsien, Taipei Times

Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School will no longer make its students bow to portraits of Republic of China (ROC) founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) and the ROC flag at its end-of-semester ceremony, school officials said yesterday.

Making three bows to the flag and Sun’s portrait during school ceremonies has been a tradition for students in the nation’s elementary, junior-high and high schools.

Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School principal Hsieh Wen-pin (謝文斌) said that there was no political motive behind the decision, but rather it was the result of relocating the end-of-semester ceremony from the school’s gym to its outdoor assembly area, where there is no portrait of Sun or a flagpole.

“We moved the event outdoors to save time, conserve electricity and be more environmentally friendly, and to have a more hygienic venue. There is no particular political agenda whatsoever,” Hsieh said.

Tu Chun-ching, chair for student rights on the school’s student council, issued a statement saying that ending the practice of bowing to Sun’s portraits and the national flag is “the first step to campus depoliticization and a step forward for transitional justice.”

The student council, after debating the issue for more than a month, submitted a formal request to the school administration to do away with the bowing, and the authorities granted the request after due procedure, Tu said.

In an opinion piece published in the Chinese-language Apple Daily, Tu said that he believed making students bow to Sun’s portrait and the flag is “an act of servility to authority and totem worship.”

Compelling people to express an “intense identification” with “national symbols” is shunned by democratic societies, but embraced by “totalitarian states” and during war time, the student said.

“Kamikaze squad volunteers were raised and bred in such a manner,” Tu added.

The school’s student government announced the abolition of the bowing ritual on Facebook, and the post had more than 1,700 “likes” and was shared more than 450 times as of press time last night, with mostly positive comments from users.

“Terrific. This can set a precedent for other schools to follow,” one comment said.

Ministry of Education K-12 Education Administration Director Yang Kuo-lung (楊國隆) said that the ministry respects the school’s decision, which as a municipal high school falls under the jurisdiction of the Kaohsiung Bureau of Education, not the ministry.

Source: Taipei Times - 2016/02/03

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