Taiwan culture minister speaks at University of Hong Kong

Taiwan culture minister tells people to 'look beneath the bubbles' in speech at university

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 3:28am

Taiwan's culture minister may have been speaking in Hong Kong yesterday when she hailed the island's vibrant democracy, but her words were addressed equally to a mainland audience watching online.

Lung Ying-tai said people should understand the deeper meaning of democracy and set aside media reports about quarrels in the legislative chamber.

"It's like when you have a glass of German beer, you'd see a lot of bubbles. That's like the media's portrait of democracy - you see only the bubbles. But one must not doubt if good beer is really beneath the bubbles," said Lung.

A highly regarded former scholar at the University of Hong Kong, who lived in the city for nine years, Lung became the culture minister for Taiwan in February.

She made the comments in a speech, "My Hong Kong, My Taiwan" at the university.

"Coming here as a civil servant, I'm really touched. The places I went to these few days were all where I have been before," she said. "It seems Hongkongers are influenced by Taiwan a lot these days - there is even a new word: filibuster," she said of local politics.

She went on to compare the politics of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and said: "When a society has accumulated so much mutual distrust that it has reached a certain threshold, it won't move forward."

Lung's ministry is the first new one set up in Taiwan since 1949.

"The Kuomintang spent 100 years before setting up a culture ministry," she said. "But I'm not suggesting how long Hong Kong might have to wait."

Asked later about the Hong Kong government's cultural policies, she would not comment.

Before he took office in July, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying proposed forming a new government bureau for culture, but could not get it through the Legislative Council.

Lung, who is on a six-day visit to the city, is attending a cultural forum today with Taiwanese film director Hou Hsiao-hsien.