蘇花高要不要蓋?到現在仍無定論,確定的是,這個議題又將隨著選舉季節被炒作一番,所有的政治表態都有一個詳細的衡量過程。當然,選票第一。
最近,花蓮縣議會副議長針對洄瀾夢想聯盟之部分參與成員,一些曾經公開反對蘇花高的東華、花師教授進行污衊與騷擾。讓我們又看到花蓮的地方政治如何撲滅異議聲音所採用的一貫作法,這個作法曾經成功地消滅過反台泥、反消波塊的勢力。在這些一波又一波的挫敗之中,花蓮人驕傲的好山好水,也一點一點在消逝之中。
在許多先進國家、或是以觀光為主要收入的國家,最昂貴的地方就是臨海的住宅區,但花蓮的海岸路一分鐘就兩、三台的砂石車,運載的是中央山脈挖出來的石頭與泥土。在七星潭優美的腳踏車步道上,許多老外認為花蓮最佳衝浪的海灘,卻是垃圾掩埋場,在經過這段陡坡時,大口吸的盡是垃圾的惡臭。許多美麗的海灘,放滿了消波塊。還有,一星期好幾個半夜,從紙漿場排出、瀰漫整個花蓮的廢氣,令人輾轉難眠。
這一切都不禁令人自問,花蓮人為什麼不生氣?
因為,花蓮地處所謂「後山」的發展歷程,對於後來移居的台灣各地人,總以外來者視之。加上地方的就業有限,軍公教人員變成地方的主要白領就業人口。在每個地方環保事件上,先跳出來的總是有一些較有覺醒的白領人口,或是一群隱身久居花蓮的外國人士或藝術家。但這些有自覺的聲音,常常被畫為外來者,或被稱為不知人間疾苦的一群,更甚的作法是:讓這些已發聲的人士,處在被威脅的莫名恐懼之中,因此,很快地就被減弱聲勢。這個貼標籤的過程將環保等同於犧牲花蓮當地貧窮弱勢人口,將階級對立拉出來──白領VS非白領,成功地減弱花蓮環保運動的地方支持力量。
很多人都仍然相信,馬路開了,地方就會繁榮起來。但有誰真的會去問:繁榮了誰?誰付出了代價?真的有繁榮了嗎?多少台灣的鄉鎮馬路拓寬了,就業機會沒見到什麼起色,增加的卻是村民車禍的死亡率。但是,到底有誰真的會去追究這個問題?
遍佈台灣各地的大專院校之所以設立,本就擔負著平衡區域發展、發展地方繁榮的責任。取之於社會,用之於社會,立足地方,當然就不能視身旁一切如無物。如果地方真有發展的決心,真應該鼓勵更多的教授們走出校園,將研究、教學和地方結合,而不是一一打壓有社會責任感的教授,讓這些人再關回研究室之中。
還有,如果你也發現花東已是台灣僅剩的淨土,告訴你所認識的花蓮人,花蓮要好好愛護,為了花蓮,也為了台灣。

People of Hualien, why aren’t you pissed off?
台灣蠻野心足生態協會翻譯

Do we build the Suhua Highway? While that question remains open it is certain that as the legislative elections approach there will be endless debate with all eyes on the vote, regardless of what might be the right thing to do or the right stand to take.

Recently, the Vice Chairman of Hualian County’s Legislative Assembly slandered and harassed of some members of the Hualian Dreamers’ Union (洄瀾夢想聯盟), professors of Donghua University and National Hualian Teachers College. Their problem? They dared to publicly oppose the Suhua Highway! Once again we see how politics in Hualian try to snuff out any meaningful discussion of issues. It worked in the past when people spoke out against the cement factories in Hualian, it worked when people spoke out against the eradication of Hualian’s ocean shoreline with the cement blocks that are ostensibly used to prevent erosion but which are just one more subsidy for local politicians in cahoots with the cement and construction companies. With wave after wave of defeat we watch our mountains and waters (of which the people of Hualien are said to be so proud) disappear.

Some countries that promote tourism place a premium on areas along the ocean coast. Here in Hualian tourists can be sure to see the 2 or 3 dump trucks passing by every minute of the day laden with gravel and soil gouged out of the Central Mountains, the riverbeds and wherever else they can – whether with or without government license. Foreigners that have pedaled the bicycle trail that leads to at Seven Star Beach (七星潭) pass by one of our monuments to stupidity, Taiwan Cement factory, and then have to hold their noses as they pass by a section of steep slope inhaling the stench of trash from the landfill. To think this could have been a surfer’s paradise. Once not-so-long-ago pristine beaches are now covered with concrete blocks and several times a week we are awakened late at night by the stench of the emissions from the Chung Hua paper pulp factory.

People of Hualian: Why aren’t you pissed off?

The answer lies in the fact that, in the development of the so-called ‘Hinterlands’ (後山) of Hualian, Taiwanese who migrated here from all over Taiwan have always been seen as outsiders. With local employment being limited, military, civil and teaching personnel have formed the main group of white-collar employees in the area. The first to appear at any local environmental incident are inevitably a few somewhat more alert white-collar workers, or a group of foreigners or artists who have been living there in reclusion for some time. These voices are quickly dismissed or marginalized as representative only of occasional visitors, those who have no understanding of the local suffering. That’s not enough, for threats by developers and their political protectors are common. This labeling process makes sensible environmental suggestions tantamount to sacrificing the poor and underprivileged local people of Hualian. Not a bad strategy: pit the rich against the poor, the natives against the non natives and then sit back and rack in your profits from the stolen commons or kickbacks for having protected the industry of Hualian. Support for the local environmental movement has been all but eradicated.

Many still believe that building roads will naturally bring prosperity. Perhaps we should ask: Who will prosper? Who defines what is prosperity? At what price? So many roads have been widened throughout Hualian without bringing any improvement in local conditions; rather we see a higher incidence of road deaths, disruption of social patterns and a number of other undesirable consequences. Is anyone discussing these issues?

Colleges and universities throughout Taiwan were established for the same purpose colleges and universities are established elsewhere: to play some role in balanced development throughout the country, to facilitate the prosperity of the locale. We take resources from society and should use them for the benefit of society. If Hualian wants to develop, we should encourage even more professors to come out into the community and integrate their research and teaching into the community. Attacking, threatening, harassing and suppressing those professors that have a strain of social conscience hardly seems appropriate.

Finally, if you really believe that Hualien is our last remaining sukhavati, tell your friends in Hualian that we should treasure what we have - for the sake of Hualien, and for the sake of Taiwan.

Chen Yi-ling is assistant professor of Social Education at National Hualian Teachers College, a member of the Taiwanese Feminist Scholars Association. This article first appeared in the China Times on 5 October 2004. She has graciously agreed that Wild may translate and publish the article on our website.

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