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Yang Wen-ke Leads Delegation to Malaysia, Exchanging and Promoting Hakka Culture with the Sabah Hakka Associations
  • PostDate:2024-03-26
  • Modified Date:2024-04-11


Hsinchu County is a major Hakka region. County Magistrate Yang Wen-ke continues working hard to revitalize the Hakka language and promote Hakka culture. He recently led a delegation to Sabah, Malaysia to visit the Labuan Hakka Association, the Kota Kinabalu Hakka Association, and Sabah Tshung Tsin Secondary School. The delegation sought international experiences in how to preserve and carry on overseas Hakka culture, and shared the policies and achievements of Hsinchu County in promoting the preservation of Hakka culture. They expressed hopes for many opportunities for exchange and cooperation between Hsinchu County and Sabah in the future, jointly endeavoring to promote and pass on Hakka culture to next generation.  


Magistrate Yang stated that approximately 70% of residents or 400,000 people in Hsinchu County are Hakka. Therefore, Hsinchu County has the highest Hakka population density in Taiwan, and can be considered a stronghold for the preservation and development of Hakka culture in Taiwan. The essence of the Hakka spirit includes three elements: Diligence in farming and an emphasis on education; loyalty, filial piety, and righteousness; and a spirit of perseverance and stubbornness (sometimes aptly described as having “hard foot tendons”). Since Magistrate Yang took office, he has actively promoted a variety of Hakka policies. He has required department heads to speak Hakka during meetings, held Hakka language workshops, encouraged people to acquire Hakka language proficiency certification, increased the usage of Hakka, and reinforced the creation of a Hakka-friendly environment in the public sector, making Hakka become a common language in Hsinchu County. With Hakka language taught in schools and families, children can learn to speak their mother tongue from a young age. The county government has also endeavored to root Hakka culture deeply, such as promoting mountain songs, Sanjiao tea-picking operas, the Hakka octatonic scale, Hakka square-mouth lion dances, and Hakka operas tours.     


Yang also expressed amazement at the Kota Kinabalu Hakka Association. Under the leadership of Datuk Chairman Yang Juming, the association has exhibited strong cohesion and made remarkable achievements in promoting and carrying on Hakka culture, fully demonstrating the Hakka spirit. Chairman Yang was also awarded a first-class Hakka Affairs Professional Medal by the Hakka Affairs Council in 2023 in recognition of his contributions. Magistrate Yang Wen-ke was deeply moved by this visit to Sabah, and by seeing how the Hakka people are so united, and so dedicated to carrying on Hakka culture and ensuring the preservation of the Hakka spirit. He also welcomed the Kota Kinabalu Hakka Association and Tshung Tsin Secondary School to have frequent exchanges with Hsinchu County, and asked that the county’s Education Bureau and Cultural Bureau jointly plan exchange activities in drama, sports, music, and other areas, working together to promote Hakka language and culture.   


Datuk Yang Juming indicated that Sabah is a place where diverse ethnic groups are integrated. People speak English, Malay, Hakka, and Mandarin. This makes it difficult to preserve the mother tongue of Hakka people. Datuk Yang stated that, to carry on the Hakka language, the most crucial method is to start speaking Hakka at home. Tshung Tsin Secondary School is an independent school operated by the Kota Kinabalu Hakka Association, with currently enrollment of c. 2,500 students. It is the largest Chinese-language secondary school, and numerous related activities, such as speech contests, need to be organized to promote Hakkanese.


Chuang Wan-kui, chairman of the Hsinchu County Hailu Hakka Language and Culture Association (HHLCA) and member of the delegation, stated that language is extremely important to an ethnic group. He used the example of the late Qing Dynasty nobility not being able to speak Manchu to illustrate the crisis presented by a gradual loss of the Hakka language. Chairman Chuang said that passing down Hakka culture must start with speaking Hakkanese. Tsan Yi-yun, founder of the HHLCA and compiler of the Hailu Hakka Dictionary, said that he hoped that by writing down tests, teaching materials can be created for future generations, and Hakkanese can be carried on through song and literature.


Regarding this exchange trip, the HHLCA invited Magistrate Yang to lead the county government team and make the overseas delegation a joint visit. Doing so helped deepen the history, current living conditions, and cultural heritage of overseas Hakka people, and provided references for policies to revitalize Hakka language and culture in Hsinchu County. During the trip, Magistrate Yang visited Datuk Wu Xiuchuan, chairman of the Labuan Hakka Association, and Datuk Yang Juming, chairman of the Kota Kinabalu Hakka Association, to exchange views and challenges in promoting Hakka culture. Magistrate Yang also visited Tshung Tsin Secondary School in Sabah, engaging in in-depth discussions with Datuk Yang Juming and Principal Dr. Zheng Zhanxing. The visiting group participated in exchange performances presented by the Friends of Hsinchu Mixed Choir and the Kota Kinabalu Hakka Association Chorus. Finally, Magistrate Yang joined the grand chorus of “Hakka Essence”. Within this harmonious and enthusiastic atmosphere, there was mutual agreement to continue strengthening exchanges and cooperation, aimed at promoting and enhancing Hakka culture. The agreement marked a successful conclusion to this enriching exchange and visit.