You are on page 1of 128

1063 42 3

Vol. 42 No. 3 March 2017


Taiwan Panorama

Taiwanese Businesses in Malaysia


Ellisa Yao


Ive been reading Taiwan Panorama for years,
from my barefoot youth all the way through my time
abroad, because it captures the moment and makes it
Thank you, Taiwan Panorama, beautifully eternal. (Ellisa Yao, Norway)
for the light you have shone upon
this land for so many years.
(Jullian Chu, New Taipei City)
Taiwan Panorama has its own space in my
memories because then I get to hold on to not only
my own memories of good times, but Taiwan
Panoramas brilliance as well.
As someone who has lived abroad for (Xu Zhilian, Taipei)
40 years, I have a particular fondness
for Taiwan Panorama because it offers
content like National Geographic,
writing like Time, and a
layout like Fortune. I love Taiwan Panorama because it lets me read about
(Kent Wang, USA) Taiwanese trends, customs, and history in other languages.
(Daniel Liao, Taoyuan)

Thank you for accompanying us on Taiwan Panoramas 40-year

journalistic odyssey. The heartfelt letters we have received
have encouraged us to be bold in launching the magazine
onto the next leg of its journey, and we look forward to
traveling with you for years to come....

To subscribe, please use the form in the back of the magazine.


Publisher: David Tawei LEE

Director: Paul Kuoboug CHANG

Editor-in-Chief: TIEN Yun-liang

Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Sanya HUANG

Editor: LIU Yingfeng

Writers: Cathy TENG, CHEN Chun-fang

Director of Layout: HU Ju-yu

Art Editors: HSIAO Ying-tsen, Henry WANG

Photographic Coordinator: CHUANG Kung-ju

Photographic Director: Jimmy LIN

Photojournalist: LIN Min-hsuan

English Editors: Audrey CHEN, Robert TAYLOR,

Japanese Editors: YAMAGUCHI Yukina,
Shila SHIH

Senior Administrative Editor: DUAN Shu-hwa

* * *

Deputy Manager: CHEN Jyun-wei

Chief of General Affairs: CHEN Shu-ing

General Affairs: S.H. LEE

Circulation: HO Shih-lung

Address: No. 2, Tianjin Street, Taipei 10051,

* * *
Taiwan, ROC
PO Box 8-398, Taipei 10099, Taiwan, ROC
Fax: +886-2-2397-0655

courtesy of Yang Shiyi
The Golden Rooster EDITORS NOTE

Heralds a Warm Spring

T he Year of the Rooster has arrived, and

the cold of winter is receding before the
warmth of spring.
film director Rina Tsou, writer Chen Yuchin,
and dance educator Chang Wan-chao, whose
hardscrabble stories show how much immi-
Republic of China: NT$150 per copy,
NT$1500/year, NT$2600/2 years
Hong Kong & Macao: HK$150/year,
HK$280/2 years

To welcome the New Year, the Taipei City grants have contributed to the vibrancy of
Asia & Pacic Regions: US$40/year,
US$72/2 years by airmail

Government invited master paper cutter Yang cultural life in Taiwan. North America: US$32/year,
US$55/2 years by regular mail

Shiyi to make a festive lantern for the Taipei A pair of articles in our Artists and Arti- Elsewhere: US$45/year,
US$80/2 years by airmail
Lantern Festival 2017. Yang chose to make a sans series introduce master painter Yahon
Sinorama Magazine
work on the theme of family reunion, not just Chang and rising star Huang Cheng-yuan, 951 Taiwan
because people go home to see the folks at both of whom have integrated Eastern aes- GPN: 2006500016 ISSN1991-525X

Chinese New Year, but also because the word thetics, especially the ink-wash tradition

for family (as well as home) in Taiwanese of painting, into their art, and art into their


sounds like rooster. The soft light of home careers and their lives. They have exhibited

shines out through the cut patterns of Yangs on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, in Venice, +886-2-2915-0123

house-sized lantern, spreading festive joy and Italy, and in Cologne, Germany. +886-2-2397-0633
seasonal blessings for the Year of the Rooster. We also look at the International Coopera- 1501500
This month we also go to Southeast Asia. tion and Development Funds assistance pro-
Taiwan Panorama (USPS 000624) is published
In the past we have visited the refugee camps grams. For 20 years, Taiwans own ICDF has monthly, US$32.00 per year, by Kwang Hwa

along the border between Thailand and Myan- been supporting development efforts around
Publishing (USA), Inc., 3731 Wilshire Blvd 104,
Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA. All rights reserved.

mar, and have reported on how Taiwans the world, through investment, technology Reproduction in whole or in part without written
permission is prohibited. Periodicals postage paid

higher education and Mandarin language transfer, humanitarian aid, and education, for at Los Angeles, California.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Kwang
teaching efforts are faring in Vietnam. This which it has won international recognition. Hwa Publishing (USA), Inc., 3731 Wilshire Blvd
104, Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA.
time we were in Malaysia. Taiwan has long In recent years, more and more women too

had close trade ties with Malaysia, as well as have been contributing their time and energy, Readers in the US & Canada should subscribe
through Kwang Hwa Publishing (USA), Inc.
lively cultural and educational exchanges. Our turning a new page in the ICDFs history. Kwang Hwa Publishing

reporters looked into the efforts of first- and Finally, we follow up on last months cover
(USA), Inc.
3731 Wilshire Blvd 104, Los Angeles, CA 90010

second-generation Taiwanese entrepreneurs story, Old Residences, Precious Memories, USA

Tel: 1-888-829-3866 Fax: 1-213-389-0021

in fields such as e-commerce, agriculture, art, with a regular feature on the same theme,
and entertainment, and learned about the for history has left traces behind in every old
President: K. T. YANG
business opportunities they see in serving residence and memorial hall. This month we General Manager: Jenny WU
Assistants: WU Chia-ying, Thomas KOH
Malaysias Muslim population. They returned continue our tour of Taiwan to the northeast,
with so much first-hand information that we to visit the Lee Rongchun Literary Museum

decided to divide our coverage into seven arti- in the town of Toucheng, Yilan County.

cles spread over two separate issues. So let the golden rooster announce the All rights reserved. Photos and articles may not be
reprinted without our permission.

Many Southeast Asian immigrants have dawn of a new day, and the beginning of a If you wish to reprint any of our articles or
photographs, please contact our senior
made a home in Taiwan, and their children new year for Taiwan! administrative editor.
Damaged or misbound copies returned to us will
have thrived here. This months Southeast And lets hope rooster means happiness be gladly replaced.

Asian Focus introduces second-generation for everyone in your family. l

Southeast-AsianTaiwanese artists, including (Tien Yun-liang/tr. by Darryl Sterk)

CONTENTS 1063 42 3 Vol. 42 No. 3 March 2017

Overseas Report

Taiwanese Businesses in Malaysia


A South Wind Stirs:
Malaysia, Pearl of ASEAN


A New Trend in International Business:
E-Commerce Takes Off



Green Gold:
Farming Enterprises Take Root


Young Entrepreneurs Forge a New Path

The Festive Season



At the Cutting Edge:
Yang Shiyis Quest for Happiness

Editors Note The Fleeting World

01 42
The Golden Rooster Variety Pages
Heralds a Warm Spring

Old Residences


Lee Rong-chun:
A Lifetime Tilling Literary Fields

Southeast Asian Focus


Two Generations of Creativity
Cover: The Petronas Twin Towers dominate Kuala Arts and the Children of Immigrants
Lumpurs skyline, symbolizing the boundless
potential of the Malaysian economy. (photo by
Jimmy Lin, design by Hu Ju-yu)

Rina Tsous World of Film


Taipei People to BeWriter Chen Yuchin



The Dance of Life Knows No Bounds
The Amazing Grace of Chang Wan-Chao

Overseas Assistance

Women Aid Workers Spreading Compassion

Artists and Artisans



Yahon Chang:
Living Through Art, Painting with the Soul


Huang Cheng-yuan: The Power of Simplicity

Moving Pictures

Call of the Ruins:
The Photographic Collages of Liu Yunyi


Taiwanese Businesses in Malaysia


oised for greatness, Malaysia has deep links to ASEAN nations and Taiwan. With long-established
Chinese schools helping to ease connections in Malaysia for Taiwanese businesses, major
investments in the country by Taiwanese firms date back more than 30 years. Moreover, the people of
both nations enjoy similar popular cultures and hum the same hit tunes.
In late 2016, Taiwan Panorama reporters visited Malaysia to learn about manufacturing, agriculture,
business startups, education, culture, and business opportunities in serving the needs of the Muslim
population. We will share what we found with you over two issues. We start off this month with reports
on second-generation Taiwanese entrepreneurs, agricultural cooperation, and e-commerce startups. l
(Cathy Teng/photo by Jimmy Lin/tr. by Jonathan Barnard)

A South Wind Stirs: Malaysia, Pearl of ASEAN

201611A E C,
ASEAN Economic Community T he ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) came
into being on January 1, 2016.
Malaysia is among the st rongest of the A EC

member states. It has achieved growth of over 5%
year after year and features a rising middle class
6.3 with growing consumer power. Offering access to
ASEANs market of 630 million people, the nation
is poised to reshape the global economic map.

Raising ones gaze to survey the skyline in the flour-
ishing Golden Triangle district of Kuala Lumpur reveals
modern skyscrapers and copious scaffolding and cranes.
Construction vehicles move like an ever-flowing river.
Although the metro to the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shop-
ping mall hasnt yet been completed, tourists from many
nations still crowd the intersections of Bukit Bintang. Like
the throngs that surge forward when the lights change,

Greater Kuala Lumpur is moving quickly toward its goals

for 2020, when the Malaysian government hopes to bring
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur
once housed the offices of the British colonial the city into the ranks of the 20 most livable cities around
administration. Its bell tower, domes, arches, red bricks,
and spiral staircases integrate features representative
the world while maintaining its high rate of economic
of Malaysias various ethnic groups. growth. The speed of the citys transformation dazzles.

Pavilion Mall




JAKIM, Jabatan
Kamajuan Islam Malaysia



40 WeChat


James Chang, Taiwans representative at the Taipei
Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, notes that
human resource exchanges between Taiwan and Malaysia
represent the most outstanding accomplishment of the New
Southbound Policy.

10 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

An old friendship with Taiwan

The population of Malaysia comprises three main Malays comprise more than half of Malaysias population.
ethnic groups: Malays (65%), ethnic Chinese (25%), and Most are Muslim, and they tend to have happy, easy-going
ethnic Indians (7%). The majority Malays are Muslim,
and they abstain from alcohol, regard pigs and pork as
unclean, and comply with the other precepts of daily life Malaysians have invested in Chinese elementary
found in the Quran. schools and independent secondary schools. In earlier
In recent years the Malaysian government has spared years, when the Malaysian government didnt recog-
no effort to promote Malaysia as an international center of nize this curriculum, many Malaysian students elected
Halal certification of foodstuffs. Under the direction of the to attend universities or colleges in Taiwan.
Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), Important allies of Taiwan in their home country, the
Halal certification in the country has gained considerable 70,000 Taiwan-educated Chinese-Malaysians have made
prestige throughout the Islamic world. Attaining such outstanding contributions in virtually every field over
certification is particularly helpful for marketing. the last 50-plus years.
Although Chinese have left their imprint in nations Meanwhile, recent educational exchanges between
throughout Southeast Asia, Malaysias record in preserv- Taiwan and Malaysia are realizing the call for talent
ing Chinese culture and its artifacts is second to none, exchanges outlined in Taiwans New Southbound
says James Chang, head of the Taipei Economic and Cul- Policy.
tural Office in Malaysia. New business models
To preserve Chinese cultural heritage, Chinese- Everywhere one can see people using the Internet

AppWorks to meet their needs in daily life. WeChat has long been

the dominant messaging app in Malaysia, and netizens

there are used to buying and selling goods on Carousell.
Many Malaysians are accustomed to flicking their fin-

gers across their cellphone screens to hail a car from

Grab, which is Ubers biggest competitor in Southeast
Ti E A Asia and was developed in Malaysia with Singaporean
capital. Although Malaysias Internet infrastructure isnt
know- yet fully mature, major strides will be made to catch up
how over the next three to five years.
As global capital moves toward Southeast Asia, Tai-

wan has advantages both in terms of its geography and

its human resources as it works to carry out its New

Southbound Policy. These strengths especially give Tai-

knowhow wan a leg up when it comes to the Internet.
Brandon Chiang, head of investment at the venture
capital firm Appworks, notes that Taiwans Internet com-
panies have already acquired more than two decades of
experience: With the knowhow accumulated over 20
years, along with personnel that understand the local cul-

ture, we can help Malaysian Internet companies quickly

upgrade their marketing skills and overall levels of pro-

fessionalism, allowing them to reach larger markets.

Nice Cheng, secretary general of the Taiwan Internet

Malaysia has a rich and varied cuisine, and its markets offer an abundance
of snacks and spices.

12 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Signs bearing Chinese

characters are common
sights on Malaysias
streets. Ethnic
Chinese Malaysians
have preserved their
cultural traditions
better than the Chinese
communities of any
other Southeast-Asian


Mamak stalls can be found in every Malaysian neighborhood, operating around the
clock. They are favored spots for grabbing a bite to eat and hanging out with friends.


Hill Product 1987



14 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

and E-Commerce Association (TiEA), takes the analysis New Southbound Policyfor many years. He notes that
a step farther: Although e-commerce is within the realm firms run by second-generation Taiwanese in Malaysia
of high-tech, it has already evolved from online sales to are familiar with the local customs and language, helping
a broader range of professional services (such as tele- them adjust their operations and provide services that are
medicine consultations or provision of manufacturing more localized and attuned to the needs of the market.
knowhow). The next step is to directly reach out to con- For instance, Louis Wu, who is in the precision
sumers. It is even more important for Taiwan to create machining business, turned his manufacturing company
new models for creating profit, he emphasizes. We into a service provider. And Hiro Wang, whose family
should be exporting our high-end professional services, runs a furniture factory, created something new with Hill
turning our knowhow into digital services. Product, which designs its own hardwood furniture.
Localized service Younger entrepreneurs who have more recently come
Huang Chao-jen, director general of the Commerce to Malaysia take a similar approach. After graduating
Development and Policy Research Division of the Com- from university, Hsiao Po-chih was posted to Malaysia
merce Development Research Institute (CDRI), has by a Taiwanese company. Many years later, he opened
researched the Go-South Policynow revamped as the his own businesses: an elevator distributorship and a
human resources agency. Shawn Huangs field is fashion
design. He ended up almost by accident in Malaysia and

started a business that provides customized clothing

design. Ronald Chang opened a branch of his familys
Malaysian streets feature a variety of ethnic groups. Apart
from Malays, Chinese and Indians, there are also guest Chinese herbal medicine business. Because these med-
workers from Bangladesh and Nepal. icines are familiar to Malaysias ethnic Chinese and




16 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

wanese firms move from country to country as produc-

The observation deck of the Kuala Lumpur Tower offers

tion conditions change. In that respect, they are quite
views of Malaysian scenery near and far. different from European and American companies that
have long had major factories in Southeast Asia. Lever-
aging political and economic power in the region since
because Malays are also keen on herbal products, the before World War II, these Western companies have
market is poised for future growth. long been selling to and manufacturing in Southeast
One common characteristic is that all these firms are Asian nations, gaining knowledge about the particulars
well suited to meet local demand for services. of their domestic markets.
The ASEAN hub Taiwan ought to regard Southeast Asia as a perma-
In the 1980s the ROC government advocated its orig- nent economic base overseas, developing a sustainable,
inal Go-South Policy. Because of Malaysias political visionary Southbound Policy, says Lee Fang-hsin. He
stability, abundant natural resources, low-cost labor and suggests that the government serve the role of a match-
the close ties to Taiwan among its ethnic Chinese popu- maker, inviting various industry groups to establish
lation, it became a top choice for Taiwanese investors in comprehensive industry directories and then providing
Southeast Asia. these resources to Taiwanese firms overseas, thereby
In 2016 the government launched its New South- helping them to quickly find suitable partners.
bound Policy, hoping to move toward mutually ben- Datuk James Lau, president of the Malaysian Cham-
eficial relationships with the nations of Southeast Asia ber of Commerce and Industry in Taipei, suggests study-
on four fronts: economic cooperation, human resources ing how multinationals use mergers and acquisitions
exchange, resource sharing, and regional links. to acquire local talent. In that manner Taiwanese firms
In truth, Lee Fang-hsin has been pushing in that direc- could quickly obtain personnel familiar with Southeast
tion since 1987 when he first went to Malaysia to found a Asian markets. Furthermore, Taiwanese industrial
business. To penetrate the local market, he started with a teams should be organized to participate in large-scale
trading firm importing goods from back in Taiwan. Only Malaysian projects. Gaining such practical knowledge
after becoming familiar with these channels and gaining of a Southeast-Asian nation would help with the entire
an understanding of the market did he open a factory of Southbound campaign, which puts an emphasis on
his own. The company now has branches in Singapore, relationships and adapting to local conditions.
Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and other nations. Lee The Commerce Development Research Institutes
reminds Taiwanese businesspeople that successful expe- Huang Chao-jen says that Taiwan ought to leverage its
riences in Southeast Asia cannot be simply replicated national strengths to create brands that allow the people
across borders. Taiwanese businesses should adopt a of Southeast Asia to become familiar with Taiwan.
concept of working together as a group, he says. They He suggests that Taiwanese firms consider working
will only achieve success by forming all-star teams. with Malaysian firms to create brands, with the Tai-
Dato Allen Chiang, president of In max Holdings, wanese firms contributing technical expertise and the
says, Rather than ASEANs Malaysia, its better to Malaysian firms providing financing and access to local
think of it as Malaysias ASEAN. With a population of sales and distribution channels. Following that tem-
about 31 million, the domestic market isnt all that large, plate, it would be easier to establish mutually beneficial
but it is advantageously positioned to serve as the cen- joint ventures.
tral hub for ASEAN. As an ASEAN member, the country During a period of regional economic integration
enjoys duty-free trade with other member nations, and and national strategic repositioning, Taiwan ought to
its central location amid the group makes it well suited do its best to gain deep understanding of the ASEAN
for Taiwanese firms ASEAN headquarters. nations, establishing strong relationships in Southeast
Enduring in Southeast Asia Asia that will underpin a mutually beneficial future. l
Hsu Cheng-te, chairman of the Tai pei Investors (Cathy Teng/photos by Jimmy Lin/
Association in Malaysia (TiAM), notes that many Tai- tr. by Jonathan Barnard)


A New Trend in International Business:

E-Commerce Takes Off

18 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03


MSAMobile Food Trucks and Street Food
G o o d D e s i g n
iCHEF Point of Sale


Mamak iCHEF

A rapidly mat ur ing Inter net inf rast r uct ure,

growing mobile device ownership, a business
world that primarily uses English, ready communi-
cation in Chinese, and a central location in South-
east Asiawith these advantages, Malaysia has
become a leading choice among aspiring Taiwanese
iCHEF requires little in the way of equipment and is easy to use,
making it perfect for food trucks. e-commerce entrepreneurs looking to break into
Southeast-Asian markets.
A b i g a i l L i m
Abigail Lim (center) is a recent entrant to the restaurant industry, Among the products developed by such southbound
and for her first branch she chose iCHEF as her POS system.
Nick Yu (right) and the iCHEF team have provided her with
Taiwanese businesses is a Red Dot, iF, and Good Design
impressively professional service. award winner: the iCHEF restaurant point-of-sale system.
Street food meets high-tech
Beyond its ethnic diversity, one of the most characteris-
tic elements of Malaysian cuisine is mamak, traditional
street-food stalls popular with nine-to-fivers.
In recent years, though, a new option has begun set-
ting up in parking lots in business districtsfood trucks.
These trucks, part of the Mobile Food Trucks and Street
Food Association (MSA), aim to provide another option for
satisfying hungry office workers, and are the number-one
partnership target of Taiwans iCHEF.
iCHEF is an iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) system. POS
systems are most commonly used in the restaurant and
retail sectors, and among their primary functions is keeping
track of inventory, sales, and customer purchasing behavior.


iCHEFs partnership with the
Mobile Food Trucks and Street
Food Association was the
first shot in their foray into the
Malaysian market.

The Tagtoo team is a young one,
and their hope in targeting the
Southeast-Asian market is that
within three to five years they will
achieve annual sales of between
NT$500 million and NT$1 billion.
(photo by Chuang Kung-ju)

20%iCHEF A b i g a i l L i m

20156% iCHEF

20 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

iCHEFs expansion into Malaysia started in October engineers actually moved into a restaurant for a week
2015, when the companys Southeast Asia business de- to see for themselves how restaurants run and to under-
velopment director Nick Yu arrived in Kuala Lumpur. stand the various processes so that they could tailor the
Prior to that, the iCHEF POS system had already been system to them. iCHEF also provides a range of analyt-
tested in the Hong Kong and Singaporean markets, ical reports, including daily operating reports, to help
with Kuala Lumpur their third overseas location. restaurateurs stay on top of whats going on and make
Greater Kuala Lumpur boasts a population of some data-based adjustments to their marketing strategies.
7.2 million, roughly on par with Greater Taipei, and is Abigail Lim has only recently moved into the restau-
home to a diverse and booming restaurant industry. rant industry, becoming a member of the Australian fran-
With the population eating out around 20% of the time, chise Patissez, and she chose iCHEF for her first branch.
the market is a tempting one. According to Lim, iCHEF not only covers every aspect
Restaurants here are down-to-earth places, but Yu of restaurant operations, but also sports an easy-to-use
quickly found that Kuala Lumpur restaurateurs already interface and modern design, making it a perfect fit with
had some familiarity with POS systems. the style of her restaurant.
In 2015, the Malaysian government announced that In order to quickly build recognition in the market de-
restaurants would be subject to a 6% sales tax, which spite their late entrance, iCHEF have partnered with the
sparked a wave of interest in new POS systems. It also largest food truck alliance in Southeast Asia, MSA. MSA
made iCHEFs relatively late entry to the market a chal- is a young network that aims to turn around Malaysians
lenging one. image of food trucks as dirty and unhygienic. By bringing
Throughout our various markets, iCHEFs advan- new structure and standards to the food truck industry,
tage has always been that it has grown from a founda- MSA has helped them become a regular part of the Kuala
tion in the restaurant industry, and is thus a particularly Lumpur cityscape. This concept is very much in line with
professional choice for that industry, says Yu confi- iCHEFs own approach, and they soon became an official
dently. In the early days of iCHEFs development, the partner of MSA. After only a month, six food trucks were









Anson Soh (right) explains to a client the principles
behind performance-based advertising and how those
principles are put to work. (photo by Chuang Kung-ju)

22 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

already using iCHEF, marking the companys
formal foray into the Malaysian market.
Nick Yu has handled this launch single-
handedly, and while it has proven to be a
challenging market, he remains hopeful about
the future: The iPad market is expected to
grow by about 1,000 restaurants a year, so were
hoping to achieve a market share of around
3050% within the year.
Calculating potential customers: Tagtoo
Online advertising has already evolved
from passive to active. In the past, it was
simply a matter of buying media space to
get exposure for your products. Today its more
about audience buys than media buys, with data on
consumers online behavior collected and algorithmi-
cally analyzed to serve ads more accurately and create a
higher conversion rate.
Tagtoo is at the forefront of such data collection and
analysis. Founded a little over six years ago, Tagtoo spe-
cializes in performance-based advertising sales. Accord-
ing to CEO and founder Teddy Yang, such advertising KKBOX
in Taiwan amounts to a market of about NT$500 million
KKBOXs Southeast Asia managing director Andrew Ho believes
to NT$1 billion, and Tagtoo expects to grow its sales to that sometimes having many competitors, as KKBOX has in the
some NT$200 million, or around 30% of the market. music streaming space, can be a good thing, because it means
others also expect the market to heat up.
With the Taiwanese market a relatively small one,
though, Yang eventually set his sights on the Southeast-
Asian market, starting expansion in 2015.
Born in Johor Bahru, Anson Soh studied in Taiwan try, says Teddy Yang. As a result, when evaluating the
after graduating from Malaysias Chinese Independent Southeast-Asian market, Tag too didnt do too much
High School. Soh was hired by Tagtoo straight out of in the way of preliminary analysis. Instead, We went
college, taking on a three-year project to prepare for the directly to the place to get exposure to local users and
companys expansion into his homeland. collect data for analysis, Yang explains.
E-commerce providers in Malaysia were initially unfa- While at present the Internet and e-commerce environ-
miliar with the technologies and services Tagtoo provide, ment in Southeast Asia is still maturing, it is commonly
meaning that Soh had to spend a good amount of time accepted that within three years it is set to take off, so
giving them detailed explanations of Tagtoos operations its a matter of moving now or being late to the party. In
and principles. Meanwhile he observed the different addition to Malaysia, Tagtoo has also begun expanding
client types in the region. He found that ethnic Chinese into the Indonesian and Thai markets, and within three
were more cautious about spending their money, while to five years they expect their share of the SEA market to
Malays were a bit more free with theirs, making them be around NT$500 million to NT$1 billion.
better to do business with. Additionally, Soh found that KKBOX: Islands in the stream
many e-commerce companies seized on the opportunity A leader in Taiwans music industry, KKBOX has en-
to advertise around the start and end of each month, joyed rapid and stable growth in recent years. In 2009 the
which is when Malays tend to receive their wages. company launched in Hong Kong, and in Southeast Asia
Speed is an important thing in the Internet indus- in 2013. Weve been ambitious from the beginning, says





KKBOX is focused on encouraging stable development in
the music industry, helping the industry produce good music,
discovering new artists, and providing audiences with a
diverse range of musical services.

Apple Music Spotify





KKBOXApple Music
Spotify l

24 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

and considering daily or weekly rentals of music to adjust
to Malaysians reluctance to prepay. The company has
also entered into partnerships with telecoms companies,
bundling KKBOX services with phone subscriptions.
When asked about competitors, Ho gives a wry smile.
We might have moved into the Malaysian market
fairly early, but theres still plenty of competition. From
Americas Apple Music and Spotify to Chinas Joox, each
has its own strengths, but even though weve got plenty
of competitors, sometimes thats actually a good thing,
because it means everyone else is thinking about ways
to fire up the market. Ho is optimistic about the issue of
competition. Whats more important, he believes, is know-
ing how to differentiate yourself in the market, like build-
ing deeper local connections and relationships of trust.
KKBOX is more focused on the stable growth of the music
industry, helping the market keep releasing good music
and discovering good artists, and so giving audiences a
more diverse range of music services.
KKBOX SEA managing director Andrew Ho. We never The company seeks out local artists to organize concerts
wanted to just hold fast in Taiwan, but instead were always with, local companies to hold joint events with, and engi-
trying to think up ways to take the leap overseas. neers to use big data algorithms to create personalized
The population of Southeast Asia is growing rapidly, song recommendations. Working with information scien-
with a large proportion of young people. In Malaysia, some tists, KKBOX is able to adjust its apps interface to better
30% of the population are ethnic Chinese, which also gave fit with consumer demands, plan designed playlists of all
KKBOX the advantage of a large population of people with kinds, and recommend listening behaviors based on cur-
a similar cultural and linguistic background to the Taiwan- rent events and news. All of these help the company local-
ese. On top of that, as technology continues to develop, 3G ize its efforts.
and 4G smartphone connections and smartphone owner- In recent years, the worlds attention has been gradually
ship are becoming more common, changing how people lis- turning toward Southeast Asia. With long economic and
ten to music. Combining all this with Taiwans having long cultural ties between Taiwan and Malaysia, the country
been a center for Chinese-language pop music, KKBOX was has become one that Taiwanese entrepreneurs are eager to
well placed to expand into the Malaysian market. break into. Ho, who has worked in Southeast Asia for sev-
Streaming music in Taiwan went through a long rough eral years, recommends that such companies make friends
period, gradually fostering a respect for musical copy- first, start looking for appropriate partners, and then make
right. The Malaysian market is in the middle of a similar their move into the market. While making friends might
process. Malaysians have a powerful passion for music, be time-consuming and labor-intensive, its a necessary
says Ho, so when we promote good music, trial listens investment, because once youve built that trust, everything
go up. However, in terms of getting them to pay for a sub- else will start to fall into place. He further recommends that
scription, its been a challenge, as they dont have the same Taiwanese companies make the most of this point in time
habit of paying for music thats developed in Taiwan. This to get out and learn about the outside world. Actually, get-
remains a major issue the company is facing in its efforts to ting out there isnt that hard, Ho says sincerely.
grow its market share in Malaysia. The booming, largely unexplored market of Malaysia
Unable to directly transplant the Taiwanese model, offers plenty of possibilities for Taiwanese companies will-
KKBOX has tried a variety of different approaches, includ- ing to take the initiative. l
ing increasing the number of Malay songs on the service (Cathy Teng/photos by Jimmy Lin/tr. by Geof Aberhart)


Green Gold:
Farming Enterprises Take Root

26 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

A griculture may not be as flashy an industry as
tech, but no nation survives without it. Tai-
wans own world-class agricultural technology
includes many crop varieties that deliver improved
yields and pest resistance. We have also drawn on
our deep well of agricultural experience to help many
nations resolve problems involving their staple crops.
Taiwans agricultural prowess could prove helpful
in rooting the stronger bilateral ties we are now seek-
ing to establish with the nations of Southeast Asia.

Visitors to the offices of the All Cosmos Bio-Tech

Holding Corporation (ACBT) in Johor Bahru, the capi-
tal of the Malaysian state of Johor, are greeted by three
large paintings as they make their way up the stairs. In
the first, a frightened elephant calf hides behind an adult
elephant in the midst of a dusty, bloody battlefield. In the
second, the calf, now grown, stands shoulder to shoulder
with the adult elephant. The third depicts the face of an

A frightened elephant calf hides behind an adult elephant on a

dusty battlefield. Tony Peng says the painting represents the early
part of his and his fathers entrepreneurial experience in Malaysia.


All Cosmos Bio-Tech Holdings is Asias largest manufacturer of
chemicalorganic fertilizer. (courtesy of ACBT)



A n d r o i d


28 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

adult elephant, its aged skin wrinkled and its spirit suf-
fused with the wisdom it has acquired over its long life.
Company chairman Tony Peng says the paintings
represent his and his fathers entrepreneurial journey in
Tony Peng: Adding value to fertilizer
Tony Peng was just 23 when he moved to Malaysia
with his father in 1997. After weighing opportunities
related to what were then Taiwans two dominant indus-
trieselectronics and agriculturePeng decided to seek
his fortune in the latter.
Malaysia is an agricultural powerhouse with a farm-
ing sector that excels at running large-scale operations.
In contrast, Taiwans small geographic footprint has
encouraged it to focus on precision agriculture. Pengs
business began as an effort to apply Taiwanese precision
agriculture and biotechnology to Malaysian-style large-
scale farming, to maximize the strengths and minimize
ACBTs chemicalorganic fertilizers account for 80% of
the weaknesses of both approaches. the Malaysian market; they are also exported to many
Running a farm requires juggling six key elements: other ASEAN nations.

crops, climate, soil, management, pest and disease control,

and fertilizers. Peng began with fertilizers, first seeking
assistance from relevant agencies and organizations in Tai- Founded in 2001, ACBT didnt break even until 2008,
wan, then applying his own hard-won knowledge to refin- but has since gone on to become Asias largest chemical
ing what he learned from them. He had a lot to learn and organic fertilizer maker, with more than 80% of the
studied his then bibleAcademia Sinica scientist Young Malaysian market. Its products have not only been cer-
Chiu- chungs Soil and Fertilizerfrom cover to cover. tified by the Malaysian governments palm oil, rubber,
He also studied biotech, soil science, crop nutrition and and pepper boards, but are also exported to the Philip-
pest control, in effect working through a university-level pines and Indonesia. In 2009, one of Malaysias sultans
course of study on his own. Peng diligently applied him- awarded Peng the honorific title of Dato for his con-
self to his textbooks and also carried out experiments in tributions to the Malaysian state and designated him
the field, meanwhile slowly shifting his product line away a consultant on green agriculture. Taiwan, meanwhile,
from purely organic fertilizers to functional fertilizers named Peng an overseas model entrepreneur in 2010.
containing organic, chemical, and microbial elements. Pengs words mask his pride in achievements gained
What is a functional fertilizer? Peng compares it to through genuine hard work and strength of character.
the Android smartphone ecosystem, explaining that his The value-added he has created with his functional fer-
fertilizer includes a variety of microbes and fungi, which tilizers also points to the future of the industry.
extend its functionality in much the way that apps ex- Wong Yew Kai: Producing good food
tend a phone operating systems functionality. Spelling Wong Yew Kai has worked as a building contractor
his analogy out further, he says that supplementing a and as the manager of Kuala Lumpurs tallest revolving
nutrient-only traditional fertilizer with organic matter and restaurant, but he has struck out in a complete new di-
fungi results in a smarter and more functional fertilizer. rection in recent years: farming.
What were doing is applying biotechnology to tradi- Its important to me that my company doesnt just
tional agriculture, continues Peng, explaining that while make money, but also produces good-quality food for
anyone can make fertilizer, his companys unique pro- more people to eat. I think thats something everyone
cessing adds value to its products. should get involved in. To that end, Wong rolled up

his trouser legs, pulled on his rain boots, and joined the
ranks of those engaged in eco-friendly aquaculture. He
raises fish in recycled water to reduce his consumption

of water and guarantee its quality. He also grows fungi

and algae to feed his fry even though it means more

work for him, explaining that it is healthier and more

20012008 environmentally friendly.
Wongs connection to Taiwan originated with his or-
chards. While Malaysia is a major agricultural producer,
the country is dependent upon food imports because
most of its farmers focus on cash crops like palm oil and
rubber. Seeking to address that shortfall, Wong began
growing food crops, starting with pineapple and pa-

paya. He traveled to Taiwan intending to find a partner

2010 for that venture. Though the trip failed in that respect, it
did introduce him to the concept of a social enterprise.
Just as in Taiwan, Malaysias agricultural communi-
ties have been suffering from a labor drain as residents
have moved away in search of work. Wong decided to
attempt to counter this trend by contracting out the cul-

tivation of a large tract of land to local farmers, which

he felt would create business and job opportunities

for locals and draw some young people back to the

community. Having gone on to apply Taiwanese food
processing and brand management expertise to the
venture, he now wants to take advantage of Singapores
international trade expertise. Wong hopes that drawing
on the combined strengths of Malaysia, Taiwan and
Singapore will enable him to sell his products around
the world.

Everyone wants to eat good things, so there has to

be a market, says Wong. He adds, Its also a joy to

watch crops and fish grow and mature. Its that experi-
ence that draws people to farming. Social pressures and
9 other matters can eat away at this primeval joy, which is
40 why Wong hopes not just to make money but to enable
people to develop a new way of life while continuing to
farm and produce good food for more people.

Many people see farming as a high-risk industry, but

Wong believes that by combining Taiwanese precision

agriculture techniques with Malaysias environmental

Dato Wong Yew Kai stands in the Kuala Lumpur
revolving restaurant he once managed, the city and its
famous Petronas Towers visible outside the windows.

30 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03


32 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

(above) Asian sea bass fry raised on microorganisms are as
golden as pumpkin flesh. (courtesy of Wong Yew Kai)

(left) From importing technology and constructing an aquaculture
facility to raising fish and developing a market for them, Wong
Yew Kai has built his business with his own two hands.
(courtesy of Wong Yew Kai)

advantages, he can integrate resources and create a win- Wong recommends that Taiwanese businesses start
win situation. small and engage in genuine cooperation with South-
New southbound agriculture east-Asian partners. He believes that in this way both
Food is enormously important to humanity. What partners will learn from one another and enjoy mutual
can the agricultural technology and experience Taiwan success. Wong is convinced that Taiwan and Malaysia
has acquired over the years do for the world? How can have the potential to work together, and that they can
Taiwanese agriculture remain competitive in the inter- become good partners.
national market? How can Taiwans agricultural sector For his part, Peng encourages Taiwanese to regard
continue to build on its strengths and resituate itself as themselves as citizens of the world rather than of a par-
the global economy splits into regional blocks? The New ticular location. Noting that there are already Taiwanese
Southbound Policy, which aims to strengthen Taiwans all over the world, he argues that Taiwanese neednt
sharing of resources and deepen its relationships with limit themselves to pursuing their fortunes in Taiwan.
Southeast-Asian nations to the benefit of all, may offer a He observes further that many Taiwanese businesses
fresh perspective on these questions. have, through years of hard work, already gained op-
Wong Yew Kai believes that Malaysias natural re- portunities, established niches, and achieved success
sources and Taiwans precision agriculture technology around the globe. Peng adds that he would be happy to
can complement one another and, together, have tremen- help Taiwanese farmers and biotech firms come to Ma-
dous potential for development. Tony Peng says that the laysia, and to partner with them there.
ROC governments concern for Taiwanese who work and Taiwans history makes plain that the island wasnt
do business abroad, and the latters concern for Taiwan, built exclusively on farming, and that it owes even more
makes the New Southbound Policy the perfect way to to its maritime endeavors. It is only natural that who live
strengthen ties between Taiwan and Southeast Asia. on an island look to the sea and take the whole world as
But how will Taiwanese agriculture further develop their market. This is Taiwans role and its natural gift. l
its strengths under the New Southbound Policy? Where (Cathy Teng/photos by Jimmy Lin/
will it find foreign partners? tr. by Scott Williams)


34 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Young Entrepreneurs Forge
a New Path

S ince the ROC government began advocating investment in South-

east Asia in the 1990s, the first wave of Taiwanese businesspeople
have already spent more than two decades in Malaysia. That first
generation of pioneers has since handed the baton to a new gen-
eration, allowing young businesspeople to play to their own

strengths. Today, the political situation and operating envi-

ronment are entirely different, and the new generation is facing
Members of the Taiwan Junior Chamber of
Commerce in Malaysia met with us to discuss more challenging market conditions. Demand for innovation
Taiwan and Malaysia, the current business
environment and the future.
and change, however, has provided a new stage for todays
entrepreneurs to display their creativity and capabilities.


Louis Wus extensive experience in machining
technology allowed his company to grow even in bad
economic times.


36 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

In Malaysia we visited Johor Bahru, where we listened tition is a lose-lose proposition and he prefers to focus
to Peter Liu describe how, after his father relocated the on products relying on advanced technology to generate
family to the city, he would get up at 4:30 a.m., grab his higher profit margins.
passport, cross the border, and attend class in Singapore. Aside from the issue of human resources, this next gen-
We also met Louis Wu, whose precision machining tech- eration operates in an environment much more attuned to
nology cultivated over years of practice allowed him to marketing. The older generation were less concerned with
grow his company in a difficult market and secure orders marketing and market demands, says New Fu Yeong,
from customers in Europe and North America. whose family business produces all sorts of precision-made
We chose an evening to meet in Kuala Lumpur with parts. But we must now rely more on communication with
members of the Taiwan Junior Chamber of Commerce our customers to understand and adjust to their needs.
in Malaysia. Jacky Huang and his wife had just finished The younger generation must also rely more on market-
work and came in their work clothes. Hiro Wang drove ing to get closer to customers. You have to have a compre-
for two hours from the town of Muar. Gordon Shen and hensive understanding of both business and technology,
New Fu Yeong showed up in athletic clothes, ready to he stresses.
play ball later. Su Chen Hao, who imports coal from Indo- Upgrading technology, opening markets
nesia for sale in the Malaysian market, joined us later. So how should manufacturers operate under present
That night we discussed Taiwan and Malaysia. We conditions?
talked about current conditions and the future. . . . Repeated financial crises in the late 1990s resulted in
Same place, new circumstances serious setbacks and a drop in orders for Beeantah Indus-
Low labor costs were a major factor in attracting Tai- trial. In response, when Louis Wu and his younger brother
wanese businesses to invest in Malaysia. Plentiful forests began to take over the running of the family firm in 2005,
encouraged numerous furniture makers to set up shop they put their heads together and contemplated the future
there. But following a rise in local wages, many employers of the enterprise.
were forced to address labor shortages by hiring foreign They decided to focus on developing sales to Europe
workers. Indecisive labor policies in Malaysia, moreover, and North America, upgrade their technology, and
caused personnel shortages for labor-intensive industries. improve their quality control. Moreover, Wu expanded
Furniture fac tories need considerable manpower, as their factorys technical capabilities in order to take orders
many as six or seven hundred workers, Gordon Shen of for a wider range of products. We have extended our
Hsin Foong, a furniture maker, says with concern. But the machining capacity from workpiece sizes of two to 20 milli-
[Malaysian] government has not permitted the entry of for- meters in the early days to 300 mm today, he explains.
eign workers, so we end up having to turn business away. Thanks to these improvements, the companys sales
Moreover, manufacturers in mainland China rely on grew by leaps and bounds. Wu chuckles as he describes
low-cost products to undercut the market. Customers his being a troublemaker in his schooldays. He likes to
always point to the China price to try to drive down our take on new challenges, and his factory today produces
prices, says Jacky Huang, who runs a metal finishing new samples almost daily. He believes that this shows his
factory. He can only try to convince buyers that Taiwan- companys unlimited potential.
ese-owned factories produce higher-quality products. Jacky Huang and his wife, who arrived at our Kuala
Louis Wu, general manager of precision machining Lumpur meeting in their work clothes, jokingly say that
company Beeantah Industrial, says this type of compe- they dont need to dress up for work. After a few rounds

2m m-20m m

Technology and efficiency are important elements in
precision machining. Louis Wus plant still has a number
of traditional semi-automatic machines that are used
flexibly to support his production lines.


2010 LeaderartiPad


38 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

to his son Peter Liu and his daughter Charis Liu Kuang
Pei. Peter manages the factory, while his sister is respon-
sible for procurement, market management, accounting,
quality control, and other aspects of the business.
After middle school, Peter studied in the United States.
He then worked at Quanta Computer and Hon Hai Preci-
sion Industry, two major electronics companies in Taiwan,
where he learned about the operation of large manufac-
turing concerns. After returning to Malaysia, he gradually
became involved in running the family business. His first
major task was to further automate production. The
most effective means of addressing the labor shortage and
ensuring quality was to reduce our dependence on man-
ual operations, he says. Toward that end, he first system-
atized the companys product code system and sought to
make the production process more efficient by cutting out
redundant operations and eliminating waste.
Settling down in Taiwan after her marriage, Charis
carried on her work at the company just as before. She
conducts daily meetings with various departments by
means of videoconferencing on her iPad. And in fact, the
day we interviewed Roger he looped in his daughter via
iPad to join the conversation.
Theres a lot more to manufacturing color markers than
in their factory they are dirty from head to toe. They point one might imagine. They are subject to rigorous quality-
out that this is one of the challenges to finding people control standards and other specifications. Complexities
who are willing to carry on the business. Huang recently arise from requirements such as freedom from heavy
contracted to develop casings for electronic keyboards and metals, the degree of airtight fit of the cap and end plug,
drum machines with a Japanese manufacturer. Because the and the cap removal force. Forty quality-control personnel
instrument casings had to be marked with labels for the work in the factory, inspecting products at every stage of
control switches, he took the opportunity to set up a new production. Almost without us realizing it, manufactur-
department dedicated to printing. Theres still a market ing for European and American companies, with their
for what we were doing before, but this is a new venture exacting standards, led to our own improvements, Roger
for our family enterprise, Huang says with optimism. Liu explains.
Leaderart is one of Southeast Asias largest ink marker From manufacturing to service
manufacturers. Its founder, Roger Liu, has already over- Upgrading technology often leads to upgraded thinking.
seen 27 years of consistent growth for the company since In the face of fierce market competition, Louis Wu tries
he arrived in Johor Bahru. to establish close cooperative relationships with his cus-
In the early days, he wandered from exhibition to exhi- tomers. He points to his cooperation with a European man-
bition establishing contacts to expand his business. He ufacturer as an example. First the clients engineers drew
established working relationships with customers in over up plans for a new product. They then gave the design to
60 countries, including the United States, Germany, France, Wu for trial manufacture. After four years of back-and-
Italy and Russia, and laid a stable foundation for the com- forth revisions, the new product was a success, and Wu had
pany. Today the company has an annual turnover of US$30 established a consistent new stream of purchase orders.
million and can produce around 1.5 million markers a day. Unsatisfied with playing the role of a traditional manu-
In 2010, Liu began handing over control of the business facturer, Wu changed his approach and began to think of







4 25~35
Hill Product

Hill Product

Hiro Wang founded Hill Product to win over younger

customers by focusing on high-end designer products.
(courtesy of Hiro Wang)


40 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

iPad Wang is also working with an Italian designer, and

Roger Liu (left) works with family members to make the

his products will be displayed in Milan next year, help-
business a success. From Taiwan, his daughter Charis helps ing to expand into the European market.
manage the company through videoconferencing on her iPad.
On the night we met with these second-generation
entrepreneurs, we talked about running a family busi-
himself as a service provider. By doing so, he won the ness and the difficulties encountered in their industries.
trust of clients and won manufacturing contracts for The conversation touched on a wide array of topics, from
Beeantah. It was this unceasing pursuit of technological exchange rate fluctuations to labor shortages. During
improvements and the trust built over time that allowed our meeting, Su Chen Hao, who runs a coal trading
the company to establish stable working relationships enterprise, was especially moving when he shared his
with foreign manufacturers such as Dyson in the UK, concerns that coal would be slowly squeezed out of the
Sharp and Shimano in Japan, and Motorola in the US. market. The fuels uncertain future has prompted Su to
Leaderart has also developed new plans for the make use of his experience and resources in Malaysia to
future. Beyond its subcontracting for major brands, build new partnerships with Taiwanese entrepreneurs.
Leaderart once sold products under its own brand These children of the first generation of Taiwanese
name, but the venture proved unsustainable. This year businesspeople, who have already been established in a
the company plans to establish a new factory in Viet- foreign land for more than two decades, still care about
nam and restart production for its own line. Taiwan. They note with concern that the Taiwanese busi-
And in Muar, Malaysia, Hiro Wang, young and full ness community operating in Malaysia is being slowly
of creativity, spotted a trend among 2535-year-olds for marginalized as Chinas growing economic clout begins
buying designer furniture that uses composite mate- to affect the country. They are therefore highly supportive
rials. In 2015, he founded the boutique company Hill of the ROC governments New Southbound Policy and
Product, which specializes in high-end hardwood furni- hope it will help leading Taiwanese companies to expand
ture. It is helping to create new frontiers for Wangs fur- into Malaysia. They are also happy to act as intermediar-
niture business. Wang spent all of last year in Malaysia ies between the two countries, helping to match the right
scouring over 700 exhibitions and sales shows large and people with the right industries and to make use of con-
small to better understand market trends. Despite the tacts and resources cultivated over years of operating in
depreciation of the ringgit, the Malaysian domestic mar- Malaysia to assist even more Taiwanese enterprises. l
ket is still strong, Wang says. As long as Malaysians (Cathy Teng/photos by Jimmy Lin/
dont go abroad, theyll keep spending domestically. tr. by Charles Kimball)




19 9 0
19 4 8


2 010

2 010

2 0 10


199 0

19 6 0

19 7 08 0


2 017

44 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03


1 9 8 0

19 41-19 45


9 2 7 11 7

9 0 19 9 0

19 9 9

19 8 6


1 9 8 7

1 9 9 4 19 8 9

2 0 0 0
19 9 0

19 6 0

19 9 4

46 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

P i o n e e r i n g i n

Fo r m o s a

J o h n T h o m p s o n


1 9 9 9

1 9 9 1 E x L i b r i s

W.A. Pickering




At the Cutting Edge:
Yang Shiyis Quest for Happiness

S mall figures dance with joy; glit-

tering stars fill the red background;
flowers and trees burst forth in all their
glory. Every detail of this large sheet
of red cloth represents the hopes and
wishes that paper cutting artist Yang
Shiyi sends out to his audience.
To mark the arrival of the Chinese
New Year, Yang combined his paper cut-
ting creativity with the theme of family
to create a festive lantern for the streets
of Tai pei. Knowing that family and
friends gather at the New Year, Yang
invites everyone to come down to enjoy
the world of lanterns and share in their




I cant create unless I have a story to tell. Speaking at a
TEDxTaoyuan event, Yang Shiyi explains the backdrop to the
work Nian Shou (New Years Beast).

50 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

The Year of the Rooster is here! An ambience of joy

and bustle fills the streets.

On Zhong hua Road in Tai peis Xi men ding area, a This giant-sized cut-paper work by Yang Shiyi is entitled Grand-
Uncles Wishes. Exhibited at the winter show at the New Tile
large red steel weather vane in the shape of a rooster House Hakka Cultural District in Zhubei, Hsinchu County, it is a
stands atop a temporary structure, gaily turning back call for people to treasure the earth. (courtesy of Yang Shiyi)

and forth in the breeze.

Below the weather vane, a wall ten meters long and Rooster because I hope that when people gather for the
three meters high is covered all over with a red cloth, New Year holiday, they will remember that the most
into which delightful images are cut. In the center are beautiful of all lamps is the one that shines at home. And
two human figures, while stars fill the area above their I hope that after everyone admires the lanterns and en-
heads. At the bottom of the cloth, warm light shines joys their family get-together, they will carry that beauti-
through, casting moving shadows of the visitors in- ful strength with them back out into society.
side. On the lower rear wall of the structure, next to a The work contains a metaphorical wish to all for
stylized cut silhouette of a flourishing tree, the entire well-being and happiness. It is made in the cut-paper
surface is covered with Words for My Familyfamily style that Yang created out of more than a decade of self-
greetings collected from ordinary people. doubt and struggle when he took up this art form in 2013.
This house-like structure, entitled Family, is in fact a Goodbye to anger
festive lantern, created by paper cutting artist Yang Shiyi Yang, who studied first in the Department of Visual
for the 2017 Taipei Lantern Festival, which celebrates Communication Design at Kun Shan University in Tainan
the arrival of the Year of the Rooster. Yang was inspired and then in the graduate school of National Taiwan Uni-
to create this family-themed work by a play on words: versity of Arts, was a prodigy during his student days. He
in Taiwanese, the word for rooster or chicken (gei) won countless awards before the age of 27. But he was not
sounds the same as the word for family or home. happy. He explains: Although I won a lot of prizes, there
Yangs work allows people to literally enter this was one accolade I couldnt get: my own self-approval!
family home and become part of the lantern. I de- During his childhood Yang was separated from his
cided to build a family residence for the Year of the parents for over ten years, and during those days of






The figures in Yangs works are always smiling or laughing happily. (courtesy of Yang Shiyi)

52 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Yang isnt afraid to experiment when it comes to the lines and
pen strokes of his draft designs. If the result doesnt cut it, he
just throws it out!

Committed to fully experiencing life, Yang Shiyi puts extreme

concentration and effort into every stroke of his knife.

living in other peoples care, the naturally sensitive boy

became filled with anger and insecurity. The creative
world, with an absence of fixed and rigid standards, be-
came his outlet. haired by the time Yang met her, lived in a simple house
Unable to draw, Yang turned to photography. His in the loess region of Shaanxi, with yellowed newspaper
photographs from that periodcryptic works filled with covering the walls, and a bed knocked together from
a sense of alienationshow scenes from his inner life. some odd planks of wood. A small stone slab was her
One day Yang happened upon a collection of books only platform for drafting and cutting her works.
on paper cutting art, printed by Echo Publishing Corpo- Her life was harsh, and her past even rougher. At age
ration. He felt very attracted to one of the works inside, four she was sent to another family as a bride-in-wait-
with its clean, simple lines and splashy colors. Imagin- ing, and she was forced into a loveless marriage at 17.
ing that the author must be a very happy person to pro- Incredibly, her hardscrabble existence did not diminish
duce such creative works, a curious Yang decided to find the high spirits and joy of her creations. Everywhere in
out for himself. her works you could see dancing people, bright colors,
He applied for a grant from the Cloud Gate Dance and a spirit of jubilation.
Theater under their Wanderers program, and went off She had more reason to give up on life than I did.
to remote Shaanxi Province in mainland China, in order Why didnt she? Maybe because she saw beauty in the
to visit for himself the source of the work in the book. But world. After his three-month journey ended, Yang felt
when he got there, he was dumbfounded. It turned out much more at ease, but still he had not even once put
that the cut-paper composition came from Ku Shulan, an his hand to actually cutting paper.
elderly lady living in Shaanxi, whose photo Yang showed For the next seven years, Yang returned to his alma
at his 2016 TEDxTaoyuan talk. Ku, completely white- mater in Tai nan as a lecturer, where he started from




54 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Yang was always a creative loner, doing all his work solo, but he
has had to adopt a more collaborative model to produce works
like Blessings from a Royal Poinciana. (courtesy of Yang Shiyi)

were not accusatory or dissatisfied with the world, and

the lead actors in his large red cut-paper works always
beamedsmiling while standing in the middle of a
crowd; smiling while gazing at the sky; smiling while
embracing. Thats because what I want to bring to
people is happiness and hope! Yang explains.
And behind each of these works that make people
happy is always a heartwarming story.
Take for example Yangs 2015 piece Nian Shou (New
Years Beast). Whereas traditionally the nian shoua
creature that emerges at the new year to spread chaos
is portrayed as fierce, with bared fangs and threatening
claws, to be warded off with firecrackers and door amu-
lets, Yang depicted it as round and jolly, with a laughing
face. And he even thought up a backstory for it.
In Yangs version, the nian shou is a warm and
friendly critter. He bares his teeth and waves his claws
only to encourage children who have moved away from
home to hurry back to be with loved ones. The fire-
crackers and lanterns are there to express the profound
appreciation of parents to the nian shou, as if to say:
Thank you! Thank you for bringing them back to us!
Yangs motivation for rewriting the book on the nian
shou is that he saw many people around him weighed
down by mutual misunderstanding, so he decided to
use paper cutting art to promote straightforwardness,
scratch in relearning how to get along with himself as a gift to those who are willing to bear the burden of
and lived an unostentatious life. It was only when his misunderstanding for love.
girlfriend happened to casually make a request that For the winter exhibition of installation art at the
he finally stopped procrastinating and started doing New Tile House Hakka Cultural District in Zhubei,
creative cut-paper work. Equipped with nothing but a Hsinchu County, a giant cut-paper work in canvas, 14
simple pair of nail scissors, he produced his first work, meters high and seven meters wide, seems to reduce
built around the shape of the Chinese character xi (), viewers walking past it to insignificance. This is a piece
meaning happiness or well-being. entitled Grand- Uncles Wishes, which Yang produced
At a point where Yang had only produced seven fin- based on the theme of thanksgiving.
ished products, already a corporate sponsor appeared, In Hakka tradition, the appellation grand-uncle is
inviting him to open a cut-paper workshop, after which a term of respect used by a younger person for an older
firms began showing up in droves to commission works man. It is also used for the Earth God, who watches
and invite him to participate in shows. over each home and family. The earth, like the Earth
Happiness at the cutting edge God, is always there, eternally a companion to ordinary
As he continued to create, Yangs works took on folk, yet is normally silent, so that people forget to trea-
a uniquely different style from his past oeuvre. They sure it. Yang created this gigantic work not just to make


In his workshop, cut paper has become the medium through which Yang and his team can together
search for beauty and happiness in life. (courtesy of Yang Shiyi)



56 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

something big as an end in itself, but in the hope that produced no less than 50 patterns. Others might look at
when people raise their faces to look at the complete the results and see exquisite pieces of art, but not one
piece, they will think of the earth beneath their feet. has yet gotten over the high bar Yang sets for himself.
Without a story to tell, I cant put hand to work, Yang doesnt think that beauty is the one and only
says Yang. He wants every creation he makes to tell a criterion. In paper cutting art, beauty is actually pretty
story, so as to move people to think and feel. Paper easy to achieve. But if you want to make people think
cutting is just a kind of handicraft or skill, but through and feel, its hard. As a form of visual expression, cut
it I want to tell stories and bring some increment of paper has limitless possibilities for embellishment and
change to society. adornment just to fill space, but thats not necessarily
Beauty is not the only criterion what people want.
Not very traditional. Thats the initial evaluation Learning to collaborate
of Yangs works you hear from many first-time viewers. The Yang Shiyi of the present day still has moments
Yangs approachdefined by bold lines, a clean but of anguish and anger. But compared to the past, he
dashing elegance, and simplified, stylized subjectsis has more of a sense of gratitude toward the world and
the result of very deliberate culling. When he drafts an knows that satisfaction with life starts from within.
underlying pattern, as soon as he sees any traditional Now that he has opened his heart, everything he sees
motif, he immediately throws it away without hesita- is like blossoming flowers, and that has allowed him to
tion. Faithful to tradition is just another way of say- open himself to collaboration with others.
ing too lazy to come up with creative ideas. In May of 2015, Yang worked for the first time with
Pasted onto the window glass of Yangs studio are a Istheatre Labo, crafting cut-paper backdrops in cloth for
number of stylized cut-paper flowers, each markedly a dance piece. This was his first encounter with spatial
different from the others, and the whole wall is covered design, and the first time he took on the challenge of
with rough drafts. This year, for a series of works he has

been commissioned to make for Taishin International
Bank, Yang will do his take on cut-paper blossoms for A splash of auspicious red replete with joyful dancing: Every
detail of Yang Shiyis works carries a pinch of the pleasure and
the first time. In order to find just the right flora, Yang warmth he wants to bring to everyone. (courtesy of Yang Shiyi)

creating giant cut-paper works. Though previously he

had always worked alone, for this project he had to re-
cruit assistants to help out.
Two months later, Yang accepted an invitation from

the Tai nan City Government to create a work on the

theme of royal poinciana (the flowering tree Delonix

regia), as a sort of visual metaphor for the city. There

is one photo from that experience which Yang loves to
pull out so he can share a story with people. There is
an enormous sheet of red paper with a dozen or so as-
sistants kneeling or crouching on it, working with their
20155 heads down in concentration. Looked at from a dis-
tance, the group takes on the appearance of a caterpil-

lar, climbing up a brilliantly flowering royal poinciana.

What Yang likes about the photo is not just the image
of focused teamwork, but also the attitude of humility
and respect toward labor that is captured in the shot.
The Taiwanese word for work sounds very similar to
the word for emptiness. Yang, who has continually
had to rethink his place in the world, has finally found
the answer: For every individual on earth, its as if

each person is using the work that they are responsible

for to continually fill in the emptiness in the world.

For the work Family for the Taipei Lantern Festival,

Yang again opted for a collaborative project, in part-
nership with the TOGO Rural Village Art Museum in
Houbi District, Tainan, and the WeDo Group in Taipei
Citys Dadaocheng area. Yang handled the cut-paper
artistic creation, while Chen Yuliang, executive director
of TOGO, took care of spatial arrangements, and WeDo

was responsible for the lighting.

Yang, who had done all his previous creative work
on his own, never imagined he would be using the
teamwork model he uses today. When you acknowl-
edge that you dont know what you are doing, then a
team takes shape, Yang says.
I believe that with these two hands I can bring peo-
ple happiness. Yang Shiyis works are seeds of hope

that he wants to scatter throughout society. Especially

now, at the start of the Year of the Rooster, he hopes

that people who see his works will not only feel joy, but
believe in themselvesbelieve that they too, with their
own two hands, can bring happiness to others. l
(Liu Yingfeng/photos by Chuang Kung-ju/
l tr. by Phil Newell)

58 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Yang Shiyi used to be filled with

anger and dissatisfaction, but today
he has found peace of mind through
his art.


Lee Rong-chun: A Lifetime Tilling Literary Fields


60 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

L ee Rong-chun always aspired to be an author. He rejected worldly expectations in pursuit of
that dream, never marrying, and surviving on part-time jobs, the better to spend his lonely
hours hunched over his desk writing. When Lee passed away in 1994, his nephew discovered
manuscripts totaling more than 3 million characters in his wardrobe, sorted through them, and
arranged for them to be published. And now the recently opened Lee Rong-chun Literary Museum,
a lovely literary bower, is bringing Lees life and work to the public at large.

Lee Rong-chun lived a solitary life in Toucheng pursuing his
literary ambitions. Unknown during his lifetime, he nonetheless
spent his years joyfully writing.



Located in a Japanese-style building on a quiet

Toucheng street, the Lee Rong-chun Literary
Museum invites travelers to travel back in time and
2009 learn about Lees 80-year life. (photo by Chuang




62 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Located on Kailanjiu Road in Toucheng Township, Lee joined the Taiwan Farmers Volunteer Brigade, a
Yilan County, the Lee Rong-chun Literary Museum was division of the Japanese military composed of Taiwanese
once the teachers house of a Japanese primary school. soldiers, in 1937 at the age of 24. Ordered to mainland
When the Nationalist government came to Taiwan, the China, he ultimately spent nine affecting years there. It
building was turned into the Tou cheng Elementary was during this period that he first read and was moved
School principals residence. It stood in disrepair for by Lu Xuns vivid storytelling. Lees stylistic hallmark
many years after the last principal moved out, and at meticulous depiction of details in simple, accessible lan-
one point even faced demolition. Public pleas for its guagemay even have been inspired by Lu Xuns work.
preservation persuaded the Yilan County Cultural Af- Lee began his writing career in China, turning the
fairs Bureau to first designate it a historic building, and wartime suffering he personally witnessed and heard
then in 2009 to use it to enrich Touchengs cultural assets about into his first piece of fiction, the 600,000-character-
by turning it into the Lee Rong-chun Literary Museum. long Motherland and Compatriots. Unlike the majority of
A lifelong mission Taiwans native postwar writers, who wrote in Japanese,
Born in Tou cheng in 1914, Lee Rong-chun was his Lee wrote in Chinese, and his first-hand account of the
familys fourth child. When his father died young, Lees war in China supplemented Taiwanese readers under-
mother, Huang Zhen, was left to raise the family on her standing of events there. Having completed the book
own. Fortunately the children got along well with one in 1952 at the age of 39, Lee won a cash prize from the
another, and the home was both happy and harmoni- Chinese Literature Awards Committee in 1953. He used
ous. Lee spent his childhood amid Touchengs beautiful the money to publish roughly one-third of the novel
scenery, which honed his sharp powers of observation himself. Unfortunately, the novel, the only work he suc-
and his appreciation of fine things, and had his first ceeded in publishing in his lifetime, sold poorly and lost
chance encounter with literature in his teens, which him money.
planted the seeds of his lifelong authorial aspirations. Lee returned to Taiwan in 1947, living with his

Visitors can travel through time
within the warm, woody confines
of the museum, viewing Lees
manuscripts and collected works,
and experiencing his life story
through displays of old photos.
(photo by Chuang Kung-ju)




Writing was the wellspring
of Lees life, and he tilled
his literary fields daily.
(facing page photo by
Chuang Kung-ju)

64 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

youngest brother and caring for his nephew Li Jingming tional philosophy he observed in his youngest brothers
as if he were his own son. Li remembers his uncle as a interactions with his children (Teaching Children).
lifelong bachelor unwilling to take on mentally taxing These works reveal the seemingly isolated Lees zest for
jobs. Instead, he rose early in the morning to write and life. Only an author whose spirit was overflowing could
spent his afternoons doing just enough part-time work have produced such heartfelt prose.
to keep body and soul together, and to buy paper and Li says that Lee would often share manuscripts with
ink. He never feasted or caroused, instead spending al- him, but admits that he never read them carefully while
most all of his time writing. his uncle was alivehe just admired his commitment to
Culture from a wardrobe writing. It was only when Li was sorting through his un-
Lee never had a submission accepted by a publisher cles possessions after his 1994 passing that he discovered
and was never understood by the masses. His mother more than 3 million characters worth of well organized
said he must have owed a debt in words from a previous manuscripts in the wardrobe. Li decided to read Dreams
life that he was repaying in this one. He spent a large of a Villa, a work his uncle had never shown him, in his
portion of his life alone, immersed in the world of litera- elders memory. The book gave him a new understand-
ture, and his commitment to writing was unwavering in ing of his uncles early life and a surprising apprecia-
spite of the material and circumstantial difficulties he ex- tion for his prose. He began devouring Lees books and
perienced. Yet he assiduously sampled the world around ended up not sleeping much for the next several nights.
him, writing in his simple but vivid prose about things After making his way through all of Lees manu-
such as the excited competition to climb poles to snatch scripts, Li understood what his uncle meant when he
offerings after the Ghost Festival (in the story Qianggu), said, Im leaving you unlimited wealth. The work was
his familys joy in celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival amazing in both its quality and quantity, a rare combi-
together (Mid-Autumn Night), and even the educa- nation in the Chinese-language literary world. Li then



T l

TJac Queline
Lee Rong-chuns nephew Li Jingming conducts a walking and reading tour with museum
volunteers. Dressed in T-shirts printed with excerpts from Lees work, they show visitors
Lees Toucheng. (photo by Jac Queline)

66 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

After discovering his uncle Lee Rong-chuns manuscripts, Li Jingming organized and published them
in hopes of introducing the public to their beauty. (photo by Chuang Kung-ju)

organized the manuscripts for publication, ultimately talks such as Who Was Lee Rong-chun? but also
releasing a complete works in ten volumes, including strives to link his work to Toucheng through things like
Remembering Mother, Sailing at Wushi, and Eightieth Birth- a local map that marks spots described in Lees work
day. He also put selected manuscripts and an edition of and a walking and reading tour of the township that en-
the unsuccessfully self-published Motherland and Compa- ables visitors to experience a different side of the area.
triots on display in the Lee Rong-chun Literary Museum. The museum itself details Lees life story through
Reading Lee in a museum exhibits of old pictures and informational posters, and
Lee recorded bits and pieces of his life in Toucheng even displays excerpts from his work on the glass of its
in the straightforward prose of his work, weaving windows.
things like the competition for offerings after the Ghost The museum features all of Lees work. The next
Festival and the rise and fall of Heping Street into a rich time you are in Toucheng, be sure to stop in and give his
historical tapestry that introduces readers to different cozy Japanese-style literary bower a look. l
aspects of the township. The museum not only seeks (Chen Chun-fang/photos courtesy of Li Jingming/
to introduce the public to Lees life and work through tr. by Scott Williams)


Two Generations of Creativity:
Arts and the Children of Immigrants

Chen Yuchin, writer.

Chang Wan-chao, dance instructor.

Rina Tsou, film director.

68 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03


A t present, there are more than 520,000 first-gen- For second-generation immigrants, home is an
eration Southeast Asian immigrants in Taiwan, encompassing term. It means the country of their
while their children number more than 360,000. Im- parents birth and also this land in which they grew
proving ways to assimilate and accommodate the off- up. It can also be just a distant memory lodged deep
spring of immigrants has been a persistent concern for in their hearts. Because the terms meaning is so am-
the government. Already, there is no shortage of bril- biguous, others might jump to the conclusion that
liant figures that have appeared as this second genera- they have lost their identity. But in reality home is
tion has come into its own. They have been gradually where the heart is.
providing the country with a new well of resilience. But in recognizing how vast the world is, the cre-
The young Filipina-Taiwanese film director Rina ativity of this generation burns even brighter. They
Tsou is attempting to represent the relationship be- speak through their artistic creations and claim the
tween Filipinos and Taiwanese, frame by frame. Chen right to tell their own stories. They also remind us
Yuchin, noticeable for her bowl cut and big eyes, has that borders are strange things that can only sepa-
inherited her Indonesian-born mothers youthful cour- rate and never connect, thereby dividing the world
age. She lives and writes fearlessly, but has discovered into separate parts.
that she is still only a quasi-Taipei person, living So what does it mean to be a second-generation
permanently on the fringes of local society. Chang immigrant? That really is the question that this
Wan-chao, a graceful and gifted dancer whose parents generation seeks to answer. They want only to look
are also from Indonesia, describes the sensation of honestly at themselves and make their presence
feeling dizzy with each spin in the air, followed by the known. As for the question Who am I? they dont
landing, and another spin. The world is an inclusive need anyone to provide an answer. They are content
circle, she explains, that includes all of us, not just to let their artistic creations speak for them.
you or me. (Lin Nianci/tr. by Charles Kimball)


Rina Tsous World of Film

For Rina Tsou, a film presents a new world which can light the
way toward ones dreams.



70 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

B efore shooting the short film Arnie, one
day I decided to visit Qi jin in Kao hsiung
to do some research, but I got lost. On a quiet road,
expression in her voice. You wont hear any talk of lone-
liness despite the fact that she was often home alone.
Enthusiasm for film
I noticed a man in front of me, also walking alone. Tsou began her tertiary studies at the National Tai-
There were no other passersby, but there was a bit of wan University College of Management, but was deter-
traffic on the road. This is an account by budding mined to move into film studies at the National Taiwan
film director Rina Tsou, speaking in a forum at the University of Arts (NTUA). With a bit of luck on her
New Southeast Asian Film Festival organized by the side, she was able to apply for the NTUA transfer ex-
National Taiwan University of Arts. The 23-minute amination just hours before the deadline. She had spent
film Arnie touched the hearts of everyone who saw a full month preparing for the exam, and fortunately
it at the festival. Shortly before, she had walked the was rewarded with success: she joined the Department
red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival as Arnie was of Motion Picture at NTUA. Although a film enthusi-
selected for the International Critics Week compe- ast since childhood, she had no practical experience of
tition, a parallel section to the main festival. But acting, so finding herself in front of the camera being
while the red carpet was long, Tsous journey into expected to act naturally came as quite a challenge.
film production has been even longer. So Tsou began her trade at the bottom and tried
her hand at all or any roles that presented themselves
I came back to Taiwan after living some years over- during her four years at university. She gained experi-
seas when I was in my third year at elementary school. ence of lighting, for example, as well as taking acting
During my schooldays, my parents were often not at roles in friends film projects. Such a broad and compre-
home, so the TV channel HBO became like my family. I hensive foundation has enabled her to produce films
think thats why I came to love films so much later on! like Chicharon and Arnie, the latter of which has shown
Tsou speaks excitedly, her beautiful eyes adding to the at international film festivals.

Tsou and her team boldly explore new spheres. Her world revolves around film, which is almost like a substitute
family for her. (courtesy of Sanwood Films)


Edward W. Said


Ating Pelicula Film Workshop helps Filipino students in Taiwan enter the world of filmmaking, a vocation that Tsou will
never relinquish. (courtesy of Rina Tsou)

72 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Asuka Lee
Tsou encourages youth who share a similar background to her own to create the world they want and find a better way.
(photo by Asuka Lee, courtesy of Migrants Park)

Like an outsider of being an outsider is a recurrent theme of Tsous film

Born in Taiwan but spending her early childhood in works. It reflects her own story of being brought to Tai-
the Philippines, Tsou returned to Taiwan at age ten. Her wan at age ten. She was unable to comprehend whether
father was from Jiangxi Province in mainland China, she was going abroad or returning home, and facing a
and her mother was Filipina, a mixed cultural back- totally different education system and lifestyle in Tai-
ground that enriched Tsous young life but also brought wan forced her to grow up quickly.
feelings of not belonging, of being an outsider. But while this issue of interethnic relations is a major
Her identity seemingly incomplete and uncertain,
spanning different ethnicities, languages and cultures,
she searched in vain for a sense of belonging in life. Her Rina Tsou (left) and Chen Yu Hsuan, the female lead from Arnie,
attend the opening of the International Critics Week competition,
feeling of being a stranger in a strange land made the which ran in parallel with the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
smallest occurrences in life, such as unthinking looks (courtesy of Sanwood Films)

or tactless words from other people, build up over time

into a heavy burden.
Doubts about her own identity were embedded at
the very root of Tsous individual existence. Her di-
verse life experience is reminiscent of that of Edward
W. Said, an intellectual who was born in Palestine, bore
an Arabic family name but an English given name, and
went to study in the USA after spending most of his
childhood in Cairo. Throughout his life he was trou-
bled by issues of identity, even as he strove to define
his place in the world through his brilliant writings in
literary criticism and cultural research. The burdens
and struggles of life may give people many reasons
to give up, but like Said, Rina Tsou has chosen to
look this unattractively packaged gift horse of life
in the mouth, constantly delving within it while
also looking outward, thus transforming her
own individual issues into reflections and cre-
ative work that she gives as a gift to the world.
This tension between feelings of fitting in and


For Rina Tsou, the most burdensome aspects of being a second-
generation migrant lie in the trivial incidents of daily life.

74 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

focus of Tsous work, she doesnt limit herself. Most im-
portant is the warmth of the story being told.
No matter what the topic, the flesh-and-blood emo-
tions of the characters are always the main focus. Chi
cha ron, for example, discusses the theme of identity.
While it depicts the loneliness of a little girl, the type of
suffering is unrelated to personal identity as a function
of race or nationality. Tsou believes that stories based
on interpersonal feelings are the most effective way to
touch the hearts of an audience.
A new world
Tsou provides encouragement for second-generation
migrants who share similar backgrounds: Society of-
ten presents us with great sorrows, but in fact we are
sometimes too concerned about our own wounds, and
as a result we are unable to realize our own strengths.
We need to create the world we desire, and endeavor to
work for the better. If you are capable of helping people,
then you have a duty to do that, not just because you
have the same problem but because you simply want to
help. Helping others is a fundamental value as long as
we are capable, says Tsou.
For Rina Tsou, the world is both fantastical and real.
The influence of a film can be like shining a light in the
darkness. The light may not be strong enough to guide
23 you all the way, but it can indicate the direction of your

The 23-minute short film Arnie moved the audience at the Cannes dreams. The light is your guide.
International Film Festival and shone a light on the international
stage. But the Filipino fishermen who were the films subjects are
(Lin Nianci/photos by Lin Min-hsuan/
still enduring a lonely life at sea. (courtesy of Sanwood Films) tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen)


Taipei People to Be
Writer Chen Yuchin

Every person is unique, so who doesnt belong to a new

76 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

W ith a refreshing irreverence, bright and witty
chatter and almost nonstop laughter, writer
Chen Yuchin comes across more as a perky young
gardless of my background or what type of literature I
like. Why should we try to put people and things into
categories? Does it bring any greater understanding?
thing rather than what most would imagine as a asks Chen.
serious and somber literary artiste. Some people question whether her book Taipei Peo-
ple to Be is an essay or a novel. The writers answer is
With a Chinese-Indonesian background inherited always the same: Its up to the reader to categorize
from her mother, as a child she became accustomed to the book however they want to. As a writer, I reflect on
being asked where her mother was from. Answering what I see and feel about the world in my writing, and
questions like this became a normal part of her life, so I have no greater qualification than a reader to make
to deal with it she began making up fanciful replies. such judgments.
Eventually her mother s image became a realm of Quiet father, bold mother, optimistic daughter
unlimited possibilities, and perhaps it was this experi- Taipei People to Be tells the plain and simple story
ence that inspired her to begin writing. of the writers parents. Her father was a military vet-
No categorization necessary eran from mainland China and her mother a Chinese-
Chen is quite relaxed about her ethnic background. Indonesian, who together settled in New Taipei Citys
Lots of people think that being a second-generation San chong District. The book departs from previous
migrant is somehow special, but I cant imagine what works which tended to focus on second-generation
could be special about something so remote from my migrants and their lives.
life today. Everyone is different, and Im myself re- Chens father was a very quiet man, and perhaps


Through her writing, Chen Yuchin has always wanted to give a voice to second-generation migrants, to make them
visible in society. The photo shows Chen (center) sharing her experience of creative writing with readers.
(courtesy of Chen Yuchin)


Chens Chinese-Indonesian mother (right) has always had the sharp wit to deal with sensitive racial issues, often
providing inspiration for Chens writing.

78 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

this served as an inspiration for one of her other books,
Communication Without Borders, which portrays a de-
ceased father who sends constant and detailed mysti-
cal messages from the next world. It seemed that men
of her father s generation would often communicate
through shared memories remote from the young.
In contrast to her father, Chens mother had a strong
and resilient personality. Having gambled her future
on a one-way flight to Taiwan, she arrived in the coun-
try on a tourist visa knowing that she needed to find a
husband before her visa expired. Eventually, she settled
down in Sanchong. Regardless of whether she actually
won a better life with her husband, at least she had the
courage to make her own way.
Chen is similar in many ways to her mother. She has
an assertive streak that allows her to deal with the se-

rious issues of life with a humor and lightness of being
This family snap, taken when Chen was a child, shows a quiet
that is reflected in her writing. father, a bold mother and an optimistic daughter.
(courtesy of Chen Yuchin)

Always bright and smiling, Chens sparkling personality is also
reflected in her writing. (courtesy of Chen Yuchin)

Freedom of choice
Chen has visited Indonesia several times in recent
years and says her mothers hometown is more like a hol-
iday resort for her. There she can enjoy the hospitality of
her mothers family in their old house, and relaxed shop-
ping in a nearby shopping mall, all in a familiar Hakka-
speaking environment. Its just like most peoples experi-
ence of returning to their ancestral home, with mixed feel-
ings of curiosity and awkwardness and so many people
who are addressed as uncles and aunts. There are none of
the sad stories about second-generation expats searching
for their roots that many people might imagine.
However, as a second-generation immigrant, Chens
writing inevitably touches on issues surrounding her
origins. But its not a big issue for her as her roots are
strong and sure. Everyone is unique. Everyone has roots
somewhere. So, Chen says, just take it easy. As you travel
the road of life, each person needs to find their own co-
ordinates by which to navigate.
Chen admits that she is quite fortunate. She has never


Like the bridges connecting different parts of Taipei City,
Chen attends to the voices of others to bring them together.

80 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

been hurt by labels of any sort, but she is well aware
that others may have been. While she welcomes current
government efforts towards building and maintaining an
openhearted and friendly environment, she would prefer
less emphasis on ethnicity and more on inclusion.
Second-generation immigrants want nothing from the
government except to allow them full rights to choose
their own way. Life is full of warmth, but people need the
freedom to find their own direction.
As second-generation migrants continue to seek a
sense of identity in their new home, when will come the
day for these Taipei people to be to narrow this rift? Its
like a race for life. People are always trying to eradicate
divisions, but the more you become aware that you are
still stuck at the starting line, the more likely you are to
remain there, says Chen.
A young woman roams the city, following a seemingly
random path. But in fact her every step is meticulously
planned. As a river is fed by small streams, every word and
line in Chens writing is an expression of her emotional
remembrances. Like the bridges connecting Taipei City
with Sanchong, as long as two sides are connected, they
can communicate. Regardless of whether Chens stories
accurately reflect the real lives of Taipei people, as long as
readers are willing to read, thats enough for the writer. l

Chen is happily immersed in her writing, which for her is more

(Lin Nianci/photos by Lin Min-hsuan/
recreation than work. tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen)


The Dance of Life Knows No Bounds
The Amazing Grace of
Chang Wan-chao

Chang Wan-chao has always believed that the possibilities of
dance are unlimited, and that it can bring people closer together.


82 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

W hen dance instructor Chang Wan-chao ar-
rives for our early morning appointment, she
takes firm hold of my arm. I had always known that
returned to Taiwan to teach dance. Such is her resume in
a nutshell. The day she traveled from Taipei to Taichung
to begin her university studies, she discovered that her
dancers had nimble legs, but I didnt realize that speaking only Mandarin set her apart in a world where
they had such warm hands. The heat emanating from Taiwanese was dominant. That was the first time she
her palm, I imagined, embodied her endless creativ- felt she was different from others. During her decade
ity and her passion for dance and culture. studying in the US, when an opportunity to dance in a
non-Asian performance arose, she was passed over for a
When you feel like you are different, you wonder, leading role no matter how well she danced. And when
Who am I? says Chang, the daughter of Chinese- people asked her to perform a dance native to her coun-
Indonesian parents, in a clear voice and with her ever- try, her hands and feet quaked with indignation.
present smile and natural grace. While choreograph- Through her own soul-searching, she answered lifes
ing a piece I reflect on these questions, but for creative questions on her own. Along the way, I slowly came
types adversity is something to draw sustenance from. to realize that the definition of home is not limited to
Where is home? a place, she says. It grows richer and expands along
In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks on the US, all sorts of the way. I started simply as a dancer, and later became a
issues came up, questions of unity and categorization, choreographer. As long as you avoid labels, everything
race and background. Chang suddenly discovered that is simple.
she was feeling perplexed. Maternal instincts and the ancestral home
Chang Wan-chao grew up in Taiwan, studied world As she was preparing to leave for Indonesia at the end
folk dance in the US, spent time in Indonesia, and finally of her studies in the US, terrorists launched a major attack

I Wayan Dibia
I Wayan Dibia, visiting instructor for Balinese dance, is pictured here with members of Indonesian Dance Workshop.


Chang Wan-chao wants to break down ethnic barriers. To all those interested, she extends a cordial invitation to
dance together and learn about the beauty of Indonesian culture.

84 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

in Jakarta. Chang realized that once people begin to sense or what religion one believes in, one must dedicate the
mutual difference, conflict can erupt at any moment, performance to the surrounding spirits.
whether it is with long-term neighbors or lifelong friends. Compared to drama, Chang explains, dance is a
Chang felt helpless. Even though she had not visited more abstract medium. It is this essential character that
Indonesia in a long time, it was still part of her flesh and affects a persons emotional core and has a deeper im-
blood. All she could do was imbue her final US dance pact, for dance is instinctive, and people danced before
performance with a maternal spirit, and in the face of the advent of writing. Chang wants to recover its in-
conflict act as a protector and nourisher. stinctive nature and use it to forge links between people
Dance without borders and break down racial barriers. But she is not dogmatic
Javanese dance is perhaps more than just dance, more about it. She wants only to extend a sincere invitation,
akin to a philosophy of life. In order to learn it, one must in the hope that she can dance with others and together
learn a new way of looking at all things under the heav- explore the beauty of the art.
ens, including all forms of life and mysteries that cannot Is this then what she means by her mission? No! Its
be put into words. Balinese dance, for example, is largely not just that! she says with flashing eyes. Many dance
made up of religious rituals. Before performing, prayers performances appear to be standardized, but Im not
must be said, and regardless of where one comes from after uniformity. I want to jolt the audience and leave

Gadung Kasturi
An eye-catching performance by dancers from Wan-Chao Dance and Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance and Music.


Learning to meet differences with acceptance,
tolerance, and gratitude has provided unique
sustenance and a sense of mission, says Chang Wan-
chao. (photo by Lin Min-hsuan)

86 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

them questioning, so that they can look at things after-
wards from a different perspective. This is my mission!
Studio with a mission
Chang would next like to concentrate her energy on
her studio and use dance to introduce Indonesia to even
more people.
Ive had doubts whether I was sufficiently Indo-
nesian to teach other people about it, she says. But I
know I need to be brave and honest with myself. Part
of me is Indonesian, but I have other parts too. Many
people might consider me inadequately specialized. But
this is also my uniqueness and my strength.
This is also the message that Chang wants to pass
on to fellow children of immigrants. She feels that your
culture, for better or worse, is part of you. And she
feels that it is important to move from denial to accep-
tance and be thankful that the journey is long and full
of struggles. Chang hopes that she has at least set off
on a new path, much like the ROC governments New
Southbound Policy, intended to increase cooperation
with Southeast Asia. No one can predict how long the
journey will take or how far it will go. But taking the
first step at least opens a space for dialogue. l
(Lin Nianci/photos courtesy of Chang Wan-chao/
Dancing with grace and humility, Chang Wan-chao offers each
dance to the skies above and the world around us. tr. by Charles Kimball)


Women Aid Workers
Spreading Compassion

T he foreign assistance footprint of the In-

ternational Cooperation and Development
Fund can be found in far-flung corners of the
globe, from the Caribbean nation of Saint Vin-
cent and the Grenadines, to Nicaragua in Cen-
tral America, and the Marshall Islands in the
South Pacific.
And in recent years, women in ever greater
numbers have been putting their professional
skills to work as part of Taiwans interna-
tional aid missions.

88 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

2016 In 2016, Taiwans International Cooperation and
Development Fund for the first time appointed a woman,
Hsu Hui-ling, as head of an overseas technical mission.
Hsu had worked for the ICDF for 14 years prior to being

dispatched to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, one

of Taiwans diplomatic allies. She had already honed her

skills working in various ICDF departments, including
the Technical Cooperation Department, the Humanitarian
Assistance Department, and the International Education
and Training Department. Hsu had become familiar with
the work of various technical missions and had witnessed
the fruits of assistance efforts, and she longed to experi-

ence it firsthand.

In-country experience helped deepen Hsus under-

standing and practice of foreign aid work.
Hsu was working in the Technical Cooperation Depart-
ment when she set out for the Marshall Islands. After she
arrived, she was first struck by the carefree, come-what-may
attitude of local residents. But then a troubling question
began to nag her: Why was local life expectancy so short?

Hsu Hui-ling (center), the ICDFs first female head of a technical mission, works enthusiastically
with local residents at a farmers market just a few months into her time in the Marshall Islands.
(courtesy of ICDF)


Hsu Hui-ling hopes to apply green farming concepts, such as energy-saving techniques
and reducing the carbon footprint, at the ICDF-sponsored Laura Farm. (courtesy of ICDF)

Laura Farm

3 2014





90 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Later she discovered a lack of basic resources in the In her transition from a supporting role behind the
Marshall Islands. Agricultural production, moreover, was scenes to the front line, Hsu finds the greatest satisfac-
limited, and residents relied largely on food imports. And tion in seeing firsthand the delivery of real assistance to
because the local diet lacked fruits and vegetables, high the citizens of a diplomatic ally.
blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol were com- Deepening ties through professional practice
mon. As a result, Hsu gained greater confidence in the Women have long been playing an indispensible role
role and value of the ICDFs aid mission to the Marshalls. in the ICDFs overseas volunteer program.
Today, the ICDF technical mission to the islands In 2014, Lee Hsin-ting, a nutritionist at the Shoufeng
includes an agricultural initiative, the Laura Farm, which Branch of the Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien
distributes seeds and seedlings and teaches local residents County, traveled to Nicaragua to assist Aproquen, an
how to cultivate fruits and vegetables. And under a live- organization that assists child burn victims.
stock rearing program, the farm also raises 200300 pigs. Lee graduated from the Department of Nutrition at
Although she has been in the Marshall Islands for less the China Medical University, located in the city of Tai-
than three months, Hsu is already brimming with new chung. After four years of hospital work, she planned to
ideas. Im eager to put green farm concepts into prac- take a short break and consider her next step. But upon
tice at Laura Farm she explains. Green farming is based learning that the ICDF was recruiting volunteers for
on the concept of zero-emissions farming. overseas service, she decided to join the ranks of foreign
If we succeed in promoting green farms, we will aid workers.
have established a model that can help generate interest Before setting out, she knew little about Nicara-
locally, Hsu says with enthusiasm. gua and not a word of Spanish. And after she started

Lee Hsin-ting (right) traveled to Nicaragua to assist Aproquens work with child burn
victims. She is using her professional expertise and passion to deepen the friendship
between Taiwan and Nicaragua. (courtesy of Lee Hsin-ting)


Nicaraguan children at an Aproquen burn treatment center throw their hands
up in joy when a doctor dressed as a clown arrives to entertain them.
(courtesy of Lee Hsin-ting)






92 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

working there, she discovered the difficulties of apply- it that professional training was so different? Lee was
ing her professional skills in a different institutional plagued by questions like this every time she encoun-
environment. In Taiwan, her daily responsibilities tered practices that deviated from her own training.
involved long-term and elder care, but most of Apro- It was only when she heard similar doubts from a US
quens patients are children with severe burns. medical team visiting from the Johns Hopkins Hospital
Although Lee had deep misgivings that opportuni- that she was confident that her assessments over the
ties to put her professional skills into practice would preceding weeks were valid. She marshaled her facts
be limited, at Aproquen she took every opportunity to and presented them to Aproquens chief executive
learn on the job, whether by accompanying the local along with a plan to improve practices.
nutritionist on hospital rounds or handling medical From her limited role as a volunteer assistant, Lee
files. When she encountered unfamiliar questions on suddenly found herself in charge of coordinating the
childrens nutrition, she solicited help from old class- work of departments responsible for nursing, care, and
mates back in Taiwan who specialized in child nutri- other services. It was a far cry from the role she had first
tion, and relied on translation software to communicate set out to perform. Fortunately, her four years of train-
with the local nutritionist through simple phrases. ing at the Mennonite Christian Hospital had given her
Long-term observation of frontline aid work raised a the required skill set.
host of questions in her mind. While she was working at the Shoufeng Branch of
Was it that local conditions were so different, or was MCH, Lee often attended training sessions at the parent
hospital, and when she returned to Shoufeng she took it
upon herself to promote new practices among relevant
staff members. She was thus familiar with the work of a
As Aproquens first nutritionist from Taiwan, Lees
presence engendered interest in Taiwan among the
organizations staff.
From time to time, when local people asked sen-
sitive questions about TaiwanChina relations, Lee
didnt even need to answer. Coworkers would step
in and explain for her. In 2015 a large dust explosion
at Taiwans Formosa Fun Coast Water Park resulted
in approximately 300 burn victims. When Aproquen
learned of the incident, it contacted the Taiwanese
embassy in Nicaragua and the Sunshine Social Welfare
Foundation, a Taiwanese nonprofit that helps burn vic-
tims, to offer assistance.
Because of Lee Hsin-ting, the bonds of friendship
between Taiwan and Nicaragua have only grown stron-
ger. After a year of working with her, Lees colleagues
threw her a surprise party on her last day. Lee assumed
the party was just for a colleagues birthday. But when
she arrived, she discovered that they had planned a cul-
tural exchange celebration. It featured a Chinese dragon
and lion dance performance, and Lees colleagues per-

suaded her to dress in traditional Nicaraguan costume.

More than a year after returning to Taiwan, the scene is
A Nicaraguan child beams after undergoing medical treatment
provided by Aproquen. (courtesy of Lee Hsin-ting) still vivid in Lees memory.


Hsiao An-hui, a Chinese language instructor for the ICDF, has a gift for integrating Taiwanese customs into
the curriculum. (courtesy of the ROC Embassy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines)





94 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Chinese cadences in the Caribbean years in Saint Vincent have been spent gaining valuable
In the distant Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and teaching experience.
the Grenadines, another youthful Taiwanese is making Hsiao points out that Saint Vincent has few people of
a difference. Asian descent and opportunities to encounter or study
Born in 1990, Hsiao An-hui began teaching Chinese the Chinese language are few and far between. Because
in a language center Taiwan after graduating from the community college included Chinese among its
National Taiwan Normal Universitys Department of required coursework, more than 30 students enrolled
Applied Chinese Language and Culture. She was there- in her class. Although there was no shortage of motiva-
fore accustomed to teaching foreign students. tion, many of students knew almost no Chinese.
Before setting out for Saint Vincent, a small tropical In order to liven up her classes, Hsiao often makes
island with a population of just over 100,000, Hsiao use of films and other teaching materials to introduce
imagined it as a tropical paradise. Two years ago, Hsiao students to the cuisine and culture of Taiwan.
became the first Chinese language instructor in a local Hsiao was accustomed to life in Taiwan, and on Saint
community college on Saint Vincent. Hsiaos presence Vincent she was in for some cultural surprises. When
provides locals, who rarely come into contact with Asian she encountered the slow pace of life on the island, it
cultures, with an opportunity to learn about Taiwan. took her a good while to adjust. But it has taught her
When she first arrived, the cultural differences patience and she has learned to live at a slower pace.
resulted in some humorous incidents. Since the people Over two decades, the ICDF has been unceasing
of Saint Vincent generally have curly hair, the first ques- in its foreign assistance work. Its presence has added
tion some students asked Hsiao when they first met her an entirely new dimension to the international aid
was if they could touch her long, straight hair. It was community. l
an amusing start, but most of the following two-plus (Liu Yingfeng/tr. by Charles Kimball)

Enthusiasm for the Chinese language among students in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
has prompted many of them to continue their studies in Taiwan. (courtesy of Hsiao An-hui)


96 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Yahon Chang:
Living Through Art,
Painting with
the Soul

Y ahon Chang is the chairman of Meala International Taiwan

Ltd. He is a successful businessman who got started in com-
mercial cleaning, and then went on to build an empire with diverse
concerns, including international brand distribution, interior de-
sign, construction, and beauty products. In recent years, however,
Chang has put on a new hatthat of an artist. Now hes more than
a magnate with an eye for numbers and the bottom line: he is also
an artist in touch with a more sensitive, emotionally colored view
of the world. How can Chang reconcile the quantitative and the
qualitative, the two seemingly conflicting sides of his self, shifting
seamlessly from one persona to the other?




98 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03


At the 2015 Venice Biennale, Chang made spontaneous art on the ceiling, walls, windows and floor
of the exhibition space, on the theme of The Question of Beings. (courtesy of Yahon Chang)

Yahon Chang was born and raised in central Tai- carpeting and drapes. Changs lifelong passion for art,
wan, in Nantou Countys Shuili Township. As a child, his keen eye for color, and his design chops won him a
he didnt enjoy studying, preferring to doodle on his reputation. Later he went into construction and moved
classmates textbooks. His teachers considered him toward integrated architectural design. With his exqui-
a trouble maker, but that didnt deter him from the site taste, he realized the value of many internationally
joy of his art, and when he received second prize at a famous brands, which he proceeded to import. That is
province-level art contest for a drawing of a temple fes- how he built his business empire, one step at a time.
tival, it only deepened his artistic confidence. He found Healing through art
no support at home: his traditionally minded parents, Chang still drew in his spare time, for even sketching
for whom painting was a mere hobby without a future, interior designs filled that need and brought him joy.
wanted him to go into business. But the quick-witted But as his business grew and he got busier and busier,
young Yahon found a way to reconcile his love of art there was less and less space in his life for art, which
and his filial piety: he applied for a degree in commer- was crowded out by numbers. In 1991, at the peak of
cial design at the National Taiwan College of Arts (now his success, chronic stress afflicted him with a disorder
National Taiwan University of Arts), persevering on the of the nervous system. He often lost his balance and fell
road of art while also learning about business. when walking, and suffered depression and insomnia.
Still taking courses in interior design, architecture, Endless tests failed to find the underlying cause.
and related fields, Chang started a business with a But then a business trip to Japan changed everything.
friend. They started out taking janitorial contracts in Chang happened to see a group of monks on a moun-
high-rises, then moved on to interior design, and selling tain path. The sun sprinkled down on their tranquil,



100 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

reverent faces, a scene so beautiful that
he couldnt help but attempt to com-
mit his vision to paper when he got
back to the hotel. There he painted for
three days straight, without sleep or
rest. His concerned wife hovered over
him, chiding him to take care, but his
efforts only energized him rather than
depleting his reserves. He had made a
miraculous recovery from his chronic
nervous debility.
For Ya hon Chang, art is about ap-
preciation and redemption, healing 1986
and understanding. His wife and help-
This oil painting depicting birds, flowers and cats, the first work Chang showed in
meets sudden death of a heart attack 1986, now hangs as a greeting in the entryway of his company office.
in 2000 sank him into the depths of
depression. His art was mainly toned
black during those days, with abstract
shapes evoking nirvana, prophecy,
silence, and meditation. His Shadow
of Buddha series depicts the search for a Buddhas Making his mark with ink-wash art
peace of mind that ends with the discovery that Buddha Yahon Changs works are in the Chinese ink-wash
was in his heart all along. These paintings are done in tradition. Powerful strokes with a big brush on a large
shades of black, brown, and gray, dark colors revealing canvas or sheet of rice paper render creations reminiscent
Changs immense pain at the loss of his wife. Consign- of Tang-Dynasty wild-cursive brushwork. He works on
ing his widower s grief to the canvas sustained him the floor, with no prior composition, in a spontaneous
through those difficult days. burst of creative emotion. Though tiring, this has become

The Yahon Tea & Art
Space provides an artsy
atmosphere in which to sip
fine Taiwan teas.


Chang composes impromptu on the floor in wild cursive style, emoting
and letting off steam.



102 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

his form of stress relief. He also uses oil and acrylic, but Making friends through art and tea
always paints with ink brushes. This combination of Chang merged his two loves, tea and art, in a
Western paint with Eastern wild-cursive brushwork in teahouse on Yongkang Street in Taipei. His paintings
bold, strong lines has brought him international acclaim. grace the walls of Yahon Tea and Art Space. Just as the
Ever since he received an invitation to present a solo artwork isnt for sale, the teahouse isnt for profit: its
art show at the Shanghai Art Museum in 2000, his works sole purpose is to open a space for guests and friends to
have been shown in famous museums and national art relax amidst the exquisite decorations, sample tea pre-
galleries in Germany, Spain, Korea, Japan, and Italy. He pared by a tea master, and discuss art and culture with
painted on site at the 2015 Venice Biennale, covering kindred spirits. The space has become a must-see hid-
the ceiling, walls and floor of the exhibition space with den gem for many foreign travelers who wish to gain a
his taut abstract portraits of humans and animals, some deeper appreciation of Eastern culture.
screaming, some closed-eyed in contemplation, some His dark night of the soul long past, Changs paint-
confusedoutsized ink-wash masterpieces that drew ings have in recent years become more colorful. Vivid
viewers into a distinctively philosophical artistic space. depictions of alpine sunrises in red, yellow, and white
have joined his fretful abstract portraits. It appears that
he has found a refuge in the world of art, and is now
2011 246 x 151 cm sharing his joy, hope, and light with the world.

Face to FaceVital (2011), acrylic on canvas, each 246 x 151
cm. (courtesy of Yahon Chang)


130 x 97 cm
Faces (2010), acrylic and oil on canvas,
130 x 97 cm. (courtesy of Yahon Chang)

104 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

A passionate art lover, Chang wishes to show his art
in all the major art galleries before he turns 76. Plans
are in place for a show in Germany this year and for
another in Milan next year. Future plans include the
building of an outdoor sculpture garden in his home-
town of Shuili in the hopes of showcasing pieces by
diverse sculptors. He firmly believes that good art
transcends time. Every stroke of his brush paints a
glorious page in his life for the sake of his art. That
little boy who loved to doodle in class lives on in the
heart of Yahon Chang. l

(Chen Chun-fang/photos by Jimmy Lin/

Unconcerned with money and fame, Chang knows that tr. by Katje Chen and Darryl Sterk)
happiness lies in the world of art.


45 x 37 cm

Light of Heart Series
Arhats Coming Down
the Mountain (1995), ink,
gouache and acrylic on
paper, 45 x 37 cm. (courtesy
of Yahon Chang)


106 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Huang Cheng-yuan:
The Power of

H e was a country boy who set his sights on becoming an artist

when he was ten, went north for his education, received an unex-
pected cultural baptism while pursuing graduate studies in the United

States, and then returned to Taiwan to be pulled between idealism

Huang Cheng-yuan often says to his

and pragmatism. From his series of works Lions Roar, Restless,
students, Rather than act too clever Coffee and Embrace, to the oddly heterogeneous world of Can-
by half, as a painter youve got to let
your heart lead your head. Its the vas of the Arcana, his long journey of self-exploration bears witness
same with any activity: Be willing to
go where your passion takes you.
to the continual self-refinement of an artist. Marvelously combining
(photo by Lin Min-hsuan) modern abstract painting with traditional East-Asian ink-wash
painting, the middle-aged Taiwanese painter Huang Cheng-yuan is a
farmer who has come to turn the soil of artistic expression.

2016 114x452cm
(top) Obsidian Energy (2016), acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 114 x 452 cm.

2016 194x455cm
(above) Energy (2016), acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 194 x 455 cm.


108 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Though a resident of Taichung, for the last ten years textures and brushstrokes. Huang laughs at his recollec-
the painter Huang Cheng-yuan has spent three days a tion. It seems as vivid as if it happened yesterday, and it
week living and working in a studio in a house in the demonstrates a determination that he has never lost.
Zhaomen area of Hsinchu Countys Xinpu Township. Huangs biggest turning point as an artist occurred
Its a place to come far from the madding crowd to while studying in the United States. After graduating
create art and find peace, as if returning to the womb. from the National Taiwan College of Arts (now National
Apart from his paintings, the studio is filled with items Taiwan University of Arts), he enrolled in a masters
that Huang has found on his walks around the area. program at Fontbonne College (now Fontbonne Univer-
Even a piece of termite-ravaged wood in Huangs eyes sity) outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Not only did he face
can become an objet dart in possession of great style. tremendous cultural differences in America, differences
A ten-year-olds dream of art that had a massive impact on him both sensually and
Huang grew up in a village in Tainans Qigu, an area spiritually, he also faced another challenge: When I
famous for its salt production. When asked how he wanted to give foreign friends a deeper introduction to
first thought about pursuing a career in art, he doesnt Eastern culture, I suddenly realized that I was a stranger
hesitate to answer: For my first essay in third grade, to much of my own culture. That discovery pushed
I wrote that I wanted to become an artist when I grew him to deeply reconsider his own approach to painting.
up. Fellow villagers urged his parents to dissuade him Huang thought about his brushwork and use of color,
from this plan. My parents tried to get me to develop and even about the meaning of his own life, and came
other interests, but fortunately they were open-minded to an epiphany. Suddenly, everything was clear: He both
and realized they couldnt control me, so they relented. understood painting in a new light and understood
Because traveling to the city was time-consuming, up how to paint. I suddenly had the ability to probe the
through high school Huang didnt formally study art, hidden part of the iceberg. I could swim down to see the
but he did spend much of his lunch breaks and time after vast expanses of the subconscious. Huangs creative
school painting and drawing. There are a lot of paint- journey had entered a new stage: After studying West-
ings in school textbooks, which demonstrate a variety of ern painting techniques in the United States, I began to


Big Man (2000),
charcoal on paper,
79 x 109 cm.


Huangs brushes today are much like the farming implements of

his youtheach is applied with sincere effort to a kind of square,
whether of earth or canvas. (photo by Lin Min-hsuan)

110 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

reinterpret them through the lens of Eastern art theory. projects have represented explorations of his personal
Upon returning to Taiwan, Huang began to take an life history. Lions Roar bears witness to the catharsis
entirely Asian approach to his conception of painting. he felt after having his epiphany in the United States.
An epiphany: Process is key Restless captures the bitter struggle between ideal-
From his earlier series of works, such as Lions Roar, ism and practicality. Coffee examines the relief felt
Restless, Coffee and Embrace, to his most recent after an attitudinal adjustment. Embrace explores the
series Canvas of the Arcana, Huang Cheng-yuan has meaning of a life open fully to new experiences. I use
gradually been staking out new artistic ground. All his my life in my painting. These series captured high and
low points in my own journey. Huang takes a deep
approach toward self-cultivation and engaging in a dia-
log with life, finding joy everywhere.
2009 192X113cm Speaking about the Canvas of the Arcana series,
Fall in Love (2009), charcoal and acrylic on paper, 192 x 113 cm. Huang says with great emotion: I used to have serious
asthma, but then I met a psychic who gradually helped
me return to health. Because of that fortuitous twist of
fate, Huang not only gained a sense of the universes
capacity for miraculous change, but he also became
aware that much of what happens today is just to lay
the groundwork for greater future complexity, as if it
were all preordained. When asked whether he is wor-
ried about getting caught in a certain style, he says in
all honesty: Ive always pushed myself to delve ever
deeper. He thus believes that it is only natural that he
moved toward his series Canvas of the Arcana as he
continued his explorations.
The interplay between the real and the fantastical in
Huang Cheng-yuans works has always fascinated peo-
ple. After living in a fantastical reality for a couple
of decades, I finally came to know that the key thing
isnt whether something is fantasy or reality, but rather
the journey between the two. With that realization, he
discovered the importance of the changing extent of his
artworks completion. There are paintings I have fin-
ished in one go, never to change again, and others that I
have revised 100 times. This potential for change allows
room to breathe and to emote. It is endemic to the pro-
cess of painting and something that fascinates people.
Sense and sensibility
Line has always been an important element of
Huangs work. I used to believe that lines demon-
strated life energy. Emphasizing the expression of
personal emotion, my lines were naturally tangled or
wavering. Now, his lines not only show the path he
has traveled, but they also provide direction. Lines
represent my goals and determination. They can be
pulled longer, or bent, or tangledyet my goals can still


Huang believes that the key to a painting isnt in completing a

line. Rather, its in the restraint to hold back and not add anything
superfluous that would change its narrative and emotional impact.


Huang believes that by concentrating on the matter at hand, one

can penetrate to its spiritual and metaphysical levels.
(photo by Lin Min-hsuan)

112 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

be found in them. This comment also clearly expresses work. In recent years Huang has been gaining his first
Huangs current state of mind. exposure in Europe and America, and his work has been
Although he studied Western painting, Huangs work garnering some good reviews there. The key in his mind
displays an Oriental mood everywhere. I love ink-wash to his success: The art has got to be able to demonstrate
painting and Im keen on Asian culture. After Huang something they understand, and in fact the abstraction
had his creative epiphany in America, when he looked that is endemic to Eastern art holds a certain inexplicable
back toward the Far East everything became suddenly attraction in Europe and America.
clear, like after a rain: whether fantasy or reality, strength Looking at the world from ones individual per-
or weakness, movement or calm, he could take it all in at spective while using painting to analyze and explain
a glance. Even the spaces he leaves blank show the Asian life. These are principles that Huang has consistently
influence. Huang takes landscapes and the feelings they observed in his life and art since turning painting into a
engender to create an atmosphere. This inspiration flows form of self-cultivation. There is power in simplicity.
from traditional Eastern painting theory, which holds that As far as Huang is concerned, the clearer he sees things,
an ink-wash painting should make its viewers feel pres- the simpler they are, and the more powerful he feels.
ent at their location, as if they were rambling within it. Hiking to the rivers source, I sit and watch the rising
Regarding the sense and sensibility of painting, clouds, wrote the classical Chinese poet Wang Wei.
Huang has a unique perspective. Sensibility is import- Those emotions arent far removed from one of Huangs
ant, but sensibility is only a start. If you dont under- own creative epiphanies: When it appears that there is
stand the surface techniques or the metaphysical aspects, no way forward, what appears is another realm of life,
you get stuck at a certain level. But you can only gain a which in fact possesses a completely different meaning
full understanding by continuing to dig deeper. When and value. At dusk, Hsinchus powerful howling winds
asked whether there is reason to his art, he says without are suggestive of Huangs own untrammeled artistic
hesitation, There is reason in it for sure, but reason isnt passions and ambitions. On his long and winding road
enough to completely grasp it. There are equal portions of artistic creation, Huang continues to use lines full of
of sense and sensibility. Its like how movement can only vitality, with a mind and eyes that are clear and accept-
exist in relationship to stillness, yin to yang, fantasy to ing, constantly creating new possibilities for life. l
reality, strength to weakness. (Esther Huang/photos courtesy of Huang
A cycle of creation and destruction Cheng-yuan/tr. by Jonathan Barnard)
Huang describes how, when he is painting, he is like
a farmer plowing his fields: only by first breaking open
the soil can he begin to cultivate it. It is through this
continuing cycle of destruction and construction that
the eventual work of art emerges. Many people look
at Huangs paintings and think that he knocks them
out quickly, but in fact each painting takes a long time.
Many people will ask me: How do you get into the state
of mind to paint? What brings you to this result? recalls
Huang. In truth, Im not all that clear myself, because it
emerges from a process of creative destruction.
Huangs paintings are often featured in cross-strait
exchange exhibitions, and in 2015, for the first time, his
works were shown at Art Cologne. Artists must cre-

ate goals for themselves if they want their potential to
be realized and the scope and ambitions of their art to
In recent years Huang has started to show his work abroad.
be sufficiently large. By participating in international European and American audiences have found something new
exhibitions, he gains a better understanding of his own and intriguing in his blend of Western painting techniques with
the style of traditional Eastern ink-wash painting.



The Vanishing Portraits: Huang Huihuangs Villa, Kinmen (2016). The surrealistic ruins in Lius
photo collages evoke a prototypical dreamscape that calls out repeatedly to our inner selves.

I n modern life, how do we reexamine the abandoned, the over

looked, the dilapidated? While studying in Germany, the artist
Liu Yunyi would occasionally stumble upon derelict buildings from
the old East Germany. Full of alluring historical traces, they provided
something of a surreal experience by connecting to dreamlike, sub
conscious states. Consequently, Liu began photographing these archi
tectural ruins in a project that she named The Vanishing Portraits.
116 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

For Liu Yunyi, ruins convey the passage of time, traces of

history, and a certain melancholy. They resemble the collective
unconscious, concealing and suggesting more than straight-
forwardly revealing. Ruined buildings are like invisible places
buried within our daily lives. Although they may not garner
the spotlight, their existence bears witness to the rise and fall
of eras and of the physical objects associated with them.
The call of history
From her project of photographing European ruins, Liu
next turned to capturing photographs on Kin men for her
Oblivion Island exhibition. Upon returning to Taiwan, she
was attracted to the ruins of Western-style buildings here left
from earlier historical eras. Their outer appearances intrigued
her. Although the structures have undoubtedly witnessed
much history, she hasnt chosen to highlight their historical
significance. Instead, her images of them aim to open all man-
ner of possible interpretations.


The Vanishing Portraits: Wang Jinchengs Villa, Kinmen (2016). Liu Yunyi captures
not only the history and ideologies of Kinmens past but also an aesthetic of decay.



118 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03


The Vanishing City: Weienfels, Germany (2013). In contrast to the cold neutrality found in many
of Lius photographic collages, the trees and sunlight here lend the work a sense of great vitality.

K a r a k y2014

(facing page) The Vanishing Portraits: Karaky, Istanbul (2014). By digitally doctoring her
photographs, Liu creates images much as a painter would, conveying unique modes of perception.

Nevertheless, in this series of photographs on Kin- Creating images, not taking photos
men, we can detect some strong political symbols that Liu revisits the exterior surfaces of relics, capturing
are intimately connected to our identities, memories photographs of their outer appearances. Furthermore,
and histories. Hearing these historical calls, we are once she doctors the images of these buildings digitally to
again forced to confront a history that has been all too restore them. Liu thus transcends the mere indexical-
easily forgotten in this age of consumerism. ity endemic to photography to acquire some of the fic-
Its worth noting that these ruins are in fact products titiousness of painting. Thanks to digital manipulation,
of modernization that bear witness to how the things these works have become a form of digital painting.
that are rejected by the rapid advance of modern soci- By eliminating certain modern elements (such as motor
ety are promptly cast off behind us. Liu picks up these vehicles), she returns these ruins to what, in her mind,
shattered discards of history sliver by sliver. From what are their true selves. In other words, she is not merely
shes gathered, we gain a sense of the former glory of taking photographs: Rather, she is spending energy cre-
these works of architecturehow they too were once ating images that restore purity to her perceptions.
modern for their eras. And we come to realize that This image construction, as well as the exhibitive
the modern cities of the current day will inevitably turn method of blowing up photographs details clearly,
into relics of a bygone age themselves. causes our perspectives to constantly shift around the



works. It becomes very difficult to grasp them in their

entirety from a single perspective (as opposed to smaller
photographic works). And this shifting of perspectives
makes one conscious of the flow of time. Whats more,
the digital collage method that she has employed to
reconstruct these works of architecture gives the viewer
a strong sense of temporal breaks and overlaps.
This method also brings details of the architecture into
sharp focus and provides visual angles that would be
impossible in reality. (Since the perspective of our flesh-
and-blood eyes is constantly changing, it is only through
the deliberate operation of photography that it is possible
to reveal these kinds of mechanical perspectives.) Conse-
quently, these photographic collages engender in viewers
a sense that the works are more real than real life, and
they provide suggestions of a ghostlike spirit that takes
hold in the realm between what exists (the ruin that can
be found out in the real world) and what doesnt (the
ruin we see as constructed by Liu, offering perspectives
that we would not have in real life).
More than merely shooting surface images of derelict
buildings, Liu is reconstructing an invisible awareness
that humanity has hidden in the realm of dreams. These
The Vanishing Portraits, Berlin, I, II, III, Germany (2014).
Captured in varying light that engenders different atmospheres, seemingly materialistic ruins are in fact pointing to deep
this abandoned building displays the tracks of time. layers within our interior mental structures. Meanwhile,
her creativity spurs us to consider our own memory,
imagination and identity. l
(Shen Boyi/photos by Liu Yunyi/
tr. by Jonathan Barnard)

120 Taiwan Panorama 2017/03

Taiwan Panorama The Order Form for
N.A. Area Only
Bringing Taiwan to the World

I want to subscribe to Taiwan Panorama:
New subscriber
Renewal/subscriber No.
1 yearUS$32
2 yearsUS$55
Subscription to begin with__________(month)__________(year)

As a gift for a friend
Gift card to read



Charge my credit card


Card No.

(Please include the final three numbers found on the back of your card, near the signature bar)

Tel No.____________________________
Expiry date_____(month) ______(year)
Subscription date________________________
Total (including postage)
Cardholders signature


I wish to purchase the book publications as checked overleaf.
Book Series (including postage)

Title Edition Price Quantity Ordered

Paperback US$11
Chinese Sayings Told in Pictures

Paperback US$11
Taiwans Extraordinary Plants and Animals

Paperback US$11
When West Meets East: International Sinology and Sinologists

Paperback US$11
Stories of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Paperback US$10
A New Age for Wildlife Conservation in Taiwan

Paperback US$13
Embrace Taiwan 100 Images of Contemporary Taiwan

Paperback US$13
Taiwan Revealed 100 Images of Contemporary Taiwan (2)

Paperback US$13
Hold that Note!Stories from Taiwans Stage

Paperback US$13
Call of the WildTaiwans Natural World

Paperback US$16
Shindigs and Solemnity in Taiwan

Paperback US$16
Days of Being Wild: Youth Culture in Taiwan

Paperback US$12
A Taste of Taiwan


Prices include postage and handling

Kwang Hwa Publishing (USA), Inc.)
Payment enclosed (make checks payable to Kwang Hwa Publishing (USA), Inc.)

Please enclose this form with your remittance in an envelope and mail to Kwang Hwa
Publishing (USA), Inc.
3731 Wilshire Blvd 104, Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA. TEL: 1-888-829-3866 FAX: 1-213-389-0021

Please allow 2 weeks for your book or first issue to arrive.