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Sep 12, 2009

What's chaotic about it?

One line from the FT article featured on Michael Turton's latest post:

“One person’s greed has caused chaos throughout the whole country,” Judge Tsai said.
This line I find so interesting because it is nearly identical to one of the best indicatorsof Blue-leaning voter preference in Taiwan.

(Green-voter preferences are normally recognized immediately by campaign clothing or hats, strong preference for underground radio or tirades that begins with "The Kuomintang....")

Blue voters in Taiwan will often ask foreigners, "Do you think Taiwan is really chaotic?" or say to each other, "Taiwan is too chaotic." If one talks about a few law-and-order or political issues for long enough, you might hear the best indicator of being deep-Blue, which is invariably, "Taiwan is too free."

Not sure if this sounds like silly hyperbole, but I have been consistantly surprised at this glimpse into the Pan-blue mind. For one, it's correlation to those preferences is solid. For another, It is entirely opposite of my impression of Taiwan. This is one of the safest countries on the face of the earth. There is virtually no violent crime, not much non-violent crime, a very free and open society, and only the rarest instances of public unrest.

And the judge's view of Taiwan as a chaotic place (the "chaotic" but very well organized contests being caused entirely by Chen, of course,) tells me we can now be relatively sure the judge has a very strong political bias after all.

12 comments:

Haitien said...

"Chaotic" seems to be code word for "people who don't think like me". Kind of like how people in the US who dislike civil rights cases refer to "judicial activism", and how Beijing's human rights crackdowns are done in the name of "social harmony".

STOP Ma said...

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The "chaotic" term is used by all authoritarian supporters, unless you're a neocon. If you are a neocon, then you actually use the term "democracy" to push your authoritarian agenda.
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Anonymous said...

WHY is anyone here defending Chen? The man is a sick worthless piece of shite. The DPP knows that now. Stop defending him. He singlehandedly murdered Taiwan. And for what? Money. Nothing but a thief. Stop defending that man! He deserves life life life. And a place in Hell for Buddhists messiahs like him. Phony from day one. He started out good, but no way now. He is history. Why on earth would any of you posters here defind him?

Raj said...

Why on earth would any of you posters here defind him?

A-gu wasn't defending him. He was showing how Pan Blue people's views on the case betray their strange view of Taiwanese society.

He was also suggesting it showed how politically biased the judge was. And you don't want a biased judge if you ever want to be sure of anyone's innocence - Chen won't be the last politician to be charged with a crime.

Anonymous said...

To translate the “亂” in “一人貪戾,一國作亂” into “chaotic” is, at best, a simplistic misrepresentation. Contextually, the phrase “作亂” here connotes not just chaos, but in fact any negative movement or disturbance impacting the ethics, the rule of law or the general well-being of the society. It could be in the form of disorder, strife, commotion or corruption. Take Bill Clinton for example, the unrestrained greed (in terms of lascivious desire) on the part of a leader of a nation (一人) could set forth years of bitter partisan strife and social polarization. And that’s exactly what this quote from 《大學》 means.

STOP Ma said...

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Anonymous,

You just don't get it do you? It's not Chen we're defending per se. He and his family have done wrong. However, in no way did he receive a fair and just trial or sentencing. The KMT had a chance to respect democracy. They did not. That is the "bigger" picture here. Political persecution in Taiwan is, once again, the norm.
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阿牛 said...

Raj,

I think you've read my post perfectly.

STOP Ma, I'm with you. Also an excellent reading.

Haitien, I also agree with that response.

janice said...

It's not about "defending" Chen. Some of us simply find the prospect of the state's power to systematically condemn and incarcerate, unchecked by due process or rule of law, to be far more terrifying than whatever "social disorder" can result from the wrongdoing of any one individual, whether the greediest politician or the most brutal serial killer. Why are the KMT or Ken Starr's political bosses exempted from responsibility for their contributions to the "bitter partisan strife and social polarization"? If Chen's prosecution had unfolded as an exercise in the dispassionate application of legal standards to the evidence presented, as criminal trials are meant to be, with clear judicial neutrality and the full panoply of procedural protections for the defendant's rights and, then a far greater portion of Taiwanese society would be able to accept the verdict as legitimate and the social polarization that we have now would be greatly reduced.

Anonymous said...

First off, I’m not the “Anonymous” that accused everyone here for defending Chen. My comments were limited to the interpretation of that particular quote from 《大學》. And believe me, any comment suggesting that Taiwan is “too free” or that its democracy exemplifies nothing but a “chaotic phenomenon” would usually elicit a strong protest from me. I’m actually quite proud of the maturity and resiliency of Taiwan’s democracy.

I do give you that many, but certainly not all, in the Blue camp tend to feel a bit nostalgic about the “orderly” good ol’ days. But even among those, the fear of a total breakdown of the social fabric is gradually easing.

But when it comes to certain excesses, such as the lack of sensitivity and self-discipline of the media, I have no defense. All that shoddy fact-checking, editorialized reportage and over-the-top hyperbole are not only cacophonous and “chaotic,” but downright detrimental to the democratic process.

I do share some of your criticism on the current trial. But in my mind, the judicial branch, though much to be desired, has fared far better than the Fourth Estate at least, and is seemingly well on its way to become a strong and independent arm of the government. And an independent, not impartial, judicial system is all that we can hope for. For total judicial impartiality exists not in Europe, nor in the U.S., but only in Utopia.

A footnote: I’m certainly not an apologist for the corrupt elements of KMT, or Ken Starr. But without Bill’s wanton behaviors and unchecked libido, the unchecked power of that special prosecutor would have never come to be.

janice said...

Anon#2 - Sorry, I tried to parse your original comment very carefully but couldn't be 100% certain whether it was by the same person as the first anonymous post. I guess I'm just not quite seeing how the thread of this discussion touched at all on the failings of "the fourth estate" in Taiwan, of which I agree are myriad. The main point here, as relates to A-gu's original post, is that while everyone is entitled to their own personal interpretation of Chen's culpability for so-called social disorder, the invocation of this subjective concept is quite simply out of place and wildly inappropriate in the context of announcing a judicial verdict, which is supposed to develop independently of public opinion.

The reality is that officials are always going to be surrounded by temptations to commit abuse, and you can count on the fact that some of them will succumb to their greed, whether for wealth, power, or sex -- it is a natural function of what draws certain personalities to the political game in the first place. Relying on their self-restraint to maintain some abstract notion of social order is a dead-end street. But in my mind there is a clear distinction between the social "disturbance" or "commotion" that undeniably follows any sex or corruption scandal -- as, for example, after evidence of Watergate affair began to surface -- and actual "strife" or "polarization," which connote actual conflict. Certainly there would have been widespread public consternation one way or another when Clinton's indiscretions came to light, but it was the blatantly partisan motivations impelling the impeachment drive which produced the "bitter partisanship" that you alluded to. Contrast that with the Nixon case, where the evidence was allowed to speak for itself through an open and transparent process that adhered to the pre-established procedures. As a result although some degree of disturbance was of course inevitable, I think you would be hard-pressed to find very many Americans that dispute the legitimacy of the outcome.

Anonymous said...

STOP MA, take your blinders off sir or ma'am:

"Anonymous,

You just don't get it do you? It's not Chen we're defending per se. He and his family have done wrong. However, in no way did he receive a fair and just trial or sentencing. The KMT had a chance to respect democracy. They did not. That is the "bigger" picture here. Political persecution in Taiwan is, once again, the norm."

The NORM is that you paranoid DPPers can't see straight anymore. Oh, so not STOP MA says Chen and his family did wrong, but they JUST DIDN'T GET A FAIR TRIAL. unquote. You are right STOP MA, a fair trial would have given the bloke a death sentence, without any appeals. You want fairness, you want just sentencing? no you don't STOP MA, you want it YOUR wAY or the HIGH WAY........narrowminded DPPer that you are.....face it, your boy screwed up...that does not mean Taiwan is going fascist. Like janice. says above too. you are all living in paranoid land. Wake up. Chen is evil. DPP is evil. Why are you in taiwan anyways? go back home if you don't like the way the bread is buttered here.....blimey!

Feiren said...

Anon2": Come off your sinological high horse. 'Chaos' is not a 'simplistic representation' of the meaning of luan. It's a sensible and well-accepted one word translation.

While 'luan' certainly does have broader connotations of a general ethical breakdown of society, that breakdown is almost invariable accompanied by violence and crime. Kurosawa's film Ran is a much better example than your Clinton one.

Tsai is referring to perceptions (fears, really) that Taiwan somehow became a dark and dangerous place because of the Chen administration's rule. If Chen was indeed corrupt, it was corruption on a relatively minor scale that had little effect on the orederliness of Chinese society except for the Red Shirt protests, which were themselves simply mass hysteria over relatively minor cases of influence peddling and stroing arming political contributions.

No, real luan is the kind that the KMT unleashed on the Taiwanese in the late 1940s.