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Oct 30, 2007

A Rosetta Stone for traditional Chinese medicine

Interesting article:

Scientists in the United Kingdom have "decoded" the inscrutable language of
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), revealing its strong chemical foundation in
a way that may help scientists mine age-old Chinese medicines to develop
tomorrow's new drugs. Their study is scheduled for the Nov./Dec. issue of ACS'
bi-monthly Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.

Oct 29, 2007

Ma again comes out to support unification... the dead Ma, that is.

Sorry for the misleading title. I've just updated it.

Just when you thought the people couldn't argue over a more irrelevant political point, this happens. The Taipei Times reports:

[President] Chen said the inscription on [KMT presidential candidate Ma
Ying-jeou's father] Ma Ho-ling's (馬鶴凌) urn said: "Replace independence with gradual unification, strengthen China and work towards unification."

... A KMT heavyweight, Ma Ho-ling occupied several high-ranking
party positions. He passed away in November 2005.

Ma Ho-ling's intimate connections with the family of former dictator
Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) helped fast-track his son's political career.

Chen's comments came in response to the KMT candidate's emotional plea
to voters on Saturday, during which he said he loved Taiwan and identified with

Moreover, Luo said that Ma Ying-jeou had been very clear on his stance on
the nation's sovereignty, adding that the KMT candidate believes the future of
Taiwan must be decided by its 23 million inhabitants.
[A-gu: not true. Really.
He's called for Taiwan's future to be decided by people on both sides of the
strait, the same as Beijing's position.]

Ma has always been in favor of maintaining the "status quo," he said,
while urging Chen not to manipulate the truth.

And the China Post:

Lo Chih-chiang, Ma's campaign manager, characterized Chen's sideswiping against the elder Ma as "a desecration." "It's most unfair of the president to smear the man who is already dead," he pointed out.

Moreover, Lo said, Chen misquoted the epitaph.

"As a matter of fact," Lo pointed out, "the first part of what he quoted is: '(Tried to help) Evolve (the) independence (movement) into (a) unification (movement)."

It is morally indefensible to smear the deceased with a misquotation, Lo charged.

Well, what we don't know is who put this on the urn (dropped the ball on that one reporters). Frank Hsieh suggests Ma Ying-jeou himself may have written it, but offers this only as a hypothetical possibility. Ma Ying-jeou offers no hints.

But more importantly, who cares? I agree this is disrespectful. Attack Ma on his records. Replay his old quotations on this topic over and over. Don't talk about his father.

Oct 22, 2007

Bush and war crimes

This is a little old, but very important, and based entirely on facts. The President continues to authorize torture procedures for which the Allied powers prosecuted Nazis.

On this sort of basis alone, I honestly believe President Bush should be arrested and prosecuted in an international court, even if saying so qualifies me as crazy.

And, of course, that will never happen, so there's not much to do but be disappointed and try to get someone in office who will roll back this madness.

Follow up on referendum news

This was sent to me by a friend Ioksin. It's about the referendum news I posted a few posts back.

Some interesting things to point out. First, the KMT called the DPP's promotion
of the UN referendum 喪心病狂 and 走火入魔. I don't know why in the world would a
self-claimed rational democratic opposition party would call a referendum
petitioned with 1.4 million signature by these two terms.

interesting enough, the KMT is saying that the CEC is trying to tie the UN
referendum to the election to favor the DPP.

Well, let's get this clear.

In the coming CEC meeting on 10/26, the UN referendums will simply not
be discussed at all. Instead, they will (1) confirm that KMT's "anti-corruption"
referendum has reached the petition threshold and announced that both the
"anti-corruption" and "party asset" referendums will be held combined with the
legislative election; and (2) discuss whether election and referendum ballots
will be handed to voters at once.

See anything UN here? I didn't.

I personally interviewed CEC secretary-general yesterday, and he told me
neither the DPP nor the KMT has submitted UN referendum petitions, so it will
not be the issue at the time being. Second, if handing out ballots together
makes a mess on 1/12, they'll change it. Third, even if the ballots will be
issued at the same time, you don't have to take ALL the ballots.

here it is. On 1/12 next year, when the people vote on their lawmakers, they
will also vote on the anti-corruption and the party assets referendums. And why
would it favor the DPP? Wouldn't it be possible that people are reminded of the
"crimes" that A-bian committed and decide not to vote for the DPP? Or, the KMT
simply thinks that the party asset thing is more SEDUCING to voters?

Same thing goes for the UN referendums. KMT says UN is not a issue at
the time--so why a referendum to "RETURN" to the UN? And--if both parties have
initiated UN referendums and both will be held at the same time as the
presidential election, WHY would it only favor one party but not the other?

Oct 19, 2007

Brookings Institution report on Taiwan's democracy

Taiwan's democratic system exhibits multiple faces at the same time. Positive
and negative trends coexist simultaneously. Both optimism and pessimism are
warranted. Dark clouds possess silver linings—but they are still dark clouds.
Yet if one asks whether democracy has made Taiwan more stable, the answer is
unequivocally yes. The message for Taiwan's policy makers—and China should take
note—is that they would do well to listen to the centrists tendencies of the
Taiwan people, who see no contradiction between establishing their identity and
recognizing that their prosperity cannot ignore China as a major driver in the
world economy.

Face Number One: The results of the 1990s transition to democracy have not been fundamentally reversed in any significant way. . . .

Face Number Two: Formal democratic institutions may exist but they don't work well. . . .

Face Number Three: Some people believe that Taiwan's democracy is bad for regional peace and stability. . . .

Face Number Four: Despite the strength of Taiwan identity and the existence of de jure independence sentiment, what is remarkable is that Taiwan's democratic system, imperfect as it is, has in some ways acted as a moderating force to shape a centrist consensus to defer discussion of ultimate solutions like unification or independence. A significant majority of the public wishes to preserve the status quo (even though they probably don't agree on what the status quo is). . . .

Read the rest here.

KMT threatens arrests, election boycott

Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), executive director of the KMT's policy coordination department, held a press conference to announce that the KMT will ask mayors and county magistrates in Blue-controlled areas to boycott the Central Election Commission's decision to hand out ballots at the same time.

He will encourage those leaders to use the old system of handing out the ballots seperately to make voting harder.

Of course, the KMT says this change will actually make voting harder by increasing the chances of people placing their vote in the wrong box (an absurd argument, since the ballots already are dropped into the boxes at the same time. The new system would just make you wait in line one time less).

They also suspect the DPP has pushed this change to make it easier to commit voting fraud, another absurd argument giving the taping of the voting sites and counting procedure.

As far as I can see, the KMT has not yet actually tried to label the CEC's decision as illegal.


Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the KMT has also said that DPP plans to run a torch parade led by President Chen through Taipei -- in imitation of the Olympics torch but to promote the UN bid -- is not going to be allowed unless the DPP properly applies for a permit to have road space.

The DPP argues that as a non-political activity, there is no need to go through the same application process and that the city government is overstepping its bounds.

More interestingly, to avoid conflict, the KMT's Taipei branch chief Pan Chia-sen (潘家森) seems to have held a press conference to announce the KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung has approved Pan's plan of just giving the paraders the right to run from Kaidagelan Blvd to the CKS/Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.

Apparently, Ma Ying-jeou knew nothing of that decision.

It looks like there's some infighting over this issue and, again, some murky legal waters.

Small Party News

The "Third Social Force," a party which aims to fill the center between green and blue extremes, has decided on their new logo -- a cute little apple. The party aims to appeal to youths and those dissatisfied with the two party politics in Taiwan.

The Taiwan Hakka Party (客家黨) expressed their determination to run in the coming election in the at large catagory. We'll see how they fare.
The Taiwan Farmers party has the backing of Grace T.H.W. [investment] Group chairman Winston Wong. That will add to their clout, and with the legislator they recently picked up, they might be able to get a little air time. But no website still. Very sad.
Any party will need 5 percent of the total vote to break the threshold to get any at large seats.

Oct 18, 2007

Referendum updates

A few issues have been raised about recent referendum issues, and I'd like to discuss them here.

First, the PFP and KMT have sued several government officials (including the premier) for breaking the referendum law and illegally using government resources to support the DPP's referendum campaign. The accusations seem well enough founded to me, considering that the DPP and government are using identical use of logos and slogan for their particular bids. That's the more damning part.

On the other hand, the government's bid to join the UN is long standing and picked up particular steam when A-bian sent his letter to the UN secretary general. The logos and slogans say nothing about a referendum.

I suppose on the legal front it will be come a question of the chicken or the egg.

Are government promotions to join the UN [under any name?] long standing policy already supported by both the KMT and DPP -- and the DPP merely co-opted the slogans and logos to push its referendum campaign?

Or do the slogans and logos amount to carefully coordinated and illegal support for the DPP's referendum only under the guise of a general push for Taiwan to join the UN [under any name]?

I think the waters are a bit murky here, and I certainly wish the government and party did a better job of keeping these campaigns seperate. We'll see how that turns out.

The second big "issue" lately is the CEC's decision to break with precedent by handing people both their presidential and referendum ballots at once. Before, people would need to wait in two lines to get each of their ballots.

This obviously infuriated the pan-blue camp, whose campaign to defeat any DPP referendums depends on making it as hard as possible for people to vote on the issue and minimizing turn out -- they obviously have no faith in their ability to win in a true battle for public opinion.

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou dismissed the referendum topic again, noting that "the people" wish the DPP would stop pushing "fake issues" and start serving them properly.

The DPP just noted that this will be cheaper and that there's nothing wrong with making it easier to vote.

Oct 15, 2007

The NPC's statements on Taiwan

I hope to return to my high volume posting some day soon, but the time is not yet ripe (I still don't have the internet at home). But I thought I'd post a few thoughts based on Hu Jintao's working report, delivered at the National People's Congress in Beijing, and specifically about his comments on Taiwan.

There were three key sentences in the Xinhua report, if you ask me. These three sentences really highlight, to me, why Ma Ying-jeou's approach to cross-strait relations is built on smoke and mirrors.

1: "The 'one country, two systems' model is absolutely correct."

This has been China's consistant position despite the fact that virtually nobody in Taiwan supports this model. China has no intent on developing any other models for fear it could help lead to a break-up of the country or less centralized control.

With the basic Chinese position being this clear, how can Ma expect to have anything approaching good faith negotiations? How can he support "One China" domestically with China always mentions "One country [China]" and "two systems" in one breath?

2: "Any political party in Taiwan, as long as it accepts that both sides of the strait are part of one China, is a party we would agree to have dialogue with, negotiate with, and discuss any issue at all."

To date, Ma Ying-jeou has not been able to explain how he views the 'mainland' or whether the ROC actually includes it. The closest he's come is in the opposite direction, saying that the ROC is Taiwan.

Basically, Ma claims he can negotiate with China on the basis that he accepts a One China principle, and he's probably right. But what exactly does that mean to him? And can he honestly win an election claiming there is only one China in the world, the ROC? I don't think so.

3: "Any question regarding the integrity of China's soverignty and territory must be decided by the entire Chinese people, including those in Taiwan." In other words, Beijing continues to insist Taiwanese people will not have the right to determine their own future. No surprise there.

But with this being such a basic part of the Chinese position, how can Ma deal with it? He doesn't exactly endorse the Chinese position, and yet he won't come out and say that only the Taiwanese people have a right to determine their future. He might be able to obfuscate long enough to avoid dealing with the topic, but the DPP is pushing the UN referendum because it forces you to talk about the referendum, the future of Taiwan and who can decide that.

In any case, no surprises or big shifts yet from Beijing. I'm sure a lot is going on under the table, and I'll try and keep an eye on the situation.