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Nov 29, 2007

Fetishes (exploitation?) in Taiwan

A video (Chinese) about a classy establishment in Tainan. It's a pool hall and serves tea and some other drinks -- and all of the waitresses are dressed as nurses. The nurses will play pool with you too.

Here's a few more articles about the place (Chinese).

It's strikingly similar (English) to a place near Taipei Main Station otaku everywhere will love where the serving women are dressed in a maid's outfit and waiting on you like your personal slave. It's even called the Fatimaid Cafe. Check it:

For Akiba-types who can't make the pilgrimage to otaku town, Fatimaid is the
place to be. A direct copy of Akihabara's meido cafes, in this fantasy escape,
young women wearing French maid costumes pamper customers with exaggerated
humility and carefully scripted dialogue — just like the heroines in maid
romance anime and comics. "Welcome home, master," says a maid, greeting a guest. ...

There are three maid cafes in Taipei, and one each in Kaohsiung and Tainan. Opening late last year in Ximenting was the Moe Moe Center (萌萌動漫資訊館), with bookstores, a maid cafe and a shop where cosplay fans can get made up to look like their favorite anime characters.

Perhaps par for the course for a country where betel nut (檳榔) is sold by beautiful girls in skimpy clothes.

AIDS in Yunlin

A TVBS video report yesterday mentioned the massive increase in AIDS infections in Yunlin County over the last two years. The number of confirmed infections stands at 599, a seven fold increase over two years ago.

The entire video spends all it's time showing pictures from KTV-fronted brothels. Oh wait, blaming this problem on prostitution isn't enough -- it's the Vietnamese prostitutes. So dozens of images show KTV/brothels that advertise their Vietnamese working girls.

Just a little problem, as the report itself notes near the end -- of the 599 cases, 513 are IV-drug related. And there's apparently no evidence that Vietnamese prostitutes have anything to do with remaining infections.

Surely such an openly racist and sensational presentation of the issue should cause some sort of outrage.

Nov 28, 2007

Taiwanese in the classroom

A Tainan teacher who teaches in Taiwanese in his elementary school class. For math, the class ends up being about 30-40% Taiwanese (as Mandarin is still used for technical nouns). For the social studies class, 90% can be conducted in Taiwanese. For the Mandarin class, vocabulary and readings are done in Mandarin but explanations and discussion are conducted in Taiwanese, making that class about 60-70% Taiwanese as well.

The kids in the class perform on par in testing.

I really prefer this model for native language teaching to the model currently in use of an extra class twice a week in the native language.

KMT will seek to chance CEC law

In order to get it's way on the referendum / legislative election ballot issue, the KMT plans on trying to amend the law again next session. The DPP has vowed to prevent it, even if it means starting a fight.

Nov 27, 2007

Video of A-bian talking about martial law

From last night's Talking Show, with discussion. The video tape of A-bian starts at about the 1:00 minute mark. You will understand best if you can understand Taiwanese :) You can see his original comments and a later "clarification."

Standardizing Holo Taiwanese writing

Edit: A great article in the Liberty Times about how bad the media is at writing Taiwanese.

I was able to get my hands on that draft copy of the government's efforts to standardize written Holo Taiwanese to facilitate teaching it in school. The file is a PDF contains:

* An explanation of the principles the committee considers when choosing a standard written character.

* A review of the government's initial decision on the first 300 standardized characters (called the 臺灣閩南語推薦用字(第1批)).

* The draft copy of some of the next 1500 characters to be standardized (the draft contains only 100 of these).

Anyone interested in seeing the new darft should contact me via comments or email. The first 300 are available here. Below I discuss some of the more interesting words under consideration:

袂 bē/buē
Mandarin: 不、不能、不會
Examples: 袂食袂睏、袂行、袂來

偌 guā/luā/juā
Mandarin: 多少、多麼 Examples: 無偌久、偌濟 Also considering: 外、若

Mandarin: 得 Example: 食甲足飽、講甲足投機 Also considering: 、徦、到

Mandarin: 甭、別、不要 Examples: 莫去、莫講 Also considering: 勿、「勿愛」

啥乜 siánn-mih
Mandarin: 什麼 Example: 啥物代誌 Also considering: 啥麼、啥物

佗位 tó-uī/toh-uī
Mandarin 哪裡 Examples: 欲去佗位、學校佇佗位 Also considering: 叨位

Nov 26, 2007

Martial Law? Delayed election?

Caution: China Post has been installing a piece of malware on visitors computers that has to be manually deleted from the temporary itnernet folders and which most virus checkers won't see. "Tool-Evid" and it hides in your temporary internet folders. I've killed the direct links to the site.

A-bian turned the heat way up on the referendum/legislative election issues, while others are trying to calm the situation. This post isn't much, but it should bring you up to speed.

Chen raises martial law specter (Taipei Times)
Taiwan's president vows not to reimpose martial law to end vote dispute (China Post)
Hsieh asks central, local governments to stop threats (Taipei Times)
Dispute escalates over election voting format (China Post)

Lu: Let's not go down that road again (Chinese, TVBS)
Ma: I'll respond when things are calmed down, Hsieh should say something (Chinese, CNA)
Ma: Don't pay too much attention to A-bian on this (Chinese, CNA)
A-bian: CEC will discuss postponing the election (Chinese, CRI)
Wang: The legislature would have to pass a law to delay the election (Chinese, CNA)
KMT legislator Su Chi: A-bian's already started to get ready for martial law (Chinese, CRI)

Nov 23, 2007

It's not just identity...

Edit: An article that says there is little question on identity left in the north as well ...

As I was discussing with a friend last night, the ideological battle for Taiwanese centric identity and for Taiwanese sovereignty has already been won in the south -- it's primarily playing itself out in Taipei only.

But that doesn't mean the south will all vote for the DPP. There are lots of people who will say things like, "We're all Taiwanese here, but I think it's time we switched parties in power again. We're all disappointed."

Here's a sarcastic video clip from a local show that sort of encapsulates the general frustration with rhetoric on Taiwanese identity. "You're preaching to the choir, but I want to hear how you'll make things better."

And let's hope Hsieh's focus on the economy can do just that.

Stage two of Holo Taiwanese script standardization

An unofficial draft of the next 1500 proposed standardized Taiwanese characters [called the 臺灣閩南語推薦用字(第2批)] was released on the 9th and 15th of this month at two conferences in northern and southern Taiwan by the Ministry of Education.

Unfortunately, the total lack of transparency on this issue means that they did not even really announce the conference as far as I can tell, and did not fully open it to the public (the ministry tells me that this was due to the high interest and limited number of seats).

I am working hard to get my hands on this draft list. Anyone with a resource on this one, please let me know.

Once the government finalizes the list, future textbooks in Taiwanese for public schools will be required to use the standardized character choices and romanization system -- unlike the early years of DPP rules where the government let each school pick to quicken and ease the transition.

Nov 21, 2007

Registration for election complete

Thirteen parties registered for at large seats while 286 people are fighting for the districted seats. You can see all the data here [], and I'll be updating the map as soon as possible.

Article with some analysis on the difficulties third parties will have in districts but how they may sway the election when it would otherwise be close.

Nov 20, 2007

Li Ao won't run!

Li Ao announced today that he's done with politics as he released a new book. He blamed the voters for not being clear enough on the issues to support him.

Good riddance to bad rubbish!

NYT on China's pollution

Well written article with hard facts on the magnitude of the problem, the consequences of ignoring it and the political difficulty in facing it right away. Money quote:

President Hu Jintao’s most ambitious attempt to change the culture of fast-growth collapsed this year. The project, known as “Green G.D.P.,” was an effort to create an environmental yardstick for evaluating the performance of every official in China. It recalculated gross domestic product, or G.D.P., to reflect the cost of pollution.

But the early results were so sobering — in some provinces the pollution-adjusted growth rates were reduced almost to zero — that the project was banished to China’s ivory tower this spring and stripped of official influence.

A-bian compares UN referendums to unification referendum

Note that he did not say it was about independence -- just unification.

Chen said that picking between the KMT's "re-joining" the UN referendum and the DPP's "entering" the UN referendum was the same as picking sides on a unification referendum.

The "Red" party registers too

A bunch of guys from the old anti-corruption campaign aimed at ousting President Chen Shui-bian have also registered an at large party list, calling themselves the red party. Cute!

I probably won't post any more about registrations until the CEC makes the list official and I can make a more thorough map update.

A-bian loses first appeal in libel lawsuit

A-bian lost his first appeal in the libel lawsuit related to his charge that the KMT and PFP tried to orchistrate a "soft coup" after the 2004 election. Background here [Taipei Times] and here [Taiwan News]: A-bian can still appeal once more.

Chiu Yi free

Chiu Yi (邱毅), now out of jail, made continuing being an asshole his first order of business upon release from jail. The 11-12 kg lighter, still bald Chiu Yi promised to release more rumors as soon as possible while his supporters fed him and adorned him with flower garlands. Video here.

Yesterday's highlights

Consider this to be the same as one of those daily brief columns on the far side of the newspaper. It highlights the things that caught my eye most yesterday and the day before.

Today last day for legislative election registration

Expect a flood of people and some last minute surprise splits.

Ballot colors

The Central Election Commission decided [.doc] that in the upcoming legislative election, the at large ballot will be white (so that the colored symbols of the parties will be more clearly distinguishable); the districted seats ballot will be yellow; and the two referendum ballots will both be pink. Boxes will be be covered in a similar color to help prevent people from dropping their ballot in the wrong box.

In a related article, last Saturday's China Times editorial trashes the CEC for handing out the ballots in one line and says the organization bowed to political pressure.

Election outlook

The United Daily News reports that the DPP fears it has only 10 safe legislative seats and could be entirely wiped out in the north, citing a DPP internal poll leaked to them. According to the Liberty Times, The DPP itself says it is confident of 30 seats and hopes to capture between 50 and 60 seats.

Autonomous Aboriginal Districts

The DPP-lead cabinet again submitted a draft of the Autonomous Aboriginal Districts bill to the Legislative Yuan. The original submission back in 2003 was trapped in committee with the four versions the KMT had put forward at the time. Expect a similar result with this bill.

TVBS polls

TVBS conducted polls in several close districts on the seventh of this month, something I caught on their channel last night. I will add these poll results to the map analysis as soon as possible.

Nov 18, 2007

A-bian rails on KMT, "curses" again at rally

At a rally in Kaohsiung last night, President Chen Shui-bian responded to allegations KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou made that A-bian and Frank Hsieh had been informed of the Kaohsiung mayoral election verdict before it was released.

Ma's suspicions were based on the A-bian saying, "We'll see the result this afternoon" before the verdict was released. As you can see, that's a great reason to suspect that the judge was in the DPP's pocket.

As has been typical of A-bian in these final days in office, he came out guns blazing. The money quote from the speech (no pun intended), as quoted in the United Daily News today:

"We won the election in the first place, something you could figure out thinking with your knee even if you didn't read the law." Hoping to put the KMT on notice, Abian said that the party should not "drag everything out" [by not really admitting defeat] every time they lose.

Now the reason this became a news item is that the phrase for "drag everything out" that A-bian used is a Taiwanese phrase that literally translates as "drag out sperm, drag out snot."

When we saw this on the television news today, My wife's Pingtung family laughed; my wife just said "that's no big deal." She then said the phrase is essentially the same as saying "牽拖東 牽拖西" (to drag things out).

Of course, all of the Taipei people questioned in the news clip talked about how such speech is not appropriate for a head of state -- a feeling I think the South would generally not share. Personally, I just like to see A-bian in all his rhetorical glory, appropriate or not.

You can view A-bian's remarks on video here.

Bonus article of the day on how the new single member districts make the legislative election more like the local borough chief elections.

Nov 17, 2007

Blue cities, counties plan to split referendum, legislative ballots

In defiance of the Central Election Commission's recent decision to hand out the two legislative ballots and two referendum (one KMT, one DPP) ballots at the same time, cities and counties run by blue administrations are planning on handing the ballots out separately.

This means you'll have to go to one line, get your legislative ballots (first, of course), go drop them in a box and then get in a new line to repeat the process for your referendums.

I'm livid. What sense does it make for the KMT to make its own referendum as difficult as possible to gather the required voter threshold? How dare they simply ignore the CEC, just as they did the Ministry of Education when it mandated nationally unified text books, just because the KMT isn't the one calling the shots?

This again demonstrates the KMT's deep distrust of democracy and their inability to avoid seriously contradicting themselves.

Sorry for being sloppy

In my flurry of posting yesterday, I managed to make several mistakes (most of which I've tried to correct). I was in a hurry to finish before leaving work because of plans to come to Pingtung this weekend. My bad!

Nov 16, 2007

KMT goes into attack mode, shoots self in foot

The KMT, pissed off with Talking Show's consistant attacks on DPP KMT policy, "declared war" on the show. It was yesterday's Wednesday's lead story in the China Times. What did declaring war actually constitute?

It meant "revealing" that the host of the show applied for KMT membership shortly after martial law was lifted. The KMT then went on to ask, if the host is such a pro-Taiwanization (bentu) person, why would he enter the KMT? If he was so democratic, why did he join the KMT instead of joining the DPP or fighting for democracy? Why did he do it join even after he finished his studies (when students were still forced to join the party)?

This is hilarious because the KMT is almost accidently admitting that it is an anti-Taiwanization (bentu), anti-democratic party that forced people to join the party; on the other hand, the official line denies or ignores all of this to this very day.

Referendum situation

The rumor-mongering but sometimes correct China Times has an article tonight saying that the Central Election Commission plans on pushing for it's plan to hand out referendum and election ballots TOGETHER at the legislative election.

Edit: confirmed by CNA. The ballots will be given out at the same time.

Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall

The Education Minister confirmed today that the DPP intends to rip down the words at the front gate of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall. The words are a direct reference to Chiang's honorary name, which imply just how even-handed and righteous Chiang was.
No final decision has been made on what exactly to replace it with.

Wang agrees with Soong: KMT's UN referendum a joke

The head of the KMT at-large legislative list and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) stated today that the KMT's drive for a referendum to return the ROC to the UN was "lying to people" and "lying to get votes," and in his opinion, "It's our relationship with the mainland, stupid!" that is most important.

The statement is a rather surprisingly strong rebuke of the KMT's own referendum plans and shows that even within the party, it's perfectly transparent that the KMT effort is half-hearted and aimed at having their own referendum they can present along side the DPP's in the election with no futher consideration.

Joanna Lei leaves KMT as well

Another would-be legislator of the KMT has bolted the party. Again, hat tip to Raj. Here's the China Post story.

At large lists, district lists coming out

Both the DPP and KMT have their at large lists out, and I'll be updating the map with that information over the weekend. Remember, the PFP is nominating jointly with the KMT, and the TSU seems unsure exactly what they will do.

View Larger Map

Kaohsiung election ruled valid

The night before last years' Kaohsiung mayoral election last year, DPP candidate Chen Chu (陳菊) called a press conference on the night before the election to show video of someone buying votes for the KMT candidate, Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英).

After Chen Chu won, the KMT sued, saying this amounted to a campaign event, and that Chen Chu had violated the election law. The Kaohsiung District Court on June 15 ruled in favor of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mayoral candidate Huang Chun-ying.

Today, the appeal has turned out in Chen Chu's favor. There should still be one appeal decision left before the case is finally decided.

As Raj pointed out, this was the alst appeal. Case closed.

Nov 14, 2007

On the international media's perspective

Inspired (rather indirectly) by recent posts by Bent, The Only Readhead in Taiwan, and Michael Turton, I've made a little chart that I think demonstrates the main reason the international media has such a warped view of the Taiwan situation -- because they still largely see it in terms of the civil war mentality that dominated the international debate and research for decades, as well as US policy. They never really saw things as Taiwan does, from the inside. Here's the chart -- click for enlargement:

I do this to point out there is something more besides "using the China angle" in stories or pro-China bias involved in this problem of Taiwan's portrayal in the international media. It's also a historical problem that essentially requires reeducation (not through forced labor!) to fix.

Nov 13, 2007

Election lists update

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is scheduled to finalize the nomination of its legislative candidates tomorrow as the registration process is set to begin on Friday, the party's Culture and Information Department Director Hsieh Hsin-ni (謝欣霓) said yesterday.

The registration for January's legislative elections opens on Friday and closes on
Nov. 21.

Also, hat tip to Raj who notified me of Lee Sen-zong (李顯榮) has left the KMT and is joining the DPP. The DPP is likely to find a place for him to run.

Nov 9, 2007

Why I like Ron Paul, too.

The Only Redhead in Taiwan isn't Ron Paul's only fan.

I don't like everything about Paul. I live in Taiwan, which he thinks is a part of China (I'm rabidly oppossed to this position). I'm pro-choice and I don't want to dismantle the Federal Reserve. I sort of like the idea of a gold standard, but more for emotional than rational reasons (one day, I would like to be Secretary of Shiny Things).

But for me, the most important issues in this campaign are:

1) rolling back the Executive authority Bush has claimed, and ending the indefinite detention of citizens / domestic spying / secret CIA prisons / military tribunals / shipping people to be tortured in allied countries. Not to mention restoring habeas corpus.

2) having a rational foreign policy that does not involve spending a trillion dollars a year to maintain an empire that only hurts our national interests.

And for me, a leftist, Paul is the only guy who cares about or talks about those two issues, so I feel I must support him. And when polls indicate 70% of Republican primary voters haven't heard enough about Paul to decide if they like him or not, is the problem really his platform or the lack of exposure?

Here's my favorite video of him.

Clearing up my statements on legislative election

Oh, don't get me wrong. The districts aren't gerrymandered at all. I really admired how well the CEC did when drawing the new districts, and it didn't particularly go the KMT's way -- the drawing of straws that decided difficult districts only went slightly in the KMT's favor.

One problem is that with a legislature cut in half, the relative importance of those small areas that all need at least 1 representitive (offshore islands, Taidong) goes up, and those areas are on the whole blue strongholds.

Another problem is that with the new larger, single member districts, party loyalty becomes a little more important and independents have less of a chance. Given this situation, and using the last legislative election numbers as an indication, the north is a strongly blue, the south is strongly green, and the battle will be in the center of the country.

In the center, about half of the seats seem likely to go blue while the other half are up in the air. Given this situation, if we assume those up in the air seats get split fairly evenly, things just don't look good for the DPP.

Again, let's wait for some more info. Once we actually have all the candidates decided, we can expect some sort of polling (though I'm not sure how comprehensive it will be), and then we can get a better idea of how these districts could go.

Nov 8, 2007

KMT unveils list of candidates

From the Taipei Times today:

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) unveiled its legislator-at-large
candidate list yesterday, with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) topping
the list and the People First Party (PFP) grabbing four of the 34 seats.

Former dean of Chi Mei Medical Center Steve Chan (詹啟賢), now a top aide
to KMT presidential Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), did not appear on the list [KMT said
today he can be number 20] while incumbent legislators accounted for about
90 percent of the 18 seats in the "safe zone," meaning that their election is

Two of the four PFP legislators who won the KMT nomination were Chang
Hsien-yao (張顯耀) and Cheng Chin-ling (鄭金玲), an anonymous source said.

... If the KMT wins the presidential election, some of the legislators
could be invited to join the government, which would create legislative
opportunities for other individuals, Wu said.

The 18 candidates in the "safe zone" were Wang; KMT Legislator Hung
Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱); KMT Policy Committee convener Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權); KMT
Legislator Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛); KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅); a PFP legislator;
KMT Legislator Chin Chieh (陳杰); KMT Legislator Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠); a PFP
legislator; the National Policy Foundation's Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲); KMT Legislator
Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進); KMT Legislator Liao Wan-ju (廖婉汝); KMT Legislator Chi
Kuo-tung (紀國棟); a PFP legislator; Ten Ren Tea president Mark Li (李明星); KMT
Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春); chairman of the World Hakka Federation Liu
Sheng-liang (劉盛良) and deputy commissioner of the KMT's policy committee Cheng
Li-wen (鄭麗文).

The party nominated Chiu -- now serving time in jail -- to
honor his "dedication to bring various scandals to light," Wu

Nov 6, 2007

Map update

I haven't made any physical updates to the map recently, since the legislative nominations remain unfinished and volatile. But I wanted to remind everyone that the DPP is screwed in this legislative election no matter how you cut it. Examine the numbers in those close districts and in the center of the country ... things aren't looking great.

Nov 5, 2007

Chen: A president needs balls | Ma: A-bian wants to be a suicide bomber

As other bloggers like Rank and Michael Turton point out, in Taiwanese politics, machoism is not a force to be underestimated for male politicians (many women, in contrast, may run just on the fact that they're cute young ladies). And this has been one of the more emotional attacks against Ma Ying-jeou that resonates here.

Take this video clip, which was replayed a lot on Taiwanese TV, and makes fun of Ma for his girly response when asked if he was drunk (沒有啦, which in context might be loosely translated as "no, silly!").

Well, in a repeat of when former Foreign Minister Mark Chen (陳唐山) blasted Singapore for clinging to China's balls, A-bian has come out today and used the politically loaded Taiwanese phrase 卵葩 lan-pho*, often printed as "LP" by the media to avoid being too vulgar.

As the China Times article explains (loose translation mine):

In the latest salvo in the war of words between [President] Chen
Shui- and Ma ying-jeou, A-bian pulled all the stops in Tainan city today and
during a speech said that a president needed balls and guts, that he could not
retreat as soon as he met resistance, and attacked Ma for always beeing a step
behind and standing on the wrong side. A-bian wants Ma not to keep dreaming the
"China dream," and believes the Chinese Nationalist Party should remove "China"
from their name.

Ma Ying-jeou's office shot back, saying President Chen wishes to be a
suicide bomber, casually uses despicable language and wants to kill himself
along with others, something the people will not accept.


Ma Ying-jeou said, the recent dispute over the KMT [removing references to
unification and the 92 consensus from a party document] is merely a
misunderstanding and that the KMT has no dispute over the course it's going to
take. Recently, President Chen has frequently attacked him, an act unbecoming to
the office of the president. [He noted] that President Chen's days as president
are numbered and that he should spend them taking care of the people's
livelihood [a reference to one of the Three People's Principles of Sun
Yesterday afternoon, President Chen was at [a temple] in Tainan City's
Annan District [campaigning] and before eating with the local people, he made
special time for a media interview aimed squarely at KMT presidential candidate
Ma Ying-jeou to respond to Ma's recent statements that "If you want to be
president, you have to do something significant."

Chen Shui-bian said, Ma Ying-jeou talking about doing something significant is a bit like a daughter-in-law trying to instruct her mother-in-law."

Chen Shui-bian stated that there is no such thing as a "92 consensus," and that Ma
Ying-jeou should not cling so stubbornly to the formula. Now, the KMT has taken
steps to start removing the 92 consensus, but Ma immediately retreated under
pressure. "To be the president, you need to have balls and guts, and you cannot
retreat under pressure. Otherwise, how are we going to face the threat and
pressure from the Chinese army?"

Chen Shui-bian also stated that between the [retreat from China in]
1950 [of] former president Chiang Kai-shek, and the ROC's withdrawal from the UN
in 1971, that the ROC had already died twice. "Will it live again? I don't
believe so." As a result, A-bian stated that trying to re-enter the UN under the
name of the ROC was a lost cause.

added that on March 13, 1950, Chiang Kai-shek unconstitutionally resumed the
office of the president, and stated in a speech at Yangming Mountain, "Following
the loss of the mainland, the Republic of China has already died, and we are
citizens of a dead country." The ROC already had died one time even as Chiang
retook office, and he was merely "borrowing a body and channeling a ghost" [to
make it appear alive].

Wow. OK, so you can see, some pretty loaded language. Some female KMT legislators are obviously complaining, saying the president's language is crude and sexist.

Thanks to Gmail, I have managed to keep this old link and email from the last LP controversy:

That link explains:「扶卵葩」一辭,是台灣的俗語,意指過度的奉承和巴結,這個辭在台灣民間是屬於非常普遍的常用詞,使用上顯得十分傳神,意涵中有很濃厚的鄙夷之意,我不知道其他語言中是否有類似的傳神字眼,但有一點可以絕對確認的:它很俗,卻絕對不是粗俗。

"The phrase 'embracing balls' is Taiwanese slang, and its meaning points to being
excessively flattering and currying favor; this phrase is counted as a frequently
used and common phrase among the Taiwanese people, and obviously when used it's an extremely vivid portrayal, and the meaning contains a very dense and spiteful
meaning; I don't know if in other languages they have a similarly vivid
description, but there is one point we can be certain about: it is crude [or
maybe common], but not vulgar [or dirty]."


Just wondering if anyone knows where I could get my hands on Chinese language versions of Superman, Spiderman or other major American comic books.

Also, thanks to all the friends who came out to see me in Taipei. I had a great weekend.

Nov 1, 2007

Financial Times on oil prices

Great Financial Times article today on how Taiwan's political situation forces the government to hold to a rather unsustainable subsidizing of fuel prices.

Read it here. Highlights:

The recent surge in global oil prices has presented ­Taiwan’s
government with a dilemma.

CPC Corp, the state-owned refinery through
which the government controls the island’s oil and gas market, is due to raise
prices on Friday to reflect the latest spike in inter­national crude oil
prices. A failure to do so could land the refiner in the red and yield a
bail-out bill to be footed by taxpayers.

However, a move on Wednesday by lawmakers eyeing closely contested January
parliamentary elections to try to impose a price freeze means that for the third
time in a little over a year efforts to liberalise Taiwan’s energy sector are
being put under political pressure....

In the 1970s and 1980s, ­Taiwan achieved its economic miracle by
providing resources such as land, water and power at low prices that allowed its
businesses to grow into competitive exporters. However, as its economy has
matured and the cost of energy has risen, the policy formula has not changed.

The government took an initial step last year to make consumers and
businesses pay the real price of energy by approving the first power price rise
in 23 years and allowing some flexibility in domestic oil prices. The legacy of
past policies, however, has both discouraged energy efficiency and meant the
government must decide whether to shoulder losses or risk spikes in inflation in
a country that, after years of low to zero inflation, has become intolerant of
even modest price rises.

Taiwan’s government allowed CPC in July 2006 to adopt a floating price
mech­anism that calls for weekly adjustments. However, that system was
watered down by the government in ­September to allow only monthly
adjustments and a potential freeze on prices if the cumulative rise in one month
exceeded 15 per cent.

Legislators added to the pressure on Wednesday by passing a resolution
demanding a freeze in fuel prices, after which the government appeared likely to
order CPC not to increase the prices of cooking and heating oil.