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Jan 31, 2008

DPP suit, and Ma Ying-jeou's green card

The DPP is going through with its calls for a constitutional interpretation on the fairness of the new system, a move that I believe will not only fail but will be seen as a "sore loser" move.

The other topic that's been in the news the last couple of days has to do with Ma Ying-jeou and a green card (a permanent resident card for the US). I haven't posted on it because it seems like a dumb topic, but it may make some impact on the election.

A story from Wed.'s Taipei Times:

On Monday, Hsieh said he had documents proving that Ma still has a green
card. Yesterday he said Ma's wife Chou Mei-ching (周美青) was also a green card

"Two out of Ma's four family members are green card holders and [Ma's
eldest daughter] is a US citizen. They can emigrate to the US any time. If a
nation's leader and his family get themselves life jackets, how can he say he is
closely bound to the fate of Taiwan?" Hsieh said.

Ma called an emergency press conference on Monday night to respond to
questions Hsieh raised on Sunday. He said he had obtained a green card while he
was living in the US, sometime around 1977.

But Ma said both his and his wife's green cards became invalid in the 1980s
when they applied for visas at the American Institute in Taiwan to travel to the

One reason this green card topic became an issue was that Ma's spokesperson originally said he did not have a green card; Ma later corrected the statement, saying he once had a green card, but no longer does; Dennis reminds us: This is a misrepresentation of fact. Ma confirmed the spokesperson's "no green card" statement before retracting (United Daily Evening News 28 Jan., p. A2). Blaming the spokesperson just won't do.

Ma specifically defended himself by saying he wasn't lying because these statements are not contradictory, and he wasn't trying to hide anything.

Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou yesterday maintained that he had not violated any law by possessing a U.S. green card and that he never intended to hide the fact he was once a permanent U.S. resident.

He maintained that when he returned to Taiwan and became then President Chiang Ching-kuo's English secretary, his U.S. residency was not against any government regulation of the time.

OK, so Hsieh is supposed to "release his evidence" showing Ma is still a green card holder by the end of the week. He also reminded people that Ma's daughter, the one with the US passport, wasn't a US citizen automatically upon birth in the US; rather, the parents have to apply for the citizenship. Hsieh reasoned that Ma should not chalk up his foreign citizenship to her place of birth alone, and instead should explain why he decided to apply for her citizenship. Edit: Check the comments, I've been corrected on this point.

Frankly, I would be quite surprised if Ma still has a green card. We'll see.

The DPP is using this as a wedge on the loyalty/identity issue, but I'm not sure how much impact it will have. It does make sense in a way though; loyalty is one of Ma's perceived weak points, so the DPP is hitting it hard. And Ma didn't help himself with his initial denial of the card, which he should have just explained right away, as this ETToday analysis affirms.

Still, if Ma's green card turns out to be a bunch of hot air, I think this topic could backfire for the DPP, who would again be focusing on thirty year old issues instead of the future.

Jan 28, 2008

DPP plans suit against election system

The DPP is planning to ask for a constitutional review of the fairness of the new election system, saying the fact that the DPP is so fundamentally underrepresented that the system is by nature unfair.

Considering that the DPP initiated the changes, and that the unfairness has to do more with temporal political realities rather than fundamental structural issues, I don't see how the court could ever rule that the system is unconstitutional. The system might indeed be unfair, but sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

KMT Parliament speaker Wang Jin-pying [in my view, rightly] called the DPP move "hilarious."

It looks like a desperate, sore-loser strategy to me. And I sympathize with the DPP!

Election analysis bandwagon!

I thought since most everyone is giving their final thoughts on the legislative election results, I would add my voice to the chorus.

First: I agree the main factor for the loss was the new election system, and I too fear a very dirty "permanent majority" for the KMT in the legislature as well as machine politics. Maintaining this permanent majority will become a major goal of the KMT legislature, since they can pretty much count on alternating presidential election results in the long-run. If you think about it, the KMT has always been in charge of the legislature since its inception anyway, and the new results give us little hope that this will ever change. The terrible image of the legislature has in no way resulted in any punishment from the voters.

Second: I cannot endorse using the word gerrymandering for how the districts were drawn. The vast majority of district shapes were drawn out by the CEC and agreed upon by the DPP and KMT. Among the districts that the parties wanted drawn differently, the parties drew straws to decide which plan to use. This resulted in a net benefit to the KMT, but I believe to prove "gerrymandering," you'd have to re-run the election results while pretending the DPP got every contended district drawn exactly as it would have most liked to see. I ran numbers like this to try and predict the result before the election, so I'm not exactly eager to do it again (nor am I sure where one can find the DPP's proposed districts).

Third: I think some people in the blogosphere are talking past each other. If the DPP had run a different campaign message, it would not have changed the results much. At the same time this doesn't mean the DPP ran a good campaign or had a good message. And they will very much need one to win the presidency in 2008.

Fourth: we all know the presidential election will be closer, but what are Frankie's real chances at this time? It depends on his campaign, which I'd say is going well so far. Most people don't have a detailed grasp of the issues, but there does seem to be a general idea that Hsieh is "for good relations with China," but has a less unconditional approach than Ma. And voters will disagree on whether that is a good thing or not.

But a debate with Ma Ying-jeou is absolutely key. It would be the best chance for the public to compare and contrast the two candidate's positions in the relative absence of media spin. I think everyone knows that Frank Hsieh would come out on top in such a debate. Which is exactly why Ma has so far refused to hold one.

Well, that's it for now. If someone's willing to run the numbers to demonstrate gerrymandering, I'd be interested in looking at them! :)

Jan 24, 2008

Foreign Affairs

The Jan/Feb edition of Foreign Affairs is China-centric. Lots of interesting articles. Check them out.

Jan 23, 2008

How the KMT's pro-localization faction fared

I made a post last year on who is supposedly part of the KMT's underground "pro-localization" and "pro-Wang". I did a quick search on the map results to see which of them made it through the election.

I'm not sure the faction is all its cracked up to be, if it even exists as such. It might have mor eto do with personal loyalty and attachment to Wang than anything else.

Surviving Pro-localization legislators (本土派) (4 out of an original 11)
Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) Tseng Tsai Mei-tso (曾蔡美佐) Lin Yi-shih (林益世) Lo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄) Lin Nan-sheng (林南生) Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) Chen Hung-chang (陳宏昌) Apollo Chen (陳學聖) Chang Chang-tsai (張昌財)

Pro-localization KMT Central Standing Committee Members who aren't legislators (2)
Hung Yu-chin (洪玉欽) Chu Feng-chi (朱風芝)

Other legislators called pro-Wang (5)

Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順)1 Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) Caucus Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) Chang Sho-wen (張碩文)

1 Huang doesn't like the label

Taipei Times article
This pdf document, which seems damaged but who's content could be seen in part on google search results

Referendum maneuvers

In response to Bruce Jacob's open letter to Hsieh and Ma, Frank Hsieh today said that if the KMT really was interested in returning to the UN, then Hsieh could "consider" supporting the KMT referendum. He's just floating the idea without committing, but note that he didn't require the KMT to actually support the DPP's own initiative as a condition for the DPP to support the KMT's.

Ma, on the other hand, said that he will still support the KMT-initiated referendum to re-enter the UN but will not support the DPP's referendum bid.

Jan 21, 2008

Latest opinion poll: 43% "undecided"

Let's take a quick look at the latest opinion poll from Apple Daily.

Ma 40.8%
Hsieh 16.2%
Undecided 43%

Now as we all know, green voters seem to have a tendency to either lie to or hang up on pollsters, and report themselves as undecided more often than blue voters. But in any case, thats' a pretty huge chunk of undecided voters, and it means the reality is that this election is going to be very hard to predict.

Hsieh is now starting to kick his presidential campaign into high gear now that all the focus is on him. Ma has alrady outlined the bulk of his policies over the last year or so. Hsieh, on the other hand, has been waiting for the right time. And he's built an impressive list over the last few days. Here's a quick look at some of Hsieh's proposed policy highlights.

+ Appointing a CEO as Premier who the KMT dominated legislature could work with. This may even happen at the end of January, when the cabinet will be resigning en masse. President Chen has expressed a willingness to give Hsieh's plan free reign even as his own term comes to an end. This is very positive news because it means we'll get a chance to see the plan in action before the election.

+ A promise and willingness to work with the reality of a KMT dominated legislature by making sure they like the premier (Hsieh said he'd even be willing to consider Ma Ying-jeou for the post) and not to push for further constitutional change without a consensus.

+ A plan to lower the inheritance tax to 10 percent.

+ A campaign slogan: "Protecting Taiwan, saving [people's livelyhood] democracy, two-party rule and Taiwan's progress."

+ A general plan to loosen investment restrictions on Taiwanese capital in China and to initiate direct links.

We'll have to see how all this plays with the electorate.

Jan 17, 2008

AIT expected DPP to get 40 seats; points to election system

I was a bit surprised at this particular revelation from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which said in a discussion with President Chen that they had expected the DPP to win 40 seats instead of 27. They said the difference was a result of the new election system. President Chen responded by saying that this election indicates the maturity of Taiwanese democracy: a win or a loss lasts only a moment, bu democratic development marches on.

Heritage Foundation on elections

You can hear their post-election analysis here.

CCP and KMT's positions: identical except in degree of fanaticism.

Let's take a look at an article published just yesterday in the Communist party mouthpiece, the People's Daily (《人民日报》). We'll focus on two paragraphs in particular, though they're both quite a mouthful:


The report on the 17th People's Congress pointed out: "Firmly holding to One China principal is the political basis for cross-strait peace and development. Although the two sides of the strait are not yet unified, the mainland and Taiwan are both part of one China and this reality has never changed. China is the home of compatriots on both sides of the strait, and they ought to help protect and develop the interests of our common home. We are willing to exchange dialogue, negotiate with, and discuss any issue with any political party in Taiwan, as long as it will admit that both sides of the strait are part of one China. We earnestly call for negotiations to formally end the state of hostility between the two sides of the strait and for a peace agreement on the basis of the one China principal. We solemnly call for construction of a cross strait peaceful development framework and a fresh start for the peaceful development of our relations."

These important points objectively describe the cross strait status quo, make clear the foundation for peaceful cross-strait development, express the Chinese Communist party's sincere willingness to push forward peaceful cross-strait development and clearly define a practical path to a "win-win" relationship in cross strait relations....


To firmly uphold the One China principal is a fundamental interest of the Chinese people. In the history of the Chinese people, splitting up the country has been the greatest sin. On a question as critical as the unification of our country, we cannot allow any room for compromise. As long as the one China principal is upheld, then any other issue can be negotiated. A long term peaceful development of cross strait relations is the correct path, but it requires the upholding of the One China principal; for the two sides of the strait to realize peaceful unification, all that's needed is firmly upholding the One China principal.

Efforts to promote "two Chinas," "one China, one Taiwan," "state-to-state relations," "one side, one country," and De-sinofication are all vain. They are an intentional distortion of the One China status quo, and intentional destruction of the One China principal, and they all provoke our people and country's most core interests. These efforts are also fighting against the flow of history. They not only do nothing to contribute to peaceful development of cross strait relations, but those who push them will ultimately be considered criminals of history, and they will fail.

Phew. That took a while. And as far as I know, it's the most direct overture to sign a peace agreement from teh CCP. Now for China, the "One China principal" is identical to the "92 consensus;" for the KMT, the "92 consensus" is defined as "One China, two interpretations." Since that sounds suspiciously like "two Chinas," the CCP will never accept the KMT definition.

But there's no need. If a phrase that can maintain some ambiguity like "92 consensus" is used, there is room for negotiations. And we all know Ma accepts the One China principal. Ma just insists that somehow "One China" is the ROC, and has never been able to explain if he believes the PRC exists (though interestingly, he can say the words PRC without actually saying they exist).

So the real point of this post is: there is room for a peace agreement and the establishment of a framework for continued peaceful cross strait relations, and both the KMT and CCP are very interested in moving on that quickly. You should quite rightly read that as plans to "Hong Kong-ize" Taiwan and sacrifice the de facto sovereignty that Taiwan now enjoys, while cutting off any possibility of future de jure sovereignty. And all this will be done in the name of peace and prosperity.

I still think the anti-unification forces must prevail. The alternative is unimaginable.

Some fascinating maps

From Richter. I've linked you to the second page of the the guy's maps (there's more on the first page, including older maps), because the second page has more maps related to this most recent election. They are really good, showing how different parties did in different areas and performance of the DPP over time. Check it out!

Next referendum

There are some different comments coming out about the referendum. DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) believes the DPP and KMT should coordinate on their two referendums, because he thinks at least one must pass to avoid the international community thinking Taiwan considers itself part of the PRC.

Meanwhile, KMT legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) is calling for the referendum to be held apart from the presidential election, since the referendum is "holy" and should not be used by any party as a political tool.

As you may recall, while the KMT made this argument for the legislative election + referendum, their main argument was that holding the two elections in conjunction would result in a "disaster" and confusion, and give the DPP an excuse to declare martial law. Well, that later point is now quite clearly untrue.

Before last election, the KMT said it would "wait and see" what a mess the DPP would actually make during the the legislative election before deciding if it would boycott the UN related referendums held with the presidential election. Logically, given their prior reasoning, they should agree that holding the ballots together will not be a disaster, and push at least their own referendum.

But I think we can safely assume the real purpose of "wait and see" was just to see if the referendum would pass. Since it didn't, I predict they'll call for another boycott. If it had, they would have rallied around their referendum with such enthusiasm you might actually have believed they cared.

Jan 16, 2008

Dueling redrawing plans

DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh and KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou have both raised plans to redraw Taiwan's map of counties and cities. Currently, there are 25 cities and counties.

Ma's plan calls for three cities and 15 counties and a reduction in the number of villages and townships from the current count of 319 within the next eight years. Ma also supports retaining village and township elections.

Hsieh's plan would divide Taiwan into six super counties of approx. equal population (about the size of Singapore's). Resources would be distributed in such a way as to enhance the industrial focus of each region, and the government would encourage participation from outside investment and know how. While I don't believe Hsieh said anything about village and townshipe elections himself, the Executive Yuan is talking about making these officials appointed.


In other news, Hsieh made the practical statement that any future Premier would have to be approved by the legislature if he wanted to have a chance to govern stably.

Jan 15, 2008

Holo Taiwanese not very important

A recent survey on attitudes toward Holo Taiwanese that I pulled from the FAPA-YP mailing list, and originally from Talking Taiwanese. I find the data to be rather sobering -- it demonstrates that despite the relative current strength of Holo Taiwanese, it really is in rather immediate danger, and very little public will exists to save it in a comprehensive way.

1. Native language

Taiwanese 61%
Mandarin 21%
Hakka 8%
no answer & other 10%

Taiwanese 63%
Mandarin 21%
Hakka 6%
no answer & other 10%

2. Language use of parents among themselves
Taiwanese 55%
Mandarin 35%
Hakka 3%

3. Language use of parents with their children
Taiwanese 46%
Mandarin 54%
Hakka 0.7%

4. Compared to Mandarin, Taiwanese is …:
more useful in Taiwan 5%
richer in culture 56%
my preferred language to express my emotions 44%
my preferred language to learn 29%
my preferred language to speak to my friends 23%

5. Compared to Mandarin, English is … :
more useful in Taiwan 59%
richer in culture 67% a
my preferred language to express my emotions 4%
my preferred language to learn 19%b
my preferred language to speak to my friends 9%

6. Self-indicated proficiency in the following languages:
Respondents answered this questions on a 4-point scale. Results can be read as "41% of respondents indicated that their proficiency in Taiwanese was very good."
Taiwanese 41%
Mandarin 76%
English 7%

7. The language I want my children to speak is:
Taiwanese: 56%
Mandarin 79%
English 67%

8. Mandarin language education is the responsibility of:
The government 69%
The parents 31%

9. Taiwanese language education is the responsibility of:
The government 17%
The parents 83%

10. Primary schools in Taiwan should offer the following languages:
Taiwanese 18% (of respondents say so)
Mandarin 61%
English 12%
No opinion 9%

11. The "best language" for Taiwan is…:
Taiwanese 12.8%
Mandarin 83.1%
English 4.1% a

Vincient Siew praises Singapore model

Responding to questions about the fear of a single dominant party running the country, KMT VP candidate Vincient Siew praised the Singapore model as a good example of having one party in charge (the soft-authoritarian People's Action Party) and said the government can really get things done with this model.

I imagined that the KMT would seek to make a place for itself in Taiwan that equated to the PAP in Singapore or the LDP's traditional position in Japan as a "permanent majority" in a democratic framework (though I suppose it doesn't take too much imagining to expect a party to do so). Political offices lower than city councils are dominated solidly by the KMT; most city and county commissioners are also KMT members; and the new legislature will assure solid control by the KMT for the foreseeable future. The only really competitive election will be the presidential election.

Update: Siew later clarified his comment, saying the KMT is not suggesting Taiwan copy Singapore's soft authoritarianism.

And yet I note KMT lawsuits against the lawyers who prosecuted him, against the DPP for saying Ma was a student spy, and against a blogger for satarizing a politician. These are the sorts of things that can silence and bankrupt critics from all walks of life.

Map fully updated

I've replaced predictions with actual results at this point. The only thing left to do is input English names for the at large seats. I'm still wondering how the best use can be made of the map at this point, or if I should just abandon it.

Wang suggests constitutional amendments in two years

Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), speaker of the Legislative Yuan, yesterday expressed his support for an eventual amendment to the constitution regarding the legislature. He suggested that the current system should first be explored more thoroughly to see what its defects may be, and then to consider raising the number of seats and choosing a parliamentary system over the currently confusing semi-duel-head system.

The remarks did not contradict Ma Ying-jeou's statement that the KMT would not amend the constitution in the short term, but did starkly contrast in tone.

Chairman Hsieh wants a fresh start

Yesterday the DPP Central Standing Committee voted unanimously to make DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) the acting chairman of the party. Hsieh quickly made a few comments to outline his ideas and policy guidelines, including:

  1. A set of three pledges: not to buy votes, not to encourage violence, and not to stoke ethnic tensions.
  2. Uniting the party leadership apparatus with his campaign apparatus. This involved bringing in party heavyweights, including Secretary Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), Deputy Premier Chiu Yi-ren (邱義仁), DPP Party Secretary Chuo Rong-tai (卓榮泰), caucus whip Ker Chien-min (柯建銘) and former New Tide faction heavyweight Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) among others.
  3. A pledge to resign from politics should he lose the presidential election.
  4. Bringing in two of the former "11 bandits," Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉), who criticized Chen during the height of the Depose A-bian movement. This is significant because it shows the DPP is trying to heal it's internal wounds and is willing to allow, if not encourage, a break with A-bian.

There was also some discussion within the DPP, prompted mostly by Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), about the way several DPP cabinet members and deputies, particularly in the Education and Information ministries, have antagonized the public and should perhaps resign.

A-bian also mentioned he will retreat from the front lines for the presidential election. I'd call that a very good idea.

While UDN is reporting that the total defeat of the Taiwan Solidarity Union in the election has Ma and Hsieh battling for former President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) support, I think it's fair to expect he will come down on the green side in the end. I believe he already told Hsieh he'll endorse him.

Jan 14, 2008

Unmitigated Disaster

Well, maybe not, but I've been saying those two words all weekend.

Well, as you can see, I did not have a chance to get to a computer over the weekend, so I couldn't do any blogging about the election results [great .pdf from Taipei Times]. However, here are my general impressions.


Not even the KMT's rosiest predictions foresaw their overwhelming victory Saturday. The devastating DPP loss can be attributed to three main factors: the electoral system that favored a few constituencies that are KMT strong holds despite very small populations (although otherwise, the districts were drawn pretty fairly); an absolutely horrible campaign run by the DPP that focused on nationalism and the KMT's history while virtually ignoring the stagnant salaries and uncivil/incompetent cabinet members that are on people's minds; and a national focus on the irate President Chen Shui-bian as opposed to the legislature itself.

I agree with the general feeling that this is a repudiation of Chen more than a real expression of support for the KMT, although the anger is about domestic issues, not China policy (as the international media would like you to believe).


The destruction of the smaller parties is very sad news, and a third force will have to split itself along fewer lines to get any seats ... four years from now. Only one PFP member has a seat in that party's name, and he got elected under the old multi-member system which is still being used to select aboriginal legislators. The TSU and New Party failed to garner any seats, while the KMT has 81 seats; the DPP 27 seats; the blue-friendly NPSU 3; the PFP 1; and a single independent. As Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳), chief executive officer of Citizen Watch, pointed out:

Ho said it may be "exaggerated" to compare the results to the monopoly the KMT enjoyed in the 1990s, but the party now does have the power to determine the fate of all bills.

"We are worried that the KMT will propose bills to benefit itself between March 22 [the presidential poll] and May 20 [presidential inauguration]," he said....

Ho said he was willing to believe in the KMT's resolution to push reform, but that Citizen Watch would still seek promises by the KMT and the DPP to make the legislature more "transparent" ahead of the presidential election.

This includes making the legislature's video-on-demand system -- which records the proceedings of all open-door committee meetings -- available to the public, he said.
Although the legislature provides the full archive of the recordings, the system can only be accessed within the network of the Legislative Yuan....

"Expecting the KMT to exercise self-restraint would be a little bit like fishing in the air," [George Tsai (蔡瑋), a professor at Chinese Culture University's Sun Yat-sen Graduate Institute] said.

So get ready for some C-SPAN like action. Hot!

As Michael Turton pointed out, the numbers weren't actually all that bad for the DPP, but they won only about 25% of the seats despite getting about 35-40% support in most districts and 40% of the Blue camp's vote total in at large seats. Let's see how people react before the presidential election.

Now what?

So what comes next? The bad news is that I expect this new legislature's incumbents to be close to unbeatable and unlikely to push much-needed reforms such as eliminating the government funded 18% savings rate for civil servants, further banking reform and systematic oversight over government pork and graft. They'll also be able to try recall the president at any time, although the referendum condition attached to that will probably discourage them from using this provision lightly now that they can actually win.

I most fear Ma actually signing a peace agreement with China that eliminates any Taiwan independence option (think "no independence, no attack" clause) in the future and causes a domino-effect which sucks away US and Japanese support, who may see unification as an inevitable result. That would not mean the island would be eaten up right away. But some things are very hard to undo once they're done (like a peace agreement), and I don't like the idea of looming future unification.

On the other hand, the KMT could actually use its new found and stable power to push for a more clearly parliamentary system (and that could happen no matter who becomes president). That would be very good news in the long run. But other than this, I find myself at a loss to think of anything else they might do that would be very good.

And on every one's minds is the presidential election. But I think we're going to have to see how Hsieh campaigns in these two months before deciding what his odds of victory are, or what the fallout would be. No predictions on that quite yet, but let's hope the DPP shows a new face.

Will update the map soon. Maybe it can be converted to something that keeps track of legislators in some way and provides details on the strength of their support. I'll think about it.

Jan 11, 2008

Election result to be announced at ~10:30pm

So brace yourselves!

Foreign media on elections again

Here are the main articles:

AFP: Taiwan candidates stump on eve of vote

Bloomberg: Taiwan Voters Choose Between Closer China Ties, Local Identity

Reuters: Taiwan investigates 6,100 vote-buying allegations

DPA: BACKGROUND: Taiwan's revised parliamentary system

Oxford Analytica: Taiwan: year of the thaw

Rigger in WSJ

Professor Shelley Rigger has an article in the Wall Street Journal that does a pretty good job explaining the chances in the electoral system and some of the likely effects.

Jan 10, 2008


KMT legislative caucus leader Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) so considerately suggested that if First Lady Wu Shu-chen is "really" in such poor health, she should just stay home on Saturday instead of voting, just as she often stays at home or in the hospital instead of going to court. He said whether she votes or note will be "closely watched" by the opposition. Now that's classy.

China Post makes absurd claim

What else is new, right? From one of yesterday's editorials ...

According to reports, the largest opposition party will set up "trick-prevention task groups" island-wide, particularly in those counties and cities in the south where the KMT is not in control. In addition to supervisors officially recommended by the KMT, the party will assign more supporters to watch closely the whole process of balloting.

Because we all know properly monitoring an election involves watching those places you're not in charge of. This makes me believe the plan is to just complain of "irregularities" regardless of reality, in an attempt to further alienate the DPP administration from the voters.

Looking back on results of the presidential elections in 2004 and mayoral elections in Kaohsiung in 2006, we cannot but share the KMT's doubts about their validity, because the DPP won both elections by extremely small margins when the KMT candidates enjoyed huge leads in popularity in pre-poll opinion surveys. It is, therefore, reasonable to suspect the elections might somehow be rigged. A lack of effective ballot supervision might be a decisive factor in the KMT defeats.
Riiiight. If the consistently inaccurate pollsters are wrong, then the elections might "somehow" be rigged. God knows how, given the professionalism of the poll workers, the lawyers from both parties present, and the tape recorders, but "somehow." Also note -- the Liberty Times had a very accurate poll right before the Kaohsiung election showing a near dead tie with a thin victory for the DPP's Chen Chu. Why just ignore the only paper with accurate poll results for the last two elections?
Take the presidential elections in 2004, for example. It has been widely reported that many ballot supervisors from the "pan-blue" side, particularly those in southern Taiwan, did not show up at polling sites due to a variety of reasons such as fears of violence incited by "pan-green" radicals.
I guess by "widely reported" you mean "largely imagined."
Thus, with no opposition people watching, it was easy for the "pan-green" camp to tamper with the vote results by illegal means.
With four ballots in hand, voters tend to make mistakes in casting them. Some observers have already pointed out that such confusion is exactly what the administration intends to create -- to facilitate its manipulation of the elections.

Clearly absurd. I've already written one post today on this topic. And why not cite one such "observer?"

International media on legislative elections

A quick round up of some of the articles published in the last few days on the upcoming legislative elections:

Ralph Jennings of The Guardian has a piece on the centrality of improved economic relations from China in the upcoming election. My favorite parts:

Such sentiment could play a major role in legislative elections on Saturday and in the March 22 presidential race, which could help shape the future of ties with China.

Political issues involving Taiwan's often tense relations with China have dominated previous campaigns, but those matters will be less dominant this time, said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong.

"These issues will be less successful now because people are a little bit tired of it," he said. "Undecided voters especially believe the most pressing issue to be reviving the economy and the employment situation." ...

"Taiwan has a chance of shaking off its label as among the region's least productive governments in 2008," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Kim Eng Tan said in a news release.

But Tan said if legislative and presidential elections yield another split government it may result in more policy paralysis.

Next, an International Herald-Tribune piece by Yun-han Chu and Andrew J. Nathan. It focuses on the so-called moderate positions of both Ma and Hsieh on cross strait policy. Of course, such an interpretation requires ignoring certain statements on soverignty. Most interesting passage:

Both of the two major-party presidential candidates are moderates on cross-strait relations. Frank Hsieh (Hsieh Ch'ang-t'ing) is the candidate of the traditionally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. Although he would like Taiwan to be independent, he believes that China is too strong, U.S. support is too uncertain, and Taiwan's economic interests are too tied to the mainland to make a bid for independence realistic. He asserts that Taiwan "cannot avoid mainland influence. We must understand their nationalism, must dialogue and communicate. We cannot realize our hopes while having very tense relations with the mainland."

The candidate of the traditionally pro-unification Kuomintang (KMT) is the former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Ma would endorse Beijing's One China Principle to get negotiations started, but only if Beijing and Taipei can each interpret this principle in its own way, the two sides agree not to use force, and final-status issues are shelved for 30 to 50 years. Ma hopes the mainland might eventually be willing to accept a Chinese confederation with the Republic of China as a member.

OK, the Wall Street Journal has a rather wide-ranging piece by Perris Lee Choon Siong that covers the current "tensions," the discontent with Chen and the economy, the impact the election could have on the presidential elections, the new voting system and recent corruption scandals. Not too much stood out to me, but here's something:

A Jan. 1 poll conducted by the TVBS, a Taiwan television station, indicated that the Kuomintang could win 75 seats Saturday, with just 31 for Mr. Chen's DPP and the other seven shared by three smaller parties. Currently, the DPP holds the most seats of any single party, although the Kuomintang narrowly controls the legislature through alliances with smaller parties.

Taiwan polls have underestimated DPP support in the past, and analysts say it is possible for the Kuomintang to win big Saturday and still lose in March.

Next, a more interesting piece in the Vancouver Sun, this one by Jonathan Manthorpe. Interesting for it's ability to present some very different perspectives through the eyes of the various parties -- the KMT, DPP and CCP.

A particular worry for the Chinese authorities is that the island nation of Taiwan, to which Beijing lays claim, would seek to affirm its de facto independence in 2008 at a time when it is politically impossible for Beijing to launch an invasion....

The period when Beijing has foreseen that the administration of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) might invoke their strongly held belief in the islanders' right to self-determination is now upon us....

The island's official name is The Republic of China, a relic of the aftermath of the Second World War when the KMT government of China was defeated by the Communists in a civil war and fled to the island, where it established a military dictatorship that survived until 20 years ago....

The Washington administration of President George W. Bush, which usually claims to support democracies and which is duty-bound by domestic legislation to aid Taiwan if it is attacked [A-gu: not true, of course], has been seduced by this strange logic [that it is the Taipei government's drive for internationally recognized independence, rather than China's pledge to invade the island, that is the major threat to security in the region].

Well, there you have it. In just two days, we'll have our result ...

I mean seriously guys

Blogger Taiwan Echo, who keeps a close eye on the Chinese language blogs as well, found this gem: photos of KMT promotional materials, illegally attached to the voter notification forms by the low level local officials required to hadn them out (and who are overwhelmingly KMT). He first pointed this out, I believe, in a comment at The View from Taiwan.


Great map of stray dogs

The China Post had a great article today which included this link:

It's to a map showing picture sof stray dogs around Taiwan. Supporters can put up their own pictures and pinpoint the locations the pictures were taken. I think this could be a great tool to raise awareness of the stray situation in various parts of Taiwan. I encourage you to take some pictures to add! I will too.


Talking Show has said a couple of nights recently that if the KMT can control 2/3 of the seats, they can do anything, including amend the constitution. I was under the impression it required 3/4 of legislators present for a quorum and 3/4 of them voting in favor of something to amend the constitution. And then the amendments to go referendum. Did Talking Show just make a very bad mistake here, or did I miss something?

KMT makes more crazy claims

The CEC's decided this election to allow votes cast into the wrong box to still count. Remember, there's four ballots and four boxes. The boxes will be opened and counted one at a time. The final count will not be released, of course, until all four boxes are opened and counted. The entire process is monitored by lawyers and video taped.

KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) is asserting that this decision is aimed at intentionally de-railing the election. See, the idea is that in those districts where the vote count is very close between a DPP candidate and KMT candidate, vote counters may open another box and "suddenly discover" a large number ballots (the unspoken part being that these would be DPP votes). He says this will ruin the election, allow President Chen Shui-bian "to make another announcement" (a reference to martial law). Wu said, "This is already a very unfair election."

I mean, this is clearly just not true, and it's a total smear on the CEC. The reason to count votes from all boxes is that the KMT claimed in 2004 that the very high number of invalid votes indicated fraud on the DPP's part, hence the need for a recount. So the CEC decided to take away one of the main reasons people accidentally cast invalid votes (putting the ballot in the wrong box) and also to color code the ballots with matching colored boxes. Jesus Christ!


I guess KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou figured that wasn't enough crap for one day, and in the face of criticism from President Chen that the Communist Party and KMT are opposing the referendum hand in hand, Ma came out to say it was not the referendum the KMT was opposing, but "kidnapping" the election with the referendum. He claimed handing out the ballots at the same election was "incorrect and unfair," that the KMT was the main force behind passing the referendum law, and that the DPP is just trying to "kidnap, ruin and destroy the election."

Honorary KMT Chairman Lian Chan (連戰) also said that holding the referendum and regular elections together was illegal, but that the judges just "don't have the guts" to do anything about it. The KMT has repeatedly claimed that normal democratic countries to not hold referendum votes and other votes at the same time, that the action is illegal in Taiwan.

Sorry Lian Chan, but if it was illegal and you knew it, why did you fund and raise signatures for your own referendum knowing it would be held at the same time as the election? Why are you ignoring the decision by the high court that this is in fact legal under the current law (I'm not making that up, am I)?


The rhetoric coming out of the KMT on this stuff is totally out of control and paranoid. And I don't think they actually believe the DPP wants to derail democracy and the elections, but they're trying to convince voters of it. And the Pan-blue media plays right along. They can't possibly believe this shit.

Jan 9, 2008

3 days before election, and 10,000 vote buyers

That's the report from the Liberty Times. That's a lot of graft! A total of 5,669 cases involving 10,000 people are under investigation. The police all over the country have also made a sweep of gangs to prevent them from using violence to influence the election.

Also, a funny editorial on "dirty tricks" which focuses on the idiotic hyping of a rumor that Ma will be assassinated -- started by a western 'psychic' in Taiwan, the rumor has gotten lots of pan-blue airtime and Ma has talked about his security measures in response.

Jan 8, 2008

DPP goal still 50 seats

Frankly, I don't know why they are setting a goal I'd say is impossible. Perhaps they know more than I do, though. They have likely collected polls very close to the election date.

Nothing else is really happening now. All the campaigning at this time is more or less a repeat of the last month or two, and the campaigns aren't really doing anything fresh. Saturday will be the big day.

Do my eyes deceive me?

Have I gone crazy, or did a Taiwanese politician (in this case, Ma Ying-jeou) actually say something about the economy that made sense?

When responding to charges by DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh that the housing prices in Taipei City skyrocketed during Ma's term as mayor there, Ma responded: "Hsieh doesn't understand economics. Housing prices are decided by the market."

No shit! Welcome to an open economy! The government can do very little to control housing prices, stock prices, oil prices, food prices, or salaries (especially when so many people so willingly work overtime for free. No wonder wages are flat)! All of those are decided by the market.

Jan 7, 2008

Chinese reporting, "Constitutional one-China" and "one-China, two interpretations

After Michael Turton's latest post dissecting a Western media piece, I was compelled to show people the strange world of Chinese [PRC] reporting on Taiwan. Of course, this post is more of an aimless ramble.

Two interesting points; nearly all of the media pieces written in Taiwan you see on the People's Daily Taiwan sub-set website are actually direct copies from United Daily News or China Times with certain modifications (such as putting legislator in quotation marks to add a feeling of them being so-called legislators). These articles always slam the DPP and portray Ma in a positive light.

Second point: when China puts a piece up showing their own policy, we are reminded just how difficult it would be to reconcile the Chinese government's position with any self-respecting Taiwanese government.

Let's take some samples from a few articles. Article 1:


In regards to the Taiwan problem, Hu Jintao said that next year China wants to develop cross strait relations and promote steps aimed at reunifying the motherland under Jiang Zemin's eight-point proposal on the basis of "peaceful unification and one country, two systems." China will not cease its struggle for peaceful unification and its expectations for the Taiwanese people are unchanged. China will make no concessions on its opposition to the splittist activities of "Taiwanese independence" and will make peaceful cross-strait development its principle. China honestly cares about the welfare of those on both sides of the strait and will seek peace in the Taiwan region. China will continue to implement and expand its policies related to Taiwanese compatriots and will work hard for all of the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots. China will continue to push for the great task of unifying the motherland.

The real point to note is this: the frequent refrain of unification (not Ma's maintaining the status quo) and the insistence on the "one country, two systems" formula (China has not ever and will never accept "One China, two interpretations," which Ma Ying-jeou already knows but conveniently ignores -- and China won't derail his election hopes by shooting that idea down too publicly before the election! See for yourself -- a search of "one China, two interpretations" on the People's Daily websites shows hits only when they're quoting Ma in a UDN or China Times article. The PRC has never even used the phrase, but has only strongly denounced any "two China" formulas).

Article 2:   

[Scholar] Chen Kongli expressed that the popular opinion for cross strait policy is, "peace, reconciliation, cooperation, and a win-win scenario." Besides emphasising "curbing Taiwanese independence," the mainland also places importance on peaceful development, something which has won the support and recognition of the international community. Although there was no breakthrough in relations with Chen Shui-bian this year, it makes little difference if Ma or Hsieh is elected next year -- either win would create a situation better than what we have now.

So here again, as in the Western press, is this idea that Hsieh is a pragmatist, and that Chen is an ideologue who can't be talked to. This is based in part due on Hsieh's policy of the "One-China Constitution" which he spoke of even in the primaries, where it could have hurt him among the 1% of the Taiwanese population that constitutes the DPP party membership. Now, exactly what that position means practically has yet to be seen -- Hsieh also insists on Taiwan's sovereignty and independence from the People's Republic of China, and these two positions should give him some degree of wiggle room to cooperate with China and maintain Taiwanese sovereignty, should China be willing to consider the possibility. As then-Premier Hsieh said years ago when colorfully criticizing the "constitutional one-China" principle of James Soong:

Although the idea of a constitutional one-China is still controversial, at least it's a complete philosophy. As long as China can recognize the Republic of China constitution, and recognize the Republic of China, then the status quo can be maintained in the Taiwan strait; if the formula is contorted into a "one China on both sides of the strait," the Chinese would have no need to recognize the ROC constitution or the ROC itself. To merely switch a "constitutional one-China" for a "one China on both sides of the strait" formulation [without switching the substance] is wrong, the same as "switching underwear but wearing the same suit."

I am reminded in particular of an article published in the People's Daily in 2004 after Lien Chan said, "The Republic of China is not a part of the People's Republic of China." When asked if he would say there is one country on either side of the strait, he agreed, "You could say that."

The Chinese press quietly printed an article that said, more or less, "if this is political language designed just to win the election, then we can ignore it. If this represents a fundamental policy shift by the KMT, then there is no basis for further cooperation with them." As you could tell from the post-2004 situation, the KMT never brought it up again and neither did the Chinese side.

Sadly, although I saved that article to my laptop at that time, I have since lost it and have no way of recovering it. I also can't find it on the People's Daily website no matter how I search. I remember several key words, but it's not helping me much.

Jan 3, 2008


When Chen Shui-bian said the other day on Taichung radio that the KMT was acting like "'a woman who makes a row for no obvious reason" (像查某人在花), and then in his anger repeated "like a woman! like a woman!" I had no idea what he was thinking.

Recently I've been explaining and thinking of A-bian's behavior, even when offensive, as a plan to make Hsieh look very moderate. But this statement cannot possibly be part of a plan.

I really wonder if A-bian has lost it. Consider: his kids hate him being in politics (especially as the president), his wife is about to die, he and his wife face the possibility of sentencing ... I really think maybe he's just sick and tired of it all, or under too much stress, and fear he's going to go off the rhetorical deep end. Then again, I'm not sure what else he has left to say.