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Apr 30, 2008

Survey results

Global Vision Monthly Global Views,a Taiwanese magazine, just published a survey revealing some interesting results:

60% approve of Ma's performance so far
77% want Chinese tourists to come here
37% approve of Chinese investors buying housing here
45% support "maintain the status quo for now," a five year high for this survey.
8.4% support unification

The article does not mention how many support independence over the status quo or unification. Can't get my hands on the latest issue to check myself.

I think the fears of Chinese investors buying housing is somewhat justified. Speculation control and avoiding foreign control of property are both reasonable issues.

Ma in retreat on economic promises

Well, 6% yearly growth for four years might not be that easy after all, as Ma admitted. He's catching the appropriate flak from the Green camp.

Beijing concerned

Ma's recent statement that he would "bring up the 92 consensus less, and talk more about 'One China, two interpretations'" is likely to confuse Beijing some and could force Ma to raise the 92 consensus more often, at least.

The article linked above quotes an unnamed professor as guessing Beijing fears Ma taking a page from Lee Teng-hui's book and trying to think of relations as "a special state-to-state relationship."

Beijing has still refused to comment at all lately on 'One China, two interpretations.' Just do a google search for 一中各表 on say, You won't find much. I think they're going to try the tactic of only saying '92 consensus,' which they will define as "One China" and which Ma will define as "One China, two interpretations." I'm not sure how well that will work in practice.

"No bills to review?"

The premier reminds us the legislature is sitting on over 100 bills sent to it by the Executive Yuan. Hsieh Kuo-liang's blatant lie about the Legislature just being "too efficient" to have anything to do this week will probably just fade from people's memory in about 12 more hours.

Lien - Hu meeting

Honorary Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan and Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) met yesterday.

Taiwan News
and China Post both have stories on the meeting, but I found the most interesting aspect to be something highlighted in the Liberty Times story.

When VP-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) met with Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) met a few weeks ago at the economic conference, he raised a sixteen character phrase that he hoped would be the guiding principles of cross-strait relations:

"Face reality, start a new future, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation."
Well, today Hu Jintao responded in kind, using his own slightly modified formula:
"Establish mutual trust, seek common ground while reserving differences, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation."
Despite the similarity, you can tell what the priorities are from each party here: Taiwan would like China to face the reality that the ROC exists -- or at least stop denying it. China cannot echo this "face reality" phrase since it is code for admitting Taiwan is not simply a PRC province.

China, for its part, is willing to be flexible on a formula, but what they want is unification, and before they give any ground on Taiwan's status or allow Taiwan some international space, China wants commitments and policy that encourages unification and discourages independence options: that's what "establish mutual trust" means.

The Liberty Times downplayed the difference between the two choices of wording, but I think it reveals a lot about the problems facing future negotiations: The KMT wants China to give a little, but China wants to know the KMT is using the Chinese rule book first.

Incoming MOE chief speaks his mind

Some interesting remarks.

Education Minister-designate Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) said yesterday that the fate of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall will be decided by public opinion after he assumes his post May 20.

Cheng, who was named minister of education by Premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) Monday, made the remarks in response to questions by reporters.

Cheng said he will address the issue right after he takes office, but added that he does not expect a quick resolution and will leave the decisions up to the public.

Does that mean a referendum on the topic? Probably not.

The newly named minister of education, Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城), said yesterday he was supportive of the central government's current policy of not standardizing textbooks for middle school children, but stressed that he will listen to different opinions.

Cheng's view on textbook policy is contrary to that of Taipei City Government, which had decided and announced last year to standardize textbooks in the city so as to "ease the burden" on middle school students.

Apr 29, 2008

Tibetan suicide bombers?

ROME, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Cewang Rigzin, president of the separatist "Tibetan Youth Congress" (TYC), has preached seeking "Tibet independence" through suicide attacks.

"Maybe it is time now for the 'Tibetan People's Uprising Movement' to use the means of suicide attacks to carry on the struggle," Cewang Rigzin said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper recently.

It was time to change the "tactics of struggle" as "there are opportunities for the Chinese to take advantage of the line of non-violence," the TYC head said in the interview made in Dharamsala, India.

The TYC would seek to achieve "Tibet independence" as soon as possible at any cost, and the means of suicide attacks could be used, he said.
OK, I thought this sounded fishy. I believe Beijing wants the Tibetan Independence movement to be classified as a terrorist outfit, and they're looking for any "proof" they can find. China already arrests these guys within the country; the objective is probably to sully their international reputation.

But I thought it would be prudent to check the source, since it seems no English media other than Chinese ones are carrying the story. A few notes on what I found:

First, Tsewang appears to be the spelling Corriere della Sera used. He is from Portland, USA and was elected President of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest Tibetan non-governmental organisation in exile.

Here is the interview in question. Babelfish translation of the relevant part:
"I answer that the pacifism has lead to us on a dead-end track. About we it is spoken alone in episodic way, limited. We are forgets to you from the international community. Many beautiful words and then the null one. We watch instead as they are made to feel the Palestinian and the activists in Iraq thanks to the attacks you kill. The world-wide attention of the average is all for they ". Yes, but attention does not mean support. "We are in one deprived of hope situation. If the violence were not winning it would mean that also our cause it is. Instead we are losing ".
He specifically repudiates the Dalai Lama's non-violence as a failure.

So it appears the story is legitimate.

Lien Chan...

won't say"President" when referring to Chen Shui-bian in China, but uses the phrase "Taiwan leader" (台灣領導人).

What gives?

Your tax dollars at work

The KMT-dominated legislature is getting a day of paid vacation, having bottled up a number of laws in the Procedural Committee and having already passed a number of others on Friday.

The blue lawmakers are also shamlessly insisting there's just nothing to do today because they were so effecient passing legislation last week.

Besides my pet bill (the National Languages Development Law), the Procedural Committee also bottled up the Anti-Annexation Peace Law (反併吞和平法草案), which has been blocked for about three years now.

I've started to get a grip on the Blue strategy of bottling up green bills instead of just voting against them -- why bother with getting publicity for not passing the law, when it gathers only dust, not attention, when it's locked up in the committee? Why give any green initiatives any attention? And who wants to vote against an anti-annexation law?

Ma made promies to TSU chair

This detail of Lai's appointment had escaped me:

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) chairman yesterday vowed he would request Mainland Affairs Council chairwoman-designate Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) withdraw from her position if the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration fails to uphold the basic principles it promised to the party when dealing with cross-strait relations.

“As a responsible opposition party, we will continue to monitor the performance of the KMT government closely,” said TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝).

Huang said president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) visited him on Sunday night to ask for his approval of Lai’s appointment. Huang said they talked for about an hour and he laid down three principles for cross-strait policy, which Ma agreed with.

The KMT government must promise to safeguard national dignity, take care of the interest of the Taiwanese people and manifest Taiwan-centered consciousness, Huang said.
Michael Turton at The View from Taiwan, among others, believe Lai Shin-yuan's (賴幸媛) appointment means the MAC will become redundant and powerless. I hope he's wrong, but see no reason the KMT would prefer an open channel to backroom deals.

Other than Lai heading the MAC, there are a few cabinet posts of note. The Taipei Times reports:

Other appointees announced yesterday include National Chi Nan University president Chang Chin-fu (張進福) and former education minister Ovid Tseng (曾志朗), both of whom will be ministers without portfolio.

Former deputy defense minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) will return as minister of national defense.

Former National Chengchi University president Cheng Jui-cheng (鄭瑞城) will take over the Ministry of Education, while Lee Shu-te (李述德), director of the Taipei City Government secretariat, will head the Ministry of Finance.

Former deputy representative to Australia Vanessa Shih (史亞平) was nominated to be Cabinet spokeswoman and Government Information Office (GIO) minister, while former deputy finance minister Gordon Chen (陳樹) will head the Financial Supervisory Commission.

Former Taipei City Government Laws and Regulations director Cheng Ching-hsiu (陳清秀) was made head of the Central Personnel Administration and Chou Kung-hsin (周�?, chairwoman of the Graduate Institute of Museum Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University, will lead the National Palace Museum.

Former director of the Veterans Affairs Commission Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) will take charge of the commission again.

Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻), former president of National Tsing Hua University’s Nuclear Science and Technology Development Center, was appointed director of the Atomic Energy Council, while National Central University president Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) will become director of the National Science Council.

Jiang Yi-hua (江宜樺), a political science professor at National Taiwan University, will take over the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, while Huang Pi-twan (黃碧端), former president of the Tainan National University of the Arts, was made director-general of the Council for Cultural Affairs.

Former deputy Taoyuan County commissioner Fan Liang-hsiu (范良鏽) will be in charge of the Public Construction Commission, while Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡), a professor of physical education, will lead the Sports Affairs Council.

KMT spokesman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) will become director of the Council for Hakka Affairs.

Apr 28, 2008

TSU legislator to head MAC

Running counter to the pervasive mood of thawing cross-Taiwan relationship following Ma Ying-jeou`s victory in the presidential election, premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan announced designation of Lai Shin-yuan, former legislator of Taiwan Solidarity Union, as the chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council when he publicized the list of second-batch Cabinet members this morning.

Lai`s appointment is interpreted as an attempt of Ma to put a brake on the cross-Strait relationship, while appeasing the demand of the political green camp to uphold the sovereignty when dealing with China.

... Her appointment was widely believed to be out of the recommendation of former President Lee Teng-hui.
I think that analysis goes a little far in suggesting Ma is putting any breaks on the cross-Strait relationship, nor do I think this will appeal the pan-green camp much, but I don't know enough about Lai myself to say where she stands on those issues. The TSU was basically mish-mash of the most hardcore greens and the most pro-Lee blues, plus some opportunists, and I'm not sure which faction she's from.

Apr 25, 2008


Now that the final verdict has come down in Ma Ying-jeou 's case, Ma is considering a potentially large scale pardon for those undergoing special affairs funds investigations (including current VP Annette Lu) and even for President Chen's case that revolves around his special fund.

Chiu Yi (邱毅), scourge of the thinking man, has come out in favor of just locking up President Chen as soon as he's out of office (screw due process or anything else that someone on the Legal Committee should know about).

Another unnamed blue legislator is quoted as sarcastically suggesting Chen move a bit closer to the hospital so he can visit his wife more easily.


Legislative transparency, step one

The intra-party negotiations will now be recorded, which helps prevent certain backroom deals (to some degree; I doubt people's off-mic whispers will be recorded in any way).

There's still a need to record and air committee meetings, and the legislative sessions, while recorded, should probably be aired live. You can air the committee meetings on delay, but put it all out there for everyone to see!

On Ma's case

The Liberty Times reports on the Supreme Court's verdict on Ma's case, raising a fascinating fact: the court ruled that Ma's special allowance fund as mayor was a public fund, not some sort of special subsidy that could be used as a salary.

But the Court also said, “The prosecutors’ reasons for appeal were not solid. There was insufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. As a result, we decided to uphold the Taiwan High Court’s verdict.”

And, from what I can tell, the reason the appeal was insufficient was that Ma ended up donating the same amount of money he was pocketing, thus meeting the requirement to spend the money on public and not personal expenses.

I"ve been calling around ...

I called several legislators' offices yesterday to try and tried to promote the National Languages Development Draft Draft Law (國家語言發展草案). The bad news -- other than Chiang Yi-hsiung's rather directly saying this bill would get no attention -- is that I also realized the KMT think tank hates this bill, so it will not very likely get KMT support.

The good news was that I got a couple of them to promise me they'd look at the bill, talk to their fellow committee members and see about moving it up on the agenda. Chiang Ling-chun (江玲君) told me he'd ask around but that it doesn't sound like a high priority bill

And I learned something that I had only vaguely understood. Each committee has two (or more rarely, one) convening members. They're like chairs.

Only they have a right to set the agenda for each committee meeting (decide which laws will be reviewed by the committee and sent to the floor). You need a convening member's support to get your legislation on the review agenda.

And the DPP has no chairs on any of the normal committees (you know, Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defense, Education and Culture, Finance, etc.), nor on the Procedural Committee, nor the Disciplinary Committee. Which is to say, no chairs at all.

And this means no matter what bills the DPP brings up, the proposals have no chance of even getting voted on. The KMT can effortlessly bottle them up because there is no window for the DPP to influence committee procedures.

I guess somehow, I hadn't realized it was quite that bad.

Update: Clarification from a buddy:

"Well, it's not really the case. Committee conveners' job is to host meetings, though technically, they can boycott or promote certain bills with their power, but a convener isn't really that powerful.

It's the Procedures Committee (程序委員會) that decides which bill gets reviewed where and when--and the KMT has an absolute majority in that committee. I'd imagine, with only 27 members, even if there were DPP committee conveners, any DPP proposal can still be easily voted down with the overwhelming KMT majority."

Apr 24, 2008

Blue legislators slam civic watchdog

KMT legislators who got nailed for unsightly and even illegal behavior (Committee meetings should be all day, not just till lunch) have come out swinging against the Citizen Congress Watch (公民監督國會聯盟).

Whoa: the legislators will even sue the watchdog over the numbers. Now that's intimidation for those trying to do government oversight work.

I'm not interested in translating their lame excuses, denials and smears, but there's the link.

Final verdict for Ma here

ICRT reports: "The Taiwan Supreme Court is due to announce its verdict on President-elect Ma
Ying-jeou's case of special discretionary funds very soon. Ma has been acquitted by both the Taipei District Court and the Taiwan High Court."

Don't expect the Supreme Court to overturn the lower verdicts, especially now, and very likely for political reasons: there would be riots, and I doubt the KMT would accept the validity of the ruling.

Someone who read the first verdict mentioned it basically says "This was technically illegal, but so widespread we can't hope to prosecute these cases, and Ma had no intent to break the law," and although that's a pretty shoddy legal basis for an 'innocent' verdict, I think it's just too late. The Supreme Court will not be willing to be the reason the country descends into chaos.

Oh, here's the full text of the Taipei District Court's decision. I especially love this reason for the innocence verdict:

九、 被告未曾如起訴書所載之自白特別費為公款情事

(Roughly) 9. The defendant did not believe, contrary to the prosecution's claim, that the special affairs fund was only for public use.
Point three is quite similar. Well, legally, that's probably true. But Ma did clearly state he knew it was only for public use long before the case came to light.

Of course, that isn't admissible in court.

Update: here's the final verdict. Ma's in the clear.

Re: the shadow cabinet

A potential problem with the DPP's new shadow cabinet: if a 'politically retired' Frank Hsieh is going to form this with a bunch of the party's young talent, just how well coordinated will the organization be with the incoming party chairman? Is it OK for the shadow cabinet to be out of the DPP's control?

Tardiness report for Legislative Committee meetings

Citizen's Congress Watch, a civic organization which seeks to monitor the Legislative Yuan and increase its transparency (taping all Committee meetings, opening up the meetings to outside observers, etc).

They've recently released a report on how punctual the new legislature is for their committee meetings, and let's just say not everyone gets out of bed early enough:


the legislature has eight committees, and the most habitually late starter is the Traffic Committee, which starts an average of 28 minutes late (or about 9:30 am). Tied for second-worst are the Health and Environment Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee, with start an average of 9.25 minutes and eight minutes respectively.
Update: The legislators also hold committee meetings for an average of just 3.1 hours, or just until lunch, and then spend the afternoon ... not working.

Language law (again)

I just got done talking to an aid in the office of KMT Legislator Chiang Yi-hsiung (江義雄). He is one of the heads of the Education and Culture Committee which is currently looking at the National Languages Development Draft Law (國家語言發展草案).

Let's just say Chiang's staff was refreshingly honest. When I asked about Chiang's opinion for the law, the staff took my number and said she would call me back a few minutes later.

And her answer was clear: Chiang believes this is a low priority law, not nearly as important as those dealing with people's livelihoods, so it won't be dealt with for a while.

When I asked for how long "a while" is, I was told it will probably never get out of committee. Chiang's staff directly stated another problem was that the DPP led Executive Yuan brought this bill up, so after 5-20 "the Minister of Education will probably have a different viewpoint."

I'm going to launch a drive to save this law. I'll try to get attention through a few major portals (like Taigu-bang and Social Force) who might care about this law.

But since it needs blue support, I also need to woo blue people into applying pressure. Anyone know of Blue-friendly Chinese-language sites I can use to increase support?

Note: text of bill again.

Morning links

The Liberty Times reports that the DPP will scrap a policy which excluded blue voters from its own primary-related polls.

The Taipei Times: President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he would present a revised budget to the legislature by July to facilitate new government policies.

Again, the Taipei Times: A group of Aboriginal people who reside mainly in the area between Hualien and Nantou counties were recognized yesterday as the Sediq, the country’s 14th distinct indigenous group.

The China Post: "The Council of Agriculture (COA) has revamped major agricultural policies, including raising the production of rice and feed corn and growing wheat for food, to cope with skyrocketing grain prices and a possible international food shortage."

Apr 23, 2008

Language laws

As we all recall (OK, maybe only me), this bill, which aimed to give official protection to all Taiwanese languages, has been stalled for years now. I translated an early draft sometime in 2003, I think.

Well, the latest incarnation appeared in February of this year, when the Executive Yuan started what will likely be one last try to pass the law.

It's currently passed the first reading and is languishing in the Education and Culture Committee.

If you want to help, contact those members on the committee and encourage them to pass this bill. Fax or phone calls are probably most effective. You'll see the committee is absolutely dominated by blues, so we need strong blue support on this. Focus especially on the chairs (in red) and the most loud and influential legislators on the list (Diana Lee and Hong Hsiao-chu).

 林正二  江義雄
 江玲君  李慶安  林淑芬  洪秀柱  郭素春
 陳亭妃  黃志雄  楊瓊瓔  管碧玲  趙麗雲

In addition, the list of 1,500 proposed standardized characters for Taiwanese (a short list since most words have obvious Mandarin cognates) should be released by the end of this month, according to my last correspondence with the MOE.

Lee: Unification/Independence confrontation over

Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), former president and now spiritual leader to the Taiwan Solidarity Union, has made a prophetic-sounding statement in the wake of the TSU's total defeat in the election.

First, the TSU's next moves: dissolve the Central Standing Committee, have a re-registration drive for party members, create a 'Friends of the TSU' organization for those who are sympathetic but not interested in joining the party itself, and switch models to a "soft party."

For those unclear on the soft party/hard party distinction: the major parties in the US are soft. The party apparatus at a national level can influence candidates and members only in a limited manner. Party membership cannot be revoked for voting against the party line -- whether you're a legislator or a citizen voting in the general election. And in general, candidates are ultimately responsible to their constituency, meaning that the Democratic Party of California is very different from the Democratic Party in Kansas or Alaska, just as New York Republicans are quite a different lot than Texas Republicans.

Hard parties, like the ones in Israel, Russia and the KMT and DPP themselves, have a much stronger and centralized decision making apparatus with greater accountability for party members and legislators to the party's central committee.

I heartily endorse the TSU's decision to become a soft party and hope very much the DPP consider the same, but I doubt that will happen very much.

President Lee Teng-hui, in public remarks following the TSU's meeting, said that "the era of confrontation over unification or independence is over," and that what Taiwan needs most right now is a good opposition party which would monitor the government.

I think the unification/independence issue is about to get complicated enough that it won't much resemble the old era, but considering it's an unsettled issue, I don't see how it can be over.

It must be cloudy ...

Because news on the future DPP shadow cabinet hasn't surfaced in three days. Unless you count this brief mention in the Apple Daily.

Morning wrap up

The DPP is still duking it out over whether opinion polls, upon which the nomination process partly depends, should or shouldn't exclude habitually blue voters from the polls. The issue will probably be brought up at tomorrow's DPP Central Committee meeting.

For fear that a primary will tear the party apart, the DPP is considering "negotiating" it's next chairman among the candidates rather than actually holding a vote. But this appears increasingly impossible, as Koo (辜) and Chai (蔡) have no intention of bowing out for the younger Tsai (蔡), who is apparently the general favorite.

On a personal note, I think the few DPP press conferences I've seen recently are filled with a disproportionate amount of whining about relatively small issues.


An editorial appears today in the pro-blue and increasingly tabloid-like China Times criticizing Ma Ying-jeou for breaking one of his key election promises -- to separate his administration from the party apparatus -- before he's even taken office.

Specifically, the edotiral notes the decision to appoint Chan Chun-po (詹春柏), a KMT Vice Chairman and Ma's campaign manager this election, as the Presidential Secretary-General. Chan has indicated he has no intention of resigning his Vice Chairmanship of the party after taking this new office. The article reminds the reader that the KMT has already set up a mechanism for party-administration communication, and there's no particular reason Chan has to hold both offices -- except to wield greater influence over both party and administration.

It also notes that KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤), the newly minted Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman-designate, is said to want to hold onto his position within the party.

What the editorial does not mention, but we touched on yesterday, was the failure of any nominees to live up to Ma's promise of crossing party lines and emphasizing ability, not party affiliation, when selecting cabinet appointees.

Apr 22, 2008

When's the next election?

I was asking mostly for selfish reasons (such as "Ooh, I can make a new map!" and "Maybe the DPP won't get creamed!"). And since Taiwan has a major election every single year thanks to the gradual democratization process that left elections on different dates, there's always one around the corner!

The Election of County Magistrates, County Councilmen, and Township Governors will take place in December 2009. There's a pretty good English article on Wikipedia on how the last election went in 2005 here, and some nice tables in the Chinese version here. Some likely candidates for bigger posts are listed in Chinese here.

The election turnout in 2005 was actually surprisingly high, in the 64-70% range on average. Pretty impressive.

The still more local elections, for village and borough wardens (村里長 -- you can find yours here), in which vote buying is absolutely rampant (over 800 cases in Taipei city in 2006), doesn't get the same turnout but depends on mobilization. The village and borough warden elections are run by local election commisisons. These elections look like they'll be held next in July of 2010.

Here's the law regarding the rules for running for / being impeached from these offices. ROC citizens 23/26/30 years of age and older can run (smaller offices = younger age).

In any case, I'm glad to see the DPP has also recognized the importance of doing better in local elections and building itself from the bottom up.

After the election defeat, I mused about what the DPP needs to do next. The short list was:

  1. Implement a 19 counties strategy (if you count the municipalities, 21) -- looking like the DPP is on the right track here! At least they are seeing the importance of winning more locally, though we'll have to see if they actually can get the wins.
  2. Define core issues and increase autonomy. -- This will depend a lot on who the next chairman is. By autonomy, I really mean 'room for dissent from the party line.'
  3. Form a shadow cabinet. -- DPP is doing this! I can't help but fantasize that it's all because of my little e-mail to the chairman.
  4. Highlight legislative work. -- Only time will tell.
  5. Improve the legislators' professional image. -- Here too, too early to say. But the whole party apparatus will have a more professional image if Tsai Ing-wen wins the chairmanship, and that's a great start.

56% like Ma's cabinet

A TVBS opinion poll, outrageously blue, indicates (video) a mere 56% support rating for Ma's incoming cabinet list. I find this surprising as it indicates Ma's honey moon could be even shorter than expected. This is 2% less than the percentage of people who voted for him!

One possible explanation is that the list is more partisan than Ma originally indicated, when he talked vaguely about crossing party lines and focusing entirely on expertise (to be fair, lots of the members are affiliated with the KMT think tank, which is at least some cross between expertise and partisanship, so not all these guys are totally party hacks, especially the incoming Finance Minister who has worked under both the Lee and Chen administrations).

Then again, probably nobody took those promises seriously.

More on the shadow cabinet

David Young at the China Post has a few details:

[The shadow cabinet] won't be exactly like the one an opposition party in the United Kingdom has, DPP sources said yesterday.

What Hsieh has in mind after he quits on May 25 is to give work to those young political appointees who will lose their jobs when the change of government takes place.

Hsieh has promised not to run for any public office after he was routed by Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang in the presidential election on March 22.

But Hsieh hopes to impart the experience he gained as mayor of Kaohsiung and premier to a group of young DPP leaders, sources said.

"That's the overt rationale for Hsieh's shadow cabinet, which will keep a watchful eye on the incoming Kuomintang government," one source pointed out.

In other words, Hsieh will be the premier of his shadow cabinet leading a bunch of minister-trainees.

On the other hand, sources said, Hsieh had the DPP legislative caucus recommend that the party set up a think tank, like the National Policy Foundation the Kuomintang created after it lost power in 2000.

Those who have served as cabinet ministers will be recruited to man the DPP think tank. Scholars and experts will also be asked to join.

They will do research to help form policies for the DPP.

"Together," one DPP source said, "the shadow cabinet and the think tank will watch the new Kuomintang administration, while the party legislative caucus will rely on them for policy research."

The DPP, which now controls a mere 27 seats in the Legislative Yuan, will try to provide checks and balances with Hsieh as the undeclared leader.

Ok, well all the sources are unnamed, but it sounds plausible enough. And maybe not the ideal form for the institution.

Still, it's better than nothing, and the think tank isn't a bad idea either (Taiwan Thinktank is green, but was more affiliated with the TSU. Don't know what they'll do now).

Edit: Looks like the first mention of this shadow cabinet was published in the media as early as the 10th. Guess I wasn't paying close enough attention. In any case, whether it's because Frankie liked my message or not, I'm glad they're moving forward with this policy.

Weekend Review

A few things happened over the weekend and Monday. The Taipei Times reports here on the incoming cabinet. No comment on that yet -- I don't feel well informed enough to say anything about most of these people.

Most exciting for me (since I sent an email suggestion to him about this after the election), Frank Hsieh announced plans for a shadow cabinet, though he says it would be a "civic group," and seemingly not be officially affiliated with the party. However, according to the China Times, the idea for a shadow cabinet was a consensus in a DPP meeting held to thrash out a reform plan, so it should have some serious ties to the DPP.

Hsieh must have anticipated some raised eyebrows over the apparent conflict between setting up a shadow cabinet and his promise to quit politics, but Hsieh assures us there's no conflict whatsoever. We'll have to wait and see what role he plays.

Personally, I hope there's some sort of conflict. Is a shadow cabinet any good if it can't be used by the DPP as a platform builder? The idea is to showcase the guys you would want running the various ministries, so you want this to be less a civic group and more a political entity. Of course, it's great if the shadow cabinet isn't' a bunch of party hacks but pragmatic experts in their field, which might be harder to guarantee with a party organization. So I guess we'll have to see exactly what sort of shadow cabinet is formed.

As the Liberty Times article points out, Frankie didn't tell us where and when he would establish this shadow cabinet, and I've heard few other details. It hasn't been reported on too heavily,
partly because the real cabinet is being announced now and partly because if you say "shadow cabinet," everyone here would say "what's that?"

Apr 18, 2008

Latest legislation

I know I'm just stating the obvious here, but we all recall the KMT-dominated legislature whining and crying about a moribund DPP administration, and you should recall all the KMT statements of how they would "take all responsibility" if they are given a chance to run things in the presidency.

So far, between 3-28 and 4-8, despite still not actually controlling the presidential office, the KMT legislators were suddenly revitalized and started passing laws, many of which increase funding for special interest groups and start local infrastructure projects. Other bills are more ideological or are meant to make closer economic relations with China easier.

Here is a full list of what bills have been brought since the presidential election.

The point I'm making is just that this demonstrates how little the KMT needed the presidency to start doing some of these things, and how certain projects like the Aboriginal-related efforts were at the top of the agenda as soon as the election was over -- despite years of stagnation in committee.

970408 就業服務法第五十五條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1537委7888 0001-0006  
970408 所得稅法第十七條及第三十六條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 225委7890 0007-0014  
970408 勞工保險條例第五條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 468委7891 0015-0018  
970408 農會法第十八條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 959委7892 0019-0020  
970408 工會法第四條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 977委7889 0021-0022  
970408 自由貿易港區設置管理條例部分條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 454委7893 0023-0028  
970408 職業學校法第四條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 988委7894 0029-0032  
970408 司法官法草案 07屆01期06次 445委7895 0033-0082  
970408 兒童教育與照顧法草案 07屆01期06次 932委7896 0083-0108  
970408 電業法第三十四條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 660委7897 0109-0112  
970408 立法院職權行使法第七十一條之一條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 23委7898 0113-0114  
970408 公職人員利益衝突迴避法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1627委7899 0115-0118  
970408 公職人員財產申報法第七條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1557委7900 0119-0122  
970408 法院組織法第十七條之二條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 647委7901 0123-0126  
970408 道路交通管理處罰條例第六十五條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 756委7903 0127-0130  
970408 刑事訴訟法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 161委7904 0131-0144  
970408 社會救助法第五條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1037委7909 0145-0148  
970408 國籍法第四條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 940委7910 0149-0150  
970408 臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第十七條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1554委7911 0151-0154  
970408 臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第二十四條及第三十五條條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1554政11212 0155-0158  
970408 就業服務法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 1537政11213 0159-0168  
970408 所得稅法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 225政11214 0169-0192  
970408 漢生病病人補償條例草案 07屆01期06次 1780政11215 0193-0196  
970408 勞工保險條例部分條文修正草案 07屆01期06次 468政11216 0197-0206  
970328 農民健康保險條例增訂第四十九條之一條文草案 07屆01期05次 1475委7839 0001-0002  
970328 農民健康保險條例第十九條及第三十六條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1475委7840 0003-0004  
970328 工廠管理輔導法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1255委7843 0005-0008  
970328 工廠管理輔導法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1255委7870 0009-0014  
970328 財務罰鍰處理暫行條例修正草案 07屆01期05次 56委7844 0015-0018  
970328 農產品標示法草案 07屆01期05次 1081委7848 0019-0028  
970328 科技保護法草案 07屆01期05次 1021委7849 0029-0038  
970328 所得稅法第十一條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 225委7861 0039-0042  
970328 所得稅法第三十六條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 225委7865 0043-0044  
970328 所得稅法第十七條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 225委7883 0045-0054  
970328 勞工保險條例第十二條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 468委7862 0055-0058  
970328 勞工保險條例第三十二條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 468委7866 0059-0062  
970328 公司法第一百九十八條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 618委7863 0063-0066  
970328 有線廣播電視法第五十一條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1562委7864 0067-0068  
970328 農業科技園區設置管理條例第四十二條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1204委7867 0069-0070  
970328 總統副總統職務交接條例草案 07屆01期05次 1679委7868 0071-0074  
970328 行政院組織法修正草案 07屆01期05次 70委7869 0075-0086  
970328 地方民意代表費用支給及村里長事務補助費補助條例第七條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1554委7871 0087-0090  
970328 敬老福利生活津貼暫行條例第三條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1619委7872 0091-0092  
970328 原住民敬老福利生活津貼暫行條例第三條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1619委7873 0093-0094  
970328 原住民族傳統土地回復條例草案 07屆01期05次 1722委7874 0095-0102  
970328 原住民族工作權保障法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1722委7875 0103-0106  
970328 原住民部落頭目文化傳承保存法草案 07屆01期05次 1722委7876 0107-0112  
970328 鐵路法第七條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 380委7877 0113-0116  
970328 勞動基準法第五十四條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1121委7878 0117-0118  
970328 中華民國各級學校家長參與教育事務法草案 07屆01期05次 567委7879 0119-0128  
970328 自由貿易港區設置管理條例部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 454委7880 0129-0132  
970328 財政收支劃分法修正草案 07屆01期05次 705委7881 0133-0172  
970328 遺產及贈與稅法 07屆01期05次 24委7882 0173-0190  
970328 公共場所母乳哺育條例草案 07屆01期05次 1073委7884 0191-0194  
970328 再生能源發展條例草案 07屆01期05次 1798委7846 0195-0208  
970328 民法繼承編施行法增訂第一條之二條文草案 07屆01期05次 1150委7887 0209-0212  
970328 中央行政機關組織基準法第二十九條及第三十一條條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1767委7886 0213-0214  
970328 管理外匯條例增訂第十九條之三條條文草案 07屆01期05次 254政11184 0215-0217  
970328 國際金融業務條例增訂第五條之二條文草案 07屆01期05次 254政11184 0215 ; 0218-0220  
970328 就業保險法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1801政11205 0221-0226  
970328 天然氣事業法草案 07屆01期05次 1383政11206 0227-0250  
970328 能源管理法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 1053政11207 0251-0260  
970328 再生能源發展條例草案 07屆01期05次 1798政11208 0261-0270  
970328 工廠管理輔導法修正草案 07屆01期05次 1255政11209 0271-0288  
970328 礦業法增訂第六條之一及第七十二條之一條文草案 07屆01期05次 438政11210 0289-0292  
970328 公路法部分條文修正草案 07屆01期05次 462政11211 0293-0297  


Taipei Times:

The poll, conducted by the [DPP's] Poll Center on March 26 and March 27, questioned 1,043 adults. More than 69 percent of the respondents said any major accords signed between Taiwan and China must be put before the people of Taiwan in a national referendum. Only 26 percent said the accords did not need the approval of the people....

The poll also found that more than 88 percent of respondents agreed that Taiwan and China are two sovereign nations independent from each other, while only 8 percent of respondents said they were not....

The poll also discovered that nearly 82 percent of the people surveyed disagreed that the result of the March 22 presidential election indicated that the majority of Taiwanese were now more likely to accept unification with China.
Seems like good news and a fairly good indicator of the public mood. Obviously, the questions are stacked to produce answers the DPP likes, but that's how you control the debate -- frame the questions.

I'm glad to see strong support for a referendum upon those lines.

Race is shaping up

Update 2: Ok, Tsai has registered. It's looking very much like a three way race. I doubt someone will run in at the last minute and sign up. Half an hour left of registration. Michael You will not be running.

Update: Tsai Ing-wen is said to plan a 3:00 pm registration. It's 3:15 now and still no official written reports, but I hope it's solid and we can get final confirmation on her registration soon.

Liberty Times is reporting Koo Kwan-min and Tsai Ing-wen will both register today (the article says the chances of Tsai registering are 'very very high,' according to unnamed sources in the party). Yeh Chu-lan hasn't tipped her hand yet.

So it could be a three way race between Trong Chai (蔡同榮), a long time legislator, businessman and Independence activist in the US; Koo Kwan-min (辜寬敏), a former presidential adviser to Chen and long time independence activist in Japan; and Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the new blood and professional image as opposed to coming from the activist's mold.

Apr 17, 2008

Why I want Tsai Ing-wen to run

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has a few virtues that make her a good candidate:

+ She has a very professional image and is widely admired by the public and probably has the most cross-party appeal of any candidate.
+ She has avoided all the partisan infighting and rarely makes public comments outside the scope of doing her job.
+ She's Hakka, and the DPP has to more actively court Hakka voters!
+ She's 51, making her experienced but much more vibrant than the 70+ year old candidates.
+ She's clean: no scandals.
+ She's worked for both the KMT and DPP governments in very professional capacities related to law and economics.

Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏) WILL register for party chair race

That's the latest.

Taoyuan Aviation City

Update: Michael Turton notes in the comments:

A free trade zone for the airport has been in proposal and discussion since at least 2002. I've seen several academic studies on it in the course of my editing.

The Legislative Yuan is moving fast to make travel to Taiwan easier and to set up a new investment zone in Taoyuan County. As you may recall, Taoyuan County is relatively over-represented (compared to Tainan) in the new legislature, but I'm not sure how big of a factor that is here.

In any case, I've attached some photos of some of the more interesting sections of the draft bill. First, a summary of what's happening:

04/16/2008 (CENS)

The transportation committee of the Legislative Yuan passed a majority of the articles of the draft "special statute for Taoyuan International Airport," which envisions the setup of an extensive aviation city comprising not only the airport but also various economic zones, all under the management of an administrative body.

The statute is meant to turn around the development of Taoyuan International Airport, which has lagged seriously behind other airports in the neighboring areas in recent years. Chu Li-lun, Taoyuan county magistrate and mastermind of the statute, noted that the statute has been formulated not only for the benefits of Taoyuan residents but also for the entire nation.

Government officials, though, have strong reservation over the bill. Yu Fang-lai, vice minister of transportation and communications, noted that it needs cross-ministry discussion, as well as inputs from various walks of the society, over the project, since the latter involves revisions of various existing laws. An official of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which oversees Taoyuan airport now, dubbed the projected aviation city "virtually an independent nation," free from adequate supervision....

The projected aviation city will cover 6,150 hectares of space, consisting of the airport, an airport special area, a free-trade port area, an industrial zone compatible to the airport, a trade exhibition park, a residential area, a sophisticated agriculture area, and a coastal recreational area, all under the management of an administrative body, whose board directors will be appointed by the Executive Yuan (the Cabinet).

Now some of the more interesting provisions of this bill (full version pdf here). The DPP is complaining about most of the amendments below.

Article 51

This would allow Chinese businessmen coming to Taiwan to come on landing visas, which would certainly simplify the process for these visitors. It would more or treat them as other foreign businessmen get treated.

From what I can tell in the legal text to the right, this would not apply to all visitors equally, but rather would be some sort of preferential treatment for Chinese businessmen coming here. As far as I can see, tourist groups would still be applying for visas.

Article 60, 61

Article 60 would allow foreign doctors to operate within the special Taoyuan Aviation City outside of the scope of normal Taiwan's normal regulations. This will undoubtedly be opposed by Taiwanese doctors.

Article 61 would make English and Chinese the official languages of documents produced by government offices within the Aviation City. (The DPP is not complaining about this, but I found it interesting).

Article 53

This article would provide various tax incentives for investors in the zone. Details aren't that interesting, but the "explanation" on the right is: it lists how Taiwan's tax incentives compare to other countries in the world, including even Ireland, to argue that Taiwan needs to create these incentives to maintain a competitive edge.

'Arms found' in China monasteries

So says this BBC report, quoting Xinhua.

How likely is this? It seems to me like a plan to get the Tibetan activists classified or at least treated the same way as Xinjiang separatists -- that is, as terrorists.

Apr 16, 2008

Michael You may run for DPP chairman

Deputy DPP Secretary-General Michael You (游盈隆) may run for DPP chairman. He's only 52 and formerly the Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman and Ketagalan Institute Vice President.

He will decide before the end of the week if his hat's in the ring.

Legislator Yeh Yi-chin and former deputy premier Tsai Ing-wen have supporters pushing for them to run at this time, too.

Chang Chia-lun (張家倫), a younger candidate,has also formerly registered, being only one of two candidates to do so thus far (Chai Trong-rong is the other).

A practical political question

Assuming that Chinas agree to Ma's "One China, Two Interpretations" framework (or at least agrees to ignore details beyond 'One China'), and again assuming negotiations start soon with economic agreements and perhaps even a political document following in the wake ...

What will the DPP do in 20012? Can they afford to abandon the "One side, one country" (一邊一國) formulation as a core value? Can they afford not to?

If the swing voters would otherwise prefer the DPP candidate, but fear some strong Chinese backlash -- including an end to any security agreement or special investment privileges -- will the KMT appear to be the only practical vote?

That is, will the agreements Ma is likely to achieve within one term lock even the DPP into a "One China" framework?

Alternately, will a competing "One side, one country" or "Sovereignty and Independence" (主權獨立) platform from the DPP drastically increase the likelihood of Chinese aggression now that the incoming KMT government will accept a "One China?"


The Legislative Yuan is examining legislation that would tape all inter-party negotiation sessions to make them more transparent.

I'm still waiting for my dedicated cable channel for committee meetings and floor sessions. Helloooooo C-SPAN!

Where are the numbers?

If anyone took polls to determine exactly how the DPP lost, I sure haven't heard about it.

You would (should) expect the DPP to want very detailed polling numbers showing how it did with different age groups, ethnic groups, ages, classes and genders -- the day after the election, I saw what was probably an unscientific poll suggesting the DPP did as well as the KMT among men but lost big with women. That's the kind of thing that can help the DPP find a way forward.

There are also apparently no numbers showing which issues voters considered most important heading into the polls and which they considered least important. That's also the kind of data the DPP needs to stay on message to different groups -- obviously, deep and light green supporters would want to hear something different at fund raisers and rallies.

I can't for the life of me figure out why nobody conducted such polls?

Some useful links for the future

Wilderness Survival
Edible wild plant identification [Chinese] here
Building a bird trap here
General traps: here

Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare
Mao on Guerrilla warfare
Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS)India

Apr 15, 2008

DPP will try to re-build local support

China Post says that according to its "understanding," Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) and Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) will run to be Taipei County Commissioner and Taichung City Mayor respectively.

This report follows rumors that Hsieh wanted Lee Ying-yuan to run for the party chairmanship. I suspect that despite calls for someone in the younger camp to take over the reigns as party chairman, it's not that practical. It'll probably be an old heavy hitter who can win popular support and hold the party together.

Bring home the bacon!

[Lawmakers yesterday] passed resolutions to extend the Taichung MRT route to Taiping (太平) and Dali (大里) of Taichung County and the Taichung Port and to stretch the Kaohsiung MRT route all the way to the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan County and to Pingtung County.

Two of the proposals were made by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福), who represents a district in Taichung, while another resolution was proposed by KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), who represents a district in Kaohsiung.

Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Nuan-hsuen (何煖軒) said the ministry simply cannot afford to construct all the train routes proposed by the legislators....

He said on average, each kilometer of a MRT line costs approximately NT$4 billion. He said that the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA), the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp and freeway bus operators should be key transportation carriers between cities.

The ministry said it has budgeted NT$5 million this fiscal year for Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems to evaluate the feasibility of extending the Airport Rail System to Sijhih (汐止) in Taipei City and Keelung.

The ministry also said the Airport Rail might not be able to launch on time, as contractors are unwilling to handle government projects due to rising prices of steel and other construction materials.

On Constraints

Michael Turton writes on the conventional wisdom that Taipei and Beijing have domestic constraints that limit how far and fast negotiations can go. Michael is rightly skeptical about just what can constrain the KMT from selling out Taiwan's sovereignty, and I would like to point out this article appearing in the China Daily. It summarizes a Financial Times article, but there is one line I find particularly noteworthy:

The resumption of dialogue will come "faster than expected", the Financial Times commented.

So let me get this right: (1) Media gets excited about Ma Ying-jeou winning since that would improve ties with China; (2) Media tells itself improved relations will take time, based largely on Ma's pre-election posturing; (3) Media then suggests dialogue will resume "faster than expected."

Don't forget, as Michael points out, that a lot must have already been discussed in the official but secretive channels between the KMT and CCP itself, so you know the first few gambits have already been discussed. And don't forget, Ma is openly for unification; he's just been forced to posture in such a way as to put off unification for a generation, though I am sure he will work to make it the most likely or even the only option.

One other thing about that China trip

I saw on Talking Show on Saturday that China sent Chen Yun-lin (陳雲林) and the vice-governor of Hainan province to meet Taiwan's VP-elect Vincent Siew when he arrived at the Boao Forum.

You know, since it's only polite to send out someone of equal status, right?

Next DPP chair

Could Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), "the Godfather of the Taiwan Independence Movement," become the next DPP chairman? Perhaps!

Also, some are pushing for Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄) to come out and run, but don't count on it.

Further, the younger faction of the party is meeting tomorrow, probably to come up with their own candidate. Trong-rong Chai (蔡同榮) is already suggesting the youth faction is not committed enough to a Taiwan-oriented policy, a serious accusation within the DPP.

Apr 14, 2008

Did monks plant a bomb?

Nine monks held after Tibet blast

By Richard McGregor in Beijing (Financial Times)

Published: April 14 2008 02:46 | Last updated: April 14 2008 02:46

Nine monks have been arrested in Tibet for detonating a home-made bomb inside local government offices, Beijing has announced. The arrests are the latest sign of continuing conflict after last month’s protests in the Himalayan region.

The statement, carried by Xinhua, the official news agency, said the monks from the Tongxia monastery were arrested last week, a fortnight after the explosion on March 23 in Tibet’s Gyanbe township.

The brief dispatch said the bomb had been taken to the township on a motorcycle by a 27-year-old “ringleader”, but did not say how big the explosion had been or whether there were casualties. The monks fled after the explosion and “confessed their crimes” after their arrest, Xinhua said.

As foreign reporters and diplomats are banned from travelling to Tibetan areas, apart from a handful of government tours, information on such arrests and the alleged bombing cannot be independently confirmed.

KMT: Boao Forum proves CCP accepts One China, Two Interpretations

If you ask me, the KMT is spinning this faster than Pluto completes one rotation.

Basically, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce put out a press release that included the language "One China Principal (一中原則)" as if Vice President-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce had agreed on such language.

Siew quickly denied having agreed to that particular wording; the Xinhua news agency quickly altered the press release to remove the phrase

And now KMT politicians such as legislator Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) (Taoyuan County) and Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) (Taipei County) are saying this proves the CCP accepts the "One China, Two Interpretations" 一中各表 stance.

Background: during an interview with Chinese media last year, Wu Yu-sheng said Ma Ying-jeou would be running for the office of "Taiwan leader" instead of President, and he caught a lot of flak for that.

Sun Ta-chien was one of the founding members of the PFP and the first to run back to the KMT after the new electoral system pressures came into play.

But the truth here is, China didn't say anything about "One China, Two Interpretations" at or since the forum.