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May 30, 2008

Feeble Green response to Ma's blitz

The DPP legislative caucus has been unleashing a blitz of attacks upon Ma -- but the attacks look feeble for the following reasons:

On the economic front, the DPP caucus is focusing entirely on inflationary pressures and attacking a one week-old administration for doing what the DPP did as the Executive. I think the entire approach is idiotic.

The DPP instead had a chance to rise above this petty mud slinging, focus on international market pressures as the driver of price increases, demonstrate the double standard of the KMT on that issue, and suggest some innovative (but frugal) ways to combat the problem. Focus could then have been redirected to government spending, where the DPP could have taken much more substantial positions.

On the cross-strait front, only Tsai Ing-wen sounds reasonable by suggesting caution and expressing some anxiety without going overboard. So far, Ma has done little but what his election mandated, namely prepare to arrange for direct flights and tourists; and people knew it would take certain compromises in statements to get there, and no Ma moves have gone too far by the average Taiwanese's standard. So the "wait and see" attitude is most prudent. And I'm saying this as someone who has pointed out many disturbing trends in Ma and the KMT's rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the DPP legislative caucus is just going ballistic, talking about 'selling out' Taiwan and all that business which, while not a fantasy, hasn't happened yet. Instead the caucus should focus on enshrining several principals into law, including that only the Taiwanese people have the right to decide Taiwan's future through referendum (perhaps work with Yan Ching-piao on getting this one out of committee and to a vote, where the KMT would have little choice but to support it).

Attacking the party-to-party negotiations between the KMT and CCP is reasonable but should focus on just how closely the two parties have been working together these last couple years -- how else could Ma's seemingly arbitrary dates for meeting goals in cross-strait relations appear to be right on schedule?

And hey, DPP, how about putting the agenda of various social groups on the legislative table instead of just talking about strengthening relations with them?

In summary, I've found the DPP shrill lately, which demoralizes me even further -- not easy to do considering Ma's election! The only bright light is Tsai Ing-wen, who has been rational as can be.

May 29, 2008

Real estate bubble ahoy!

The Ma government has a plan to encourage young people (20-39) to marry and have kids: give them a chance to have no interest on a home loan, with the subsidy covering up to NT$2 million [edit: the subsidy is not NT$2 million, but simply makes a loan of up to that amount zero interest for a couple years]

Doesn't this sound very, very much like the cause of the sub-prime mortgage problem? People who can't really afford a house buying one thanks to zero interest on the early years of their payments? And we'll already have Chinese investors/speculators entering the market ...

Update: A thoughtful reader notes ...

[This measure] doesn't seem that unreasonable to me at all. Government subsidies in form of tax exemptions and low interest loans have been in place for the better part of the last century, in many not too die-hard stoneage capitalist societies. It has been in TW before as well under KMT as under DPP rule (as far as I know). Anyway - it has been in place in Germany, other Western countries and I suspect even the US for a long time. To many good effects. It has helped millions of working class people to own their homes.

To link this to the current sub-prime crisis seems an unfair shot to me. That was created more by the hands of unscrupulous wonnabe bankers. To avoid this rip-off of the working class by the banks there has been the model of 'buiding societies' around since (in England) the 1750s, that may be more of a history thing, but in Germany these societies, called 'Bausparkasse', a basicially co-op banking system, enabled millions of families an affordable home over the last 100 years.

During the 1970s and 80s traditional banks took on this challenge by developing their own models, some corruption and mismanagement scandals within the co-ops did their other part, which means that the difference between traditionell banking and co-ops is rather murky now. To understand the scale of the scandal you have to know that corruption was almost unheard of in as well German unions as in the government beaurocracy before the 1980s.

Which is even more important in this perspective is that of most lower or middle class Germans lost all their other savings, be it cash, stocks, government bonds or insurances through several crises like WWI, inflation 1923, Great Depression and WWII.

Btw, as far as I read in the Mandarin article the benefit of course isn't 2mn NTD but affects a zero interest rate up to that sum, which is a quite a difference, and I think you should be precise when you talk numbers.

Different fodder for different sheep?

The pattern is becoming clear: Ma will continue to say "One China, two interpretations" when talking to a domestic audience, but limit his statements to "92 consensus" when talking to Beijing. Beijing appears ready to return the "favor."

Also see the post on mutual use of the politically loaded term Zhonghua Minzu, or "Chinese ethnic group."

Update: Just noticed Ma said the "One China, two interpretations" and "92 consensus" were being used to help protect "Taiwanese self rule" as opposed to "Taiwanese sovereignty."

This from a man who talked about the country's sovereignty, even if in murky terms, before his election, but to my knowledge, not once since.

BBC:China and Taiwan to restart talks

Breaking and front page news on the BBC site. No surprises here, and everything looks like it may be close to the original schedule of July direct flights.

China and Taiwan to restart talks

Taiwan has accepted an invitation from China to restart bilateral talks that have been suspended for a decade, in a further signal of warming relations.

China invited Taiwanese officials to attend talks in Beijing from 11 June, with the focus on tourism and charter flights.

Accepting the invitation, Taiwan said it would organise a delegation.

On Wednesday, the head of Taiwan's ruling party held landmark talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's meeting with Mr Hu was the highest-level encounter since the two sides split in 1949.

The details on the invitation:
Beijing invited officials from Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation to have talks with its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

The Taiwanese foundation's chairman, Chiang Pin-kung, said he hoped that the two sides could reach agreements in Beijing.

Bilateral talks had been suspended for a decade but the election of Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan's president in March has brought about a rapid thaw in relations.

Chinese state media Xinhua said the talks from 11-14 June would cover the issue of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan and the establishment of direct regular charter flights.

The "context" part of the article further down is obviously skewed, but we'll just leave it at that.

Zhonghua Minzu (中華民族): a primer

Note: most of the background information in this article comes from properly cited Chinese and English Wikipedia pages. The related articles in both languages are quite spotty, so citations were key in deciding what could be included. I've added some other information based on my understanding of current events.

The term Zhonghua Minzu, (中華民族), literally the "Chinese ethnic group," has been a politically loaded term since it was coined in 1899 by reformist and constitutional monarchist Liang Qichao (梁啟超). It's first uses were rather vague, but by 1903 Liang defined the term to include the Han, Manchurians, Uyghurs Muslims, Mongolians, Hmong and Tibetans ("合漢合滿合蒙合回合苗合藏,組成一大民族"). Such an inclusive definition was a break from a long Han Chinese tradition that viewed non-Han people as barbarians (though such sentiments were obviously punishable when non-Han people, such as the Qing dynasty of his time, ran the government).

The term became an important theme for the early Chinese Nationalist Party. This is reflected in their first flag, which bore five stripes of different colors representing these groups banding together to form one country. A popular (but unofficial) interpretation of the PRC flag is that the five stars represent the five major nationalities, with the largest being the Han.

Sun Yat-sen, who used the term heavily himself, may well have considered the Chinese nation and the Zhonghua Minzu to be synonymous. Political divisions in China during the early years of the Republic made arguing for a "united" China depend on something other than political reality on the ground.

The PRC adopted the term, widening the definition to refer to all of it's fifty-odd officially recognized ethnic groups.

Zhonghua Minzu became widely used in the KMT-directed education in Taiwan to help ingrain the idea that Taiwan and China are one country with one future. Such a line was especially necessary for the regime given the efforts to mobilize Taiwanese to "retake" China and the complete lack of political relations between the two sides of the strait, not to mention ethnic conflicts between the post-1949 immigrants, the Holo, the Hakka and the aborigines.

Zhonghua Minzu is now being embraced by both the PRC government and the KMT administration to avoid discussing sovereignty issues as the two sides prepare to re-enter talks using the "92 consensus," largely because both sides have a different definition of that key term. Thus, to avoid mentioning either the KMT's "One China, two interpretations" or China's "One China principle," both sides have largely decided to leave definitions of "92 consensus" off the table while embracing Zhonghua Minzu as a common denominator, since populations in both countries are familiar with the term.

Chinese media rarely uses
Zhonghua Minzu when discussing overseas Chinese or ethnic Chinese in Singapore, Malaysia or other diaspora areas, instead preferring "the Chinese people of the world" (全球華人) or "the sons and daughters of Chinese people throughout the world" (全球中華兒女). There is occasionally some overlap between these three terms, but Zhonghua Minzu is fundamentally -- though not explicitly -- political and territorial while the later two terms include ethnic Chinese around the world; you find very few references to "the Zhonghua Minzu of the world" (全球中華民族) when doing a search of the internet, and where you do the context tends to be extraordinarily nationalist in tone.

Feel free to comment on this post!

Talk shows

SET-TV's Talking Show:

And our TVBS 2100 uploading friend is apparently on vacation this week.

Newest bills

Here are those passed last Friday:

97/05/23 修正洗錢防制法第三條條文

97/05/23 修正法院組織法第十七條之二條文

97/05/23 修正促進產業升級條例第十九條之四條文

97/05/23 修正食品衛生管理法第二條、第十一條、第十二條、第十七條、第十九條、第二十條、第二十四條、第二十九條、第三十一條至第三十三條及第三十六條條文;並增訂第十四條之一及第十七條之一條文—完成三讀

And here's what's coming to the floor during the 13th session tomorrow. Pay particular attention to:

原住民族自治法草案 Autonomous indigenous people bill draft

97/05/30 司法院組織法修正草案 司法院 07屆01期13次 445政11316 0141-0181
97/05/30 證券交易法部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期13次 727政11056 0127-0140
97/05/30 離島建設條例部分條文修正草案 無黨團結聯盟;林炳坤 07屆01期13次 1618委8184 0121-0124
97/05/30 國民年金法第三十一條及第五十三條條文修正草案 蔡煌瑯;黃偉哲;余政道 ;林淑芬;陳啟昱 ;潘孟安 ;王幸男 07屆01期13次 1578委8182 0117-0120
97/05/30 立法委員行為法第八條條文修正草案 翁金珠 ;邱議瑩;林淑芬 07屆01期13次 23委8181 0115-0116
97/05/30 社會救助法第五條之三條文修正草案 民進黨黨團 07屆01期13次 1037委8183 0113-0114
97/05/30 建築師法修正草案 林滄敏 07屆01期13次 820委8180 0081-0112
97/05/30 原住民族自治法草案 無黨團結聯盟;高金素梅;顏清標 07屆01期13次 1722委8179 0067-0080
97/05/30 地方制度法增訂第八十三條之一條文草案 謝國樑;李乙廷;吳育昇 07屆01期13次 1544委8178 0063-0066
97/05/30 消防人員人事條例草案 林正二 ;黃昭順;顏清標;江義雄;劉盛良 ;楊瓊瓔;蔡錦隆 07屆01期13次 1301委8176 0053-0062
97/05/30 證券交易法第一百二十八條及第一百七十七條條文修正草案 薛凌 07屆01期13次 727委8177 0049-0052
97/05/30 證券交易法第三十六條條文修正草案 盧秀燕 ;林德福;楊瓊瓔;潘維剛 07屆01期13次 727委8175 0045-0048
97/05/30 勞工保險條例第七十二條條文修正草案 張顯耀;楊瓊瓔;費鴻泰;劉盛良 ;侯彩鳳 07屆01期13次 468委8174 0043-0044
97/05/30 石油管理法部分條文修正草案 蔡錦隆 07屆01期13次 1053委8173 0039-0042
97/05/30 國家教育研究院設置條例草案 薛凌 07屆01期13次 1557委8172 0027-0038
97/05/30 財團法人國家太空研究院設置條例草案 薛凌 07屆01期13次 1721委8171 0023-0026
97/05/30 數位無線電視發展條例草案 薛凌 07屆01期13次 1560委8170 0019-0022
97/05/30 國籍法增訂第六條之一條文草案 薛凌 07屆01期13次 940委8169 0017-0018
97/05/30 臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第十六條條文修正草案 賴士葆;張碩文 07屆01期13次 1554委8168 0013-0016
97/05/30 兒童及少年性交易防制條例第二十九條條文修正草案 陳根德 07屆01期13次 1601委8167 0007-0012
97/05/30 就業保險法部分條文修正草案 林建榮 ;劉盛良 ;邱鏡淳 07屆01期13次 1801委8166 0003-0006
97/05/30 發展大眾運輸條例第二條條文修正草案 黃昭順;蔡錦隆;徐耀昌;江義雄 07屆01期13次 1429委8165 0001-0002

One down, four to go ...

vote buyers, that is.

ICRT -- The Miao-li District Court has annulled the election KMT lawmaker Lu Yi-jin following charges of vote-buying.

Lu - who was elected in the January 12-th legislative elections - can appeal the ruling, but the KMT official has said that the party respects the court's ruling.

Prosecutors indicted Lu and two members of his campaign staff soon after the legislative elections ... and are seeking jail sentences of two years and a fines of 2 million NT dollars for each of the three men.

According to the prosecutors .. Lu made 16 visits to temples in Yuan-li and
Chun-an -- two of the eight townships in one of Miaoli's County's two
constituencies -- between June and October last year.

During this time prosecutors say that he made donations and solicited
support, via his campaign aides, for his election bid. Suspicion fell on Lu
after it came to light that he had never before made donations to the temples
and had only visited them during his election campaign.

Wu Po-hsiung's trip

Three themes of the KMT's trip to China:

The Foreigner on Formosa already has a post about KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung willingly denigrating President Ma Ying-jeou to "Mr. Ma."

Secondly, I already posted on the use of Zhonghua minzu (中華民族) as a sort of way to show ethnic solidarity while avoiding any sovereignty issues. The KMT of course honestly believes we are Chinese People taught it actively to the people on this island for decades, so this isn't entirely surprising. If you check newspaper commentaries and talk shows, everyone's coming to the realization that this will be the substitute phrase used by both sides to avoid disagreement over whether the "92 consensus" is the KMT's "One China, two interpretations" or the CCP's "One China."

And last: Apple Daily had very critical editorials yesterday about Wu Po-hsiung's visit to Sun Yat-sen's grave. Apple nailed him for crying, "Premier Sun, we have won back power," as if Sun Yat-sen is the father of the KMT only and not the ROC (the Apple Daily said, "no wonder the DPP stopped calling him the national father; even the KMT counts him as only their own"). Anyway, Sun is useful for the Chinese since both the KMT and CCP can revere him and he holds their histories together.

May 27, 2008

Diana Lee's seat

In the event Diana Lee looses her seat for citizenship issues, as Michael Turton reports, the by-election is very likely pre-determined. Her seat is one of the safest in Taipei city. Look at the results from this year's election:

台北市 第六選區 (大安區)

Diane Lee (李慶安) wins with 66.8%

May 26, 2008

Wu Po-hsiung's first words

Upon his arrival in China, KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung met with TAO head Chen Yunlin. Wu expressed sympathy for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake, and he stated that people on both sides of the Taiwan strait belong to the "Chinese [ethnic] people," which apparently is going to be the formula the KMT will use to avoid the complex problem of talking about whether Taiwan and China are one or two countries. Ma used the same tact in his inaugural address.

National Unification Guidelines

Fred Chien, "former diplomatic representative to the US and second generation old guard KMTer," wants to restore them (thanks for the picking up this story, Michael!).

If that happens, I will be forced to enter some sort of formal sulking period. Middle couch cushion, I hope you're ready!

Mine, all mine!

KMT preparing to reclaim NT$240m from Taipei court (Taipei Times)

By Rich Chang STAFF REPORTER Monday, May 26, 2008, Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is preparing to reclaim the NT$240 million (US$7.87 million) involved in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal involving People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) from the Taipei District Court, a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday.

The Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal broke in 1999 when Soong was accused of embezzling millions of dollars during the time he was KMT secretary-general.

Part of the case involved allegations that Soong stole NT$240 million from the KMT and used it to buy US bonds in his son’s name. Soong has said the money was to be used as a gift for members of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) family in the US and that he did not steal the money.

After news of the scandal broke, Soong attempted to return NT$240 million to the KMT, but then-president and chairman of the KMT Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) refused to accept the funds.

In January 2000, Soong asked the Taipei District Court to take custody of the funds, naming the payee as Lee.

The report in the Chinese-language United Evening News said because civil law stipulates that funds held by the district court are given to the treasury if a payee does not apply to receive them within 10 years, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and Soong recently discussed how to withdraw the money.

The news report said the KMT has asked its attorneys to look into whether Wu can apply to take back the money in his capacity as KMT chairman.

KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yi (吳敦義) confirmed yesterday that the KMT chairman had been discussing the issue with Soong and Lee.

“I believe that the three will reach a consensus on the issue pretty soon,” he said.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

Hey big spender

Remember last week's post on all the money going to local governments for various construction projects? The Liberty Times reports KMT mayors and county commissioners had known about the funding about months ago and have been preparing their suggestion list for what projects the money should be spent on since then. In contrast, green mayors and county commissioners were given just two days to come up with project lists.

Those green mayors and county commissioners held a press conference to complain about this inequality, and quoted Taichung mayor Jason Hu's acknowledgment that he knew about the spending plan in February.

Would you rather have two months or two days to prepare to spend money on projects that need to be finished by the end of June?

May 23, 2008

New bills

I'd pay particular attention the the following few. They're worth a glance. Just click the link in the same row as the bill name below: 

政黨法草案 This has been a long time coming and deals in part with party property and how it must be reported. It also has provisions for dealing with illegally controlled party property, and allows a window for people who's property was 'illegally' taken to do something about it. The problem is that since the KMT gave itself much government property legally, this doesn't do much to solve the KMT assets problem. This is also the law that will start subsidizing the two major parties.

Compare the new KMT draft to the old DPP draft. I'm particularly startled, though not yet worried, by the KMT wording in article 4 which could theoretically allow the Chinese Communist Party to operate here [Update: a misreading I've clarified in comments section]; and the differences in how party property should be handled (articles 18-23 in DPP draft, 18-31 in the KMT draft) clearly demonstrate the gap in DPP and KMT thinking on this issue. But shockingly, the KMT draft creates a mechanism for getting back illegally taken property, something the DPP had been leaving to entirely different bills.

自由貿易港區設置管理條例部分條文修正草案 In preparation for making Kaohsiung Port a free trade zone, I'd guess.

臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第十七條之一條文修正草案 Makes it easier for Chinese-born brides to get a job.

促進民間參與公共建設法部分條文修正草案 To try and jump start construction, I suppose.

集會遊行法修正草案 Looks like there's finally some good reforms in the pipeline to this piece of crap law.

Passed bills, now law: (not yet posted, but you can look there and it should be up by the weekend)

And newly raised:

97/05/23 涉及國家安全或重大利益公務人員查核條例草案 考試院 ;行政院 07屆01期12次 1226政11271 0239-0255
97/05/23 公務人員任用法第四條條文修正草案 考試院 07屆01期12次 1628政11270 0235-0238
97/05/23 自由貿易港區設置管理條例部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期12次 454政11274 0227-0234
97/05/23 石油管理法部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期12次 1053政10273 0215-0226
97/05/23 下水道法部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期12次 1218政11272 0203-0214
97/05/23 不動產證券化條例部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期12次 820政11269 0175-0202
97/05/23 營造業法第三十一條及第六十二條條文修正草案 李鴻鈞 07屆01期12次 802委8164 0171-0174
97/05/23 政黨法草案 國民黨黨團;謝國樑 07屆01期12次 1434委8160 0161-0170
97/05/23 勞資爭議處理法增訂第四十四條之一及第四十四條之二條文草案 侯彩鳳;鍾紹和 ;鄭汝芬;盧秀燕 ;朱鳳芝;林鴻池;楊瓊瓔 07屆01期12次 1352委8162 0155-0160
97/05/23 勞資爭議處理法增訂第八條之一及第二十四條之一條文草案 侯彩鳳;李乙廷;鄭汝芬;楊瓊瓔 07屆01期12次 1352委8163 0151-0154
97/05/23 工會法第四條條文修正草案 侯彩鳳;盧秀燕 ;鄭汝芬;楊瓊瓔;鍾紹和 07屆01期12次 977委8161 0147-0150
97/05/23 自由貿易港區設置管理條例第十二條條文修正草案 賴清德 07屆01期12次 454委8158 0143-0146
97/05/23 臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第十七條之一條文修正草案 江義雄;陳福海;黃志雄 07屆01期12次 1554委8157 0139-0142
97/05/23 預算法部分條文修正草案 黃義交;劉盛良 ;潘維剛 07屆01期12次 99委8156 0135-0138
97/05/23 公務員服務法第十四條之一條文修正草案 孫大千 07屆01期12次 1628委8155 0131-0134
97/05/23 促進民間參與公共建設法部分條文修正草案 廖正井 07屆01期12次 1581委8154 0127-0130
97/05/23 立法院職權行使法第七十一條條文修正草案 吳育昇 ;江義雄 07屆01期12次 23委8153 0125-0126
97/05/23 國軍職務宿舍設置管理條例草案 帥化民;張顯耀 07屆01期12次 1702委8151 0121-0124
97/05/23 兒童及少年福利法部分條文修正草案 林鴻池;羅明才 ;盧秀燕 ;陳福海;楊瓊瓔;林建榮 07屆01期12次 932委8150 0113-0120
97/05/23 特殊境遇婦女家庭扶助條例部分條文修正草案 林鴻池;盧秀燕 ;楊瓊瓔 07屆01期12次 1033委8149 0107-0112
97/05/23 政府採購法第八十五條之一條文修正草案 張慶忠 07屆01期12次 1650委8148 0103-0106
97/05/23 監獄行刑法增訂第十條之一條文草案 賴士葆 07屆01期12次 255委8147 0099-0102
97/05/23 立法院各委員會組織法第三條之四條文修正草案 盧秀燕 07屆01期12次 23委8152 0097-0098
97/05/23 立法院各委員會組織法第三條之四條文修正草案 賴士葆 07屆01期12次 23委8146 0093-0096
97/05/23 中華民國總統府組織法第十五條及第十六條條文修正草案 呂學樟;丁守中 07屆01期12次 1688委8159 0089-0092
97/05/23 中華民國總統府組織法第十五條條文修正草案 蔡正元 07屆01期12次 1688委8145 0087-0088
97/05/23 農田水利會組織通則部分條文修正草案 朱鳳芝;劉盛良 ;楊瓊瓔 07屆01期12次 293委8144 0071-0086
97/05/23 集會遊行法修正草案 朱鳳芝;鄭麗文;劉盛良 07屆01期12次 1430委8143 0055-0070
97/05/23 槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例第七條條文修正草案 張顯耀;費鴻泰 07屆01期12次 1187委8142 0053-0054
97/05/23 國民教育法第十八條條文修正草案 林淑芬;潘孟安 07屆01期12次 1013委8141 0051-0052
97/05/23 能源稅條例草案 田秋堇;潘孟安 07屆01期12次 1798委8140 0039-0050
97/05/23 道路交通管理處罰條例第九條條文修正草案 潘孟安 07屆01期12次 756委8139 0037-0038
97/05/23 再生能源發展條例草案 李俊毅 07屆01期12次 1798委8138 0027-0036
97/05/23 再生能源發展條例草案 張碩文 07屆01期12次 1798委8136 0019-0026
97/05/23 老人福利法部分條文修正草案 楊瓊瓔 07屆01期12次 1619委8135 0013-0018
97/05/23 就業保險法第五條條文修正草案 余政道 ;潘孟安 ;林淑芬;劉盛良 ;陳亭妃 ;郭玟成 07屆01期12次 1801委8137 0009-0012
97/05/23 農業發展條例第六十條條文修正草案 余政道 07屆01期12次 956委8134 0001-0008

Cabinet gives lots of cash to local governments

To help with various construction and infrastructure projects, and help local governments cover budget deficits and rising commodity costs, the cabinet decided at their first meeting yesterday to release NT$114 billion (US$3.8 billion) total.

Funds were distributed based on population per city and county, prompting Tainan and Kaohsiung mayors and city councilors to complain.

Legislators were asked for suggested applications of the funds, which are aimed at improving local tourist infastructure by the end of June, in time for the three links.

Where will the money come from? The upcoming budget amendments, an expected increase in tax revenue this year and funding for an "equity plan" (釋股計畫) -- proposed long ago but stalled in the legislature until now -- should be enough to cover everything.

In other words, in case you had any doubt that the legislature had been starving local construction funding, you need not doubt any longer. All the real funding will come from alterations in legislation. I just hope the Ma government doesn't start spending like a drunken sailor with no revenue to cover their plans. active

OK, well frankly, a website isn't a shadow government, and neither is a private organization with no official ties to the opposition party. Especially if it doesn't actually have ministers.

But here is the site Frank Hsieh's calling the shadow government:

This site will eventually have an online TV station, radio station, forum (already active), shadow government netizens, sections dealing with all five branches of government ... it could end up being pretty cool, but it's just web-based from what I can tell. Perhaps the upgrades to the DPP think tank will create a more real-world based shadow government, and this is meant to be a complementing project.

Hsieh has a sort of introductory letter on the front page. The most inane paragraph is below, with a rather loose translation to make it a bit more natural :

我 的想法是,選舉給我的教訓是,台灣已經不是一個「全是或全非」的時代,我們找不出一個單一理由來定義544萬票是一個單一面貌,是堅持台灣主體意識的、是 反對兩岸共同市場的、不要綠卡的、或是中間獨立選民。同樣的,我們也找不到一個單一理由來檢討那756萬票爲什麼不投給我?到底是因為恨民進黨、恨陳水扁 總統、喜歡馬英九、不喜歡我,亦或是支持兩岸共同市場、支持愛台12建設、還是因為選舉當天天氣很好,所以不投票給我,其實,可能存在比756萬還多的理 由。

I think the election taught me not everything is just black or white in Taiwan anymore. We can't find some single overarching reason that 5.44 million people decided to vote for me. Some did it because of consciousness of a Taiwanese body politic. Others did it in opposition to a common market with China, or because they didn't want a president with a green card, or because they were independent swing voters. At the same time, why did 7.56 million voters not cast a ballot for me? Was it because they hate the DPP or hate President Chen Shui-bian? Because they like Ma Ying-jeou, or don't like me? Was it because they support a cross-strait common market or the 12 iTaiwan construction projects? Or was it because the weather on voting day so excellent? In reality, there's probably 7.56 million reasons.

Here's a clue, Hsieh: you ran a mere eight week campaign; spent six of them talking about a green card, which didn't work because you couldn't prove Ma had one and because most people don't care; you spent the next two weeks scaring people into thinking their organs would be stolen if there was a common market with China; your apparent about face on economic ties with China between your nomination and the election was awfully inconsistent; and you had no imaginative, innovate or inspiring campaign issues or slogans.

You miss this point again in the analysis of why people voted for Ma. Issues are almost the last thing you list. And just in front of 'excellent weather,' which makes no sense at all -- how does good weather hurt you?

And if you want to know why people voted for him, do some real polling to figure it out.

May 22, 2008

Premier: Even after commodity price rise, we'll stil be lowest of the four dragons

How convenient to remember that now and not a month ago.

Premier: We're giving Sichuan victims money because we're Chinese

Basically. The link, and the quote with rough translation:

行政院長劉兆玄今(22)日表示,將藉由 921震災救 援、安置及重建的經驗,提供中國四川地震災區更實質 的救援及幫助,以展現海峽兩岸同文同種的人道關懷。

[In comments at an Executive Yuan meeting today], Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said that the aid and other disaster relief, as well as Taiwan's experience on safely constructing structures, were being offered to the Chinese in the Sichuan earthquake disaster zone as a way of expressing the humanitarian concern of those people on both sides of the strait of the same language and the same race.
What does humanitarian concern have to do with being of the same language and race? Honestly, I don't like making mountains out of molehills, but the escalation in fossilized rhetoric is startlingly fast and disturbing.

On Ma's inaugural speech

Here's Ma's speech in English and Chinese parallel versions at Toastmasters. I largely agree with all the analysis denouncing this sentence: "In resolving cross-strait issues, what matters is not sovereignty but core values and way of life." (英九堅信,兩岸問題最終解決的關鍵不在主權爭議,而在生活方式與核心價值。)

But keep in mind, for Ma, the dispute over sovereignty is the dispute over sovereignty for all of China between the ROC and PRC governments, not a dispute over who is sovereign over Taiwan. For him, Taiwan sovereignty is simply a false issue. And the rest of that paragraph makes this even more clear, as he goes on to call the Chinese people "Mainland compatriots," an odd echo of ancient ROC and modern PRC terminology.

So on one hand, this is a massive shift in tone from the campaign trail, but not so much in substance. He just knows China will never ascent to a sovereign ROC, since it would mean denying their own legitimacy. And he'd never ask for mutual recognition, as that would contradict his own sovereign ROC vision.

China outlines plan on Cross-strait relations

Read the People's Daily story here. The speech is by Chen Yunlin (陈云林), the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office and the Chinese Communist Party's Taiwan Work Office. This is the transcription. An important cross reference is Michael Turton's post on Ma's speech.

A lot to analyze, and I can't do it yet. Might print it out and bring it home though. In any case, here are some interesting facts:

  • "Unification" appears only once; Hu's 16 character phrase appears once (earlier analyzed here) -- "Establish mutual trust, seek common ground while reserving differences, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation" (建立互信、求同存异、搁置争议、共创双赢). There is a prominent reference to establishing direct flights.
  • "Peace" appears 14 times; "'Taiwan Independence'" appears five times, twice denounced and then in reference to welcoming former TI supporters to abandon their position and enter into their own dialogue with China.
  • There are five references to the "Zhonghua Minzu" (中华民族), the imaginary Chinese race consisting of Han people and, oh yeah, all those other ethnic groups that should just fall in line with the Han. Ma had a few references like this in his own speech.
  • The "92 consensus" makes one appearance in the speech, and is called the basis for resumption of dialogue; there is an interesting acknowledgment of the Taiwanese people's desire to run their own affairs, and while the Hong Kong model or "one country, two systems" is not specified, the wording is strikingly similar to that used for Hong Kong (当家作主的愿望). Still, the statement appears to be conciliatory.
  • Chen Yinlin mentioned an interesting "anti-splittest" goal: to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity (维护国家主权和领土完整). There goes any hope of getting China to admit to or ignore Taiwanese claims to sovereignty as the ROC. Thankfully for them, Ma didn't make that a theme of his inauguration speech.
  • Ma, the KMT and the election are not directly referenced.

Econ Min. Chen Tian-jy (陳添枝): 6% growth impossible this year

This comes as no surprise, as Ma's camp has already backed off of this, his central election promise and policy. It was always a pretty impossible goal, especially considering the global economic consideration. But it just goes to show how very much like 1984 the world is -in terms of cognitive dissonance. If Chen's in charge, less than 6% economic growth is his fault; if Ma is, it's the global economy.

I try not to take economic promises from politicians seriously, but the people who do sure manage to practice a lot of mental gymnastics.

KMT fattening up

As my wife said, "This is shameless to the extreme. #@%! the KMT." Original Liberty Times story from yesterday plus my rough translation.

政黨法修正 藍馬上自肥

〔記者陳詩婷、施曉光、彭顯鈞/台北 報導〕新總統馬英九甫走馬上任,國民黨團即提出有自肥之嫌的「政黨法修正草案」,增訂「政黨政策研究補助金條款」,明定最近一次立委選舉得票率達五%以上 的政黨,可獲每年每票新台幣廿五元的政策研究補助金,若修法通過,未來四年國庫將因此多失血近九億元。

With Ma Ying-jeou's new presidential term now underway, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus has raised what appears to be a pork barrel amendment to the Political Parties Organic Law, adding an article called the "Political Parties Policy Research Subsidy Article," which would clearly state that any part that won more than 5% of the vote during the last legislative election would be entitled to an annual subsidy of [NT$50 (I checked the law)] per vote received. If the law passes, it will deplete NT$900 million from the national coffers over the next four years.

By the way, consider the added benefit that since this law gives the DPP a good amount of money too, it will be tough for them to all-out oppose this legislation.

Just wow.

Does this guy strike you as qualified for office? The Taipei Times reports:

Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) says "the wounds on former president Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) stomach were not caused by the 319 shooting."

“According to our initial investigation, his belly wounds were not caused at the scene of the shooting,” the new minister told lawmakers during his first briefing to the legislature’s Diplomacy and National Defense Committee yesterday morning.

His remarks came as a surprise because he had been talking about a different issue.

“I am making this comment as a member of the 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee (三一九槍擊事件真相調查特別委員會). My comments are not made against the former president but only as the truth,” Chen Chao-min said.

He did not say why he had raised the issue and he did not elaborate.

May 21, 2008

Ma's baby steps

The Youth Daily, a government-run newspaper connected with the military news network, has slashed "Taiwan" from it's mast and replaced it with "Republic of China." A sign of things to come?

I can't click the video so can't provide many more details. If someone else watches this, let me know. I'd like to know when or if Chen changed this during his term, or if it's had "Taiwan" there since earlier.

May 19, 2008

New Bills


通過日期 議案名稱 全文 公布條文 會次 備註
97/05/16 修正關稅法第七十一條條文


and here are those raised during the last (11th) session:

97/05/16 中央政府總預算案審查程序第三條條文修正草案 陳節如 ;田秋堇 07屆01期11次 887委8114 0049-0054
97/05/16 中央政府機關總員額法草案 行政院 ;考試院 07屆01期11次 1767政11268 0191-0197
97/05/16 財務罰鍰處理暫行條例修正草案 行政院 07屆01期11次 56政11267 0187-0190
97/05/16 證券投資人及期貨交易人保護法部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期11次 727政11266 0177-0186
97/05/16 警察勤務條例部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期11次 915政11265 0171-0176
97/05/16 耕地三七五減租條例部分條文修正草案 行政院 07屆01期11次 270政11264 0157-0170
97/05/16 海岸法草案 行政院 07屆01期11次 248政11263 0143-0156
97/05/16 會計法增訂第九十九條之一條文草案」 民進黨黨團;柯建銘;賴清德 ;葉宜津 ;陳啟昱 07屆01期11次 882委8132 0141-0142
97/05/16 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 張顯耀;盧秀燕 ;黃志雄;陳福海 07屆01期11次 1554委8130 0137-0140
97/05/16 勞資爭議處理法第十四條及第五十四條條文修正草案 賴清德 ;陳亭妃 ;侯彩鳳;潘孟安 07屆01期11次 1352委8128 0135-0136
97/05/16 立法委員行為法第七條條文修正草案 黃昭順;丁守中 07屆01期11次 23委8127 0131-0134
97/05/16 財政收支劃分法部分條文修正草案 黃昭順;林德福;張碩文;郭玟成;李復興 07屆01期11次 705委8126 0127-0130
97/05/16 就業保險法部分條文修正草案 江義雄;劉盛良 ;張嘉郡 ;帥化民;陳福海;羅明才 ;陳秀卿 07屆01期11次 1801委8125 0123-0126
97/05/16 檔案法第二十八條條文修正草案 呂學樟;林鴻池 07屆01期11次 1563委8124 0119-0122
97/05/16 立法院職權行使法第二十五條及第二十六條條文修正草案 張顯耀;費鴻泰;陳秀卿 07屆01期11次 23委8131 0115-0118
97/05/16 立法院職權行使法第三十條及第三十一條條文修正草案 呂學樟;張嘉郡 ;潘維剛 07屆01期11次 23委8123 0111-0114
97/05/16 律師法部分條文修正草案 黃義交 07屆01期11次 252委8122 0107-0110
97/05/16 電信法第三十二條及第三十三條條文修正草案 陳根德 ;張碩文;江義雄;鍾紹和 ;費鴻泰 07屆01期11次 379委8121 0101-0106
97/05/16 法院組織法第一百零五條條文修正草案 陳根德 07屆01期11次 647委8120 0097-0100
97/05/16 野生動物保育法第二十一條之一條文修正草案 孔文吉 07屆01期11次 1749委8119 0093-0096
97/05/16 立法院各委員會組織法第三條之四條文修正草案 蔡正元;劉盛良 07屆01期11次 23委8118 0091-0092
97/05/16 立法院各委員會召集委員選舉辦法增訂第五條之一條文草案 蔡正元;劉盛良 07屆01期11次 23委8117 0089-0090
97/05/16 社會救助法部分條文修正草案 余政道 ;蘇震清 ;林淑芬;潘孟安 ;賴清德 07屆01期11次 1037委8116 0079-0088
97/05/16 兒童教育與照顧法草案 吳清池;江義雄 07屆01期11次 932委8115 0055-0078
97/05/16 勞動基準法第五十六條條文修正草案 余政道 ;潘孟安 ;郭玟成 07屆01期11次 1121委8113 0045-0048
97/05/16 國家公園法第十三條及第十四條條文修正草案 孔文吉 07屆01期11次 866委8112 0041-0044
97/05/16 加值型及非加值型營業稅法第八條及第二十九條條文修正草案 陳節如 07屆01期11次 271委8111 0035-0040
97/05/16 毒品危害防制條例部分條文修正草案 費鴻泰 07屆01期11次 308委8110 0029-0034
97/05/16 國防部組織法增訂第七條之一條文草案 薛凌 07屆01期11次 233委8109 0025-0028
97/05/16 公共電視法第十條條文修正草案 李復興 07屆01期11次 1562委8108 0021-0024
97/05/16 志願役軍人服役條例草案 盧秀燕 ;邱鏡淳 ;高金素梅;鍾紹和 ;楊仁福;劉盛良 ;徐少萍;楊瓊瓔;廖正井;鄭金玲 07屆01期11次 529委8107 0001-0020

Lots of Blue paper editorial translations...

At this blog, Dateline Taipei. Many of the articles are full of the gross generalizations, outright lies and rhetorical bluster that characterize editorials everywhere.

Final thoughts

Today is A-bian's last day in office. Tomorrow will be Ma Ying-jeou's first. I've previously blogged on A-bian's record, specifically mentioning several contributions I chalked up to him (forgive the poor writing in that article -- I'm always rushed when posting). And I'm obviously anxious about what might happen in Ma's term.

I won't have anything for you tomorrow. It's my anniversary and I'd like to avoid potentially depressing political thoughts. But I will outline three things that I think warrant our attention in the coming months.

First, there's Hsieh's upcoming shadow cabinet. How professional will it be? How will it compare to the KMT's think-tank, which was used as a sort of repository for future potential cabinet members? And how will it position itself vis-a-vis the DPP and the new administration?

Second, we should keep our eye on the legislature for several reasons. For one, there's potentially serious internal divisions showing up in the KMT caucus, since not all of the legislators are in lockstep with the incoming administration. Second, these guys still can't work as much as they should, so they could potentially damage the KMT brand. And third, it will be important to see how the DPP legislators handle being an opposition party -- they'll be on the attack a lot more since they won't need to defend the president or his policies.

Third, we have to see what Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) can do to improve the party's performance, image and election results. Her next electoral test is a comfortable year and a half away, slated for December 2009. That gives her time to turn some things around. We'll see how well she does.