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Feb 25, 2009

Holo Taiwanese proficiency issue

Li Khin-huann (李勤岸) writes on the targeted attacks on mother tongue education in Taiwan, specifically on (unnecessary) efforts to stem the strength of Holo Taiwanese.

The 2001 UNESCO report on mother languages around the world noted that languages in Taiwan, except for Mandarin, are dying. Although these languages, including Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Hakka and the many indigenous languages, continue to be widely spoken in some cases, they are all in need of preservation efforts...

We all thought that Taiwan had become a democratic state full of cultural diversity and multilingualism. The savage neglect of language and oppression of mother tongues should have passed into history.

Who would have thought that several days before Lunar New Year, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) would propose scrapping the entire budget of NT$40 million (US$1.2 million) allotted to the Ministry of Education’s National Languages Committee for developing a Hoklo language proficiency certification system.

Did the NT$40 million make up a substantial part of the national budget of NT$1.8 trillion or the budget of NT$60 billion allocated to the ministry?

The committee asked the legislature not to cancel its budget or at least not entirely because the proficiency test has been in preparation for a year, and said the government should leave some money for completing the project.

But in the end, the entire budget was cut....

Taiwan has a proficiency certification system for every language, including Mandarin, Hakka and indigenous languages, but not Hoklo. What message does this send? That Taiwan has a barbarous government that is trying to eliminate Hoklo.
Hong Hsiu-chu, who happens to be my least favorite female KMT legislator, and who has in the past made completely ignorant statements regarding both Mandarin and Holo education (especially in regards to the standardization of the Holo spelling system), sent an editorial to the Apple Daily on the 21st to respond to the fury of the Holo language protection advocates. Below is a rushed translation of most of that editorial, titled "Of course I want to save the people money." It is full of factual errors and distortions I will point out when I get the time in a follow up post.
Language is an important tool of transmitting culture, and knowledge of every native language is worth preserving. For many years people have been encouraging people to speak their "mother tongue," to speak "the language their mother spoke," and this is something I encourage and have never opposed. But what language does mother speak? For example right now there are already more than 100 thousand children of mainland Chinese and foreign brides in our middle schools (mainland Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesians are the largest groups). If Taiwan's new immigrants wanted to insist that "the mother language is a human right," than please tell me if the Ministry of Education would be able to implement [necessary protection measures]? The mother tongue is not the same as native tongues, and for this reason I have never opposed promoting our native tongues, if not mother tongues, in our school education system.

In the final analysis, 70% or more of people in Taiwan can use Southern Min [Holo Taiwanese], and Southern Min is a strong language in Taiwanese Society [A-gu: not for long]. Being able to speak and understand Southern Min makes life more convenient in many ways and allows for creation of more social relationships, and learning any language is always a good thing. But we cannot force people to learn native languages, and we certainly cannot increase the burdon on our children, and this is a view I am sure most parents and teachers share with me.

Sadly, since native language education started in on our schools in 2001, it has suffered from a lack of qualified teachers, poor and varied textbooks, and lack of a unified writing and spelling system. This made learning the languages difficult. And when former Education Minister Du decided to unify Southern Min's writing and spelling system, he forced through a mixed character & romanization system. He also wanted first grade to learn the Southern Min spelling system and fifth grade children to use Southern Min in composition. These sorts of policies drove children crazy, and invited a lot of criticism [A-gu: how is it that she finds the idea of writing in a language you've been studying for five years to be preposterous?]. Further, there were too many textbooks, a few newly created "Taiwanese characters," the use of characters and romanization together and other bizarre orthography. Most people not only couldn't understand but couldn't even guess the meaning [of the written Taiwanese], and some students at Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School joked that the writing system "was more difficult than Martian." These policies were long ago labeled by experts to be an unnecessary burden on the students.

Former Minister Du in 2008 started to research holding a Southern Min proficiency test. The budget for that year was NT$8million, and was slated to be NT$50million in 2009 (NT$40 million of which the ministry said it would create the proficiency test for teachers ). After flipping through the Education Ministry's budget, the Department of Elementary Education and Department of Social Education already had a large budget for language related fees (the Department of Elementary Education was slated to have NT$90 million). This seemed suspiciously redundant, and that is why I proposed to cut the Southern Min proficiency budget while at the same time asking the Ministry to please present a more complete, well organized budget. But the more important reason this: holding a Southern Min proficiency test would cost NT$40 million. Doesn't that leave one speechless? And half of that money was going to be spent before anyone had signed up for the test or a test had been held. Why was so much being alloted before there was even a test? Isn't the planning for this test too careless?

Further, at this time native language education uses four writing systems -- bopomofo, torroba (?), Tongyong Pinyin and Church Romanization [aka Peh-oe-ji]. I asked the ministry which system would be used on the test? The official could not respond. After this I got to thinking, last year the ministry held a practice test for research purposes, which revealed problems. In other words, the whole testing plan is still not mature. If the budget were allowed to pass now, it would be a most wasteful, lazy and irresponsible act.

Feb 24, 2009

T-SPAN update

As always, Maddog is on the case, spotting the Taipei Times article here. Looks like T-SPAN isn't as transparent as anyone expected:

BEHIND THE SCENE: While people can now see online what is going on inside the legislature, grittier action, from shouting matches to melees, is being censored


The system allows people to watch legislative meetings live online or to access videoclips permanently stored in the system on-demand.

However, it soon came under fire: The system is designed to avoid broadcasting scenes whenever meetings degenerate into a melee.


Some fear, however, that selective broadcasts could limit people’s understanding of what is going on.

For example, when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers criticized Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) on the legislative floor on Friday and demanded that he apologize for the economic situation, the VOD system showed a wall of the chamber and the sound was muted.
- - -


The proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between Taiwan and China has been a main focus of the news over the last few days. Read today's Taipei Times article on the subject here. Note that since no formal negotiations on this topic have begun, there is no substance or specifics that can be debated at this time. One favorite quote from the Washington Post article on the subject:

In an interview with the Taipei Times published Friday, Ma seemed to imply that the agreement is a certainty, but he hesitated to respond directly to questions about whether signing it would be tantamount to acknowledging that Taiwan belongs to China.

"As to how the international community perceives the issue, it depends on the stances of different countries," Ma said. "Some countries agree with us, and our allies won't think Taiwan becomes part of communist China when it signs an agreement."

Now to translate some information from blogger Weichen, who takes an ideological tone but has some good information:
Is the CECA an FTA?

The group around Ma Ying-jeou who are selling out Taiwan, who intend to hasten the unification of the countries of China and Taiwan, are strongly insisting on signing a CECA, an important step in the march to unification. This news [link mine] was reported by the Washington Post and created a political firestorm. Ma Ying Jeou of Sell Out Corp. and the Chinese Annexation Group are both working on damage control, and on the front lines of that effort is Li Fei (李非), [deputy director of the Taiwan Studies Center at Xiamen University who the Washington Post quotes as saying the CECA is "a start toward full cross-strait economic integration and a necessary condition for marching forward toward final unification."] Li Fei has now clarified his statement and said the Washington Post misquoted him.

[Note: I just reviewed Li Fei's clarification and it appears the Washington Post quoted him fairly; the main problem seems to have been Taiwanese media rewriting and distorting headlines.]

Our Ministor of Jokes [Economic Minister] even said that the CECA is just an FTA. But this really is funny, since in the book previously written by [MAC chair] Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), she stated a CECA is a completely open FTA, which is to say that CECA would keep Taiwan's economy at a slightly greater distance from China's economy than an FTA would [I don't really follow the logic here]. Ma Ying-jeou, the brains behind Sell Out Corp., has said that a CECA is a "third method" that is somewhere between an FTA and a CEPA, which is to say that a CECA would bring Taiwan's economy closer to China than an FTA would. Three people all have three entirely different explainations, so which one actually describes a CECA?

Now Sell Out Corp realizes they've been busted, but they are in denial, so they're planning on just changing the name from CECA and treating the public like idiots. First they wanted to sign a CEPA, then only after being criticized did they say they wanted a CECA instead. Whatever name they use now, it's still the same thing.
Weichen finishes the post by showing an editorial in the super-blue United Daily News that blames the DPP for confusing the CECA with an FTA -- which is especially hilarious now that the Finance Minister has said they are the same thing.

My own thoughts on the CECA: it does appear that many Taiwanese businesses, with our without investment in China, are convinced that in order to remain competitive on exports to China or imports into Taiwan, CECA is absolutely critical. Of course they'd love to get the deal with all ASEAN countries and sign an FTA with Japan, the US, and Korea as well. But they see that as much more difficult -- in large part due to China's pressure.

So I think there are very legitimate reasons to be concerned about increasing over dependence on China, but I also sympathize with business concerns and hopes for elimination of tariffs. As long as labor doesn't factor in, and safety measures are taken on food products especially, I think the CECA would probably be a good thing on balance and in the long run.

Feb 23, 2009

228 madness

Ma pledges to seek consensus on major ethnic issues

The [228 Memorial] foundation was critical of the Ma administration after the legislature, dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), froze its budget last year and then refused to grant a budget for this year.

Ma, who has been seeking support from 228 Incident victims since serving as Taipei mayor, said the government would make up for the previous budget cuts by providing an annual budget starting next year and vowed to continue funding the foundation until the government had paid the NT$1.5 billion the foundation had been promised by the previous administration.

Wang said the president also asked the Executive Yuan to apply to the legislature to unfreeze the 2007 budget for the foundation.
Wow, taking the tough line in this issue I see.

Feb 20, 2009

Dissecting the Ma interview

Taipei Times leads today with an exclusive interview of Ma Ying-jeou. Everyone has different interests, and I prefer to let someone else cover the economic aspects of the interview, but I'm going to focus on some of the sovereignty issues:

Taipei Times: Do you think Taiwan is a normal country?

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九): The Taiwanese people elect their own president and legislature and govern themselves. Do you think that is normal or not normal?
Frankly, I have to agree with his answer; I'm one of those that believes Taiwan is a free and sovereign country, independent from the People's Republic of China, despite the lack of international recognition. Though that is not exactly Ma's position.

But here is where Ma's clear willingness to divorce policy from reality become more clear:
TT: Then, Mr President, do you mean you will accept the “one China” framework?

The Republic of China [ROC] Constitution was enacted in 1946 and implemented in 1947. The [PRC] was not yet established. It was not established until 1949.

There was only one China when the ROC Constitution was enacted. So the ROC Constitution was not for “two Chinas.” [emphasis mine]
So, assuming the translation is clear and that Ma did not misspeak, our president accepts that there are in fact two Chinas, the ROC and PRC, though there was only one when the constitution was written. Yet Ma insists on a One China policy that clearly contradicts the reality he just outlined.

And I think this is exactly the line the follow up question should have taken. Does the PRC exist? Is the PRC just an illegitimate bandit government illegally controlling ROC territory? What boundaries does the president think the ROC has? If the constitution of the ROC is so clearly in conflict with reality, why shouldn't it be revised? Etc. These are the questions that Ma will have only ridiculous answers to.

Instead, the interviewer directs to what I consider relatively irrelevant questions.
TT: But do you think Hu’s “one China” refers to the “ROC” or the “People’s Republic of China”?

No matter what he thinks, we think “one China” refers to the ROC. This is what we insisted in 1992 and we have never changed that position since.
I mean, come on. What do you think Hu's one China refers to? Weak.
TT: But does the explanation that “one China” refers to the ROC conform to the international reality?

If we do not interpret it this way, do you think we should say “one China” refers to the “PRC”?

Do you remember when former [US] president George W. Bush talked to Chinese President Hu Jintao on March 26 last year, Hu said over the telephone that both sides of the Taiwan Strait accept the “one China” principle but have different interpretations of “one China.” That is what we call “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.” That is the only interpretation according to our Constitution.
I say again, I don't care if we get formal recognition from other countries, so long as Taiwan is not controlled by Beijing and so long as we can have practical relations with others; but Ma's constitution-focused answers should prompt the question, "Isn't the constitution in clear contradiction with both reality and the will of the people, since neither mainland Chinese nor Taiwanese want the ROC to rule the mainland? Shouldn't the constitution be amended?"
TT: But apart from Taiwan’s allies, all countries think Beijing is the only representative of China.

: If we agree with those countries, there is no room for Taiwan to survive.
I think this answer is fascinating because, assuming Ma is well intentioned and doesn't want to sell out Taiwan or see unification, this answer reveals half of what Ma thinks -- that this "One China = ROC" policy is in fact the only realistic policy Taiwan can adopt.
TT: Some say that we are too naive on the “one China” issue. It’s not a matter of confidence, but a matter of international reality.

If we refuse to sign agreements, our products will be taxed with higher tariffs in mainland and local industries will not survive. Is this less naive?
I consider the question unfocused and the answer evasive. In my mind, the questions reveals the biggest problem with the green's attacks on Ma's 'One China' policy. We can't win the argument by saying "Hu says A, but we say B, and most people believe A." Because most people in Taiwan will just say, "who cares?"

We have to say "This whole argument is absurd" and expose the true ridonkulous nature of the KMT's position instead of allowing the PRC position to enter the picture. If anyone's talking about the PRC position, it should not be about their explanation of "One China," but rather their unwavering determination to force subordination on Taiwan, like it or not.

And here is Ma's best and most convincing answer, I think. Emphasis mine:
TT: Will there be any supplementary measures to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty and national interests if the CECA is signed?

Take the agreement on cross-strait direct flights, for example: What did we lose by signing the agreement? We opened eight airports [to the flights], while mainland opened 11 airports and later upped it to 21 airports for cross-strait direct flights.

What did we lose? Did we consider it a domestic route? Or is it a special air route? Did we say that Taiwan became part of the PRC after signing the agreement? No, we never made such claims.

We should have confidence in ourselves. Communist China has its own assertions and we have ours. We cannot force it to accept our assertions at this stage and it cannot force Taiwan to accept its ideas either. As to how the international community perceives the [“one China”] issue, it depends on the stances of different countries. Some countries agree with us, and our allies won’t think Taiwan becomes part of communist China when it signs an agreement.

Those who are familiar with international relations know that major countries recognize the CCP as the only legitimate government of China when establishing diplomatic ties with communist China, but when it comes to the relations between communist China and Taiwan, those countries do not consider Taiwan a part of the PRC. There are several models adopted by different countries in this matter....

Does the US need communist China’s agreement to send someone to Taiwan? No, they don’t. So you need to understand that although these countries do not recognize us officially, they do not deny us, either. If they denied us as a country, why would they send people here and develop relations with us? The US sold weapons to Taiwan. Does the US think it is selling weapons to a ghost country?
So, again assuming Ma is anti-unification, he thinks One China is not only a necessary policy, but adopting a One China policy incurs no practical damage at all and gives Beijing no additional control at all.

Whatever the merits of Ma's argument, and whatever his secret thoughts on unification, I think we should treat this as his position -- that the One China policy is both necessary and beneficial with no negative side effects. That way we can both argue the merits of these claims and point out the absurdity of the whole "One China" formulation.

Now for the most comic answer:
TT: Does Taiwan depend on China too much economically?

It has been so since the former DPP government and our economic growth rate increased rapidly during that period of time....

So far we have not seen any attempts by communist China to force Taiwan to do things we cannot accept and we wouldn’t have to accept it if they did so.
Ha! In other words, "Yes, but what are you gonna do and what's the harm to sovereignty so far?"

News Rumble alive and well

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✕失業自殘不斷 ♡看毛毛蟲生信心


Tim Maddog, one of the editors at Taiwan Matters and always a fast draw, emailed me about today's Taipei Times piece about the Taiwanese legislature's grudging willingness to start broadcasting itself online in a T-SPAN sort of way:

The Legislative Yuan will become more transparent as it allows the public to access its video-on-demand (VOD) system for the first time and watch open-door legislative meetings from outside the legislature starting today.

An official at the legislature’s Information Technology Department told the Taipei Times that people would be able to watch live broadcasts as the eight standing committees hold meetings, as well as plenary sessions, at without having to register personal information.

Woo hoo! Committee meetings, where all the real stuff happens (well during the half day the lazy committees actually meet). But as my grandpa always said, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
However, meetings of the pan-blue-dominated Procedure Committee would not be available as the legislature does not currently record those meetings, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that anyone interested in watching the videos should use Internet Explorer because of compatibility issues.

Only around 800 people will be able to use the Web site simultaneously because its bandwidth remains limited, he said.
The first point is troublesome for the obvious reason that the Procedure Committee literally sets the agenda for all legislation; it is there that legislation is bottled up or put on the agenda. It is literally the most important committee to watch.

The IE situation is not surprising given Taiwan's addiction to Microsoft; but those Firefox users among us are welcome to check out IETab, a plug-in that will allow you to watch those legislative sessions from the comfort of your Firefox browsing window.

As Maddog points out to me, 800 people is a pretty pathetic bandwidth limit that for all intents and purposes would allow one group's supporters to block access if they wanted.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Daniel Hwang (黃義交), a member of the task force, said they would negotiate with the National Communications Commission next in a bid to establish a channel similar to C-SPAN.

The legislative watchdog Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) lauded the changes.
As do I sir, as do I!

Feb 13, 2009

Will some Beijinger please photograph this?

The joint Cape No. 7 / Taiwan beer event scheduled for Valentine's day in Beijing.

Taiwanese businessmen as Chinese officials

The Liberty Times carried a report this morning claiming a number of Taiwanese businessmen have been active in local Chinese Political Consultative Conferences (政治協商會), a sort of advisory council to the Communist Party in different areas.

The name list included Cheng Fon-yuan (程豐原), who heads up the Guangzhou Taiwanese businessman's association and ten others. Being on these councils constitutes holding a Chinese government position and is clearly forbidden by Taiwanese law, specifically article 33 of the Act Government Relations between the Taiwan and Mainland areas, (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第33條) which states "People, legal officers, organizations and other units from the Taiwan region may not hold positions in the mainland's party branches, military affairs, administration or organizations which are political in nature." (台灣地區人民、法人、團體或其他機構,不得擔任大陸地區黨務、軍事、行政或具政治性機關(構) )

However, to date not a single Taiwanese businessman has been fined for being on the councils, and the Liberty Times reported that it's because this is a "politically sensitive" topic and the Mainland Affairs Council would rather ignore the problem. (This is not the first time this issue came up; I've also covered it here when the Ma administration said they may considering allowing Taiwanese to serve on these councils).

MAC spokesman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) refuted the details of the report today, saying the MAC was still "in the process" of understanding the Political Consultative Conferences' inner workings, including differences between regular members and 'honorary members' (特聘委員), though Liu says that the MAC's initial studies indicate honorary members are still full committee members.

Liu also stated that if there were any proof that Taiwanese businessmen were serving in such capacities, the MAC would ask them to resign and if the businessmen refused to do so, the MAC would ask the SEF to fine the businessmen. Liu also said the MAC was not considering loosing these restrictions "at the present time."

My view is that Liu is hedging enough in his answers that I suspect the MAC had heard this news before and had decided not to act on it.

Letting Taiwanese businessmen on the council is a win-win situation for both the businesses and the Chinese government; it attaches influential Taiwanese to the Chinese political system and gives the Taiwanese businessmen some voice in defending their own interests there. But it is illegal and dangerous to Taiwan for obvious reasons, especially conflicts of interest and national loyalty complications.

Feb 12, 2009

Two articles worth reading today

Next Media picks close aide to Ma to head TV station
I'm sure he'll follow through on his promise for objective reporting.
Control Yuan censures SIP prosecutors
But no need to reprimand prosecutors who are obviously vengeful.

Feb 10, 2009

Former First Lady's trial

Taiwan News:

Attention will focus on whether Wu will use her court appearance to follow the example of her son and her daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching and plead guilty to some or all of the charges.
TVBS is reporting she HAS pleaded guilty to forgery of documents but not to corruption.

Update: very latest from ICRT:
A high profile court session for former first lady Wu Shu-zhen wrapped up
about an hour ago ... with Wu admitting guilt to less serious charges against

Wu was wheeled into the Taipei District Court shortly before 1:30 this
afternoon for a court session that lasted more than two hours.

During the hearing ... Wu said she had used unrelated unified invoices to
claim money from a special presidential fund for state affairs ... but that
the money didn't go into her own pocket.

She also admitted she had taken money in a land deal in Taoyuan ... and an
exhibition hall project in suburban Taipei ... but said the money was not
bribes, but political contributions.

After the hearing wrapped up Wu made a short statement ... saying she
regretted having gotten involved in such things ... and apologizing for the
social costs the whole affair has incurred.

She also said she that if her health allows it ... she will show up for
future hearings when she's called.

Feb 9, 2009


Update via Thomas' comment: The SCMP published a clarification today. They say they have no intention of opening an online paper in Taiwan and that the Economic Daily News story was false.

Seemingly big news, but it's kind of funny a DPA article was the best source for this:

Hong Kong’s ‘South China Morning Post’ to launch in Taiwan

SCMP, which is still a very enjoyable and sizable paper, has increasingly fallen into the orbit of Beijing since the Hong Kong handover. According to insiders, phrases like "Taiwan and China" are routinely altered to "Taiwan and the mainland" in the editing process, even for editorials. If I recall correctly, in the Hong Kong edition of the paper, Taiwan gets placed under the "China" "National" section.

It is no great surprise that the articles notes the KMT itself is pledging part of the funding to help set up the paper here.

Important note though:
Since Taiwan already has three English daily newspapers and its market for English papers is saturated, the newspaper decided to focus on online operations with most content in Chinese, but some information in English.

The 106-year-old daily is the leading English newspaper in Hong Kong with some 100,000 subscribers and is known as one of the top English-language dailies in Asia.
So don't expect to read your SCPM at a Mr. Brown cafe any time soon.

What the unemployment numbers don't say


Statistics from the Xinzhu Science Park seem to indicate the situation
involving companies asking employees to take unpaid leave could be worsening.

According to numbers from the Park administration today, about 100,000

workers and operators at the Park have been forced to take unpaid leave as a
result of the global economic recession....

According to the survey, the number of unpaid leave days averages one to
two days per week.
This is even worse than it sounds for a lot of people. I know workers in Pingtung who can't collect unemployment because they technically have a job -- already tough to find -- but who are asked to take off 3 months of the year on unpaid year. The workers then do this in shifts so that they all have at least some income more of the time.

Frankly, this unpaid leave things sounds like a twisted implementation on traditional leftist calls for spreading the work around to give people more free time and help create full employment.

DPP plans

The Taipei Times article on the DPP's reform wasn't bad, and this analysis was good, but it lacked a lot of the information found in the Liberty Times article that I found both valuable and reassuring. Basically, it turns out the DPP is not as out of touch with reality as I feared. Some choice comments from the Page 2 articles:


However, Tainan Mayor Hsu Tien-Tsai (許添財) noted that the DPP's problem is not in deciding the party's general direction [AGu: we do seem to know the core party goals, right?] but rather in its ability. The DPP must improve its ability [to govern] in order to win the people's trust. The goal is not to simply act as a watch dog of the ruling party, but to replace the ruling party quickly. One DPP Central Standing Committee member also said privately that they are not sure about the true usefulness of establishing consultation committees [the party's main action yesterday].



民進黨應把過去八年的執政政見拿出來一一檢視,做到多少?有多少是食言而肥?沒做到的部份應向選民道歉,許多民眾討厭國民黨,但不見得就會支持民進黨,因為 人民對民進黨失望到底,所以現在應重建人民信心,民進黨也要重新定位,告訴我們,你民進黨這個店到底要賣什麼?

[Professor] Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒) noted that it would not be useful for the DPP to merely debate whether it will be a legislative or a social movement, because even the party's goals are not clear right now. It's like debating if you will take the High Speed Rail or the train, or whether you'd rather fly, without knowing whether you're going to Kaohsiung, Hualian or Yilan. If the DPP merely discusses what they're doing to do and how, they'll be acting like a headless house fly.

The DPP ought to examine the experience of its eight years in power one item at a time. What did the party accomplish? How often was the party forced to eat its words? The party should apologize to the people for the goals it could not accomplish. Lots of people dislike the KMT, but that doesn't mean they'll be DPP voters, because the people are already greatly disappointed in the DPP. So the party must now re-win the confidence of the people, and establish a new orientation. Tell the people: what is it that the DPP is selling?

蔡丁貴 (公投護台灣聯盟召集人)

對於社會力量,民進黨嘴巴上雖講支持,實際上卻不當作一回事,過去民進黨會輸是有原因的,反對黨應要有眼光,勇敢站出來,呼籲民眾並運用人民力量共同建立 長治久安政治環境,不要只停留在縣市輸贏、立委席次多寡,應拉高思考層級,否則在目前遊戲規則下,與國民黨怎麼玩都會輸。

Professor Tsai Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) said that in terms of social power, the DPP talks the talk, but hasn't done anything for [social interest/activist groups]. In the past the DPP lost for this reason. An opposition party needs to have vision and bravely stand up Call on the people to use their power, working together to establish an environment suitable for long-term, stable [DPP] governance. There's no need to get stuck on whether the DPP will win the mayoral/county commissioner elections this year, or in how many legislators the party has. Instead the party has to think smarter, or under the current rules of the game, no matter what the DPP does, they'll lose to the KMT.

Feb 7, 2009

Legislative Yuan blows

This was among my favorite articles in Thursday's paper, because it reminds us of just how authoritarian the legislature tries to be. They don't just spend ALL their time covering Diana Lee's ass:

Dozens of civic group members yesterday rallied outside the Taipei District Court as prosecutors questioned Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) about a slander lawsuit filed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆).

“We condemn lawmakers who file lawsuits against watchdog groups. Instead, they should face public scrutiny with honesty,” National Union of Taiwan Women’s Associations chairwoman Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) told demonstrators outside the courthouse yesterday morning.“We urge Tsai to withdraw the lawsuit. You may have ranked last [in CCW’s evaluation of lawmakers], but you won’t stay there if you work hard enough,” Chen said.

Feb 5, 2009

picking up the ball

Looks like the DPP is finally recognizing the importance of a coherent and systematic China policy approach during the Ma era.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen announced the decision to set up the "China Affairs Task Force" during a scheduled meeting of the party's Central Standing Committee....

Tsai, who was herself formerly chairwoman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council from 2000 to 2004 under the previous DPP government, named former National Security Council deputy secretary-general Chen Chung-hsin to convene the new committee, whose members will include senior party leaders and legislators, former DPP government officials with experience in China affairs and scholars.

Tung said that Hu's speech represented "three restrictions."

The CPU associate professor stated that Hu aimed to "narrow Taiwan's future" to unification with the PRC and "drew a red line for Ma Ying-jeou" by declaring that "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will restore unity" and by declaring that cross-strait differences do not involve "sovereignty or the recreation of national territory, but the ending of political antagonism."

"In another words, the unification of China excludes the possibility of a federation or a commonwealth," said Tung.

Second, Tung said that Hu defined the "Consensus of 1992" under the "one China framework" and "drew a second red line against Ma Ying-jeou" by excluding any room for the new president's notion of "mutual non-denial" and by insisting that the two sides are "divided" but not "separate."...

"The DPP must clearly manifest Taiwan's democratic experience and the principle of 'sovereignty rests with the people' under which only the 23 million Taiwan people have the right to decide Taiwan's future," said the DPP spokesman.

Tung's bolded statements are especially refreshing, first because they're absolutely true, if you just read what the China leadership has repeatedly said and never denied; and it demonstrates the DPP is willing to look at what light blues may consider 'pragmatic' approaches, but that the DPP has seen those approaches to be in conflict with China's demands and policies.

Infuriating and irresponsible


Update: Robert Roth's link in his comment here has put the fear of Ma into me:

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday approved a draft amendment to the Satellite Radio and Television Law (衛星廣播電視法).

The amendment would set stricter regulations on TV news and comments in talk show programs, which the commission said “must follow fact-checking procedures and the principles of equality.”
What makes things scary is that fact checking is the biggest part of Talking Show, the "sensational" and "bias" and "false statistics" filled show the NCC singled out yesterday.

Update: Robert Roths' latest comment second was quite well put, so I will quote it in full here:

They keep trying to make us feel better, and it just makes me more and more terrified.

“I believe all the representatives would be from organizations with legitimate authority,” she said. “Who will oversee their judgment? I think God and conscience.”
That's what I call check's and balances!

And earlier in the news article:
“The article does not target any particular program,” Lee said.
Of course, the execution of the article will.

Feb 4, 2009

Ma: Improved cross-strait relations have

President Ma has noted that warming cross strait relations, driven by Taiwan's acceptance of a 'one China' policy, has actually strengthened Taiwanese sovereignty and improved trust between Taiwan and American officials.

The RTI article does not quote Ma directly using the phrase Taiwanese sovereignty (台灣主權), but the Liberty Times article confirms the quote and extends on it (Update: Taipei Times article indicated he may have used ROC sovereignty instead of Taiwan sovereignty), paraphrasing Ma's comments as "Taiwan is already a democratic society, and of course Taiwan's future must be decided by Taiwanese people. The government's policy is to make Taiwanese sovereignty and respect for the people the top priority.

Ma also claims that his "no unification, no independence, no force" policy is so awesome that it allowed the new government to make the US arms purchase last October (despite it having been on the table for years already but boycotted by the KMT); Ma also cited a number of small issues which seem to demonstrate that Taiwan already has more international space because of his China policy.

Ma is of course living in an alternate reality.

Venerable Master Sheng-yen (聖嚴法師) has passed away.

Feb 3, 2009

New media bias tracking site (與媒體對抗) is a long-running, pro-Taiwanese forum and blog hosting site that has devoted itself to exposing the consistant blue-bias in the majority of local media.

Not it looks like they have a new buddy on the scene with some cross over users. News Rumble! is helping highlight the extent the bias one (or two) articles at a time.

My favorite feature so far is the strait comparison section (正直新聞), where two articles from the same media outlet or the same author reveal drastically different attitudes based on the media or authors preference or distaste for the party in power.

As you can imagine, the site is currently focused on the pre- and post-Ma victory articles in largely blue media. My favorite comparisons so far include:

TVBS pre-Ma: "wages are meager!" (薪水變薄!)
TVBS post-Ma: "making even more money [than at your job] during your unpaid forced vacations" (無薪假休了更賺)

And this horrific contrast on the importance of money and spending habits defies my commentary.

Plenty more there. Enjoy!

Feb 2, 2009

Round up

Less than spectacular news.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to visit Japan and China on her first foreign trip in her new position, with a senior congressional source saying Clinton would be certain to discuss Taiwan with the Chinese leadership.

The source said the discussions would probably lead, on Clinton’s return, to an informal State Department review of US-Taiwan relations....

US State Department officials declined to confirm Clinton’s trip to China, but officials said in private that she was “leaning” toward visiting Asia at some point before US President Barack Obama meets Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at a London summit in April.
Given the new direction of Taiwan-PRC ties, I cannot imagine any review of relations with Taiwan, informal or otherwise, to end well. Washington's interest and willingness to assist Taiwan with weapons sales, which are already the only serious thorn in US-PRC ties, will only decline as Taiwan becomes more dependent and perhaps eventually (God forbid) servile to China.

Meanwhile, by-elections next month will provide a test for just how fed up or apathetic people in Taiwan are toward politics in this time of economic hardship. I expect apathy and record low voting percentages with strong blue machine turnout, so expect the KMT to fare well.
Former KMT legislator Lee E-tin (李乙廷) from Miaoli County lost his seat in the legislature after the Taichung High Court’s December rejection of his appeal against a Miaoli District Court ruling that annulled his election on vote-buying charges in last year’s legislative elections.

Another former KMT lawmaker, Diane Lee (李慶安), resigned last month amid a dispute over her alleged dual citizenship.

The KMT has nominated Lee E-tin’s wife, Chen Ruan-ying (陳鑾英), to run in the Miaoli by-election, while seven KMT hopefuls will vie in a party primary to represent the KMT in Daan district.

A senior KMT official said that if the KMT wins the two by-elections, it would show that its support base is solid, but if the result were the opposite, then the party would “have to learn about its deficiencies and address them accordingly.”
Economically, things are almost as dark as on the political side:
The consumer confidence index plunged to a new record low in a survey released by National Central University Monday, a day after the government announced it would create 150,000 jobs.