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Nov 22, 2011


Ha! Now that Ma has sued the DPP, and the KMT has sued Next Weekly, how could this story possibly play out to the KMT's advantage? They'll be attacked from all angles now -- press freedom, freedom of speech, and of course the fundamental question about why Ma was meeting a well-known bookie ever -- and how can this possibly work out in their favor?

Desperation, I suppose. Perhaps they really are more scared than they'd like to appear.

On a side note, we've seen very little coverage of the legislative election, as others have noted, which is a function of a few things. One that gets little attention is the general lack of local news coverage of Taiwan. Almost all news is completely nationalized; news from Taipei completely dominates, with the South getting the short end of the stick unless there's a scandal or great food.

So since there are no real newspapers or media serving any single district, and with Taiwan's ultra-competitive eight cable news station, 24-hour news cycle, how can a station justify covering those individual races unless there's something scandalous enough to interest the entire country? 

Another factor is that legislators are campaigning on the ground very hard, but in all the traditional ways -- visiting temples, sending trucks around, going to night markets, handing out things on street corners. And the media simply doesn't send the resources to cover these campaigns in a comprehensive way. It would be a lot of work, and basically, there's not enough money for that. The media instead follow party headquarters' announced schedules. They leave Taipei when the presidential candidates leave, for the most part, and they don't have the money to cover the local races.

Actually this is a big chance for a coordinated blogosphere effort to step in and make the coverage others can't. The traditional media could even lead the charge, if they had the sense, and do iReport style election coverage for these local races. Instead, what we see is brief biographies of legislative candidates of major news aggregation sites (mostly Yahoo, Yam a distant second), and whatever news related to their race that manages to make it into the national spotlight as links underneath. 

Probably not, but

Think there's any chance Sissy is telling the truth or has inside info on this


Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) is not the only guy who looks like he's mixing governmental duties and election stuff related to the ROC 100 celebrations.

As evidence, enjoy these scans from a pamphlet I picked up from the Houston ROC 100 event. These pamphlets were distributed for free by the TECO table.  Click to enlarge.  They avoid being *too* overtly political, but lots of Ma butt kissing going on here. 


Nov 21, 2011

This cookie doesn't crumble

I love how Tsai pushes back under criticism. In this case, she's responding to Ma's  recent comments:
In an interview with ETTV, Ma defended his integrity and said he did not meet with [Bookie] Chen on Sept. 10 during a campaign visit to Chiayi. 
“The magazine made a false accusation and the DPP jumped on the bandwagon to spread the rumors. This is a vicious culture,” he said.

And in a related article:
“The foreign press has described Tsai as a Robin Hood-like heroine, but to my understanding Robin Hood should fight for justice, rather than spread rumors and set up decent people,” Ma said on Saturday.
Tsai's response?
On the evening of the 19th, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen expressed that Ma Ying-jeou had seen a person he shouldn't see [A-gu: the bookie Chen Ying-chu, who Ma admits to meeting, just not on the dates Next accused him of] and that when society suspected Ma for this behavior, Ma surprisingly attacked Tsai herself for spreading rumors and libel... 

Gotta give to her, she's a tough but warm, calm and collected cookie. 

Nov 19, 2011

Pretty sure Soong just destroyed his candidacy

As the 10/18 episode of 2100 pointed out to me tonight, Soong stated he's a guy from Henan Province working in Taiwan, and what's the problem with that?

Expect this to appear in the blue media especially again and again as the election approaches. The 2100 guests were universally derisive of his stance, ignoring the compatibility of that stance with KMT dogma. 

Damn, I never see that banana peel.

Just a month ago, [Eng | Ch], President Ma was defending his plans to increase the farmers' monthly farm subsidy by a measly NT$316 (US$10.47) over the current NT$6,000 subsidy.

The one thing you couldn't say about this plan was that it amounted to vote buying. It was more of an insult.

The DPP plan, by contrast, was for an NT$1,000 dollar increase (to a total of $7,000 per month), while some KMT legislators were calling for as much as $10,000 a month total subsidy.

Back in October, Ma made an excellent point:
The good point of systematizing the farm subsidy system is that it will prevent a populist bidding war every time an election approaches. To avoid the care of old farmers becoming a competition or a weapon between both parties is more fair and reasonable to the farmers, looking at it from the perspective of social justice.  
Ma changes his mind today, adopting the DPP plan of an NT$1,000 increase in the subsidy, probably under intense pressure from the KMT legislative caucus and local faction networks. As Ma put it,

Ma said he decided to call for a meeting to discuss the issue on Thursday night after meeting with Taiwan Organization for Disadvantaged Patients secretary-general Yang Yu-xing (楊玉欣) and other civic groups earlier that day to talk about subsidy programs for civic groups.
“They told me that many social welfare subsidies haven’t been adjusted for 10 to 18 years and suggested that the government should make up for the shortfall, so that the systemized subsidy programs would help more people, and they persuaded me of their case,” he said on the sidelines of a campaign event in Taipei City.
So the Ma campaign chooses to embarrass itself and admit being wrong rather than continue to resist massive pressure come across party lines. It's probably a better decision than leaving the $316 subsidy in place, but it shows what a bad job the KMT is doing at controlling the agenda and media focus as the election closes in. This move also helps reinforce DPP criticisms of KMT indecisiveness and incompetence.

Update: Don't forget that this "new" topic will take attention off allegations that Ma took shitloads of money from an election bookie.

Nov 17, 2011

Next Magazine right for once?

Too early to say. Obviously, the rag Next Magazine is not exactly a bastion of accuracy, but they recently had an article saying President Ma Ying-jeou had a recent secret meeting with Gambling Kingpin Chen Ying-chu (陳盈助) in Chiayi on Sept. 10 and asked for a huge donation.  "According to the magazine, Chen is allegedly in charge of major underground betting activities on local elections." Read the Taipei Times coverage here.

I wouldn't have paid this story any mind at all except that Ma's office has released his schedule from Sept 10th as evidence there was no such secret meeting. Unfortunately for Ma, scrutiny of that list quickly revealed a potentially weak alibi. You can find reports in September newspapers about everything on Ma's schedule that day except for a two and a half hour "symposium with scholars" 「學者座談會」. That is to say, no media knew about the symposium; Ma will probably be asked at this point to point out who was there, what they talked about, etc.

I would have to suggest that Ma's image as a "clean" politician will require some real proof to change, but a political donation would be more believable to most than directly lining his own pockets. It's hard to say what kind of scandal this could become, but related stories are quite hot right now on the site.

Nov 16, 2011


In case you have any lingering suspicions  about the Chinese definition of the '92 consensus, Politburo Standing Committee member Jia Qinglin (贾庆林) reminds us yet again in a story covered solidly by blue media so far:
Jia Qinglin emphasized that pushing forward peaceful development of cross strait relations necessitates protecting four key requirements: the first is to insist that the mainland and Taiwan both belong to the same "One China" as a political foundation; the second is deepening exchanges and cooperation, with emphasis on promoting discussions and negotiations; the third is to encourage compatriots on both sides of the straight to strive in solidarity, becoming a powerful force; and fourth is to continue opposing Taiwanese Independence. These are the necessary conditions for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

It seems China is stepping up expectations on the KMT. The second condition seems to be a threat that "talks must go on," so that when economic and cultural issues are all resolved -- aka, after the election -- then political talks must begin, if not conclude.

The third condition to me seems to be a not so veiled reference to united effort between Taiwan and China on resolving territorial disputes in the Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea. While it's been obvious for some time that China and the KMT were promoting such a policy, this is the first time I've seen China vocalize that, and certainly the first time I've seen them name it as a "necessary condition" for continued peaceful development of relations. 

The fourth condition looks almost like a repeat of the first, but there is a subtle difference: one could argue, as Frank Hsieh did in his 2004 campaign, that constitutionally, like it or not, Taiwan is claiming to legally be the rightful government of PRC territory as well as Taiwan (this is called "the constitutional One China" argument 憲法一中論). This satisfies the first condition. But like Frank Hsieh, one can hold that position and also argue that the constitution does not reflect reality and that only the Taiwanese people have a right to determine Taiwan's future. That would not meet the "requirements" of condition four.

One could suggest this is an attempt to shoot down the possibility of a DPP administration reasserting old Frankie's policy, and claiming that "yes, the constitution says we're the same country" yet at the same time staving off moves toward annexation.  A clever policy the DPP is pushing calls for amending the referendum law to require referendums on agreements with China (as they're doing now). So China may be trying to say this, too, is a "provocative" action that they will not tolerate. 

Of course ultimately, China is just staking out the most aggressive position possible so that in the event of a DPP victory, they have a stronger position from which to begin negotiations. Still, I find this development interesting. 

In other news, Ma Ying-jeou seems to be back on the "referendum before [negotiating] peace accord" train which he had seemingly jumped off of.

Nov 11, 2011

That's about right

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets polled 1612 folks between Nov 4th and 6th that agree with other recent "within margin of error" polls which came out of the pro-KMT China Times and TVBS : in the CLSA poll, Ma was at 44.2% and Tsai at 43.1%.

Update: TVBS poll shows the same,  with Tsai "winning" by 1%. So this one's gonna be a squeaker. 

Update 2: Liberty Times poll shows the same. So  polls across party lines now agree -- Ma/Tsai support is essentially tied, with Soong getting around 10% of the vote.

Nov 4, 2011


If you speak Chinese, please see minute 19:04 through 19:35 of this video. Here, Ma stumbles over himself, saying that all decisions he makes consider the benefit to the country and the party. The host helps him get out of the problem, immediately suggesting "but the country's benefit is most important," to which Ma responds, "of course."

In some sense, there's nothing to see here; all politicians consider the benefit of their party. But it's foolish to put these things together as equally important in a public interview.

*Family Feud buzzer*

President Ma had a funny recollection while praising the '92 consensus:
Ma recalled that Harding had a meeting with former President Chen Shui-bian during a visit he made to Taiwan 11 years ago, at which time Chen said he would accept the "1992 consensus" if Beijing would also accept it.
Twenty-four hours later, however, then-Mainland Affairs Council Minister Tsai Ing-wen denied that Chen's statement represented government policy, Ma said. 

Tsai is now the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's chairwoman and presidential candidate.

According to Ma, Tsai's continued denial of the existence of the "1992 consensus" could upset the stability of cross-strait relations in the future if she is elected.
It's such a funny recollection because it's clearly false. Chinese articles on Ma's speech say Ma said the press release about this is still on the Presidential website. So let's go find it!

If you do a search for Harry Harding's name (何漢理) we get a few hits, and sure enough one of them is from 11 years ago (or even in that time range). And in that press release, we see exactly what Ma is talking about:
President Chen expressed that the new government was willing to accept the consensus previously reached between the SEF and ARATS, which is "One China, two interpretations," but that the mainland side won't acknowledge this, instead only mentioning their "One China" policy, which considers the Republic of China [Taiwan] to be a part of the People's Republic of China. The view that "One China" means "The People's Republic of China" is a viewpoint that the people of Taiwan cannot accept, and as a result it is not possible to reopen the door to negotiations, which actually is very disappointing. We hope to restart negotiations as quickly as possible, to find commonalities in our differences, and to find a definition of "One China" that both sides can accept.We have no predetermined position, and [seek] no predetermined conclusion. We are willing to shake hands & sit down to talk with the Chinese Communist leader Jiang Zemin in a situation with a flexible format, location and topics.
總統進一步表示,新政府願意接受海基、海協兩會之前會談的共識,那就是「一個中國、各自表述」,但是大陸方面卻不承認,而另外提出「一個中國」政策,認 為中華民國是中華人民共和國的一部分,所謂的「一個中國」就是中華人民共和國,這種觀點是台灣人民無法接受的,如此也導致無法重新啟開協商大門,實在令人 遺憾。我們希望儘速恢復協商,存異求同,並就「一個中國」的內容,找出雙方都可接受的涵義。我們沒有預設立場,也沒有預設結論,願意在不拘形式、地點與議 題的情況下,與中共領導人江澤民先生坐下來,握手言談。
I'm sure you can see the issue here. Because we've been through this many times before. The "92 consensus Ma defines as "One China, two interpretations" doesn't exist.  There is no mutual non-denial. The PRC flatly denies 'two interpretations.' See for yourself.  As I said back then after reading this People's Daily article:
China objects strongly to any "two interpretations" phrasing, saying that although the political content of 'One China' could be ignored, there simply was no "two interpretations" to the consensus in that November 1992 agreement (既然没有讨论,根本就没有什么“各自表述”的共识。).
Hopefully, Ma's mention of the press release on the Presidential website will help spur people with fuzzier understandings on this topic to look it up and see how he's flat out lying. I'm not so sure Ma's comments can withstand a full assault.