Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tsai Ying-wen's Autocratic Overreach

Tsai Ying-wen's Autocratic Overreach  
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 30, 2016

Executive Summary: No matter how many grand plans one might have for the nation, Tsai Ing-wen's blueprint for reform has already provoked violence and chaos. The public cannot swallow it. In fact, even the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan have no idea where they are going. At this point, President Tsai must shift gears and change direction. She must re-prioritize her decision-making. More importantly, she must ensure that her administration understands her policy path. They cannot afford to look up to the sky and not pay attention to their feet on the ground.

Full Text Below:

Recently the streets of Taipei have overflowed with protesters. The number of protesters continues to rise. Labor organizations have protested the longer work week. Gay rights activists have protested the lack of same-sex marriages. Consumers have protested the importation of food products from Japan's nuclear disaster area. More recently, TransAsia Airways workers have protested the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and KMT party workers have protested CIPAS nationalization of KMT assets. This does not even include military personnel, civil servants, and public school teachers, who have called a temporary truce. President Tsai Ing-wen remains committed to her reformist crusade. She assumes it is the quickest way to a new Taiwan. But with brush fires breaking out everywhere, and protests erupting all around, she is seriously testing the public's patience.

There is no doubt that this rash of protests on Taiwan is the result of political deadlock. The reason for the deadlock is Tsai's autocratic reforms, combined with her incompetent governance. If Tsai were a charismatic leader, and her administration comprised of experienced political veterans, she might get away with her “reform of the week” crusade. But Tsai Ing-wen's support comes from an array of finger-pointing Taiwan independence elders. Her administration is staffed by panicked and confused cabinet members. Under the circumstances how can the Tsai government possibly impose her half-baked policies with a heavy hand? How can she possibly expect the public to swallow them?

One month after taking office, Tsai Ing-wen's approval rating was 60%. Six months after taking office, her approval rating was down to 30%. We have no idea how Tsai Ing-wen is interpreting this public disappointment. Is she kidding herself when she says "Reforms invariably encounter setbacks"? Is she flattering herself when she says "Reactionary forces are lashing back"? Either way, the moment President Tsai falls back on such psychological defense mechanisms, she is likely to lose sight of her original goal. All of Tsai Ing-wen's pledges can be summed up in her May 20 inaugural address, when she said "What people are looking for is a solution to their problems". But what has the government actually done over the past six months to help people solve their problems? Has it merely created more problems?

Tsai's reforms have provoked public protests for three reasons. First, her reforms were not properly planned. She failed to consider the pros and cons of her reforms. She presented no clear blueprint, therefore people remained skeptical. Second, the Tsai government refused to listen to the views of different segments of society. She resisted open dialogue with the public. Third, during decision-making, she used all manner unscrupulous means to pander to the DPP at the expense of democracy and the rule of law.

In fact, the recent protests are not necessarily in opposition to Tsai government reforms per se. They are in opposition to reforms whose goals are none too clear, or whose means are far too autocratic. They are in opposition to partisan vendettas disguised as reform, with the government trampling over democracy and the rule of law. Tsai Ing-wen's flowery rhetoric, arrant overreach, and forked tongue, have all been fatal to her image.

During the recent controversy over same-sex marriage, the Tsai Ing-wen government never consulted with the public. It never even asked the cabinet or the DPP legislative caucus for a draft version. Instead, it allowed Yu Mei-jen to present a common law draft version, to be rammed through the legislature. Naturally this caused public panic. Same-sex marriage is an issue unrelated to blue vs. green ideology. Taiwan society is becoming more open. It has gradually become one of the most open in Asia. The younger generation is far friendlier toward gays than previous generations. If the government is well prepared and communicates effectively, Taiwan can take a giant step forward in same-sex marriage compared to its neighbors. But Yu Mei-jen ignored the need for public consultation. She took the lead in ramming the bill through the legislature. Meanwhile, Tsai Ying-wen feined neutrality. The result was proponents and opponents at dagger points, taking to the streets and screaming at each other. This was a negative development no one wanted to see.

As such, however the chips fall, serious disagreements have divided society and the generations. Such an outcome is the inevitable consequence of poor governance. Consider internal dissent on this issue just within the DPP itself. Legislators without portfolio are out in front leading the charge. Legislators who represent regional constituents on the other hand, are in the rear, dragging their feet. Divisions among the public run deep. How can Tsai Ing-wen pretend not to see?

No matter how many grand plans one might have for the nation, Tsai Ing-wen's blueprint for reform has already provoked violence and chaos. The public cannot swallow it. In fact, even the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan have no idea where they are going. At this point, President Tsai must shift gears and change direction. She must re-prioritize her decision-making. More importantly, she must ensure that her administration understands her policy path. They cannot afford to look up to the sky and not pay attention to their feet on the ground.

改革暴衝:蔡英文的眼高手低
2016-12-02 聯合報

最近台北街頭每天充塞著抗爭群眾,且隊伍不斷增加。從勞工的一例一休之爭,同性婚姻的正反兩軍之戰,民眾抵制日本核虞食品的示威活動,最近又新添了興航員工突襲民航局、及國民黨黨工包圍黨產會的抗議事件。這些,都還沒算上暫時休兵的軍公教隊伍。儘管蔡英文總統仍耽溺於她的改革大業,以為可以在最短的時間打造一個全新的台灣,但隨著烽火連綿,抗爭四起,她也嚴重考驗著民眾的耐性。

毫無疑問,台灣社會這種抗爭四起的現象,正是「政治塞車」的後遺症;而政治之所以塞車,則是「改革暴衝」加上「行政無能」的結果。假使蔡英文是一位魅力領袖,而她的執政團隊又是支經驗老到的精兵,或許還可堪當其「每周一改革」的志業。而如今的景象卻是,蔡英文背後站著成排指指點點的獨派大老,其行政團隊則是一群面露惶恐、不知所措的閣員;在這種情況下,蔡政府要用雷霆手段推動一堆半生不熟的政策,如何教民眾吞得下去?

從執政滿月時逾六成的支持度,跌到執政半年後僅剩三成的滿意度,我們不知道蔡英文如何解讀民意對她的失望:是要以「改革總會遭遇反挫」故作鎮定呢;或要以「保守勢力反撲」來自我增強?無論如何,一旦蔡總統陷入這樣的心理防衛機制,她極可能就失卻了自己的初衷。在五二○就職演說中,蔡英文所有的承諾可化約為一句話:「人民期待的,就是解決問題」;但執政半年來,政府究竟幫台灣解決了什麼問題,或者反而製造了更多問題?

改革之所以會發生暴衝,原因有三:第一,在改革構思上,缺乏審慎的計議和利弊分析,因提不出清晰的推動藍圖,讓民眾心生疑懼。第二,在政治過程中,政府一意孤行,缺乏聆聽社會不同意見的胸襟,亦不願虛心與民眾溝通對話;第三,在決策操作上,為達一己政黨之目的,不擇手段,踰越民主法治界線而在所不惜。

事實上,民眾近期抗爭不斷,未必是反對蔡政府的改革本身,而是反對改革的目標太不明確,或是反對改革的手段太過粗暴,或者反對藉改革之名行鬥爭之實,甚至是不滿政府踐踏民主法治。這些情況,對映蔡英文口口聲聲華麗的文青詞藻,她的「眼高手低」,乃至「心口不一」,皆是其致命傷。

以最近同性婚姻的爭議為例,蔡英文政府從未就此議題進行任何社會溝通,甚至未及待內閣提出政院版本或立院黨團提民進黨版本草案,即讓尤美女帶著她的「民法版」草案直接闖關,這當然會引起社會大眾的慌亂。同性婚姻是一個無關藍綠的議題,以台灣社會的開放性,走到今天,已漸漸成為亞洲最開放的國家之一,年輕世代對同志的友善程度也大大超越上一代。如果政府做好準備,經過有效溝通,台灣不無可能在同性婚姻立法上超越鄰國,邁開一大步。然而,在社會溝通付諸闕如下,尤美女帶頭闖關,蔡英文態度曖昧;結果造成正反兩派人馬劍拔弩張,甚至上街對嗆,互相鄙視,這是大家不樂見的反向發展。

如此一來,無論此一法案最後以何種方式收場,對社會及世代都將是一場嚴重的撕裂;這樣的結局,就是惡劣操作的必然後果。只消看民進黨內部對此議題的分歧,不分區立委在前方衝刺,區域立委在後方拉扯,即可知民間歧見之深;對此,蔡英文可以裝作看不見嗎?

無論胸中還有多少治國大計,她的改革藍圖已經出現頻頻暴衝並導致社會混亂,不僅民眾消化不良,事實上連行政和立法部門都不知道自己將走向何方。此際,蔡總統必須調整她施政的速度和方向,重新整理決策的優先順序。更重要的,是要確保她的執政團隊有能力掌握政策走向,不要眼睛望著天空,卻不留心自己腳下步履是否穩妥。

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Collective Silence: An Accomplice in Party Assets Committee Constitutional Violations

Collective Silence: An Accomplice in Party Assets Committee Constitutional Violations
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 30, 2016

Executive Summary: Hannah Eulan, a German political theorist, cited the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal, to show that when the majority of individuals in society refuse to think, collective madness will ultimately push the whole society to commit the ultimate crime. "In politics, obedience is tantamount to support." People must not assume this matter has nothing to do with them. Some people on Taiwan still regard the KMT as a “bandit regime” and seek to remove it. But next to the DPP, the KMT pales by comparison. When Taiwan's democratic values and constitutional foundations are eroded, public silence will be the chief culprit.

Full Text Below:

According to the Executive Yuan Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, or CIPAS, the Central Investment Company and the Hsinyutai Company must be nationalized in accordance with the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations. CIPAS arrived at this decision last week, and alleged that the Central Investment Company and Hsinyutai Company were illicit creations of the KMT. Premier Lin immediately convened the relevant ministries to discuss the matter, and form a takeover team. The actions of CIPAS have provoked a series of public controversies. Its procedures have been illegal, even unconstitutional. Yet CIPAS chairman Wellington Koo refuses to relent. President Tsai and the DPP bear the greatest responsibility. But the public cannot assume that such matters do not concern them, and stand idly by doing nothing.

Since CIPAS began operations, it has assumed that it is above the law. It has acted in complete disregard of legal procedures and justice. In September it ordered the Bank of Taiwan and Bank Sinopac to freeze the KMT's accounts. The Taipei High Administrative Court ruled that order issued by CIPAS was illegal. It ruled that the KMT is legally allowed to withdraw funds. But CIPAS ignored the court's ruling, and continued its freeze on KMT accounts in the two banks. CIPAS considers itself above the courts, hence entitled to ignore the court's decisions.

Last week, CIPAS decided that the Central Investments Company and Hsinyutai Company must be nationalized. This too, was contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. According to Wellington Koo, the two companies are the products of past party-state equivalence, when the government and state owned entities were interconnected, and a single party could use its dominant position to acquire illicit assets. Nationalization, Koo argues, is therefore the fulfillment of transitional justice. But the KMT acquired these assets before the Republic of China Constitution was amended on December 25, 1947. Therefore these assets are not covered by current constitutional provisions. They must be dealt with in accordance with the General Outline of the Constitution for the Political Tutelage Period of the Republic of China. The General Outline stipulated that the party and the government are one. The Party Assets Act was not in effect at the time. Any ruling must therefore abide by the General Outline, according to which “the party leads the government”. Besides, the KMT brought the gold and the government assets to Taiwan from the Mainland.

According to CIPAS, the Central Investment Company sold 200 million NT in bonds in 1971. Before that, KMT party owned businesses showed only a small two year surplus. CIPAS claims that the Central Investment Company, founded in 1971, is a KMT
affiliate organization. But the Company Law and Public Organizations Law then in effect did not expressly prohibit political parties from investing. The Public Organizations Law allowed the formation of organizations outside the party only after 1971. CIPAS claims that the China Investment Company was created by the sale of 200 million in bonds. Nevertheless it cannot ignore the shareholders' investments, the board of supervisors' oversight, and other capital injections. Not to mention the fact that its subsidiaries are independent legal entities and independent shareholder groups. The Constitution protects their property rights as well.

Finally, Executive Yuan and CIPAS spokesmen have repeatedly argued that according to the Administrative Procedure Law, Section 116, the China Investment Company and Hsinyutai Company shares must be nationalized. They will not stop because the KMT files suit. The KMT may call for a constitutional amendment, but it will not influence the CIPAS one iota. The DPP thumbs its nose at the justice system, and issues threats against the justice system, even as it holds high the banner of transitional justice. It abuses its executive power to defy the judicial process. Even if future courts render adverse judgments, such judgments can be challenged as improper.

Even more astonishing is the attitude of CIPAS regarding the burden of proof, the presumption of guilt, and the right to remain silent. It ignores due process and does whatever it pleases. CIPAS even demands the authority to conduct searches of "premises where it is not welcome" despite insufficient evidence, based on the presumption of guilt.

Searches of public organizations for evidence of illegal conduct require police officials to present sufficient evidence to the court for the issuance of search warrants, in order to protect innocent parties. Today however, CIPAS can unilaterally presume illicit conduct and ignore judicial rulings. It can use the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations to ram through tailor made legislation. It can presume guilt, enforce ex post facto laws, and ignore statutes of limitations. These provisions have been in force for 71 years. CIPAS is using a single law to destroy our entire judicial system.

At the core of democracy is the rule of law. Legal abuses by CIPAS reveal how the DPP government is destroying the basic values ​​of democracy. The reason CIPAS is so bold, is of course President Tsai Ing-wen and her policy of transitional justice. Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP government are the driving force behind this subversion of democracy. They bear responsibility for the destruction of democracy.

Hannah Eulan, a German political theorist, cited the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal, to show that when the majority of individuals in society refuse to think, collective madness will ultimately push the whole society to commit the ultimate crime. "In politics, obedience is tantamount to support." People must not assume this matter has nothing to do with them. Some people on Taiwan still regard the KMT as a “bandit regime” and seek to remove it. But next to the DPP, the KMT pales by comparison. When Taiwan's democratic values and constitutional foundations are eroded, public silence will be the chief culprit.

社論》集體緘默是黨產會毀憲幫凶
2016/11/30 下午 07:54:26  主筆室

行政院不當黨產處理委員會上周決議,中央投資公司、欣裕台公司為國民黨不當黨產,依據《不當黨產處理條例》,兩公司股權將移轉國有。行政院院長林全隨即邀集相關部會討論,決定立即成立接管小組接管。由於黨產會的連續作為引發各界爭議,不僅程序違法,甚至有違憲之虞,但是黨產會主委顧立雄仍然一意孤行,蔡總統和民進黨必須負起最大責任,民眾更不能認為事不關己而袖手旁觀。

黨產會自從開始運作以來,就像拿了尚方寶劍一樣,全然不顧法律程序和正義,9月間就逕自發函台灣銀行和永豐銀行,不得隨意讓國民黨提領存款;後經台北高等行政法院認定其合法性有疑義,國民黨依法可以動用存款,但黨產會對兩銀行祭出暫停提領匯出的行政處分,持續凍結國民黨帳戶至今,這種無視於法院裁決的行徑,簡直就是法院的太上皇。

上周黨產會將中投公司和欣裕台公司收歸國有的決議,也違背了憲法精神。首先,根據顧立雄的宣示,這是過去黨國一體的年代,政府與國家組織交互連結,單一政黨利用主導地位,所獲得不法資源,收歸國有是轉型正義的真諦。但是國民黨取得財產大都在民國36年12月25日行憲以前,該時期並非在現行憲法規範下,因此應依當時等同憲法的《中華民國訓政時期約法》處理。約法規定黨政一體,現行《不當黨產處理條例》逾越憲法行憲時期,則需遵循約法「以黨領政」的規範,更何況當時國民黨從大陸攜來黃金與政府財產互有挹注。

其次,依據黨產會調查,中投為國民黨於1971年購置2億元公債所成立,之前黨營事業僅有2年小有盈餘。黨產會認定民國60年成立的中投公司是國民黨附隨組織,可是依照當時的《公司法》與《人民團體法》均未明文禁止政黨投資;《人團法》更是民國60年才有開放黨外組黨之雛議。因此,縱然黨產會認定中投公司是由購置2億元公債而來,不能全盤否認股東的投資、蕫監事會的經營與其他資金的挹注,更不用說轉投資的子公司仍具有獨立的法人人格與獨立的股東會,這些都是憲法保障人民財產權的範圍。

最後,行政院或黨產會發言人一再強調,依《行政訴訟法》第116條規定,中投與欣裕台股權收歸國有的處分之執行,不會因國民黨提起行政訴訟而停止;也預測縱使國民黨聲請釋憲,也不會影響黨產會作業進度。這種無視司法並揚言挑戰司法、高舉轉型正義大旗的黨產會,將以行政權力對抗司法程序,縱然未來法院有不利判決,都可質疑法院判決不當。

令人驚愕的是,黨產會以「舉證責任倒置」、「有罪推定」與「排除緘默」等不當手段,毋須踐履正當程序便可恣意妄為;連黨產會本欲行使黨史館的調閱權或搜索權,都能夠以「不去一個不歡迎我們的地方」、「已經掌握相關事證因此不去」等,以有罪推定的立場放話表態,令人匪疑所思。

我國法律對於人民團體的行政檢查或是違法事證之調查,檢警人員進行搜索都要以足夠證據向法院申請核發「搜索票」,以利當事人自我無罪之保護。而今,黨產會卻能片面認定不當,無視司法審查到這種地步。以《不當黨產處理條例》個別性、針對性立法,又採用「有罪推定」、「溯及既往」、「排除消滅時效」等手段追究71年之久,難道不是用極權式不當的特別法去破壞我國的司法體系嗎?

民主的核心價值就是法治,黨產會的濫權讓我們活生生地見識到民進黨政府的行事是如何在崩解民主的基本價值,黨產會敢於如此膽大妄為,當然是秉持著蔡英文總統推動轉型正義的政策,蔡英文和民進黨政府就是民主逆流的推手,應該負起裂解民主的責任。

德裔政治理論思想家漢娜‧鄂蘭以納粹戰犯阿道夫‧艾希曼的審判為例,說明當社會上的大多數個人不思考,集體的瘋狂,最終將把整個社會推向極致的犯罪,她說「在政治中,服從就等於支持。」民眾不要以為事不關己,在台灣社會固然有一部分人視國民黨為寇讎,必欲除之而後快,但是相較於國民黨,民進黨的作為更值得深思,當台灣的民主價值和憲政基礎被侵蝕的時候,沉默就會是最大的幫凶。

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Is the Sacrificial Pawn Determined to be a Starving Sentry?

Is the Sacrificial Pawn Determined to be a Starving Sentry?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 30, 2016

Executive Summary: The Economist Special Edition featured a Tarot card on the cover. It predicted global trends for 2017. It invoked "Planet Trump" as a metaphor for the setback he poses for globalism. The process of regional integration is confusing, disorderly, and intense. Yet Taiwan remains ignorant of the cards it holds. Tsai Ying-wen must wake up and clear her head, lest she follow in Chen Shui-bian's footsteps. She must cast off her illusions and boldly proclaim which path she intends to take. Otherwise, she will become a puppet of deep green pressure groups. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly. She had better complete her test paper, lest her Asian tiger be reduced to a sick cat.

Full Text Below:

Donald Trump wants the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). That is no longer in doubt. Taiwan is stunned. The situation is grim. If the Tsai Ing-wen government sweeps the problem under the rug and does nothing, Tsai's popularity will hit rock bottom. If she attempts to push through reforms after she has lost popular support, it will be too late.

Trump's election victory marks a dramatic reversal in global political tides. Since the end of World War II, the US has dominated global affairs. This domination is now on “Pause”. Meanwhile, Mainland China's "Chinese Dream" has begun to see the light of day. The Mainland is using a variety of means to shape the world to its liking. Trump's New Isolationism and Xi Jinping's Chinese Dream clearly indicate who is pulling back and who is moving forward.

Obama's withdrawal from the Middle East was a precursor of this strategic withdrawal. Hillary Clinton authored Obama's "Asian Rebalancing" strategy to suppress China's rise. But based on its behavior in the South China Sea, the United States' bark is worse than its bite. The TPP, its most important containment tactic, is already unsustainable.

Furthermore, during the same period, Mainland China set forth its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. It successfully promoted its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) project. Even Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and other US allies have joined. In the South China Sea, it has consolidated its strategic position through island building. This year, for the very first time, it hosted the G20 Summit, the most important platform for global governance.

The world has arrived at a major watershed. The Chinese Dream and the New Isolationism now stand side by side. A new bipolar world is emerging. Yet Tsai's policy remains rigidly anchored in the old world. Tsai sees only Hillary Clinton, who appears to retain the luster of global hegemony. She does not see that the colors of the US Empire have already begun to fade.

Tsai Ing-wen failed to see the signs. She bet everything on the United States. Needless to say, Trump's opposition to the TPP has impacted Taiwan.
The TPP is ostensibly an “economic agreement”. But  Hillary Clinton's economic adviser John W. Holmes described it as the "Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty", as a coalition designed to contain China. Alas, the TPP has collapsed even before it could take shape. Taiwan has consequently become an economic and strategic orphan.

Following the collapse of the TPP, the global focus shifted to the Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) and the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area (FTAAP) initiatives, both of which are dominated by Mainland China. Taiwan probably will be denied entry. Attempts to sign bilateral agreements will probably be met with frustration. Yet according to the October issue of The Economist, Tsai Ying-wen has affected a carefree manner and declared her intent to promote bilateral and multilateral economic and trade agreements. She even boasted that she would restore Taiwan to her former status as one fo the four Asian tigers.

There are two possible explanations for Tsai's attitude. First, The Tsai government is blind. It does not see that Taiwan is already in its death throes. Second, Tsai Ing-wen knows that Taiwan's condition is critical, but she remains a hostage to ideology. She wants to procrastinate, and whistle in the dark. If the Tsai government is blind, will the fate of the tourism industry and the dissolution of TransAsia Airways shock the Tsai government into awareness? If Tsai already understands the situation, then Taiwan has become a sacrificial pawn to the TPP. Must we tighten our belts, and continue to serve as the United States' starving sentinel in Asia?

Tsai Ying-wen has a responsibility to make the right decisions in the face of cold reality. The new global paradigm shows that Taiwan cannot renounce bilateral agreements. But more importantly, Taiwan must take part in RCEP and FTAAP regional integration. Such an about face is not that difficult. Tsai need only follow through on her inaugural address. She need only reaffirm that she is abiding by the Constitution, and that cross-Strait relations are not relations between different states.

Beijing's recent actions are worth noting. Xi Jinping met with Hung Hsiu-chu in Beijing early this month. In mid-May he embarrassed Ma Ying-jeou in Malaysia, when he omitted “different interpretations” from the 1992 Consensus", leaving only "one China". By contrast, he did not shut James Soong out of APEC in Peru. Before James Soong left for Lima, he declared that "both sides of the Strait belong to one China” and reiterated his “opposition to Taiwan independence". Xi praised Hung, blocked Ma, and met Soong. Beijing is probably waiting for Tsai Ing-wen to complete the unanswered questions on her test paper.

The Economist Special Edition featured a Tarot card on the cover. It predicted global trends for 2017. It invoked "Planet Trump" as a metaphor for the setback he poses for globalism. The process of regional integration is confusing, disorderly, and intense. Yet Taiwan remains ignorant of the cards it holds. Tsai Ying-wen must wake up and clear her head, lest she follow in Chen Shui-bian's footsteps. She must cast off her illusions and boldly proclaim which path she intends to take. Otherwise, she will become a puppet of deep green pressure groups. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly. She had better complete her test paper, lest her Asian tiger be reduced to a sick cat.

做了棄卒,還要當饑餓哨兵?
2016-11-30 聯合報

川普要退出「跨太平洋夥伴協定(TPP)」,已無懸念,台灣頓失所依。形勢嚴峻,蔡英文的政府若僅故作鎮靜,仍毫無作為,她的聲望恐將一路探底,而當她失去民心,再作任何變革,亦都將藥石罔效。

川普當選是世界浪潮反轉的戲劇性一幕,美國從二戰末期開始主導世局的全球主義,在這一刻突然劃上休止符;而中國大陸卻欲迎向其「中國夢」黎明前的微光,用不同的倡議,嘗試塑造這個世界。川普的新孤立主義,與習近平的「中國夢」,鮮明地呈現了彼消此長的情狀。

美國從歐巴馬中東撤軍就預示了這個戰略收縮的趨勢。希拉蕊.柯林頓雖替歐巴馬制定了「亞洲再平衡」戰略,以遏制中國崛起,但從南海較量中可看出,美國已是色厲內荏,TPP就是其遏制手段的主角,如今卻難以為繼。

況且,同一期間,中國大陸提出一帶一路倡議,成功推動亞投行,連英法德義等美國盟友都集體加入,南海造島穩步形成戰略固守;今年更首次舉辦全球治理最重要的平台G20峰會。

世界正走上一個重大的分水嶺,當「中國夢」與「新孤立主義」並存,一個新的兩極體系的世界將逐步成形;但蔡英文的政策卻還僵固地留守在舊世界裡,只注目於柯林頓身上儼然還在閃爍的世界霸權餘暉,卻看不見美利堅帝國已經嚴重褪色。

當蔡英文誤讀了趨勢又單邊押寶美國,當然就造成了川普反TPP主張一夕成真對台灣的衝擊效應。這個曾被柯林頓經濟顧問霍爾邁茨形容為「亞洲版北大西洋公約」的經濟協定,其實是一個包圍與遏制中國的聯盟,當它未成形即告瓦解,台灣頃刻成了經濟與戰略上的國際孤兒。

TPP瓦解後,全球目光轉向「區域全面經濟夥伴協定(RCEP)」以及倡議中的「亞太自由貿易區(FTAAP)」,兩者都由中國大陸主導,台灣恐皆不得其門而入;至若洽簽雙邊協定之路,也恐更加坎坷。蔡英文竟猶一派輕鬆狀,宣稱要推動雙邊與多邊經貿協定,甚至早在十月交給英國《經濟學人》有關明年趨勢的專文裡,夸言要把台灣再變為猛虎。

這等情境可有兩解:其一,蔡政府已如盲瞽,看不見台灣面臨危殆之境;其二,蔡英文雖知台灣已體弱病虛,卻被意識形態挾制,觀望瞻顧,但求拖延,走在暗夜裡,只好吹哨壯膽。若是前者,從觀光慘業到興航解散所揭露的經濟真相,能否搖醒昏睡的蔡政府?若是後者,則試問,難道台灣成了TPP的棄卒後,還要勒緊褲帶,無怨無悔地繼續在亞洲充當美國的饑餓哨兵?

作為執政者,蔡英文的職責是面對冷酷的現實作出正確的決策。全球的新格局已經揭示,台灣不能放棄雙邊協定,但更須全力尋求加入RCEP與FTAAP的區域整合。這個轉身對蔡英文而言,其實並不真的那麼困難,只要在她就職演說基礎上往前一步,表明依據憲法,兩岸並非兩國關係即可。

北京近期幾個動作值得注意。習近平月初在北京接見了洪秀柱,月中卻讓馬英九在馬來西亞碰了一鼻子灰,儼然是要從「九二共識」中剔除「各表」,只留「一中」;但同時間,則未對蔡英文派往秘魯APEC的宋楚瑜橫加干預,而宋楚瑜行前複誦「兩岸一中、反對台獨」卻留下一些線索。捧洪、卡馬、會宋,北京應是在看蔡英文何時填上那份「未完成的答卷」。

《經濟學人》專刊封面以塔羅牌為背景,占卜二○一七全球趨勢,其中「川普星球」隱喻著一個全球治理的黯淡開端。區域整合進程撲朔迷離,無序博弈更形激烈,台灣卻不自知手上只剩什麼牌。蔡英文必須清醒地認知,若不想步陳水扁後塵,就必須拋棄虛幻主張,大膽更張路線,否則因循泄沓以致失機僨事,她將淪為深綠裹脅的政治傀儡。機會之窗稍縱即逝,莫待答卷收走,猛虎餓成病貓。

Monday, November 28, 2016

How Should Taiwan Respond to US Withdrawal from TPP?

How Should Taiwan Respond to US Withdrawal from TPP? 
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 26, 2016

Executive Summary: Once the United States pulls out of Asia, confrontation between the US and Mainland China is expected to ease. Taiwan will feel less pressure to choose sides. This is a turning point. Taiwan can use this to review its one-sided foreign policy and adopt a Taiwan-centric rebalancing policy. The crux of the problem is the DPP government's anti-Mainland attitude. It lacks the courage to face reality. Since May, the Tsai government has repeatedly misjudged the international situation. It shows no signs of change. As a result, it can only paint itself further into a corner. Think about it. How can a government that pointedly ignores Mainland China, Asia's largest economy, possibly champion Asian co-operation?

Full Text Below:

Donald Trump has publicly announced that he will pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) on the very day he takes office. Shinzo Abe, who was still rushing about, could not conceal his dismay. A TPP without the US is meaningless. Tsai Ing-wen, who was attending the Asia-Pacific Chamber of Commerce, used the opportunity to urge Asian nations to follow through on economic integration. Her words were pretty. But does the president really think anyone will respond?

Trump's personnel appointments show that for the next four years the United States will be under the sway of the far right. For the world at large, Trump's announcement that he will pull the US out of the TPP, signaled the beginning of America's "new isolationism".  The global trade order will be seriously impacted. For Taiwan in particular, heavily reliant on exports to the United States, restarting an economy that has been stalled for years will be harder than ever.

The TPP was the single-handed creation of the United States. Its purpose was to counter Mainland China's RCEP. This cross border economic agreement was originally between New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, and Brunei. It was later expanded, becoming a TPP with 12 member nations. The TPP was more a strategic goal than an economic partnership. Obama's Asian Rebalancing strategy forced nations on both sides of the Pacific to choose sides. When the US retreated, Malaysia and Vietnam jumped ship and returned to the RCEP. Only Japan drew its sword and looked around with alarm. Taiwan was even more embarrassed. For years it waited patiently for the second round, hoping to join. Now its dream has been shattered. Where will it go from here?

Japan is obsessed with the TPP. It desperately wants to ally with the United States to contain Mainland China. It wants TPP to cement the relationship between the two nations. Abenomics sees TPP as part of its economic strategy. It wants to use trade liberalization to promote economic restructuring. But the TPP has run aground. This will greatly diminish Abe's economic power. It will also undermine the US-Japan strategic partnership. Japan will be the biggest victim of the US withdrawal from the TPP.

The TPP was originally a set of economic “rules of the game” for small nations. It set a high threshold. It imposed high standards. It removed all tariff barriers, no exceptions. It fully liberalized financial services, telecommunications and other service industries as well. This favored small nations, but disfavored large nations. The United States sacrificed its domestic market for the sake of TPP. No wonder Trump thinks the TPP is a disaster for the United States.

Long time strategic deployment and hegemonic intervention by the United States has prevented Asia from forming its own free trade area. Now however, the US is withdrawing from the TPP. The Mainland Chinese-led RCEP will rush in to fill this vacuum. Mainland China is conducting itself in a low-keyed manner. It has declared its intent to continue Asian integration. It has stressed that the real leader of the RCEP is ASEAN. But with the United States withdrawal from the TPP, Mainland China will undoubtedly be the biggest beneficiary.

Once Trump takes office, it will be “America First”. He will not sacrifice US economic interests in order to maintain global hegemony. Instead, economic development will come first. The United States will change from military hegemonism to trade hegemonism. This will change the strategic map for global political and economic power, and determine Taiwan's fate.

What impact will an Asia without the TPP have on Taiwan? When the DPP took office, it brought cross-Strait relations to a standstill. It blindly followed in Japan's footsteps, and deliberately ignored the Mainland led RCEP and ASEAN. It bet Taiwan's foreign trade chips on the TPP. The TPP dream has now evaporated. Taiwan's sole alternative is to return to bilateral FTAs. Sadly, the DPP refuses to rethink Taiwan's development strategy based on the Big Picture. Instead, it is betting on the Taiwan-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. It has forgotten that Taiwan has failed to improve its long-term deficit relationship with Japan. Its eagerness to become an economic vassal is the main cause of Taiwan's current plight.

In fact, once the United States pulls out of Asia, confrontation between the US and Mainland China is expected to ease. Taiwan will feel less pressure to choose sides. This is a turning point. Taiwan can use this to review its one-sided foreign policy and adopt a Taiwan-centric rebalancing policy. The crux of the problem is the DPP government's anti-Mainland attitude. It lacks the courage to face reality. Since May, the Tsai government has repeatedly misjudged the international situation. It shows no signs of change. As a result, it can only paint itself further into a corner.

Think about it. How can a government that pointedly ignores Mainland China, Asia's largest economy, possibly champion Asian co-operation?

美國退出TPP,台灣因應之道何在?
2016-11-26 聯合報

川普公開宣稱,他上任首日,就將宣布美國退出「跨太平洋戰略經濟夥伴協議」(TPP)。對此,仍在奔走的安倍難掩失望說,一個沒有美國的TPP即失去意義。蔡英文則藉著出席亞太工商總會的機會喊話,盼亞洲國家扮演經濟整合角色。話雖說得漂亮,但蔡總統認為空氣中將傳來什麼樣的回聲?

從川普連日任命的人事看,未來四年,美國已無法免於極右派當道的命運。對世界而言,川普宣布退出TPP,更吹響了美國「新孤立主義」的號角,全球貿易秩序將受嚴重衝擊。對於高度倚賴對美出口的台灣而言,在低谷徘徊多年的經濟,恐怕更難有起色。

從協議本質看,TPP是由美國一手形塑,目的是為了抗衡中國大陸引領的RCEP。美國把原由紐西蘭、智利、新加坡、汶萊四國組成的跨國經濟協議,擴大成擁有十二個會員國的TPP,這即註定TPP是一個「戰略目標」大於「經濟夥伴關係」的組織。在歐巴馬的「亞洲再平衡」大旗下,太平洋兩岸的國家不得不選邊站;但當美國勢力消褪後,馬來西亞及越南便決定跳船選擇回到RCEP,唯獨日本還在拔劍四顧心茫茫。更尷尬的是台灣,多年來一心一意等著爭取第二輪入會,如今目標變成泡影,我們要朝哪裡前進?

日本之所以執著於TPP,除了為聯美抗中,更把它當成日美關係的黏著劑。安倍經濟學也把TPP當成經濟戰略的一環,要以貿易自由化來帶動經濟結構改革。如今TPP觸礁,不但將使安倍經濟學的威力大打折扣,美日戰略夥伴關係也勢必受到衝擊,日本將成為美國退出TPP的最大受害者。

從協議內容看,TPP原是小國間的經濟遊戲規則,強調高門檻的規範標準,不僅要一視同仁撤除關稅壁壘,還要全面開放金融、電信等服務產業;這對小國有利,卻對大國不利。亦即,美國其實是以犧牲國內市場來換取TPP的主導權;也難怪,川普認為TPP對美國將是一場災難。

長期以來,在美國的戰略部署與霸權干預下,亞洲一直無法形成自己的自由貿易區,如今美國要退出TPP,中國引領的RCEP將適時填補這個真空。中國雖然在此際表現得相當低調,聲稱將持續推動「亞洲一體化」政策,也強調東協才是RCEP真正的主導者;但美國退出TPP,中國無疑將是最大受益者。

可以預見的是,川普上台後,在美國利益優先下,將不會再犧牲自身經濟利益來維持其世界霸權的角色。同時,在經濟發展為先的原則下,美國將從軍事霸權主義轉為貿易霸權主義,這將改變全球政經權力版圖,也左右著台灣的命運。

一個沒有TPP的亞洲,對台灣將產生什麼影響?民進黨上台後,不僅將兩岸關係帶入僵局,更一味追隨日本的腳步,刻意忽視中國和東協主導的RCEP,把台灣對外經濟的籌碼全押在TPP。而今TPP的美景幻滅,台灣恐怕只能走回雙邊FTA的道路。可悲的是,民進黨不思從整體形勢重新思考台灣的發展戰略,卻轉而寄希望於「台日經濟夥伴協議」,似渾然忘了台灣對日本長期的逆差關係無能改善,卻自甘淪為經濟附庸,正是當前深陷困境的主要肇因。

事實上,美國一旦退出亞洲,美中對峙可望趨於緩和,台灣面臨選邊的壓力將會減小。這原是一個轉機,台灣可趁此檢討過去一面倒的對外政策,轉而採取以台灣為中心的「再平衡」政策。癥結在,民進黨政府在反中思維作祟下,始終缺乏面對現實的勇氣。五月以來,蔡政府面對國際情勢頻頻誤判,卻看不出它有調整的跡象;其結果,只會把自己逼到死角。

試想,一個無視亞洲最大經濟體中國存在的政府,又如何倡言亞洲共同合作呢?

Totalitarian Means For Desirable Reforms

Totalitarian Means For Desirable Reforms
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 28, 2016

Executive Summary: We must reform. But we must not resort to the abuse power, populist demagoguery, or totalitarian means. These inevitably lead to the collapse of democracy, the abrogation of the rule of law, and the destruction of constitutional rule. We believe Tsai is sincere in her desirre for reform. But if she acts in haste, if she behaves tyrannically and recklesslessly, if she breaks the law and tramples over the Constitution, even good intentions will pave the way to hell.

Full Text Below:

The “Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee”, aka “Party Assets Committee”, has decided to confiscate the Kuomintang's Central Investment Company (CIC), and Hsinyutai Company. Even the KMT's Central Party Headquarters Building is being "nationalized". Wellington Koo, chairman of the Party Assets Committee, said that enforcement of the Party Assets Regulations is the final mile towards democracy. We think Wellington Koo and the Party Assets Committee are busy carving a tombstone for democracy and the rule of law, and that the Party Assets Regulations are an epitaph for democracy and the rule of law.

Those in the know have long advised the KMT to summon up the courage to reform, clarify the historical record, and give the party a fresh start. Doing so would have liberated the party from its historical burdens, and enabled it to begin anew. It would also establish a more equitable environment for intraparty competition. Alas, the KMT could not bring itself to give up short term advantages. It ignored long term risks. It could not bring itself to cease suckling at the party assets teat. It could not bring itself to sever its links to special interests. Naturally it could not avoid relentless green camp attacks during election season. Following its election defeat, the KMT is like a dog without a master. Its home has been invaded, and its property has been looted. Unwilling to part with its assets, it brought this disaster upon itself. It has only itself to blame.

That said, the Party Assets Committee, under the aegis of the Executive Yuan, has exceeded its authority. It has ignored the distinction between executive, legislative, and judicial authority. It has ignored the need for detailed investigation and due process of law. It has presumed guilt and imposed ex post facto law in order to designate KMT assets as “illicit”. In the name of the Republic of China, it invades homes and seizes property via asset forfeiture. The KMT has lost its party assets. That is nothing to lament. But the collapse of democracy can only turn peoples' hearts to dust. The collapse of the rule of law can only leave people heartbroken.

Wellington Koo is holding high the banner of justice. But what many see is the DPP's determination to cling to power indefinitely, by annihilating the KMT, by severing its arteries and cutting off its lifeblood. But given current political realities, the elimination of one of the blue and green parties will lead to one party rule and the overthrow of democracy. If the DPP succeeds in destroying the KMT, it alone will rule the roost. Democracy will be deprived of checks and balances. That is not a good thing. The DPP may be able to monopolize power for a while. But without the checks and balances provided by partisan rivalry, it will find it difficult to hold on to power indefinitely. Any attempt to do so will destroy democracy in the process.

The key is that the ends do not justify the means. Reform is necessary, but it must not be achieved by totalitarian means. Transitional justice is a noble goal. But it cannot justify the abuse of power or the violation of law and the constitution. Wellington Koo  struts about haughtily, full of himself. He sees due process as a nuisance. He sees court decisions as irrelevant. He sees democracy and the rule of law as clods of dirt. He postures as a champion of justice. Anticipating the legal battle ahead, he lectures the KMT about "recognizing the true meaning of transitional justice". He instructs the courts to "appreciate the value of transitional justice". Wellington Koo wields the Party Assets Committee like a battle axe, swinging it wildly this way and that. Today's Taiwan now resembles the Chinese Mainland, during the Cultural Revolution, when an ill wind swept away all traces of democracy and the rule of law.

But most frightening of all, is Koo's attitude toward power. Tsai Ing-wen spoke of "humility, humility, and more humility". The slogan has lost all meaning. Like “communication, communication, and more communication", it is a wilted flower. The democratic values championed by the DPP when it was in the opposition, the principle of the rule of law and due process, have all become stumbling blocks now that the DPP is the ruling party. The DPP demands “total government”. How can it tolerate having its power locked away in a prison cell? The DPP demands swift justice. Why must it wait around while the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly? Since reform is sacrosanct, so what if one's methods are a little totalitarian? So what if the DPP regime must trample over the rule of law? With such a mentality, the emergence of power hungry demagogues such as Wellington Koo and the Party Assets Committee are inevitable.

The DPP has the KMT by the throat. The KMT may wish for a desperate last stand. Alas, even that would be difficult. As an old saying puts it, “The mountains and waters will meet again". Never burn one's bridges. Life always holds out new opportunities. Humiliations endured today will be rewarded ten times over tomorrow. The KMT may live or die. It may be reduced to Ah Q-style “spiritual victories”. But the most disturbing development is that under democracy, party politics has led to an endless cycle of revenge.

In fact, democracy, the rule of law, and constitutional rule, make up an inviolable line in the sand. Once that line has been crossed, it is all too easy to march down the road toward unlimited power and authoritarian dictatorship. It is all too easy to become caught up in populist demagoguery and political chaos. It is all too easy for society to break apart, for old hatreds to resurface, and for cycles of violence to prevail, leaving never a moment's peace.

We must reform. But we must not resort to the abuse power, populist demagoguery, or totalitarian means. These inevitably lead to the collapse of democracy, the abrogation of the rule of law, and the destruction of constitutional rule. We believe Tsai is sincere in her desirre for reform. But if she acts in haste, if she behaves tyrannically and recklesslessly, if she breaks the law and tramples over the Constitution, even good intentions will pave the way to hell.

神聖的改革,卻用極權手段達成
2016-11-28 聯合報

黨產會決議沒收國民黨的中投公司和欣裕台公司,連國民黨中央黨部也「收歸國有」。黨產會主委顧立雄侈言不當黨產條例的落實,是走向民主的最後一哩路;我們則擔心,顧立雄和黨產會的橫行,正在砌起民主法治的第一塊墓碑,而鐫刻其上的黨產條例,也將是民主法治的第一篇墓誌銘。

識者早就勸告國民黨拿出改革勇氣,清理歷史遺緒,讓黨產歸零,不僅丟掉包袱,重新出發,也建立更公平的政黨競爭環境。但國民黨難捨近利,無視長害,既然戒不掉黨產奶嘴,切不斷利益糾葛,當然就掙不脫綠營選舉時的一路夾纏,更躲不過民進黨掌權後的政治追殺。敗選後的國民黨,已若喪家之犬,而今更被逼向抄家滅產的絕境,當捨不捨,招禍取咎,無不自己也。

然而,黨產會以行政院下屬機關,跨越行政、立法、司法分際,毋需詳實調查,不理程序正義,不但有罪推定,還要法溯既往,逕自「判決」國民黨黨產來源「不當」,更假中華民國之名,奪產抄家,沒收充公。國民黨黨產敗散不足惜,民主坍塌才教人心灰,法治裂崩也教人心憂,憲政破毀更教人心痛。

顧立雄高舉轉型正義大纛,許多人看到的卻是民進黨為永保執政,必欲殲滅國民黨的意圖,切其金脈,斷其命脈。但以當前現實政治而言,藍綠兩大黨去其一,政黨政治即告失衡,民主體制隨時可能傾覆。果真國民黨橫遭滅門,民進黨一黨獨大,民主政治的運作,缺乏實質制衡力量,洵非好事;而民進黨即使能夠總攬權力於一時,缺乏政黨的自主競爭,也難永保政權,卻先葬送了民主。

問題的關鍵,在於手段的正當性。改革是必要的,但不能以極權手段來達成;轉型正義目標崇高,更不能以濫權踰法違憲手段為之。然而,從訂頒黨產條例到黨產會成立,政治針對性極強,清算鬥爭味極濃;尤其顧立雄,恃其剛悍,顧盼自雄,既視程序正義如敝屣,復視法院判決如無物,更視民主法治如草芥;卻一副大義凜然之貌,對可預期的法律戰,一方面教訓國民黨要「體認轉型正義的真諦」,一方面指導法院要「體會轉型正義的價值」。顧立雄掄著黨產條例大刀,耍得虎虎生風,於是現代台灣,吹起半世紀前的大陸文革歪風,橫掃一切民主法治。

但最可怕的,還是面對權力的心態。蔡英文叮囑「謙卑、謙卑、再謙卑」,已如馬耳東風;「溝通、溝通、再溝通」,更成明日黃花。民進黨在野時捍衛的民主價值、法治原則與程序正義,當政後統統成為施政的絆腳石。完全執政,豈容權力被關進制度的牢籠裡?既曰正義,何須等待正當的行政與司法程序?改革神聖,手段極權、踰越法治又何妨?有這種心態,就會有黨產會和顧立雄這種權力怪獸。

狠遭掐喉的國民黨,要背水一戰都很難施展。不過,國民黨撂了一句話,「山水有相逢」。這既是勸人行事應留餘地,不要做得太絕,因為人生總有相遇的機會;也是揚言忍一時屈辱,未來十倍奉還。然而,不論國民黨能否置之死地而後生,或者終究淪為阿Q式的精神勝利戰法,令人悚然而驚的是,在民主政治體制下,我國的政黨競爭難道最後會走向相互報復的循環?

事實上,民主的原則、法治的精神、憲政的分際,都有一條不容踰越的紅線。一旦紅線遭到破壞,就很容易走向擴權濫權、專制獨裁的道路,或者陷入民粹當道、政治失序的亂象;更且演變成社會對立撕裂,仇恨因陳相襲,終致循環報復,永無寧日。

我們要改革,但不要濫權或民粹,更不要極權手段,而致民主崩解,法治蕩然,憲政破毀。我們相信蔡英文的改革動機,但要提醒的是,如果操之過切,鴨霸蠻幹,越法踰憲,即使是善意,也可能鋪成一條通往地獄的道路。

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Seizing Power Like an Octopus, Governing Like a Blind Swordsman

Seizing Power Like an Octopus, Governing Like a Blind Swordsman
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 25, 2016

Executive Summary: The DPP government has taken over General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC). It has scored a major victory. But before it could even celebrate, TransAsia Airways' announcement that it was going out of business plunged it into a black hole. Executive Yuan incompetence has people shaking their heads and sighing in dismay. These two developments offer us a striking contrast. The DPP's lust for power vastly exceeds its ability to govern. The DPP may be able to seize power like an octopus, but it governs like a blind swordsman.

Full Text Below:

The DPP government has taken over General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC). It has scored a major victory. But before it could even celebrate, TransAsia Airways' announcement that it was going out of business plunged it into a black hole. Executive Yuan incompetence has people shaking their heads and sighing in dismay. These two developments offer us a striking contrast. The DPP's lust for power vastly exceeds its ability to govern. The DPP may be able to seize power like an octopus, but it governs like a blind swordsman.

Looking ahead, these two incidents hardly represent the the limits of Taiwan's social chaos. For example, labor protests over working hours continue unabated. Public hearings on the importation of food products from Japan's nuclear disaster areas drag on. Unfortunately another earthquake just struck Fukushima. Differences within the DPP over same-sex marriage remain unresolved. The administration and the legislature each have their own ideas on the matter. A number of green camp legislators are indifferent to public opinion. They would ram the bill through the legislature and precipitate social chaos. Some problems were the result of recklessness, others the result of expedience, and still others were the result of reformist zeal. The problem is that some of them violate the DPP's core values, while others ignore the democratic process. It is only natural that such actions would provoke a backlash.

In the DPP's struggle over the GACC, the winner takes all. That determination has already been made. The ruling administration resorted to all manner of devices to bring the GACC under its control. It offered inducements to dilute and divide the opposition. Politicians, businessmen, and culturati surrendered en masse, forcing Liu Chao-hsuan to withdraw. On such an occasion, Tsai Ing-wen can of course declare victory. But is relying on power to drive one's opponents into a corner, and leaving not quarter, really the kind of victory President Tsai wants?

The DPP may want to look at the matter from another angle. What sort of impression has this victory left in the minds of the people? When people look at how this battle was fought, they are bound to have questions. First, Tsai Ing-wen has created over 600 new members where there was only 200. This may be a shrewd move. But as the saying goes, “Men of principle seek wealth only through honorable means”. Second, the DPP has long despised Chinese culture. Liu Sh-ifang considers Chinese yo-yos and calligraphy Chinese culture, and would slash the  budget for the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission in response. So why did the DPP fight a major battle to seize control of the GACC in the first place? For the sake of culture? Which culture? Third, in recent years the GACC has morphed into a civic organization. The DPP government acquired enormous power from the change in ruling parties. But was it really necessary for it to abuse this power to take over the GACC? Furthermore, did President Tsai really need to lead the charge? Fourth, party and government sources say that gaining control over the GACC would transform it into a cross-Strait communication channel. President Tsai refuses to take the 1992 Consensus superhighway, yet would wend her way down the GACC footpath in order to connect with the Mainland? Who's kidding whom?

The Presidential Office seized control of GACC with unseemly haste. The Executive Yuan dealt with the TransAsia Airways company closing with complete cluelessness. Both actions showed that the ruling administration's lust for power far exceeds its ability to govern. An airline announcing that it is closing up shop is a serious matter, not just for passengers and employees, but for financial institutions and the stock market. Yet government agencies remained utterly clueless, and passed the buck onto the Civil Aviation Authority. Nor was that all. The next day the Lin Chuan cabinet misspoke and flip-flopped repeatedly. It announced that the airline would undergo "reorganization". Then just as abruptly, it announced that the government would "take it over completely". Spokesman Hsu Kuo-jung was even slapped in the face by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which said China Airlines would only take two routes, and would not take over completely. These developments show that although the Tsai government is in power, it has no clue how to govern, let alone solve the problems of the nation and society.

The question one must ask is this. During ruling party changes, government agencies replace only the top one-tenth of all political appointees. The rest of the administrative structure remains unchanged. Why has the TransAsia Airways incident caused the entire government to malfunction? There are roughly three reasons. First, the Tsai government has relentlessly concentrated power at the top. All major policy decisions require her personal approval. This prevents middle-level officials from exercising their initiative and professional judgment. Second, the DPP is characterized by “political colors above all”. It considers only ideological orientation and ignores right and wrong. As a result, middle and lower echelon officials and officials who are not "our people" dare not express their views. Third, no professional information and advice is available to inform its decision-making. Naturally, like a blind swordsman, it can only hack away at the air.

Tsai and members of her administration harbor a delusion. They think the purpose of governing is to implement reforms. They are mistaken. A ruling administration that cannot even ensure political stability, that cannot even uphold the rule of law and ensure economic security, has no business running about shouting “Reform! Reform!” as political cover.

抓權如八爪章魚,施政卻像盲劍客
2016-11-25 聯合報

民進黨政府剛在「中華文化總會」的戰場大獲全勝,但還來不及慶祝,隨即陷入了復興航空宣布停飛的黑洞,行政院的表現只能讓人搖頭嘆氣。前後二事對照,留給社會大眾鮮明的對比:權力欲望和行政能力完全不成正比,爭權攬權如同八爪章魚,施政作為卻像盲劍客。

放眼望去,台灣社會的紛紛擾擾,又豈止這兩樁?比方說,吵嚷多時的一例一休之爭,勞工的抗爭仍未止息;日本核虞食品是否解禁,公聽會尚未開完,不幸又遇上福島再次地震;同性婚姻的問題,黨內的歧見尚未解決,政院版也另有主張,卻有少數綠委不顧社會溝通要強行偷渡民法條文,引起偌大風波。這些紛擾,有的是出於輕率,有的是便宜行事,或許也有改革心切。問題在,其中有的違背了民進黨原來主張的價值,有的跳過了必要的民主程序,想要蠻幹,當然會引起反彈。

在「中華文化總會」的主導權之爭中,以勝負論英雄,顯然高下已判。執政者極盡稀釋、拉攏、分化之手段,必欲將文化總會納入自己麾下,隨即有政客、企業界、文化人接受招降納叛,逼得劉兆玄棄甲曳兵而去;此刻,蔡英文當然可以昂首高呼勝利。然而,仗恃權勢在每個角落把對手殺到寸草不留,就是蔡總統想要展示的勝利嗎?

民進黨不妨換個角度想想,這場勝利在民間留下的是什麼印象?民眾看這場爭奪戰,勢必有幾個質疑:一,操作蔡英文為首的六百多名新會員,去灌爆原來只有兩百多會員的文總,雖是致命狠招,但不符「君子愛財,取之有道」的原則。二,民進黨一向切割中華文化,劉世芳還以「扯鈴」和「書法」是中華文化為由要刪除僑委會預算,然則民進黨如此大陣仗去搶奪文總,又為了什麼文化?三,文化總會近年已轉型為民間社團,政府有必要以政黨輪替為由強以政治力量去染指、征服嗎?何況竟由蔡總統帶頭發動。四,黨政人士稱,拿下文化總會,是要以文化為橋梁作為兩岸溝通管道;然而,蔡總統放著「九二共識」的大道不走,卻侈言要用文總的小橋來打通兩岸經脈,豈不是天方夜譚?

無論如何,從總統府對奪取文總的用心之深,操作之急,對照近日行政院處理復興航空事件的茫無頭緒,徹底暴露了政府團隊的權力與能力顯不相稱。航空公司宣告停飛是一件嚴重的事,牽動的不只是旅客和員工權益,還可以引起金融機構及股票市場的連鎖效應;然而,政府部門對此事一問三不知,交通部更退避三舍,把責任全推給民航局。不僅如此,在隔日的處理,林全內閣的應對也顯得言不及義,顛三倒四,忽而說要改提「重整」,忽而說要政府「全面接手」,皆未能切中要害;發言人徐國勇甚至遭交通部打臉,說華航只接兩條航線,而非全面接手。這些現象都顯示,蔡政府雖然大權在握,卻不知道如何運用手中權力來平順行政,遑論解決國家社會的問題。

要問的是:一次政黨輪替,政府部門充其量更換了上層十分之一的政務官人事,其他的行政架構都維持不變;為何一次興航事件,就讓政府整個周轉失靈?粗略分析,原因大致有三:第一,蔡政府的執政特質,是不斷地把權力向上收攏,由總統一人對所有大政拍板定案,如此一來便大大壓抑了中層官員的專業判斷。第二,民進黨的政治特質,往往只問顏色而不問是非,這使得中下層官員乃至「非我族類」的政務官不敢表達主張。第三,沒有專業資訊及意見支撐的政治決策,當然就像盲劍客,只能對空亂砍。

蔡英文和她的團隊有一個迷思,以為執政的目的就是為了改革。她錯了!一個執政團隊如果連什麼叫「穩健行政」都不知道,如果連給人民一個安定的生活與法治都做不到,卻不斷用改革為幌子四處攬權,那就太遜了!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Yet Another Willfully Blind Government

Yet Another Willfully Blind Government
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) 
A Translation 
November 24, 2016

Executive Summary: External uncertainties have increased. Internal consumption and investment remain low. The ruling administration must not underestimate the risks. It must not be overly optimistic. It must not reduce investment because business prospects are dim. It must not turn a blind eye to TransAsia Airways early dissolution. It must remain pragmatic, and reform the laws and regulations. It must free up the economy, create a sound environment for investment. Only then can industry upgrade itself and the economy prosper. Wishful thinking, assuming that "If you plan it, they will come" is no answer. How would this government be any different from past governments that turned a blind eye to harsh economic reality?

Full Text Below:

The board of directors of TransAsia Airways, the oldest airline company in the ROC, has decided to close the company down. The news came as a shock. Two consecutive years of air disasters imposed a  heavy burden on TransAsia Airways. It also undermined the image of its brand, making the resumption of normal operations difficult. Financially speaking, TransAsia shares were selling at over seven NT per share. But the board decided to close the company's doors because its "prospects were dim". Major shareholders were reluctant to continue investing. According to Chairman Lin Ming-sheng, it was better to close the company down while assets still exceeded debt. This would enable the company to better deal with debts, staff salaries, and accident compensation.

Before this, only the impact of reduced Mainland tourism on restaurants and souvenir shops went noticed. Travel industry related businesses went belly up. The powerful Lealea Enterprise Company turned pessimistic about the domestic economy, including domestic industries. It announced the closing of its Kaohsiung International Youth Hostel. Investment incentives declined across the board. The domestic housing market continued to fall. The risk of power shortages continued to rise. Private sector business leader Formosa Plastics Group announced a reduction in domestic investment. Over the next several years it would focus more on overseas investments, especially in the United States. The Apple supply chain is critical for exports. During the second half of this year, iPhone7 sales were disappointing. Orders will be cut by the end of the year. Bad news continues to roll in.

People are pessimistic about the economy. Only the ruling administration remains optimistic. One news report quoted Tsai government "chief aides and officials" who said that the past six months was merely a stage during which "obstacles would be cleared away, and a foundation laid for the future". Now, they said, several industrial projects are “in the pipeline”. By next year the economy will be better than this year. Therefore “the economic environment will be more beneficial to the ruling administration".

Frankly, the ruling administration has misjudged the situation and is being much too optimistic. They are equating rhetorical flourishes with economic achievements. Their “Five Plus Two Industrial Innovation Program” includes an Asian Silicon Valley, biotech medical treatment, green energy technology, and smart devices. They assure us that these are now in the pipeline, therefore the economic outlook is bright.

But what precisely is “in the pipeline”? If administration officials define the completion of planning and design, and Executive Yuan approval of them as being “in the pipeline”, then of course, they are “in the pipeline”. But the completion of an economic plan or industrial plan, the approval of the plan by the Executive Yuan, and the completion of administrative procedures, has nothing to do with the economy or industry. The real question is how much capital investment will these projects bring? What benefits do they offer? Do any watershed examples exist that one can point to? Eight years ago, when Liu Chao-hsuan was premier, he approved "Six New Industrial Projects". The plans long been "in the pipeline" forever. But what benefits and results have they yielded over the years? None. Therefore how can anyone claim that “It's in the pipeline, and the economy is looking up”?

Equating completion of paperwork with completion of a plan that leads to real world benefits, is wishful thinking. Leave aside the ridicule industry insiders have heaped upon these plans for the moment. Can these plans be implemented? Can they lead to real world benefits? Can they contribute to industry and the economy? That all depends on business investment. But given the concerns of the business community and their responses, it is clear that private investment will be quite limited.

The ruling administration has declared that "The economy is expected to be better next year than this year, and the economic environment will be more favorable to the government next year". Its blind optimism fails to understand business cycles and ignores business risks. According to statistics released by the Executive Yuan General Administration of Taxation, the estimated third quarter economic growth rate is 2.06%, higher than the 1.99% forecast in August. The estimated growth rate for the entire year is 1%. Three consecutive quarters of economic recession, plus two consecutive quarters of positive growth, have led to an economic bottom. But suppose the estimated growth rate of 1.88% is achievable next year? Suppose as suggested by the SDC, it reaches 2%? Is that really anything to cheer about? Whether it is 2% or 1.88%, both are low growth rates.

This means that Taiwan may be facing an L-shaped economic trend rather than a V-shaped economic trend. They economy may no longer be declining. But the recovery may remain weak, and maintain a low rate of growth. In fact, almost all major economies have experienced L-type recoveries in recent years. Japan has has remained at the bottm for many years. Europe is in the same situation. The United States has made a comparatively strong recovery. But following the financial tsunami, it too spent several years at the bottom before finally making a clear recovery. Even the Mainland has remained mired in L-type growth for three years.

Domestic economic risks are exceedingly high. Foreign economic risks are far from low. Mainland economic prospects are cautiously optimistic. Trump being elected President of the United States has led to uncertainty. So far, no one is sure what his presidency means. Trump's trade protectionism is obviously detrimental to Taiwan's economy, which relies on export trade. Our exports and export orders in September were positive. October was disappointing. Clearly the economy has yet to begin a smooth upward trend. Volatility and risk remain high.

External uncertainties have increased. Internal consumption and investment remain low. The ruling administration must not underestimate the risks. It must not be overly optimistic. It must not reduce investment because business prospects are dim. It must not turn a blind eye to TransAsia Airways early dissolution. It must remain pragmatic, and reform the laws and regulations. It must free up the economy, create a sound environment for investment. Only then can industry upgrade itself and the economy prosper. Wishful thinking, assuming that "If you plan it, they will come" is no answer. How would this government be any different from past governments that turned a blind eye to harsh economic reality?

又是一個蒙著眼睛過日子的政府
2016/11/24 中國時報

國內最老牌的復興航空董事會決定解散公司,消息傳出令人震撼。興航雖然因為連續兩年發生空難,造成嚴重的財務負擔,同時也影響品牌形象,讓其營運難有起色,不過以財務面來看,復興航空每股淨值仍有7元以上,相較扁朝時70億的累積虧損,財務體質算好,但董事會仍決定解散公司,原因就是「看不到前景」,大股東不願繼續投資。依照董事長林明昇的說法,寧可在資產大於負債時先把公司結束掉,還有能力好好處理債務與員工資遣與安頓問題,傷害可以減到最小。

之前,外界已看到陸客減少對觀光餐飲、禮品業的負面效應浮現,旅行業出現倒閉現象,國內頗有實力的力麗集團看壞產業與經濟前景,宣布終止承租高雄國際青年會館;企業投資意願整體低落、缺電風險提高、國內房市持續滑落、民營企業龍頭台塑集團宣布減少國內投資,要把未來幾年投資重心移往海外,特別是美國;今年下半年對出口挹注良多的蘋果供應鏈,傳出因iPhone7銷售不如預期,年底將砍單,壞消息頻傳。

民間對經濟前景悲觀,唯獨執政團隊抱持樂觀態度。近日一家媒體引述了蔡政府團隊「主要幕僚與官員」的說法,認為過去半年是「清障礙及打地基」階段,現在幾個產業計畫已上路,明年景氣又比今年佳,因此「大環境會對執政團隊較為有利」。

坦白說,這個執政團隊可能錯估情勢又太過分樂觀,更把文書作業錯當經濟成果。他們認為產業創新五加二計畫中,包括:亞洲矽谷、生技醫療、綠能科技、智慧機械四項都已陸續上路,經濟前景樂觀可期。

何謂上路?如果官員認為完成規畫與計畫,經行政院通過定案就是上路,那當然是確定無誤。但實質來說,一個經濟計畫或產業規畫,完成計畫並經行政院核定,只是完成行政程序,其實與經濟或產業毫無關係。真正的重點在這些計畫帶來了多少投資?引發什麼效益?甚至是否已有指標性的個案成形,否則,8年前劉兆玄在行政院長任內,不早就核定「六大新興產業計畫」,這些計畫也早已「上路」,但多年來到底帶來什麼效益與成果呢?答案當然是否定的。那麼,現在又憑什麼說計畫上路,經濟就可以樂觀?

把完成文書作業當成完成計畫,以為效益就會滾滾而來,是過分的簡化及盲目的樂觀。撇開業界一直對這些計畫內涵的嘲笑與批評不談,這些計畫要能落實到發揮效益,對產業與經濟有貢獻,終究要靠企業的投資。但由企業界的反應與憂心來看,顯然民間投資意願仍然相當低落。

執政團隊「明年景氣預期比今年更好,大環境會對政府較為有利」的樂觀,是對景氣循環統計數字的誤解,也是對風險的無知。根據行政院主計總處公布的今年第三季經濟成長率概估為2.06%,較8月預測的1.99%高,全年經濟成長率篤定可「保1」,在去年連續3季經濟衰退後再拉出連續2季正成長,這波經濟谷底算是已經通過。但問題是即使明年經濟成長率預測值1.88%可達成,或甚至如國發會所說的「一定可破2%」,但這值得欣慰嗎?老實說,無論保2或1.88%,都是低成長率。

這代表台灣面對的可能是L型的經濟走勢,而非V型走勢,即經濟不再下滑但復甦力道微弱,持續保持在低度成長。事實上這幾年幾個主要經濟體的經濟幾乎都是出現L型復甦─日本固然在低檔徘徊多年,歐洲也是如此,今日復甦力道較強勁的美國,在金融海嘯的谷底後,也是花了多年才出現明顯的復甦;甚至大陸這3年也陷入增長放緩的L型。

國內經濟風險極高,外部風險不低。除了大陸經濟勉強可以樂觀外,川普當選美國總統帶來的不確定性,至今仍無人能評估,單以其貿易保護主義基調而言,倚賴出口貿易的台灣經濟,顯然只見其弊難見其利。我們單由出口與外銷訂單在9月表現良好,10月又不如預期,就可看出經濟尚未進入平穩向上趨勢,波動與風險仍高。

外部不確定風險增加、內部消費與投資雙冷,執政團隊不該低估風險、過度樂觀,卻對企業界看淡前景因而減少投資,甚至如興航般趁早打包解散的事實視而不見。要務實推動法令改革、開放改革,打好投資環境,才可能見到產業升級、經濟上揚。若還是一廂情願以為「計畫完成投資就來」,那麼,這個政府與那個蒙著眼睛過日子的政府,又有什麼不同呢?