Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Funnel and the Trumpet

The Funnel and the Trumpet:
Ten Years after the Return of Hong Kong, 20 years after Martial Law, 30 years after the Cultural Revolution
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 27, 2007

Deng Xiaoping

Lee Teng-hui

Chen Shui-bian

This is the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's retrocession, the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law on Taiwan, and the 30th anniversary, more or less, of the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Taiwan's political path following the lifting of martial law resembles a funnel. The broad horizons opened up by the lifting of martial law represent the large end of the funnel, Taiwan's every narrowing horizons represent the small end of the funnel. By contrast, the political path followed by the mainland and Hong Kong regions, 30 years after the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and 10 years after Hong Kong's retrocession, resembles a trumpet. From the small end with mouthpiece, their horizons have steadily broadened as they advanced confidently toward the ever wider bell.

Of course, the mainland and Taiwan regions of China have many areas in which they cannot be compared. The biggest difference is that the Taiwan region has established a procedural framework for democracy. It has surpassed Hong Kong in directly electing its president. It has surpassed the mainland in ways too numerous to be cited individually, such as multiparty politics, direct elections at all levels, and a free media.

But Taiwan qua Taiwan, 20 years after the lifting of martial law, truly has been marching into the small end of a funnel. Martial Law and the Period of Mobilization for the Suppression of Communist Rebellion were rescinded 20 years ago. Politically and economically, the Taiwan region found itself at a watershed moment, reborn into a new world of limitless possibilities. Who knew it would soon fall victim to Lee Teng-hui's relentless attempts to undermine the constitution and practice "black gold" (cronyist) politics? Furthermore the direct election of the president required only a plurality, enabling the Democratic Progressive Party and Chen Shui-bian to seize power, and by means of "two bullets" obtain an illegal second term, during which time divisions arose over national identity, chaos undermined constitutional rule, the judiciary became a rubber stamp, the economy fell into depression, corruption became the norm, and the quality of life declined. Instead of progressing, Taiwan began regressing in every way, sliding toward the bottom of the funnel. Democracy and constitutionalism have become nothing more than tools with which Chen Shui-bian can hijack the nation and safeguard his kleptocracy.

Twenty years after the lifting of martial law, the core value of Taiwan's ruling regime has become: How to safeguard Chen Shui-bian's corruption, and how to work with Chen Shui-bian to continue deceiving oneself and others about Taiwan independence. Is this why we lifted 20 years of martial law? Is this to be its crowning achievement?

Do not compare the mainland with Taiwan, you say? Well then let's discuss the mainland qua mainland. Let's look at the changes 30 years after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, at
Deng Xiaoping's "Black Cat, White Cat" thesis, at his declaration that "Only economic development is a hard truth," and at his call to "Let some people get rich first." His logic is incontrovertible, and the benefits are incalculable. Thirty years ago, if a farmer's wife sold two eggs on the street, she risked vilification as a "capitalist-roader." Thirty years later, the mainland has become the industrial workshop of the world. A conformist ant hill in which everyone wore blue Lenin jackets, has become a prosperous consumer society. Yes, problems still plague the mainland. The democratization of its political system lags behind others'. But China qua China, 30 years after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, truly does suggest the ever widening bell of a trumpet.

Looking at Hong Kong qua Hong Kong, the ten year trend is also remarkably trumpet like. Ten years ago, Hong Kong was panic-stricken. The bottom had dropped out of the real estate and stock markets. Today it is booming. Its global economic and trade roles are on the rise. Its virtues prior to retrocession, clean and transparent government, have been preserved. Hong Kongers continue to push for the direct election of governors and an upgrade of the region's status. Hong Kong's retrocession to China was a thorny problem. But Deng Xiaoping's formula "one country, two systems" has allowed the mainland and Hong Kong to advance step by step toward the broad end of the trumpet over the past ten years. A single phrase has shrugged off ideology. A simple formula has allowed a nation to extricate itself from a dead end. (At this point we must add that we do not advocate "one country, two systems" for Taiwan.)

Lee Teng-hui was the first president following the lifting of martial law. Chen Shui-bian was the first president following regime change. Both stood at historic watersheds, full of possibilty. But they both stooped to racist demagoguery and political intrigue, and took Taiwan down the path to constitutional ruin, political corruption, and economic decline. By contrast, Deng Xiaoping was the first leader following Mao Zedong. He rescued a mainland on the verge of disintegration, and set it back on the path toward national greatness. It is not easy to draw comparisons between Lee, Chen, and Deng. But if we simply compare their starting points and end points, we can see that Deng Xiaoping went from narrow to wide. He was dealt a losing hand, but parlayed it into a fortune. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian meanwhile, went from wide to narrow. They were dealt winning hands, yet frittered away the family fortune.

What is the reason behind the rise of the mainland and the decline of Taiwan over the past 20 years? Put simply, it is because they had Deng Xiaoping, while we had Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian.

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.27 04:10 am










Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cutthroat Island

Cutthroat Island
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 26, 2007

Cutthroat Island (1995, directed by Renny Harlin, written by Michael Frost Beckner and James Gorman)

The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) "Cutthroat Election Campaign" has begun. The DPP's cutthroat strategy divides the party's election platform into different planks. When it comes time to cut the throats of political rivals, each is cut using a different technique.

Campaigns for major elections such as legislative elections and presidential elections require political platforms that can rally the people, that reflect their aspirations and goals. The DPP has been unable to offer such a political platform. Therefore it has transformed elections into cutthroat wars. Elections are no longer mechanisms for comparing political perspectives and reaching consensus. They are national catastrophes that tear the nation apart.

The DPP uses the "rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution" to cut the throats of Deep Green political rivals. The DPP uses "development of rural communities" to go cut the throats of political rivals dependent upon farmers. But even assuming the DPP wins these elections, does that really mean Taiwan independence has scored a victory? By the same token, is the "development of rural communities," a policy intended to phase out agriculture altogether, truly advantageous to Taiwan independence?

One need only examine two recent campaigns launched by the DPP to realize that Lee Teng-hui was right. The DPP's brand of Taiwan independence is a fraud. Let's examine the DPP's platform for the "reduction of military service to one year" and its platform for the "development of rural communities." If one truly intends to promote Taiwan independence, one must make preparations for war. If one nullifies one's ability to wage war while engaging in wild talk about Taiwan independence, that is phony Taiwan independence. If one reduces military service to one year, so that even corporals are a thing of the past, how can one possibly fight a war? To phase out agriculture in order to develop rural communities, is to open a Pandora's Box. It is nothing less than a declaration of surrender, nothing less than giving up on Taiwan independence.

This is the real consequence of the DPP's cutthroat campaigns. The DPP's "rectification of names and authoring of a new constitution" plank has cut the throats of Deep Green political rivals. The "reduction of military service to one year" plank has cut the throats of political rivals dependent upon military servicemen. The "development of rural communities" plank has cut the throats of political rivals dependent upon farmers. Three throats cut using three different techniques, all are critical to the election results, but none have a common denominator, and some even conflict. The Taiwan independence movement has been rendered toothless, its ability to fight a war for independence neutralized. An agricultural policy that endured for 60 years has been repudiated. Even assuming the DPP wins the election, the nation will pay a heavy price, and everyone will be the loser.

For eight years, the DPP has been squatting in the halls of power, abusing its authority to satisfy its power lust, indulging in corruption to line its pockets. Now, relying on its authority as the ruling regime, it has launched its insane "Three Middles Policy," targeting the central and middle regions of Taiwan, small and middle enterprises, and middle and lower income voters. Previous cutthroat wars promoting the DPP's "welfare subsidies for the elderly" plank and "welfare subsidies for elderly farmers" plank were small potatoes. At most they consumed some public funds. Today's "reduction of military service to one year" plank and "development of rural communities" plank will weaken the island's military capabilities and destroy the island's agricultural base. How can such pork barrel politics not shake the foundations of the nation?

The DPP's Taiwan independence agenda boasts constantly evolving cutthroat techniques. One minute it announces its "Five Noes." The next minute it announces its "Four Imperatives and One Non-Issue." The current "rectification of names and authoring a new constitution" plank, having cut the throats of the Deep Greens and consolidated Chen Shui-bian's hold on power, is complete. As we approach election season, the Taiwan independence plank has faded out. Now it is time to cut the throats of swing voters. Oddly enough when the DPP engages in deception to cut the throats of the Deep Greens, they passively acquiesce. Conversely, when the DPP cuts the throats of swing voters, they voluntarily extend their necks as well.

Deceptive Taiwan independence appeals to Deep Greens, in addition to "Three Middles Policy" political patronage, cannot establish a coherent political and economic agenda for the nation, or indicate the direction it ought to go. If the DPP wins the election, would that amount to a victory for Taiwan independence? Or would it amount to a victory for political patronage? Furthermore, once they win the election, do they intend to use "Three Middles Policy" political patronage to promote Taiwan independence and the "rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution?"

But at least the DPP has a strategy. At the strategic level, it has its Taiwan independence election rhetoric. At the tactical level, it has its pork barrel election techniques. Its cutting techniques may be different, but the throats cut are the same. By contrast, Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang (KMT) has neither fresh concepts, nor effective countermeasures. All it can do is watch passively as the DPP's "Three Middles Policy" cuts one KMT throat after another. When we look at the two camps side by by side, the winners and losers are obvious.

As each segment of society's throat is cut, so Taiwan's throat is cut.

Cutthroat Island

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.26 02:56 am











Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chiou I-jen's Sophistry

Chiou I-jen's Sophistry
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 23, 2007

During the election of the board of directors for the China Development Financial Holding Corp. and the Hua Nan Financial Holding Co., their public shares took a catastrophic beating. People from all walks of life pointed the finger at the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Supervisory Commission for failing to protect the rights and interests of public shareholders. They felt that at the very least, Minister He and Chairman Hu should assume political responsibility. It appears however that Executive Yuan Vice-President Chiou I-jen is attempting to make excuses for the Executive Yuan's setback. Chiou I-jen claimed that the government lacked the necessary power, that for the government to attempt to seize the directorship would have been "asking for trouble." His statement was an attempt to intercede on behalf of the two officials. But democratic politics is supposed to be the politics of accountability. These officials, by flagrantly dispensing political pork to favored financial institutions, have been derelict in their duty and have brought dishonor to the nation. They have abused the authority of the executive branch, and must not be allowed to stonewall the public by simply ignoring the accusations leveled against them.

Chiou I-jen, by a narrow margin, holds a controlling interest in the China Development Financial Holding Corp. and the Hua Nan Financial Holding Co. Obviously he has jettisoned the government's previous policies. Take the China Development Financial Holding Corp for example. When Minister of Finance Lin Chuan allowed the Koo family-owned Chinatrust Commercial Bank to expel Diana Chen, one of the conditions was the Koo family had to own at least 15% of the stock. But according to its latest report to the Financial Supervisory Commission, Koo family shares fell short of the 15% threshold. Instead they joined with others to launch a proxy battle. First, they reneged on their pledge to the Ministry of Finance. Then they evaded the standard review for major stockholder suitability required by the Financial Supervisory Commission. On the one hand they wrung their hands over every detail. On the other hand they displayed utter indifference to their previous pledges and to the requirements of financial oversight. In the eyes of these financial institutions, the nation's administrative agencies were nothing. What credibility does this administration have to speak of?

Mr. Chiou needs to understand that how many government banks remain is not important. What is important is the process by which public shares are made available, because that is the key to the dispensing of political pork. It is also the current focus of public attention. If the government intends to make shares of Hua Nan Financial Holding Co. or China Development Financial Holding Corp. available to the public, whether by public auction or by feeling out strategic investors, it will receive a considerable sum of money. That money can become income for the state treasury. But if Hua Nan Financial Holding Co. or China Development Financial Holding Corp. (according to proxies) fall into hostile hands due to poor management of public shares, then large sums of income for the state treasury will be lost. The Minister of Transportation was forced tor resign and prosecuted merely on suspicion of accepting a few hundred thousand in cash hidden in tea canisters. In which case, shouldn't the Ministry of Finance and Financial Supervisory Commission accept responsibility for the loss of tens of billions of from the state treasury?

To allege that the public shares were not enough to allow the government to wage a proxy fight, and that any attempt to seize control of the board of directors would have been "asking for trouble" is amateur talk by someone who does not understand the market. Perhaps Vice-President Chiou has not dabbled in the money markets. Perhaps he did not understand that the recipients of the proxies were the Chang brothers, who are listed as major shareholders in the stockholders' report. Take Hua Nan Financial Holding Co. for example. The public shares obviously outnumbered those held by Lin Ming-cheng, yet the proxy fight was still a debacle. The only possible explanation is that those holding the public shares were unwilling to kneel down and kow tow to the Chang brothers. When private financial institutions were certain that public shares were not the object of a proxy fight, and wanted to avoid premium payments, the Executive Yuan should have boldly stepped forward to protect the public interest. Protecting the national interest is the solemn duty of all public servants. How can anyone dismiss it as "asking for trouble?"

Chiou I-jen's views on the Financial Supervisory Commission's intervention in the review of major stockholder suitability is also amateur talk. According to Articles 16 and 17 of the Financial Holding Company Act, the suitability of major stockholders must be reviewed by the Financial Supervisory Commission. If the Koo family, which controls less than 10% of the company, could evade the suitability requirements of the Financial Holding Company Act, merely because a daughter in law and a sister in law of the Koo family resigned from the board of directors, then the Financial Supervisory Commission may as well close its doors. Such obvious attempts to avoid legal supervision were followed by a coordinated attack on public shares. If the Executive Yuan insists on further restricting the conditions under which the Financial Supervisory Commission is permitted to intervene, then what we would like to know is whether the Financial Supervisory Commission is still a government institution or a vassal of private financial institutions.

We have already mentioned Chiou I-jen's inappropriate remarks. We must now go back and examine He Chih-chin and Hu Sheng-cheng's political responsibility. Although Minister He is familiar with US Internal Revenue Service procedures, he failed to understand domestic tax procedures, the political ecology of the legislature, the management of public shares, and even the appointment of the chairman of the board by means of public shares. In the China Development Financial Holding Corp matter, Minister He forfeited the veto that the 1/3 public shares offered him. He thereby made it impossible to use public shares to regulate policy in the future. Financial groups viewed him with contempt during negotiations. We consider his performance not merely a problem of political responsibility, but also of individual dignity.

From early on, in his presidential office report, Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Hu Sheng-cheng proposed his now infamous "Second Financial Reform," and defended the policy on television. After that, he followed Tsai Ying-wen's lead in applying the brakes to financial reform. In response to a long string of China Development Financial Holding Corp. management scandals, he has done absolutely nothing. From beginning to end, he has been constant only in his inconstancy. Taiwan's financial system in in chaos. That financial groups sit in contempt of the administration is a well known fact. The fundamentals of our financial industry are not good. Our international ranking continues to fall, and could even be termed directionless. Confucius said that "When the Way [of Justice] prevails in your own state, to be poor and obscure is a disgrace. But when the Way does not prevail in your own state, to be rich and honored is a disgrace." Chairman Hu has hopped from one position in the cabinet to another over the past seven years. From Minister without Portfolio, to Chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, to Chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission. His government experience is clear for all to see. If he still has an iota of political responsibility in him, he will not need the outside world to remind him of his duty.

By comparison, Minister Ho Chih-chin still resembles an ivory tower intellectual thrown into the political jungle. He is still a rookie, and has not lost his character. To demand that Minister He assume responsibility for public shares policy is actually an affirmation of his character. To demand that scoundrels assume responsibilty for their actions is no longer that important.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.06.23
邱義仁的錯辯 不能豁免財金首長政治責任

在 開發金、華南金改選董監,官股慘敗之後,社會各界都將矛頭指向維護官股權益不力的財政部與金管會,認為至少何部長與胡主委應該要負起政治責任。但是,日前 行政院副院長邱義仁似乎又在為行政院的挫敗找下台階。邱義仁認為,以往官方實力不夠而要強行爭取董監席位,是「自討苦吃」。這樣的發言,當然有替兩位財金 首長緩頰之意。但是民主政治就是責任政治,我們認為國家的財金首長以幾近喪權辱國的方式豢養財團坐大、踐踏行政權,絕不能以唾面自乾的方式自我安慰。

邱 義仁先生以狹隘的持股比例來評估開發金與華南金的董監爭奪,顯然是把以往政府的延續性政策給刻意切除了。以開發金為例,當初財政部長林全同意中信辜家趕走 陳敏薰的條件之一,就是辜家持股必須達到十五%。但是,此次辜家向金管會申報的股權不及十五%的門檻,卻又聯合其他戰友分進合擊收委託書,一則將當初對財 政部的承諾一腳踢開,再則規避金管會對大股東適格性的審查,首鼠兩端,卻全然視政府政策、先前承諾與金融監理如無物。國家行政機關在財團眼中根本像是垃 圾,這政府還有威信可言嗎?

其次,邱先生要了解:公營行庫最後剩下幾家不重要,但是公股釋出的「過程」,才是利益輸送的關鍵,也才是全民 關注的焦點。如果國家要將華南金或開發金的股權釋出,不論是公開標售或洽詢策略性投資人,都可以得到一筆可觀的溢價金,成為國庫收入。但是,如果華南金或 開發金因為公股管理(如徵委託書)不善而失守,則大筆的國庫收入將因而流失。交通部長只因為涉嫌收下裝有數十萬現金的茶葉罐就下台起訴,那麼流失數百億溢 價國庫收入的財政部與金管會,難道不該負起責任?

若說官股實力不足,去搶委託書、爭董監席次就是「自討苦吃」;這又是不了解市場環境的外 行話。邱副院長可能從來不曾在金融市場上打滾過,也從來不了解收委託書的訣竅是股東名冊與「委託書大戶」張家兄弟。以華南金來說吧,官股持股明顯多於林明 成,但收委託書仍是慘敗,這只能說是官股不善向張家兄弟磕頭下跪而已。事實上,當民間財團吃定官股沒有收委託書之專業,而想逃避溢價支付時,行政院當然應 該挺身護衛全民利益。「護國產」是所有人民公僕的天職,又怎麼能說是自討苦吃呢?

此外,邱義仁對於金管會介入金控股東適格性審查的看法, 也是外行話。依據金控法十六條及十七條,金控大股東的適格性要經過金管會的審查。如果只因辜家二媳婦把中信證券的董事辭去,就以形式上持股不及十%而迴避 金控法的適格性規範,那麼金管會乾脆關門算了。這麼明顯的迴避法律監督,再以分進合擊硬吃官股,行政院如果還要限縮金管會介入的時機,真不知道金管會是公 家機關還是私人財團的附庸。

邱義仁緩頰發言不當既如前述,我們還是要回過頭來檢討何志欽與胡勝正的政治責任。何部長雖然熟悉美國內地稅務 的稽查,但是對於國內的租稅背景、立院的政治生態、公股的管理都極為陌生,甚至公股指派的董事長都管不動。開發金一事,何部長不但失去了官股三分之一董事 的否決勢力,也使以後的公股管理政策完全破功,更在談判過程中被財團看扁。我們認為,這樣的表現,已經不只是負起政治責任的問題,而是個人尊嚴的問題。

至 於金管會主委胡勝正,從他早年在總統府簡報提出二次金改,到電視做政策辯護、而後伴隨著蔡英文踩金改煞車,至今又對開發金的公司治理一長串弊端無所作為, 一路走來始終不一。如今,台灣的金融秩序凌亂、財團坐大而蔑視政府,已經是社會共識。我們的金融業內在環境不佳、國際排名殿後,堪稱無道。孔子曰,「邦無 道,富且貴焉,恥也」。胡主委遊走內閣各部會長達七年,從政務委員、經建會主委到金管會主委,官場練達圓通,大家有目共睹。他如果心中還有一絲政治責任的 觀念,也就不需要外界再多做提醒了。


Monday, June 25, 2007

The DPP has lost its Soul

The DPP has lost its Soul
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 23, 2007

As a result of vicious infighting during the party primaries, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates wound up airing each others' dirty laundry. The dirty tricks that candidates pulled on each, such as falsifying the opinion polls that helped determine the final candidate roster, left the average citizen flabbergasted. The DPP Central Committee, which has provided a negative example for the party, has chosen to deal with the ugly mess by passing the buck. Apparently the DPP doesn't realize this scandal constitutes a major crisis.

The falsified opinion polls came to light primarily because of the Central Party Committee's improper "Exclude Blue" clause. This greatly limited the sample size of the target population, enabling candidates to take advantage of convenient loopholes. Huang Chien-hui, for example, applied for and obtained 1,000 telephone numbers from the phone company. Tsao Lai-wang, for example, installed a special telecommunications transfer device in a retirement home he owned. Their purpose was to inflate their own poll numbers. DPP candidates' skill at corrupt election practices is truly extraordinary. Their ability to make use of science and technology to totally invalidate the results of public opinion polls, is truly eye opening.

Once the scientific basis of opinion polls has been discredited, then the fairness of the nomination process has also been invalidated. After such an election, is anything above suspicion? What is really interesting is how cavalier the DPP is about the matter. Party members have raised all sorts of questions, but the Central Party Committee has indicated it has no intention of investigating the matter on its own initiative. When party members who lodged protests investigated matters and offered evidence on their own, the Central Party Committee made clear it still had no intention of conducting any further investigations or imposing any punishments. This may be motivated by the desire to keep the scandal under wraps, or by the hope that the struggle between Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang would subside as soon as possible. But it has left outsiders with the impression that the DPP cares nothing about morality and ethics, and turns a blind eye to fraud and deception.

This election was merely a party primary within the DPP. But the DPP is the ruling party. As the ruling party it must prove that it is capable of and committed to holding free and fair elections. In recent years, repeated incidents of DPP election fraud have left people with serious doubts about its integrity. These include the infamous Bulletgate scandal during the 2004 presidential election; two Kaohsiung mayoral elections; one involving audio tapes of alleged KMT candidate marital infidelity, later confirmed to be fake; the other involving dubious video footage of alleged KMT vote buying; and last but not least, DPP vote buying during the Taipei County magistrate's election. These have led the public to seriously doubt whether the DPP is willing to compete fairly in the democratic process. Chen Chu's election to Kaohsiung mayor has been declared invalid due to rule violations. Does the DPP have no desire whatsoever to regain public trust by investigating party primary malfeasance?

Even more incredibly, Lin Shufen, a member of the Su Tseng-chang camp, has accused Huang Chien-hui, a member of the Frank Hsieh camp, of using 1,000 telephones to influence public opinion polls. This result of this dispute was that Huang Chien-hui, along with three party elders, citing "larger considerations" announced his withdrawal from the race. The Central Party Committee attempts to sweep the candidates' dirty tricks under the rug, only made them more apparent.

Think about it. If Huang Chien-hui had a clear conscience, why did he refuse to be investigated? Doesn't quietly withdrawing his candidacy amount to a tacit admission that he cheated? Since the Central Party Committee could force him to withdraw from the race, that means they already had concrete evidence in their possession. But the party committee chose not to investigate the truth, to impose party discipline, and to shine a light on the matter. Instead it helped him pretend he was withdrawing because he was a "stand up guy" who sacrificed himself for the greater good of the party. This amounted to deceiving the voters. Huang Chien-hui's withdrawal from the race may have allowed the DPP to hide the skeletons in its closet. But in fact it buried the DPP's soul along with Huang Chien-hui. Is this what they consider the "greater good?"

The acquisition of extra telephones to inflate his own poll numbers may have been a new trick unique to this primary election. But other illegal methods such as issuing a flood of cell phone text messages smearing one's rivals, and entertaining local political bosses with illegal banquets and junkets, have popped up continuously. Especially serious examples include mobilizing the media to carry out simultaneous one-sided criticisms, smears, and malicious personal attacks. These tactics led to the annihilation of the Su Tseng-chang camp and the so-called "Eleven Brigands." These tactics reveal that the DPP, in its quest for victory, will resort to any means at its disposal. If they are willing to behave so viciously toward comrades within their own party, what aren't they willing to do to seize power amidst the Blue vs. Green political struggle?

After Huang Chien-hui withdrew from the election, rumors emerged that he joined the Frank Hsieh team to help with the 2008 presidential election. Based on his conduct during the party primary election, what kind of impression is Huang's participation going to give the public, in the event the campaign needs to rely on his "creativity,"

In recent years the DPP's election ploys have gradually moved toward a dead end of "technique over substance." This includes the unconstitutional "linkage" of plebiscites to elections, control of the Central Election Commission, the delivery of political pork by means of patronage, even the setting of election dates. Every one of these have become tools for the manipulation of elections. This has eroded not only the spirit of fair play, but even the substance of democratic politics. This is why the DPP's malfeasance during its party primary received so much attention. The public may be in no position to question the degeneration of morals within the DPP. But the problem is this party is currently the ruling party. If it is incapable of holding a free and fair election, what will become of Taiwan's democracy?

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.23 03:34 am










Friday, June 22, 2007

This Plebiscite is a Little Different

This Plebiscite is a Little Different
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 21, 2007

Comment: The following China Times editorial is a mixed bag.

It is dead right when it observes that Pan Blues need to stop being the fall guy in a cynical dance choreographed by the Pan Greens and by Washington.

But it is dead wrong when it speaks approvingly of Ma Ying-jeou's opportunistic pandering to "ben tu" (nativist) sentiment, and pusillanimous cave in to "du tai" (independent Taiwan) ideology.

For those who may be unclear about the difference between "tai du" and "du tai," allow me to clarify.

Tai du means Taiwan independence. Du tai means an independent Taiwan.

What's the difference between Taiwan independence and an independent Taiwan?

Not much when you really get down to it.

Tai du means formal, de jure Taiwan independence. It means officially founding a "Nation of Taiwan" by redefining the Taiwan region of China as a foreign nation. It means authoring a new "Taiwanese" constitution, and making a formal declaration of Taiwanese independence. Tai du is what one normally thinks of when someone mentions Taiwan independence.

Du tai means de facto Taiwan independence. It means deviously redefining the Republic of China to denote only Taiwan instead of the entirety of China. It means paying insincere lip service to "zhong ji tong yi" (eventual reunification) or even rejecting it altogether. It means deliberately dragging one's feet on reunification or throwing up artificial barriers to reunification, in the hope that the Republic of China will gradually morph into a de facto "Nation of Taiwan."

Basically "tai du" is a Deep Green position, while "du tai" is a Pale Green or, sad to say, even a Pale Blue position.

The China Desk's position is that both tai du and du tai are utterly repugnant and totally unacceptable.

Tai du and du tai are colonialist and imperialist strategic objectives intended to Divide and Conquer China. These objectives are abetted by Taiwan independence Quislings from within China.

To accept either tai du or du tai is to surrender to colonialism and imperialism.

As anyone familiar with Mahatma Gandhi's unyielding struggle against British colonialism and imperialism in India knows, surrender to colonialism and imperialism cannot by any stretch of the imagination be construed as the realization of human rights and individual liberty.

Colonialism and imperialism is an intolerable violation of human rights and individual liberty within a weaker, victimized nation by a more powerful aggressor nation.

The China Desk champions human rights and individual liberty for the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, within a sovereign and independent, market anarchist China not subject to colonialist and imperialist coercion.

See: Market Anarchism, the Solution to the Dilemma of Taiwan Independence

This Plebiscite is a Little Different
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 21, 2007

Once again, the US is calling foul on President Chen. Chen Shui-bian openly declared that he intended to promote a plebiscite to join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan. Washington's response was astonishingly swift. Within ten hours or so, the State Department declared not only that it opposes any such move, in a rare public statement it asked President Chen to cease and desist. Everyone knows that plebiscites on Taiwan are phony issues. What's real is their "linkage" with major elections. But major elections are a long way off. This issue is taking effect now. Its long term effects will be worth noting.

In recent years, the three way relationship between Taipei, Washington, and Beijing has settled into a pattern. Changes to the three way geopolitical relationship are limited. Washington's bottom line is the status quo: "No attacks from Beijing. No independence for Taiwan." No sweeping change to this is likely in the short-term. What may truly lead to regional instability, is an attempt by either side of the Taiwan Strait to change the status quo and set new terms by revising the language. Over the past several years, the standard pattern was that Taipei would make the first move. Beijing would then exert pressure behind the scenes. Finally, Washington would blow the whistle and call time out. Washington's main point of leverage is Chen's "Five Noes" pledge. But over the past few years Chen Shui-bian has been probing the limits of his pledge. Every one of his moves, from his "authoring a new constitution" plebiscite, to his executive order to "terminate of the National Unification Council," to his "join the UN under the name of Taiwan" plebiscite, sought to subvert his "Five Noes."

But as discerning observers can see, this time the situation is a little different. First, Washington's reaction was swifter than in the past. Its language was also clearer. Not only did it not recite the "Five Noes," it clearly stated that it "opposes" the plebiscite. It also publicly demanded that Chen "exercise leadership by rejecting such a proposed referendum." Second, the Blue camp response was also completely different. Not only did it not reflexively criticize the Green camp, Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou expressed an unusually strong objection to the US statement. He even took a stand supporting "anything that would help Taiwan, that respected Taiwan's dignity, that would help Taiwan join the United Nations." In other words, Washington criticized President Chen more harshly, while the Blue camp criticized Chen less harshly. The change was subtle but worth noting.

US China relations, cross-Straits relations, as well electoral politics on Taiwan have always been links in a chain. Any movement in one link will affect the other links. The least stable link in this chain is electoral politics on Taiwan. For the past few years, the Green camp has turned every election into a reunification vs. independence war of attrition, by manipulating cross-Straits relations. Its strategic purpose is twofold. First it wants to provoke Beijing. Second, it wants to lure the Blue camp onto the battlefield. In the end, as long as the Green camp could mollify Washington, everything would return to normal. As soon as Beijing resorted to intimidation, it became the Green camp's most useful campaign aide. As soon as the Blue camp dissented, it was immediately vilified as "not loving Taiwan." What about the US? At most it would issue a strong statement. Perhaps the next time Chen engaged in "transit diplomacy" it would treat Chen a little less courteously. No matter how strong the statement from the US, it would always be acceptable for the Green camp. After several rounds of this, the Green camp not only reaped obvious rewards at the polls, it learned to play the game more and more skillfully.

The Green camp can manipulate the sensitive issue of reunification vs. independence, even as it categorically denies it is violating the "Five Noes." The result is the three way relationship between Taipei, Washington, and Beijing becomes even more firmly entrenched. The Green camp however is compensated at election time. This biggest loser is surely the Blue camp. Over the past several years, every time the Green camp makes a move, the US calls foul, and the Blue camp follows up with its criticisms. The US usually makes some loud noises, then lets the matter drop. The Blue camp meanwhile, gets unfairly depicted as helping outsiders attack Taiwan. The result is that every time the Green camp stirs up trouble between Taipei and Washington, the Blue camp gets all the blame. It is almost as if the US and the ruling DPP were working in unision. The Blue camp always winds up being the fall guy. Should the Blue camp allow itself to remain a willing pawn in this game?

The Green camp plebiscite to "join the UN under the name of Taiwan" is like an arrow that has already been nocked, and is going to be released. The US reaction has been unusually intense. If the Green camp can get past this hurdle, then the "Five Noes" are as good as dead. Therefore Washington cannot possibly make any further concessions. But what else can the US do except extend ruling DPP officials fewer diplomatic courtesies? After all, can the Green camp take back what it said at this point? The Blue camp is also playing the plebiscite game this year. If the Green camp retreats on the UN plebiscite, its political momentum will be halved. But if it refuses to retreat, how long can it hold out?

In the past, the Blue camp played a peculiar role in this kind of deadlock. It provided both the Green camp and the US room in which they could exert their own leverage. This time the Blue camp has obviously gotten wise. It has chosen to stand in opposition to the US. At the same time, it has maintained its distance from the Green camp. To put it plainly, it is basically staying out of the matter. This change on the part of the Blue camp has changed the overall equation. What will Washington and the Green camp do, now that they have lost their Blue camp pawn? Whatever they do, it will be interesting to see.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.06.21

美 國又對陳總統吹哨了!在陳水扁明示要推動「以台灣名義加入聯合國」之公投後,美國華府的反應來得奇快,才十幾個小時不到,國務院就明示「反對」,而且罕見 的公開要求陳總統放棄此議。誰都知道此議題「玩公投」是假,「綁大選」是真,但在距離大選還有相當時日的情況下,這個議題現在就發酵,後續會有什麼效應, 真的很值得觀察!

最近幾年,在台美中三邊的動態關係上,已隱然形成一種模式:一方面,三邊的地緣政治結構關係變化並不大,華府所界定的 「中共不武、台灣不獨」的現狀,短期間內不會有太大變化;真正會引發區域出現波瀾的,主要是台海的任一方企圖藉由修辭的試探,對這種現狀予以重新界定。過 去幾年,慣常的模式都是台灣先出招,北京暗中施壓,最後則是由華府吹哨喊停。華府所操作的主要槓桿,就是扁對「四不一沒有」的承諾,而陳水扁過去幾年也一 直藉由政治修辭的試探,測試這個底線,從制憲公投、終統論到這次的「以台灣名義加入聯合國」公投,無一不是在尋求顛覆「四不一沒有」的底線。

而 明眼人大概都看得出來,這次的情況稍稍與以往有些不同,第一,華府的反應比以往都來得更快,語言表述得也更清晰,不僅不再複誦「四不一沒有」,而是明白表 示「反對」,而且公開要求扁「放棄」他的倡議;第二,藍營的反應也與以往完全不同,不僅不再制式的批判綠營,國民黨的總統候選人馬英九反常的對美國的聲明 表達強烈的不以為然,甚至還表態支持「任何對台灣有幫助,符合台灣尊嚴的名義加入聯合國」的主張。換言之,這回面對陳總統的出招,華府批判的力道加重了, 藍營批判的力道反倒減輕了,這個細微的變化很微妙,也相當值得觀察。

要知道,美中的雙邊關係,兩岸的互動關係,以及台灣內部的選舉政治之 間,一直是呈現環環相扣的連動關係,任何一個環結的波動,都會牽動另外兩個環結的連動。這中間最不穩定的就是台灣選舉政治這個環結。過去幾年,綠營藉由激 化兩岸關係的操作,將每一場選舉都打成是一場統獨消耗戰,這種議題操作模式以激怒北京為首要戰略目標,誘使藍營加入戰場為次要目標,最後只要降低華府關切 的幅度即可。結果只要北京一恫嚇,就成了綠營最佳助選員,藍營一唱和,馬上就被扣上「不愛台灣」的帽子,美國呢?了不起發布個強硬聲明,或是讓扁下回「過 境外交」的禮遇等級降低就得了,再強硬也都在綠營的「可容忍範圍內」,玩個幾回下來,綠營不僅在選票上獲得顯著收割,也玩得越來越純熟。

也 可以說,綠營可以靈活的動統獨邊緣的敏感神經,卻又聲稱絕不違背四不,結果縱然台美中的三角結構關係可能被鎖得更緊,但綠營卻可在選舉的動員上獲得報償。 這中間最大的輸家當然就是藍營,過去幾年,每回綠營出招,美國吹哨的時候,藍營都會跟進批判,結果美國通常大聲嚷嚷幾聲也就算了,藍營卻常被框架成是在幫 著外人打台灣,這個罪名誰擔得起?結果每回是綠營釀成美台關係生變,卻都是讓藍營最後吃悶虧,彷彿是美台在合演一齣雙簧,藍營卻總是在充當現成的二百五, 試問藍營為什麼要自陷為棋子?

所以,微妙的地方就在這裡,綠營推動「以台灣名義加入聯合國」的公投已經如箭在弦,不得不發了,美國的反應 則是異乎尋常的強烈,畢竟這關若是讓綠營衝過了,「四不一沒有」的承諾就等於是全線潰堤了,所以華府不可能再退讓,但美國除了外交禮遇上略施薄懲之外,還 能有什麼其他的能耐?更何況此刻的綠營還能再言退嗎?要知道藍營今年也在玩公投綁大選,綠營若是在加入聯合國這個議題上率先退卻,氣勢等於就被削去了一 半,但若是堅持不退,又能挺多久呢?

在以往,藍營可以在這種僵局中扮演某種微妙槓桿的角色,讓綠營與美方都有使力的空間,但藍營這回顯然 是學乖了,它選擇與美方站在對立面,同時依舊與綠營維持著區隔,講白了就是根本「置身事外」,這種「轉向」讓以往的既定模式都出現了變化,美國華府與綠營 這場直接的對峙,在失掉藍營這個棋子之後,接下來要怎麼收場,真的會很有意思!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Neither a President, nor a Lawyer

Neither a President, nor a Lawyer
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 20, 2007

Comment: Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

By Einstein's definition, virtually everyone on Taiwan is insane, because virtually everyone on Taiwan keeps doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

Virtually everyone on Taiwan expects democracy to uphold human rights and individual liberty, even though every time they have dutifully implemented democracy and played by its rules, their human rights and individual liberty have been ground into the dust.

They keep going to the polls and electing "public servants" who once elected, betray every campaign promise they ever made, and what's worse, turn around and subjugate the very same voters, their nominal "masters," who put them in office in the first place.

Virtually everyone on Taiwan believes in "democracy." At least they pay lip service to it.

Every Pan Blue political declaration begins with "In order to defend the Republic of China's s democracy... " Every Pan Green political declaration begins with "In order to defend Taiwan's democracy... "

Never mind that the Republic of China was supposed to be a republic, not a democracy.

The following China Times editorial laments:

We originally hoped that our lawyer president would exercise moral discretion, control his power lust, and accord the minimum respect due the judiciary. But even our modest expectation that the rule of law would prevail was not to be. Our lawyer president does not handle the affairs of state in a manner befitting a president. He does not even handle them in a manner befitting an ordinary lawyer. Perhaps that is because he has lost respect for the rule of law altogether.

You hoped? You hoped what? That democracy would work the way it is supposed to work in civics texts, and not the way it actually works in real life?

Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Sanity, by logical extension, is "doing something different in order to achieve a different result."

Unless the Chinese people on Taiwan are actually happy with the same result each time, unless they are actually content to remain inmates in an asylum, mechanically going through the same motions over and over again, it is time they considered doing something different in order to achieve a different result.

It is time they reclaimed their human rights and individual liberty. It is time they reclaimed their sanity.

See: Democracy, the Worst Form of Government ever Tried, Part III

Neither a President, nor a Lawyer
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 20, 2007

The Kaohsiung court has ruled that Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu's election was invalid. President Chen Shui-bian immediately began holding forth, excoriating the decision as "extraordinary," and asking rhetorically, "What kind of world is this?" He went so far as to declare that Chen Chu ought to remain in office until her term is up. If the Kaohsiung court can defy traditional political taboos and arrive at such an unexpectedly impartial decision, then President Chen's response is even more incredible. The sight of a head of state throwing a high decibel temper tantrum over a legal decision unfavorable to the ruling party is unprecedented on Taiwan.

President Chen was certainly not shy about discussing his academic record as a legal scholar, or his professional qualifications as an attorney at law. His diatribe made people wonder who was talking. A president? Or a lawyer? The logic is simple. The president may be the head of state, but the courts also represent the nation. It is their responsibility to adjudicate. To treat the courts as an enemy of the people is clearly inappropriate. The president knew this, but did it anyway. Actually, even a defense attorney must accept a court's unfavorable ruling. He must abide by a code of legal ethics. He must not stoop to underhanded methods such as attacking the judiciary through the media, throwing down the gauntlet, and displaying contempt for another branch of government.

If this behavior reminds one of the past behavior of Nazis, it is not without justification. President Chen's recent conduct regarding the judiciary has created an unsettling political atmosphere. Nominating the president and vice-president of the Judicial Yuan is the president's duty. It should have been completed long ago. Yet President Chen acts as if he has the world on a string, and is sitting on a rainbow, insisting all the while that, god forbid he should leave the impression he's attempting to unduly influence the judiciary. In fact, his disclaimers remind one of Nixon's "I am not a crook!" or Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman!"

When the judiciary ruled that the president enjoyed a constitutional right to keep national secrets, Chen couldn't thank the judiciary enough. But when the Kaohsiung court rendered an unfavorable decision on the Kaohsiung mayoral election, Chen's gratitude instantly turned to raging hostility and bitter rebukes. The president's feelings of gratitude or hostility, his judgments regarding good or evil, hinge entirely on selfish personal and partisan advantage. Obey me and live. Defy me and perish. He doesn't even attempt to conceal his self-centered attitude. Clearly all that matters is electoral victories and political advantage. One would never know from Chen's behavior that respect for the judiciary and adherence to the rule of law are the duty of a head of state.

Are such public rebukes against the judiciary to be construed as demands that the courts overturn their original rulings on the Chen Chu or even Wu Shu-chen cases on appeal, based on whatever pleases His Imperial Majesty? The First Family will protect itself by hijacking the Grand Justices' legal rulings. Skeptics who don't understand the purpose of the loopholes in Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 627 will just have to wait and see. Ex-mayor Chen Chu's legal team lost the first round in the Kaohsiung case. But they have President Chen's support. How will they use his support in their legal appeal? The show has only just begun. Whither justice? Justice, apparently, is between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, the Grand Justices' interpretation of the constitution declares that presidential immunity is not a constitutional principle, but merely a courtesy extended to the head of state. At the same time, the Grand Justices spared no ink making clear the judiciary's reverential attitude toward the president. The Grand Justices are the highest representatives of the judiciary. Their deference toward President Chen is unparalleled. But how has the president repaid them? He has used language utterly inappropriate for a head of state to castigate a court decision that met with his displeasure. This reveals just how far out of balance the division of powers is on Taiwan. President Chen is known for holding grudges. Therefore the next thing to watch for is not just whom the president nominates for president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan, but also for the high courts and local courts in Taipei, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. In politically sensitive court cases, judges must spread their wings, and through their decisions increase judicial independence. Judges whose duty is the independent exercise of judicial power, after all, cannot lower themselves to the same level as the president.

Those who would rush to President Chen's defense, please do not invoke his "freedom of speech." Chen as either a president or an attorney, no less than any person on Taiwan,
enjoys complete freedom of speech. No one can investigate or punish President Chen for making indiscreet remarks attacking the judiciary that are beneath the dignity of his office. Everyone has the legal right to mouth obscenities. Mouthing obscenities is not punishable by law. Whether a person chooses to mouth obscenities may be a matter of freedom of speech, but it is also a matter of self discipline and moral character.

The president as the head of state enjoys legal and political privileges that far exceed any legal constraints placed upon him. The judiciary, through its constitutional interpretations and concrete actions, effectively informed the people that President Chen Shui-bian is not subject to the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law. He is the only person on Taiwan who can abuse his presidential authority to openly demand that the Grand Justices order judges to stop the prosecution of his wife. He is the only person on Taiwan who can order the Grand Justices to set aside the backlog of cases before them, and take the time out to respond in painstaking detail to all his concerns, creating all sorts of procedural privileges unforseen in the constitution or the law. Even though it means they have clipped their own wings, the 13 Grand Justices have acted in unison and offered a unanimous opinion. If any of them held a dissenting opinion, he was not willing to express it. Since the judiciary is willing to show the president so much deference and grant him so much latitude, it is hardly about to turn around and infringe the president's freedom of speech.

We originally hoped that our lawyer president would exercise moral discretion, control his power lust, and accord the minimum respect due the judiciary. But even our modest expectation that the rule of law would prevail was not to be. Our lawyer president does not handle the affairs of state in a manner befitting a president. He does not even handle them in a manner befitting an ordinary lawyer. Perhaps that is because he has lost respect for the rule of law altogether.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.06.20
總統律師行事 不似總統也不如律師

高 雄法院判決高雄市長陳菊當選無效,陳水扁總統隨即大放厥辭,嚴厲批評判決離譜,質問「這是什麼世界?」矢言陳菊一定會做滿市長任期。如果說,高雄法院打破 傳統政治禁忌的判決出人意料,那麼陳總統的反應就更令人不敢置信了。國家元首高分貝叱罵不利執政黨的司法判決,在台灣,真是前所未見的政治奇觀。

陳 總統並不諱言自己的學法背景與律師出身,他的發言已使旁人質疑,究竟這是一位總統還是一位律師在說話?道理很簡單,總統身為國家元首,對於同樣是代表國家 審判的法院不假辭色,視如寇讎,明明有失身分,總統怎會明知故犯?其實,即便是代理訴訟的律師,接獲法院的不利判決,遵照律師倫理,也不該出此下策,在媒 體之前吃定司法不語,公然叫陣,目中無人。

論者讜言此種態度足可聯想納粹遺風,對照陳總統近日對於司法行事詭譎,引發了詭異的政治氣氛, 不為無因。總統提名司法院正副院長的作業,早該完成,陳總統卻好整以暇,按兵不動,還巧言說是不要造成影響司法解釋的誤會,其實恰似此地無銀地我口說我 心,忙不迭引出了總統享有國家機密特權的憲法解釋,也贏得陳總統第一時間表示感謝;不旋踵則對高雄的司法判決變臉怒斥,總統前恭後倨,全視是否利己利黨而 定其好惡。順我昌、逆我亡的風格,對司法竟也毫不遮掩,顯現其心中只有選舉勝負與政治利害,何曾知道尊重司法、恪守法治,乃是國家元首的基本政治倫理責 任?

如此明目張膽地教訓司法,難道是要法院在接下來審判陳菊上訴乃至吳淑珍刑案時,善體天威,對其喜惡,推翻原有判決?而第一家庭將會如 何挾大法官解釋以自重,不懂釋字第六二七號解釋有何玄機者固不妨拭目以待,在高雄有了阿扁加持過的敗訴團隊將會如何挾總統以令上訴法院,自也是未演先轟動 政治戲碼。而司法呢?司法似乎窘態畢露。

大法官在憲法解釋中,一面訴說總統刑事豁免特權不是憲法原理,只是禮遇元首的憲法政策;一面卻毫 不吝惜筆墨明白展現司法對於總統的尊崇。最足以代表司法高度的大法官,對於陳總統的尊重可謂無以復加,而司法系統獲得的回報,卻是總統用絕難匹配元首應有 高度的語言刻薄令其不悅的司法判決,這是多麼高下失衡的憲政畫面?如謂此為陳總統恩怨分明、有仇必報的政治性格使然,那麼接著應該觀察的,就不只是總統如 何提名司法院正副院長,更要看從南北高等法院到地方法院,在具有政治關連性的司法審判中,能不能勇於振翼展翅,在更為提昇的司法高度上用判決顯示,職司獨 立審判的法官,畢竟不能和總統一般見識。

想為陳總統說話的朋友,請不要用總統的言論自由來為總統緩頰。陳總統或是陳律師,都享有完全的言 論自由,不比台灣的任何人少;無人能對陳總統攻擊司法的失言失格,發動法律上的追訴或處罰,就像每個人也許都有用髒話當做口頭禪的自由,不因說髒話而受到 法律處罰,然而一個人要不要說髒話,甚至選擇不說髒話,不但也是他的言論選擇自由,而且也繫於每個人的自律意識與品格認知。

總統作為國家 元首,享受的法律或政治特權,其實遠大過他所受到的法律限制。到今天為止,司法已經用憲法解釋、用實際行動告訴國人,陳水扁總統是「法治國家法律之前人人 平等原則之例外」,他是台灣僅有的一個人,可以運用總統的身分與權力,大刺刺地要求大法官命令法官停止審判其夫人,也可以讓大法官們放下手邊絕大多數的案 件,密集而專心地為他做出解釋,創造出憲法及法律上均無法預見的種種程序特權,即使因此折損了自身的司法羽毛亦在所不惜;十三位大法官還行動一致地連一篇 協同意見、不同意見也不肯提出。司法既然肯給予總統如此寬闊的政治尊崇,大概不致於反過來迫害總統的言論自由。


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ma Ying-jeou's Three in One Thesis

Ma Ying-jeou's Three in One Thesis
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 14, 2007

Comment: The following United Daily News editorial, it pains me to say, is yet another gutless, fence-straddling, Pale Blue/Pale Green, non-solution to Taiwan's problems.

It panders to atavistic "ben tu" nativist mob sentiment and fails to address the core issue plaguing the Taiwan region of China, namely, the Taiwan independence movement's self-hating "Taiwanese, not Chinese" identity politics.

It prattles on about "transcendent" solutions even as it utterly defaults on the obligation to offer a transcendent solution.

A truly transcendent solution would require original thought, something sorely missing on today's Taiwan.

Ma Ying-jeou's Three in One Thesis
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 14, 2007

Ma Ying-jeou is currently visiting Singapore and India. Before boarding his plane, he gave a speech at National Chiao Tung University, proposing to turn Taiwan into an "Asian Pacific Economic and Trade Platform."

The media did not consider Ma Ying-jeou's proposal worth reporting. Possibly because it reminded them of the Kuomintang (KMT) government's concept of an "Asian Pacific Transhipment Center" over a decade ago, or the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's trumpeted "Global Operations Center" a few years ago, both of which have remained slogans, neither of which have become a reality. Ma Ying-jeou's name change to "Asian Pacific Economic and Trade Platform" this late in the game, smacks of "Three strikes, you're out!"

Actually, it shouldn't be regarded as a rehash of the same idea. Taiwan's problems can be found at three different levels, represented by three concentric rings. From the inside out, they are: "Taiwan -> The Two Sides of the Taiwan Strait -> The World." Taiwan must have access to the outside world. To establish a role for Taiwan on the world stage, one must use the cross-Straits springboard. Conversely, from the outside in, the three concentric circles are "The World -> The Two Sides of the Taiwan Strait -> Taiwan." Taiwan must make use of links to the outside world to manage cross-Straits relations. Taiwan cannot skip over cross-Straits relations, but cross-Straits relations must be constrained by the international community.

The Asian Pacific Platform is this platform of concentric rings. When Taiwan becomes the international economic and trade platform for the Asian Pacific rim, the international community will unite and interact with this economic and trade platform. So long as this economic and trade platform functions smoothly, economic and trade relations will bring Taiwan and the international community closer, and cross-Straits relations will be constrained by the international community. This has been our position for over a decade. So long as Taiwan's economic and trade role can be internationalized, Taiwan's problem can be internationalized!

The Asian Pacific platform is not merely an economic and trade concept. When the Asian Pacific Platform strengthens Taiwan's economic and trade role, not only does it introduce opportunity and wealth to Taiwan, it also introduces substantive diplomatic relations and "soft resources" beneficial to national defense.

Therefore, the "Asian Pacific Platform" is a "Three in One Thesis." First, it can reinforce Taiwan's primacy, making it Taiwan's "Nativist Thesis." Second, it can promote cross-Straits peace and a win/win scenario, making it Taiwan's "Cross-Straits Thesis." Third, it advocates opening Taiwan to the international community, making it Taiwan's "Globalist Thesis." The Asian Pacific Platform can and must attempt to combine the Nativist, Cross-Straits, and Global theses.

Actually, Taiwan has always played the role of "international platform" at some level in the global economy. During the 50s and 60s, that role was entry level "export processing zone." During the 80s and 90s, that role was upgraded to "science park." But today, that kind of localized platform is no longer adequate to support Taiwan's long term development. Taiwan must transform the whole of Taiwan into a huge platform, exploiting its geographical and cultural advantages. It must attempt to develop the "Three in One Thesis" to its full potential. Only then can it begin to transcend today's unfortunate "Nativist/Cross-Straits/Globalist" zero sum game, and champion a mutually complementary "Nativist/Cross-Straits/Globalist" win/win proposition. In other words, the platform cannot be confined to science parks. The whole of Taiwan must become a huge platform. The more democratic the politics, the freer the trade, the more open the doors to the nation!

Even more importantly, the Asian Pacific Platform is a Nativist Thesis that transcends nativism. It is a Cross-Straits Thesis that transcends cross-Straits considerations. The Asian Pacific Platform transcends reunification vs. independence issues. It is neither reunification nor independence. It is both reunification and independence. "Three Links" under the Asian Pacific Platform is no longer a narrowly defined cross-Straits issue. Instead, it deals with "Three Links" from a commanding international perspective. Only from the global perspective of the "Asian Pacific Platform" can the "Nativist Thesis" and the "Cross-Straits Thesis" trade a "kill or be killed" proposition for a "live and let live" proposition.

Ma Ying-jeou's proposed "Asian Pacific Platform" underscores the futility of Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian's decade long internal bickering and wheel-spinning. Taiwan has missed out on a decade of opportunities to become the Asian Pacific Platform. But although the hour is date, what alternative does Taiwan have?

The Rectification of Names and New Constitution "Nativist Thesis" is nothing less than a demand that Taiwan commit suicide. Taiwan must pursue a "Three in One Taiwan Thesis" that addresses the concerns of each the "Nativist/Cross-Straits/Globalist" rings. Only then will Taiwan have the possibility of long term development. The Asian Pacific Platform could be called the "Asian Pacific Transhipment Center" or "Global Operations Center," but no matter what one calls it, it is the only means by which Taiwan can pursue development and ensure its survival.

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.14 03:48 am











Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Direct Flights: Is the Door Locked on the Inside or the Outside?

Direct Flights: Is the Door Locked on the Inside or the Outside?
United Daily News
translated by Bevin Chu
June 13, 2007

Comment: An excellent editorial. Really nails Pan Green mendacity to the wall.

Why are the Pan Greens so terrified of direct links? Because direct links would undermine their ongoing attempt to indoctrinate the Chinese people on Taiwan with the notion that they are "Taiwanese, not Chinese."

Taiwan independence is rooted not in any alleged love of "freedom, democracy, and human rights," but in self-hating "Taiwanese, not Chinese" identity politics.

Close contact with fellow Chinese on the Chinese mainland would subvert the Pan Green attempt to promote "wen hua tai du" (culturally oriented Taiwan independence) by making boogeymen of their fellow Chinese.

Direct Flights: Is the Door Locked on the Inside or the Outside?
United Daily News
translated by Bevin Chu
June 13, 2007

The Kuomintang (KMT) has proposed a "Direct Flights Plebiscite." The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Legislative Committee has mocked its proposal, declaring that the matter is simply "not up to us." Their argument is pretty strange, considering that the DPP is the biggest obstacle to direct flights across the Taiwan Straits.

Taiwan's economy has been in a slump. The main reason is the DPP's Closed Door Policy. This is something that both the man in the street and international rating organizations understand quite well. Now, the opposition party wants to break through the DPP's self-imposed blockade by holding a plebiscite. The DPP has responded, saying the door was locked not by the Chen regime from the inside, but by the Chinese Communist Party from the outside. Does the DPP really think it can shrug off its own responsibility like that?

Closer examination of the DPP's argument that "The Commies locked the door, not us" reveals that the DPP has fallen into its own trap. At first the DPP told people: For the political and economic security of Taiwan, we cannot allow direct flights to and from the mainland. Many people believed them. They believed that Taiwan's front door must be locked, and direct flights must not be allowed. But years later, many of these same people have realized that a perpetual state of siege is not the answer. The status quo must change. So now the DPP tells everybody: "The reason you can't get out, is that the door is locked from the outside." Does the DPP really think the public is going to swallow that argument?

In reality, Deep Green hardliners within the DPP have always opposed direct flights, and the DPP has always exaggerated the negative impact of direct flights. Yet today, the DPP is loudly proclaiming that direct flights are "not up to us," implying that "It's not that we're opposed to direct flights. It's that Beijing won't agree." Well if that truly is the case, then why does the DPP oppose a "Direct Flights Plebiscite?" Why doesn't it actively encourage the public to participate in the plebiscite, expressing the will of the people? Wouldn't that make the DPP's willingness to promote direct flights known to Beijing? The DPP insists that direct flights are "not up to us." The reality is the DPP is unwilling to acknowledge the reality of "Anti-Closed Door" public sentiment.

The direct flights issue has evolved to the point where it must be put to a vote. The saddest aspect of this controversy is not whether the door was locked from the inside or from the outside, but that a political party purporting to be "democratic" and "progressive" cares nothing about the will of the people. A political party that relentlessly trumpets the value of plebiscites as an expression of the will of the people, regards plebiscites as its exclusive franchise, and forbids its use to others. Not content to manipulate public opinion, the DPP also subverts the democratic process.

The KMT's "Direct Flights Plebiscite" may be a defensive maneuver aimed at the DPP's "KMT Party Assets Plebiscite." But at a deeper level it also has offensive significance. Besides liberating the KMT from self-imposed restrictions, it allows the KMT to turn one of the DPP's favorite weapons against itself. If direct flights are "not up to us," is "Joining the UN under the name of Taiwan" up to us? Why is it permissible to hold a plebiscite on "Joining the UN under the name of Taiwan," despite the fact that it is "not up to us," but not permissible to hold a plebiscite on "direct flights?" Are we to understand that whether the public on Taiwan is permitted to hold a plebiscite is up to the DPP?

The fact is the "Direct Flights Plebiscite" and the "Joining the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" are different level issues that require different level solutions. Cross-Straits direct flights will of course touch upon sensitive issues such as air routes. But because they involve only the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, so long as both sides are sincere, finding a compromise at the technical level should not be too difficult. In fact, direct flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong and between Taiwan and Macau have already provided us with precedents. On this point the DPP, due to its ossified mindset, may be unable to achieve a breakthrough. The KMT on the other hand, may be able to make some progress by making an end run around the problem. Plebiscites in favor of "Joining the UN under the name of the Republic of China" or "Joining the UN under the name of Taiwan" will inevitably touch upon other nations' China policy. Those, by contrast, truly are "not up to us."

Recently, game wardens attempting to capture a "tiger" in the Linkou mountain area wound up capturing a dog instead. The 2004 "Taiwan Independence Plebiscite" became the "Guided Missiles Plebiscite." The "Guided Missiles Plebiscite" became the "Buy Guided Missiles Plebiscite." The exalted status of plebiscites under a constitutional government has been reduced to an election season farce. Today, both the Blue and Green camps are determined to "link" plebiscites to elections, as tightly as possible. Predictably, few will capture any "tigers," but many will capture dogs. Seeing plebiscites abused in such a manner is hardly something anyone wants to see.

Don't tell us how many locks have been installed on the door to the Chinese mainland. Just ask the DPP to remove the locks it has installed on the inside of the door. Otherwise, why shouldn't we demand a plebiscite?

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.13 04:08 am










Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chen and Hsieh, Then and Now

Chen and Hsieh, Then and Now
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 12, 2007

Comment: This editorial correctly notes that:

If Frank Hsieh wants to tout his "Taiwanese Reformation," he must first clean up his own image, he must change the DPP's tune, and he must recalibrate the nation's political and economic goals.

Is that all?

Good luck. Because it ain't gonna happen.

Chen and Hsieh, Then and Now
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 12, 2007

In 2000, Chen Shui-bian represented the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in its presidential bid. In 2008, Frank Hsieh will represent the DPP in its presidential bid. Eight years later, the political climate is completely different. So are Chen and Hsieh's personal qualifications.

For starters, their public personas are different. Chen Shui-bian's public persona was that of a "poor boy made good" from a "Category Three Impoverished Household" who was "always first in his class." Frank Hsieh by contrast, has been badly scarred by a string of scandals, including the Soong Chi-li scandal, the faked recording tape scandal, the Speaker of the Kaohsiung City Council vote buying scandal, the political contributions scandal, and the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit scandal. In 2000 the DPP revised its party constitution just for Chen, making him the sole candidate endorsed by the party. Frank Hsieh by contrast, has been forced to engage in bloody factional warfare, fighting his way out of encirclement by the other Princes of the DPP. Back then Chen's candidacy was said to have united the DPP. Hsieh's current victory by contast, is said to have divided the DPP. Back then Chen received Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh's endorsement. Frank Hsieh by contrast, has been labeled "treacherous" and "corrupt" by former DPP premier Su Tseng-chang. Back then Chen Shui-bian had the help of people such as Luo Wen-chia and Ma Yung-cheng. Frank Hsieh by contrast, only has the help of people such as Hsu Kuo-yung, Kuan Pi-ling, and Hsieh Hsing-yi. Chen's image back then was relatively unsullied. Hsieh's image today is much less so.

In 2000, Chen used "regime change" as a clarion call, creating an intoxicating atmosphere of "Dare to hope. Follow your dream." Back then, no one had any idea how the DPP would conduct itself once it was in power. They harbored rosy expectations. Eight years later, Frank Hsieh must answer for a DPP that has been in power for the past eight years, and for a dream of clean government has been reduced to a nightmare of corruption. Eight years later "joy and hope" have turned to pain and disillusionment. Eight years ago Chen Shui-bian asked the public to "Give the DPP a chance." Eight years later, the public wants to "Give the DPP the punishment it deserves." Eight years ago Chen Shui-bian urged the public to "Follow your dream." Eight years later, Frank Hsieh must deal with a public awakening from a nightmare.

For the past eight years, the DPP and Chen Shui-bian have skillfully manipulated the issue of Taiwan independence and social tensions. Although they have weakened the health of the nation, they have inadvertently allowed the people to see through their lies and to regain consciousness. Frank Hsieh is calling for "Taiwanese Reformation" and "Conciliation and Coexistence." The implication being that Chen Shui-bian's excesses require correction, and that he intends to change course. But even assuming Frank Hsieh is serious, does he have the wherewithal to make it happen?

In fact Frank Hsieh's "Taiwanese Reformation" and "conciliation and coexistence" today is no different from Chen Shui-bian's "New Centrist Path" back then. Both attempt to lay claim to the broadest portion of the political spectrum. The difference is that back then no one was riding on Chen Shui-bian's head. He did not have to answer to a higher authority. He could adopt a "New Centrist Path" if he wanted. Today however, Chen Shui-bian is riding on Frank Hsieh's head. Hsieh's freedom of action has been severely hampered. In 2000 Chen Shui-bian did his utmost to reduce conflict over Taiwan independence and between social groups to their minimum. Today Chen Shui-bian is doing everything in his power to increase confrontation over the issue of Taiwan independence and social tensions between different segments of society to a fever pitch. Eight years ago Chen Shui-bian exercised total control. Eight years later Frank Hsieh would like to exercise total control, but the only one who has total control is Chen Shui-bian.

The nation has undergone radical change over the past eight years. Taiwan went from the head of the Four Asian Dragons to the tail. Mainland China has not declined, but rapidly risen. Mutual trust between Taiwan and the US has reached a new low. The DPP has become political prisoner of the US. Taiwan's economy is in a depression, and people's lives are hard. Political henchmen manipulate the justice system from behind the scenes. The educational system has degenerated into a Taiwan independence theater of the absurd. Social justice is dead. The public is demoralized. The "Rectification of Names" and "New Constitution" campaigns have been trotted out repeatedly. In the end they have proven to be nothing but self-deception. "Taiwan independence" has become a synonym for "corruption and incompetence." Internal power struggles within the DPP have evolved in "wars of reunification vs. independence." Eight years ago, Chen Shui-bian did not need to face any of this. Today, eight years later, Frank Hsieh must take the heat for the DPP's broken promisesl.

In short, during the past eight years, we have fallen into dire straits. Compared to Frank Hsieh, Chen Shui-bian's public image was squeaky clean. Chen came from a "Category Three Impoverished Household." Hsieh by contrast has been characterized as "treacherous." Back then society wanted to "Give the DPP a chance." Today it wants to "Give the DPP the punishment it deserves." Back then the DPP was united. Today the DPP is divided. Back then the nation's political and economic foundation was solid. Today the the nation's political and economic foundations are crumbling. Most importantly, back then Chen Shui-bian answered to no higher authority. Today Chen Shui-bian has Frank Hsieh by the throat!

If Frank Hsieh wants to tout his "Taiwanese Reformation," he must first clean up his own image, he must change the DPP's tune, and he must recalibrate the nation's political and economic goals. The thorniest problem for Frank Hsieh is how to carry out "reform" while under Chen Shui-bian's thumb. If he can't "reform" Chen Shui-bian, then he can forget about any other "reforms."

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.12 04:14 am





其實,今日主張「台灣維新」、「和解共生」的謝長廷,與當年主張「新中間路線」的陳水扁一樣,皆是想在政治光譜上佔據較大的幅員而已。但是,當年陳水扁的頭上,沒有比他更高的權威,所以他可以向「新中間路線」移動;如今謝長廷的頭上卻有一個陳水扁,因而謝的自主性及自由度皆受壓制。簡直而言,陳水扁二○○○ 年起步時,他全力將統獨族群衝突壓到最低;但如今謝長廷起步,陳水扁卻全力將統獨族群衝突掀至最高。八年前陳水扁自己完全作得了主,八年後謝長廷卻未必能完全作主,而陳水扁仍在作主!




Monday, June 11, 2007

Is Taiwan still a Free Market Economy?

Is Taiwan still a Free Market Economy?
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 11, 2007

Comment: The DPP has never been a champion of the free market. Free market activity across the Taiwan Straits is the most potent force for China's eventual reunification.

The DPP's core value has always been tribal solidarity within the context of an artificially concocted "Taiwanese, not Chinese" ethnic and national identity.

Free market processes undermine the DPP's attempts to impose its artificially concocted tribal solidarity on the Chinese people of Taiwan.

To imagine that they would ever champion "free minds and free markets" is to misunderstand them completely.

Is Taiwan still a Free Market Economy?
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 11, 2007

Amidst rising prices, TAIYEN (Formosa Salt Company), which has controlled the price of salt for twenty years, announced a price increase. No sooner had the rumor of a price increase spread, than it came to the attention of Executive Yuan Secretary General Chen Ching-chun. A single telephone call from Chen forced Chairman of the Board Chang Lin-ching to retract his statement and guarantee that salt prices would not increase.

Chen Ching-chun said that since salt prices have not risen in several decades, he "could not understand" why they had to rise "at this time." Newly appointed former legislator Chen Ching-chun has a keen nose for politics. He knows that with two elections looming, the ruling DPP cannot afford to suffer electoral losses because he raised salt prices "at this time." The problem is, TAIYEN has been privatized. If we're still living in a world in which a single phone call can veto corporate policy, then aren't all these years of privatization a fraud?

Ironically, on the same day, the Executive Yuan aggressively raised the minimum wage, and ordered a 10 NT Dollar subsidy to businesses. The justification was that "wages had not increased in 10 years." Let's look at the Chang cabinet's logic. The minimum wage has not increased in 10 years, therefore an increase is long overdue. But salt prices have not increased in 20 years, therefore there is no reason why it should be increased now. The logic behind these two policy decisions is flagrantly self-contradictory.

Taiwan's economic growth has been sluggish in recent years. Besides the ruling party's Closed Door ideology, countless other contradictions in the ruling party's logic and deficiencies in the ruling party's thinking, are responsible for throttling Taiwan's economic freedom and economic vitality. When a single phone call from a high official can reverse a major corporation's policy, where is that corporation's independence and sovereignty? When government bureaucrats have the temerity to promote ill-considered "wage subsidies," besides revealing their arrogance of power, they reveal their ignorance about the workings of a free economy.

If the "Invisible Hand" behind the free market is replaced by the "Visible Hand" of sundry bureaucrats, how can Taiwan's economy not be derailed and separated from the free market economy? How can it not depart farther and farther from the international track?

Take intervention in salt prices as an example. Chen Ching-chun's ignorances dwarfs his understanding. First, prices in a free market system are determined by the private judgments of market participants. Chen Ching-chun apparently thinks the government trumps the marketplace, and has the temerity to intervene. Second, when the government meddles in private enterprise, not only does it hinder company operations, it also violates the rights of individual shareholders. Lin Ching's submissive behavior is an obvious dereliction of duty. Third, even assuming the government feels justified in imposing price controls, it ought to submit its proposed intervention to public scrutiny, and refrain from issuing imperial decrees via secret phone calls. Chen Ching-chun should not allow himself to become a secretary general who casually usurps authority.

The hourly wage subsidies are even more brazen. Within a free economy "subsidies" is a dirty word. Only a regime that is both ignorant about economics and arrogant about power would dare to regard subsidies as "government benevolence" that they can claim credit for. They are taking the blood and sweat of taxpayers, doling it out to wealthy cronies, and touting it as an achievement of the ruling regime. This is nothing more than disguised exploitation. Yet the Executive Yuan acts pleased with itself. When a cabinet lacks any shred of honor, what point is there in discussing professional ethics?

If the Executive Yuan's price controls on water, electricity, sugar, salt, and other goods stemmed from heartfelt concern for the public welfare, that would be one thing. In fact they stem from the ruling party's selfish interests. In other words, their current intervention is merely a delaying tactic. As soon as the elections are over, they will allow prices to rise, and public suffering will be more unbearable than ever. The Democratic Progressive Party exchanges long term public suffering for near term party advantage, then spins its behavior as generosity and compassion. Crocodile tears are more real than this.

In the eyes of the Chen regime there is no such thing as a free economy. This is clear from seven years of government intervention predicated upon its Closed Door Policy. Nefarious, behind the scenes manipulation of the economy by newly installed goons Chang Chun-hsiung and Chen Ching-chun has lost its power to shock. We would like to remind the Chang cabinet that if it wants to create a "good guy" image, merely controlling salt prices and increasing the minimum wage is not going to be enough. Three gasoline price increases in a single month has made the public furious. That's the real source of public discontent over consumer prices. If Chen Ching-chun can stop the rise in gasoline prices with a single phone call, then he might be able to deliver the vote.

Chen Ching-chun might claim that oil prices and international oil prices are coordinated by means of an established formula, therefore intervention is impossible. If that's the case, isn't this the answer they've been seeking? The government shouldn't artificially manage oil price fluctuations, shouldn't arbitrarily forbid salt price increases, and shouldn't randomly subsidize wage increases. The reason is the same in every case. Wages and prices should be determined by the marketplace, not by behind the scenes manipulations by government officials!

Make no mistake about it. A political authority may be able to manipulate the market, but it will never be able to outsmart the market. Do we need further evidence, other than the dismal results of the Chen regime's seven years of meddling in the economy?

Original Chinese below:

鹽價禁漲 工資補貼──台灣還是自由經濟嗎?
2007.06.11 02:22 am












Friday, June 8, 2007

Ma Ying-jeou's English and "Taiwanese"

Ma Ying-jeou's English and "Taiwanese"
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 7, 2007

Comment: The following China Times editorial would have us believe that:

When Ma Ying-jeou shows off his "Taiwanese," when he rides his bicycle through rural villages, when he denounces the Chinese Communist Party, when he opens his heart to "native Taiwanese" in order to prevent the loss of voter support, the opposing camp immediately counter-attacks, mocking his "Taiwanese" to remind the public that he is a wai sheng ren who is "not one of us." This confirms that Ma Ying-jeou's strategy change is correct. Because only when one poses a threat, will one invite attacks. Ma Ying-jeou need be in no hurry to counter-attack, because counter-attacks will merely create opposition, and play into his accusers' hands.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Assuming of course it was not an attempt to subvert the Pan Blue camp from within, this China Times editorial is obtuse beyond belief, and represents everything wrong with "Pale Blue" ideology on Taiwan today. Ma Ying-jeou's ill-considered surrender to "ben tu" nativist orthodoxy is a strategic blunder of the first magnitude.

Anyone who appreciates the difference between strategy and tactics knows that one must never make long term strategic sacrifices for the sake of short term tactical advantage.

In case anyone is confused about the difference between strategy and tactics, strategy is about "doing the right things," while tactics is merely about "doing things right." Obviously strategy is far more fundamental than tactics.

The only possible outcome of strategic concessions to "ben tu" nativism will be to validate Pan Green core values, and conversely, invalidate Pan Blue core values.

Unless Ma Ying-jeou is prepared to renounce Pan Blue core values altogether, validating the Pan Green core values of self-hating "Taiwanese, not Chinese" identity politics and nation building will only make his political struggle against the DPP harder, not easier.

In fact, even assuming Ma Ying-jeou is prepared to totally forsake Pan Blue core values, validating Pan Green core values will not make his presidential campaign struggle one bit easier.

That's because Pan Green core values were never about championing "freedom, democracy, and human rights." Pan Green core values have always been about enthroning a self-hating "Taiwanese, not Chinese" ethnic and national identity.

Since Ma Ying-jeou is a "mainlander," a Hunanese born in Hong Kong, no concession he can ever make will transf0rm him into a "zheng gang de tai wan ren," i.e., an "authentic Taiwanese." If anything, it will do the exact opposite.

The more piously Ma Ying-jeou genuflects before the altar of "ben tu" nativist orthodoxy, the more he will validate "ben tu" ethnic prejudice towards himself, an "Ethnically Incorrect" interloper, someone whom even KMT colleague Wang Jin-pyng insists is disqualified from being the leader of "native Taiwanese" by virtue of his birth.

Unless Ma Ying-jeou can summon up the courage to condemn "ben tu" nativist orthodoxy for what it is, primitive bigotry, and champion rational meritocracy without regard for biological origin, his attempt to jump on the "ben tu" bandwagon will merely supply Pan Green fascists with the rope with which they will eventually hang him.

If Ma Ying-jeou persists in his monumental error, he will not be elected president of the Republic of China. His short-sighted "pragmatism" will lead to a humiliating defeat at the polls in 2008, and he will lose out on the very goal for which he so readily renounced his Pan Blue core values.

Ma Ying-jeou's English and "Taiwanese"
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 7, 2007

Is speaking English too well a crime? English teachers throughout the island will probably disagree. So will tens of thousands of parents who hope that their sons and daughters will grow up to be movers and shakers in the world. But Taiwan politics has its own peculiar logic about what is right and what is wrong.

In central and southern Taiwan, people have been whispering: "Ma Ying-jeou's English is better than his Taiwanese." [Hoklo Chauvinists refer to the Hoklo dialect of the Chinese language as "Taiwanese."] Over the past several days this has become a hot topic. Ma Ying-jeou has a Juris Doctor from Harvard University. His English is top-notch. He needs no translator while being interviewed on CNN. He can comport himself with confidence and shine in an international setting. But English after all, is a language spoken by foreigners, while "Taiwanese" is the language spoken by "native Taiwanese" [i.e., Han Chinese from Fujian born on Taiwan] Consequently some people have alleged that since Ma Ying-jeou's English is better than his Hoklo, he obviously has no respect for Taiwan.

The superficial logic of this argument is that if one's English is too good, to the extent that is better than one's "Taiwanese," that constitutes a kind of betrayal of Taiwan. In an era of globalization, such logic reveals that the person really doesn't know what time it is. In an era of international competition, multilingualism and a cosmopolitan world view are essential tools of survival. A foreign language is a window onto the world. Learn a foreign language, and you open a new window, allowing yourself to experience a completely different view, and to take advantage of a wider range of opportunities. Parents all over the world are struggling to teach their children English, in the hope that they will not become obsolete. When the president's own daughter Chen Hsing-yu purchased an assortment of exorbitantly priced English teaching materials, presumably that was on her mind as well.

Therefore, the point is not whether one's English is too good, but whether one's "Taiwanese" is not good enough. Criticizing Ma's English proficiency was merely for the sake of contrast and irony, to emphasize the fact that Ma Ying-jeou's "Taiwanese" is not terribly good. Actually, even if Ma Ying-jeou's English wasn't as fluent as it is, he would still be under attack, because his "Taiwanese" isn't terribly good. Although he has lived on Taiwan for several decades, Ma Ying-jeou was born in another province, and "Taiwanese" is not his mother tongue. Furthermore, his academic studies, his work experience, and his political life, all took place within a Mandarin speaking environment. He had little opportunity to learn or use the Hoklo dialect. The contrast between his hesitant, heavily accented Hoklo, and his facile, fluent English, does indeed leave a lasting impression.

To some extent, skepticism about Ma Ying-jeou's sudden enthusiasm for speaking "Taiwanese" reflects historical grievances felt by ben sheng ren (persons from another province) toward wai sheng ren (persons from this province) over suppression of the "native language." A bunch of people from outside Taiwan seizes control of the machinery of government, makes another language the official language, demotes "Taiwanese" to the level of a second-class language. They not only restrict its use, but ridicule it, causing profound long term harm to ben sheng ren self-esteem. This bunch of outsiders lives on Taiwan and is nourished by Taiwan. Yet some of them have no interest whatsoever in learning the native language. They can't even understand it and don't care to understand it, causing native Taiwanese to feel slighted.

Therefore, to denounce Ma Ying-jeou because his English is better than his "Taiwanese," is to trot out once more the stereotype of a group of outsiders' cultural arrogance and contempt for "native Taiwanese" culture, revealing pent-up grievances and hatred. Some people engage in such activities because certain historical grievances remain unresolved, and require the artificial fabrication of a new enemy, allowing one to wallow in self pity, and providing a target for one's resentment. Even though Ma himself was never a henchman for the White Terror, he cannot evade collective guilt as the heir apparent of a "foreign political authority." It makes no difference whether he wants this label. Others will stick it on his forehead regardless.

Actually, even if Ma Ying-jeou's "Taiwanese" was fluent, he still would not be immune from such accusations. The real issue is not whether his Hoklo is fluent, but that it is not his mother tongue. To state it even more plainly, the real point behind criticisms of Ma Ying-jeou's lack of fluency in "Taiwanese," is that he is a wai sheng ren rather than a ben sheng ren. If a "native Taiwanese" were to grow up in the US, his English would be far more fluent than his Hoklo dialect. Yet he would not be subjected to the same attacks because he would be Ethnically Correct by virtue of his birth. This is the same demagogic "rural mutt" vs. "urban poodle" populism that Chen Shui-bian trotted during his re-election campaign for Taipei Mayor.

According to long experience, whenever a whisper campaign gathers momentum, it is inevitably for the sake of a specific political objective. Ma Ying-jeou's place of origin has once again become a target of attacks. One reason is that the presidential election is heating up. Another reason may be because his cross-Straits strategy has changed. Not only has the party constitution emphasized "Taiwan First," it has also demanded that the Chinese Communist Party remove its missiles before cross-Straits negotiations can begin, and has it on the anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Incident. These gestures are attempts to appeal to nativist sentiment, obviously in the hope of winning nativist political support. To allow everyone to believe that he will champion "Taiwan's interests," and not make concessions to mainland China.

When Ma Ying-jeou shows off his "Taiwanese," when he rides his bicycle through rural villages, when he denounces the Chinese Communist Party, when he opens his heart to "native Taiwanese" in order to prevent the loss of voter support, the opposing camp immediately counter-attacks, mocking his "Taiwanese" to remind the public that he is a wai sheng ren who is "not one of us." This confirms that Ma Ying-jeou's strategy change is correct. Because only when one poses a threat, will one invite attacks. Ma Ying-jeou need be in no hurry to counter-attack, because counter-attacks will merely create opposition, and play into his accusers' hands.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.06.07