Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is the Republic of China rooted in the 1911 Revolution or the 2/28 Incident?

Is the Republic of China rooted in the 1911 Revolution or the 2/28 Incident?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 31, 2009

The Republic of China, on its Ninety-ninth New Years Day. 1 of 6

Tomorrow is New Years Day. It will be the 99th New Years Day since the founding of the Republic of China, We are now headed toward the Republic of China's centennial year.

The Republic of China is unique among nations, ancient and modern, east and west. Following its defeat during the Sino-Japanese War, the Qing Court ceded Taiwan to Japan. Following the Republic of China's pyrrhic victory in World War II, Japan returned Taiwan to China. Alas, the romantic dreams of retrocession were shattered by the 2/28 Incident. In the blink of an eye, the central government was routed during the Chinese Civil War and retreated to Taiwan. During the 60 years since, neither Kuningtou nor the August 23 Artillery Battle were able to defeat the Republic of China government on Taiwan. It survived attempts to strangle it diplomatically. Its economy evolved from an economy reliant on rice and camphor exports, to the developed economy it is today. The political system evolved from martial law and the white terror, to a democracy with direct presidential elections and changes in ruling parties. Most importantly, despite the disparity in size between the two sides, divided rule across the Taiwan Strait evolved from Beijing's calls for the "liberation of Taiwan" and Taipei's calls to "counterattack the mainland," to today's calls to "maintain the status quo," and "peaceful development." The Republic of China is entering its ninety-ninth year. The Republic of China government on Taiwan is a paradigm for economic development and democratic politics among emerging nations. The People's Republic of China government on the Mainland emerged from thirty years of blood-soaked hell, to become the envy of the world for its "peaceful rise." As we can see, the Republic of China is unique in all the world, ancient and modern, east and west. The People's Republic of China is similar. Such is the nature of bilateral rivalry in the Taiwan Strait.

The Republic of China is moving towards its centennial. Yet its national consciousness is still that of a weak and divided nation. States need not fear because they are small. States need not fear because they face hardship. As long as they consolidate their national consciousness, they will experience a sense of solidarity, a sense of mission, and a sense of honor. But today the collective feeling is one of internal division and hostility far more harmful to the nation than foreign invasions. The Republic of China was founded ninety-nine years ago. It has been on Taiwan for one "jia zi" (60 year cycle in the Chinese calendar). Must we remain a nation with divided intentity?

As we see it, the great divide in the Republic of China's national identity is rooted in the divide between the "1911 Revolution premise" and the "2/28 premise." The 1911 Revolution premise sees the Republic of China as China's historical legacy. Its Three People's Principles sees "national solidarity, human rights, and social welfare" as China's political and economic vision. Taiwan's destiny is to guide the development of China as a whole. Put simply, it hopes to use Taiwan as a lever to move the rest of China. Taiwan as a lever can help maintain cross-Strait peace. The 2/28 premise on the other hand, sees the Republic of China as a political liability. The thirty years of catastrophe precipitated by the People's Republic of China government on the Mainland, has turned "China" into a synonym for political disaster. Taiwan does not want the Republic of China. It wants the People's Republic of China even less. Put simply, this is the Taiwan independence movement's "Taiwan on one side, China on the other" framework.

Over the past 60 years, the 1911 Revolution premise has been impacted by the 2/28 premise. The 1911 Revolution premise has taken what can only be described as an "N-turn." During the early years, due to internal and external crises, coupled with martial law, the 1911 Revolution premise maintained an ideological monopoly on Taiwan. This was the left side of the letter N, moving from bottom to top. Later on, the Republic of China government was forced to withdraw from the United Nations. Washington broke off diplomatic relations with Taipei. The Republic of China could no longer hold the line on the diplomatic front, leading to a Domino Effect. Internal challenges mounted, beginning with the Chungli Incident, leading to a Broken Window Effect. Add to this the evils perpetrated by the Gang of Four, exposed in the wake of Mao Zedong's death. The public on Taiwan was shocked, leading to a Bad Neighbor Effect. This enabled the 2/28 premise to become the guiding premise for the Taiwan independence movement. The Republic of China premise suffered a setback. This was the downward, diagonal stroke in the letter N. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian spent the next decade inciting Taiwan independence, only to see Taiwan independence thoroughly discredited, both in theory and in practice. The Republic of China premise and the 1911 Revolution premise began to show signs of recovery. Over the past year and a half, the "1992 Consensus" and "One China, Different Interpretations" have become the basis of cross-Strait interaction. This is the right side of the letter N, moving from bottom to top.

The 2/28 premise addresses two issues. One, it attempts to "nativize" democracy on Taiwan. This goal has been reached. Two, it attempts to resolve cross-Strait issues by promoting Taiwan independence and severing links with Mainland China. But this is something the 2/28 premise cannot possibly achieve. Despite decades of agitation, the Republic of China premise has already co-opted the 2/28 premise of "nativized" democracy. Meanwhile, the 2/28 premise is unable to negate the role and status of the Republic of China in cross-Strait negotiations.

Consider current trends. As we move toward the future, the Taiwan independence premise and 2/28 premise will command less and less influence on Taiwan. The Republic of China premise will become more and more dominant. The importance of the Republic of China in bilateral rivalry is rooted in the 1911 Revolution premise. This sort of statement may sound foolish at this point in time. But sooner or later, the public on Taiwan will realize that this is its trump card in cross-Strait relations. We are already into the right hand side of the aforementioned "N-turn," and there is simply no going back.

The 1911 Revolution was one of the most heroic revolutions in human history. The American Revolution, or Revolutionary War, was a revolution against the mother country by one of its colonies. The French Revolution was a revolution against monarchy and aristocracy. The 1911 Revolution by contrast, was primarily a revolution against foreign powers attempting to gobble up China. It was a tragic, heroic and forthright cause. It established Asia's first democratic republic. Symbols such as the Mayflower or the Bastille simply do not compare. Alas, in 1949, the People's Republic of China usurped the 1911 Revolution. The Republic of China retreated to Taiwan. As a result, the glory of the 1911 Revolution was tarnished by the Republic of China government defeat in the Chinese Civil War.

Today however, we are traveling upwards along the right hand side of the letter N. Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution have become the nexus of political thinking in the Taiwan Strait. Both Beijing and Taipei are moving upward along the right hand side of the letter N. Giant statues of Sun Yat-sen were inspirational symbols for the People's Republic of China during its sixtieth anniversary National Day ceremonies. It was the theme of its National Day documentary, "The Founding of a Republic." Mao Zedong's opening line is, "Chiang Kai-shek and I are both disciples of Sun Yat-sen." Beijing has already announced that it will expand its commemoration of the centennial of the 1911 Revolution. It is clearly invoking the 1911 Revolution to enhance the legitimacy of its rule. Today, as both sides of the Taiwan Strait recall the humiliations endured since the Opium War, and reflect on six decades of divided rule, and their successes and failures, they still think of Sun Yat-sen. They still think of the 1911 Revolution and the Wuchang Uprising. In fact, Beijing appears to take Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution even more seriously than Taipei. On Taiwan, confrontations between the 1911 Revolution premise and the 2/28 premise have led to a divided sense of national identity. Isn't it time to begin the healing?

When the 1911 Revolution premise was on the left hand side of the letter N, the Republic of China was a monopoly maintained by means of martial law. The People's Republic of China meanwhile, denied the legitimacy of the Republic of China altogether. But now the 1911 Revolution premise is on the right hand side of the letter N. The two sides have already found common ground regarding "full democracy" and "reform and opening." Tiananmen Square boasts an important symbol, a giant statue of Sun Yat-sen. The Republic of China will soon celebrate its centennial. If the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can find more points of agreement in the spirit of the 1911 Revolution and Sun Yat-sen, they can increase mutual goodwill. They can develop a shared vision in which both sides can win.

Allow us to wish the Republic of China a happy centennial, in advance. As the public debates the merits and demerits of the 2/28 premise and the 1911 Revolution premise, let us establish a nation founded on wisdom and strength. Let us share the sense of purpose, the same sense of pride, and the same sense of mission.

2009.12.31 03:08 am













Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Hidden Crisis Revealed by One Opinion Poll

The Hidden Crisis Revealed by One Opinion Poll
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 30, 2009

Who has one man above him, and tens of thousands of men beneath him? In ancient times it was the "first minister." In modern times it is the premier. Who has two men above him, and tens of thousands of men beneath him? In modern times it is a ministry head. But according to the latest poll conducted by Wang Wang and the China Times, the name recognition of ministry heads with tens of thousands of men beneath them, is quite low. Without prompting, 82% of all respondents could not name a single minister. Even with prompting, 52% of all respondents still couldn't name a single minister. These ministry heads are important and powerful. They are responsibile for policies that impact our lives. Why is the public so unfamiliar with them? This is not merely a question of how well individual ministry heads can explain or defend their policies.

Polls are merely for reference. Phone surveys cannot tackle issues that are too complex. They can only ask the most rudimentary questions about the respondent's objective and subjective impressions. According to the Wang Wang China Times poll, the three most visible cabinet members, the ones with the highest name recognition and policy making ability, were Central Bank President Peng Hui-nan, Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng, and Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Lai Hsing-yuan. The Peng cabinet members have tenure, hence job security. Not surprisingly, the Ma administration official who has served the longest, who has the greatest ability, and who has the approval of both the Green Camp and the Blue Camp, is Wang Ching-feng. For years, Wang Ching-feng was a champion of the downtrodden. Recently, campaigning for the three in one local elections and anti-corruption campaigns have given her even more exposure. Lai Hsing-yuan has primary responsibility for the Ma administration's cross-Strait policies. Recently the fourth Chiang/Chen Meeting has received the greatest media coverage, giving Lai more name recognition. But how is one to explain the low name recognition factor for so many other ministry heads?

Perhaps the ministry head lacks charisma and the ability to defend his ministry's policy. But individual ministry heads have any number of ways to make themselves seen and heard. First, the agency may be too anachronistic. Former legislator Kao Shi-po, is the son of former Speaker of the Provincial Assembly Kao Yu-ren, and Deputy Prime Minister Chu Li-lun's brother in law. His name recognition factor is hardly low. But for the public, the function of the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Committeee is a mystery. The general population cannot connect him with his job.

Secondly, the work of certain agencies has little immediate relevancy for the public. For example, the CEPD is responsible for national land planning. Normally the vice premier would be in charge, because most of its business is inter-ministerial in nature. But because its activities have little immediate impact on the public, the pollsters did not even mention him. No wonder the head of the CEPD is so forgettable.

Thirdly, officials have a hard time surviving. Ministry heads are replaced with frightening alacrity. One hardly has time to note what they do before they are replaced. In the past school tests sometimes asked, "Who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs? Who is the Minister of the Interior? Who is the Minister of Education?" More recently, these have not been included among the test questions. The reason is simple. Before the test is administered, the ministers may already have been replaced. Or they may be replaced immediately after the test is given. We can force students to remember the names of key ministry heads, but what would be the point?

But leave aside these structural factors. Ministry heads themselves cannot escape blame. The function of any particular agency may not be obvious to the public. But these agencies are nevertheless answerable to the Legislative Yuan. In other words, as long they are required to present their case to the legislature, they have no shortage of opportunities for media exposure. The less exposure ministry heads have, the lower the public name recognition. The views ministry heads hold may not meet with the approval of legislators. They may lead to noisy debate. But the public does not forget noisy debates. How can anyone unwilling to defend his policies be remembered as a ministry head willing to assume responsibility? Take Director of Health Yaung Chih-liang for example. He wants to raise fees for health insurance. He supports the administration's policy on US beef imports. His views may not coincide with those of his superiors. But he courageously stated his professional opinion. The public affirmed his courage. By contrast, when ministry heads assume only that "no news is good news," and run for cover at the first sign of controversy, they are going to have a hard time enhancing their name recognition.

Apart from these structural factors and individual factors, the most worrisome problem is public indifference to public affairs. This is no trivial matter. This is a problem common to all democratic societies. The situation in the United States is similar. When pollsters ask students in high school and above, the names of national leaders, most of them draw a blank. Why? Is it really because "politics is so awful?" Politics may indeed be awful. But politics impacts everyone. One may ignore politics. But politics is not going to ignore you. That being the case, why do so many people refuse to touch it? Is the political culture on Taiwan so far gone that no one even wants to think about it? Does no one even want to discuss such matters as political policy?

A society without public discussion of political policy, will find it difficult to elevate the standard of its political culture. This is the most frightening problem on Taiwan. Some people may blame these ministry heads' lack of name recognition on President Ma. They may demand to know why the president chose these people in the first place? But is the problem really that simple? When the public doesn't know the names of ministry heads, should we rush to blame the president? That is not how a healthy democratic society functions. When most ministry heads go unrecognized by 40% of the public, then that is a problem society truly needs to ponder.










Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Chen Shui-bian Helped the Yuanta Ma Family Acquire KMT Party Assets

How Chen Shui-bian Helped the Yuanta Ma Family Acquire KMT Party Assets
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 29, 2009

The Special Investigation Unit has handed down indictments in the Chen family's "Second Financial Reform Program" scandal. This wave of prosecutions is noteworthy in two respects. First, Chen Shui-bian waved the banner of reform. He demanded that the KMT divest itself of its party assets. But at the same time he covered up the Yuanta Ma family's acquisition of KMT party assets. Secondly, Chen Shui-bian began his crusade against corruption during his first term as president. The famous expression, "power corrupts," must be amended. As the Chen Shui-bian corruption case shows, "power corrupts immediately."

Toward the end of 2003, Chen Shui-bian was running for re-election. Chen Shui-bian and the DPP targeted KMT party assets. The Executive Yuan set up an "ad hoc group for the return of illicit party assets [to the government]." They used the power of the executive to apply pressure on the Kuomintang. The KMT, in an attempt to escape from its political predicament, secretly attempted to divest itself of its party assets. The Yuanta Ma family was interested in acquiring China Investments. China Investments held the rights to Fuhua Holdings. Its acquisition would allow the Yuanta Ma family to expand its operations. Party assets had become the target of public criticism. The transaction was extremely complex. And yet Chen Shui-bian was able to pull if off.

The Yuanta Ma family first contacted Chen Hui-Yu, a Chen Shui-bian relative and trusted go-between. During Chen's re-election campaign, the Yuanta Ma family gave 20 million NT in "campaign contributions," just to test the waters. Once Chen Shui-bian was "reelected," the Yuanta Ma family paid a visit to Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng. The pretext was to congratulate them for their election victory. They used the occasion to ask whether they could acquire China Investments. At the time, Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng replied that acquiring a controlling interest in China Investments on the open market was perfectly okay. But to buy it directly would be considered "an illegal party assets transaction." This was hardly what the Yuanta Ma family hoped to hear. If the Yuanta Ma family attempted to acquire a controlling interest of China Investments on the open market, the price of shares would skyrocket. The Yuanta Ma family's capital costs would increase substantially. Therefore the Yuanta Ma family attempted to bribe Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng. It would acquire China Investments directly, and hope to pick it up for a bargain.

The Yuanta Ma family strategy involved two approaches. On the one hand, it would use DPP legislators. It would secretly install Wu Jie, an "industrial spy." He would run for the board of directors of Fuhua Holdings, demanding that the KMT divest itself of its party assets. Wu Jie would then be firmly in control of divestiture proceedings for China Investments. Angelo Koo of Development Holdings also hoped to acquire China Investments. Koo was in secret talks with the KMT, and appeared to have reached an accord. But in the end he failed, because Wu Jie leaked information to the Yuanta Ma family. The Yuanta Ma family immediately used Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's authority to intervene. Wu Jie was of course rewarded once the deal was struck. By the time the scandal was exposed, he had already fled overseas.

The Yuanta Ma family was aware of the progress of secret talks between Development Holding's Angelo Koo and the KMT. It knew if it did not act immediately, Development Holdings would snatch China Holdings from under its nose. Therefore it dispatched Tu Li-ping to the president's official residence, and asked Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng for their support. Wu Shu-chen then revealed her asking price. Their support was available, for 200 million NT. By this time it was clear that Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's rhetoric about how "acquiring a controlling interest on the open market was perfectly okay" was nothing more than a smokescreen. What Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng really wanted was money. Whoever gave them money, could buy any damned party assets they cared to. The crusade against KMT party assets was nothing more than election rhetoric. The DPP and the public were kept in the dark.

On the morning of November 30, 2004, the Yuanta Ma family delivered 200 million NT in cash to the president's official residence. Wu Shu-chen immediately "sealed the deal." She personally telephoned Angelo Koo. She said she had evidence Angelo Koo was dealing with the Kuomintang, that he was helping the KMT, and that therefore she would punish him. She then hung up. But Wu Shu-chen's "lightning bolt" failed to deter Development Holdings. Chen Shui-bian told Ma Yung-cheng to threaten the Koo family. He told him to tell the Koo family that their private attempts to acquire KMT party assets were illegal, and that if they didn't give up their attempt to acquire China Holdings, then even Development Holdings would encounter problems. At this point, the Koo family had no choice but to back down. Ah-Cheng and Ah-Bian had successfully helped the Yuanta Ma family privately acquire KMT party assets by means of illegal transactions.

This is the true face of Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng helping the Yuanta Ma family acquire China Holdings. This is what prosecutors have now exposed. Chen's so-called crusade against illicit KMT party assets was nothing but pretexts for the First Family to rake in money. Is this not shameful? Is this not despicable? Is this not frightening?

Did Chen Shui-bian's corruption become as flagrant as it did only after his first term expired and he began campaigning for a second term? The answer is no. Chen Shui-bian was first elected president in 2000. Just one year after taking office, he began extorting money from Tsai Hong-tu of Cathay Financial Holdings. Tsai Hong-tu and Fubon Financial Holdings were attempting to acquire the rights to the United World Chinese Commercial Bank. That year Tsai Hong-tu paid Chen Shui-bian 100 million NT. For the next three years he paid the same amount. All in all he paid Chen 400 million in bribes. He squeezed out the once dominant Fubon Financial Holdings Corporation, and gained control of the United World Chinese Commercial Bank.

When we say "power corrupts" we usually mean that once people have been in power a while and begin to understand how to abuse their power, they are no longer able to resist its temptation. In other words, "Power corrupts gradually." But Chen Shui-bian was different. Chen Shui-bian was a case of "Power corrupts immediately." No sooner had Chen Shui-bian assumed office than he began engaging in wholesale corruption. Chen Shui-bian was different from most people. He was already on this path, long before he became president.

2009.12.29 03:47 am


二 ○○三年底,陳水扁競選連任,當時陳水扁和民進黨鎖定國民黨黨產的議題猛打,行政院還成立了「政黨不當黨產歸還政府專案小組」,藉行政力量對國民黨施壓。而國民黨為了擺脫政治困境,正極機密地謀求出脫黨產。元大馬家有意買黨產中投公司,是看上了中投握有復華金控的經營權,買下即可迅速擴大事業版圖。在黨產成為眾矢之的的情勢下,這麼複雜的一筆交易,陳水扁卻仍然有本事促成。




二 ○○四年十一月三十日上午,元大馬家兩億元現鈔送進總統官邸,吳淑珍隨即「履行交易」。她親自致電辜仲,聲稱「有證據顯示辜仲和國民黨交易,辜仲是在幫國民黨,她會修理辜仲」云云,然後就掛了電話。但吳淑珍的「雷擊」還沒嚇退開發金;陳水扁乃透過馬永成,向辜家威脅,謂私「買」國民黨黨產「違法」,若不放棄中投,那連開發金控也會有問題。至此,辜家不得不撤退了;而扁珍也助成了元大馬家「私買黨產的違法交易」。




Monday, December 28, 2009

The Ministry of Justice Must Rectify Its Interpretation of "Bribery Not Inconsistent with the Performance of One's Official Duties"

The Ministry of Justice Must Rectify Its Interpretation of "Bribery Not Inconsistent with the Performance of One's Official Duties"
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 28, 2009

Yesterday the Special Investigation Unit handed down indictments in the Second Financial Reform mergers and acquisitions scandal. But it sharply narrowed the range of those targeted for indictment, provoking a storm of public outrage. The most heavily criticized aspect was the Special Investigation Unit's interpretation of the clause, "bribery not inconsistent with the performance of one's official duties." According to its interpretation of this clause, government officials who accept bribes have have no criminal liability under current law, as long as accepting the bribe did not affect the official's performance of his duties. This newspaper has recently attempted to clarify the issue. Unfortunately we have been unable to persuade the legal hacks involved to change their definition. The Special Investigation Unit has even rationalized Chen Shui-bian's euphemistically-named "Second Financial Reform Program," a transparently obvious sweetheart deal. All we can do is explain the issues, yet again, not only to the Special Investigation Unit, but to every prosecutor within the Ministry of Justice. All we can do is enlighten them about the meaning of "mergers and acquisitions" and "dereliction of duty."
Publicly owned banks are the nation's cash cows. Even though their operational efficiency cannot match that of private banks, they receive a fixed annual income from the national treasury. The central government has only one reason to privatize these banks and sells off shares, and that is to maximize the wealth of the treasury. Other considerations include protecting the rights of employees, but these are invariably of secondary importance. They are the most important reason for selling off shares.

When the Ministry of Finance sells shares of say, Bank A, it must of course sell to the highest bidder, or at least to the most appropriate bidder based on other considerations. Say for example, that Bidder A and Bidder B are both interested in acquiring Bank A. Bidder A bids 100 billion. Bidder B bids a mere 30 billion. Yet the Ministry of Finance sells the bank to Bidder B. The National Treasury loses 70 billion, for no good reason. If this is does not constitute dereliction of one's duties as a civil servant, what does? Is this does not constitute a violation of government procurement laws, what does? All of the government's laws pertaining to the procurement process, including the Administrative Procedure Act, stipulate open bidding and transparent evaluations, in order to protect the national interest. Only under special circumstances, when the national interest is not involved, are officials free to choose between Bidder A and Bidder B. In other words, when the government sells off shares of public banks, there is definitely a "right price." If offiicals ignore the higher bid, and hapharzardly award contracts without proper authorization, they are impoverishing the national treasury, in order to benefit special interests. This is clearly a dereliction of their duty as civil service employees. They may be prosecuted for such conduct. The person offering bribes may also be subject to criminal prosecution for "bribery inconsistent with the performance of one's official duties."

Let's examine bribery from another point of view. Say Bidder A, Bidder B, and Bidder C all want to bid on Bank A. The government must award the bid to the highest bidder. If the highest bidder is awarded the bid, then there is no need to pay bribes. Only when someone who is not the highest bidder wants to be awarded the bid, that is it necessary for him to pay a bribe. Therefore, the act of bribing an official is prima facie evidence of an attempt to induce an official to violate correct procedure. It is prima facie evidence that the bidder wants an official to grant them a franchise inconsistent with the national interest. Those attempting to bribe officials are clearly guilty of attempting to induce them to engage in "bribery inconsistent with the performance of one's official duties."

Conceptually, only one situation can be classified as "bribery not inconsistent with the performance of one's official duties." That is when the person offering the bribe is merely seeking to ensure rights he was already entitled to. For example, if a person has passed a driving test, he is entitled to a driver's license. But officials may make him jump through hoops. In such a case, he may attempt to bribe them, merely to ensure the rights he was already entitled to. To absolve such a person of a crime is publicly acceptable. A holding company's acquisitions, on the other hand, are another matter entirely. The Tsai family, which owns the Cathay Corporation, has no god-given right to acquire the United Bank. The Koo family or Wu family have no god-given right to acquire the Changhua Bank. These are not matters of rights. Therefore if officials illicitly transfer tens of billions from the state treasury into the private accounts of these wealthy families, they are course derelict in their duty. Officials transfer tens of billions in government assets into the pockets of private individuals. And yet prosecutors maintain that these officials were not derelict in their duty, and that these were not sweetheart deals for the sake of special interests. This is not merely an inability to reason. This is willfull, head in the sand blindness.

Former University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins once commented on the shortcomings of today's legal education. He said that if those who enforce the law know only how to apply the law mechanically, but know nothing about the philosophy of law and the concept of justice, then they are a menace to society. Unfortunately the legal hacks in the Special Investigation Unit and the Ministry of Justice Prosecutors Office have an understanding of bribery and official responsibility that deviates from society's. Worse, it is not even consistent with the most basic principles of justice. They must indict those guilty of bribery in the Second Financial Reforms Program scandal. They must insist that the bribery involved dereliction of duty. If they refuse to do so, then they are declaring that those who have stolen hundreds of billions in national assets may get off scot-free. They are demonstrating that those who enforce the law live in a decadent, self-imposed isolation.

We offer the prosecutors of the Special Investigation Unit and the Ministry of Justice a refresher course in jurisprudence. We call upon Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng to address the serious problem of ignorance among those who interpret the law, and who indiscriminately expand the definition of the clause, "bribery not inconsistent with the performance of one's official duties." To the vast majority of the public on Taiwan, this is unacceptable. It rationalizes official discretion in the accepting of bribes. It is a major scandal that has shaken the foundations of the nation. Addressing the problem does not require amending the law. All that is necessary is for prosecutors to clarify the various legal concepts. The good name of government administrators and private entrepreneurs must not be destroyed by this group of legal hacks with a flawed understanding of the law!

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.12.28



既然如此,那麼當財政部要把公股銀行A的經營權釋出時,當然就該把銀行賣給出價較高、或其他綜合考量最恰當的投標者。如果甲、乙二人對於 A銀行皆有意併購,甲出價一千億、乙只出價三百億,但財政部卻將銀行低價賣給乙,使國庫平白無故損失了七百億,這不是違背公務員職務,是什麼?所有的政府採購法、行政程序法等規範,就是要以公開的程序、透明的審理,去確保國家權益的極大。只有在無涉國家利益的特殊情形,公務員才有在甲、乙之間的自由採擇空間。簡言之,國家出售公股銀行,絕對是有「對價」的。公務員捨棄出價高者、或是根本不理會對價而擅予亂點鴛鴦譜,就是減損國庫、圖利他人的行為,是百分之百的違背公務員職務。這種行為不但該予追究,而行賄者也當受「違背職務行賄」之刑責。

換個角度來看行賄者。如果甲、乙、丙三人皆想標購 A銀行,而國家也理應以出價最高者標售之,則甲、乙、丙中出價最高者本來就會得標,不必行賄。事實上,也只有原本不該得標的人想要破例得標,才有行賄的必要。因此,商家行賄官員之行為本身,就是表示其意圖使公務員破格給標,也就表示他們想要公務員不合國家利益地給予經營權,其行賄自然應依「違背職務行賄」予以追究。

在概念上,我們認為只有一種情況可以列為不違背職務行賄,即行賄者所企求的標的,本為其所應得的權利(entitled rights)。例如,某人已通過駕照考試,應有取得駕照的權利,卻因行政官員刁難而拿不到手。在這種情況下,行賄只是為求保障應得權利之不得已,免其行賄刑責人民自能接受。就金控併購而言,併入世華銀行當然不是國泰蔡家權利、買下開發金或彰銀也不是辜家或吳家權利。既然不是權利,卻任憑官員上下其手、私相授受,且影響國庫收入動輒數百億,當然是違背職務的行為。如將國家財產數百億給予私人,檢察官竟然還說這不算圖利、沒有違背職務,這不僅是推理短路,簡直是晉惠帝般愚癡。

芝加哥大學前校長哈金斯(Robert Hutchins)曾經對當今法學教育的弊病提出針砭。哈氏指出,司法者若只嫻熟法律規則的形式推理,卻對於法理正義的哲學一無所知,那就是社會的危害。令人遺憾的是,特偵組與法務部法匠檢察官對不違背職務行賄的認知,既悖離社會感情,亦不符合最基本的法理正義。如果對於二次金改的行賄者不起訴,硬說他們是不違職務行賄,那不僅宣示五鬼搬運國家千億財產者可以逍遙法外,也是司法者自我封閉於形式邏輯實證法的墮落。


Thursday, December 24, 2009

The DPP's Challenge: To Transform Its Supporters

The DPP's Challenge: To Transform Its Supporters
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 24, 2009

Only four days after the DPP's protest march ended peacefully, Taiwan independence movement protests led to violence. A police officer was forcibly shoved off the back of a truck. His head struck the pavement and began bleeding profusely. The DPP leadership promptly expressed concern over the incident. It stressed repeatedly that the instigators of the violence were not DPP members, but that the DPP was willing to assume responsible for their conduct all the same. The DPP made a point of reminding the general public that one must not negate or obscure the protest movement's underlying demands due to an isolated case.
We solemnly urge the DPP to face a harsh reality. The Taiwan independence movement and the Democratic Progressive Party are inseparable. Nobody is ignoring the underlying demands of the DPP or the Taiwan independence movement. But is it really necessary to incite violence in order to arouse public concern? The instigators of the incident were members of "tai wan guo" (The Nation of Taiwan). After posting bail, they said they if they were wrong, they would acknowledge wrongdoing, but they weren't in the wrong. The Republic of China is a nation that protects freedom of expression. Advocacy of reunification and independence both fall under freedom of expression. But one may not express one's political position by inflicting bodily injury upon others. Advocating one's political position, advocating Taiwan independence is a right. Advocating Taiwan independence by inflicting bodily injury upon others is not.

One incident of violence after another have seriously undercut the image of the Taiwan independence movement. When the vast majority of peaceful and rational middle class voters and even DPP members speak of "Deep Green elements," they characterize them as "political extremists" who have trouble controlling what they say and how they behave. Because of this awareness, DPP members are afraid to antagonize them. They want to avoid provoking them, and making the situation even more worse.

Are all Taiwan independence advocates like this? Ever since Fei Hsi-ping and Lin Cheng-chieh left the Democratic Progressive Party, anyone who does not advocate Taiwan independence has found it hard to make a home in the DPP. Which DPP members call for violence? Even those who have left the DPP, such as Shen Fu-hsiung or Shih Ming-teh, are essentially advocates of Taiwan independence. But look at how polite they are in the political arena. Shih Ming-teh is an expert at urging the masses to take to the streets. He led masses against the KMT. He led masses against Chen Shui-bian. But during the month-long "Depose Ah-Bian" protests, there was not a single incident of mobs beating up dissenters, let alone clashing with the police. The fact is that whenever crowds gather, and time drags on, both crowds and police become physically fatigued, emotionally irritable, and incidents can easily erupt. If protests keep popping up everywhere, or follow one around like a shadow, a tiny spark can easily lead to disaster. This is basic knowledge for every leader of a social movement.

The DPP intiated its Sunday protest march. Observers repeatedly warned the DPP to establish a response center and have the maturity to invite the police to participate and maintain order, stressing that this would be a good way to avoid incidents. Who knew that even after the Chiang/Chen Meeting concluded, an incident would occur? The Chiang/Chen Meeting lasted only two days, from preparatory consultations to official signing. On the third day, Chen Yunlin began touring Taiwan and attending banquets. By then, what was there to protest? Yet protesters followed him around all day like a shadow, heckling him. After nightfall, they set off skyrockets, saying that were "bombarding Chen Yunlin." The skyrockets fired high into the air could not reach Chen Yunlin. They could not reach the Yue Yuen Hotel where he was staying. They could only hurt innocent bystanders. Was this really necessary?

Particularly appalling was the attitude of the protesters afterwards. "The policeman was an idiot. I've never seen such a stupid policeman, using his own body to block our vehicles. He fell off the truck, all by himself, and now he wants to blame us?" Why did the policeman block the vehicle with his own body? Because the Ma administration wanted to avoid bloodshed. It wanted to avoid any incidents of excessive force. It ordered police to exercise restraint, and not allow any of the protesters to be harmed. Just two days before the incident, a policeman used pepper spray on protesters who had grabbed him and were pulling him back and forth. He was disciplined and reassigned. The metropolitan police captain who was shoved off the truck and injured was attempting to prevent protesters from firing skyrockets from the back of their truck. He wasn't even carrying a baton. When he fell to the ground and began bleeding, protesters screamed, "The police are beating us!" Fortunately the police were meticulous about collecting forensic evidence. Otherwise the incident would have turned into a case of one policeman's word against the word of a hundred protesters.

The entire country watched television images of a police officer lying on the ground after being forcibly pushed off the back of a vehicle by a mob. They are no longer willing to tolerate acts of violence spun as "freedom of expression." Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu spoke of "over the line." This was considerably more than "over the line." This was simply intolerable. Taichung citizens may tolerate four or five days of sound trucks blaring "Long live the Nation of Taiwan!" But no one can tolerate disregard for law and order. No one can tolerate utter disregard for the lives and well-being of others.

If Deep Green mobs refuse to express their political positions rationally, if they refuse to deal with others peacefully, if they refuse to respect people with different views, the image of the Taiwan independence movement and the DPP can never improve.

The DPP is no longer a guerrilla-like political party clashing with the government in the streets. The DPP is a mature political party. It ruled the nation for eight years. So-called "Deep Green" mobs are the main reason the DPP has been unable to grow since its founding. If the Democratic Progressive Party wants to return to power, it must confront this problem. It must become a responsible political party. It must transform both itself and its supporters.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.12.25










To the DPP: End Your Anti-Intellectual Demagoguery

To the DPP: End Your Anti-Intellectual Demagoguery
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 24, 2009

As one watches the Democratic Progressive Party's protests against the Chiang/Chen Meeting and ECFA, one gradually realizes how hollow, how anti-intellectual, and how demagogic the DPP's mainland policy really is.
The Democratic Progressive Party has never opposed Mainland China spending tens of billions or even hundreds of billions procuring goods and services from Taiwan. It merely resents the images of Mainland procurement teams being given the red carpet treatment by "native Taiwanese" industrialists. What kind of head in the sand attitude is this? Does the DPP expect Mainland Chinese businesses to procure goods and services from Taiwan anonymously? DPP Secretary-General Su Chia-chuan said he did not object to Chen Yunlin coming to Taiwan for a meeting. But Chen shouldn't "flit back and forth, acting like an overlord." Does that mean if Chen Yunlin doesn't "flit back and forth, acting like an overlord," the Democratic Progressive Party will not oppose the Chiang/Chen Meeting?

Everyone is wondering just exactly what is it the Democratic Progressive Party opposes? The four Chiang/Chen Meetings have led to the signing of 12 agreements. They include direct flights, Mainland tourists coming to Taiwan, mutual legal assistance, food safety, agricultural quarantines, cooperation in labor affairs for the fishing industry, and cooperation in standards certification. One seldom hears the Democratic Progressive Party say no to these. Is the DPP not opposed to the 12 agreements reached during the Chiang/Chen Meetings? Is it opposed merely to Chen Yunlin fltting back and forth, acting like an overlord? Just exactly what is it the Democratic Progressive Party opposes?

ECFA is no different. For example, ECFA immediately benefits Taiwan businesses on the Mainland by providing them with a 6-9% reduction in tariffs. This puts them on an equal footing with the ASEAN plus Three countries. Has the DPP ever said one word against this? Besides, the Ma administration has repeatedly stressed that it will not increase imports of agricultural products or introduce mainland laborers. How has the DPP responded? On the one hand it insists it has no idea what sort of animal ECFA is, that it doesn't know whether it is round or flat. On the other hand, it is inciting farmers to oppose ECFA. But if the DPP doesn't know whether ECFA is round or flat, why is it demanding a referendum? Believe it or not, the DPP replied, We demand a referendum on ECFA precisely because we don't know whether it is round or flat! Just exactly what is it the Democratic Progressive Party opposes?

The general public may not know the content of the Chiang/Chen Meeting or ECFA. That is to be expected. But to suggest that Tsai Ing-wen and decision-makers within the DPP do not know which 12 agreements reached by the Chiang/Chen Meeting, or the pros and cons of ECFA, is simply disingenuous. It is nothing more than anti-intellectual demagoguery. Tsai Ing-wen and her fellow strategists within the DPP know perfectly well what the Chiang/Chen Meeting and ECFA were about. They have merely chosen to turn them into their political footballs. They have characterized Chen Yunlin as an "overlord." They have characterized support for ECFA as "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." This is simply disingenuous. This is nothing more than anti-intellectual demagoguery.

Why have cross-Strait relations come to this? For two reasons. First, the Taiwan independence movement has reached an impasse. It has nowhere else to go. If the Taiwan region can stand tall as the "Republic of China," then cross-Strait relations will move toward a win-win symbiosis. Secondly, globalization and regional economic organizations such as ASEAN plus Three have established a macro-level trend. Taiwan's competitiveness has been seriously tested. It faces a deadly political and economic crisis. Yet the DPP's political and economic strategy flies in the face of these factors.

First, The DPP continues to trumpet "one country on each side" and "de jure Taiwan independence." Therefore its political leaders' thinking, and its supporters' feelings, require that they reject the Republic of China. This "repudiate the Republic of China to prove one's love of Taiwan" mentality dominates the DPP's mainland policy discourse. That is why the DPP opposes the Chiang/Chen Meeting and ECFA, and is indifferent to whether they are round or flat. Secondly, cross-Strait relations are severely constrained by globalization. As the Ma administration said, the Chiang/Chen Meeting and ECFA are the first building block for Taiwan's globalization. But the DPP's strategy to advocate "ASEAN plus Four" and to sign FTAs with the United States and other countries, while refusing to sign an ECFA with Mainland China. Either that, or to demand that ECFA must be preceded by the signing of an FTA. As a result, the Democratic Progressive Party has found itself caught on the horns of a major dilemma. For the record, such an expectation is reasonable.

Signing ECFA is a way to confront the challenge of globalization. But the DPP considers ECFA a scourge. It may sign FTAs with other countries. But it refuses to sign an ECFA with Mainland China. Moreover, if the Taiwan region becomes part of ASEAN plus Four, it may find it impossible to resist the importation of Southeast Asian agricultural products and laborers. So why isn't the DPP opposed to ASEAN plus Four? Clearly the DPP's actions are actually directed at the Republic of China. That is why it opposes the Chiang/Chen Meeting and ECFA. If the DPP were to view globalization from the perspective of the Republic of China, it would not act the way it has. If the Democratic Progressive Party's cross-Strait policy superstructure is erected on a "Nation of Taiwan" political foundation and an "anti-globalization" political foundation, can it really stand?

Just what is it the Democratic Progressive Party opposes? If it wants to repudiate the Republic of China and champion a "Nation of Taiwan," it should not oppose direct flights and astronomical amounts of Mainland trade and economic procurement. If it is concerned about the plight of disadvantaged economic groups, why doesn't it oppose globalization? Why doesn't it oppose ASEAN plus Four? Just what is it the Democratic Progressive Party opposes?

The Democratic Progressive Party should immediately cease its disingenuous, anti-intellectual demagoguery.

2009.12.24 03:05 am











Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flowers and Thorns: Positive Implications of the Tax Agreement

Flowers and Thorns: Positive Implications of the Tax Agreement
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 23, 2009

The fourth Chiang/Chen Meeting concluded yesterday. The tax agreement previously signed was temporarily withdrawn. To quote Premier Wu Den-yih, optimists see the flowers, pessimists see the thorns. This is the first time a signed document has been withdrawn. Cross-Strait interaction involves thorns as well as flowers. Withdrawing the agreement means the signatories are in no hurry to pick the flowers, for fear of being pricked by the thorns. Both sides are being judicious. That has positive implications.
They may have had a day to let doubts settle. But many people are still confused about why the two sides called time out on the tax agreement. They are wondering what sort of problems arose.

Recent discussions addressed cooperation over agricultural inspections, quarantine procedures, labor affairs for the fishing industry, standards and measures, inspection certification, and cross-Strait tax agreements. They were all very specialized and technical in nature. The opposition DPP was unable to make any political hay out of them. That is why they deliberately turned their attention to ECFA. The two sides have spent years discussing the institutionalization of labor affairs for the fishing industry. Cross-Strait agricultural trade volume has expanded. Cooperation over quarantine and inspection procedures, the avoidance of double taxation, and certification standards require further agreements. These will dramatically change cross-Strait economic interaction. Once the pros and cons have been balanced, they will greatly increase Taiwan's efficiency vis a vis the outside world. This is something the opposition DPP should make every effort to monitor. It should make an effort to sharpen the focus of the debate, instead of hurling wild accusations.

Take the recent extension to the tax agreement for example. Taipei has signed 17 similar agreements with other nations. The main purpose was to avoid double taxation, to define taxation powers, and to reduce the tax burden on businesses and individuals who shuttle back and forth between Taiwan and the Mainland. It will help determine tax overhead, and promote mutual investments and development. This agreement applies only to direct investments. It will help businesses change their investment models. It will make cross-Strait investments more transparent. More importantly, it will induce multinational companies who wish to break into the Mainland market to use Taiwan as their operational base. It will be the key to restarting our plans for an Asia-Pacific operations center.

This agreement incorporates existing international rules. But it must also take into account the special historical ties between the two sides. Various forms of income tax directly affect the two governments' tax revenues, corporate tax planning, and any number of business activities. Therefore lop-sided tax provisions inconsistent with our interests must be avoided. If these issues are not made clear in advance, the government will find it difficult to bring them up later. They also highlight the difficulty of applying international statutes to cross-Strait economic and trade consultations. They involve disputes over sovereignty that the government may find difficult to talk about. Cross-Straits tax agreements are sensitive and complex. ECFA is even more so. With ECFA the uncertainties for both sides will be even greater. These are the thorns that bedevil cross-Strait relations. The fourth Chiang/Chen Meeting has inadvertently highlighted this fact, yet again.

That cross-Strait tax agreements have been halted during the final stages of negotiations may take us aback. It may lead to doubts about the pace of cross-Strait economic and trade normalization, It may even provoke concern that we have reached a critical impasse regarding sovereignty. But it also allows the public to see whether the Democratic Progressive Party is making an effort to oversee the government's policies, or merely shouting populist slogans. Is the DPP adopting a professional and rational approach to policy discourse? Is it promoting transparency in cross-Strait consultations in order to protect the public interest? The DPP has said nothing about the substance of the agreement. The Ma administration withdrew its support for the tax agreement on its own. This shows that the DPP prefers to whoop it up rather than act responsibly. It is derelict in its responsibility as an opposition party.

For the Ma Ying-jeou government, the extension of the cross-Strait tax agreement has been spun as a serendipitous result of the Chiang/Chen Meeting. It will be the focus of public attention. Two consultations have already taken place, in two locations. The participants' rank and numbers have accorded with formal reciprocity. The issues raised have accorded with substantive reciprocity. The withdrawal of the tax agreement has allowed the public to see cross-Strait negotiations very differently. Cross-Strait negotiations have turned out to be real negotiations, with the real possibility of failure. They have turned out to be more than pro forma rituals. The public now realizes that the government is in earnest about cross-Strait consultations, and that it has something to show for its efforts. The government knows that "all that glitters is not gold." The withdrawal of the tax agreement has inadvertently reminded the government that the institutionalization of cross-Strait consultations has advanced from the easy stage to the difficult stage. They have advanced from the mutually beneficial initial stage, to a quid pro quo, zero sum later stage. They may adversely affect the interests of certain groups. Some policies may provoke controversy. Public sensitivities are sure to increase. The way to defuse such sensitivities is to make policy debate more transparent. The government must have confidence in civil society.

The tax agreement has been withdrawn over terminology relating to sovereignty, or to technicalities. The Chiang/Chen Meeting has suffered a setback. But this setback will allow each side to better understand the others's position during future cross-Strait negotiations. It will allow them to pick the flowers without being pricked by the thorns.

2009.12.23 03:11 am









Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Making Room for the Rational Discussion of Cross-Strait Issues

Making Room for the Rational Discussion of Cross-Strait Issues
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 22, 2009

Yesterday, on the eve of the fourth Chiang/Chen Meeting, Robert Tsao, Honorary Chairman of the UMC Corporation, took out two half-page ads on the front pages of three different newpapers. He called on President Ma Ying-jeou to extricate himself from his "no unification, no independence, no use of force" framework. He called on him to make a courageous decision by actively promoting a law ensuring peaceful cross-Strait relations. Whether Robert Tsao's suggestion is sound is debatable. How the Ma administration will respond is also unclear. But we think such positive and proactive approaches to cross-Strait interaction and cross-Strait policy deserve recognition.

Cross-Strait debate has long been deadlocked, mired in a simplistic dualism. The leaders of the ruling and opposition camps have devoted most of their intellect and energy challenging their opponent's positions. Public debate is dominated by simplistic slogans and emotional rhetoric. This vicious cycle has gone on for at least a dozen years. It has led to escalating confrontation between the government and the opposition. Neither camp has been able to convert the other. This was true in the past, and will remain true in the future. Who is in office makes no difference. Whoever is in office will find himself mired in the same quagmire, spinning his wheels, and unable to extricate himself.

What is the point of ruling party change on Taiwan, if the only change is that a different camp will take to the streets to protest? How will enhance our competitiveness? Robert Tsao's main point was that we must attempt to find a way out of our deadlock when discussing cross-Strait relations. We must find a new way to debate these issues. A new way of debating such issues would offer many benefits. One would no longer be mired in disputes for which there will never be any final conclusion. In short, one must not engage in debates which can only bring disaster upon Taiwan. Instead, one must consider options that may provide Taiwan with benefits and opportunities. The issue would no longer be "reunification vs. independence." The issue would be how to build cross-Strait trust under conditions of peace and democracy. Robert Tsao's "cross-Strait peaceful coexistence Law" is one possibility. Such discussions would of course give priority to the interests of the public on Taiwan. They would involve the democratic process. They would involve a rational calculation of the interests of a majority of the public on Taiwan. They would prevent anyone from hurling accusations about "Who is selling out Taiwan." That is why Robert Tsao said that if the DPP figures this out, the KMT could soon be out of power.

We certainly agree that given the current political atmosphere on Taiwan, even if one could initiate such a debate, it would soon descend into name-calling. Name-calling involves a very simple logic. Anyone who offers any constructive suggestions for cross-Straits interaction, regardless of what their substance might be, will be labeled "a traitor selling out Taiwan," who is "pandering to [Mainland] China," and who is "pro-reunification." He will be reduced to a straw man, to be blasted to smithereens with every weapon in one's arsenal. Any debate that descends to such depths will never lead anywhere. The debate will essentially be over. In recent years it has been impossible to openly and rationally discuss cross-Strait issues. This is the result of ad hominem name-calling. Put bluntly, the DPP has yet to hold a real debate on [Mainland] China policy. DPP leaders are too afraid of being labeled "traitors selling out Taiwan." The Ma administration's cross-Strait policy since assuming office has been timid and fearful, largely because it too is terrified of such accusations.

So the question is, is there nothing one can do, merely because one is afraid of being labeled? When it comes to [Mainland] China, the Democratic Progressive Party has its sacred cows. It is also the political opposition. Its inability to offer new policies and proposals is understandable. But this is not true of the KMT. A majority of the public on Taiwan voted for the KMT. They gave it a nearly three-quarters supermajority in the Legislative Yuan. They gave President Ma Ying-jeou an absolute majority. Why? So President Ma and the KMT could wallow in their current indecisiveness, constantly looking over their shoulder and second-guessing themselves? So President Ma and the KMT could spin their wheels and mark time? What we see today is a KMT legislative caucus with an absolute majority, able to do nothing, paralyzed by an opposition DPP with an absolute minority. Faced with opposition DPP criticism, the only thing President Ma knows how to do is apologize repeatedly. He has nothing positive to offer. Robert Tsao offered a criticism worth pondering. He thinks that since President Ma assumed office, he has adopted an "avoid controversy" style of decision-making. But to avoid controversy is tantamount to forsaking one's responsibility to govern. When national leaders are unwilling to stick to their guns, when they fail to set goals, their subordinates will find themselves adrift. The result will be "a plate of loose sand."

Everyone knows that amidst the current wave of globalization, our future is not bright. To escape our predicament, we must adopt a more aggressive attitude when it comes to cross-Strait relations. We can be proud of our baptism in democracy. We are able to accommodate a diversity of opinions. We have adopted such an attitude regarding Green Camp supporters when they protest against the Chiang/Chen Meeting. We must adopt the same attitude regarding all cross-Strait discussions and proposals.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.12.22







Monday, December 21, 2009

The Chiang/Chen Meeting: Do Not Create a Lose-Lose Situation

The Chiang/Chen Meeting: Do Not Create a Lose-Lose Situation
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 21, 2009

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in bitterly cold winds. But the crowd held contradictory goals. On the one hand, the Democratic Progressive Party has relentlessly incited mob sentiment. Green Camp pundits even coined such incendiary slogans as "Capture Chen Yunlin Alive!" On the other hand, DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen repeatedly urged protestors to be "peaceful, rational and non-violent," and assured the public that they would be. Unfortunately in November 2008, the situation got out of hand. Bloody clashes took place between protestors and police. Memories are still fresh, and make many uneasy. Is the DPP serious about wanting their supporters to "gather peacefully and scatter peacefully?"
In this same wintry weather, thousands of police officers have been assigned to the streets. They too labor under an "Impossible Mission." On the one hand, they represent the authority of the state, and have a duty to maintain public safety. They must act swiftly, resolving any problems that might lead to social unrest. They also have an albatross around their neck. If they are cursed at, they may not curse back. If they are struck, they many not strike back. This is true for central and local governments alike. The government has assured the public that police will not use excessive force. Taichung Mayor Jason Hu even bet on his own job on it. But during 2008, police in Taipei enforced the law in a Draconian manner. Many people remain skeptical of the attitude of the police, and their ability to deal with problems that arise. Have they actually considered the many possible scenarios? Will police on the front lines lose control when push comes to shove?

The same thing happened last year. The Chiang/Chen Meeting became a ritual for the airing of public sentiment. On the surface it appeared to be a confrontation between rival political parties. In fact it was an expression of collective anxiety. The Chiang/Chen Meeting is not really about differences between Blue and Green, or differences between social groups (erroneously referred to as "ethnic groups") , or differences between northern Taiwan and southern Taiwan. It is about a feeling of gradually being marginalized as a country. Under the impact of globalization, the Republic of China has lost its sense of direction. It is afraid it may cease to exist. Its industrial competitiveness and the livelihood of its farmers and fishermen are at risk. This is not a question of political ideology. This is a question of economic pressures on domestic industries. This is question of winners and losers. Whoever is in office must answer the same questions. Should we integrate our economy with the rest of eastern Asia? How can we protect farmers, fishermen, and traditional industries from the impact of globalization?

The problems must be dealt with. On the one hand how they are dealt with will reflect the competence and wisdom of those in office. On the other hand, it will affect how voters cast their ballots. Under democracy every vote is equal. But the votes of industry sectors whose survival is at risk are a little more equal than others. The middle class is complacent. Industry sectors whose survival is at stake value their votes more than the middle class, which remains secure amidst globalization. This is one of the few things that may change their lives. They are taking to the streets because they believe otherwise they will remain invisible. They have protested violently. They have not hesitated to make trouble. They believe that only then will they be included in decisions affecting their futures. They believe that only then can they avoid being sacrificed as part of some package deal. The most direct and often most effective way of making themselves heard is through the ballot box. The recent three in one elections are in part a showdown between the economic winners and the economic losers. Such showdowns have taken place in many countries. But cross-Strait relations are unique. Add to this an extremely high degree of economic dependence, and the problem is compounded.

Such confrontation and internal conflict has motivated too many to spend too much time and energy rejecting ECFA. They forget that ECFA may enable us to sign more FTAs. They forget that the best and often most effective way to resist pressure from Beijing is to enter the Mainland. Taiwan businesses on the Mainland can reach out and touch the outside world from the Mainland. The same is true of the Republic of China government in Taipei. Too much confrontation has blinded the public to ECFA's upside.

The Republic of China feels as if it is being suffocated, both economically and politically. The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. But the only thing it knew how to do was to withdraw from the world. The Ma administration has little to offer apart from its Mainland policy. It too has contributed to widespread anxiety. Beijing has excluded Taipei from the international arena, and made the public on Taiwan feel deprived, dominated, and undermined. For the public on Taiwan, the Chiang/Chen Meeting has become a means by which they can vent their frustrations. What we see is a zero-sum game between DPP Chairman Tsai Ying-wen and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou. Their supporters hurl accusations of "bao li xiao ying" (a violence prone Tsai Ying-wen) and "mai tai xiao ma" (a Ma Ying-jeou who is selling out Taiwan) at each other. This is truly unfortunate. The Chiang/Chen Meeting must not be reduced to this. The opposition DPP is able to persuade hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets. Yet it is unable to tell them just exactly what sort of cross-Strait policy it would have instead. The ruling KMT is able to order overwhelming police force to prevent blood in the streets. Yet it is unable to persuade the public that any agreement signed with the Mainland will not reduce Taiwan to tears.

The conduct of both the ruling and opposition parties during the previous Chiang/Chen Meeting was disappointing. Intelligent and conscientious political leaders should be able to win their supporters' hearts and their opponents' respect. We hope the leaders of both parties will see the Chiang/Chen Meeting as an opportunity for the public to better understand our situation. We hope they will find a better way to survive in a globalized environment. Ensuring the Republic of China's survival requires hard-headed realism, not emotionalism and enmity.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.12.21
社論-反江陳會 別讓朝野雙輸憾事重演



與去年完全一樣,江陳會彷彿成了社會情緒大操演的某種儀式:表面看來是不同政黨的政治對立,骨子裡其實是台灣集體的焦慮;江陳會所涉及的核心議題,其實不是藍綠,不是族群,當然更不是南北差異,而是做為一個逐漸被邊緣化的國家、台灣,在全球化衝擊下失去方向,甚至於逐漸失去存在感的恐懼 ──從產業競爭到農漁民生計,都不是政治立場問題,而是國內生產部門此消彼漲的壓力,不論誰執政,都一樣要面對一個殘酷的挑戰:那就是要不要因應東亞區域整合?以及如何保護無力因應全球化而遭到生存威脅的農漁業或傳統產業部門?





Friday, December 18, 2009

Ma Administration: Don't Let Mere Technicalities Undermine the Big Picture

Ma Administration: Don't Let Mere Technicalities Undermine the Big Picture
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 18, 2009

The Ma administration has been in office for a year and a half. Mere technicalities have repeatedly undermined many of its major policies. They have clouded the essential issues, and even ignited heated controversy. President Ma Ying-jeou was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. He spoke in an earnest and measured manner about his views on cross-Strait developments. And yet a simple "s" at the end of the word "decade“ generated pointless controversy. Unfortunately this example is all too typical.

Cross-Strait disputes are complex. They involve pain and sorrow dating back four hundred years. Taiwan's political climate is unique. Reunification and independence stand at loggerheads with each other, generating voluminous rhetoric over cross-Strait issues. Any political leader aspiring to high office must trot out his own set of arguments, and use them to rally public support. Blue Camp advocates of reunification and Green Camp advocates of independence are unable to sway each other. Under the circumstances, maintaining the status quo has become the common denominator. Reunification is something for the distant future. Independence, on the other hand, is a pipe dream. Most people think independence is not even worth discussing, because the Republic of China's national sovereignty is well-established. Reunification is an issue because many people have powerful apprehensions about reunification.

During President Ma's interview, he earnestly addressed the question of why the public on Taiwan doesn't want [immediate] reunification?" He spoke to the American media, but in fact he was speaking to Beijing. He wanted Beijing to hear and understand the true feelings of the public on Taiwan. As far as Mainland China is concerned, reunification is the most important national goal. Its timing can be postponed. But the goal is non-negotiable. In the past, the public on Taiwan considered the Mainland too impoverished and too restrictive. Now Mainland reforms and liberalization have transformed it into an economic powerhouse. Yet many people on Taiwan still refuse to reunify. Why? Ma Ying-jeou said "We (people on Taiwan and people on the Mainland) don't even know each other that well." As he explained, opening cross-Strait exchanges will help promote Mainland China's economic freedom, and even political freedom. This is an historic opportunity. "I want to create a situation where the two sides could. . . see which system is better for the Chinese culture, for the Chinese people."

Put plainly, Ma Ying-jeou said that what the public on Taiwan wants before it considers reunification, is democracy. Mainland China may be close to having a free market economic system. But it is still a long way from having a democratic political system. Local elections were instituted during the "Two Chiangs Era." Direct presidential elections were instituted during the Lee Teng-hui era. Two changes in ruling parties have taken place. The Republic of China is no longer a party-dominated authoritarian nation. Legislators may blast administration officials. Ordinary citizens may protest. Amidst the chaos, there is ordered freedom. Democracy has become synonymous with sunshine, air, and water. It is indispensable.

Such an informative interview, and yet the Presidential Office failed to issue a press release. The domestic media had to quote the Wall Street Journal. Note Ma Ying-jeou's key statement, "Whether there will be reunification as expected by the mainland side depends very much on what is going to unfold in the next decades. Note how carefully the President stressed reunification "as expected by the mainland side," and not "as expected by the Taiwan side." And yet, the opposition DPP blasted him. They accused Ma Ying-jeou of embracing "ultimate unification." They mocked the President's "poor English grammar." Ma Ying-jeou agreed to an interview with the foreign media, out of the best of motives. But he was drowned out by wave upon wave of criticism and ridicule over mere technicalities.

The President agreed to an interview with the foreign media. It was hardly the first time a news report differed with the facts. So the question is, why does the same problem keep happening, again and again? Ma Ying-jeou likes to speak English, and his English is not bad. But critics have suggested that need not use English from beginning to end. The President agreed to an interview with the foreign media, in his capacity as the President of the Republic of China. The interview was conducted within the Republic of China. For him to conduct the interview in Mandarin would hardly be impolite. If anything, it would underscore his status as the head of state. It would underscore a head of state's respect for and belief in his own nation. Most importantly, it would avoid misunderstandings when the foreign media transcribes such interviews.

Furthermore, when the President agrees to an interview with the international media, he is speaking as a representative of the nation. He is speaking as the President of the Republic of China, rather than as an individual. As part of his Presidential duties, he should issue a press release. It is his duty to his countrymen. Each time the President makes a statement, he has an obligation and responsibility to the people. Otherwise, how can the people monitor his performance? How can they know whether his words are consistent with the national interest? This was so during the Two Chiangs era. This was so during the Lee Teng-hui era. This was so even during the Chen Shui-bian era. Only Ma Ying-jeou, out of whatever special considerations, or austerity measures, or baffling personality quirks, has thinned out the ranks of the Presidential Office so drastically. No matter how austere one might want to be, one surely needs at least one or two interpreters. President Ma Ying-jeou himself was a translator. Surely he knows how important this work is. If the Presidential Office has no one to perform translations or write press releases, surely the Government Information Office can assume responsibility for international PR, or assign this task to the Central News Agency.

Ma Ying-jeou got his start at Chiang Ching-kuo's side. He should have learned a little something from him. Yet he doesn't conduct interviews in Mandarin. He doesn't issue press releases. These are a technical problems. But they reflect a more important problem. Does Ma Ying-jeou really understand the importance of interviews with the international media? Does the Presidential Office understand that not issuing a press release for presidential interviews, may result in the president's words being misunderstood? Does it understand that this is a dereliction of duty? The Presidential Office needs to realize that press releases of the President's interviews are official documents, and that one day they will become part of the historical record.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.12.18
社論-馬政府別再讓枝節問題 壞了大事









Thursday, December 17, 2009

From Chaos to Hope: Public Expectations

From Chaos to Hope: Public Expectations
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 17, 2009

The United Daily News and the Far Eastern Group recently sponsored a Word of the Year Contest. We asked the public which words best symbolized the year 2009. The word "pan," (hope) took first place. Last year the word was "luan," (chaos). This year's word, "hope," reflects a shift in public sentiment. It also represents the public's expectations for the new political regime.
Given the current political climate, the emergence of the word "hope" was rather unexpected. Public morale is low. The list of candidates included 30 words. Over two-thirds of them carried negative connotations. They included words such as "ma" (verbal abuse), "hun" (muddling through), "jing" (panic), "ku" (bitterness), "men" (suffocation), and "can" (tragedy). That the word "hope" would come to the fore shows that after years of unrest and suffering, people are finally calming down. They are finally able to look to the new year with relative equanimity. They may be dissatisfied, but they are full of expectations.

The Word of the Year Contest has three functions. First, it encapsulates the collective mood of society. Second, it enables the public to both review the past and anticipate the future. Third, it reflects public sentiment and encourages the government to engage in self-examination. The contest was co-sponsored by the United Daily News and the Far Eastern Group. This is merely the second year it has been held, but it has already become the focus of public attention. It also reflects to a considerable degree the collective mood on Taiwan. This year's word "hope," was suggested by Mr. Kuo Yao-hua. That a retiree's feelings would resonant so intensely with the public, makes it even more meaningful.

Recall last year. The beginning of the new year saw a second change in ruling parties, and a restructuring of the legislature. And yet the word of the year was not "new," but "chaos." This suggests that the new administration failed to find its way. It was unable to put Taiwan back on track. The public felt as if it had been cast adrift, and surrounded by chaos. Add to this the twists and turns of the Chen corruption case, the impact of the global financial crisis, and the sudden rise in the unemployment rate. No wonder the public felt trapped, both politically and economically. No wonder the word "chaos" came to peoples' minds.

This year the situation on Taiwan is slightly different. A first instance verdict has been delivered in the Chen corruption case. Most of the dark clouds have dissipated. Chen Shui-bian is not being released. Any statements he hopes to make, will have to be made from his jail cell. His ability to incite political unrest and meddle with the political process has been significantly diminished. The wounds inflicted by the financial tsunami have yet to heal, but the economy is showing signs of heating up. Signs of prosperity are returning. Although one cannot say that all our worries have been swept away, the public feels some relief. It looks forward with "hope" for political stability and economic rejuvenation. It no longer feels it is at the bottom of an abyss.

Now compare the top ten words for this year with last year's. Except for the winning candidate, the changes in the words suggested reveal an interesting trend. For example, this years' finalists include fewer negative words such as "can" (tragic) and "men" (suffocating). They include more positive words such as "bian" (change), and "ai" (love). These show that public sentiment has reversed itself and has taken on a sunnier outlook. Especially worth pondering are the words associated with Chen Shui-bian, such as "pian" (deception), "tan" (greed), and "bian" (flattened out). These words have all disappeared from the top 10 list. This does not mean the public is satisfied with the government's handling of the Chen corruption case. But it does show that the public has emerged from under the shadow of the Chen Shui-bian kleptocracy.

What is noteworthy is that although the number one word for the year was "hope," the second, third, and fourth words were negative words such as "false, bitter, tragic, stifling." This reminds us that as the society as a whole adapts and recovers, many individuals remain incapable of surmounting the bitterness in their lives. They are unable to share the majority's calm optimism. Naturally their feelings must not be overlooked. This year, for example, what people remember the most clearly is the landslides that buried entire villages alive during the 8/8 Floods. Because it was a regional disaster, it lacked universal impact. Therefore symbolic words do not always reflect the pathos experienced. The sponsors of the Word of the Year Contest invited aboriginal children from disaster stricken regions to write the word "hope." They wanted to give them a chance to express their hopes that their homes might be rebuilt. They wanted to remind people not to forget the suffering of the disaster victims.

For two consecutive years, over two-thirds of the words on the annual word for the year list have been negative. The public on Taiwan has been inculcated with the notion that tragedies, disasters, scandals, and other negative developments are the norm. This makes it more suceptible to negative suggestions. Year after year of voting for their favored candidates may allow us to better understand our society's psychological bottom line, and adopt a more proactive, less victim-oriented posture.

The word "hope" emerged in late 2009. It summarized the past year. It also expressed our collective hopes for the coming year. Some people hope for a rejuvenated economy. Some people hope for a brighter future. Some people hope for national unity. Some people hope for cross-Strait peace. Some people hope for social progress. Some people hope for relief from suffering and disaster. We too hope that the new year will go our way, and that our compatriots can enjoy peace and prosperity.

由「亂」到「盼」 台灣期待更大的提升
2009.12.17 03:12 am










Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hsu Hsin-liang Rains on the DPP's Parade

Hsu Hsin-liang Rains on the DPP's Parade
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 16, 2009

Former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang called on all the Green Camp "princes" to enter the mayoral races for the five major cities late next year. This would increase political momentum leading up to the presidential election. His reasoning was that the Democratic Progressive Party never broke through the basic pattern of "60% Blue, 40% Green" voter support during the recent local elections. "The DPP really has no reason to rejoice."
Some people in the Green Camp may agree with Hsu's first statement. The Green Camp "princes" are probably already making plans. But the Democratic Progressive Party may be unhappy about Hsu's second statement, namely that the Green Camp didn't really win a victory. It may feel Hsu is raining on their parade, merely out of spite. But unflattering advice is often what one needs to hear the most, and with a cool head.

As Hsu sees it, the Green Camp's increased support was primarily a result of Blue Camp voters staying home. In fact, the total number of votes the DPP received fell, by tens of thousands votes. In his view, a victory may boost morale. But without a change in the basic pattern of Blue vs. Green voter support, the DPP cannot hope to win back the presidency. Therefore he urged the "princes" to formulate a strategy to win all five municipal elections. Only then can the DPP build sufficient momentum. Only then can it change the basic pattern of Blue vs. Green voter support. Only then can it hope to win back the presidency in 2012.

Hsu Hsin-liang is hardly alone in this view. Cooler heads on Taiwan have all arrived at the same conclusion. They have all concluded that there has been no major change in Blue vs. Green voter support. On the surface, Green Camp support has increased. The KMT now commands a mere two and a half percentage point lead over the DPP. But if one merges support for Fu Kun-chi and others into the Blue Camp, the gap between the two camps still exceeds eight percentage points. Numbers talk. The Green Camp has a right to be happy about its victory. But it should not get carried away.

Besides, before the election the Green Camp boasted that it would win six to ten county seats. It won only four. This suggests that although people may be dissatisfied with the ruling KMT, in a one on one election, many people still have misgivings about Democratic Progressive Party rule. Conversely, Ma Ying-jeou refuses to admit defeat. He maintains that the Blue Camp still holds a substantial lead in the number of county and municipal executive seats, and that the gap in support between the two camps still holds.

The "basic pattern" of Blue vs. Green voter support has persisted for years, through one election after another. The Kuomintang has undergone two consecutive schisms. Internecine warfare led to a string of Blue Camp debacles. Blue Camp supporters now understand the dangers of "split-tickets." Over the past two years, the single-member district two-vote system for legislative elections has established a KMT/DPP two party system. Smaller parties have evaporated. The basic pattern of "60% Blue, 40% Green" voter support is largely set.

The Green Camp has a clear ideology. Therefore its core support is relatively solid. No matter how poorly the Democratic Progressive Party performs, Green Camp voters persist in giving it their support. By contrast, Blue Camp supporters support the KMT for many different reasons. Blue Camp core support is not as solid, not as unquestioningly loyal as the Green Camp's. Because of this, whenever the KMT governs badly, Blue Camp voters either stay away from the polls, or cast protest votes for independent or third party candidates. But during major one on one elections, they remain united in their "opposition to Taiwan independence." In other words, if the DPP refuses to make reasonable alterations to its stance on reunification vs. independence, it will continue "running into a brick wall" during general elections.

Hsu Hsin-liang is urging Green Camp "princes" to build political momentum. He has a point. If done properly, it might have a powerful psychological effect. But it is also a tactic of desperation, one full of risk. After all, such a move would thwart the rise of younger generation political stars. If the "princes" lose, the younger generation political stars will have to wait four years for their next opportunity. Hsu Hsin-liang believes that if the "princes" win their bids for mayor, then run for president, their supporters will forgive them, providing they are up front about their agenda. In fact, the practice of using public offices as springboards, and using public elections to increase one's political capital, may lead to a voter backlash. Most importantly, if the Democratic Progressive Party misjudges the significance of their recent election "victory," and adopts a radical platform, a "pendulum effect" will kick in. Voters will revert to their basic pattern of "60% Blue, 40% Green" voter support. The key to Hsu Hsin-liang's thinking is that he expects the DPP to break through the basic pattern of "60% Blue, 40% Green" voter support.

Hsu Hsin-liang has admonished the Democratic Progressive Party not to celebrate too soon. He rained on their parade. But he spoke the truth. He helped the Green Camp keep a cool head. The Green Camp may have built up some momentum during the local elections. But the basic pattern of voter support remains unchanged. In order to win the five upcoming mayoral elections, not to mention the presidential election, it must win the trust of over half the voters. It must behave in a manner that will win that trust. Electioneering gimmicks alone will not be enough. The Democratic Progressive Party must not misinterpret the meaning of its recent election "victory." It must not react inappropriately, and thereby forfeit the opportunity to undergo a rebirth.

2009.12.16 03:38 am