Friday, January 23, 2009

Chen Chih-Chung and Huang Jui-Ching's Plea Bargain

Chen Chih-Chung and Huang Jui-Ching's Plea Bargain
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 23, 2009

Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching have confessed. As part of a plea bargain, they are willing to reveal the whereabouts of more money, jewelry, and property. They may or may not have been sincere in their expressions of remorse. But legally speaking, their confessions will make it difficult for Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-chen to continue maintaining their innocence.

Over the course of the day Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching pleaded guilty. As soon as they asked for a plea bargain, the presiding judge asked the two whether they had discussed their decision with counsel. Did they understand the meaning and legal ramifications of pleading guilty? The two affirmed that they did. Only then did prosecutors ask the court to consider a plea bargain. They did not set a date for the next session, but revised the wording to read "pending." This much can be confirmed. Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching have expressed a desire to enter into a plea bargain, in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Legally this means the two are no longer disputing the prosecution's claim that they committed crimes.

Prosecutors indicted Chen Chih-chung and his wife for the crime of money-laundering, on the basis of the Money Laundering Control Act. The act states that it is a felony to "cover up, conceal, receive, handle, ship, harbor, fence, or hold the proceeds from felonies for oneself or for others." The Money Laundering Control Act specifies a minimum of five years imprisonment for the crime of corruption. To charge someone with money laundering, the money laundered must be criminal proceeds. To confess to money laundering means to confess that one knew the money laundered was the result of criminal activity. The two are inseparable. A suspect who says "I confess I laundered money, but didn't know the sums of money I laundered were criminal proceeds," has not in fact confessed. And if one has not confessed, one cannot enter into a plea bargain. Some say Chen Chih-chung and his wife should split the difference wtih prosecutors, that they should claim "We didn't know the sums of money we laundered were criminal proceeds." This is both self-contradictory and inconsistent with the law.

As mentioned earlier, the plea bargaining process is predicated upon not challenging the indictment. The problem is prosecutors are also investigating other incidents of Chen family corruption. Chen Chih-chung has revealed money trails for cases not listed in the indictment against him. Suppose the two reach a plea bargain with prosecutors and settle on a sentence, only to have more cases of money-laundering surface? How will the matter be handled? It will be handled according to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law. Assuming the case has yet to reach the sentencing stage, if the court finds discrepancies between the plea bargain and the facts of the case, the plea bargain shall be considered null and void. The case will be retried, and the sentence reevaluated.

Therefore, the prosecution need not rush to reach an agreement with the defendants. Instead, it should pick up the pace of its investigation. Chen Chih-chung and his wife should think clearly, They had better not cough up some of their loot while concealing the rest of it, thinking they can enjoy their ill-gotten gains after serving only a light sentence. Harboring such notions can only undermine their goal of seeking light sentences by means of plea bargaining.

Prosecutors indicted Chen Chih-chung and his wife for violating the Money Laundering Control Act. This means the two knew they were covering up, concealing, receiving, handling, and holding the proceeds from criminal activities. That being the case, whom did the two think the illegal proceeds belonged to? In this case of course it was Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng, their co-defendants. Therefore when Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching pleaded guilty, that meant the Court was aware of Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's crimes. Under the circumstances, it is going to be even harder for Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng to deny that they committed crimes. Even his own daughter-in-law has confessed to having and holding vast sums of criminal proceeds, to participating in money-laundering activities, and even to personally traveling overseas to direct such activities. Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng will have a hard time convincing any judge the money was merely "campaign contributions," and a hard time evading prosecution.

Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching's plea bargain has put Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-chen in a difficult position. Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng are charged with felonies. According to the law, suspects charged with felonies cannot request a plea bargain. The most they can do is throw themselves on the mercy of the court and hope for lighter sentences. But Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng committed too many crimes, and the charges against them are too serious. No matter how lightly they are punished, prison terms are unavoidable. If they stubbornly maintain their innocence, Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching's confessions have already shattered the family's united front, making it difficult to explain away the contradictions in their stories. Public perception will be even more negative. The consequences will be even more serious.

The Chen family corruption case has shown the public that as long as prosecutors investigate in earnest, and acquire a clear picture of the case, no matter how devious the criminals might be, they will eventually succumb to the evidence. Therefore, the cornerstone of justice is the prosecutor. We look forward to prosecutors on Taiwan undergoing a metamorphosis in the wake of the Chen family corruption case.

2009.01.23 02:32 am









Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eight Months: The Difference between Ma Ying-jeou and Barack Obama

Eight Months: The Difference between Ma Ying-jeou and Barack Obama
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 22, 2009

Barack Obama has assumed the Presidency of the United States. But can his ultra-high popularity withstand the harsh test of reality? That remains to be seen. On Taiwan such doubts may even be amplified. People watched as Ma Ying-jeou win by a landslide, only to have his halo tarnished within a few short months. How can Obama avoid the same fate?

The Repubic of China and the United States of America are different. But Ma Ying-jeou and Barack Obama's backgrounds have a number of similarities. One. Both were minority candidates elected by all the people. Their successful candidacies demonstrate the meaning of ethnic harmony. So-called "mainlanders" in the Taiwan region, and African Americans in the US comprise roughly the same percentage of the total population, 13%. Two. Both Ma and Obama were preceded by men notorious for their recklessness, Chen Shui-bian and George W. Bush. These men ruled for eight years and two consecutive terms. Ma and Obama overthrew both their predecessors and their parties. Three. Both are Juris Doctors from Harvard University. Obama is 11 years younger, and less experienced politically.

Apart from these similarities, the biggest difference between the two is the eight month gap between their electoral victories. This difference may determine their respective destinies, Ma Ying-jeou was elected to rid the nation of the DPP's economic isolationism and separatist demagoguery. During his inaugural speech he said, "People must rise up, only then can Taiwan be reborn." The theme of Taiwan's rebirth brimmed with dreamy optimism. Many people assumed a new era of peace and prosperity had arrived. Who knew it would all come tumbling down amidst the global economic crisis? None of the world's nations has been spared. Ma Ying-jeou's "633" promises evaporated in an instant. Frustrated in their expectations, the people lost confidence and patience in the Ma administration.

By contrast, the global economy was already in a recession during the final phase of Obama's campaign. The American people are not going to blame the depression on him. Furthermore, Wall Street was the primary culprit responsible for the current wave of financial turmoil. This deepened public antipathy toward Bush administration incompetence and malfeasance. It made them to look to the new vision for America symbolized by Obama. Eight months was enough to allow the American people to recognize the Bush administration's responsibility for economic crimes, and to realize that Obama was merely attempting to save the economy. On this point, Ma Ying-jeou was clearly not as lucky as Obama. Because eight months after his inauguration, he has become the target of intense public dissatisfaction.

Public opinion has always been hard to fathom. This should be clear from the reversal in public attitude toward Ma Ying-jeou and Lee Myung-bak. Besides changes in the larger context, this has to do first with the individual leaders' ability and personality, and secondly with the nation's political structure and the electorate's political maturity.

Take Ma Ying-jeou for example. He won by a 58% landslide. This reflected the public on Taiwan's revulsion for ethnic demagoguery. They chose to join hands across this divide. But agitation by demagogues over the past few months has undermined this positive development. Blue vs. Green confrontation has resurfaced. Several Ma Ying-jeou nominated officials with Green political backgrounds have been implicated in scandals. Taipei and Beijing have sought to cooperate in investigating the Chen family corruption scandals. The Green Camp has attempted to capitalize on these, to create an atmosphere of confrontation. The superficiality and myopia of political demagogues are the biggest psychological obstacle to a society's efforts to transcend ethnic bigotry.

Actually, compared to America's long history of black vs. white race issues, Taiwan's Blue vs. Green conflict over the last decade is an artificially invented social division that has unfortunately become real over time. That is the saddest fact of all. A democratic nation such as the United States took 200 years to finally resolve stubborn issues of race. This shows how difficult it is to heal social fissures. Society on Taiwan was originally harmonious. Yet it has moved in exactly the opposite direction. Political demagogues have invoked "love of Taiwan," intentionally widening social differences and intensifying communal strife for their own selfish political interests. How many people can tolerate such cynical calculation?

Obama has assumed office wearing a halo. Can he summon up the wisdom the world expects of him? That will be the test of his administration. Amidst the Great Depression he has brought the American people a precious gift. He has inspired everyone to follow America's example. As we watch the inauguraton in Washington from faraway Taipei, we too may be inspired, alerted, and encouraged. Perhaps we can all complain a little less, and sympathize and understand a little more. In which case, we may feel a little less anxious and a little more confident about how to extricate ourselves from our current predicament.

2009.01.22 03:17 am









Wednesday, January 21, 2009

America Officially Enters the Obama Era

America Officially Enters the Obama Era
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 21, 2009

On January 21, 2009, at 1:00am Taipei time, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. He delivered a 17 minute inaugural speech. Ever since he won the election, his every move has been the focus of domestic and worldwide attention. Obama, who has always been good at speechmaking, outlined his vision for the future. How will Obama faces the challenges ahead of him will be the real test, and will determine whether he becomes a great President.

Obama's election victory not only shocked the United States. It also sent shockwaves around the world. Past presidential elections meant foreign policy change at most. But there has never been someone with an effect on people like Obama.

First of all, Obama's election victory is the concrete realization of racial equality. According to polls taken before Obama was elected, only 35% of African Americans considered Dr. Martin Luther King's dream fulfilled. One year later however, Barack Obama has been elected. Now twice as many African Americans, 70%, believe King's dream has been fulfilled. In terms of socio-economic structure, the racial divide still exists. But in terms of political symbolism, the goal of the black civil rights movement, Martin Luther King's dream, has been achieved. On this point alone, Obama will go down in history.

Obama's election victory was of epoch-making significance not only for the United States, but for the whole world. America's image as a hegemon has been transformed. A member of a disadvantaged racial minority has become head of state through the democratic process. For the world's ethnic minorities, the American hegemon was merely the strong bullying the weak. Obama's election is a source of inspiration.

Although America has ushered in the Obama administration, and ushered out the Bush administration, the problems remain, and still need healing. Among them, one of the most serious is the War on Terror.

Withdrawal from Iraq is a top priority. But in order to avoid the mistakes of Vietnam, Obama must be careful about the transfer of power. He must support the government of Iraq via the democratic process. Troop increases may be effective In Afghanistan, but not in Iraq. Any incident during this period, such as large-scale suicide bombing attacks against U.S. troops, would plunge Iraq and Afghanistan into genocidal warfare. Any U.S. withdrawal would be delayed, and become a hot potato for Barack Obama.

Secondly, America is America. In America, unlike many developing countries, political retaliation is unfashionable. Many human rights groups are calling for the prosecution of senior Bush administration officials. In particular they want to discover whether it authorized the abuse of prisoners and committed human rights violations. But Obama has pledged to "look forward." He has received bipartisan support and does not plan on settling old scores.

But leaders who knowingly violate the law, who abuse power, are a no-no in democratic nations. Human rights groups are demanding an accounting. A comprehensive investigation is essential. Some European nations are even more determined. They have declared that if former high officials of the Bush administration go abroad, they will take them into custody. This may create problems for Obama's domestic and foreign policy.

The real test for Obama will be his first 100 days in office. A new president's first 100 days usually determines his historical legacy. This has to do with public expectations and with how aggressively the new president pursues reform. The public has high expectations for new presidents. Congress is usually afraid to oppose his initiatives. What a new president wants, he usually gets. But if the public's expectations are disappointed, either because they were too high or too unrealistic, it will soon become disillusioned. Other elected representatives will seize the opportunity to resist, and the result will be gridlock.

The most urgent issue is the financial crisis. Obama's popularity ratings are very high at the moment. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are under the control of the Democratic Party. Passing major bills should be no problem. But there have been exceptions. Clinton encountered difficulty passing the National Health Insurance Act, despite a House of Representatives dominated by his own party. Bush encountered difficulty passing his immigration bill, even though his party held a majority in the House of Representatives. Obama has asked Vice-President Joe Biden, with several decades of experience in the Senate, to craft a First 100 Days plan for Congress.

The New York Times recently invited five authors of presidential biographies to write about the challenges five presidents faced during their first 100 days in office. Among these was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who faced the economic crisis known as the Great Depression. He was sworn in immediately after an emergency session of both houses of Congress. Six hours later he pushed through the Emergency Banking Act. We predict congress will follow the precedent established by Franklin Roosevelt, and approve any economic revitalization programs or astronomical deficit spending Obama proposes.

But this does not really solve problems. If anything, it is congress shirking its responsibility. If Obama is smart, he will realize policies seldom yield immediate results. Time and again he has attempted to reduce people's expectations. But eventually the public's patience will wear thin. Economic recovery will take time. Once this gap between expectations and realities appears, Obama will face his first real crisis of governance.

The next four years will be the Obama Era. But the Obama Era will also be Obama's severest test.

中國時報  2009.01.21














Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Such Devotion, Such Betrayal

Such Devotion, Such Betrayal
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 20, 2009

While in detention, Chen Shui-bian wrote "Taiwan's Crucifix." He has chosen to publish it on the eve of the Trial of the Century. Not surprisingly, he has denied every one of the prosecution's charges. It's bad enough that he refuses to take responsibility for his wrongdoing. In his book he launches into an unsparing and heartless tirade against his former comrades. Half of the Green Princes of the DPP are referred to by name and subjected to harsh criticism. This means that as the Green Camp enters the post-Chen era, the illusion of harmony has been totally shattered.

Chen's scandals have emitted a foul stench. But most leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party are biting their tongues. The overwhelming majority are unwilling to cast the first stone. When Chen was indicted, DPP leaders said they could not cut their ties with him, despite criticism they were turning a blind eye to right and wrong. Whether their decision was rooted in self-interest or camaraderie, the Democratic Progressive Party backed Chen to the bitter end. What did they receive in return? Chen struck first and cut his ties with them. In his book, "Taiwan's Crucifix," Ah-Bian blasts Frank Hsieh, Yu Shyi-kun, Tsai Ing-wen, and the DPP. He concludes, in short, that everyone is indebted to him.

Read what Ah-Bian wrote. Listen to his tone: "Nobody owes me, I owe everybody, I owe the Democratic Progressive Party, I owe Chairman Tsai, I didn't do enough, I didn't sacrifice enough!" Translation: "Everyone of you owes me! Tsai Ing-wen owes me. The entire DPP owes me! The DPP has failed to live up to the whole are to live up to my expectations! Whether Tsai Ing-wen accepts such claims, we don't know. But everyone knows Chen Shui-bian left the Democratic Progressive Party in a mess that Tsai Ing-wen must clean up. When Tsai Ing-wen was running over the island raising funds for the cash-strapped Democratic Progressive Party, the public learned that every one of Chen Shui-bian's overseas accounts contained hundreds of millions of dollars. One of these accounts even listed the Democratic Progressive Party as its dummy head. The loose change in any of these accounts would have immediately alleviated the financial pressure on the Democratic Progressive Party. But lo and behold, this money "belonged" to Chen Chih-chung! Consider the weight of the cross Tsai Ing-wen had to bear. Yet Ah-Bian maintains Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP owe him.

Ah-Bian also nursed grievances about Frank Hsieh's defeat in the presidential election. He blasted Hsieh for distancing himself from the legislative elections, the ruling administration, and the president. He said for Hsieh to "repudiate the past eight years was tantamount to repudiating himself." What Ah-Bian meant was that if Hsieh had embraced Chen Shui-bian, he might have won! Whether Frank Hsieh agrees with Chen's assessment, we don't know. But hit rewind and we will see the legislative elections being choreographed by Ah-Bian, in toto. Hsieh basically stood in the wings and played a supporting role. The main theme of that election campaign was Chen's "Join the UN Plebiscite." By the time that fiasco had drawn to a close, the Democratic Progressive Party held fewer than one-fourth of the seats in the legislature. Chen had thoroughly undermined Taipei/Washington relations. Hsieh didn't need to distance himself from Ah-Bian. Ah-Bian had already dragged Hsieh down with him! Ah-Bian's State Affairs Fund scandal erupted just as Hsieh began his presidential campaign. Chen Shui-bian may be reluctant to admit it, but political observers agree that Hsieh faced an uphill fight, and that Chen Shui-bian was the biggest albatross around Hsieh's neck. Why wouldn't Hsieh want to distance himself from Ah-Bian? He wanted to, but he couldn't!

Chen Shui-bian's intentions are clear. He has no intention of letting the leadership of the Democratic Progressive Party disown him. He is going to disown them first. He did not blast Annette Lu. He did not blast Su Tseng-chang. But he did blast Tsai Ing-wen, Frank Hsieh, and Yu Shyi-kun. He still hopes to influence the Democratic Progressive Party's future. Ah-Bian's strategy is transparent. He intends to use allegations of a miscarriage of justice to counter charges of corruption. He intends to use the Taiwan independence movement's dream of building a nation to hijack Deep Green followers. He intends to use Chen Faction DPP members to hijack the Democratic Progressive Party. He has hundreds of ways to attract media attention. By such means he intends to manipulate the future of the Green Camp. In doing so, he finds himself drifting farther and farther from Frank Hsieh and Tsai Ing-wen. Even under detention, he refused to ease up on them. That is hardly a coincidence.

As Chen's trial proceeds, his political tricks will multiply. From beginning to end, the DPP remained mum about Chen Shui-bian's corruption. It was categorically unwilling to disown him. But Chen Shui-bian has now turned on the Democratic Progressive Party. He wants his pound of flesh. He has seized the initiative, demanding that Democratic Progressive Party leaders cut their ties with him. In short, someone who has already quit the party, who is unable to explain his involvement in multiple scandals, still intends to hijack the DPP. He still intends to stir up trouble within the Democratic Progressive Party. This is what the Democratic Progressive Party has come to. If it continues to side with Chen, based on past loyalty, the public will only be able to shake its head in disbelief.

中國時報  2009.01.20
如此一往情深 換來的是什麼







Monday, January 19, 2009

Chen Shui-bian, How Do You Plead?

Chen Shui-bian, How Do You Plead?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 19, 2009

Today, the Taipei District Court will hear the Chen Shui-bian corruption case. First, it will hold a three day long preparatory session. This is the first time a former president has faced justice for corruption-related crimes. Needless to say, it is an event of major significance, and represents an evolutionary step in our constitutional order.

The judges have investigated the people involved. As usual, they will ask the accused Chen Shui-bian: How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?

If Chen Shui-bian pleads guilty to the prosecutor, he may begin a process of plea bargaining. If he does not plead guilty, the trial will begin, and Chen Shui-bian must offer a defense.

The judge will ask the defendant, "How do you plead? Guilty, or not guilty?" Although it is a mere formality, for the Chen Shui-bian corruption case it of enormous significance. Because whether Chen Shui-bian pleads guilty or not bears on the issue of justice, particularly political justice. If Chen Shui-bian pleads not guilty, even a harsh sentence will not restore political justice.

Judging by Chen Shui-bian's current attitude, he will not plead guilty. But judging by developments so far, he will have a hard time being found not guilty. That is why a few days ago his lawyers said he may wear a surgical mask marked with an "X" over his face as a silent protest, rather than put up a defense.

Chen Shui-bian's main argument in his defense is that the money in his secret accounts were "campaign contributions," and that their purpose was a "nation-building fund." His first priority is to help Chen Chih-chung escape prosecution. His second priority is to help himself avoid responsibility. As a last resort he will transfer all blame onto Wu Shu-chen. The Chen family is counting on the fact that no one has the political courage to demand that Wu Shu-chen serve time in prison.

None of the funds in the Chen family's four corruption scandals can be passed off as "campaign contributions." In the State Affairs Fund scandal, the Chen family used phony receipts to dip into the state treasury. What does this have to do with "campaign contributions?" In the Longtan Land Purchase scandal, Ming-Jer Tsai and Leslie Koo confessed to paying the Chen family "commissions," not campaign contributions. In the Nankang Exhibition Hall scandal, Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien leaked a list of the review board members. Was the payment for this inside information a "campaign contribution?" In the Chen family's money-laundering case, numerous instances of dirty money flowing into the Chen family's secret coffers have already been identified as "not campaign contributions." Chen Shui-bian wants to cite "campaign contributions" as a means of pleading not guilty in all four cases. But is anyone going to believe him?

Now let's look at the issue of responsibility. In the State Affairs Fund scandal, Ma Yung-cheng, Lin Teh-hsiung, and Chen Cheng-hui have already confessed they carried out orders handed down by President Chen Shui-bian. Otherwise, who would have dared to give the State Affairs Fund balance sheet to Wu Shu-chen to read? Who would have dared to move State Affairs Funds into the Yushan official residence? Chen Shui-bian wants us to believe his subordinates committed these crimes, and are now passing the buck over to him. How does he think the public will react when it hears such arguments in court? In the Longtan Land Purchase scandal Chen Shui-bian argues that the president was not authorized to decide whether to purchase the land. The powers and responsibilities belong to the Executive Yuan. Does that mean that the "commission" Wu Shu-chen pocketed ought to be turned over to Yu Shyi-kun? Does that mean Yu should be the one to go to prison? In the Nankang Exhibition Hall scandal, Chen Shui-bian suggests that the bidding on the exhibition hall was not part of the president's authority, therefore Wu Shu-chen could not have charged a "commission" on that basis. Chen suggests that Yu Cheng-hsien did everything on his own initiative. As for the Chen family money-laundering case, Chen Shui-bian claims he learned about the matter from Ye Sheng-mao in December 2006. How can he possibly shift all blame onto Wu Shu-chen?

In sum, for Chen Shui-bian to offer a not guilty plea is already impossible. If Chen knows it is impossible but attempts to bluff his way through anyway, Chen Shui-bian and Chen Cheng-hui will be at each others' throats throughout the trial. Chen will have to shift all responsibility onto Wu Shu-chen, the crippled mother of his children. Chen will have to shift all responsibility for the Longtan Land Purchase scandal onto Yu Shyi-kun. In the Nankang Exhibition Hall scandal, Wu Shu-chen has framed Yu Cheng-hsien, saying he was a Yes Man who twisted the meaning of her words. Wu Shu-chen and her own brother Wu Ching-mao have become mortal enemies. Former friends Wu Shu-chen and Tsai Ming-Jer have also turned on each other. Such ugly and pathetic scenes will play out in court. No wonder Chen Shui-bian is thinking about wearing a mask. Does he really think he has room to equivocate? Does he really want to preside over this ugly farce, in open court?

Chen Shui-bian has persisted in hiding behind the smokescreen of alleged "campaign contributions." But when these four cases are argued in open court, Chen Shui-bian will have a hard time proving the kickbacks Wu Shu-chen extorted in the State Affairs Fund scandal were "campaign contributions." He will have a hard time proving the kickbacks the Chen family received during the Longtan Site Preparation scandal and the Nankang Exhibition Hall scandal were "campaign contributions." Given the facts of the case, does Chen Shui-bian really intend to enter a plea of not guilty?

Moreover, these four cases are merely appetizers. The entrees are yet to come. The Second Financial Reform scandal, the Diplomacy scandal and other main dishes will soon be served up. Are the funds involved in those scandals also "campaign contributions?" Are they also part of a "nation-building fund?" The more Chen Shui-bian pleads not guilty, the more he exposes his ugly greed.

Chen Shui-bian may as well take off his mask and plead guilty. Otherwise, the public will be treated to the ugly and pathetic spectacle of former masters and dogs tearing into each other in open court.

2009.01.19 02:01 am













Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Poor Report Card for the Largest Party in the Legislature

A Poor Report Card for the Largest Party in the Legislature
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 17, 2009

The Seventh Legislative Yuan held a surprise plenary session. This surprise delayed the third reading of the Ma administration's 2009 central government budget one full day. Compared to previous years, the Legislative Yuan went easy on the Liu Cabinet. It cut the budget only 1% more than discussed in consultations, a miniscule increase of 0.1%, only 2 billion NT. Judging by the numbers, one day more and 2 billion less is no big deal. But the KMT has over 80 seats in the Legislative Yuan, a supermajority. It should be in complete control. For the Office of the President and the Executive Yuan, this is a very big deal indeed.

Since the Ma administration took office, coordination between the presidential office, the legislature, and the party has been a serious problem for the party and the government. Premier Liu Chao-shiuan has an academic background. He held several key cabinet positions, beginning in the Lee Teng-hui era. But he never interacted closely with the Legislative Yuan. Premier Liu has made a great effort to get along with the legislature. The situation has gradually improved.

The Executive Yuan is the people's highest representative body. It is not limited to 113 legislators. It represents the aggregate opinion of 23 million Republic of China citizens on Taiwan. Each legislator represents the diverse interests and needs of citizens from different electoral districts. Satisfying everyone is not easy. But one must at least satisfy a majority. Only then can one administer the nation smoothly. When the Legislative Yuan confronts the highest executive body, it is not merely confronting a premier appointed by president nominated by the KMT. It is also confronting the policy prescriptions of the ruling party and the government. The public doesn't care whether the relationship between the legislature and executive is good or bad. They care only that the ruling Kuomintang government, which ostensibly has complete control, remains incapable of passing an important budget. That is why consultations between the executive and legislature are so important. Only prior consultation can ensure that policies are smoothly translated into budgets and bills in the legislature.

The failure to pass the central government budget on time came as a complete surprise. The KMT is the only major party in the Legislative Yuan. Even if the DPP resorts to procedural tricks, even if it makes hundreds of motions for floor votes, that is not a problem. The KMT has the numbers. In the end Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng brought down the gavel and adjourned the session. Procedurally speaking he had nothing to apologize for. But during Ah-Bian's eight years of misrule, the legislature convened 16 times. Almost without exception, it burned the midnight oil on the very last day of each session in order to pass the budget. It even held two or three day marathon sessions. Legislative procedures have always allowed for longer or shorter sessions. The question is why Wang Jin-pyng was willing to burn the midnight oil for the Chen Shui-bian administration over the past eight years, but was unwilling to extend the last session for the Ma administration?

The general budget passed on its third reading, albeit a day late. It was cut by only 2 billion NT. The abrupt addition and subtraction of 2 billion forced the Executive Yuan to frantically shift funds hither and thither. It had to cut nearly one billion in grants and programs to the poor in order to make up the shortfall. One billion is an miniscule percentage of the central government's overall budget. But for poor families in need of help, it is an astronomical amount. The Liu Cabinet's two major policy themes were to improve the economy and to provide relief for the poor. But what has it done except cut aid to the economically disadvantaged? Given public perception, it is going to have a hard time explaining itself, even assuming it made the right decision. Was this budget cut really justified? Instead of cutting funds to the borderline poor, why not cut the huge defense budget? No wonder Minister of the Interior Liao Liao-yi went through the roof, and said that if the budget fell short by the end of the year, the Executive Yuan would have to find a way to make up the shortfall.

The legislature cut subsidies to the borderline poor. It even cut subsidies for child-care leave, a major plank in President Ma Ying-jeou's election platform. All failed to pass because KMT legislators blocked them. The public doesn't care whether Hou Tsai-feng, the legislator who blocked the budget, has a beef with Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Wang Ju-hsuan. It doesn't care what item this budget falls under. It cares only that the subsidies are in place. Since they failed to pass, what is to become of President Ma's campaign promises?

This budget begat this bill. The legislature adopted 90 motions during this session, including the abolition of the Anti-Hoodlum Act. The numbers might look good. But in his New Year's Day speech President Ma stressed the importance of his draft amendment for the Statute for the Punishment of Corruption. The embarrassing fact is this plank in Ma Ying-jeou's election platform, one of the keys to his victory, failed even to make it through the Legislature's Procedural Committee. Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng could only say with frustration and regret that it was an embarrassment for all. Fortunately some political appointees are able to feel this way. The KMT's image cannot be reformed through Ma Ying-jeou's example of clean governance alone.

The KMT lost power. It has now regained power. The current situation is rife with problems. The Legislative Yuan's words and deeds affect the futures of individual legislators, the continued survival of the Kuomintang administration. The presidential office, the legislature, and the party have a symbiotic relationship. They must seek unity by communicating and coordinating. They truly cannot afford to squabble over petty differences.

中國時報  2009.01.17

第七屆立法院第二會期,在意外中加開一天臨時會結束,這個「小意外」讓馬政府九十八年度的中央政府總預算案晚了一天才完成三讀,對比過去歷年總預算案刪減 額度,立法院對劉內閣算是相當客氣,只比朝野協商百分之一,小加百分之零點一,多刪廿億。從數字上看,多一天、少廿億,只是小事,但是,對於在立法院擁有 八十多席絕對多數、已經完全執政的國民黨、總統府和行政院而言,絕對不能以「小事」觀之。


對行政院而言,面對最高民意機關,不只是一百一十三席立委而已,而是全台灣二千三百萬人民的民意匯聚,每一個立委代表的是選區不同的利益和需求,要全部滿 足並不容易,但至少要做到多數滿足,如此施政才能順暢。對立法院而言,面對最高行政機關,不只是國民黨提名當選的總統所任命的行政院長,而是執政黨政府的 政策意向,民眾不會理解行政、立法兩院之間的關係是好是壞,只會懷疑為什麼完全執政的國民黨政府,還是有重大預算、重大法案不能順利通過?因此,任何重大 政策的產出,行政、立法兩院間的事間協商格外重要,唯有事前協商才可能確保政策化為預算和法案後,在國會能夠順利通關。

完全出人意表的是,中央政府總預算案竟然在會期最後一天未能如期通過。要知道國民黨在立法院畢竟是唯一大黨,即使民進黨使出議事招數,提出上百件表決議 案,對國民黨來說,數人頭爭勝絕對不是問題。立法院長王金平最後敲槌散會,於議事程序無虧,但回顧扁執政的八年期間,立院十六個會期,幾無例外的都是在會 期最後一天挑燈夜戰趕法案、趕預算案,甚至有連續開會二、三天以一次會計,議事程序本來就有空間讓立法院會可長可短,問題是為什麼過去八年,王金平願意為 扁政府的預算案挑燈夜戰,卻不願為了馬政府的預算案,在會期最後一天拚出一個結果?

遲了一天,總預算案還是完成三讀,只是多刪了廿億,因為這突如其來增刪的廿億,行政院東挪西調,竟以刪減近貧補助方案的十億湊數,十億在中央政府總預算案 裡只是非常小的數字,但對需要幫助的近貧家庭而言,卻是非常大的金額,尤其是劉內閣施政兩大主軸,一是拚經濟,二就是救弱勢,結果刪到弱勢族群的預算,從 社會觀感看,有理都說不清,何況刪這筆預算,真有理嗎?要刪近貧預算,為什麼不刪龐大的國防預算呢?難怪內政部長廖了以要翻臉,直言萬一到了年底預算不 足,還是得行政院想辦法彌補。

不但多刪了近貧補助預算,連馬英九總統在競選前、就任後都視之為重大政策的育嬰假津貼補助,都因為國民黨立委的阻擋未能過關,民眾不會問阻擋預算的立委侯 彩鳳到底和勞委會主委王如玄有什麼過節,也不會問這筆預算到底要編在哪個科目項下,重點是政府津貼補助要到位,預算既未過關,馬總統的政見還能兌現嗎?

預算如此,法案亦復如是。立法院這個會期通過九十個議案,包括檢肅流氓條例的廢止案,從數字成績單上來說算漂亮,尷尬的是,偏偏又是馬總統的重大政見、也 是馬英九當選的關鍵之一、馬總統元旦講話還特別強調、與廉能政治相關的《貪汙治罪條例》修正草案,竟連程序委員會都排不上,法務部長王清峰只能無奈地感 慨:「講開了大家難看!」只要政務官還有這樣的感慨,國民黨的形象就不可能只靠著馬英九要樹立的廉能形象而提升。


Friday, January 16, 2009

Communist Agents within the Chen Administration

Communist Agents within the Chen Administration
United Daily News editorial
A Translation
January 16, 2009

Who knew the Chen Shui-bian administration was overrun with Communist agents? Eight years of Chen administration misrule has left the nation in ruins. One might say that this administration committed every nasty deed humanly imaginable or otherwise.

But who would have guessed that a Taiwan independence political regime would nurture Communist agents? Who would have guessed that Communist agents really were hiding under our beds? Suspected Communist agent Wang Jen-bing's relationship with the Ah-Bian faction within the DPP goes way back. When Chen Shui-bian was mayor of Taipei, Chen Che-nan brought Wang into the Bureau of Education. Wang even became involved in the Longmen Junior High School site preparation scandal. Later, when Chen Shui-bian become president, Chen Che-nan brought Wang into the Under-Secretary-General's Office as Copy Editor. He remained at that post until recently, under Cho Jung-tai, Under-Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung, and others. All in all, Wang Jen-bing's relationship with the Ah-Bian faction goes back 15 to 16 years. Now we are learning that this person was a Communist agent?

Advocates of Taiwan independence are corrupt. That is no longer news. Since Chen Shui-bian assumed power, incidents of corruption by advocates of Taiwan independence have become too numerous to list. But veteran Ah-Bian faction official Wang Jen-bing has turned out to be a "Cash on Delivery," traitor who sold national secrets to Beijing. This is truly an eye-opener. Green Camp advocates of Taiwan independence have relentlessly accused Pan Blues of "selling out Taiwan." Now it turns out they themselves have been selling intelligence to Beijing.

The extent of Wang Jen-bing's involvment has yet to be confirmed. Was this his first offense? Was he a long-time mole? We still don't know. But the fact that an veteran Ah-Bian faction official such as Wang would "sell out Taiwan" in such a manner, forces one to reflect upon their mindset. One possibility is that Wang hated the Ma administration even more than Beijing, therefore chose to sell out Taipei and collude with Beijing. Another possibility is that as Wang watched Chen Che-nan and Chen Shui-bian wallow in corruption, and the Office of the President act as their accomplices, he reasoned, why not sell a little intelligence and earn a little extra pocket money?

Wang Jen-bing is hardly an isolated case. Many Green Camp people on Taiwan scream "Chinese pigs, get the hell back to China!" at fellow ROC citizens. Meanwhile, they fall over each other making deals with "Chinese" on the mainland for the sake of a buck. How much difference is there between these pro-independence businessmen and Wang Jen-bing? Beijing sees "Green Agents" as a rare, hence valuable commodity. What are these advocates of Taiwan independence doing, but playing their Deep Green credentials for all they are worth?

This case revives old anxieties. Slogans such as "Everyone has a responsibility to guard against Communist infiltration" come rushing back to mind. Another suspect, Chen Ping-jen, was an assistant to PFP Legislator Lin Chun-tak and KMT legislator Liao Kuo-tung. Who imagined he would become an accomplice of veteran Ah-Bian faction official Wang Jen-bing? Three parties are involved. The spy incident show that Communists really are hiding under our beds!

The case has raised other wide-ranging political concerns, including the loyalty of civil servants and political appointees following a change in ruling administrations. Wang Jen-bing is a vestige of the Chen Shui-bian administration. Following an administration change he turned into a Communist spy who sold national secrets to Beijing. His mindset is frightening. What has Wang thinking as he he sold information and received payment? That his action did not constitute treason merely because he disapproved of the Ma administration? How different was his mindset from Chen Shui-bian's, who stashed his loot in a so-called "Nation-building Fund," then reasoned he was innocent of corruption.

Broadly speaking, the second change in ruling parties plunged the government into just such a Wang Jen-bing style crisis. Just before the Democratic Progressive Party stepped down, it rushed to fill every position with "their people." Even Ah-Bian's maid was given a job in the Presidential Palace. The Ma administration, terrified of being accused that it was conducting a purge, dared not clean house, and the likes of Wang Jen-bing were kept on. As a result, after power was tranferred on May 20 last year, residues from the Green Regime's nomenklatura have created problems for the new administration. These leftover Deep Green officials simply do not recognize the Republic of China. Such differences in national allegiance are hardly mere policy differences. In point of fact, they are the differences between sworn enemies. Wang Jen-bing may be an extreme case. As a civil servant, he not only betrayed the Ma administration, he also betrayed the nation. More leftover Green Regime officials remain within the current government. They may not collaborate with the enemy as flagrantly as Wang Jen-bing did. But they also refuse to recognize this nation, and they see the current administration as their political enemy. Their attitude, as they remain ensconced in their posts, is twofold. One, to keep collecting a paycheck from the nation, and two, to play a waiting game as political wild cards.

If Chen Shui-bian can characterize his ill-gotten gains as a "Nation-building Fund," then Wang Jen-bing can characterize his selling of intelligence as a way to make a fool out of Ma Ying-jeou. It is worrisome enough that Chen Shui-bian thinks this way. But within our government many civil servants share Wang Jen-bing's conceptions of loyalty. They consider the current administration their enemy. They consider the nation their enemy. This is unquestionably the most frightening risk the nation and the government face today.

The Republic of China's ruling party may change at any time. But civil servants and political appointees may not distort the meaning of loyalty. The accused must correct their mindset regarding the change in ruling parties and the meaning of the law.

Otherwise, officials leftover from the previous administration, such as Wang Jen-bing, will be disloyal toward the current administration. They may even collaborate with the enemy to wreak vengeance upon the current government. Is this not sad? Is this not frightening?

2009.01.16 02:28 am








就廣泛的意義來說,二次政黨輪替後,整個政府即已陷入此類「王仁炳危機」。民進黨在下台之際,幾乎將所有可以佔據的職位皆塞進了「自己人」,連阿卿嫂也在總統府佔了一個實缺;馬政府則因顧忌「排除異己」的譏評,不敢作果斷處置,如王仁炳者即留任至今。因而,自去年五二○交接後,一直出現綠朝遺臣與新政府的磨合問題;因為,有些色彩濃重的綠色遺臣,在政治理念上其實根本不承認中華民國,這種國家認同的歧異,已非政策觀念的差別,而在本質上其實是敵我之爭。王仁炳或許是一極端的特例,作為一個公務員,他不但背叛了馬政府,更已背叛了國家;然而,在今日政府中,另有更多的綠朝遺臣,他們雖不至於像 王仁炳這般「通敵資匪」,但他們卻也是懷持著根本不承認這個國家或以現政府為政治敵人的心態留任其位,一方面領國家的薪水,另一方面又儼然成為不測的政治變數。




Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flip-flopping on Kuang Li-Chen's Impeachment

Flip-flopping on Kuang Li-Chen's Impeachment
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 15, 2009

The Control Yuan has moved to impeach Taitung County Commissioner Kuang Li-chen twice in less than one month. The first time the motion to impeach failed, by a vote of four to six. The second time it passed, by a vote of six to five.

The changed outcome of the impeachment motion reveals the Control Yuan's lack of consistency regarding real world justice. This resulted in such strange phenomenon as "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," which violates the principle of "non bis in idem," or "double jeopardy." It also puts the Control Yuan's commitment to due process in question.

All eyes and ears are on the Kuang Li-chen case. The case will affect the image of the Control Yuan. After the impeachment motion passed, most Control Yuan members suggested that neither the results nor the details of the commission's resolution should be announced. This sort of secrecy has cast a dark cloud of suspicion over the case.

On December 19, the Control Yuan reviewed the Kuang Li-chen case for the first time. It passed a resolution calling for the correction of faulty procedures. It rejected a resolution calling for the impeachment of any individual. The majority opinion was that Kuang Li-chen may have applied for more public funds than allowed, but only a mere 20,000 NT more (approximately $600 US). Besides, the offense may have been committed by her subordinates without her knowledge. Therefore the Control Yuan chose not to impeach. But once their decision was reported, accusations of "Selective prosecution of Greens, but not Blues!" emerged. Rumors that someone had lobbied the Control Yuan emerged. This may have contributed to the second impeachment review commission.

The second impeachment review commission essentially overturned the first commission's findings. It clearly violated due process by breaching the principle of "non bis in idem." The Control Yuan now look like the father and son in the old "Father and Son Riding the Donkey" fable, flip-flopping repeatedly to avoid public condemnation. Needless to say, it is also turning into a major constitutional issue.

The first motion to impeach failed. What went wrong? Did Control Yuan members make a serious error in judgment? If they didn't, then why the second motion to impeach? If they did, what was the legal basis for the second motion to impeach? Who should bear responsibility for the failure of the original motion to impeach? Was the failure to pass the first time the result of lobbying, as rumored? If it was, how can the Control Yuan allow commissioners suspected of undue influence to get off scot-free? How can it allow these same commissioners to re-open the case and reverse their finding? If the failure to pass the first time was not the result of lobbying, how can they deny the legitimacy of the first review? The decision not to make public the findings of the impeachment process defies all sense and logic. How can such a decision not make the commissioners laughing stocks?

The Kuang Li-chen case is rife with drama. Government officials' and elected representatives' overseas "fact-finding missions" are usually nothing more than junkets. Kuang Li-chen found herself in the crosshairs because of her "in your face" personality, and because her husband went with her on the trip. The fact that she refused to cancel a trip as a typhoon was approaching Taiwan made her the target of public criticism. Therefore, the Control Yuan faces a dilemma. If Kuang Li-chen can be be impeached on this basis, then a defective system has done her an injustice. Hardly any government officials and elected representatives can pass muster under such standards. But on the other hand, Kuang Li-chen did misappropriate public funds. She did allow her spouse to travel with her at public expense. To claim she did nothing wrong fails the test of public accountability. In other words, the Control Yuan may choose to impeach Kuang Li-chen, or it may not. Either decision can be justified, provided it is arrived at openly and honestly. But now that rumors of lobbying have spread, and the Control Yuan has flip-flopped from no impeachment to impeachment, its reputation and image have surely been damaged.

The United Daily News was the first to severely criticize Kuang Li-chen's actions. Such behavior is subject to public criticism through political commentaries. But impeachment and other legal actions are another matter. Today the same Control Yuan has changed its position from no impeachment to impeachment. Naturally the public is going to have serious questions about the Control Yuan's procedural mechanisms. After all, if the Control Yuan can change from no impeachment to impeachment today, what's to stop it from changing from impeachment to no impeachment tomorrow?

Kuang Li-chen was not impeached in December last year. The Control Yuan may not reconsider impeachment merely because public pressure demands it. If Kuang Li-chen was not impeached last year as a result of lobbying, the Control Yuan cannot compensate by seeking to impeach today. Instead it should suspend the suspected Control Yuan commissioners.

The Control Yuan must have the courage to impeach when impeachment is called for. It should also have the courage not to impeach when it is not. We are not here to discuss whether to impeach Kuang Li-chen. Whether one impeaches her or not, the process must be open and above board, free from political influence, free from the pressure of mob sentiment stirred up by populist demagogues. This is why the flip-flopping over the Kuang Li-chen case is baffling. If members of the impeachment commission had reason not to impeach initially, how can they justify reversing themselves? If their current decision to impeach is correct, then obviously the first time they made a mistake. Were they subjected to lobbying pressures? The Control Yuan must answer to the public. Instead it has chosen to keep its decision to impeach secret from the public. Whom is the Control Yuan kidding? Itself?

Why has the system flip-flopped repeatedly? Why has due process become so chaotic? The Control Yuan must realize the damage the Kuang case has done to its reputation and image. It must swiftly repair the damage.

彈劾鄺麗貞 監院出爾反爾
2009.01.15 03:08 am




十二月十九日,監察院第一次審查鄺案,通過了對事的糾正,否決了對人的彈劾。當時,多數意見認為,鄺麗貞縱使溢領公費,金額「僅二萬元」,且可能是「下屬 所為,長官並不知情」,因而彈劾案未通過。消息發布後,「辦綠不辦藍」的譏評四起,更傳出有人關說監委;這也許是促成第二次彈劾的原因。


第一次彈劾案未過,究竟出了什麼問題?是否參與的監委認事用法有嚴重偏誤?若非,為何有第二次彈劾案?若是,則又是循何種法制進行第二次彈劾?而原本未通 過彈劾的審查會又當負何種責任?或者,竟然是因外傳的「關說」而使第一次審查出現偏差?若是,監察院豈能放過涉嫌關說的監委,又豈能以再開審查會來翻案? 若非,則又何以否定首次審查的正當性?至於居然決定不對外公開通過彈劾的審查決議,則更是違情悖理的行徑,豈能不落人話柄?

鄺案頗具戲劇性。就情節論,政府官員或民意代表出國考察,常是旅遊與公務魚目混珠;鄺麗貞之釀成話題,和她「代夫出征」的背景與人格特質有關,尤其碰上颱 風過境,遂成眾矢之的。因此,監察院在審查鄺案時,確實極易陷於兩難:倘若鄺麗貞的情節可以彈劾,則因制度陷人於不義,禁受不起此類檢驗的官員及民代誠屬 不知凡幾;但是,反過來說,倘以鄺麗貞溢支公帑,又以公費攜眷出國等情節論,若謂無違官箴,恐亦難向社會交代。也就是說,監察院無論彈不彈劾鄺麗貞,或許 均有憑恃,只要光明正大即可;但如今卻在關說的流言中,出現從不彈劾變成彈劾的反覆,對監院的聲譽形象不能謂沒有傷害。

對於鄺麗貞的相關行為,本報曾是最早提出嚴厲批評的媒體之一。不過,其行為在政治上可受公評,但在彈劾或法律層次的處理卻是另一回事;而如今在同一監察院 中,從不彈劾演變成彈劾,當然易使社會公眾對監院的運作機制發生質疑。因為,倘若監院今天能將不彈劾變成彈劾,另日是否也能將彈劾變成不彈劾?


監察院應有敢於彈劾的擔當,亦應有敢於不彈劾的擔當。我們在此並非討論應否彈劾鄺麗貞,但不論彈劾與否,其共同前提是,必須光明正大,不受政治力干擾,亦 不受民粹氣氛影響。正因如此,鄺案的反覆令人不解。倘若當初不彈劾有理由,豈可出爾反爾又彈劾;倘若如今彈劾是對的,則第一次不彈劾為何發生如此差誤,又 究竟是否受關說影響,監院不能不對外有個交代。至於弄到彈劾通過卻欲對外祕而不宣的地步,監察院難道是掩耳盜鈴?


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is Protectionism About to Raise Its Ugly Head?

Is Protectionism About to Raise Its Ugly Head?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 14, 2009

The entire world is attempting to rescue the economy. Interest rate competition has brought rates down to nearly zero. Monetary policy is no longer effective as a stimulus measure. The only methods left are government-to-business financial relief, or exchange rate depreciation. These can all be regarded as protectionism of a sort. In 2009, protectionism has become a growing concern.

The contraction in demand has led to a sharp recession. Every nation's production capacity is greater than its production. Every nation's production exceeds its need. A labor surplus has led to large-scale layoffs. All these provide a breeding ground for protectionism. Since mid-December last year, the world's governments have clearly tilted in this direction.

‧ French Prime Minister Mr. Sarkozy recently said Europe must take all necessary measures to protect its manufacturing sector, otherwise it will become an "industrial ruin." In other words, protectionist sentiment has significantly increased.

‧ In the United States the media, including professional journals, have increasingly made mainland China the scapegoat for the recession. Susan Schwab, US Trade Representative to the WTO, has officially accused mainland China of providing cash subsidies and low-interest loans to its industries. She has accused mainland China of dumping machinery and clothing. The United States International Trade Commission has officially proposed increasing import duties on China's iron and steel products from 35% to 40%. Rumors have emerged that before stepping down, the Bush Administration deliberately encouraged Israel toi invade the Gaza Strip, leaving a mess for Barack Obama to clean up. Meanwhile, these two major protectionist measures are messes the Bush administration has left for the new president to clean up in the economic and trade realm.

‧ Mainland China's Ministry of Commerce decided to initiate anti-dumping investigations before New Year's Eve. It will investigate dumping of European carbon steel components widely used in automobiles, electronic equipment, heavy machinery, and building construction. If necessary, it will appeal to the WTO. In recent years mainland China's iron and steel industry has developed rapidly. It now accounts for 40% of global production. Related precision industries have also made rapid progress. Advocates consider this a means of protecting its own precision industries.

The trends cited above are merely the most conspicuous. This is the most serious recession in 70 years. It is not part of the ordinary business cycle, but represents the bursting of a bubble economy, caused by global tightening. That is why although the world has spent several trillion dollars to rescue the economy, none of the measures have been effective. Instead, the situation has become increasingly serious. According to the World Bank's latest assessment, global trade this year will decline 2.1 percent. Unemployment on the other hand, has been climbing. Last year unemployment in the United States increased from 6.7% in November to 7.2% in December. In the Eurozone unemployment currently stands at 7.8%. In Germany it stands at 7.6%. The most destructive aspect of the recession is the surge in the number of unemployed. Therefore current efforts have shifted from saving the stock market and saving home mortgages, to preventing unemployment and saving industries. If other means of rescuing the economy fail to take effect immediately, especially regarding unemployment, protectionism will be the most expedient means populist demagogues use to rally political support. The temptation is not hard to understand, especially for the incoming Barack Obama, who will be inaugurated less than a week from today. The 1930 Smoot Hawley Tariff Act victimized the entire world. History must not be allowed to repeat itself.

Therefore, the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be Barack Obama first political test upon taking office. Protectionism will be his first economic test. In recent weeks, The U.S. Edition of Business Week this made this its cover story. The importance of the issue must not be underestimated, especially in Washington and Beijing.

For the past twenty-five years, the US has been sitting pretty. Its imports have increased from 9 percent GDP to 18 percent. Meanwhile its manufacturing sector workforce has fallen from 17 million to 13 million. According to U.S. statistics, mainland China's clothing exports to the U.S. constitute over half the market. Over a dozen important iron and steel plants in the United States have been shut down. Mainland China's iron and steel pipe exports to the U.S. have increased by the month. This is why liberals advocate protectionism. Obama has expressed protectionist sentiments over South Korean's automobile imports and mainland Chinese products. How he resolves the contradiction between free trade and unemployment is worth watching. We will know soon enough. Obama also advocates resorting to deficit spending to save the economy. US government debt will reach 1.2 trillion USD this year. The U.S. has repeatedly asked mainland China and oil-producing countries use their foreign exchange reserves to patch up the holes in the US economy.

When the time comes, will the United States use protectionism as a means of applying pressure vis a vis foreign exchange? Will it be held hostage by liberals committed to protectionism? These bear close watching. Once protectionist policies are implemented, they will worsen the global economic crisis. No economy, including Taiwan's, will be spared.

2009.01.14 03:31 am




‧在美國方面,除了媒體及專門著作以中國大陸為衰退替罪羔羊的言論升高外,美國貿易談判代表席瓦布已正式向世貿組織提出指控,宣稱中國以現金補助及低利貸 款的方式,讓機具及成衣對美傾銷;此外,美國的「國際貿易委員會」已正式提議,將對中國鋼鐵製品提高進口稅,由百分之卅五到百分之四十。已有論者指出,布 希政府在臨去之前鼓勵以色列入侵加薩走廊,是在國際問題上出難題給歐巴馬;而兩項重大的保護主義措施,則是在經貿問題上給新總統出難題。

‧中國大陸商務部已在元旦前夕做出決定,將對廣泛使用在汽車工業、電子設備、機械設備及建築方面的歐洲碳鋼製零件展開反傾銷調查,必要時亦可能向世貿組織 提控。近年來中國鋼鐵工業發展快速,已佔全球產量百分之四十,連帶的精密工業系列也在快速進步中;因而,論者已認為這是它對本身精密工業的一項保護手段。

以上所舉的動向,只不過是其犖犖大者。根據目前的全球大趨勢,這波七十年來最嚴重的衰退,由於它並非一般景氣循環的現象,而是眾多經濟泡沫破裂所造成的全 球緊縮;因而,儘管全球已砸下數兆美元救經濟,卻彷彿均未見效,反倒是問題日趨嚴重。根據世界銀行最新評估,今年全球貿易將減退百分之二點一,而各國失業 率已不斷攀高。美國去年十一月為百分之六點七,十二月已增至七點二;歐元區目前已達七點八,其中的德國也有七點六。由於衰退時最具有破壞力的乃是失業人數 激增;於是,目前全球救經濟的步調,已由救股市、救房貸,逐漸往救失業和救產業的方向移動。由於其他救經濟的手段並不能立即生效,而救失業則最能立竿見 影,在這方面,保護主義則是最民粹且廉價的手段。特別是對於不到一周後即將就任的歐巴馬,此種誘惑也就不難理解了。但一九三○年的「史穆特—豪雷法案」, 其實是使全球受害的保護法案,這歷史不容重演。


過去廿五年,美國長處順境,因而它的進口由佔GDP百分之九暴增為百分之十八;而相對應的,則是其製造業就業人口在廿五年內由一千七百萬降為一千三百萬。 據美方統計,中國成衣輸美市佔率已超過一半;而就在美國重要鋼鐵廠已陸續關閉一打左右之際,中國鋼鐵管輸美卻逐月大增。這都是自由派提倡保護主義的理由。 由於歐巴馬本人在過去這段期間對南韓汽車、中國製品都有過具保護主義傾向的表態,因而他在自由貿易與救失業這兩個矛盾的課題上將如何處理,自然動見觀瞻。 此外,歐巴馬主張赤字救經濟,政府債務今年將達一點二兆美元;邇來美方已多次放話,要求中國及石油生產國將外匯存底挪為挹注美國破洞之用。


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In the Name of Reform: Chen Shui-bian and Lin Chuan's Moral Calculus

In the Name of Reform: Chen Shui-bian and Lin Chuan's Moral Calculus
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 13, 2009

The Executive Yuan's review of the ""Second Financial Reform Program"" scandal has been released. It identifies Chen Shui-bian, and his high-handed behavior, as the culprit. His behavior caused agencies within the Executive Yuan to take "hasty and ill-considered" actions. Actually, reading the Executive Yuan's report was unnecessary. This was already common knowledge. The Executive Yuan forsook its responsibilities because the president intervened. It gave free rein to collusion between the government and businessmen. That is what most requires soul-searching.

The "Second Financial Reform" scam was perpetrated on Minister of Finance Lin Chuan's watch. He is undoubtedly the most closely watched player in this unfolding drama. Lin Chuan was well respected within academia. During his tenure in the Chen Shui-bian administration, he ostensibly did his best to remain clean. Reports are he considered the Chen family's demands intolerable, and eventually considered resigning. But from another perspective, perhaps Lin's clean reputation provided Ah-Bian with a credible looking cover for his phony reform program.

The Special Investigation Group was just about to question Lin Chuan, Chen Shu, and others, when Lin Chuan publicly admitted that Chen Shui-bian approached him regarding at least two official appointments. The first time Ah-Bian wanted Lin Chuan to make Diana Chen Chairman of Grand Cathay Securities. Lin allowed her only to serve as Chairman of the 101 Tower. The other time Ah-Bian wanted Lin Chuan to make Nice Group Vice President Chen Ching-jen Director of Development for Kim Min Shares. Lin agreed only to make him Director of Public Shares.

Lin has underscored how he courageously "resisted" Chen Shui-bian's directives. But Lin's statement can be read a different way. First, Chen Shui-bian directly ordered financial institutions to "merge within a specified time, and reduce their numbers below a specified limit." He even became involved in the detailed implementation. Secondly, Chen Shui-bian accepted bribes from financial consortiums. He even collected "broker's fees" for placing certain people in certain positions. Third, Lin Chuan's "resistance" against Chen Shui-bian was half-hearted. It was a "soft response." He may not have complied fully with Ah-Bian's directives. But Diana Chen and Chen Chin-juen's appointments met most of Chen Shui-bian's demands.

When the ""Second Financial Reform" scam was being promoted, the FSC had yet to be established. Everyone knew this was the Ministry of Finance's purvue. The public repeatedly criticized the "merge within a specified time, and reduce their numbers below a specified limit" provision as unreasonable. The Executive Yuan utterly disregarded right and wrong, professionally and constitutionally. Instead it allowed itself to be ordered about by Chen Shui-bian. Lin Chuan may have passively resisted in response to some of Ah-Bian's demands. Lin Chuan did not leave behind much evidence by which he could be prosecuted. But he watched idly as financial consortiums came and went through the back door, and made rigged acquisitions. Can Lin Chuan really sleep knowing he facilitated such "financial reforms?"

The "Second Financial Reform" scam was made possible precisely because Lin Chuan was on board. That is why the public feels even more deeply betrayed. Had the finance minister been a third rate bureaucrat, public skepticism might have laid bare the lie of Chen Shui-bian's "reform." The DPP might not have played along with it. A bad policy might have been stil-born. Chen Shui-bian might not have fallen to the level he has today. Chen Shui-bian used Lin Chuan's reputation to whitewash his "reform" package, to cover up his ugly greed. The result was the pillaging of national wealth, the betrayal of reforms, and an absence of accountability. Lin Chuan insists he strongly resisted Ah-Bian's wishes. But the outcome tells a different story. Lin cannot whitewash his abetting of Chen Shui-bian's perversions of justice.

The "Second Financial Reform" scam would become the root of the president's corruption and dereliction of duty. It represented the gross abuse of power by a populist president, and an ROC constitutional crisis. This is something the ruling and opposition parties must contemplate. Lin Chuan, an official who supposedly cherished his reputation, watched passively as Ah-Bian enriched himself from the public coffers in the name of "reform." Let this disabuse the public about the myth of the "good official" with a reassuring "positive image." Let us get back to basics. Let us talk turkey. Only then can we avoid being deceived.

Have we already forgotten Lee Yuan-tse's "upward progress," which led to eight years of "precipitous decline?" He has yet to offer an apology. Have we forgotten Huang Fang-yen's vigorous support of Chen Shui-bian? He promised to look after the Chen family until his death. Yet now he has flown, far from the coop. These men were once the public's hope. They may not have intended to deceive the public. But they unwittingly found themselves trapped within Ah-Bian's web of lies, and were unable to extricate themselves. We must remain clear-eyed. We must see through the smokescreen of political charisma rooted in political power. Only then can we avoid being deceived.

Look at the "Second Financial Reform" scam. People have arrived at their own conclusions about Chen Shui-bian and Lin Chuan. But what's harder to predict is what will happen when such people are put together in a volatile mix.

2009.01.13 02:04 am


探 討這項問題,在二次金改期間擔任財長的林全,無疑是最受矚目的關鍵角色。林全過去在學界風評不錯,任職扁政府期間也頗惜羽毛,甚至傳出他最後是無法忍受扁 家之需索,終而掛冠求去。但換一個角度看,或許正因為林全的形象如此,反而使阿扁可藉其招牌之「掩護」上下其手,假改革之名欺瞞社會。


林 全的聲明,雖旨在強調他如何「抗拒」陳水扁的指令,但人們卻可以讀出不同的訊息:一,陳水扁不僅直接下令金融機構「限時限量」併購,甚至介入各項執行細 節;二,陳水扁除收受金控財團的購併賄款,他也可能在安插個別人事上索取不同額度的「仲介費」。三,林全對陳水扁的抗拒,其實只算半迎半拒的「軟因應」。 他雖未完全遵照扁的指令行事,但以陳敏薰、陳鏡仁的安排,卻也都執行了七、八分,變相滿足了陳水扁的要求。

二次金改推動時,金管會尚未成 立,誰都知道此事是財政部的職掌。當時輿論一再批評「限時限量」政策不當,整個行政部門卻不顧專業是非及憲政分際,甘願受阿扁驅遣。就算林全對扁的若干要 求作了「消極抵抗」,在官樣的行政作業上也未留下太多把柄,但眼看財團走後門輸送賄賂,最後完成了不公不義的購併;林全對自己手中完成這樣的「金融改 革」,會覺得心安嗎?

也正因為是林全,二次金改落得如此下場,才更讓人扼腕。如果當時的財長是一個風評不佳的官僚,外界一質疑,陳水扁的 改革謊言可能很快被戳破,民進黨也不會為之護航包庇,惡政即可能胎死腹中,阿扁也不致落至今天的下場。然而,由於阿扁借了林全的頭面來掛牌,美化了「改 革」的包裝,遮蓋了自己醜陋的私欲,才使得國家資源和改革正義橫遭竊取,而追究莫及。林全雖自謂曾極力抗拒扁意,但從結局看,他無法撇清自己的消極放任導 致了陳水扁的倒行逆施。

二次金改淪為總統貪汙瀆職的淵藪,一方面是民粹總統濫權的結果,反映了台灣的憲政空窗危機,這有待朝野嚴肅檢討。 從另一方面看,林全作為一個珍惜羽毛的官員,卻變成扁藉改革之名行斂財之實的袖手旁觀者,也提醒台灣人民要打破「好官」、「形象牌」的迷思;只有回到事實 原點就事論事,談論國政才不會產生「人的錯覺」。

若不健忘,李遠哲登高號召「向上提升」,卻導致八年的「向下沉淪」,他至今猶未道歉。再 看黃芳彥力挺扁珍,自稱會照顧其一家至死,忽而卻遠走海外。他們原皆有些民間清望,也未必有意欺世盜名,卻在不知不覺中困陷於扁的權力巨網和虛妄神話,而 難以自拔。人民必須有清澈之眼,看穿政治名望與權位相生相長的混沌,才不致為表相迷惑。


Monday, January 12, 2009

Rescuing the Economy: Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Rescuing the Economy: Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 12, 2009

The latest trade statistics, released in December, show that the government has again underestimated the impact of the global financial crisis on the economic outlook. Now, in the face of an even worse economic chill, the government can no longer afford to sit by and watch. It can no longer afford to be complacent. It must plan for the worst, while hoping for the best. It must redouble its efforts to rescue the economy.

Last week the Ministry of Finance announced that December exports totalled only 13.6 billion USD, 42% less than the same month two years ago. This established a new record for the largest monthly decline in history. The DGBAS initially estimated that exports would decline 8% compared to the previous quarter. It has now increased that estimate to 25%. This means the economy declined even more than the 1.7% expected during the previous quarter. These numbers raise at least three warning flags. One. The economy is rapidly deteriorating. Two. The government overestimated the last quarter's economic performance. Three. Maintaining a growth rate of at least 2% this year will be difficult. The risk of recession is rising. Its duration may be longer.

This is not the first time the government has misjudged the situation. The last time was in August, just before the financial crisis struck. July showed symptoms of a deficit. But a still optimistic DGBAS nevertheless forecast a growth rate above 3 percent for the second half. Therefore it was unprepared for the coming crisis. It was unable to implement countermeasures to increase domestic demand and to build local public infrastructure. Its administrative efficiency was low. It has now blundered again. This means its previous programs to revitalize the economy were already inadequate. Naturally they are also in adequate to meet future needs. The government's efforts to rescue the economy must be redoubled and accelerated to resist the impact of the recession.

Less than half an hour after the central bank released its export data, it announced an emergency rate cut of 0.5%. It allowed the discount rate to fall to 1.5%, only 0.25% above the historic low. It wanted to keep interest rates low to defend the NTD and prevent further deterioration in exports. But interest rates and exchange rates are a double-edged sword. Set them too low and they will do Taiwan's economy more harm than good. The central bank has no more room for interest rate cuts. The next step may be to print banknotes and stuff them into people's pockets. The U.S. Federal Reserve is already doing this. But the side effects are serious. The central bank will resort to it only as a last resort.

Now that the effectiveness of monetary policy has been exhausted, governments are redoubling their efforts to rescue their economies. Take United States President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus package. Unemployment and retail sales have hit record lows. The size of the package has increased from 200 billion USD when Obama was elected, to one trillion USD. During Bush's term of office, Congress passed a 700 billion USD injection of liquidity into the market. Altogether the United States has invested 8.5 trillion dollars in rescuing its economy. This is more than it spent on all its wars combined. Clearly the United States considers the economic recession "Public Enemy Number One."

Mainland China has decided to spend nearly 600 billion USD to stimulate domestic demand. Local governments have also redoubled their efforts. The Eurozone has approved the use of at least 1.5% of its GDP, approximately 180 billion USD, to stabilize demand within the region. Japan, South Korea and India have also been steadily increasing the size of their stimulus packages. All these moves indicate that the swiftness of the economic decline exceeded all expectations. Will it become a second Great Depression? In order to combat indifference, governments are clearly anticipating the worst. Better too much than not enough. Better late than never.

Yet on Taiwan, even after the export statistics were announced, only the central bank took action. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, whose direct responsibility is to address such matters, expressed "surprise." Its plans for stimulation of demand remained unchanged. At the Executive Yuan meanwhile, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, after passing this year's economic reconstruction plans, gave himself a pep talk. He said there was no room for pessimism. At the same time he offered no policy in response. When speaking to the public, the government cannot of course be pessimistic. But when facing problems, the government must anticipate the worst. Only such pessimism can force one to treat problems more seriously, anticipate them a little earlier, and deal with them in greater depth. Bit by bit, one can narrow the gap between policy and implementation, avoid nasty surprises, and give Taiwan the opportunity to rejuvenate its economy more rapidly.

Therefore the government must act immediately. It must develop new programs to rescue the economy. It must not take consumer vouchers, tax cuts, cross-Strait direct links, and central bank interest rate cuts for granted. It must act as if these policies are not in place. It must remain pessimistic. In particular, the government must aggressively promote the five year, 500 billion NTD special budget for public works to be adopted this week. It must also increase its administrative efficiency, and undergo intensive reorganization. Spending the money now rather than next year will have an entirely different effect on the economy.

2009.01.12 02:29 am


財政部上周公布,十二月出口只有一百卅六億美元,較前年同月劇減近四成二,創下歷年單月最大減幅;這使得上季出口降幅,由主計處估計的百分之八,大舉擴大 到百分之廿五,意謂上季經濟將比預期的衰退百分之一點七還差。因此,這個數字發出至少三項紅色警報,不只呈現景氣惡化之速、凸顯政府高估上季經濟表現的錯 誤,也預示今年台灣經濟成長率「保二」困難,衰退風險正在升高、衰退期間可能更長。

這已不是政府第一次誤判情勢。上一次是在金融海嘯前的八月,七月出現逆差已見苗頭,但主計處還是樂觀預測下半年能維持百分之三以上的成長,以致面對風暴措 手不及,擴大內需及地方建設等多項對策未能即時接上,執行率也因此偏低;如今再錯,代表之前所有振興經濟方案的依據已經偏差,方案的效果自然也不足以因應 未來的需要,政府的救經濟作為必須加倍、加速,頑強抵抗不景氣的衝擊。

就像中央銀行,在出口數據公布後不到一小時,緊急宣布降息兩碼(零點五個百分點),讓重貼現率降到百分之一點五,距歷史最低只剩半碼,主要目的就是要以低 利率維持弱勢新台幣,防止出口再惡化。但是,利率、匯率都是雙面刃,過低的雙率對台灣經濟是弊大於利,央行加碼降息救經濟的空間已所剩無幾;接下來,就可 能要走到直接印鈔票、塞進民眾口袋的地步,美國聯邦準備理事會(Fed)已在這麼做,但因後遺症大,央行非到萬不得已不會用。

事實上,在貨幣政策幾乎用到盡頭後,各國都在加碼救經濟。像美國候任總統歐巴馬的經濟刺激方案,隨著失業、零售等迭創歷史最差紀錄的數據一一公布,其規模 就從當選之初的二千億美元一路倍增,如今已達一兆美元,連同布希任內國會通過的七千億美元、Fed為市場注入的流動性,美國共投入八點五兆美元拯救經濟, 超過歷次戰爭支出總和,美國顯然已將「經濟衰退」當成頭號敵人。

除了美國,中國大陸已決定動用近六千億美元擴大內需,各地方政府還要加碼;歐元區也通過至少動用區內生產毛額(GDP)百分之一點五、約一千八百億美元的 資源,穩定區內需求;日本、韓國、印度等,也都在不斷上調財政擴張的規模。這一切的舉動顯示,這波經濟下墜之速超乎想像,不管它會否演變成二次大蕭條,各 國顯然是「寧可信其有」,莫不升高對抗力度,寧可多做、絕不少做,即使遲做,也要趕快補做。

然而,出口統計公布後唯一有行動的,還是中央銀行;與貿易業務直接相關的經濟部竟是表示「意外」,拓銷計畫照舊;行政院方面,劉兆玄院長在通過今年經建成 長目標時自勉,強調沒有悲觀的權利,卻還是沒有相應的政策。面對民眾,政府當然不能悲觀;但面對問題,政府卻需要以悲觀為原動力,因為悲觀,才能把問題看 得重一點、想得早一點、準備得多一點、做得深一點,這一點一點的累積,可以縮小政策與執行間的差距,可以避免措手不及,還可以讓台灣更快抓到景氣回春的契 機。

因此,現在政府必須立即研擬新的方案,加碼救經濟;而且,不要把發放消費券、減稅、兩岸大三通、央行降息等政策效益的顯現視為理所當然,而要假設這些政策 未如預期到位時的最悲觀情況;尤其,擴大公共建設條例五年五千億元特別預算本周要通過,政府應集中火力推動,這包括了提高執行效率,並能做密集的配置,同 樣的錢此時花、明年花,對經濟貢獻的效果是截然不同的。

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Third Force: An Impossible Dream?

A Third Force: An Impossible Dream?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 10, 2009

Shih Ming-teh and Lee Teng-hui recently held a secret meeting. Rumor has it the two intend to establish a "Third Force." Both the Blue Camp and the Green Camp scoffed at such reports, saying you can't start a fire with a couple of wet logs.

Actually, the public on Taiwan is disappointed with both the Blue and Green political parties. A "Third Force" isn't out of the question. But a "Shi Li Alliance" is hardly the answer the public was looking for.

Why are Shih Ming-teh and Lee Teng-hui finding it so difficult to generate any political sparks? Shih Ming-teh's political credentials and Quixotic bent have undeniable appeal. Unfortunately his Quixotic bent is also his Achilles Heel. After leading one million "Red Shirt Army" supporters onto the streets, he lost control of them and his organization fell apart, seriously damaging his reputation. Shih Ming-teh's strength is that he is less selfish than most politicians. His weakness is his lack of organizational ability. He now finds it difficult to summon the masses. For the Quixotic Shih to associate himself with the Machievellian Lee, is like sticking a flower in cow dung.

Unable to make it within the KMT, Lee Teng-hui formed the Taiwan Solidarity Union. The Taiwan Solidarity Union wouldn't fly. He is now trying to establish a Third Force. No wonder the public perceives him as a political chameleon. In terms of real world influence, he even lost the crown of "Nativist Godfather" to someone behind bars, Chen Shui-bian. It's curtain time for him on the political stage. What's more, Chen Shui-bian has exposed Lee's own corruption and money-laundering. Prosecutors have many questions they want to ask him. For Lee Teng-hui to talk about the creation of Third Force at at a time like this, looks like an attempt to rally political support to evade criminal prosecution. Few people care about the larger picture. Furtermore, the Shi Lee Meeting was brokered by scandal-ridden Taiwan independence "elder" George T. Chang. If that isn't a marriage made in Hell, what is?

Is there no room for a "Third Force" on Taiwan? Yes and no. The Democratic Progressive Party's eight years of terror tore Taiwan apart. Yet it stubbornly denies any wrongdoing and refuses engage in any soul-searching. It persists in valuing political affiliation over truth and justice. It is going to have a hard time functioning as an effective opposition party. Now let's look at the KMT. The Ma administration has disappointed the public. Yet it can't be bothered to change. It has the support of a supermajority in the Legislature. Yet it never follows up by correcting its many blunders. According to the polls, over 60% of the public does not support any political party. Given such a high percentage, there should be room for a "Third Force."

Let's examine the issue more closely. In fact political evolution on Taiwan over the past twenty years has led to the emergence of a variety of "Third Forces." This includes the New Party and the People First Party. Their split from the KMT even led to the emergence of the TSU. All were efforts to check and balance the two major parties. All were attempts to gain public support outside the KMT and DPP. Unfortunately the development of these parties was often limited by "geneology" or pull. They became pawns at the fringes of the Blue vs. Green power struggle. In the end they either collapsed or lost their unique character. This includes the "Pan-Purple Alliance" and even the "Red Party", the "Third Socialist Party." These organizations or initiatives were all inspired by public discontent, but all failed.

This record reveals a harsh fact. Whenever the two major parties perform badly, the public looks to a "Third Force." It looks to a fresh political wind to clear the air. But the political reality is that the emergence of any Third Force usually hinges on some high-profile figure within the political establishment. One simply cannot expect such people to champion any transcendent values. In fact, everyone on Taiwan would like to transcend Blue and Green. But every time a new political force emerges, it invariably ends up in either the Blue camp or Green camp, intensifying the vicious cycle of struggle and turmoil.

Last year's presidential election essentially consolidated Taiwan's two-party political system. The Blue and Green parties were each presented with the opportunity to develop their own potential, and to spare Taiwan another Warring States Period. Unfortunately, the ruling party failed to meet public expectations, and the opposition party failed to restructure itself as a morally persuasive opposition party. leaving the public disappointed with both. That Shih and Lee wouid attempt to establish a "Third Force" at this time is hardly an accident. Shih Ming-teh in particular spoke of a "Twenty-first Century Taiwan Dream." Isn't that precisely the sort of vision the public expects from both the ruling and opposition parties?

Shih Ming-teh and Lee Teng-hui group may not have created a meaningful "Third Force." But at least they held up a mirror. They forced the Blue and Green political parties to acknowledge the public's dissatisfaction. They forced them to consider their own responsibility at this moment in history.

2009.01.10 04:30 am



何以說施明德和李登輝已難再掀起政治風潮呢?施明德的從政資歷和浪漫性格,原具有其社會號召力;可惜浪漫性格也是他的致命傷,尤其他領導百萬紅衫軍倒扁運 動最後因組織失控而瓦解,其魅力也大受損傷。施明德的長處在於他較少一般政治人物的私心私欲,短處則在他不耐深度組織耕耘;且不說他如今已難再召喚群眾, 與李登輝合作更是一朵鮮花插在牛糞上。

至於李登輝,玩不成國民黨搞台聯,台聯搞不成又想玩第三勢力,留下的只是政治變色龍的形象。再論實際影響力,他在本土教主的爭奪戰中竟然敗於繫獄的陳水扁 之手,如今在政治舞台上也已到了謝幕的時刻。更何況,陳水扁咬他洗錢貪汙,還有許多疑點等待司法調查;李登輝此時談籌組第三勢力,恐怕是找尋政治憑藉以備 對抗司法者多,真正關注大局者少。再看,施、李之會,竟是弊案纏身的台獨大老張燦鍙牽線,那將是如何奇特的一部拼裝車?

儘管如此,能說台灣沒有「第三勢力」存在的空間嗎?這並不是一個「無」或「有」的答案。看當前的政治,民進黨不僅對執政八年撕裂台灣的惡行毫無反省,且至 今堅持顏色問政,這也使它成為一個稱職的在野黨都有困難。再看國民黨,馬政府執政表現讓人民失望,卻始終不設法改善,又仗著國會過半的護航,施政凸槌卻不 追究。根據媒體民調,民眾表態「不支持任何政黨」的比率已超過六成;這麼高的比率,難道不是「第三勢力」的空間?

進一步檢視,台灣過去廿年的政治發展,其實可發現許多「第三勢力」的變形品種。包括新黨、親民黨從國民黨的分裂,乃至台聯的成立,都是針對兩大黨的制衡與 反叛而生,意圖爭取不同於國、民兩黨的第三類的群眾。可惜這些政黨後來的發展,或受制於「血緣」,或受限於「感情」,均變成藍、綠板塊的邊緣附庸,淪為他 們的棋子,最後終告瓦解或失去獨立風格。不僅如此,包括「泛紫聯盟」乃至「紅黨」、「第三社會黨」的組織或倡議,也都是民間在同一脈絡下的發想,亦均未成 功。

這些歷史,指出了一個苦澀的事實:每當兩大黨表現惡劣,人民對「第三勢力」的渴望就會升高,期待更清新的力量來扭轉現狀。然而,在政治現實中,第三力量的 擴張卻往往依附著鮮明的人脈浮沉,而無法提煉為更高的價值理念。其實,超越藍綠是台灣人民的共同夢想,但每有不同政治力量出現時,卻只能依附藍綠,加深鬥 爭和動盪的痛苦,這已成為一個難解的封閉循環。

去年大選之後,台灣「兩黨政治」其實已基本成形,藍綠兩黨原本有很好的機會各自發展經營,使台灣的政治免於重淪戰國割據。可惜,執政黨未能滿足人民對效能 政府的期待,在野黨又未能以積極作為重整在野形象,雙雙讓人失望。施李籌組「第三勢力」在此時傳出並非偶然,尤其不該輕忽施明德提出建構「廿一世紀的台灣 夢」,那不正是朝野兩黨應向人民提供的願景嗎?


Friday, January 9, 2009

"Yet To Be Reunified" Offers More Creative Possibilities than "Immediate Reunification"

"Yet To Be Reunified" Offers More Creative Possibilities than "Immediate Reunification"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 9, 2009

Hu Jintao said, "The two sides of the Taiwan Strait can explore pragmatic political relations, under special circumstances under which the nation has yet to be reunified." This would seem to be the first time a new issue has been raised since "military security confidence building measures" and a "peace agreement," and leaves considerable room for the imagination.

Hong Kong's implementation of "One Country, Two Systems", has maintained its democratic capitalist system, and is moving toward direct elections of its Regional Governor. If "One Country, Two Systems" were implemented on Taiwan, what would happen to the Republic of China? Would it continue to hold presidential elections? The answer is obvious. Would Beijing have the ROC reduced to electing its own Regional Governor?

This is what we mean when we speak of room for the imagination. For example, the two sides could form a confederation under the "Big Roof Theory." The Republic of China and the People's Republic of China would remain part of One China, even though they were not yet reunified. They would not be reunified into a single nation. This would accord with "special circumstances under which the nation has yet to be reunified." But it would not be "Two Chinas," yet it could also be referred to as "One Country, Two Systems." The leaders of the two sides of the Strait would alternate as president and vice-president of this confederation. As we said, does this not leave considerable room for the imagination? Could this not be considered "political relations in special circumstances under which the nation has yet to be reunified?

This is not the place to discuss a confederation. We merely wish to stress how much room there is for creative possibilities. Taipei has its bottom line. It cannot accept One China as the People's Republic of China. Beijing has its bottom line. It cannot accept de jure Taiwan independence. Between these two bottom lines, the two sides have enormous room in which to maneuver. This would include such arrangements as a confederation.

Hu's Six Points has far reaching possibilities, and has provoked differing responses. As yesterday's editorial noted, Hu has shifted the focus of cross-Strait relations from goal oriented "Eventual Reunification," to process oriented "Peaceful Development." This ought to be acceptable to the majority of people reading this editorial. Actually reunification is not possible in the immediate future, because under current conditions "reunification" for Taipei would amount to annexation. For Beijing on the other hand, premature reunification would mean an intractable and ungovernable Taiwan. Reluctant reunification that destroyed the ROC's democratic achievements would be an irreparable loss for the Chinese nation as a whole. Therefore talk of process oriented "Peaceful Development" is more relevant than talk of goal oriented "Eventual Reunification." As the two sides invest their energy in process, rather than goals, considerable room for creative possibilities will spontaneously emerge.

Yesterday's editorial noted that when Hu Jintao's wrote about process, he addressed a wide range of social, cultural, economic, diplomatic, military, and political issues. If Hu Jintao's "peaceful development of cross-Strait relations" is indeed Beijing's highest priority, then it should respect the ROC's system of democracy. It should make an effort to expand democracy on the mainland. As our editorial the day before yesterday noted, "Peaceful Development is Democratic Development." Hu Jintao pointed out many issues worthy of attention. These include social, cultural, economic, diplomatic, and military issues. Efforts in these areas can influence and guide public opinion in a positive manner, creating solutions to cross-Strait political problems.

Assuming Hu's Six Points were made in good faith, Beijing can demonstrate that good faith through its handling of WHA and ASEAN plus N. ROC participation in WHA relates to Hu's fifth point, "Taiwan's participation in the activities of international organizations." It has also been the focus of public attention on Taiwan in recent years. Beijing has no reason not to respond positively. ROC participation in ASEAN relates to Hu's second point, "Exploring cross-Strait economic cooperation mechanisms as part of the Asia-Pacific region's economic convergence." Postive gestures on these two matters would constitute the most up to date evidence of Beijing's good faith. We must note that if such issues are loaded with political baggage, they may be counter-productive, even destructive. WHA should only be about WHA. ASEAN should only be about ASEAN. Only then can such gestures enhance goodwill in cross-Strait political relations.

This year is the 60th anniversary of divided rule. Cross-Strait issues cannot be resolved in one fell swoop via "Holistic Engineering." They must be resolved step by step by means of "Piecemeal Engineering." Can Beijing shift its attention from goal oriented "reunification" thinking, to process oriented "yet to be reunified" thinking? Is this what Hu meant in his sixth point, "Establish a framework for peaceful development of cross-Strait relations?"

Actually, all processes, at any stage, are also goals. Conversely, even if one has an eventual goal, attempting to achieve that goal merely starts another process. For example, the difficulties encountered by East and West Germany following reunification were more serious than expected. The difficulties ecountered by Taipei and Beijing would be even greater.

For the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, "yet to be reunified" offers more room for the imagination and for maneuveuring than "immediate reunification." It offers more options. Could this be the basis for Hu's Six Points? (End of Series)

2009.01.09 03:26 am



本文所指的想像空間在此。比如說,倘若採邦聯制,即可在「屋頂理論」下,維持中華民國與中華人民共和國的「雖未統一,但同屬一個中國」;而既未「統一」成 為「單一國家」,則亦符合「尚未統一的特殊情況」;且並非「兩個中國」,又可堪稱作「一國兩制」。至於邦聯的正副元首,可由兩岸交互輪替。有沒有這種想像 空間?這算不算「在國家尚未統一的特殊情況下的政治關係」?

此處並非要討論邦聯制,而只是想強調想像的空間可以有多大。若要討論「尚未統一前的兩岸政治關係」,就台灣而言,其底線或許是不能接受「一個中國是中華人 民共和國」;就大陸而言,其底線則是不能接受「法理台獨」。在這兩條底線之間,應當即是廣闊的想像空間與經營平台,其中自可包括了諸如邦聯制等思維與設 計。

胡六點橫看成嶺側成峰,引起見仁見智。但是,如昨日社論所說,他將兩岸關係的重點從「終極統一」(目的論)移至「和平發展」(過程論),則應是多數人可以 接受的解讀。其實,兩岸在未來相當時期中,確實不可能「統一」;因為,對台灣言,在現今條件下,統一就是被併吞;對大陸言,即使統一,也難治理台灣;對 「中華民族」言,則若因勉強統一而摧毀了台灣已經實現的民主成果,那將是無可彌償的「民族」損失。因而,談「終極統一」之目的論,不如談「和平發展」的過 程論;在努力經營「過程」之中,自會出現想像空間。

昨日社論說,胡錦濤對「過程論」多所著墨;他廣泛論及社會、文化、經濟、外交、軍事、政治等領域。倘若胡錦濤所說的「兩岸關係和平發展」是最高準則,則在 政治面,北京除了應當尊重台灣的民主體制,其自身亦應努力提升大陸的民主內涵;正如前天社論所說,「和平發展」就是「民主發展」。相對而言,在政治以外的 各方面,如社會、文化、經濟、外交、軍事等領域,則胡錦濤已指出了諸多可以用心用力之處。我們認為,藉著在這些領域方面的努力,可以影響及引導民意朝正面 思考,進而營造累積解決兩岸政治難題的資源。

倘若胡六點出自真誠,我們認為,在短期內北京可藉WHA及東協加N作出初步印證。WHA是關於第五點的「台灣參與國際組織活動問題」,也是近年台灣視聽的 焦點,北京沒有理由不作回應。東協議題則是關於第二點「探討兩岸經濟共同發展同亞太區域經濟合作機制相銜接的可行途徑」,這應是近期測試北京真誠的關鍵考 題。我們必須提醒:若在這類題材上加添政治黃魚,將有反效果,甚至破局;倘能就WHA論WHA,就東協談東協,則反而能為兩岸關係添增政治好感。

今年是兩岸分裂分治六十周年。兩岸難題不易出現一個一次解決的整體包裹方案(Holistic Engineering),而必然是一個逐步化解歧見的點滴工程(Piecemeal Engineering)。換句話說,北京若能將心力從「統一」之目的論,移轉至「未統一」的過程論,這或許就是胡六點所主張的「建構兩岸關係和平發展框 架」之意旨所在。