Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lee Teng-hui's "Two States" have become "Two Friends"

Lee Teng-hui's "Two States" have become "Two Friends"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 30, 2009

Lee Teng-hui met with James Soong at Tsui Shan Chuang for two and a half hours. He then announced his latest cross-Strait policy perspectives at a meeting of Taiwan Advocates. He said he had "no objection to deepening exchanges between Taiwan and China." He said "Three links, four links, five links are all okay." He said "You are you, I am me, but you and I are friends."

Lee Teng-hui's two moves reveal an attempt to make up for two major blunders he once committed. Internally, Lee Teng-hui's biggest mistake was to purge James Soong, making a Lien/Soong ticket impossible, and causing the KMT to lose power. It also denied Lee Teng-hui a place in history. He was instead relegated to the status of Godfather of Taiwan Independence. Today, Lee and Soong met in secret. Lee Teng-hui probably regrets the decisions he made back then. In terms of cross-Strait relations, Lee Teng-hui's "National Unification Guidelines" was a failure. His "Special Two-States Theory" was a failure. His Taiwan independence path he adopted after stepping down was a failure. He even went so far as to said "I am not an advocate of Taiwan independence. I have never advocated Taiwan independence." Such examples show that on cross-Strait policy, Lee Teng-hui is a chicken without a head. He has now advanced a new cross-Strait theory. He probably hopes to find a new place for himself in the annals of history.

Lee Teng-hui's new cross-Strait theory, has in effect, radically deconstructed his past cross-Strait theory. Lee Teng-hui has finally acknowledged the rise of Mainland China. He no longer talks about the "Coming Collapse of China." He has finally endorsed the Three Links. He no longer talks about his "No Haste, Be Patient" policy. He no longer stresses his "Two States Theory." He now says "You are you, I am me, but you and I are friends." In fact, such views were forseeable 20 years ago. Lee Teng-hui was in power for twelve years. He has been out of power for nine years. Today, after running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the past 20 years, Lee Teng-hui is finally mouthing words such as these. What is this, if not the very thing Lee himself decried so often and so long? What is this, if not "Taiwan's Sorrow?"

But were it not for Lee Teng-hui's major debacle, we might not have our current domestic political and economic consensus and cross-Strait relations. Lee Teng-hui's squelching of the Lien/Soong ticket brought down the KMT, enabling Chen Shui-bian to seize power with only 39.3% of the vote. But the biggest paradox of all is that an ethnic separatist Taiwan independence political path turned out to be unacceptable not merely to Beijing, but also to mainstream society on Taiwan. In other words, without Lee Teng-hui's "No Haste, Be Patient" policy, and Chen Shui-bian's "Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution," leading Taiwan toward a political and economic impasse, would mainstream society on Taiwan ever have experienced today's awakening?

At the same time, between Beijing and Taipei, we have a thought-provoking paradox. After enduring the thunder and lightning of Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, the Beijing government arrived at a newer and clearer understanding of the Republic of China's political institutions and public mood. This gradually changed its Taiwan policy from one of propaganda attacks and military intimidation, to Hu Jintao's "framework for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations." In retrospect, without Lee Teng-hui bringing down the KMT, how could Lien Chan have made his "ice-breaking journey" and established a KMT/CCP platform? Without Chen Shui-bian's "Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution," and "Plebiscite to Join the UN," would Beijing have been willing to affirm the "92 consensus" advance cross-Strait relations to where they are today? Perhaps if the Lien/Soong ticket had prolonged KMT rule, Lee Teng-hui might still be the power behind the throne. Perhaps the public on Taiwan might still be deadlocked over the issue of reunification vs. independence. Perhaps Beijing's policy of propaganda attacks and military intimidation might still be the same. And so on, and so forth. Is this not the ultimate paradox?

Lee Teng-hui now speaks of "cross-Strait friends." But he has yet to resolve the problems he created with his "Two States Theory." Lee Teng-hui has yet to explain what our national identity ought to be during cross-Strait negotiations. Today Lee Teng-hui says "You are you, I am me, but you and I are friends." He no longer advocates Taiwan independence or "Taiwan and China / One Country on Each Side." Why doesn't Lee Teng-hui repudiate, here and now, his past allegation that the "Republic of China no longer exists?" Why not reaffirm the Republic of China, and on its basis establish cross-Strait relations? Why not desist from criticizing the Ma administration, accusing it of falsifying the meaning of the "92 Consensus?" Why not affirm the "One China, Different Expression" consensus reached by the public on Taiwan? It would be one thing if "One China, Different Expressions" had not been publicly endorsed by Beijing. But to defend the Republic of China is something Taipei must do and can do.

Lee Teng-hui has repudiated almost every one of his past positions on Taiwan independence. But if he refuses to reaffirm the "Republic of China," what will his new cross-Strait theory be based upon? He once advocated Taiwan independence, therefore he repudiated the Republic of China. Now that he has revised his position on Taiwan independence, isn't it time he reaffirmed the Republic of China? Is his sole reason for forsaking Taiwan independence to make friends with Beijing? Will refusing to endorse the Republic of China and "One China, Different Expressions" really prevent Taiwan from becoming what Lee Teng-hui referred to as a "pawn nation?" Will it really prevent Taiwan from being manipulated by Beijing?

Lee Teng-hui's soul searching reflects the plight of the Taiwan independence movement. The DPP's "Consensus Conference on Development Strategy" wants only to debate the Ma administration about ECFA. It is terrified of debating the Ma administration on its Mainland policy. Is this not pathetic? It this not ridiculous?

2009.06.30 05:30 am









Monday, June 29, 2009

Upgrades for Cities? Or Makework for Bureaucrats?

Upgrades for Cities? Or Makework for Bureaucrats?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 29, 2009

With its "examinations," the Executive Yuan has approved the upgrading of three counties and municipalities to the status of Directly Administered Regions. Everyone, especially those from counties and municipalities been selected for upgrading, is excited. They wax eloquent about the imminent improvements in regional well-being upon being upgraded. Alas, we must remind them of an alternate possibility -- bureaucrats may fatten themselves at the public trough.

According to local government guidelines, the upper limit for people on the payroll of a Directly Administered Municipality with population over two million, is 15,400 persons. The Taipei County government currently has about 5,000 civil servants. That means 10,000 more positions will be available. The Taichung County government currently has about 6000 employees. It will be authorized to increase that number by over 9200 persons. The numbers for Kaohsiung County and Kaohsiung City have yet to be determined. Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Chia-chi has vowed to exercise enormous restraint after being upgraded. The Taichung City government may increase the number of its employees by 9,200, Does his vow to increase the number of employees by "only" 1,000 persons qualify as "enormous restraint?" These 1,000 employees represent a 16% increase in the size of its bureaucracy. Taipei City and Kaohsiung City are currently the only two Directly Administered Muncipalities. From top to bottom, the two cities each have over 12,000 employees. Given Parkinson's Law, and the example of Taipei and Kaohsiung, sooner or later these newly upgraded municipalities will increase the number of their employees to the allowable limit.

Some people may ask: What's wrong with increasing the number of civil servants in order to better serve the public following an upgrade? One. Is increasing the number of employees really the only way to improve services given their current bureaucratic structure? Two. Will increasing the number of civil servants necessarily lead to an improvement in the quality of public services? The answer to both these questions is no. At the very least it is not yes.

Payroll expenses for government agencies, from the central government level to the local government level, has long constituted a large percentage of the total budget. Take the central government for example. Annual average payroll expenses exceed 400 billion NT. The payroll is currently between 25 and 30% of the total budget. It exceeds the GDP by over 4 percent. It exceeds the payroll of neighboring countries by approximately 1 to 2%. Take local city and county governments for example. Local municipal governments, including Taipei City and Kaohsiung City, each year spend as much as 400 billion NT on payroll expenses. This figure exceeds even the 300 billion in revenue these cities and counties collect on their own.

If we include cities, towns, and villages, local government payroll expenses exceed 400 billion NT. Death and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) is estimated at over half of 800 billion NT. In other words, the public pays taxes. The government budgets expenditures, over half of which is spent on salaries for civil servants. It is hard to convince the public that the number of civil servants and the extent of the bureaucracy is "inadequate." It is hard to convince the public that civil servants cannot provide better services to the public. They have enough people. Payroll expenses represent a large percentage of total expenditures. If public services are still inadequate, shouldn't administrative efficiency be improved, rather than the bureaucracy expanded?

Many precedents have shown that large increases in government agency staff usually fail to increase the quality of services. Instead "front line management personnel" steering those performing their jobs leads to major improvements. The public spends a great deal of money employing more civil servants. But the actual return and improvement in services is far less than the amount paid. In other words, the more bureaucrats one has on the payroll, the more unproductive work is performed relative to productive work. Therefore, can one really expect a proportionate increase in public services and public well-being once a municipality has been upgraded and the number of employees increased? Obviously not.

Moreover, the government must incur a high cost recruiting civil servants. According to expert figures, the average annual salary of civil servants is 120 million NT, far higher than salaries in the private sector. It is also twice the average per capita income. If one considers pensions, the cost is even higher.

Any organization will find it easy to put on fat, and hard to lose it. But for private enterprise this problem is easily solved. The market solves the problem of organizational bloat. Organizationally bloated, over-capitalized private businesses must eventually review their bottom lines. Therefore companies must conduct massive layoffs, streamlining their organization. Otherwise they will be eliminated by market forces. When the same problems occur within a government bureaucracy, the lack of a market-based bottom line, coupled with bureaucratic inertia, ensure that the problem of organizational bloat is never addressed. Personnel are added but never subtracted. The government has been chanting reform and the streamlining of personnel for over a decade. But , the chants have come to nothing. Any reductions in the number of civil servants are largely the "fruits" of privatizing public enterprises. This is why governmental organizations find it easy to put on fat, and hard to lose it.

The upgrading of cities and counties has its pros and cons. But the blind expansion of a bureaucracy invariably spells disaster. We hope the government will give priority to this issue. In upgrading, one must maintain strict controls. Personnel must provide mutual support, or be transferred as needed to avoid bureaucratic bloat. Once municipal governments have been upgraded, the government must appreciate the financial pressures imposed upon government by the blind increase in governmental agencies and personnel. It must outsource as many public projects to improve or expand public services as possible. Otherwise, upgrading will not bring increased well-being. It will be a prelude to disaster.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.29


依照地方行政機關準則的規定,人口超過二百萬人的直轄市,其員額編列可達一.五四萬人;台北縣現在公務員數約五千人,還有一萬人的增加空間;台中縣市府員工數合計約六千人,尚可再增九千多人;高雄縣市的數字則未知。即使升格後的市政府很克制,如台中市副市長蕭家旗說的,升格後台中市政府員額可增加九二○○ 人,但初期「只要先增加一千人」。很克制吧?但,這一千人代表的其實就是官僚一口氣膨脹了十六%。以目前台北市與高雄市兩個直轄市的市府員工數,都在一萬二千多人上下來看,在「有為者亦若是」的效果下,遲早這些新的直轄市員工數都會靠向這個極端數字。








Friday, June 26, 2009

Does the Democratic Progressive Party Know the Meaning of "Economic Democracy?"

Does the Democratic Progressive Party Know the Meaning of "Economic Democracy?"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 26, 2009

The Democratic Progressive Party maintains that its demand for a popular referendum on ECFA is not "political mobilization," but rather a demand for the establishment of "economic democracy."

We would like to ask the DPP a question. Hundreds of FTAs have been signed the world over. Which one of them has ever required a public referendum? Leave aside the European Union, which involved political integration in addition to economic integration. If ECFA must first undergo a public referendum, then one has already revealed one's hand. How can one possibly negotiate with the autocratic Beijing regime? We would also like to ask the DPP another question. You were in power for eight years. You imposed an "Active Management" policy externally, and a "Second Financial Reform" policy internally. When did you ever demonstrate the slightet iota of respect for "economic democracy?" When did you ever offer anyone the opportunity to vote in a public referendum?

Speaking of "economic democracy," the Democratic Progressive Party really ought to reflect on its dismal record during its eight years in power. During last year's Legislative and Presidential Elections, the DPP suffered disastrous defeats. The United Daily News discussed the issue of economics and democracy in its editorials. Now that the DPP has seen fit to dredge up the issue of "economic democracy," let us revisit the past.

On May 1 of last year, the UDN News published an editorial entitled "Partisan Politics: the Global Economy and the Single Member District." We noted that over the past two decades, democratization on Taiwan was equated wtih nativization. The primary yardstick applied in partisan politics was: Are you an "alien political regime" or a "native political regime?" Do you "love Taiwan" or are you "selling out Taiwan?" Are you "Taiwanese" or "Chinese?" But with the rise of globalization, with the rise of Mainland China, with the gradual marginalization of Taiwan, the primary social issue on Taiwan has become economic well-being. The Republic of China has adopted a free market economy. It must cope with globalization. The public expects those in power to enhance their economic well-being. The Republic of China has implemented democracy on Taiwan. The public can vote to determine the future of the nation. Therefore, a future which will improve their economic well-being will receive voter support. A future which will sabotage their economic well-being will encounter public opposition.

The yardstick for partisan political competition on Taiwan has gradually and imperceptibly changed from "democracy equals nativism" to "democracy equals economics." Democracy is no longer the hostage of nativism. Ballots are now perceived as a means by which the public can better its economic well-being.

Accordingly, in 2008, the power of the Taiwan independence movement swiftly declined. The Democratic Progressive Party lost power in part due to its moral degeneracy. But the main reason it lost power was that its Closed Door Policy and polarization of society undermined the peoples' economic well-being. It ran counter to their new understanding of democracy. The results of the 2008 Legislative and Presidential Elections showed that the ideology of Taiwan independence was perceived as economically destructive. Therefore it was judged "anti-democratic." Because economic independence was infeasible, political independence came under question.

In the past, by applying the values of "democracy equals nativism," Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian could use political ideology to determine economic policy. But now, looking forward, based on the yardstick of "democracy equals economics," political parties must allow their economic agendas to determine their political agendas. Under a free market economy, people choose to survive. Under a democracy, people can determine the future of the nation. Any political path that runs counter to the economic well-being of the public, will find it difficult to gain the support of the public on election day.

If the DPP wants to talk about "economic democracy," the DPP should give the above discussion serious consideration. In other words, "economic democracy" ought to imply rational governance. It should not be reduced to the level of public referenda promoted purely for the sake of populist demagoguery.

Over ten countries have signed FTAs with Beijing. Over 20 countries are about to sign FTAs with Beijing. This framework is the largest economic entity in the world. It encompasses nearly half the population of the world. Taipei must not be excluded from this framework. Therefore, from the perspective of "economic democracy," whether to sign ECFA with Beijing is no longer even an issue. The issue is how to sign to our best advantage and not incur losses. To invoke Su Tseng-chang's words, the DPP cannot regain power "merely by criticizing the KMT." In demanding a referendum, the DPP is engaging in populist demagoguery. It is treating ECFA as an electioneering tool. The Democratic Progressive Party should instead fulfill its proper role as an opposition party. Instead of mindlessly opposing ECFA, it should help ensure that the Ma administration and the Beijing authorities craft an agreement that reflects the interests of the public on Taiwan.

The DPP has breached the subject of "economic democracy." Therefore it ought to reflect on its eight years in office, on how it turned its back on the economic well-being of the public, and therefore on "economic democracy." It should attempt to make a rational connection between economics and democracy in its future political and economic discourse. Didn't the Democratic Progressive Party lose power precisely because it violated the precepts of "economic democracy?"

2009.06.26 06:36 am











Thursday, June 25, 2009

Direct Administration: The Beginning of Problems and Controversy

Direct Administration: The Beginning of Problems and Controversy
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 25, 2009

Amidst widespread public doubts, President Ma Ying-jeou's proposal for the island's three directly administered municipalities and 15 counties has successfully passed through the gauntlet. The Ministry of the Interior has swiftly approved Taipei County, Taichung County, Taichung City, Kaohsiung County, Kaohsiung City for direct administration. The status of Tainan County and Tainan City has been left to the Executive Yuan. Regardless of what the outcome for Tainan County and Tainan City may be, these upgrades will substantially alter Taiwan's political future. The impact may be as significant as the freezing of the Taiwan Provincial Government. The consequences should not be underestimated. For the foreseeable future, the political ecology of the central government and local governments will undergo significant political changes. These warrant our concern.

First let's look at Taipei City and Taipei County. President Ma originally proposed the establishment of a Northern Capital consisting of Taipei City, Taipei County, and Keelung City. Not only would it include Keelung City, it would treat Taipei City and Taipei County as a single metropolitan area. But Taipei City and Taipei County will now each be classified as an independent metropolitan area. Keelung City will not be included. If one looks at the map, such a districting scheme makes absolutely no sense. It also makes future planning and construction more complex due to geographical factors. When Ma Ying-jeou became Taipei Mayor, his municipal planning proposals encountered stubborn opposition from then Taipei County Executive Su Tseng-chang. But Taipei City had substantially more financial resources and political clout than Taipei County. Therefore it did not lead to excessive friction. But Taipei City and Taipei County may one day be ruled by rival political parties. Taipei City and Taipei County may one day have roughly the same financial resources. The administration of their MRT systems, rivers and streams, water supply, and school districts may lead to significant conflict. Today the Executive Yuan has agreed to a two "concentric circles" scheme dividing the two municipalities. But the two "concentric circles" may well turn into two "eccentric circles."

Next, let's compare the political power of the central government and local governments. Once the future heads of the three municipalities have been elected, they will represent at least three million votes, and perhaps as many as six million votes. But the Premiership is a non-elective office. When the central government needs to coordinate local affairs, a Premier without a voter base will confront the Mayor of a Directly Administered Municipality with a broad voter base. Such a Premier may find himself or herself at a considerable sdisadvantage. Over the past eight years, the Mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung have blasted the central government and even threatened to resign over health care costs, the allocation of funds, and other controversial issues. Such confrontations often led to central government surrender. Once so many disparate administrative regions have been established in northern, central, and southern Taiwan, it will be a miracle if a "Yeltsin Effect" does not take over. If 13 or 14 "Yeltsins" align themselves with each other, it will be a simple matter for them to face down the central government. Unless a president with an even larger voter base rides to his rescue on each and every issue, the Premier is going to find his job harder and harder to perform.

Furthermore, counties and cities other than these will find themselves in even weaker positions. The reason cities and counties are in such a hurry to be upgraded is that they are allocated greater resources. Once cities and counties in northern, central, and southern Taiwan are upgraded, they will of course receive more of the budget than before. But since the national budget is fixed, cities and counties other than these will find their budgets reduced. Taipei City and Taipei County actually have Keelung, a "second tier" city sandwiched in between them. South of Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County, one will find Pingtung County, another "second tier" region. By referring to these cities and counties as second tier, we are not discriminating against them. We are merely saying they are being treated as such based on the allocation of funds.

President Ma's intention when he proposed upgrading these cities and counties was to boost their development. But even as he raised the status of these cities and counties, he lowered the status of other cities and counties that were not Directly Administered Regions. This was an example of unwitting blindness on the part of the ruling regime.

Actually, as we mentioned in our previous editorial, besides having issues with land planning, the ROC also has issues with central government allocation of funds to local governments. Ideally financial planning ought to be dealt with first. Upgrading should be dealt with later. Until one has determined who will be the wallflowers and who will be the prom queens, everyone should remain in a veil of ignorance. Candidates for upgrading will then be more likely to consider the plight of the losers. They will be more likely to leave more latitude for themselves in the event they fail to make the grade. Once the list of who is to be upgraded is finalized, opposition will set in. To discuss the allocation of resources at this point will lead to a scramble by each region to maximize its piece of the pie. Rational discussion will be impossible. Unfortunately, we have already inverted the sequence. We have already decided which cities and counties will be upgraded. We have ignored the issue of how financial resources will be allocated. The Executive Yuan has inverted its priorities. Will it be hoisted by its own petard? We will know the answer in a few years.

Those familiar with political maneuvering know that realpolitik is hard to grasp. Some things cannot be rushed. Some things cannot be delayed. Some things make sense but cannot be realized. Some things are unreasonable but progress rapidly and inexplicably. Every political pundit said national land planning could not be rushed, that it would take time. But paradoxically it was the very first campaign promise Ma Ying-jeou fulfilled. No one was surprised when it turned out to be a premature baby with birth defects. What price will Taiwan pay for this half-baked county and municipality upgrade plan? No one knows. The upgrading fiasco is testimony to politicians' myopia.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.25








Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The DPP Denounces the Media but Shirks Its Responsibility

The DPP Denounces the Media but Shirks Its Responsibility
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 24, 2009

The DPP has made a habit of stepping in the blood of the media to reach its goal. This is not news. Years ago the DPP, motivated by of selfish political interest, ripped up newspapers and threatened boycotts. After eight years in power, the DPP regime has left behind a sorrry record of raids against the media, lawsuits against the media, and naked coercion against the media. It resorted to every means at its disposal. This old dog has now run out of tricks. Most disappointing of all, the person who pointed the finger at the media today was none other than Party Chairman Tsai Ing-wen, long assumed to be a moderate centrist. She shirked her duty as leader of the opposition.

Tsai Ing-wen accused the China Times of failing to criticize the Ma administration's policies, while deliberately exaggerating power struggles between the DPP Chairman and DPP leaders. She denied coming to Chen Shui-bian's aid only in order to cling the Party Chairmanship. She accused the China Times of attempting to provoke internecine conflict, and of attempting to undermine the image of the party.

We cannot understand why Chairman Tsai made such allegations. Is the election of the chairman of the DPP a subject that the media is not permitted to report and comment on? Did Chairman Tsai read the China Times? If she did, she knows perfectly well the China Times never said the DPP signature drive was launched in order to consolidate Tsai's position as party chairman. Why did she think it was? Could it be she has deep feelings of insecurity? Could it be she harbors an inordinate hosility towards the China Times? We do not wish to speculate. We merely wish to remind Chairman Tsai that the Chairmanship of the DPP has always been a focus of media attention. It makes no difference whether the DPP is power or in the opposition. Years ago, when other media dared not speak on behalf of the Democratic Progressive Party, the China Times held a debate on the Democratic Progressive Party Chairman election. It did so for a simple reason. Taiwan needs a healthy opposition party.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Progressive Party, after eight years in power, is attempting to block media coverage of the Democratic Progressive Party chairman election. Even more unfortunately, the person attempting to muzzle the media is someone who was once Vice President of the Executive Yuan.

Chairman Tsai cannot deny the existence of the Democratic Progressive Party signature drive. The China Times has never evaded the media's responsibility to offer forthright criticisms. Ever since the Chen corruption case exploded, we have been consistent. We expect the DPP to live up to its reputation as a native political party committed to clean government. We want the Democratic Progressive Party to have a clear understanding of the Chen corruption case. We are criticizing the Democratic Progressive Party for failing to emerge from Chen Shui-bian's shadow. We have warned DPP leaders not to sacrifice the DPP in order to shield Chen Shui-bian from prosecution. They must not bury the hopes the public have for a native political party.

After all, the Democratic Progressive Party is supposed to be an asset to Taiwan. It is not supposed to be an asset to Chen Shui-bian. It is not supposed to be an asset to this or that local party boss. We would like to ask Chairman Tsai a question. Just because the China Times holds different views than Tsai on how to save the DPP, is it really necessary to villify the China Times so disproportionately?

Various and sundry Democratic Progressive Party "princes" are fighting over the party chairmanship. Should the media ignore this? If no one expectated anything from the Democratic Progressive Party, if it was dispensable, then no one would bother running for party chairman. After eight years in power, the Democratic Progressive Party is again in the opposition. But the Green Camp "princes" have thrown their hats in the ring. For the DPP this ought to be a gratifying development. Or does Chairman Tsai expect the DPP to give its overwhelming support to Tsai Ing-wen, the way the Kuomintang gave its support to Ma Ying-jeou?

The China Times is a media organization. It has high expectations of the DPP. That is why its criticisms are so severe. It could ignore the struggle among Green Camp "princes" for the DPP party chairmanship, as well as Chairman Tsai's fierce and irrational remarks. We have no desire to engage in wild speculation. But before Chairman Tsai criticizes us, shouldn't she ask herself whether anyone else in the Democratic Progressive Party wants to run for party chairman? Does Chairman Tsai intend to seek a second term? Is she hoping the other "princes" will bow out? No matter what the truth might be, as a member of the media, are we supposed to refrain from reporting and commenting?

Tsai Ing-wen became an official during the KMT era. She was former President Lee Teng-hui's chief of staff. Her experience and professionalism have distinguished her from past politicians. Because of her professionalism and her restrained and precise manner of speech, both Blue and Green Camp leaders and officials find it difficult to speak ill of her. She should not be a populist rabble-rouser. She should not attempt to mobilze Deep Green Taiwan independence zealots. She should pay close attention to her political methods. She should persuade centrist voters to lean toward the Democratic Progressive Party. Following the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic Progressive Party "princes" stepped down. This allowed her to take over the unfamiliar duties of party leader under calm conditions. Why did they do so, if not because they hoped she would lead the Democratic Progressive Party down a different path? Alas, Tsai Ing-wen has backed off.

Does Tsai Ing-wen intend to seek a second term as DPP Chairman? The Democratic Progressive Party "princes" are fighting over the party chairmanship. These are matters of public interest. Is the China Times wrong to report on the heated party chairmanship election?

Tsai Ing-wen accused the China Times of failing to criticize the Ma administration's policies. She was dead wrong. First, the China Times has never pulled its punches when criticizing the ruling administration. The China Times is keeping a close eye on the one man KMT chairmanship election. Secondly, to paraphrase Green Camp "prince" and former Premier Su Tseng-chang: Criticizing the KMT will not restore the DPP to power. Criticizing the media will not absolve the opposition party of its responsibilities.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.24
社論-光靠罵媒體 卸不了在野黨責任












Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tsai Ing-wen's Attempt to Save the Party has become an Attempt to Save Ah-Bian

Tsai Ing-wen's Attempt to Save the Party has become an Attempt to Save Ah-Bian
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 23, 2009

Tsai Ing-wen assumed the chairmanship of the DPP one year ago. Both she and the public harbored high expectations. Both she and the public hoped she could save the Democratic Progressive Party. Now, one year later, not only has Tsai Ing-wen not saved the party, she is actually launching a "Save Ah-Bian movement."

It is rumored that Tsai Ing-wen is planning a signature drive. She intends to publicly back a signature drive for Chen Shui-bian's release. Such perversions of justice may allow Deep Green elements who support Chen Shui-bian to vent their spleen. But they are tantamount to an admission to mainstream society that Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP can no longer extricate themselves from the "Support Ah-Bian!" and "Save Ah-Bian!" quagmire.

Tsai Ing-wen's approach is to avoid mentioning Chen Shui-bian's corruption, while demanding "due process according to the law" for him. This is akin to tossing away a cup, then attempting to scoop up water without it. Substantive justice and procedural justice are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have the one without the other. Besides, one of the main reasons Chen Shui-bian's trial cannot begin is that he has used every means at his disposal to delay the trial process. This has ensured that the reasons for his detention will not go away. Yesterday Chen Hsing-yu, Chen Chih-chung, and Chao Chien-ming confessed that "their elders instructed them to commit perjury." This shows yet again how widespread the potential for coordinating false testimony may be. Another danger is witnesses reneging on their testimony. Lee Chieh-mu is a good example. And so it goes. The court knows the score. Do Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP really want to use a signature drive to get Chen Shui-bian off scot-free?

The DPP is calling for signatures under the guise of "due process according to the law." But who doesn't know the signature drive is actually a Deep Green appeal on behalf of Chen Shui-bian, asserting his innocence? Besides, the DPP could initiate a signature drive demanding Chen Shui-bian's release. Tomorrow they could demand Chen's release, on the grounds that he is innocent. The day after tomorrow they could demand Chen's pardon, after he has been found guilty, on the grounds of clemency. If Tsai Ing-wen initiates a signature drive demanding Chen Shui-bian's release, the main impact will be to bind herself and the DPP inextricably to the "Save Ah-Bian" juggernaught. There will no end to the matter. She will find herself riding a tiger with no way to dismount.

The county and municipal elections are just around the corner. The DPP's strategy has always been to avoid injecting national issues into local elections. Given its internal and external circumstances this year, this is especially true. Yet the DPP has allowed itself to become entangled in cross-Strait issues, as a result of Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland. It even launched a signature drive demanding a referendum on ECFA. Today it initiated another signature drive for Chen Shui-bian's release. Such moves, coming wave upon wave, merely remind mainstream society that the Democratic Progressive Party has yet to offer a coherent policy on national identity and cross-strait relations. Today, it finds itself bogged down in its "Support Ah-Bian!" and "Save Ah-Bian!" quagmire, unable to extricate itself. The DPP can't even save itself. Does it really expect mainstream society to save the DPP?

One year ago, Tsai Ing-wen told Chen Shui-bian, "You must pay attention, and face justice." A few months ago, Tsai Ing-wen masterminded the Taipei County Executive By-election. She floated Su Tseng-chang' candidacy as a trial balloon. Two months ago, Tsai Ing-wen resolutely opposed the nomination of Chen Tang-shan for Tainan County Executive. She expressed the desire to "eliminate Chen Shui-bian influences" from the party. One month ago, Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chu co-starred in a Mainland visit drama. They tested the waters, inside and out. But today all that has changed. Chen Chu makes no mention of her trip to the Mainland. Chen Tang-shan sought nomination as the DPP candidate for Tainan County Executive. Chen Shui-bian declared Tainan County the political "epicenter." Su Tseng-chang now sees the Taipei County By-election as the basis for a Chen Shui-bian/Su Tseng-chang Alliance. After which Tsai Ing-wen announced this week her intention to initiate a "Save Ah-Bian!" movement.

Based on the above mentioned political developments, Tsai Ing-wen has clearly gone from saving the DPP to saving Ah-Bian. The Save Ah-Bian signature drive opened Pandora's Box. The number of signatures collected was irrelevant. Whether Chen Shui-bian was released was irrelevant. The "Save Ah-Bian!/Support Ah-Bian!" issue has heated up. If Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP lose control, they will be burned. The more people who sign the petition, the harder Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP will find it to free themselves from the tar baby known as Chen Shui-bian. The apprehensions mainstream society have about Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP will become greater and greater. It will no longer matter why Chen Shui-bian is released. The signature drive has become a red carpet rolled out by the DPP, paving the way to his political restoration. Chen Shui-bian is down but not out. He continues creeping forward. The DPP must deal with him. If Ah-Bian is not released, then the signature drive by pro-Chen forces within the Green Camp will be legitimized and sanctified. Given an inch, they will demand a mile. Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party will find them insufferable. In particular, if the "Support Ah-Bian/Save Ah-Bian" signature drive becomes linked to the year end county and municipal elections, what will mainstream society make of such a mind-boggling political development?

Taiwan independence is a dead end. Yet Tsai Ing-wen is afraid to jettison Deep Green Taiwan independence elements. Supporting Chen Shui-bian is a dead end. Yet Tsai Ing-wen is afraid to jettison Deep Green pro-Chen elements. Tsai Ing-wen may feel that in order to save the party she must therefore save Ah-Bian. But the signature drive exerting pressure on the courts may not be able to save Ah-Bian. Saving Ah-Bian, by necessity, runs counter to saving the party.

Saving Ah-Bian and saving the party are diametrically opposed. If one saves Ah-Bian, one cannot save the party. If one saves the party, one cannot save Ah-Bian. Tsai Ing-wen, how did you wind up going down this road, one that spells the end of the DPP?

2009.06.23 05:56 am










Monday, June 22, 2009

ECFA is Merely A Framework: Does It really Warrant a Referendum?

ECFA is Merely A Framework: Does It really Warrant a Referendum?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 22, 2009

President Ma is standing pat. Everyone in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, from top to bottom, is promoting and studying ECFA. Meanwhile leaders of the opposition DPP have not been idle. They are aggressively pushing for a referendum. They hope to combine it with the year end county and municipal elections. First, they want to block the signing of any agreement. Secondly, they want to give a boost to Green Camp county and municipal election candidates. But so far, although the Ministry of Economic Affairs has held public hearings in the northern, central, southern, and eastern parts of the island, media coverage has been limited. Much of the dialogue has been "ministers talking to priests," i.e., shop talk between insiders. The public has a limited understanding of ECFA. It is insufficiently familiar with it. The Blue Camp doesn't know how to defend it. The Green Camp doesn't know how to attack it. The two sides "don't know what they're fighting for, or whom they are fighting for."

In fact, the specific content of ECFA is not yet clear. But based on similar agreements signed by other nations, we can discern ECFA's general outlines. Regional trade agreements signed by nations around the world, such as the European Union, North America Free Trade Agreement, ASEAN, were all made within the framework of the WTO. If the two sides of the Strait do sign ECFA, they are unlikely to violate WTO norms. One need only go online and read the global and regional economic and trade agreements, and Article 24 fo the WTO agreements, to understand the broad outlines of ECFA.

In general, the contents of regional trade agreements are tariff reductions (such as the Free Trade Agreement FTA), investment benefits, industrial cooperation, service sector benefits, and timetables for market liberalization. To actually negotiate so many items one by one would take at least three to five years. That being the case, why has President Ma openly declared that he hopes to sign it by the end of this year or the beginning of next year? Based on the above time line we can see that ECFA is probably a "two stage" affair. The government probably hopes to sign a framework before the end of the year. As for the substance within the framework, it must be negotiated and signed during the next phase. This is the only way one can sign by the end of the year, and talk about the details later.

Since ECFA negotiations are a two-stage affair, the government should explain the matter clearly, in plain language. It must prevent needless public misunderstanding and confrontation.

If the above mentioned "two-stage negotiations" framework is what it has in mind, then ECFA may be signed by the end of the year. After all, at this stage it is akin to a table of contents. A table of contents merely denotes the potential content of various chapters and sections. Once the author agrees to the table of contents, the next stage is to discuss the specific contents of each chapter, and to actually supply it. Only three to five years from now, after it is organized into a complete volume, will it be complete. In the above analogy, Taipei and Beijing are the co-authors of the chapters. They intend to use the next three to five years to fill in the various chapters with cross-Strait economic and trade content. Even if the table of contents indicates ten chapters, if negotiations reach an impasse, some chapters may not be completed. In the end, only six chapters may be completed. Therefore, negotiations over ECFA will address cross-Strait tax rates, industries, early harvests, and service industries. Each chapter may provoke controversies over the need for public oversight and feedback.

The Democratic Progressive Party proposes holding a referendum at the end of the year over ECFA. Its proposal, to approve or disapprove a book that contains only a table of contents, and blank pages in each of the chapters, is utterly pointless. The substantive content will be discussed in the future. One may, if one wishes, hold a referendum regarding future points of contention. But how can one hold a referendum over blank sheets of paper? Suppose the referendum fails to pass? Does that mean the ruling authorities can then sign any agreement they wish? Even one that might be detrimental to our interests? Suppose, on the other hand, the referendum passes, even though they have yet to discuss anything? Does that mean the DPP will refuse to engage in any form of negotiation or engagement whatsoever? How would that be any different from a blind "Closed Door" policy?" Is anyone concerned about "selling out Taiwan?" If so, doesn't that require substantive content within each chapter? So far all we have is a table of contents. So far there is nothing to sell.

Frankly the ruling authorities' are right to adopt a two-stage negotiation strategy. ASEAN plus three is ready to go. It will have an impact on Taiwan. Therefore Taipei must swiftly adopt a rough framework to address the disadvantages it will suffer as a result of ASEAN plus three. That is why ECFA involves two-stage negotiations. That is why its time frame is so protracted. Only then can the public on Taiwan have sufficient opportunity for dialogue. When the opposition DPP understands that ECFA involves a two-stage negotiation process, it should carefully consider whether there is any need to hold a referendum on the first phase table of contents. Does the DPP really want the public on Taiwan to hold a referendum to oppose the publication of any sort of book with any sort of content? If so, then the referendum will have no impact on the public whatsoever, other than reinforce prevailing stereotypes about the Democratic Progressive Party.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.22
社論-ECFA僅是框架目錄 要如何公投?








Friday, June 19, 2009

Developed Economy: Belated Honor, or New Sorrow?

Developed Economy: Belated Honor, or New Sorrow?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 19, 2009

Morgan Stanley & Co. (MSCI) has added the Taiwan region of the Republic of China to its "Developed" Markets Watch List. For many people this is a pleasant surprise. After so many years as a "Developing" economy, Taiwan has finally been upgraded.

But amidst the joy lurk unsettling suspicions. Is it really true? According to what criteria can Taiwan be classified as a "Developed Economy?"

Actually Morgan Stanley included Taiwan on its Watch List of Developed Economies based primarily on such indicators as economic development and the size and opennesss of its stock market trading system. Its definition of "Developed Economy" is obviously much narrower than the average person's understanding. Therefore one should not get too excited. The sad fact is that among the four Asian Tigers, Taiwan was the last to pass the bar. This belated honor is a hidden warning.

Has Taiwan really entered the world of "Developed" economies? Let's review its long process of transformation into one of the "Four Asian Tigers." This may provide us with clues about the larger strategic picture.

Actually Taiwan was not that powerful during the era of the "Four Asian Tigers." But it was unfraid to fight for mastery in the international arena. At the time, the Taiwan region's foreign exchange reserves ranked first in the world. Its volume of trade had reached new highs. Per capita income had rapidly increased. Its nimble small and medium industries engaged in fierce battle with world-renowned multinational companies. But all of a sudden Taiwan shifted its energies into the political arena. Its ruling authorities busied themselves amending the constitution, sponsoring referendums, and holding debates on national identity. Legislators busied themselves with fisticuffs and mudslinging in the national legislature. Officials busied themselves making pronouncements. The public busied itself distinguishing between who did and did not "Love Taiwan!" Amidst this daily war of words, the Asian Tiger known as Taiwan forgot that its rivals were not standing still.

Per capita income on Taiwan has not increased in almost a decade. While we stumbled around in the fog, South Korea swiftly surpassed us, Other newly developing states swiftly closed on us from behind. This decade could be called Taiwan's "Lost Decade." During this ten-year period, we busied ourselves slinging mud. We ignored other countries' development. We ignored our own domestic downturn. We even forgot what goals we were pursuing. Today we have been belatedly honored with a "Developed" label. As many people recall the farce that Taiwan has been through over the past decade, they can only shake their heads in despair.

If we look at the term "Developed" from a purely factual perspective, the International Monetary Fund classifed Taiwan as a "Developed" economy years ago. The Republic of China was already one of the world's fourteenth largest trading nations years ago. The IMF had no reason not to recognize it as a "Developed Nation." But over the past decade, its exports ranking has fallen from 18th place to 28th place. Such a massive decline reveals a contraction in our economic strength. it also reflects a loss of public pride. The Ma administration has renewed its push for a Special Trade and Economic Region. This is a plan that Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian talked about but refused to implement for over ten years. Is this not sad?

Yesterday the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor's Office uncovered government/business collusion involving the Kaohsiung Port Authority. In the name of upgrading Kaohsiung Harbor's ranking, the Kaohsiung Port Authority colluded with shipping companies to falsify shipping container trading volume. Together they fraudulently applied for and received performance bonuses in excess of 300 million NT, over a two year period. Over the past decade, Kaohsiung's global ranking in shipping volume fell from third to thirteenth. This was embarrassing enough. Who knew that instead of engaging in soul-searching, instead of shaping up, officials would instead engage in even more brazen deception? They falsified the numbers, and defrauded the state treasury. They revealed a total inability to rule the nation, but considerable ability to loot the nation's coffers. The scandal was a microsm of Taiwan's Lost Decade. Those who shout "We love Taiwan!" the loudest, inflicted the most grievous injuries. Those who shout "We are rescuing the economy!" inflicted the most grievous damage.

One could say that the advent of "Taiwan the Political Entity" has brought disaster down upon "Taiwan the Economic Entity." After years of adolescence, this Asian Tiger has belatedly been classified as "Developed." But the public is no longer able to experience any joy in this honor. Meanwhile, after years of internal friction, confrontation, and suffering, has Taiwan the Political Entity matured, even slightly? In terms of national identity, the public is as divided as ever. In terms of democracy, partisan power struggles are as vicious as ever. In terms of community development, relief from cynicism and Blue/Green polarization remains as remote as ever.

Can a nation for which the question "Who am I?" divides the public, possibly merit the title "Developed" nation? Can such a nation ensure diversity, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness? If it can, then by all means, let us cling to it and hope for the best.

2009.06.19 04:07 am











Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eric Chen Should Have Prosecuted Chen Hsing-yu

Eric Chen Should Have Prosecuted Chen Hsing-yu
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 17, 2009

The Special Investigation Unit has charged Chen Hsing-yu with perjury, and forbidden her to leave the country. Eric Chen investigated the State Affairs Fund case and prosecuted Wu Shu-chen. At the time he refused to charge Chen Hsing-yu with perjury, and told reporters to "Spare them!" He maintained that his refusal to prosecute Chen Hsing-yu was not a matter of sabotaging the prosecution's case, but of "retaining a trump card." Such a trump card would allow him to either attack or protect himself by retreating. He said he believed that the Special Investigation Unit charging Chen Hsing-yu with perjury now was bad timing.

Eric Chen's explanation is full of holes. For any single prosecutor to have his own views on any single case is nothing unusual. If his argument is full of holes, so be it. But the Chen family corruption scandal is a high profile case. Eric Chen was the last prosecutor in charge of the case. He has chosen to comment on it now. This gives us the perfect opportunity to review his handling of the case, and to consider its lingering after-effects.

First of all, Eric Chen's explanation is verbal sleight of hand. It attempts to cover up the fact that he sabotaged the prosecution's case. Once Eric Chen indicted Wu Shu-chen, the Bill of Indictment was made public. The public got to see how everyone in the Chen family, including Chen Hsing-yu, applied for State Affairs Fund reimbursements using receipts for personal living expenses. These expense reimbursements alone warranted Eric Chen indicting Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-chen for corruption. How could Chen Hsing-yu, Chen Chih-chung, Chao Chien-min and others not be considered complicit? Yet when reporters holding copies of the Bill of Indictment questioned Eric Chen, he responded, "Spare them!"

Reporters spoke with Eric Chen. They were clearly demanding to know why suspects such as Chen Hsing-yu were not charged as "accomplices in corruption." Eric Chen responded, "Spare them!" But today he says he chose not to prosecute them for perjury in order to retain a trump card. These "minor discrepancies" in his public statements are in fact gaping holes.

When Eric Chen began his investigation he deliberately ignored objections from the Control Yuan Ministry of Audit. He willfully divided the State Affairs Fund fees into two categories. He created separate categories for "receipt reimbursements" and "invoice reimbursements." He chose not to investigate the invoice reimbursements portion. The Special Investigation Unit later investigated this portion, and increased the amounts considered actionable. Eric Chen clearly sabotaged the prosecution's case when it came to Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's crimes. Chen Hsing-yu used personal expense receipts to obtain State Affairs Fund reimbursements. Chen Hsing-yu and others' lives were closely intertwined with Wu Shu-chen's. Her receipts can not be equated with receipts Wu Shu-chen obtained from other sources. The law is the law. Of course Chen Hsing-yu and others must be investigated to see if they conspired with Wu Shu-chen, and whether they were accomplices. Of course if Chen Hsing-yu lies as a defendant, she is not guilty of perjury, and will not be charged with perjury. Eric Chen now claims that his "Spare them!" remark meant sparing Chen Hsing-yu from charges of perjury. He refuses to say why he didn't charge her as "an accomplice in corruption." This clearly shows he was covering up her role as an accomplice.

Moreover, according to witness protection laws, a lead prosecutor enjoys a certain amount of discretion. An accomplice willing to assist an investigation may receive a lighter sentence. Otherwise, he or she must be dealt with in accordance with the law. It is not up to the prosecutor to "spare them." Whether or not to spare them is the prerogative of the judge, not the prosecutor. Besides, Eric Chen never obtained any information helpful to the prosecution of the case from the mouth of any Ah-Bian family member, including Chen Hsing-yu. So where did his "retention of a trump card" rationale come from? A prosecutor handling a case in accordance with due process is fully protected by the nation's laws. Eric Chen claimed that while prosecuting Chen Hsing-yu for perjury, he could "attack or retreat in order to protect himself." What exactly was he protecting himself from?

In fact, Eric Chen's refusal to prosecute Ah-Bian's family, including Chen Hsing-yu, Chen Chih-chung, Chao Chien-ming and other suspects, in accordance with the law, indirectly allowed Chen Chih-chung and others to brazenly step up their money-laundering activity. Eric Chen indicted Wu Shu-chen in November 2006. Former Bureau of Investigation Ye Sheng-mao leaked confidential case information to Chen Shui-bian, informing Chen that his family was under investigation for money-laundering. On December 15, Chen Chih-chung ignored the fact that Wu Shu-chen fainted in court. He went abroad to take care of his overseas accounts. The Swiss government sent a letter asking Ye Sheng-mao whether Chen Chih-chung and his wife had criminal records. Had these Chen family members been indicted, Yeh Sheng-mao would have had no reason to fear, no reason to sit on to the letter, and no reason not to notify prosecutors. Had prosecutors, based on these developments, investigated further, the Chen family money-laundering case would have been exposed, sooner rather than later. Would Chen Chih-chung and others still have had the guts or the opportunity to launder money so easily, making recovery nearly impossible today?

Eric Chen says that to charge Chen Hsing-yu and forbid her to leave the country now is bad timing. But the Chen family has yet to come clean and turn over the dirty money it has hidden overseas. Ensuring that one less Chen family member is able to transfer dirty money overseas is an act of responsibility. Eric Chen is now criticizing the Special Investigation Unit. One can't help thinking about the escape hatch Eric Chen provided the Chen Shui-bian family back then. Is the damage he inflicted still being felt, even today?

2009.06.18 05:19 am









Ma's Challenge: To Lead and Reform

Ma's Challenge: To Lead and Reform
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 17, 2009

"The people's expectations are higher than ever. Any mistakes are intolerable!" President Ma Ying-jeou explained that he ran for party chairman so that the party could help the administration and contribute to more effective governance. He said that electoral district considerations were forcing some legislators to maintain certain positions involving the allocation of resources. He said sometimes there is no absolute right and wrong. He said no one should conclude that Ma Ying-jeou, with his Teflon coating, was preparing to compromise in the interest of electoral advantage. When interviewed by Commonwealth Magazine he said "No such thing!" He came straight out and said that "Nominees must maintain certain standards, and winners must not engage in corruption."

Ma Ying-jeou's remarks suggest that he is psychologically prepared to do a good job. In fact, just before and after he declared his candidacy for party chairman, the KMT nominated Fu Kuen-chi for Hualien County Executive. Fu was defeated. Yunlin County Party Chairman Hsu Shu-po withdrew his candidacy and resigned his position. Rumors emerged that Hsu would be appointed chairman of the Taipei 101 building. But within 24 hours someone else had been appointed. Hsu Shu-po's father Hsu Wen-chi once served as Director of the KMT Organization Department. He came forward and pleaded on behalf of his son. He asked KMT Secretary General Wu Den-yih to provide him with a satisfactory explanation. Ma faces many challenges. They are hardly limited to "a small number of individual cases" concerning candidate nominations for the year end county and municipal elections. The challenges he faces are deep-rooted. Despite eight years in the political wilderness, the KMT has not changed its less than savory "quid pro quo" mentality.

The Hsu Shu-po case is merely the tip of the iceberg. Hsu Wen-chi accused the KMT of tolerating manipulation by factions. He was right on the mark. The faction Hsu accused was of course the family of former County Executive Chang Yung-wei, whose political machine controls large and small elections in Yunlin County. But what about the Hsu Wen-chi family? Isn't it a political faction as well? Not to mention current Yunlin County Executive Su Feng-chi's family, which has been in operation for years. It constitutes a faction of its own as well. Amidst this local ecology, factional interests invariably trump partisan interests. Can Ma Ying-jeou really change this? Can he convince the Chang family to put the interests of the people as a whole ahead of family considerations? If the Chang family is prohibited from running for both legislator and county executive, can it still control the county legislature, even assuming it wins the county executive election?

Magnify the ecology of local elections, and you have the ecology of the Legislative Yuan. Ma Ying-jeou has expressed a desire to bridge the gap between factions, to "tighten any screws connecting the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and the party to the Legislative Yuan." The KMT holds an absolute majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan. Yet its performance is little better than it was during the DPP's eight years in office. Ma Ying-jeou's most pressing concern is the Sunshine Laws. They were sent to the Legislative Yuan, but watered down by ruling and opposition party legislators after bipartisan consultation. What can one do? No legislator, Blue or Green, truly wants any rays of sun shining into the national legislature. Ma Ying-jeou's list of priorities included nine bills. The legislature has convened its second session since he assumed office. Half the bills he wanted have been stalled. Only four have been passed.

Think back to the last election. Candidates for the legislature crowded around him, glommed onto him, were elected because of his endorsement. Today, not one them remembers that Ma Ying-jeou bet his personal reputation on them when he endorsed their candidacies. Now that they are unable to wet their beaks, this has become their biggest complaint. Premier Liu, who has a public and private friendship with Ma Ying-jeou, backs Ma Ying-jeou 100%. But because he refuses to tolerate corruption, legislators refuse even to accompany him on inspection tours. Since Ma Ying-jeou is unwilling to tolerate corruption, how can he possibly pacify them?

When Lee Teng-hui was president and party chairman, he sponsored a constitutional amendment abolishing the Legislative Yuan's right to approve the Premier. During the approval process legislators wanted every variety of quid pro quo. To allow the Premier to take office without resistance, he handed out all sorts of favors. Chen Shui-bian himself was once a legislator. He fully understood how the system works. When he became President and wanted his nominees for the Examination Yuan and Control Yuan approved, he used everything to pacify independent legislators, and even some Blue Camp legislators. This included everything from the carrot of government resources to the stick of judicial persecution. This showed him that the source of power was the ability to distribute spoils. In the end, even the heads of financial holding companies were appointed by Ah-Bian, leading to a major scandal that could no longer be swept under the rug.

President Ma is assuming the party chairmanship but refuses to engage in the distribution of spoils. How can he pacify party members? Take the controversy over the Parade and Public Assembly Act. He proposed changing the requirement for permits to a requirement for reports, and eliminating criminal penalties for social movement members. The result? Multiple penalties were eliminated, but the intial penalty was not. Most importantly the bill was unable to pass its third reading in the Legislative Yuan. The affairs of state are not decided by the presidential office following a coordination meeting. They are not decided by the KMT Central Standing Committee after passing a resolution. All policies, bills, and budgets must go through the Legislative Yuan before they can be implemented, before they can become "political accomplishments."

The Legislative Yuan is ineffectual. Before Ma assumed the party chairmanship, the KMT Central Standing Committee and the KMT Legislative Caucus could could still block some of the attacks against him. But once he assumes the party chairmanship, the affairs that Ma Ying-jeou must manage may be more numerous than he imagines. Among them will be affairs he should not manage, affairs involving fighting over political spoils.

Time waits for no man. The Ma Liu administration has undergone its one year trial period. It sees the problems, but it must be quicker to solve the problems. Ma Ying-jeou sees himself as the key to problem solving. He must persuade the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, and the party to accept his reforms. He must convince them to make clean government their core value. Merely listening to him is not enough. Ma touts himself as a consensus-based leader. He must learn to accept and promote the views of others, particularly views that differ from his own. Only then does he stand a chance of leaving behind the authoritarian era of the party/government complex.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.17










Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chaiwan: Realities and Illusions

Chaiwan: Realities and Illusions
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 16, 2009

Cross-Strait tensions have eased. Wave upon wave of mainland Chinese purchasing groups have surged onto Taiwan, shopping until they drop. A new term has even appeared: Chaiwan. Simply put it refers to cooperation between [Mainland] China and Taiwan in production, research and development, and combined market share. As long as cross-Strait relations remain unchanged, Chaiwan's efficiency will increase. Will Taiwan and the Mainland share the benefits Chaiwan has to offer? Or will Taiwan eventually be replaced and sink beneath the waves?

Two years ago, the South Korean media reported on the impact of cooperation between Mainland China and Taiwan. At the time cross-Strait tensions had yet to ease. The time was not ripe. But last year cross-Strait tensions eased. Cross-Strait trade relations warmed. Cross-Strait industrial relations warmed. Following the global financial tsunami, the Mainland wanted to boost its economy. It increased domestic demand. It also promoted improved cross-Strait relations. Wave upon wave of Mainland Chinese purchasing groups arrived on Taiwan in recent months. They boosted cross-Strait trade cooperation to new heights. They allowed Chaiwan to affect the future, and again attracted widespread attention.

South Korea considers this of great importance. It is highly sensitive about Chaiwan. The reason of course is that South Korea and Taiwan have long been major competitors. As much as 80% of their industrial product is the same. In the past, Taiwan businessmen, by pursuing "investment-led exports," managed to maintain long term double-digit growth in exports to the Mainland. At one time they constituted 20% of all products shipped to the Mainland. But later South Korea gained the upper hand. It gradually increase its investments. Together with its brand advantages, the market share of Korean products on the mainland grew to 9.9% by the end of last year. Taiwan products shrank to 9.12%, behind South Korea.

But once Mainland Chinese purchasing groups began arriving on Taiwan, the sale of Taiwan products gradually increased. Flat panels are among the most fiercely contested products manufactured by Taiwan and South Korea. This year flat panels from Taiwan took a 60% share of the Mainland Chinese market. Flat panels from Korea, which took almost 50% of the Mainland Chinese market last year, were squeezed down to under 30%. Other product categories include telecommunications, information, household appliances, LED lighting, and automotive parts. Once large-scale Mainland purchasing groups began arriving on Taiwan and putting in their orders the market share of Taiwan products rose and began squeezing out those of other countries, including South Korea.

The Chaiwan wave has taken effect. The relaxation in cross-Strait tensions has brought powerful Mainland Chinese purchasing groups to Taiwan. But this is not a case of Mainland charity toward Taiwan. The economic impact is a mutually beneficial win/win process. Mainland China's household appliance industry was losing money. Once it received full support from Taiwan's industry, it enjoyed a profitable first quarter. Once high-profile, high-priced Korean products have been forced to lower their prices. Mainland entrepreneurs have openly stated that Mainland businesses intend to continue making procurements from Taiwan. They also look forward to increased cross-Strait business and industry cooperation. They intend to strengthen Mainland Chinese industries by taking advantage of Taiwan's strengths in marketing, creativity, and production management.

This wave of procurements has yet to give Taiwan's local enterprises a full injection of capital. Let's not forget the lesson of "Wintel" over the past twenty years. Over the past twenty years, it was the world's fastest-growing IT industry. This empire was the joint creation of three companies. Intel's microprocessors, Microsoft's operating system (Windows software), and Taiwan enterprises large and small, including countless upstream and downstream hardware makers in the supply chain.

Over the past twenty years, Taiwan has built a strong and comprehensive hardware supply chain. Technology industries have become Taiwan's proudest and most important industries. But because their development is subject to foreign specifications, they could only fulfill the role of "faithful followers." They were unable to master key technology or establish their own brands. While the other two companies continued to enjoy 40 to 50% margins, many of Taiwan's superficially booming technology industries were stuck making only 4% or even 3% profit margins.

Therefore, riding the Chaiwan wave is both good news and bad news. The good news is that the Chaiwan wave has allowed Taiwan enterprises to receive a short term injection of capital. This is not in doubt. One need only look at these enterprises' capacity utilization trends. This wave of procurement may have helped these enterprises increase the volume of their business in the medium and long term. Will they always be the bridesmaid, and never the bride? Will these enterprises wind up earning only the lowest of profit margins? This remains a matter of concern.

Will Chaiwan be a source of real profits, or merely a hollow dream? In order to turn the Chaiwan niche into a long term niche for Taiwan's economy, enterprises on Taiwan must not just sell products. They must seize the opportunity to form strategic alliances, to engage in joint marketing, and even make joint investments. They must find a way to profit from production, marketing, brand building, and the establishment of industry specifications. They must avoid a repeat of the embarrassing Information Industry fiasco, in which they wound up in low margin industries.

The government may be incapable of playing a constructive role. But at least it must not become a hindrance. It must not adopt a smugly conservative posture. It must not impose all sorts of restrictions on business investments. From a longer and more forward looking industry perspective, it must help Chaiwan seek out a long term market niche.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.16

當兩岸關係融化、一波波大陸採購團湧向台灣之後,一個新的名詞─Chaiwan出現:簡單講就是中國與台灣合作,在生產、研發、市場共享上的爆發力。未來只要兩岸關係不變,Chaiwan效益將逐漸加溫。但,台灣最後是與大陸共享 Chaiwan之利,還是終被取代而沉淪,仍有待觀察。










Monday, June 15, 2009

The Victor will be the One Victorious over Itself

The Victor will be the One Victorious over Itself
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 15, 2009

The ruling and opposition parties have both chosen to stagger along at the same snail's pace, making only minor adaptations to changing circumstances. How effective such an approach will be remains uncertain. But their strategies are likely to have far-reaching impacts on the futures of both parties.

Let's talk about the KMT first. Shortly after the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Ma decided to assume the chairmanship of the party. Everyone knows that this decision is rife with risks. On the one hand, the public does not fully support his decision. On the other hand, this move will affect the generational transfer of power. It is also bound to touch a sensitive nerve regarding factional rivalry. Even more importantly, this move will drop Ma Ying-jeou squarely on the front line of the ongoing political struggle. Ma Ying-jeou will no longer be able to evade responsibility for any electoral defeats or policy blunders. Chairman Ma now has the opportunity to force the KMT to continue its reforms. But the KMT could easily ruin President Ma's reputation. This move symbolizes of the official end of President Ma's "Teflon presidency."

These changes in the allocation of power are still in progress. Nevertheless we already see a number of changes. For example, the appointment of the chairman of the Taipei 101 building was full of twists and turns. So was the nomination of county executive and city mayors. President Ma has shown considerable willpower behind the scenes. Make no mistake. Such moves are bound to anger powerful factions within the party. He may even pay a price during the year end county executive and city mayor elections.

But if President Ma refuses to position himself on the front line, then how determined is President Ma to reforming the KMT? If President Ma fails to use his rising popularity to transform the KMT, does he expect to find a better opportunity?

The Democratic Progressive Party must also adapt to its changing circumstances. For the DPP, the forces for change originate from without. Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen must respond. Everyone knows the Democratic Progressive Party has two crosses to bear. One is the ugly reality of Chen Shui-bian's corruption. The other is Deep Green Taiwan independence hardliners' refusal to change. These two factors are bound together as one. By hijacking Deep Green Taiwan independence hardliners, Chen Shui-bian has hijacked the Democratic Progressive Party. The Democratic Progressive Party is caught in a dilemma. Many people within the party consider these two factors their political legacy, rather than albatrosses around the DPP's neck. Outsiders may urge Tsai Ing-wen to distance the party from Chen Shui-bian and Deep Green hardliners as soon as possible. But the Democratic Progressive Party has chosen to respond in a low keyed manner. After all, any rash move could easily split the party. We understand this point completely.

Unfortunately time is not on Chairman Tsai's side. The Democratic Progressive Party has been blasting the Ma administration for being "pro-China." But two prominent DPP county executives and city mayors have announced their intention to visit the mainland. It makes no difference what titles or political rhetoric they might use to rationalize their visits. The impact on the DPP's cross-Strait political platform is irrefutable. Many who have been denounced as "traitors to Taiwan" have begun citing the DPP's mainland visits in their own defense. They have thrown down the gauntlet to Deep Green fundamentalists.

Deep Green Taiwan fundamentalists have struck back. They have demanded that Chen Shui-bian be readmitted to the Democratic Progressive Party. A group of lawyers is reportedly planning to rescue Ah-Bian by emulating the Kaohsiung Incident. These two forces have left Tsai Ing-wen less and less room to maneuveur. But she has proposed abolishing the "Blues Excluded Poll" in the party charter. She has probably scripted her responses to Ah-Bian's prosecution and cross-Strait issues.

No matter how harshly the ruling and opposition parties may criticize each other, they know they are their own worst enemies. In 2000 the KMT lost to its own "black gold" corruption and its own internal schism. Similarly, in 2008, the Democratic Progressive Party lost to its own corruption and Deep Green "Closed Door Policy." Therefore, unless the ruling and opposition parties are willing to bet their own futures on the decadence of their opponent, they had better admit their own failings. They had better overcome their own handicaps. Only then will they be able to take their first steps toward success.

The Republic of China has undergone two consecutive changes in ruling parties. The leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties must not over-estimate the so-called "fundamental" distribution of power. They must not ignore the large number of swing voters and independent voters. These voters are pragmatists. At the critical moment they will make the critical choice. There will no longer be any perennial winners and losers. Whoever has his finger on the pulse of the times, whoever heeds the voice of the majority, will become the hero who writes the next chapter in history.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.15
社論-誰先戰勝自己 誰就是未來贏家










Friday, June 12, 2009

The KMT Nearly Torpedoed Itself, Again

The KMT Nearly Torpedoed Itself, Again
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 12, 2009

The Taipei 101 building has become a Taipei landmark, the symbol of a new Taiwan. Therefore when the KMT cavalierly uses this symbol as a political reward, what kind of message is it sending? Ma Ying-jeou has just assumed the party chairmanship. Can he rid the KMT of its bad habits? This will be the biggest test of Ma Ying-jeou's success or failure as party chairman.

Hsu Shu-Po's sudden appointment as chairman of the Taipei 101 building has raised a public outcry. The KMT, the Executive Yuan, and the Legislative Yuan have all denied knowledge of the appointment. But statements by knowledgeable parties reveal that the KMT must have known. First of all, this appointment was made to resolve an intraparty election dispute. Secondly, the executive branch must also have known. The day before yesterday, Vice Premier Paul Chiu admitted as much. Hsu Shu-Po was even more forthcoming. He said the appointment was made through Executive Yuan Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-Chuan.

In the absence of such a development, it is easy to imagine the criticism the KMT would be subjected to at this moment. The road to the summit may be winding. But even after eight years in the opposition, the KMT has yet to learn its lesson. It is still the same old muddle-headed, arrogant, and insensitive political party. How muddle-headed is the KMT? It unthinkingly used a public institution as a political reward. Its matter of fact attitude boggles the mind. Diana Chen bought the chairmanship of Taipei 101 for 10 million NT. The courts have chosen not to pursue the matter. But the public feels deep abhorrence for such political deals. Yet the KMT seems utterly insensitive to the public antipathy.

Even more mind-boggling is that the entire appointment process was so familiar, so practiced. Everyone from the party to the administration was on the same page. It was as if the Invisible Hand was at work, spontaneously making personnel appointments. So what if news of the personnel appointments made headlines on the day Ma Ying-jeou announced his assumption of the party chairmanship. They would have achieve their goal without anyone being the wiser.

On the surface, such political appointments highlight structural problems within the KMT and with politics on Taiwan as a whole. The KMT remains mired in factional politics. Every election is a re-allocation of power and resources to factions. Therefore the loser must be compensated. This political "ecology" encourages local factions to plunge into the electoral process. Otherwise they will lose out on their share of the spoils. Sad to say such bad habits are easily learned. When the Democratic Progressive Party was in the opposition it could rely on party discipline and voter enthusiasm to prevent breaches of discipline. But once it became the ruling party, it resorted to the same political rewards system to settle intraparty electoral conflicts, and suppress factional strife. Alas, resort to such means failed to keep it in power.

Even more serious is the private use of public resources or even the outright looting of national assets. The KMT stepped down in 2000. It had problems with party owned enterprises. But at least it used professional managers to manage state-owned enterprises. The appointment of heads of public utilities were made by the Department of Personnel. The Executive Yuan did not interfere. But once the Democratic Progressive Party took office, everyone from the chairmen of public utilities down to thousands of consultants were all appointed by President Chen Shui-bian and the presidential office. Ah-Bian as president became the controller and distributor of the nation's assets. The harm inflicted upon clean government was grave. Hsu Shu-Po's appointment feels like a return to the era of Democratic Progressive Party rule. For example, by controlling public shares, the government can dominate personnel appointments. It can turn shareholders and the board into a rubber stamp. During DPP rule such appointments became bargaining chips in a political quid pro quo. Even the Democratic Progressive Party found it intolerable. Now the KMT is using the same means to consolidate its electoral victory. This has left the public fearful of the "party/state complex."

The Democratic Progressive Party lost power in 2008 because Ah-Bian treated the nation's resources as if they were the DPP's private assets. When Premier Liu Chao-shiuan took office he pledged to use professional managers. He promised he would not be personally involved in personnel appointments. His words are still ringing in our ears. But Hsu Shu-Po's appointment has made a mockery of Premier Liu's pledge.

Political rewards are not unique to Taiwan. US presidents have also used presidential cabinet appointments and ambassadorial appointments as political rewards. But the public has found this increasingly unacceptable. George W. Bush was criticized for rewarding so many cronies with foreign service appointments. The public on Taiwan can no longer tolerate such a " necessary evil."

Of course, to truly and fundamentally resolve the problem of political rewards, one must forbid the government from holding vast amounts of state assets. Unfortunately the financial turmoil has led governments the world over to intervene in the market. Divesting governments of state assets will be difficult to achieve in the short term. But the incoming party chairman is Ma Ying-jeou. He is determined to implement sunshine policies. Surely he understands that the real problem is the KMT. Therefore he should make an example of the Hsu Shu-Po case. He should begin by addressing the party's ingrained habits. He should eradicate the party's practice of using political appointments are political rewards. When Wu Po-hsiung and other elders have set an example by "retiring with nothing," perhaps the practice of political quid pro quo can be eliminated.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.06.12



如果不是出現這樣一個轉折,不難想像此刻國民黨會被怎樣的批評!儘管最終峰迴路轉,我們還是必須說,即使經過八年再野的教訓,國民黨還是那個顢頇、老大、無感的舊政黨;國民黨顢頇到一個地步,不假思索就將國家公器做為政治酬庸的工具,理所當然的心態令人駭異,陳敏薰用一千萬元買來一 ○一董事長之事曝光,司法雖未追訴,民眾對於類似的政治交易深惡痛絕,但國民黨竟然對民意的好惡渾然不覺。



更嚴重的,則是公器私用、甚或竊據國產的問題。國民黨在二千年下台前,雖有黨產等諸多爭議,但國營事業至少仍由專業人才管理,國公營事業人事也都由主管部會裁決,行政院長甚少過問;但是,民進黨執政後,則國公營事業上到董事長下至顧問等數千職位,當時總統陳水扁及其辦公室幾乎無一不過問,扁以總統之尊成為國家資產的操控及分配者,對政治清廉危害甚深。 此次許舒博人事案操作,則令人有重返民進黨時代之感,例如,政府藉由掌控公股,就可完全主導人事,完全將股東及董事會當作橡皮圖章。民進黨時代,這些位置成為扁一人利益交換的籌碼,連民進黨都看不下去;現在的國民黨則用來鞏固選舉勝利,更落實民眾「黨政不分」的疑慮。