Friday, July 31, 2009

A Dialogue between Two Kaohsiung Incident Defense Attorneys

A Dialogue between Two Kaohsiung Incident Defense Attorneys
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 31, 2009

Recently, at the scene of the Chen corruption trial, two legal professionals unexpectedly engaged in an impromptu dialogue. These two people were Lin Ching-kang and Chen Shui-bian.
Who is Lin Ching-kang? He graduated from National Taiwan University Law School a few years later than Chen Shui-bian. He was once Chen Shui-bian's room mate. Together they helped each other achieve their dreams for the future. When Lin Ching-kang was a first-year student at the National Taiwan University Law School, he had the second highest score on the National Judicial Examination. Out of thousands of candidates that year, only two were accepted. He joked that he was "Sun sen." His grades were of course not as distinguished as those of Chen Shui-bian, who graduated first in his class a few years earlier. Lin Ching-kang and Chen Shui-bian would later become part of the Kaohsiung Incident legal defense team. This was a breakthrough role for Chen Shui-bian, after which he became famous. Lin Ching-kang, on the other hand, remained politically obscure. He too passed the National Judicial Examination, First he became a judge. Back then political opposition defendants would denounce the court system, alleging "political persecution." Lin Ching-kang was one of the few judges who could look political opposition defendants straight in the eye and demand that they respect the rules of the court. Political opposition defendants who came before him knew his reputation for integrity. They knew he never practiced favoritism for "his own people."

Chen Shui-bian became president. Lin Ching-kang became a senior judge. The Ministry of Justice promoted a judicial reform program known as "Judges Have No Rank." He responded by requesting an immediate transfer from the Superior Court to a District Court. For years, he has contemplated the process of judicial reform. The court system is not without defects. Sometimes he became emotional. As a result he voluntarily requested a transfer from the court system to the prosecutorial system. For the sake of harmony, he served as Taipei District Prosecutor. Lin Ching-kang's experience is unusual in the judicial realm. He is certainly not unknown within the legal community. But the legal community doesn't really know that much about him. Who could have predicted that his two requests for transfer would lead to him investigating his former room mate Chen Shui-bian for corruption?

We do not intend to comment on what kind of verdict Chen Shui-bian's closing argument might lead to. But little known District Prosecutor Lin Ching-kang now finds himself head to head with widely known President Chen Shui-bian. After more than thirty years these former classmates paths have crossed again, and revealed a thought-provoking scene of desolation.

Lin Ching-kang has seldom prosecuted a defendant who has clearly contributed to Taiwan's democracy. But one cannot pardon his offenses on this basis. In fact Lin refuted a similar claim made by Wu Shu-chen the day before, when she argued that she too had contributed to democracy. In a rare departure from the norm, he wept in court. He recalled the ideals he once shared with the defendant when they were in school. He wondered why Chen Shui-bian had turned his back on his former ideals. He invoked the seldom heard language of religion in court. He explained to his old friend Chen Shui-bian why he had to unrelentingly prosecute Chen Shui-bian for his wrongdoing. He explained that he had to uphold the enduring values they once shared. In a rare departure from the norm, he repudiated charges that the prosecution was tainted by Blue vs. Green political considerations. He proclaimed that the case must be a starting point for the end of corruption. Chen Shui-bian's reply a few hours later, was identical to those offered by political opposition defendants in the past. He was unable to offer a coherent response to Lin Ching-kang's words of conscience.

Lin Ching-kang told Chen Shui-bian, "Mr. President, you had the power!" Lin Ching-kang and Chen Shui-bian are both men of the law. Both graduated as top students from National Taiwan University Law School. Both have wielded state power, in different forms. Chen Shui-bian was once head of state. He once wielded immense power. Yet he now faces prosecution. Lin Ching-kang went from judge to prosecutor. Compared to Chen Shui-bian, he is merely a judge. Yet now he has the power to prosecute Chen Shui-bian. Lin Ching-kang pointed out the key issues. What happens to a man of the law when he acquires power? Do his former ideals inform his use of power? Or does his newfound power make him forget his ideals?

Lin Ching-kang was not a defendant. Yet he burst into tears. Because he wielded state power, he was aware of how wrong a man can go if he forgets his ideals. In fact, he was weeping for the accused, Chen Shui-bian. He saw how vulnerable people were in the face of power, how power corrupts. He invoked the ideals the two shared in the past. He hoped to reawaken the defendant's conscience, to make him aware of his wrongdoing. But Chen Shui-bian's attempt to excuse his crimes, only let Lin Ching-kang down. After all, how many are able to withstand the the temptation of too much power?

Chen awaits the court's decision. His political character and his arrogance of power have shaken public confidence in the government. He has seriously undermined the image of the legal profession. He has made it difficult for his political party to extricate itself from its quagmire. Chen Shui-bian knows he ought to apologize to the people. But his apologies lack sincerity. Because of Chen, political and moral standards on Taiwan have descended into an abyss. Fortunately we have a prosecutor such as Lin Ching-kang. He has not forgotten the ideals he once pursued as a man of the law. He is fighting a rising tide. He is persisting in his attempt to save humanity. As a result people have discovered that power can still be exercised for the good. There are still people in government who value integrity. Men of the law can still restore hope. People can still rediscover the fond memories they had in the political opposition. Perhaps the Chen corruption case verdict really can serve as a starting point for the end of political corruption.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.07.31









Thursday, July 30, 2009

Signing ECFA: Tactics and Strategy

Signing ECFA: Tactics and Strategy
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 30, 2009

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has released a research report explaining the economic consequences of our participation in ECFA. The report describes the impact ECFA will have on our economy. The Ministry of Economic Affairs reports says that once Taipei and Beijing sign ECFA, the Taiwan region's GDP will rise at least 1.65 to 1.72 percentage points. But individual industries, such as electronics, textiles, and the petrochemical industry, may be both positively and negatively impacted. In addition to the aforementioned high profile impact on the GDP, the report also detailed the direction Taipei and Beijing may take regarding investments, the industry value chain, Early Harvests, dispute settlement, industrial cooperation, and relief mechanisms. At the tactical level, the Ministry of Economic Affairs current study on economic and trade development can be considered complete.
The tactical level refers to what Taipei must do and cannot avoid doing in response to the current international situation. Many once thought that when Taipei joined the WTO in 2002, it could smoothly integrate itself into the international trade environment. But actual developments have not been as expected. Early setbacks during the Uruguay Round talks led to a wave of regional trade agreements. The past two decades have seen the emergence of the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, ASEAN, Mercosur, and a hundred complex, overlapping, and intertwining regional trade frameworks. These regional trade agreements offer terms of trade even more favorable than the WTO. They also eliminate the principle of "most favored nation" applicable to WTO Member States. This has isolated Taipei, which has only "entry level" WTO membership. Such a development obviously represents a hardship for Taipei.

Conceptually, these so-called regional trade agreements are little circles formed by a number of countries. Those within the circles are perceived as our own. Those outside the circle are perceived as outsiders. Aggressive countries such as Korea and Singapore are signing free trade agreements with other countries in every direction. They have joined a whole range of little circles. Everyone treats them as their own. Economic and trade activities always work to their benefit. But Taipei is internationally isolated. Many countries are reluctant to sign trade agreements with us. Over time, Taipei has been increasing regarded as an outsider. Within these circles insiders encounter few trade barriers. They enjoy low tariffs and participate in mutually beneficial economic and trade exchanges. Complex "rules of origin" have led to a number of countries setting up factories and investing within these circles. Economic and trade relations within these circles naturally tend to increase. By contrast, outsiders like Taipei will always be the ones to suffer. When it comes to economic and trade relations, we are relegated to feeding off table scraps left by insiders. Our situation is extremely disadvantageous.

As we know, ASEAN plus One is already in operation. ASEAN plus Three will begin operation next year. Almost every important country in East Asia will be included. The data reveals that the most important driving force behind ASEAN plus Three is the Chinese mainland. Circumstances have forced Japan and South Korea to join. One cannot rule out the possibility that Beijing is promoting the agreement to isolate Taipei. In the face of such adversity, if Taipei fails to break through, if Taipei fails to enter the circle, it will end up in an economic blind alley. Therefore tactically, signing ECFA in order to open up cross-strait economic and trade exchanges is a road we must take. Indeed, signing ECFA is the way out. It is the way to survival. Only this can ensure our economic survival. This is why we need the so-called "early harvest" provision. It is because we hope to catch up with South Korea.

But a mere tactical response to the two pronged attack by ASEAN plus One and ASEAN plus Three, is merely the passive amelioration of an unfavorable situation. It is not enough to open up new economic and trade horizons. Media reports have focused on the quantitative impact of signing ECFA on our GDP. These numbers may be easy to understand. But they are not the key to ECFA. The real challenge to our economic future is our industrial positioning and our economic niche. ECFA may help us remove roadblocks. But it is not clear whether our future positioning can be laid out in one fell swoop. The Executive Yuan has trumpeted its six new industries. What sort of bridge can Green Industries establish with the Chinese mainland? How can the biotech industry establish itself inside the mainland market? How will it apply to specific diseases? Can agriculture on the Chinese mainland develop e-resume control of satellite farms on Taiwan? Is there an economic niche for Chinese language literary output? Can international medical treatment attract mainland patients? These are all items on ECFA's cross-Strait agenda. We must take this opportunity to plan properly. The Ministry of Economic Affairs report still lacks structure, and requires further effort.

For the sake of our economy, signing ECFA with Beijing is a tactical necessity. It is also essential to our strategic positioning. We are pleased that the Government is taking steps in the right direction. We hope future negotiations are not limited to adding or subtracting existing industries. Given greater effort, new industries, along with new positioning and cooperation, can open up new possibilities for our economy in one fell swoop.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.07.30







Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who Will Do Justice to Our Democracy?

Who Will Do Justice to Our Democracy?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 29, 2009

"Haven't I contributed to Taiwan's democracy?" The Taipei District Court is trying former President Chen Shui-bian's family on four counts of corruption. Just before she was interrogated, former First Lady Wu Shu-chen spoke out. Wu Shu-chen was clearly indignant. Some people think the Chen family is making an emotional appeal prior to the first instance verdict. They think the Chen family is hoping to stir up old memories. They think it is turning the clock back to 24 years ago, when Wu Shu-chen suffered crippling spinal injuries in Tainan. They think it is turning the clock back to nine years ago, to the elation many experienced when the ROC underwent its first change in ruling parties. Perhaps the Chen family thinks this will inspire people to revise their image of the corrupt First Family. Wipe away the dust. Is the "Son of Taiwan" anywhere to be found? Is the heartfelt emotion between "Ah Bian and Ah-Cheng," the stuff of soap operas, anywhere to be found?

The Chen family is probably not alone in hoping to freeze that glorious moment in the history of democracy on Taiwan. Chen Shui-bian was not the only one who felt all was right with the world at that moment. How many champions of democracy felt unbounded gratification? How many people felt proud that "Taiwan" would henceforth go its own way? Wu Shu-chen naturally hoped to make an emotional appeal regarding the development of democracy on Taiwan. Wu Shu-chen was hardly alone in her desire. The development of democracy has touched many people, not just supporters of independence, not just supporters of Chen Shui-bian. Many of them truly want to shout "Yes!" Yes, Ah-Bian did nothing wrong. Yes, Ah-Cheng contributed to democracy on Taiwan. Unfortunately, the "Yes!" is stuck in their craw, and can't get out.

The wheels of time roll on relentlessly. They roll past the initial joy and pride at the first change in ruling parties. The Cape Seven Hundred Million, the Cape Hundreds of Millions, and the endless lies, have finally shaken us from our stupor. Wu Shu-chen said being bound to a wheelchair for 24 years was a fate worse than death. Wu Shu-chen reproached her husband for being a political animal and neglecting her. But many people are now sufficiently awake to respond to her emotional appeals with a clear head. We are sufficiently awake to draw clear lines of distinction. Prosecutors draw those lines in accordance with the law. For diehard supporters of the Ah-Bian family that line is about more than cold legal provisions. They draw those lines in accordance with human nature. But when it comes to the Chen family, public tolerance has reached its limit. And who is responsible for that?

The Chen case is now reaching its climax. But wheelchair bound Wu Shu-chen has never been the underdog. As Koo Chung-liang remarked, she has long been the power behind the throne, the one who has the final say on countless matters. When Chen Shui-bian was at the height of his power, wheelchair bound Ah-Cheng displayed a cheerful, cordial, humorous, and direct manner. During her visit to the United States, the media even described the First Lady as humorous and at ease. The media reported that the ruling and opposition parties in the United States were moved, and that she had won respect and dignity for "Taiwan." What a glorious time that was!

Wu Shu-chen's years in her wheelchair have been filled with glory and laughter. They were not all years of unspeakable pain spent consulting with anonymous psychiatrists. She has described Chen Shui-bian as a political animal. She said "Chen Shui-bian is tap water. He has no flavor. But without him, I cannot survive." Her daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching was close to her, and gained her trust. Fear of Wu's wrath was not the only emotion Huang felt. That is why Wu took the precaution of putting half the money in her overseas accounts in her son's name. Wu Shu-chen also looked at Chao Chien-ming the way a mother-in-law looks at her son-in-law. She was not always denouncing him as an "ostrich with his head in the sand." Wu Shu-cheng's life has had its moments of joy, dignity, and honor. She possesses vast wealth. She wielded immense power. She has had so much. So what turned her life into what it is now? As she puts it, now all she wants is a bullet to the head to end her life. From Chen Shui-bian's "two bullets" to Wu Shu-chen's "one bullet," what did this family experience, what did this family do, that put the public through such an ordeal?

No one doubts that wheelchair bound Wu Shu-chen has endured a great deal of hardship, pain, and suffering. But no matter how tragic her plight might be, it cannot justify her illegal conduct. Chen Shui-bian was indeed a key figure in the island's democratization. But in a democratic society under the rule of law, no one has the right to engage in corruption. Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-chen are no exceptions. The justice system cannot write off the Chen family's crimes with a stroke of the pen, merely because wheelchair-bound Wu Shu-chen found life too dull, too bitter, and too tragic, or because Chen Shui-bian was the first president of the ROC following the change in ruling parties. Chen Shui-bian has long said "I believe in Taiwan." Wu Shu-chen and the members of the First Family need to understand that the society they claim to believe in has evolved to the point where it can examine such matters with a cool eye. People have enough discernment to know that a disgruntled spouse and a defacto Empress who brokers illegal deals are two different things, that wheelchairs and money laundering are also two different things.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.07.29







Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Image is an Adjective, Leadership is a Verb

Image is an Adjective, Leadership is a Verb
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 28, 2009

When President Ma Ying-jeou won the presidential election, he received 7,650,000 votes. The day before yesterday, when he won the KMT Party Chairmanship, he received 285,000 votes.
Why hasn't 7,650,000 votes enabled Ma Ying-jeou to successfully lead the country? The 7,650,000 votes Ma received during the presidential election was a shot in the arm. Are the 285,000 party member votes a sign that the shot is wearing off?

Ma Ying-jeou is assuming the party chairmanship in order to address a crisis in leadership. Before that, his leadership of Siew, Liu, Wu, and Wang was not a success. Now he will be a "full spectrum leader" for both the party and the government. What are his chances for success?

Ma Ying-jeou's advantage is his image. But his problem is his leadership. Image does not equal leadership. Leadership is a verb. Image must not remain an adjective. Ma Ying-jeou's image is not merely an adjective. His integrity and rectitude are rare character attributes and commendable social values. Ma's problem is how to lead his administration and the country as a whole. Leadership is of course, a verb, not an adjective.

Emperors of old spoke of being lonely at the top. It may have been an affectation, but it was also true. The most important attribute of a leader in a democratic society is leadership. A leader cannot stand atop the summit, concerned only about maintaining his Teflon image. A capable leader may be able to lead even without assuming the party chairmanship. An incapable leader may not be able to lead even if he does.

President Ma, now Chairman Ma, hopes to rebuild effective leadership. He has a million ways to go about it. But the most important and fundamental factors are talent and organization.

The first key to leadership is to recognize talent and make good use of it. For the Ma administration, recognizing and making good use of talent is a major problem. At the cabinet and party level, many officials can't even maintain their own public image, let alone make sound decisions and defend administration policy. On the one hand, the Ma administration fears change. On the other hand, it probably can't find qualified replacements. The result is incompetent officials sit idle, squandering the opportunity for reform and undermining the image of the administration. In terms of local talent, Taipei County Executive Chou Hsi-wei continues to "bring up the rear." Chou has undermined the administration at the national level. In Yunlin County an unqualified father is running for office "on behalf of his son." In Hualien and Taitung County, candidates of dubious talent have hijacked the nomination process. This has led to an even bigger shortfall between public expectations and political reality. If the Ma administration cannot resolve these problems relating to talent, it will not be able to improve its image and performance. If the Ma administration cannot improve its image and performance, it will find it all the more difficult to persuade people with talent to join the administration. The result will be a vicious circle.

In terms of organization, the biggest advantage of large organizations is their collective policy-making power. Through the wisdom of collective decision-making, and the power of organization, they are able to implement the best policies. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is huge. But when it was promoting ECFA, it produced policy pamphlets rife with errors. Clearly such an organization has problems. A handful of legislators on the legislative caucus manipulated and tampered with the Civil Service Neutrality Act. From the very beginning, a handful of legislators have monopolized the role of party spokesperson. The organization of the legislative caucus is also a problem.

Successful leadership must be based on the right talent and effective organization. In terms of talent, some officials occupying key positions have already "risen to the level of their incompetence." If these clearly unqualified officials are kept on, it will be a disservice to the nation. Put more plainly, the Ma administration's kindness towards these officials, amounts to cruelty toward the people. In terms of organization, those unable to contribute to organizational effectiveness must be eliminated. If the organization cannot correct and regulate itself, then feel-good governance will lead to national disaster.

Leadership does not mean Ma Ying-jeou must personally attend to everything. It means that he must recognize talent and make good use of it. He must oversee the performance of the organization as a whole. Alas, Ma Ying-jeou's Teflon mindset makes it difficult for him to adopt such an approach. He finds it easier to play it safe. Once party officials, government officials, or party cadres are found to be unqualified, the entire organization will it difficult to do their jobs. This may be one reason for its current difficulties. The talent lacks talent. The organization lacks organization. Add to this Ma Ying-jeou's Teflon mindset, and any problems will be difficult to remedy.

This is the crux of the matter. It is not a problem that can be solved by assuming the party chairmanship. Conduct a comprehensive review of party and government officials. Determine who should be removed from office. Only this will address the fundamental problems.

2009.07.28 04:51 am












Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't Make Us Sigh and Shake Our Heads Again

Don't Make Us Sigh and Shake Our Heads Again
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 27, 2009

As expected, there were no surprises. Yesterday Ma Ying-jeou received 94% of the vote, and was elected Chairman of the KMT. This was quite different from eight years ago, during Lien Chan's tragi-heroic campaign for the party chairmanship. Back then the KMT was forced to hand over power because it had just lost the presidential election. This was quite different from four years ago, when Ma found himself in fierce competition with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. Ma Ying-jeou was the beneficiary of expectations the public had regarding KMT generational change and KMT internal reforms. This was quite different from two years ago, when Wu Poh-hsiung assumed the party chairmanship following an emergency by-election. The entire party was united. It wanted Ma Ying-jeou to safely weather the Discretionary Fund crisis, and win back political power. This time Ma was Head of State. He respectfully touched all the bases, soliciting everyones' support. With the exception of candidates for party representative, party insiders were lukewarm about the election. The general public was unconcerned as well.
The KMT has been back in power for one year. As president and party chairman, Ma Ying-jeou must be aware of changes in public sentiment. Public silence reflects public disappointment in the KMT. This disappointment is not the result of how the party or government is administered. It is the result of Ma Ying-jeou's manner of decision-making.

During Ma Ying-jeou's campaign for the party chairmanship the Department of Defense published a report, complete with numbers and the results of investigations into corruption. How did Ma Ying-jeou respond? He gave orders to continue checking, to continue checking on a regular basis. Death threats were sent and received within the Bureau of Armament and Acquisition (OLBAA). Infighting broke out within the Bureau of Military Intelligence. Security breaches were discovered within the Presidential Palace. How did Ma Ying-jeou respond? He said he would need a full month before proposing a solution. Fortunately the Legislative Yuan had already adjourned. But before it went into recess, the Legislative Yuan gave the "Civil Service Administrative Neutrality Act," a Third Reading, and applied the law even to academic research institutions. The Academia Sinica reacted with fury. The Examination Yuan could only apologize to the Academia Sinica. It lacked the courage to urge that the bill be amended. This bill was sponsored by the Executive Yuan, yet it behaved as if it had nothing to do with it. The KMT has the most seats in the national legislature. Yet it displayed no concern for the scholars' problem. Instead, it castigated Academia Sinica Chief Ong Chi-hiu. President Ma Ying-jeou should have attempted to make peace. Instead he said nothing. He may not even be aware of the bill. He may not have even seen it, even though it bears the seal of the Office of the President.

Just what has Ma Ying-jeou been doing all this time? He has been running around peddling his platform for party chairmanship. While Ma was in Hualien, a village leader attempted to present him with a petition. He was stopped by Ma's bodyguards. Since when did it become taboo for even party members to petition their own party chairman? Ma has been diligently filming "Governing the Nation: A Weekly Journal." Netizens have revealed that it was shot in advance. But that is hardly its biggest problem. The biggest problem is that after watching Ma Ying-jeou in his weekly chronicle, one cannot find any suggestion of how he intends to govern the nation. One cannot find any record of his political acomplishments. What problems has the President taken on and solved? What problems has the President singled out for emergency resolution? What problems does the President consider urgent? The answer is none. All we see is Ma Ying-jeou sharing his personal feelings. Ma's feelings about the Kaohsiung World Games, Ma's feelings about university students' choice of universities and choice of majors are all matters the President has a right to talk about. But do these matters really represent the President's strategy for governing the nation?

The shine is off Ma Ying-jeou's reforms. They are nowhere as resonant or moving as they once were. Many people no longer want to hear about them. Many people may listen politely to Ma Ying-jeou sharing his feelings. But after listening they merely sigh and tell themselves not to expect too much. Ma Ying-jeou wants to remain a Teflon president. That means he has no intention of doing too much. When members of the public sigh and express disappointment with Ma, they do so for good reason. For example, Ma Ying-jeou invited leaders of social movements to the Presidential Palace to discuss the Parade and Assembly Law. The result was a bill that ran counter to the wishes of the social movement leaders. The law has yet to be given its Third Reading in the Legislative Yuan. Reform-minded civic leaders dare not raise too much of a hue and cry. They have met with the President several times. So far, the talks have led nowhere. They have no idea whether President Ma Ying-jeou supports or opposes the reforms proposed by former Minister of Justice Ong Yueh-sheng. The Chen Shui-bian administration provoked intense controversy when he removed the sign on the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Ma Ying-jeou once said that any changes would first be subject to a civic forum. Instead, the Ministry of Education held three seminars with experts, then rehung the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall sign. It did not even have the courage to tell the public. The majority of experts suggested making no moves for the time being.

Over the past year, the Ma Liu administration's manner of decision-making has raised serious doubts among the public. Once Ma Ying-jeou becomes party chairman, will he take responsibility for matters he cannot or will not take responsibility for now? Asking a political party that has recently reacquired power to recall the hardships it experienced when it was in the opposition, is clearly difficult. At the local level, most of the candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring and who can't be persuaded to withdraw, have been indicted for corruption or vote-buying. At the central level, all problems are perceived as other peoples' problems. Whenever controversies arise, the immediate reaction is to impose silence. The problems that have arisen arose during the past year. The criticism, "lacks drive," sums up the public's estimation of Ma Ying-jeou. Ma Ying-jeou has chosen to become Party Chairman. In order to ensure smooth operations within the party and the government, in order to speed up adminstrative processes within government and reform the party, Ma must be decisive. Starting today, he must stop mumbling to himself before the cameras. He must show the public that Ma Ying-jeou is a leader who is able to act.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.07.27







Thursday, July 23, 2009

Local Democracy? Or the Road to Black Gold?

Local Democracy? Or the Road to Black Gold?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 23, 2009

As former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill once said, all politics is local. The importance of local politics goes without saying. But Taiwan's problem is that any discussion of local political issues always focuses on the needs of the politicians, rather than on the needs of the public. Several counties and cities will soon be upgraded. Several days ago rumors emerged that a number of politicians were promoting local elections for District Chiefs. This is a clear example.
Will District Chiefs in Directly Administered Municipalities be locally elected? If so, it would mean a change from what we have now. But it is not something we can't talk about. But the reason politicians are promoting District Chief elections is that once cities and counties are upgraded, many village, town, and city representatives will be out of a job. That is why representatives of four counties and municipalities scheduled for an upgrade have launchd a signature drive demanding local elections. We hope village, town, and city representatives can extend their terms or postpone any elections until the current system is repealed in 2014. Calls for District Chief elections appear to be designed with the needs of current village, town, and city representatives in mind.

Even a well-intentioned policy is likely to produce unintended results, and negative consequences. Therefore a policy rooted in ulterior motives is almost sure to end badly. If existing village, town, and city elections are used as the template for future District Chief elections, the fate of District Chief elections will be entirely predictable.

Fair or not, the main reason the KMT was accused of engaging in "money politics" in the past was local elections. Local elections were plagued by vote-buying and violence. The high costs of such election campaigns were recouped by means of public works projects, land speculation, and bid rigging, after the official was elected. None of this is news. These have long been part and parcel of corrupt local politics. For the public, this sort of local political participation in public policy is not a channel for public policy. It is the source of black gold. The result is a vicious circle. Good people are unwilling to return home to participate in local politics. The rosy pictures the public on Taiwan has of local self-government have been totally shattered.

It was precisely because local politics were plagued by such problems in the past, that members of the public called for the appointment of village and town representatives. But neither the KMT nor the DPP have been able to implement such a policy. The main reason they can't, is that local politicians and local factions are in bed together. Even national legislators and local political bosses influential in county and municipal elections are involved. That is why no one is able to change the system. That is why politics on Taiwan has always remained corrupt, from the local level all the way up to the center.

The public should of course be encouraged to participate in direct elections and political oversight. It is not necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater. One need not reject District Chief elections entirely based on a past history of local corruption. We may wish to consult the precedent of Taipei and Kaohsiuing, two existing, ready-made examples of Directly Administered Municipalities. Their District Chiefs are appointed. But their administrative mechanisms seem to be working well. The past performance of civil servants in Taipei City left much room for improvement. But under pressure from an elected mayor, the attitude and performance of the District Office have clearly improved. It would appear that the direct election of District Chiefs is not the only way to improve the administrative efficiency of local government.

Some people think that citizens in the modern era can hardly be satisfied with the way government bureaucrats serve the public. They hope members of the public will use people power to demand municipal reform. But even under the existing system, city council members from all political parties actively participate in community campaigns affecting only individual boroughs. Needless to say, many community campaigns cross district lines. An individual's daily activies are not necessarily confined to any one district.

The local election of District Chiefs will not uphold the rights and interests of the public or enhance local self-government. The Taiwan provincial government was "streamlined" because the government had too many levels, and was a detriment to administrative efficiency. If District Chiefs are elected, this will create yet another level of government. For newly upgraded Directly Administered Municipalities hoping to make progress, such redundancies will create obstacles to administrative efficiency.

Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsing says that by law, the urban planning schemes promoted by most counties and cities must be approved by village and town governments. Many village and town governments are subject to substantial pressure from local political bosses. Therefore they find it difficult to make efficient use of their budgets. They find it difficult to promote the construction of important public works projects. We have with great difficulty eliminated one level of government. We look forward to an increase in administrative efficiency. How can we possibly agree to turn the clock back?

The most heavily criticized aspect of local politics was black gold politics. But it was hardly the only problem. By the time local governments divided the spoils, construction projects and resources were completely fragmented. Given such precedents, shouldn't we think long and hard about who would benefit before we demand District Chief elections?

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.07.24











Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Word Tank or Think Tank: The Democratic Progressive Party Must Choose

Word Tank or Think Tank: The Democratic Progressive Party Must Choose
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 22, 2009

DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen has announced that the DPP will call for a public referendum at the end of this year, "asking the public whether it wishes to hold a referendum on ECFA." According to news reports, Green Camp supporters agreed about the need for a year-end referendum. But they disagreed about its content. Some wanted a referendum on "whether to sign ECFA." Others wanted a referendum on "whether to hold a referendum on ECFA." Based on this logic, one could even call for a referendum on whether to hold a referendum on "whether to hold a referendum on ECFA." Politicians could carry this logic to the nth power, to its absurd extreme. This would appear to be a real life case of "It's Taiwan's first time, and the world is watching."
The DPP loves public referenda. Superficially it does so to demagogue the issue of reunification vs. independence, to oversimplify complex issues, to incite mob sentiment, and to rally voters during election season. But at a deeper level, the DPP has more serious problem. During his election campaign Ma Ying-jeou put forth a cross-Strait agreement known as CECA. But the DPP referred to it in the Minan dialect, which makes it sound like "subordinate role." The Blue Camp promptly changed the name to ECFA, which sounds like "we will become even wealthier." The DPP has long resorted to such demagogic word games. For example, Chen Shui-bian's "active opening, effective management" and "active management, effective opening" word games led to economic stagnation even as they won votes. Hsieh Chi-wei, GIO Chief to Chen Shui-bian, was extremely clever with words. But what the DPP really needs is not Hsieh Chi-wei's "word tank," but a "think tank" able to promote Taiwan's economic development.

For years, the DPP has opposed economic and trade exchanges with mainland China. It has long claimed that increasing cross-Strait exchanges would lead to Taiwan becoming "pro China." It would lead us into a pitfall in which Beijing used Taiwan merchants to besiege Taipei. Its argument was not entirely without justification. It helped keep the ruling administration on its toes. But the Democratic Progressive Party think tank has always been afraid to face a key problem. If Taipei finds itself shut out of ASEAN, what will become of Taiwan's economy? What will the consequences be? Put simply, the Democratic Progressive Party is willing only to stress the danger of cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges. It is unwilling to confront the dangers to Taiwan if Taipei rejects cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges. During the 2008 presidential campaign the Ma/Siew ticket spoke of a Closed Door Policy turning Taiwan into another Cuba. The Democratic Progressive Party could offer no response. Instead it proposed an "Ignore Beijing" economic development policy. This is the Democratic Progressive Party's real crisis.

The scholars the DPP relies upon most heavily come from the Taiwan Thinktank. The cross-Strait economic and trade development perspective they most frequently cite is the outdated "Factor Price Equalization Theorem." According to classical theory, If Taiwan and mainland China engage in free trade, our annual wages will be pulled down to the level of mainland China's. That the DPP would cite such an outdated, stone age theory in the twenty-first century, reveals the intellectual vacuum inside the DPP. The Taiwan Thinktank is behind the curve because it is intellectually indolent. It has no choice but to function as a "word tank" instead of a "think tank." It has no choice but to resort to demagoguery to ingratiate itself with its fundamentalist supporters. This is why the Democratic Progressive Party is no longer making any progress.

Anyone who has come in contact with trade literature in recent years knows that this is the era of the knowledge economy. Technological innovation proceeds rapidly. Advanced countries enjoy the advantage of constantly renewed technology, renewed production processes, renewed brands, and renewed value chains. These give them a head start. There is simply no such thing as enjoying "factor price equalization" with one's competitors. The framework this 50 year old trade theory describes is static. According to this theory, latecomers will eventually catch up with the pioneers. Therefore their income levels will eventually become equal. But in the era of the knowledge economy, the industrial structure undergoes rapid and dynamic evolution. Knowledge, coupled with increasing economies of scale, result in leaders leaving their competitors farther and farther behind. Under such circumstances, countries the world over have no choice. They must maintain their lead in certain areas of global production in order to survive.

Take Korea for example. They have never been afraid of the gravitational field created by the Chinese mainland. They are not afraid their average annual wages will be reduced to the level of mainland China's. They boldly signed an FTA with Beijing and ASEAN. South Korea understands that in order to master the knowledge-based economy in the era of globalization, they must not forsake any geographical or market advantage. They refuse to be penny wise and pound foolish. Koreans may not like Beijing. They may hate the fact that Beijing backs Pyongyang, which eyes Seoul with enmity. But Korean think tanks are nothing if not pragmatic. In the face of such challenges, they are not about to foolishly propose that they shut themselves behind closed doors for 50 years. Think tanks in Korea engage in serious research. The study the literature. They do not reduce their policies to clever word games. Leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party must choose between being a "think tank" (zi ku) and a "word tank" (zi ku). How they choose will determine the fate of the party.

字庫或智庫 民進黨必須做個選擇







Monday, July 20, 2009

CHAIWAN: Hoping for a Miracle on University Campuses

CHAIWAN: Hoping for a Miracle on University Campuses
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 20, 2009

Beijing has announced that it will allow students from Taiwan to apply to Mainland universities on the basis of their Taiwan test scores. Will this turn the Mainland into a black hole that drains Taiwan of its brains? Or will it establish a new platform enabling win/win cross-Strait exchanges?

Cross-Strait problems cannot be satisfactorily resolved at this moment. For their solution, we must look to the future. We can only hope they will find resolution ten, twenty, thirty years, or even longer from now. In other words, we must look to future generations of young people on Taiwan and the Mainland. From this perspective, Beijing's decision to allow students from Taiwan to apply to Mainland universities on the basis of their Taiwan test scores is certain to set off a chain reaction. One can only hope that improved relations among universities across the Taiwan Strait will lead to improved cross-Strait relations.

After six decades of political turmoil, we have finally extricated ourselves from such outmoded thinking as "Retake the mainland!" and "Liberate Taiwan!" During the past two years the two sides have finally reached a new consensus regarding peace and reconciliation. This may be the best legacy the authorities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can leave future generations. Alas, it may be the only legacy. Can future generations create a win/win scenario based on the current atmosphere of peace and reconciliation? That remains to be seen. This heavy responsibility will fall on the shoulders of the coming generation on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Therefore, we cautiously endorse Beijing's decision to allow students from Taiwan to apply to Mainland universities on the basis of their Taiwan test scores. We cautiously endorse the joint study of a "dual degree policy" being conducted by National Taiwan University and Beijing University. We cautiously endorse allowing Mainland students to study on Taiwan on the basis of their Mainland academic credentials. Closer interaction between universities on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must not transform the Mainland into a giant black hole. It must lead to win/win cross-Strait exchanges.

Since the two sides can not solve problems through war, they must solve problems through peace. Because the two sides must have peace, therefore they must engage in exchanges. The two sides must engage in exchanges, but Taipei must not be swallowed up by Beijing. Taipei must retain the right to determine the nature of cross-Strait exchanges. This applies to cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges. It also applies to cross-Strait academic exchanges. When it comes to economic and trade exchanges, Taipei may not have the advantage. But when it comes to academic exchanges, Taiwan's freedom and democracy give it valuable competitive advantages. In other words, If we want universities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to have a salutary effect on the humanities, we must look to Taiwan. This is something the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan should work hard for.

If we want to integrate universities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the public on Taiwan and high school students and university students on Taiwan must be prepared. The public on Taiwan must appreciate the value of democracy and the rule of law. Democracy and the rule of law are the most precious belongings students from Taiwan will take with them to the Mainland. It will also be their most valuable medium of intellectual exchange on Mainland campuses. But if the parents of this generation of students from Taiwan distort the meaning of democracy, debase the rule of law, and turn their backs on the world, students from Taiwan will lose their psychological advantage. After all, cross-Strait university interaction is not limited to academic exchanges. Such interactions will also be the cradle of a cross-Strait political vision. Students from Taiwan are the guardians of a Chinese model of democracy. This is not something that needs to be trumpeted or overemphasized. That is precisely why it is so valuable in cross-Strait relations.

Future generations of high school and college students on Taiwan must become more involved in cross-Strait university exchanges. Global Vision magazine commissioned a survey of youth on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. It found that 65.3% of young people on Taiwan believe their biggest competitor is young people on the Mainland. This shows that young people on Taiwan have seen the warning signs. But the direct and indirect challenges the coming generation of young people on Taiwan face are not merely challenges in the job market. They also face powerful challenges to the values they have internalized on Taiwan. Are young people on Taiwan ready to face the future?

Twenty-five years from now, could a graduate of National Taiwan University who is a resident of Fujian, become the Governor of Fujian Province? Thirty years from now, could a graduate of Beijing University become a candidate for President of the Republic of China? These possibilities may be too much for our minds to take in. But they are not outside the realm of possibility.

The developments the two sides are pursuing may not be quite so dramatic. Rather, the question is whether the two sides can work together to create cross-Strait peace, democracy, prosperity, and set a humanist example for the world? Can universities on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait engage in the rational and idealistic pursuit of truth and knowledge, both independently and together?

Can CHAIWAN become a miracle? Can it set an example for the world? Can rational and idealistic universities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait give birth to such a phenomenon? We can of course hope. But our hopes may remain nothing more than hopes. After all, the future of the two sides will be determined by future generations of university students on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

2009.07.20 04:01 am











Friday, July 17, 2009

A Japanese Master Recites the Scriptures for the DPP

A Japanese Master Recites the Scriptures for the DPP
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 17, 2009

Renowned Japanese futurist Kenichi Omae has accepted an invitation from the United Daily News to visit Taiwan in the near future. On the eve of his visit, he agreed to an interview with this paper. He reiterated his predictions for the Chinese mainland, and the challenges and opportunities they might present for Taiwan.
Omae pointed out that by 2010, Mainland China's economy would overtake Japan's. It would become the world's second largest economy. By 2055 it would be ten times as larger than today. Of course, Mainland China's economy is not without defects. Omae pointed out that in many sectors Mainland China is not doing as well as India. As for Taiwan, he believes Taipei must establish a "symbiotic relationship" with Beijing. Otherwise it will be forced to step aside.

Omae's observations can be divided into two categories. One. Explore trends relating to Mainland China's rise. Two. Determine Taiwan's long term responses. Of course longer term predictions can become colored by subjective judgments and speculations. Perhaps we can try to understand the context of his reasoning, without getting too fixated on the details. For example, 2055 is 46 years away. During this period economic growth, global warming, and population growth may affect the size of Mainland China's economy. In any event, the rate of Mainland China's economic growth is staggering. Omae recommends that Taipei think in terms of a confederation with Beijing. In the future, along with Tibet and Xinjiang, Taiwan may become a "Ten Percent Nation" on Mainland China's periphery. This is an example of Omae's creative thinking. It may be too early to lock ourselves into the framework of a confederation. But seeking a political solution for Taiwan is a challenge that cannot be avoided.

We may have different ideas about political and economic developments in 30 or 40 years. But in the short-term, given its immediate and pressing problems of survival and development, Taipei has little room to maneuver. Mainland China's economy will soon surpass Japan's, becoming Asia's largest economy. Under ASEAN plus One and ASEAN plus Three regional trade arrangements, nearly every nation with East Asian regional relations with Taipei will form alliances, and become part of an East Asian free trade zone. ASEAN plus Three members long ago began negotiating treaties over a variety of service industries and investments. When these treaties gradually start to come into effect in 2010, nearly every East Asian nation will become a Mainland Chinese factory and market "satellite." If we insist on staying outside this "economic galaxy," we will become the abandoned infant of the Asian economy, with no room whatsover for survival.

Omae said that for Taipei to be negotiating ECFA with Beijing now is already five years too late. If Taipei had faced the threat posed by ASEAN plus Three earlier, and abandoned its "No Haste, Be Patient" path sooner, it would still have room for strategic planning. We could still have given full play to the strengths of our industry. We could still have taken advantage of the many opportunities on Mainland China. But because we misjudged the situation at the time, we must now rely upon ECFA to obtain "Early Harvest" provisions from Beijing. Such aarly harvests mean that other countries are already enjoying the fruits of economic exchanges and free trade. All Taipei can do now is beg others to share and share alike. We long ago lost the chance to have our own exclusive share. Omae's remark about stepping aside confirms that the policy of "No Haste, Be Patient" was a mistake.

Of course, close interaction with Beijing is not without risks. Warnings issued by some of our friends in the Democratic Progressive Party may be closer to reality than the thinking of some KMT politicians. At worst, Beijing is certainly thinking in terms of using businessmen to beseige the government. It may be attempting to drive Taipei into desperate straits. We must not of course forget for a moment the risks involved in cross-Strait exchanges. But even more, we must not refuse to engage in cross-Strait exchanges merely because we suspect the other side's motives. The biggest blunder committed by Democratic Progressive Party officials is to jump from the observation that the other side is unfriendly, to the conclusion that we must refuse any contact with them, and must impose a Closed Door Policy. The public on Taiwan must recognize the potential risk of stepping into an economic trap set by Beijing. But even more, it must understand the risks to our economic survival posed by Taipei's economic Closed Door Policy under the ASEAN plus Three framework. If we do not engage in trade and economic exchanges with Beijing, the ASEAN plus Three countries will soon tell Taipei to step aside. What will Taipei do then? Once we find ourselves at an economic and trade impasse, our economy will decline. When that time comes, what will become of our ability to resist Beijing's demands? The Democratic Progressive Party constantly worries about Beijing using business to promote reunification. But if Taipei loses its economic power, what will happen to its political situation?

Omae pointed out that only when one has ensured one's economic survival, can one begin to explore one's political options. A foreign monk has offered his wisdom on cross-Strait economic and trade relations. The content of his sermon was down to earth. The tone of his sermon was low keyed. One can only hope that common sense, normally obliterated by Taiwan independence fundamentalism, will be given the chance to open a few eyes and ears.

2009.07.17 06:42 am


大前指出,中國大陸的經濟規模即將在二○一○年超越日本,成為全世界第二大經濟體,更將在二○五五年擴張為目前的十倍。當然,中國經濟絕不是沒有缺點;大 前指出,在許多產業制高點的掌握上,中國還不如印度做得好。至於台灣的出路,他認為台灣必須想辦法與中國大陸「共生」,否則將來只有「靠邊站」。

大前的觀點可以切割成兩個面向解讀。其一是探討未來中國大陸繼續崛起的趨勢,其二則是就長期而言來計議台灣可能的因應方向。當然,太長期的發展多少都滲入 個人主觀的判斷與猜測,大家或可嘗試理解其推理脈絡,卻不必太計較細節。例如,從現在到二○五五年還有四十六年,其間經濟成長率的假想、全球暖化的程度、 人口成長的預估等,在在都會影響中國經濟的規模;唯無論如何,中國經濟的發展趨勢是驚人的。再如,大前建議台灣往「邦聯」的架構去思考,將來可能與西藏、 新疆等都成為中共周邊「百分之十」的國家,也是他的創意思維。我們固然不宜太早將自己鎖定在邦聯的框架下,但必須為台灣尋思可能的政治出路亦是無法迴避的 挑戰。

我們雖然可以對三、四十年後的政經發展情勢有諸多不同的情境設想,但是坦白地說:台灣對於短期的、迫在眉睫的生存發展問題,卻沒有多少轉圜的空間。中國大 陸經濟規模不但即將超越日本,成為亞洲最大的經濟體,而且在東協加一與加三的區域貿易安排之下,幾乎所有與台灣有東亞地緣關係的國家都將相互結盟,成為東 亞自由貿易區。除此之外,東協加三的成員也早就在談判各種服務業與投資互惠協定。等到這些條約在二○一○年起開始逐步生效,則東亞諸國幾乎全數成為中國大 陸工廠與市場的「衛星」。此時我們如果堅持要留在此一「經濟星系」之外,台灣將如亞洲經濟之棄嬰,絕對沒有生存的空間。

大前說,台灣現在與中共談判ECFA,其實已經晚了至少五年。如果早些正視東協加三的威脅、早些走出戒急用忍的歧路,台灣還有不少的布局機會,尚能充分發 揮我們的產業優勢,在中國大陸取得若干先機。正因為當初誤判局勢,才會落得今天要靠ECFA向中共爭取「早期收穫」條款的地步。蓋早期收穫就表示別國已然 預期享有的經貿果實,台灣只能拜託別國讓我們「一起分享」,早已不存在「獨自享受」的空間。大前「靠邊站」的結論,也正印驗了戒急用忍的政策錯誤。

當然,與中國大陸密切互動不是沒有風險的,這一點民進黨朋友所提出的警告,恐怕比部分國民黨政治人物的憧憬還要更接近現實。往壞處想,中共當然是心裡想著 「以商圍政」、腦子裡也許確實有「謀我日亟」的圖謀。我們對於兩岸交往的或有風險當然不能須臾或忘,但是更不能因為對岸可能的心懷鬼胎就拒絕往來。民進黨 政治人物所犯的最大錯誤,就是從「對岸不友善」的觀察,不假思索地跳躍到「不與對岸往來」的鎖國結論。台灣人民確應認清踏進中共經濟圈套的風險,但更要理 解台灣鎖國經濟在東協加三架構下的生存危機。如果我們不與中共經貿往來,以至於東協加三等經貿國家都向台灣說「請靠邊站」時,台灣究竟還有什麼活路?一旦 我們經貿沒有出路、經濟衰敗蕭條,到時候究竟我們對中共還有多少抗拒的條件與能力?民進黨人老是擔心對岸「以商促統」,但如果真的在經濟上喪失了實力,台 灣在政治上的處境又豈堪設想?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Open Our Hearts, Welcome Our Guests, Be Good Hosts

Open Our Hearts, Welcome Our Guests, Be Good Hosts
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 16, 2009

The Kaohsiung World Games opened today. Five thousand competitors and visitors from several hundred nations gathered in Kaohsiung. For the Republic of China, this was a rare event. In particular, after endless negotiations, President Ma Ying-jeou confirmed that he would preside over the opening ceremonies in his capacity as head of state. The public would be allowed to bring their own Republic of China national flags and cheer for Republic of China competitors. Citizens of the Republic of China would maintain their dignity on their own home court. These are all things worth celebrating.
Originally the International World Games Association refused to allow President Ma to officiate at the opening ceremonies. It was even rumored that Chang Yu, the PRC government's General Administrator of Sports would officiate, in his capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Olympic Committee. For the public on Taiwan, such an arrangement would have been unacceptable. After several months of negotiations, the International World Games Association, the Republic of China Olympic Committee, and the Kaohsiung Municipal Government arrived at a three sided compromise. The International World Games Association agreed to abandon precedent. Ma Ying-jeou would become the first president to preside over the World Games since they were held for the first time nine years ago. In the past, mayors or ministers chaired the event. One might say that during the current World Games the Republic of China established a new world record.

President Ma presided over the opening ceremonies. Members of the public were allowed to bring their own Republic of China national flags and cheer for the Republic of China team, This constituted a break from the rigid Olympic model, and established a new World Games model. This progress was not merely the fruit of efforts by three parties. It was also the result of goodwill on the part of a fourth party. Beijing did not object to the current arrangements. This was tantamount to an endorsement. In the past, Beijing blocked our appearance in international venues. This often provoked resentment on Taiwan. It provided pro-independence elements with a bully pulpit. This time, amidst an atmosphere of cross-Strait peace, the public on Taiwan witnessed with their own eyes Beijing's increasingly pragmatic approach to the World Games.

Kaohsiung is hosting the World Games. Everything it experienced, from competing for the right to host the event, to its planning and its execution, involved a kind of metamorphosis. Japanese architect Toyo Ito designed the main World Games Stadium to look like a soaring dragon, and enlivened the entire stadium district. Together with the newly completed mass rapid transit system, it has turned Kaohsiung into a new city. By hosting an international sports event, Kaohsiung has enhanced its image as a modern metropolis.

Partisan politics have long divided the island North and South. Hosting the World Games in the city of Kaohsiung, under the auspices of the Republic of China, has encouraged the Democratic Progressive Party, which has long rejected the Republic of China national flag, to treat it as their centerpiece. By inviting President Ma to officiate over the opening ceremony, they deserve commendation for transcending their old patterns as a "single party city." This will help bridge differences between North and South, and between Blue and Green.

Above all, the Kaohsiung Municipal Government has transcended the DPP's Closed Door mentality. In order to promote the World Games, Chen Chu was willing to incur the wrath of her own party. She visited the mainland and communicated with the Beijing authorities. She lobbied incessantly with the International World Games Association. She called for the participation of the Repubic of China president, and the display of the Republic of China national flag. Organizing international sporting events requires a broader outlook than partisan infighting. It requires a more diversified outlook than local machine politics. These represent a quantum leap in her level of tolerance and sense of inclusivity.

Kaohsiung harbor is a gateway to Taiwan. The DPP purports to be a "Nativist" political party. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu is a political figure from the Kaohsiung Incident era. Her background lends her participation in the World Games a special significance. During the opening ceremonies the traditional Chinese demi-god Na Zha entered the arena on a motorcycle. Puppet theater characters greeted the audience. Taiwan greeted the world. The world got a look at Taiwan. The public on Taiwan has long had a provincial worldview. The World Games has helped the public on Taiwan realize that opening one's doors to the world is not easy. One must first open the doors to one's heart.

Highly sensitive political issues such as the use of the Republic of China flag and the Republic of China president have been resolved, Now the question is how to properly fulfill our role as the host. Compared to the highly competitive Olympic Games, the World Games are more like a summer sports festival. The competitive events are lively and full of local color. Because they lack the tense atmosphere of the Olympic Games, competitors can take advantage of the occasion to make friends with each other. Hosting the World Games in Kaohsiung has provided us with an opportunity to promote the Republic of China on the international stage, More importantly it has allowed us to fulfill our role as host. Those who came to compete and those who came to watch were given VIP treatment, winning their friendship. The record breaking expenditure of the World Games, which cost tens of billions of dollars, were not squandered.

The World Games theme song was "I See the World." It symbolizes Kaohsiung's lofty ambitions. Therefore we appeal to the public on Taiwan. Set aside your prejudices. Be a proper host to the World Games. The public on Taiwan may have grievances about the Republic of China national flag and the Republic of China national anthem. The World Games may not be able to address these grievances. But we should at least strive to open the doors to our hearts, and win the friendship of our overseas guests.

2009.07.16 06:14 am










Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chen Shui-bian Must Look the Courts and the Public in the Eye

Chen Shui-bian Must Look the Courts and the Public in the Eye
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 15, 2009

Chen Shui-bian's detention has been extended three times. It has gotten to the point where Chen finds it necessary to change his legal defense strategy. His original legal defense strategy was to plead not guilty and see eventual acquittal. His future defense strategy will probably focus on the verdict. hoping to obtain a pardon.
Chen Shui-bian's detention has been extended to September 25. By that time the courts may have returned a verdict in the first instance. Even if they have not, they may continue detaining him. The Full Court has extended Chen's detention for the third time. Based on the court's rulings, Chen Shui-bian is almost certain to demand a hearing. Chen Shui-bian is no longer wasting his energy seeking acquittal. Instead he seems to be concentrating on the verdict, hoping to obtain a pardon. He hopes to receive a more favorable decision, perhaps to pave the way for a pardon. The key to his strategy is to admit guilt in court and apologize to society.

The Full Court has extended his detention three times. It pointed out that Chen Shui-bian faces at least seven years for the felonies he committed. The Full Court's actions revealed the judges' thinking. Actually a number of Chen Shui-bian's crimes could lead to 20 or 30 year sentences. He has yet to be charged with crimes calling for life imprisonment. Previously Chen Shui-bian made numerous attempts to interfere with the judicial process. The Full Court was compelled to take this evidence of Chen's motives into consideration when deciding whether to extend his detention. If during the final stages of his trial Chen Shui-bian still refuses to show repentance and admit guilt, the Full Court may be compelled to increase the penalties imposed. The only way Chen Shui-bian can influence the judges now is to admit guilt and show repentance. He must cease slandering, attacking, insulting, and intimidating the judges. Does Chen Shui-bian really want to play power games with the court? Does he really want to test the judges' patience?

Chen Shui-bian may be found guilty. He may be given a heavy sentence. Chen Shui-bian himself suspects as much. Suppose Chen Shui-bian is sentenced to life or 30 years. He will find himself in a predicament. Should he appeal or should he seek a pardon? If he appeals, he cannot seek a pardon. Conversely, if he seeks a pardon, then he may not make an appeal. A pardon is a political gesture that must accord with the feelings of the public. If Chen Shui-bian refuses to admit guilt after being convicted in the first instance, how can the public agree to a pardon? At the very least Chen Shui-bian must admit guilt and apologize. To have any chance of a pardon he must forgo any appeals and make a number of political promises. Conversely, if he maintains his unrepentant attitude, how can the public possibly agree to a pardon? How can Ma Ying-jeou possibly justify giving him a pardon?

The Full Court extended the length of Chen's detention. It had much to say about Chen Shui-bian's interference with the judicial process. The Full Court said "if he was released the harm he could do to the administration of justice and the degree to which he could interfere with the judicial process was unimaginable." Such views went beyond the original reasons for his detention. The Full Court's attention is now on the need to ensure due process during the trial as a whole. As matters stand, Chen Shui-bian's political sleight of hand has backfired. Playing with fire has gotten him burned. If Chen Shui-bian refuses to come clean with the court and admit guilt, the judges may be forced by law to impose a heavier sentence. If Chen Shui-bian refuses to apologize to the public and express remorse, he may rule out any possibility of a pardon. The judges are permitted to consider only whether Chen Shui-bian undermined the administration of justice and interfered with the trial process. Society, on the other hand, is more concerned about whether Chen Shui-bian might trample over justice and divide society.

Chen Shui-bian has painted himself into a corner. He may be able to mobilize people such as Chen Chung-mo, convincing them to beseige to the courthouse. He may be able to mobilize people such as Tsai Chi-fang, convincing them to demand his release. But the verdict is not in their hands. The verdict is in the hands of the Full Court. Chen Shui-bian must think clearly, and act rationally. The time when he could obstruct justice has passed. For all his efforts, he has nothing to show. All he can look forward to now is the court's verdict and a presidential pardon. Anyone who hopes for a favorable court ruling must convince a judge of his repentance. Anyone who hpoes for a presidential pardon must admit guilt and convince the public that his expressions of remorse are sincere.

Chen Shui-bian chose the wrong legal defense strategy. He made the same mistakes he made when he was in power and ruled the nation. He made the mistake of sacrificing means for ends, right for wrong, and substance for form. He sought only quick fixes. He refused to consider the consequences. He engaged in deceit. He trampled over justice. Yesterday he controlled the machinery of state. Today he manipulated the wheels of justice. That is why he directed his appeals at a tiny minority of Deep Green True Believers gathered outside the courthouse. That is why he demonstrated nothing but contempt for the courts and the general public. We now know Chen Shui-bian's antics outside the courthouse will not reverse his fortunes. He must now look the courts and the public in the eye.

Chen Shui-bian must wake up to the fact that Chen Chung-mo is not in charge of the courts, and Tsai Chi-fang cannot give him a pardon.

2009.07.15 04:49 am









Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Diplomacy Must Be Conducted Standing Upright

Diplomacy Must Be Conducted Standing Upright
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 8, 2009

President Ma Ying-jeou has ended his six day "Journey of Enduring Friendship" and returned to Taipei. This brief, tightly scheduled visit to Central America was his second. It was dogged by one incident after another. Nevertheless, it consolidated our alliances and proclaimed our foreign policy. The previous "Journey of Enduring Relations" was dogged by earthquakes, detained bodyguards, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega standing President Ma up. This trip was the same. It too was dogged by incidents from beginning to end.

First, a coup broke out in Honduras. President Manuel Zelaya was deposed and deported. Our government was forced to postpone our visit to Honduras. To everyone's surprise Zelaya appeared at at the Panamanian president's inauguration ceremony. When President Ma and his party arrived in Nicaragua, Zelaya made yet another appearance. Daniel Ortega was scheduled to greet President Ma at the airport and play host to him at the state banquet. But in order to discuss the matter of Zelaya's return to his country, he stood Ma up. President Ma was so angry he was tempted to terminate his visit. Our government even threatened to cut aid. Only then did Daniel Ortega come forward to apologize.

The timing of President Ma's state visit was unfortunate. It coincided with a coup in Honduras. As a result, Central America was in an tizzy. The international community was also affected. Add to this Zelaya flitting from here to there, and the situation was totally unpredictable. That original itinerary was affected. It couldn't be helped. It's like calling on someone at an appointed time, only to find a fire raging in his house. Everyone is busy running around dousing the flames, to the inevitable neglect of the guests.

This course, we can understand. Nevetheless the manner in which the Nicaraguan government handled the matter was truly discourteous. Daniel Ortega, who rose to power as a guerrilla, retains a rustic manner. His manner of doing business is unpredictable. Moreover, Latin America has never been known for its formality. Even assuming the schedule had to be changed, Nicaraguan officials should have notified us in advance. They could then have avoided a mess. They should have made arrangements in recompense, to demonstrate their respect for a visiting head of state.

If others conclude it makes no difference how they treat us, that they need not show us even the fundamental courtesies, they are demonstrating a lack of upbringing. They are also implying that they have nothing to fear from us, and can do anything they want to us. Such an attitude is the long term consequence of swallowing our pride in order to retain our diplomatic allies.

Cross-Strait diplomatic battles have been bloody affairs in the past. We have long been at a serious disadvantage. We have long feared that if we lose even a single ally, it will spell the end. Therefore we have been at a disadvantage in dealing with our allies. We have long had to swallow our grievances for the sake of the bigger picture. We have long had to exchange huge sums of money for diplomatic recognition and sponsorship by international organizations. Other parties knew Taipei could not afford to take a hard line, so they often take advantage of our weakness. They even pocketed our contributions and enriched themselves. Once these scandals erupted, even the image of the victim of such extortion was tarnished.

The President of Nicaragua treated the President of the Republic of China in such a cavalier manner, partly because he was busy with the matter of Zelaya. But his underlying attitude was: Taipei is a pushover. This time however, Daniel Ortega ran into a brick wall. President Ma was furious after being repeatedly stood up. He was prepared to end his visit to Nicaragua and leave. Had that happened, it would have been an embarrassment seldom encountered in International diplomacy. Taipei has long been afraid to take such a tough stand. No wonder Daniel Ortega rushed to apologize, and showed President Ma the respect he demanded.

The Republic of China has long been in a tough situation. That much is clear. Asymmetrical relations with our allies have continually undermined our national dignity and drained our economic lifeblood. The public on Taiwan has also been subjected to covert humiliations. This has morphed into anxiety about diplomatic isolation, and resentment against Beijing. Diplomacy is an extension of domestic affairs. Our diplomatic plight has a domestic impact.

The two sides have now reached a diplomatic truce. Taipei need not cave in to everyones' demands, as it did in the past. In response to unreasonable treatment, we can now speak up. Our allies must adapt to this change, because the past method of interaction was wrong. It was unsustainable. It was intolerable to the public on Taiwan, and our Central American allies were unhappy with their politicians pocketing the aid we gave them. President Ma's two visits have made our position quite clear, in both word and deed.

In the past, Republic of China presidents liked to use state visits as pretexts for personal political campaigns. Allies used the opportunity to raise prices. Now that the policy has changed, state visits can be practical affairs. The fanfare, hoopla, and transits through the United States no longer justify such visits. The diplomatic truce is of course not a diplomatic holiday. We must actively promote bilateral cooperation and exchanges, on the basis of equality and mutual respect. We must move away from cross-Strait conflict. Diplomacy must return to normal. Cooperation and assistance must continue, but on a healthier basis.

Foreign Minister Francisco Ou said he did not object to Beijing setting up economic and trade offices with our diplomatic allies. At one time this provoked a storm of controversy. It was rumored that the Presidential Office was unhappy. In fact, during his previous visit, President Ma said he did not oppose allies establishing economic and trade relations with Beijing. Francisco Ou was referring only to low-level trade bodies. He felt no need at the time to openly promote "dual recognition." The bilateral diplomatic truce must also be implemented on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Being afraid of upsetting Beijing would also be unhealthy. Taipei must stand straight. This true internationally, and this is true bilaterally.

推動外交 是該直起腰桿來了












Monday, July 13, 2009

Using Taiwan Test Scores to Apply to Mainland Universities

Using Taiwan Test Scores to Apply to Mainland Universities
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 13, 2009

On the basis of one's test scores, students from Taiwan will be able to gain admission to any university on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. If one cannot get into National Taiwan University, one can get into Beijing University. If one cannot get into Tsinghua University in Hsinchu, one can get into Tsinghua University at Beijing. If one cannot get into the department of one's choice at National Chengchi University, one will be able to at Fudan University in Shanghai. For students from Taiwan, this is mighty tempting.

Mainland China's Vice Minister of Education Yuan Guiren announced this policy at the bilateral forum in Changsha. Students from Taiwan will be able to apply to Mainland universities using their Taiwan test scores. Some people think this will not impact universities on Taiwan. Others think this may lead to a wave of students studying on the Mainland over the next few years.

Let's talk about some peoples' doubts and fears. If this policy takes effect and spreads, every year as many as 10,000 students from Taiwan will chose to cross the "Blackwater Ditch" (Taiwan Strait) for four or more years of academic studies in Mainland cities. This means that a a significant proportion of young people from Taiwan would be "transferred" to the Chinese mainland. Since these students are the academic elites, how should we interpret such a population movement?

A deeper concern is that because the CCP is authoritarian, it can control the admissions process to elite Mainland universities. It can even give preferential treatment through scholarships. Will this increase the temptation for students from Taiwan to cross the Strait for higher learning? After these students cross the Strait, will these young people from Taiwan eventually wind up as Beijing's political bargaining chips?

This sort of negative thinking begins with the assumption that everything must always be to our disadvantage. As a result, its conclusion will always be that we must take every possible measure to confront and obstruct such a trend.

But one can also adopt a more positive point of view. The final result of bilateral exchanges will not necessarily manifest itself in one or two generations. We hope the two sides will fully understand each other during these one or two generations. Such an understanding is only possible when people on both sides have free access to each others' social environment, educational environment, and lifestyle. Only a generation that grows up in such an environment will be able to internalize and resolve the problems the two sides face.

Over the past sixty years, several generations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have remained mired in a zero sum game of hatred and confrontation. Governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait manipulated cross-Strait relations to their own political advantage. The public on both sides of the Taiwan Strait was relegated to the role of an amen chorus, waving flags and shouting angry slogans. If we believe the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should share a vision of peace and mutual prosperity, the first task is to increase bilateral exchanges, enabling the public on both sides to guide cross-Strait relations. If we think in these terms, open exchanges between universities on both sides is a forgone conclusion. Because as university students develop concepts of right and wrong, they will be the ones who introduce and implement a vision for the future. If the Taiwan side lacks confidence even in cross-Strait exchanges between university students, then it is going to have even less confidence in cross-Strait exchanges between ordinary members of the public.

This gesture by the Beijing authorities can be described as audacious. Beijing did not ask Taiwan to open its doors. Beijing opened its doors first. Students from Taiwan need not take any additional exams. Given such an opportunity, they are highly likely to consider such alternatives. Moreover, Beijing opened the door. Once opened, Taipei can hardly demand that Beijing to close it. In other words, the situation is out of Taipei's hands. Therefore, from Taipei's perspective, it must adopt a posture of greater openness. Otherwise it will merely wind up in a posture of passivity.

This gesture by Beijing will make it even more difficult for Taiwan to reject Mainland academic credentials, and to prohibit Mainland students from studying on Taiwan. Because even under the current system, 2000 students from Taiwan went to the Mainland to study. Now that students from Taiwan can gain admission to Mainland universities based solely on their Taiwan test scores, and receive all sorts of preferential treatment to boot, their ranks will rapidly increase. Refusal to recognize Mainland academic credentials will be both infeasible and pointless. If students from Taiwan study on the Mainland, but students from the Mainland are prohibited from studying on Taiwan, such a lop-sided situation will only be disadvantageous to Taiwan.

If the two sides of the Taiwan Strait do not wish to slam their doors shut and engage in confrontation, then they must open their doors and engage in cross-Strait exchanges. Economic and trade exchanges are good, but not as good as people to people exchanges. People to people exchanges on university campuses should be encouraged. After all, young people have a powerful sense of right and wrong, a global outlook, and hope for the future. We look forward to a future in which both sides can win and create mutual prosperity. We hope such a future will germinate and grow on university campuses on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

2009.07.13 05:55 am