Friday, December 31, 2010

Remembering Year 99, Welcoming Year 100

Remembering Year 99, Welcoming Year 100
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 31, 2010

Today is the last day of the 99th year of the Republic of China. Tomorrow is first day of the Republic of China centennial.

This newspaper is holding a "2101 Poll." Readers are invited to phone in and vote on "A Record of Major Events," or 13 major events that occurred this year,

This newspaper invited four experts to suggest five major events each. Among these events, "ECFA is signed" and "Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng are imprisoned for corruption" received votes from all four. The signing of ECFA ranked number one. It received three votes for first place, and one vote for second place. Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng Jane being imprisoned ranked second place. It received one vote for first place, one vote for second place, and two votes for fifth place. One might say that the theme for the 99th Year of the Republic of China was the reestablishment of cross-Strait relations and the restoration of justice.

ECFA has been signed. It was undoubtedly one of the most important events of the year. On January 26, representatives from Taipei and Beijing met in Beijing and held their first formal consultation on the "cross-strait economic cooperation agreement" (ECFA). On June 29, the agreement was formally signed in Chongqing. By the end of the year, the "cross-strait economic cooperation committee" had been formed. This was the biggest breakthrough in six decades of cross-Strait economic and trade relations. It was also an experiment in cross-Strait political relations. ECFA will officially go into effect tomorrow, on New Year's Day. Meanwhile the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan remain deadlocked over "whether there is a 1992 consensus" and "whether the 1992 consensus should be recognized."

The 13 "major events" include events that directly or indirectly affect cross-Strait relations. For example, Liu Xiaopo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This underscored freedom and democracy -- the main difference between the two sides. Another was the Shanghai World Expo. It underscored "the rise of [Mainland] China" and of course affected attitudes toward cross-Strait relations. The North and South Korean Tianan ship incident closely mirrored cross-Strait relations. The debt crisis in Europe was a continuation of the 2008 financial crisis. It forced the public on Taiwan to contemplate the opportunities and risks involved in cross-Strait relations and globalization. The Taipei Flora Exposition invited comparision with the Shanghai World Expo, and symbolized the rivalry between the two sides.

We look forward to tomorrow, and welcome the Republic of China centennial. The 1992 consensus and ECFA have made cross-Strait economic and trade relations and symbiotic win/win "peaceful development" possible. Yet cross-Strait relations remain mired in political controversy over whether they should be recognized.

Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng have been imprisoned for corruption. Chen Shui-bian was imprisoned on December 2. This was an important step in the judicial process. During the trial however, the issue of "presidential authority" came up. This underscored the failure of seven constitutional amendments. During the year end five cities elections, Chen Shui-bian's "one country each side connection" scored a remarkable victory. This underscored the struggle between justice and populist politics.

In 2008, the ROC underwent a second change in ruling parties. The Chen corruption trial went on. The public had high expectations. They wanted an independent judiciary and social justice. Huang Shi-ming was included in the 13 major events. As Prosecutor General he carried out the death penalty, executing four convicts in one night, by firing squad. This also involved attitudes regarding justice system reform and social justice. Huang Shi-ming stood out because Chen Tsung-ming, Morley Shih, Lu Jen-fa, Yeh Sheng-mao, Cheng Chung-mo and their ilk shattered public faith in the justice system. Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu carried out four death sentences in a single night. He did so because his predecessor Wang Ching-feng opposed the death penalty, postponed the executions, and was forced to resign.

Chen family corruption inflicted untold damage on public morals and on the nation's justice system. On Taiwan, the justice system remains riddled with defects. These defects are not confined to disputes over the Chen family corruption case. The 99th year of the Republic of China is drawing to a close. The public has heightened expectations about housing. The fairness of health care reform has become a point of controversy. School bullying incidents have shocked the nation. One elderly Mr. Wang crucified one elderly Mrs. Wang. A doctoral candidate stood in the way of an ambulance and flipped people the bird, Eight men and women used "ten torture methods" to torture a friend, and were sentenced to 12 years in prison. These major and minor news events were not included in the 13 major events. They happened during the final days of of the year. They suggest that an increasingly M-shaped society brims over with injustice and hostility. These injustices must be corrected by a robust educational system.

We look forward to the Republic of China centennial. People on Taiwan seek a better tomorrow. They are taking two main directions. One. They are reestablishing cross-Strait relations. Politically, they are upholding the 1992 consensus, and "one China, different interpretations." Economically, they are upholding ECFA, which ensures a mutually beneficial, win-win situation for both sides. This is how it must be. Otherwise Taiwan cannot compete in a globalized marketplace. It cannot enjoy the peace and stability required for survival and development. Two. They are restoring social justice. The Chen family corruption case still has the potential to divide society. Politicians, particularly the Democratic Progressive Party, must heal society's wounds. Our society is filled with injustice and hostility. Society's values have been grossly distorted. The ruling and opposition parties must work together. They must reform the justice system and repair the many gaps in the social system.

回憶九九 迎向一百
2010.12.31 02:41 am











Thursday, December 30, 2010

KMT Chops Heads, Boldly Moves Forward

KMT Chops Heads, Boldly Moves Forward
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 30, 2010

"Voting for rival candidates is tantamount to betraying the party!" The KMT Disciplinary Committee has established an historic precedent. All ten KMT city council members who voted for rival candidates during the Tainan City Government Speaker and Deputy Speaker elections will have their party membership revoked. Party Secretary-General King Pu-tsung delivered a solemn speech. The KMT chopped heads even though it was left with only three seats. It was virtually starting from scratch. But the KMT showed its determination, and administered discipline. It changed the image of the party. For this it has earned our respect.

Local politics on Taiwan is complex. Unless one resorts to extraordinary, virtually revolutionary measures, the problems that dog local politics cannot be corrected. During the Chiang Ching-kuo era, when the government encountered deeply entrenched local interests, its attitude was "out of sight, out of mind." But after all, it was an authoritarian era. The central government could impose draconian punishments. Local factions dared not engage in official/triad collusion. During Lee Teng-hui's reign, he wooed local factions. This enabled him to retain power for 12 years. He left behind him a legacy of Black Gold, and contributed to the KMT's loss of power.

Pandering to local factions is the most expedient means of clinging to power. But it is also the costliest means of clinging to power. During the 20 years since martial law was lifted, local politics has undergone rapid degeneration. City and county council members carry illegal firearms, engage in illicit sexual conduct, and control local gambling. Those who shield the local sex industry from prosecution are given carte blanche. Prosecutors and police are all on the same page. Violators can neither be apprehended nor prosecuted.

The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. Chen Shui-bian paid lip service to higher standards of conduct. But in practice he played the same old game as Lee Teng-hui. If anything, he was worse. Every time an election rolled around, Chen Shui-bian made a personal appearance. He paid secret visits to local triad leaders and party bosses. When the president himself is busy glad-handing triad bosses, who is going to have the guts to prosecute these people?

Each time a city or county council election rolled around, bribery was rampant. Votes sold for several million NT. Candidates paid huge bribes for city or county council speaker positions. What did the winners do upon being elected? Collect their salaries and go on vacation? Hardly. Council members sell their votes. As they move about the council chambers, they can hardly defy orders handed down by Black Gold council speakers. City and county councils have become the biggest gangs of all. They can exert pressure on officials through both the government and through triads. Can any local official hoping to avoid trouble defy them? Eventually city and county governments, overtly or covertly, will be compelled to award local elective officials infrastructure contracts, and even lobbying commissions.

When political parties surrender to local factions for the sake of votes, local politics is plunged into darkness. Even more frightening, once these local factions grow in strength, they swiftly infiltrate the central government. Standards for legislators have declined precipitously over the past 20 years. Democracy on Taiwan has become mired in a vicious cycle, unable to extricate itself.

For these local elected officials, selfish interest trumps all. In their eyes, political parties do not exist. To them, "party discipline" is a joke. Never mind party spirit and party ethics. Under democracy, the concept of "draconian party discipline" may come across as something out of ancient history. But respect for discipline is a fundamental truth. Today, an individual might sell his vote for selfish gain. Tomorrow he might sell out the dignity of his party for even larger gains. Personal integrity for such individuals is a foreign concept.

In Tainan, the KMT has been in the opposition for some time. This time, it has sharpened its axes. It has, in one fell swoop, revoked the party membership of over 10 city council members. This has left the KMT even weaker in Tainan than before. But as the saying goes, "three's a crowd." As long as the three remaining KMT members are sufficiently professional, and have enough heart, they can still play a role in the municipal government. At least when factional disputes arise in the future, they will have nothing to with the KMT. The DPP has implemented "total government" in Tainan. Whether the DPP can rid itself of its negative image depends on its determination.

The KMT has severely punished 10 city council members. King Pu-tsung explained. Tainan City clearly stipulates that when city council members cast their votes, "their political allegiances must be clear, if their party has disciplinary measures, they must be imposed." Among the 10 KMT city council members, seven voted for independents. Only three voted for the DPP. But it was impossible to determine which three voted for the DPP. Although the other seven did not betray the party to the same degree, they had to be treated equally. Those who voted for the DPP betrayed the party. Those who voted for a controversial independent, may have done so for personal financial motives. Did vote-buying figure in the recent five cities elections? Why have prosecutors remained silent?

The KMT is the most inclusive political party on Taiwan. But being inclusive does not mean condoning betrayal. In particular, one cannot condone displaying the party colors even while engaging in illicit quid pro quo. Some city council members also voted for political opponents in the Taipei City Government Deputy Speaker election. But because the KMT failed to take action in advance, verifying the facts afterward was difficult. Strict party discipline must not lead to miscarriages of justice. King Pu-tsung asked the KMT leadership, the KMT council caucus, and the party, to "engage in soul searching." In fact, the KMT leadership, the KMT council caucus, and even the party, know perfectly well which council members voted for rival candidates. If the guilty parties remain unrepentant, and fail to engage in soul-searching, such rotten apples should not remain in the barrel.

A nation has its national laws. A party has its party discipline. The purpose of political parties is not merely to win elections. It is to serve the public after winning elections. How can those who seek selfish advantage or engage in wrongdoing represent the people? During the five cities elections, the KMT received fewer votes than the DPP. For the KMT, there is no turning back. It has taken a bold step. It has gotten a fresh start and seized the initiative. It has taken the first step in partisan competition, not just during election season, but in the day to day performance of its duties. Only by emancipating itself from election pressures, can it stand tall, and win respect. Otherwise, even if it wins elections, and attains high office, it will still be ashamed to face the nation.

國民黨大刀出鍘 勇敢邁出一大步
2010-12-30 中國時報












Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen Has Painted Herself into a Corner

Tsai Ing-wen Has Painted Herself into a Corner
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 29, 2010

During an interview with the media, President Ma Ying-jeou demanded that DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen come clean. "Does she recognize the 1992 Consensus or not?" The DPP's response was swift. "The DPP has never recognized the 1992 Consensus."

We urge the DPP to think twice before speaking, The DPP should refrain from making such a sweeping statement. Because without the 1992 Consensus, there can be no "peaceful development" between Taipei and Beijing.

Without the 1992 Consensus, the two sides cannot possibly enjoy "peaceful development." Everyone knows this. The DPP cannot possibly be unaware of this. Nor can Tsai Ing-wen. The main reason the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus, is intra-party power struggles.

The political situation on Taiwan has undergone changes since the five cities elections. In particular, power relations within the DPP have undergone massive changes. Two major trends have appeared. One. Tsai Ing-wen has gained political momentum. She may relegate Su Tseng-chang's generation to the dustbin of history -- in one fell swoop. Two. Chen Shui-bian scored an election victory on the shoulders of the "one country on each side connection." As a result, he may become a "party within the party." These two trends, including Tsai Ing-wen eliminating Su Tseng-chang as a player, will only benefit Chen Shui-bian. They leave the impression that Tsai Ing-wen is at loggerheads with Chen Shui-bian over his advocacy of "one country each side." Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus. One reason is her fear of Chen Shui-bian.

Let us begin at the beginning. In May 2000, President Chen Shui-bian began his first term as president. In June, he met with officials from the US. He accepted "One China, Different Interpretations," and the 1992 Consensus. The next day, as a result of intervention by then Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council Tsai Ing-wen, Chen Shui-bian repudiated his previous statement. Not only that, Chen Shui-bian even contemplated abolishing the National Unification Council. He followed the example set by Lee Teng-hui. He personally assumed the chairmanship of the National Unification Council. He failed to follow through as a result of Tsai Ing-wen's opposition. In other words, the demise of Chen Shui-bian's "new centrist path" was primarily Tsai Ing-wen's responsibility. Tsai has a history of opposition to the 1992 Consensus. How can she possibly fail to oppose it now? Suppose Tsai endorses the 1992 Consensus? Won't Chen Shui-bian, who is leading the charge on "one country each side" insist on settling an old score with Tsai Ing-wen?

This is a paradox of history. To the general public and DPP reformers, Tsai Ing-wen is the person most likely to lead the DPP toward a new era. The key to the DPP's transformation is recognizing the ROC Constitution and changing the DPP's cross-Strait policy accordingly. The 1992 Consensus is the key within the key. Besides, the 1992 Consensus was a key first turned by the KMT. The DPP can simply say it is "continuing the cross-Strait policies of the previous administration." It can merely go with the flow, and stabilize the situation. But who knew that Tsai Ing-wen, the person most likely to lead the DPP into a new era, would find herself stuck? She is stuck over "reality vs. development," "attack vs. defense," and the "1992 Consensus, and one China, different interpretations." Years ago Tsai Ing-wen prevented Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. Now, years later, she must suffer the consequences of her own actions. Karmic payback has resulted in a tragic absurdity.

We have repeatedly stressed the importance of the 1992 Consensus. Therefore this article will not harp on the matter now. In sum, the "peaceful development" enjoyed by the two sides today is rooted entirely in the above mentioned 1992 Consensus. Repudiating the 1992 Consensus means repudiating "peaceful development." For example, if one repudiates the 1992 Consensus, how can one possibly uphold ECFA? Is this really what the DPP advocates? Is this really Tsai Ing-wen's proposal? Is this really how the DPP intends to rule the nation in the event it returns to power in 2012?

Besides, why has Tsai Ing-wen repudiated the 1992 Consensus? Has she done so out of concern for the nation's current and future survival? Or did she do so merely out of concern for her personal political survival? Did she do so merely because Chen Shui-bian made it known that she once blocked the 1992 Consensus? Did she do so merely because she now finds it impossible to change her tune? On this, the DPP must be clear. Tsai Ing-wen herself must be even clearer. Therefore, we urge the DPP to think twice before speaking, and to refrain from making such a sweeping statement. After all, if it repudiates the 1992 Consensus, what sort of "Political Platform for the Coming Decade" can it possibly offer?

In June 2000, Tsai Ing-wen first prevented Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. As a result, the DPP spun its wheels over "one country each side," for the next eight years. Now Tsai Ing-wen is the Democratic Progressive Party's 2012 presidential candidate. Does she really intend to repudiate the 1992 Consensus a second time? Does she really intend to launch a coordinated attack against the 1992 Consensus in lockstep with Chen Shui-bian?

Tsai Ing-wen finds herself caught on the horns of a dilemma. If she recognizes the 1992 Consensus, how can she answer to Chen Shui-bian and her Deep Green supporters? If she repudiates the 1992 Consensus, how can she answer to the majority of the public? How should she approach the 2012 presidential election? Will the DPP move toward a scenario in which Tsai Ing-wen eliminates Su Tseng-chang, while Chen Shui-bian coopts Tsai Ing-wen?

Who would have guessed that the paint Tsai Ing-wen laid down in June 2000, would paint her into a corner years later?

【聯合報╱聯合報】 2010.12.29












Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reform Bullies and Protect Their Victims

Reform Bullies and Protect Their Victims
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 28, 2010

School bullying has become a matter of public attention. Everyone considers the problem serious. Everyone agrees on the need for increased prevention. Given such a widespread consensus, the government agencies responsible should immediately look into the matter, and establish mechanisms to prevent bullying. After all, our childrens' development is not something that can wait.

In fact, bullying reflects the dark side of human nature. Education is part of a child's socialization process. Education inculcates self-restraint, respect for others, and the need to abide by certain norms. Anyone who has read the novel, "The Lord of the Flies," knows how children left to run amok, can degenerate into cruelty and barbarism. The campus is a place where children must be educated. It must correct deviant behavior. It must not become a place in which children are subjected to the law of the jungle. It must not become a killing field in which some children are destroyed.

Campuses will always have bullies. Students will always have conflicts. Students will always be subject to ostracism. Recent examples of campus bullying however, suggest some worrying trends.

One. The level of violence has escalated. Many incidents of abuse are quite violent and cruel. They resemble incidents from movies. They have already reached the level of indictable criminal offenses.

Two. Incidents of sexual assault have increased. Many bullying incidents, particularly those with female victims, involve sexual violence. Victims are stripped of their clothing and photographed naked in obscene poses. They are subjected to sexual assault using bottles, and photographs of them are distributed.

Three. Incidents of teenage girls engaging in bullying behavior have increased. Incidents of bullying by girls were once rare. Incidents were mostly verbal attacks or social ostracism. Recently however, the incidence of bullying by female students has increased, and so has the level of violence.

Four. Gangs and illegal drugs have cast a shadow over schools, complicating matters. Many bullies, on and off campus, are gang members. They engage in displays of machismo to impress their peers. Even teachers are intimidated.

Five. Bullying has entered the age of the Internet. The younger generation is intimately familiar with the Internet. Some bullies launch their attacks on the Internet. They spread rumors, isolating the victim. The harm inflicted upon their victims is every bit as great as direct physical harm. Their traumatic impact is increased by the effect of the Internet.

In particular, some bullies see the Internet as a means of showing off. They triumphantly post their videos on the Internet. This amplifies the impact. Such videos wind up circulating on the Internet forever, making the victim's trauma even worse.

Such trends underscore the need for a strong response to campus bullying. In fact, the bullies, their victims, and bystanders, are all affected to a greater or lesser degree. The bullies need isolation and counseling. Their victims need counseling and protection. Bystanders may experience feelings of panic and impotence. They may be afraid they will become the next target. They too may have psychological scars. A bullying environment acclimate members to violence and bullying. They will lose their sense of right and wrong, of fundamental respect for human rights, and of the right to self-defense. All of these problems need to be addressed.

Most people focus on protecting the victims. They want to punish or even ostracize the bully. They want to make campuses safe again. But the source of bullying, the bully himself, is often himself the victim of simplistic labeling and stigmatization. He may have been depicted as a heinous criminal. His background, character, and motivation may be ignored.

But bullies are also children who must be educated. Their problems must also be addressed. They may include family dysfunction, inadequate parenting, and individual or peer group influences. If these children can be reformed, society may be spared future crimes. Give up on them prematurely, refuse to give them another chance, treat them as public enemies, consider only punishment or ostracism, and we will only push more people into the abyss. Our campuses and community will not necessarily be more secure.

As we focus on counseling students who engage in bullying, we must of course ensure that the campus is a safe environment for learning. Students and teachers must be protected by the law. They all have a right to a safe environment. Therefore we must establish an effective communication mechanism to deal with bullying. We already have mechanisms for the prevention of domestic violence, We have anti-fraud hotlines. We should have similar mechanisms to control bullying. Basically schools would be responsible. When the need arises, such agencies would provide assistance.

Most importantly, if schools are concerned about airing their dirty laundry, if they tolerate it or cover up bullying, children will lose their faith in adults and our social institutions. If the bullying reaches the level of an actionable criminal offense, then the police must be notified, and the matter dealt with according to the law. The law protects peoples' basic rights and interests. This line of defense must not be broken merely because the violations occured on campus.

One of the most urgent tasks is to establish a safe environment for children. We must protect children from bullying. We must not give up on children who engage in bullying. Protecting and educating the next generation is the responsibility of adults. On campus or off, we must not let our children down.

保護遭欺學生 也不放棄施霸的孩子
2010-12-28 中國時報
















Monday, December 27, 2010

DPP Must Adopt a Pragmatic Cross-Strait Policy

DPP Must Adopt a Pragmatic Cross-Strait Policy
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 27, 2010

When the Democratic Progressive Party kicks off its 2012 presidential campaign, it must change its cross-Strait policy.

Ideally, the DPP would: One. Abandon its goal of Taiwan independence. Two. Recognize the Republic of China Constitution, without reservation. Three. From this day forward, hold high the red, white, and blue Republic of China flag at all DPP rallies. Such a radical transformation however, is a pipe dream. Everyone knows the DPP cannot possibly implement such changes. Consider the problems, in ascending order. If ROC national flags still cannot be seen within the ranks of the DPP, how can one possibly expect the DPP to recognize the Republic of China -- without reservation? How can one possibly expect the DPP to forsake its goal of Taiwan independence? Conversely, suppose the DPP continues using the "Republic of China" as a fig leaf, even as it refuses to abandon Taiwan independence? Suppose "Nation of Taiwan" flags continue fluttering within the ranks of the DPP? How can the DPP possibly transform its cross-Strait policy?

The Chen regime ruled for eight years, and this was its cross-Strait policy. The ROC flag flew over the Presidential Palace. But at DPP rallies, one saw only a sea of green. The DPP was not a "loyal opposition party" when it was out of power. It was not even a "loyal ruling party" when it was in power. Therefore, when the DPP runs for election in 2012, it must jettison the Chen regime's cross-Strait policy. Chen Shui-bian once affirmed the "five noes." He even paid homage to his Mainland forebears. But later he clamored for the Rectification of Names, and made peace impossible. Therefore if the DPP hopes to return to power in 2012, it needs to undergo just such a radical transformation. Otherwise it will never be able to achieve cross-Strait mutual trust.

However, as we noted above, such an expectation is a pipe dream. Signs suggest that DPP cross-Strait policy is what it has always been. One. To the DPP, "One China" is the PRC. Two. The DPP rejects the "1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations." Three. The DPP expects Beijing to "make concessions" to its Taiwan compatriots, but simultaneously promotes Taiwan independence. Four. The DPP trumpets reform and transformation each time an election rolls around, but "Nation of Taiwan" flags continue to flutter above the heads of supporters. This approach may allow the DPP to win elections. But it will not allow it to govern. The DPP cannot simultaneously maintain economic exchanges while championing Taiwan independence. Cross-Strait relations involve a bottom line. Beijing opposes Taiwan independence. The ruling administration of the Republic of China cannot adopt a policy of Taiwan independence. But it can uphold the right of Taiwan independence advocates to exercise their freedom of speech. The ROC must support the 1992 consensus. Beijing can stress the One China Principle. Taipei can stress One China, Different Interpretations.

If the DPP returns to power because Tsai Ing-wen is elected president, it must abruptly alter its cross-Strait policy. Otherwise upon taking office, it will be hijacked by Beijing. One. Tsai champions the Two States Theory, rejects the 1992 Consensus, and opposes ECFA. If Tsai takes office, Beijing will naturally want to hear the president-elect's views on the 1992 Consensus. If Tsai fails to change her tune before the election, can she really change it after the election? If she does not change her tune, can she really pass muster? Two. Cross-strait economic and social exchanges have passed the point of no return. If the DPP fails to change its cross-Strait policy before the election, it will be forced to rethink it after it assumes power. It cannot repeat the mistake of the Chen regime. It cannot "win the election but lose its direction." Besides, the Chen regime merely had to obstruct the progress of cross-Strait relations. In 2012, a DPP administration must confront a fait accompli. That will be a different matter altogether.

In sum, the DPP's cross-Strait policy for 2012 must get past "backdoor listing." It must abandon its "Taiwan independence party platform." The existence of the "Taiwan independence party platform" has transformed the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" into a template for "backdoor listing." It has also provided a basis for the "Resolution for a Normal Nation" and the "Rectification of Names." If DPP cross-Strait rhetoric cannot get past this framework, how can the DPP achieve bilateral trust?

Suppose the DPP retains its "Taiwan independence party platform?" Suppose Tsai Ing-wen is elected president in 2012? She will immediately become a female counterpart of Chen Shui-bian. Chen Shui-bian could avoid being hijacked by Beijing. But Tsai Ing-wen will not be able to escape such a fate.

The DPPs fundamental problem remains its refusal to recognize the national flag. It is willing only to recognize the flag of the "Nation of Taiwan." This is how it feels, even as it attempts to seize power under the ROC Constitution. Its behavior involves an irreconcilable contradiction. The two sides experienced the consequences of this contradiction between 2000 and 2008. That experience is not something they will soon forget.

The DPP must jettison its existing cross-Strait policy. The DPP must think hard about what must be done. But myriad obstacles stand in the way. The DPP must think hard about how it can be done.

【聯合報╱社論】 2010.12.27











Friday, December 24, 2010

Exercises from the Sixth Jiang/Chen Meeting

Exercises from the Sixth Jiang/Chen Meeting
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 24, 2010

The sixth Chiang/Chen meeting has drawn to a close. The two sides have successfully reached an agreement on "cross-Strait medical and health cooperation." But the meeting has also provoked a string of questions. These questions are even more intriguing than the results of the sixth Chiang/Chen meeting.

The first question concerns the consultation mechanism adopted by the two organizations, and the status of the two organizations. An agreement on investment insurance has yet to be reached. The establishment of a Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee (CSECC) has been postponed. This has raised questions about what the Chiang/Chen meeting accomplished. It has also induced the two sides to issue comments testing the waters. SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung said if the two sides fail to sign an agreement, they need not convene another Chiang/Chen meeting. PRC Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi responded. He said the purpose of the meetings was not merely to sign agreements. It was also to establish a system for future consultations. Indeed, if one recalls the history of previous consultations, not all of them led to the signing of agreements. The Chiang/Chen meetings established an institutionalized consultation mechanism. The MAC considers this one of its major policy achievements.

Chiang's statement however, did make a valid point. Look at the 15 cross-Strait agreements that have been reached. Nearly all of them led to articles establishing direct cross-Strait links, to information exchanges, and to problem-solving between competent authorities. Suppose the status of agreements reached by the two organizations remains unchanged. More cross-Strait agreements will be signed. Fewer and fewer agreements will require the two organizations to act as buffers. But without the two organizations acting as buffers, simmering cross-Strait political issues will be laid bare, and lead to confrontations. That is hardly an answer. Therefore the sixth Chiang/Chen meeting has made another contribution. It has underscored a need to rethink the status of the two organizations.

The second question concerns the postponement of the establishment of a CSECC. The government has never fully explained the nature of the CSECC. Everyone is confused. They misinterpret its significance. This leads to widespread misunderstandings. In fact, the function of the CSECC is quite simple. It is to clarify the position of the ROC Ministry of Economic Affairs to the PRC Commerce Department. It does not change the status quo. This includes other systems, including those under the aegis of the Legislative Yuan. The opposition DPP has caricatured it as some sort of superauthority. In fact the CSECC will merely coordinate and integrate Taipei's negotiation resources in a synergistic manner. This will be highly beneficial to Taipei, When the DPP government negotiated a free trade agreement (FTA) in the past, it established similar institutions. The government erred when it negotiated ECFA. It failed to specify its function and the benefits it would bring. It failed to promptly rebut the opposition DPP's false allegations, It allowed a non-issue to spread and become an issue.

The third and final question concerns the cross-Strait investment protection agreement. Investment insurance agreements reduce the risk of overseas investment. They serve as incentives to increase mutual investment. They are mechanisms that have been adopted by the international community, not just Taipei and Beijing. Beijing has insurance agreements with over one hundred other governments. Taipei has concluded agreements for investment promotion and protection with 26 governments, Among these, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and India do not have diplomatic relations with Taipei, but would nevertheless like to conclude FTAs. Insurance agreements are not nearly as politically sensitive as FTAs or ECFA. But even cross-Strait negotiations over insurance agreement are beset with difficulties. According to Zheng Lizhong, vice chairman of ARATS, the two sides have yet to reach a consensus on the definition of cross-Strait investment, investment benefits, investment facilitation, expropriation compensation, and dispute settlement. This covers almost all issues of disagreement. This means that not one word has been written on cross-Strait insurance agreements!

Insurance agreements involve a broad range of complex legal issues. Negotiations will consume both time and energy. That is understandable. But in the final analysis, both sides must take a step back so they can see the big picture. Beijing should not be such a stickler over the institutional arrangements. Taipei should open itself up more to Mainland capital. It should adopt a more flexible attitude toward the formal aspects of mainland investment arbitration. Investment on the Mainland has reached record highs. Increasing the amount of protection afforded to Taiwan businessmen and their personal property, will benefit everyone. Businessman abroad have always placed a high priority on harmonious relations. Few are likely to sue the government. In fact, virtually no arbitration cases have arisen among the nations with which Beijing has signed insurance agreements. Even assuming grievances requiring lawsuits arise, Beijing already has a wide range of mediation channels.

As for Taiwan, insurance agreements are merely a means. The end is the promotion of investments. A multitude of restrictions continue to limit Mainland investments on Taiwan. If Mainland capital cannot come to Taiwan, what good is an an agreement providing investment insurance? The five cities elections have drawn to a close. The legislative elections have yet to begin, Now is the time to promote the next wave of Mainland investments, to issue an active expression of goodwill. Allowing Mainland capital to enter will facilitate an investment insurance agreement. But that is hardly its main purpose. Its main purpose is to lay a foundation for even larger scale cross-Strait interaction.

【聯合報╱社論】 2010.12.24








Thursday, December 23, 2010

Moment of Truth for DPP Cross-Strait Policy

Moment of Truth for DPP Cross-Strait Policy
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 23, 2010

The sixth Chiang/Chen summit will be held this week at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. ARATS President Chen Yunlin felt compelled to comment. He said, "History sometimes brings surprising coincidences." Two years ago, Chiang and Chen met for the first time, at the same time of year, a the same location. At that time however, the DPP staged violent protests. The ruling administration placed tens of thousands of police on full alert. The enemy was at the gates. Given intense political and social polarization on Taiwan, a conflagration could have broken out at any moment.

Two years later however, things are moving along with ease. The two sides have signed ECFA, the most historic agreement since the two sides instituted separate rule. Five hundred and fifty-seven items on the early harvest list will enjoy tax breaks starting on New Year's Day next year. Industry tariffs will be cut by over one billion NT in the first year. More importantly, DPP legislators might continue protesting in the Legislative Yuan. But DPP party chairman Tsai Ing-wen has already assured the media that if she is elected president in 2012, she "will continue the previous administration's policies." During the recent five cities elections, not a single Green Camp candidate challenged ECFA. This was true even in the Deep Green bastions of Tainan and Kaohsiung. Why? Because according to the DPP's own polls, over half the public on Taiwan supports ECFA. The DPP is nothing if not adept at electioneering. It is not about to shoot itself in the foot at election time.

Chiang and Chen have already met six times. Cross-Strait economic exchanges are now closer than ever. Some industries are even further along in their integration. They have passed the point of no return. The two sides might not engage in political talks for the time being. But attempts to promote a referendum to author a new constitution failed during the Chen Shui-bian era. De jure independence is no longer a possibility. That is a reality the DPP cannot ignore. This political and economic situation is consistent with the wishes of most of the public, which prefers to maintain the status quo, No political party or politician can ignore this reality.

The DPP may attempt to spin the five cities elections as a contest over "governing ability." It may attempt to deliberately avoid the issue of cross-Strait policy. But during the upcoming presidential election, it cannot fall back on the catechism, "we will continue the former administration's policies." The sixth Chiang/Chen summit is now discussing matters of practical policy. Officials from the two sides are negotiating ECFA and financial sector MOUs. The two sides are even signing mutual legal assistance agreements, expressing respect for each others' jurisdiction. Meanwhile, all the DPP can talk about is Taiwan independence ideology, rather than concrete, pragmatic cross-Strait policy. How can the DPP possibly persuade the public it has "governing ability?"

Following the five cities elections, "China policy" has reportedly become a hot topic within the DPP. Green Camp think tanks are experiencing a wave of "China fever." As a matter of fact, "DPP fever," a complementary phenomenon on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, is also in full swing. Both sides appear to be taking a closer look at each other. From the perspective of cross-Strait peace and development, we of course welcome this new atmosphere of closer communication. Communication of course does not equate with policy change. In fact, exchanges between private sector think tanks on the Mainland and the DPP have been going on for years. But DPP cross-Strait policy strategy has yet to catch up with the times. If the DPP wants to adopt a pragmatic cross-Strait policy, the key will be its leaders' will power.

This is surely Tsai Ing-wen's most difficult challenge. Ever since Chen Shui-bian overturned his own "five noes" during his last days in office, the DPP has avoided the topic of cross-Strait policy. As a result, extreme Sinophobia has been the DPP's guiding concept. The presidential election is just around the corner. The DPP is an eleventh hour convert. But how will it breach the topic of cross-Strait policy, without touching off internecine warfare? That will be something of a feat.

This is especially true because Taiwan independence extremism has already taken hold within the DPP. Members of the "one nation on each side connection" carried signs expressing support for Chen Shui-bian. During the recent five cities elections, they comprised nearly 9% of the vote. This means they have already crossed the 5% legal threshold for recognition as a political party. Even if they withdrew from the DPP, they could still make their strength felt. Therefore they have enough strength to threaten Tsai Ing-wen. Taiwan independence extremists within the DPP have considerable organzational ability. This makes compromise within the DPP extremely difficult.

Compromise may be urgent and difficult. But the 2012 presidential election looms. The DPP cannot avoid the issue of cross-Strait policy. It desperately wants to win this office. Over the past year, the DPP has managed to hold its ground. The public may not support the party's cross-Strait policy. But it is dissatisfied with the worsening gap between rich and poor. Therefore it demanded that the KMT pay the price.

"It's the inequality, stupid!" This is the lesson of the five cities elections. The DPP has nearly enough strength to achieve a simple majority. If it can cash in on this resentment, and propose relevant economic and fiscal policies, it may even win over Pale Blue voters. On the other hand, if the DPP reverts to its old hatreds, it will probably lose the swing voters who supported it during the past year. Can the DPP's Platform for the Coming Decade set a new tone for 2012? The moment of truth has arrived.

民進黨兩岸路線 已到關鍵時刻
2010-12-23 中國時報










Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula?

Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 22, 2010

The South Korean military recently announced a postponement of its Yeonpyeong Island live fire exercises. North Korea then announced that in order to defend its territorial waters from attack, its shelling was more intense and covered greater territory than in the past.

All of a sudden, the atmosphere had changed. Moscow and Beijing met with ambassadors from Seoul and Washington. They called for an emergency session of the Security Council. They urged all parties to exercise restraint, and to dispatch special envoys to intervene in peninsula affairs. Although the Security Council convened a two-day weekend meeting, it failed to reach a consensus.

At noon on the 20th, South Korea began 90 minutes of shelling. Nearly 2000 rounds were fired. North Korea's response was a surprise, The Supreme Commander of the North Korean People's Army issued a statement: "We consider it unnecessary to retaliate against such despicable military provocations." In other words, it was not merely postponing retaliation, it was refusing to respond at all.

The crisis has passed. The world has breathed a sigh of relief. The incident shows Washington and Seoul's tough stance. North Korea's response will have a long term impact on the future on the peninsula.

First of all, South Korea was the party that deliberately conducted military exercises. To characterize Seoul's action as a provocation would be an overstatement. But South Korea was unquestionably the one that acted first.

Routine artillery exercises have been held on Yeonpyeong Island for decades. But this was a sensitive time. South Korea insisted on holding them anyway, motivated by domestic politics.

South Korea suffered greater losses than North Korea during the Cheonan ship sinking incident and shelling incident. This provoked public anger and forced the government to replace its MInister of Defense. If the government failed to take a harder line, or to retaliate, the public would have lost all confidence. South Korea's ruling party noted pragmatically that "If we knuckle under, North Korea will hold Korea in contempt, and will force us to make further concessions." That is why President Lee Myung-bak said "In response to North Korean provocations, it is essential to make them pay a price. Only if we have the courage to hold our ground and refuse to make concessions, can we enjoy a lasting peace."

In response to the exercise, North Korea mobilized more warships, early warning aircraft, and surface to surface missiles. South Korea ordered F-15K fighters, equipped with JDAMs with a 278 km range, on standby alert. If North Korea shelled in retaliation, South Korea would not have hesitated. It would have immediately blown up the other side's artillery positions.

Furthermore, this time Washington was informed about the situation and supported Seoul's response. Washington must firmly support Seoul. Obama must not provoke another war of course. But if allows Pyongyang to succeed once again, the US will lose all credibility in the Asia-Pacific region. Never mind South Korea. Even Japan and Southeast Asia will no longer be able to trust US security assurances.

Two weeks ago, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen suddenly flew to the front-lines to conduct an inspection. Soon afterwards, Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright said that if North Korea engages in an aggressive response to an exercise conducted by South Korea, it could trigger a "chain reaction." The implication was the US military would not sit idly by. The US deployed over 20 officers on Yeonpyeong Island during the recent exercises. They provided communications, intelligence analysis, and medical facilities, But the real significance of their presence was political. They were there to act as "trip wires." If these soldiers became casualties, the US would be handed a pretext for intervention. The soldiers also served as human shields to contain North Korea.

Seoul and Washington have finally gotten what they wanted. Will this open a door to future peace on the Korean Peninsula? That will depend upon North Korea's response.

North Korea's reaction was a surprise. The world must now re-evaluate the rationality of the Kim dynasty, father and son. Of course, some think Pyongyang merely responded to intense pressure from the Washington/Seoul alliance, and finally saw the light. If a similar incident occurs in the future, some say, one must respond in an equally hard line manner. Tolerance and concessions have already been shown to be the wrong way.

But from another perspective, one might simply conclude that Pyongyang's military tactics have reached a point of diminishing returns. While the two sides harangued each other, former US Secretary of Energy and current New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was invited to North Korea. He was accompanied by reporters from the New York Times and CNN. Pyongyang was sending a message. It wanted direct talks with Washington.

According to reports, Richardson met with senior officials under Kim Jong-il. Last year, International Atomic Energy Agency personnel were expelled from the country. North Korea has agreed to allow them back in. It has also agreed to sell 12,000 fuel rods, reassuring the West that they will not be transferred to Iran. It has even agreed to set up a military hot line with the tripartite mission. Such concessions are substantial. They show that North Korea is undergoing transition. It is paving the way for future contacts and reconciliation.

North Korea was wrong to engage in provocation. But whether a such a strong response was necessary is debatable. Moscow and Beijing proposed an emergency sesson of the UN Security Council, not without reason. If North Korea retaliated violently, and war suddenly erupted, the entire world could be caught in the crossfire. Washington and Seoul engaged in a high stakes gamble. In order to have a war, both sides must be determined to fight. Fortunately, both North and South Korea knew they were ill-prepared to fight a war. North Korea is small. It has long relied on bluster to get what it wants. But do the US and South Korea, who are more powerful, really want to play the same game? This is a question worth considering.

2010-12-22 中國時報









美國參謀首長聯席會議主席穆倫,兩周前突然飛到前線視察,稍後並由副主席卡特萊特表示,如果北韓就南韓演習採取攻擊性的應對措施,有可能引發「連鎖反應」,這就表示美軍不會坐視;美軍這次在演習的延坪島上也部署了廿多名人員,提供通訊、情報分析與醫療等設施的操作,但他們的政治意義在於「拉拌線」(trip wire),意即如果這些士兵傷亡,美軍即可正式介入,也以這些士兵做為牽制北韓行為的人肉盾牌。






Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Tsai/Su Ticket? Or Su/Tsai Ticket?

A Tsai/Su Ticket? Or Su/Tsai Ticket?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 21, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen will represent the DPP in the 2012 presidential election. That is becoming clearer day by day. Su Tseng-chang's desire to "continue transcending" his current status is all too clear. As we examine at the overall situation, a Su/Tsai ticket is unlikely.

Why? First, a Su/Tsai ticket is impossible. Tsai Ing-wen would never agree to such a ticket. Secondly, a Tsai/Su ticket would probably embarrass Su. Su has already been Frank Hsieh's running mate. Also, Tsai would never agree to such a ticket.

Su and Tsai served in the Executive Yuan as Premier and Vice Premier, Tsai finds Su's political style distasteful. Will Tsai toss her hat in the ring? If she does, she will seek the presidency. She will hardly settle for being Su's vice presidential running mate. Besides, Tsai Ing-wen has been trumpeting her "Platform for the Coming Decade." She has obviously been setting her self up as presidential candidate in 2012. Today the political climate is right, She will hardly allow Su to usurp her "Platform for the Coming Decade." Su would not look the part in any event.

Suppose Tsai Ing-wen runs in 2012. Ma Ying-jeou will be seeking a second term. The ECFA debate in April already covered most of the major issues likely to come up in the 2012 presidential election. It has also covered the qualifications of the candidates. Ma is apparently still the favorite. The Democratic Progressive Party nomination process will begin in May next year, less than six months from now. Tsai Ing-wen may not have time to resolve the differences between rival factions within the party. Will Su Tseng-chang acknowledge the difficulties he faces in seeking the party nomination, and simply step aside? Will the "Platform for the Coming Decade" be an asset or a deficit? Haste could well make waste. But Tsai Ing-wen's candidacy is a foregone conclusion. Chen Shui-bian, Koo Kuan-min, and others have already endorsed her candidacy, and are pessimistic about Su Tseng-chang's chances. The situation is urgent. Tsai will be forced to yield to the prevailing winds, just as she was forced to run for Xinbei City mayor. If Tsai is elected president in 2012, certain consequences will ensue. But what if her election bid is unsuccessful? What will the consequences for the DPP be then?

Suppose Tsai Ing-wen runs for president. That will be tantamount to a proclamation that the time for Su Tseng-chang and other Kaohsiung Incident figures has passed. But if Tsai Ing-wen runs and loses, advocates of reform may become targets inside the party. The chances of Tsai Ing-wen becoming the Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate in 2016 will be greatly reduced. By the same token, the chances that the DPP might return to power in 2016 will also evaporate. Therefore Tsai Ing-wen has two choices. One. She can choose to remain out of the 2012 presidential race. Two. She can make a risky move by acquiescing to a Su/Tsai ticket. If the ticket loses, she will have all the more justification to make a run for the presidency in 2016. These choices are attractive for Tsai Ing-wen, because they enable her to avoid butting heads with Ma Ying-jeou in 2012. They allow her time to transform the DPP. But as mentioned above, the choice is no longer up to Tsai Ing-wen. She will almost certainly declare her candidacy for the 2012 presidential race. She cannot wait until 2012.

Will Tsai Ing-wen's candidacy be a plus or a minus? That depends on whether she can facilitate the transformation of the DPP. One. Beijing has reiterated its cross-Strait bottom line, namely, "Oppose Taiwan independence, uphold the 1992 Consensus." Two. Tsai Ing-wen advocated the two states theory, opposed the 1992 Consensus, and opposed ECFA. Three. The "Platform for the Coming Decade" is not a DPP party platform. It is not even a DPP party resolution. It is merely Tsai Ing-wen's personal political platform. Can it transcend, replace, or abrogate the Taiwan independence party platform, the Resolution on Taiwan's future, and the Resolution for a Normal Nation? Four. Chen Shui-bian has already made "one nation on each side" synonymous with Taiwan independence. The "one nation on each side connection" has become the first unabashedly Taiwan independence faction within the DPP. Five. On the one hand Tsai accuses Ma Ying-jeou of "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." On the other hand, she assures voters that "upon assuming power, she would perpetuate the previous administration's cross-Strait policies," How can she possibly reconcile these contradictions? Six. During the five cities elections, the DPP trumpeted its "ability to govern." Perhaps it was referring to local governance. But what are we to make of the DPP's alleged "ability to govern" at the central government level, between 2000 and 2008? These are just a few examples of the problems the DPP faces as it undergoes tranformation. They are hardly exhaustive. What sort of campaign does Tsai Ing-wen intend to run in 2012? Does she really intend to run merely by donning jeans and a pink T-shirt? Suppose she fails to get to the root of these problems? Can she really be elected? That will be a problem. Suppose she is elected and assumes power? Tragedy will surely ensue. That will be a far more serious problem.

The Democratic Progressive Party will hold its presidential primaries in May of next year. Before then, Tsai Ing-wen must resolve two major crises. One. The crisis that will ensue if the DPP loses in 2012. Two. The even greater crisis that will ensue if the DPP wins in 2012. The key is whether Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP can take its "China policy" and change it back into what it is supposed to be, "cross-Strait policy." The DPP's so-called "China policy" implies "one nation on each side." It casts "China" as the enemy and as "the other." By contrast, "cross-Strait policy" implies "one China, different interpetations." It stresses a symbiotic win-win situation.

Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP opposed direct flights, opposed allowing Mainland tourists onto Taiwan, opposed the Chiang/Chen summits, and opposed ECFA. They opposed every measure, every step along the way. Today we have direct flights across the Taiwan Strait, Mainland tourists visiting Taiwan, summits between Chiang and Chen, and ECFA. Every one of these measures has been successfully implemented. Each has come to pass, naturally, in swift succession. In short, can Tsai Ing-wen really win the presidency merely by wearing a pink T-shirt, even as she demands that Taiwan turn the clock back to the Cold War?

【聯合報╱社論】 2010.12.21









Monday, December 20, 2010

Inefficient Government Practices Have Caused Economic Cancer

Inefficient Management Practices Have Caused Economic Cancer
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 20, 2010

In classical economics, the government's role is to establish a system, enforce the law, build an infrastructure, and create a favorable environment for business and investment. Everything else is left to the market. It is now the twenty-first century, The government has been granted more authority. But its economic role has not changed that much. During the past year however, several major investment projects show that the government has exceeded its proper role. It has imposed unwarranted restrictions before the fact. It has imposed inefficient management after the fact. It has become a cancer afflicting the economy and industry.

Take the Kuokuang Petrochemical project, i.e., the Eighth Naphtha Cracking Plant, which is facing a life for death situation. The project was first proposed in 2005.
It was approved by the CEPD the following year. It then underwent environmental assessment. Construction was supposed to begin in 2008. But as of 2010, it is still being reviewed. If the Kuokuang Petrochemical project ought not to be approved at all, that is one thing. But frightening government in efficiency is another thing altogether. Such inefficiency dramatically increases business risks and investment costs. If government efficiency was increased, and ensured the survival of the Kuokuang Petrochemical project, a company such as Kuokuang would find it easier to survive. It would not be mired in a hopelessness morass, like everyone else.

The government has only just arrived at a decision. If it approves the investment,
the manufacturer will still face substantial cost increases. Its capital outlay will increase from 400 billion to 600 billion. It will also be battered by other petrochemical companies. If rejected, it will be forced to migrate to the Mainland.
Because the project has been subject to delays, other major petrochemical plants have made advance arrangements. Therefore it faces a dilemma, and is unsure whether to advance or retreat. The government may say that the EIA process is protracted because it requires approval by so many different government agencies, experts, and environmental groups. Therefore it "simply cannot be rushed." But let us examine several straightforward investment projects that required approval by only a few government agencies. Let us see how government delays undermined these companies.

Consider AIG, a US-owned company, and its sale of the Nan Shan Life Insurance Group. Bidding was opened in mid-2009. The bid was awarded in October of that year. China Strategic Holdings, a Hong Kong-owned company, and the Primus Group won the bid. The sale was then submitted to the government for review. The result? The review took nearly one full year. The review dragged on until August of this year. Only then did the government announce that the deal had been disapproved. We have no objections to the government rejecting a sale because a major shareholder was ineligible and fears that the insurance industry might be destabilized. But was such a long delay really necessary? During a long delay, a company's future could hang in the balance. A long delay could amount to a death sentence for Nan Shan Life Insurance.

Nan Shan was once an outstanding, blue chip, Taiwan-based insurance company.
But after AIG announced its sale, Nan Shan endured a period of uncertainty. The company's management and operations were virtually in limbo. Employees fretted over their futures. Old policyholders worried about their coverage. Potential policyholders became more difficult to sell. In 2007, before it was sold, Nan Shan Life Insurance's market share of First Year Premiums (FYP) was 9,6%. By 2009 it had plummeted to 3.7%. This year it could drop below 3%. It has already fallen out of the ranks of the top ten. The devastating impact of inefficient government management on business should be evident.

Taiwan Mobile is a subsidiary of the Fubon Group. Last September Taiwan Mobile bought kbro from the Carlyle Group. The total transaction involved 32.8 billion NT.
The Carlyle Group took on 24 billion in debt. The total investment amounted to nearly 57 billion. The investment project underwent "detailed review" by the National Communications Commission (NCC) for nearly one year. At the end of that year, it was rejected. It was rejected because the NCC completely misunderstood the clause prohibiting "political party, government, and military ownership of the media." Fubon was forced to purchase kbro in a private capacity. Less than a year later, the total cost of the M&A ballooned to 64 billion. Under NCC mismanagement
a Taiwan-based company was forced to pay an extra 20 billion NT. The NCC certainly handed a foreign corporation a windfall profit. Meanwhile, the FSC's "three financial laws" have bound the financial industry hand and foot. They have exacted unreasonable penalties from industry. All one sees is clueless bureaucrats imposing crippling restrictions and engaging in rampant mismanagement.

Recently Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou attracted considerable attention when he blasted the government for undermining the flat panel industry. This was yet another case of inappropriate and inefficient government management. In March of this year, AUO applied for permission to construct Generation 7.5 plants on the Mainland. It is now December. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is still "reviewing the application one line at a time." Fortunately Terry Gou raised a stink. Otherwise who knows how long the review process would have dragged on. Guo's attack forced Premier Wu to respond on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Wu announced that "The application has already been approved. All that remains is the paperwork." The Ministry of Economic Affairs will grant its official approval as soon as possible. Because of the year long delay, vendor opportunities were lost. Local panel manufacturers on the Mainland have already begun constructing Generation 8.5 plants. Earlier this month, the South Korean government spoke out on behalf of South Korea's Samsung and LG. They too received official approval from the Mainland authorities. Only Taiwan's vendors have the misfortune of finding themselves trapped in the slow lane, behind the Ministry of Economic Affairs. All they can do is wring their hands as they run in place.

Frankly, the way the Ministry of Economic Affairs has handled Taiwan-based investments on the Mainland is unprofessional and unreasonable. The only plants it permits manufacturers to construct on the Mainland are those producing third-rate technology. The Ministry of Economic Affairs treats twelve-inch wafer fabs
and 90 nanometer technology as if they were national treasures. It prohibits their construction on the mainland. The Mainland, by contrast, treats them as if they were any other local or foreign enterprise. The Mainland has already constructed over a dozen twelve-inch wafer fabs. It has already adopted 90 nanometer manufacturing procedures. Mainland Chinese and South Korean panel makers have already adopted Generation 8.5 plants. AUO however, is only permitted to build Generation 7.5 plants. As a result its competitiveness suffers. Time delays make matters worse. AUO originally seized the initiative. Now it has been reduced to playing catch up. The Mainland has already transformed its global factory into a global market. Our own Ministry of Economic Affairs, on the other hand, still binds our own industries hand and foot. How can they possibly compete with major global companies on the Mainland market?

Such is our government. From the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to the FSC and the NCC. Every ministry is rife with inappropriate, unreasonable, inefficient management practices and restrictions. They have all negatively impacted industrial development, business investments, and Taiwan's competitiveness. We expect the government to improve its management efficiency, and avoid delays while reviewing investment projects. It must expedite these investments projects and help them succeed. If the projects should not be approved, they must be reviewed promptly,
We can no longer tolerate unprofessional and politically motivated restrictions and management practices.

2010-12-20 中國時報











Friday, December 17, 2010

Reaching a Consensus on Our Nation's History

Reaching a Consensus on Our Nation's History
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 17, 2010

Lin Man-hung was until recently, Curator of the Academia Historica. She suddenly resigned over an online voting controversy at the museum's official website. By resigning, she proudly displayed an historian's true colors. Lin Man-hung probably still doesn't understand what she did wrong. But apparently an historian who is unwilling to tell a lie, cannot remain on as Curator of the Academia Historica, Her resignation has brought the controversy to a close. Perhaps the incident will help ensure a correct understanding of the history of the Republic of China. Perhaps it will help establish a more meaningful national consensus.

The facts are irrefutable. The Republic of China has been in existence for a hundred years. Over a third of that the time its activities centered on the mainland. During the remaining 62 years, they centered on Taiwan. They changed with the political winds. Amidst controversy over reunification vs. independence, and conflict between Blue and Green, the "Republic of China on Taiwan" has become a rare point of agreement for the public on Taiwan. But from an historical perspective, the first 38 years of the Republic of China cannot be eradicated with the stroke of a pen. As historians record the events of the past one hundred years, can they ignore Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek? Can they ignore Mao Zedong, who nearly caused the Republic of China's downfall? Can they ignore Wang Jingwei, who established a pro-Japanese puppet government? For that matter, can they ignore Yuan Shi-kai, who crowned himself emperor? Can they ignore the warlords, Wu Pei-fu and Feng Yu-hsiang of the "八方風雨會中州?" They cannot, any more than German historians can ignore Adolf Hitler.

The Republic of China has endured for 100 years. As the authority entrusted with compiling the nation's history, the importance of the Academia Historica is self-evident. It could take on any number of tasks. It could write a history of Mao Zedong, warts and all. But the Academia Historica is not Wikipedia, It need not draw premature conclusions. It need not lay down the law. In the past, those in power wrote their predecessors' histories. They defined their predecessors' historical legacy. They also defined their own historical legacy, A century later, the history of the Qing Dynasty is still incomplete. Online voting is not what the Academia Historica should be doing.

The recent online poll provoked controversy because under "military affairs," Deng Xiaoping was ranked number one. Professionally speaking, this was not quite accurate. Deng is indeed a major historical figure. He was twice named Time Magazine's Person of the Year. But his legacy concerned the liberalization and reform of the People's Republic of China. It did not concern the Republic of China. He may have played a role in the famous Battle of the Dabie Mountains. But he was not yet one of the top ten marshals of the Red Army.

Lin Man-hung's original field was Taiwan's economic history. When former Vice President Annette Lu declared that Taiwan's status remained undetermined, Lin Man-hung forcefully articulated a comprehensive view of history. She made clear that the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty had clearly determined Taiwan's status. Her work was appreciated by President Ma Ying-jeou, and she assumed the curatorship of the Academia Historica. But apparently the "民國百人" online voting feature was handled a little too carelessly.

When she was questioned in the Legislative Yuan, she frankly declared that she "had no prior knowledge." Legislators unexpectedly pulled out official documents she had personally signed. They denounced her as a liar, and threatened to have the Control Yuan impeach her. Those who know Lin Man-hung know how difficult is for her to tell a lie. Lin Man-hung said she heard the personnel in charge of the online voting activity say that among the key figures listed were Teresa Teng and others. As a result, she approved it. This is probably the truth. Back in the days when the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were at loggerheads with each other, Teresa Teng's songs were the first to break through the Bamboo Curtain. That process is still ongoing. Who could possibly disagree?

History is a serious matter. It may be commemorated by the government or by private citizens. Either way, it can quietly see us through difficult times. The Republic of China is Asia's first democracy. Its glorious past includes all too much pain. Political interference on Taiwan remains rampant. Political leaders have paid scant attention to the significance of the Republic of China's centennial. Less than a year remains. Government agencies have promoted all sorts of activities. The Academia Historica came up with the idea of an online voting feature, perhaps out of expediency. It never realized it had taken on a burden weightier than any other governmental or private entity.

But expedient solutions require expedient techniques. Take for example the commemoration of historic dates and historic individuals. Choose an historic figure for each year. Ask 100 historians to compile a "民國百人" chronicle. For example, in the first year of the Republic of China, the historic figure would be Sun Yat-sen. In the 11th year of the Republic, it would be Hu Shi, who promoted the use of vernacular Chinese. In the 38th year of the Republic, it would be Mao Zedong, who ended Republic of China rule on the Mainland. In the 46th year of the Repubic, it would be Yang Cheng-ning and Lee Tseng-dao, the first ethnic Chinese to win the Nobel Prize, In the 62nd year of the Republic, it would be Lin Hwai-min, who founded the Cloud Gate dance theater. In the 68th year of the Republic, it would be Shih Ming-teh, who provoked the Formosa Incident. In the 77th year of the Republic, it would be Lee Teng-hui, who was the Republic of China's first directly elected president. In the 80th year of the Republic, it would be Master Cheng Yen, who received the Maigesesai Award for global disaster relief. In the 99th year of the Republic, it would be Chen Shui-bian, who became the first president of the Republic of China sentenced to prison. What need is there for online voting?

Lin Man-hung has resigned and returned to the study of history. She continues to tell the truth. Her efforts deserve recognition. Her successor should keep in mind the lessons of this incident. Chinese dynasties that have lasted longer than a century are rare. The public will vote according to its whims. But the Academia Historica is a guardian of history. When it promotes its "民國百人" activity, it must be clear about what it is doing. It must not be merely a fireworks display. It must carefully trace the path of history. It must draw lessons from history. It must spur future developments. It must concentrate a nation's will for the coming century.

2010-12-17 中國時報










Thursday, December 16, 2010

Will the Big Mouth Clause Shut Political Appointees' Mouths?

Will the Big Mouth Clause Shut Political Appointees' Mouths?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 16, 2010

The Legislative Yuan has completed its first reading of the "Big Mouth Clause," a draft law regulating the conduct of political appointees.
The law would require political appointees to step down if their verbal indiscretions adversely affect the government's policy decisions or public image. If the bill becomes law, the quiet voice inside political appointees' heads will be replaced by the stentorian voice of John Law. The inevitable result will be endless controversy.

Suppose the "Big Mouth Clause" becomes law. On the one hand, the public will expect political appointees to comport themselves with greater decorum. On the other hand, it will underscore the extent to which political appointees' words and deeds provoke criticism. The reality is that
political appointees' speaking skills could stand improvement. But the problem is, who decides whose mouth is "too big?" And suppose someone has to step down because he had a big mouth? Will we really be better off if political appointees have "no mouths?" Will we really be better off if they never express an opinion? Is such a provision really necessary? Or will it merely create more problems than it solves? This is a question worth considering.

So-called political appointees are government officials who have been appointed for political reasons, and therefore bear political responsibility. They are different from civil service administrators. Anyone qualified to be a political appointee, is in principle forward-looking and politically sensitive. If he commits a major slip of the tongue, if he is guilty of misconduct, or if he fails to accomplish his appointed task, he should resign without being asked, as an expression of political responsibility. For political appointees that is taken for granted. In fact, we have no need to await legal guidelines. Under our current system,
whenever a ruling administration feels its own political appointees have been guilty of misconduct or incompetence, it can replace them at its discretion. Suppose a political appointee trips over his own tongue and touches off a firestorm. If his superior fails to take action, or attempts to shield him, he is likely to get into trouble himself.

Officials may step down on their own initiative. Or they may be replaced by their superiors. Political appointees may be forced to step down due to a slip of the tongue. None of these eventualities pose a problem. The point is that slips of the tongue are a political matter. They can be dealt with flexibly, as a political matter. But if political matters are turned into legal matters, then they must be dealt with rigidly, as a legal matter. Those who must deal with the matter are likely to come across as rigid sticklers. For example, when Premier Wu spoke about health care he mentioned Lin Yi-shi. Because he failed to pause "one tenth of a second," between phrases, he was misunderstood. Many days passed before the matter was finally cleared up. Sports Commission Vice Chairman Chen Hsien-chung was forced to resign over the Yang Shu-chun incident.
He got himself into hot water when he said the athletes "would have to lump it." But in retrospect, why did he say what he did? If he said it in order to safeguard the rights of the Chinese Taipei team, can he really be blamed?

Besides, haven't we been touting the lifting of martial law, and the right of free speech? If the government suddenly begins controlling the speech of political appointees, people may get the impression the government is attempting to turn the clock back. No wonder some people are saying that the law is akin to the ancient practice of executing those who criticize the emperor, and signals the advent of a "white terror for political appointees." More ominously, many current political appointees were once members of the bureaucracy. They are often verbally challenged and afraid to face the public. Their ineptitude and fear often lead to poor communication and bad decision-making. If legal penalties are imposed on them for speaking out, such officials will surely shrink even deeper into their shells. They will perceive speaking to the public as negotiating a minefield. They may even become irresolute fence-sitters who go along to get along. For a liberal democracy, such a chilling effect on political appointees is not something anyone wants to see.

To control what political appointees say, they must bear primary responsibility for their speech. They must be adept at communicating and dialoguing with the public, but also avoid glibness. If they utter something inappropriate, they must apologize. If their apology fails to remedy the situation, they must resign without being asked. This is to be expected.
Japan's Minister of Legal Affairs Yanagida touched off a firestorm with "two words" and betrayed his contempt for the Diet. Having blundered,
he had little choice but to apologize and step down. Of course, different political parties have different norms. KMT officials are often inept at public speaking. They often fail to communicate effectively during the decision-making process. When it comes to cabinet reshuffles, they are often a day late and a dollar short. DPP officials often have the gift of gab.
Sometimes officials such as Tu Cheng-sheng or Chuang Kuo-jung deliberately incite controversy. The ruling DPP administration may feel they did nothing wrong or cover for them. Even if we had a "Big Mouth Clause," would that really compel them to step down?

The Examination Yuan has proposed a "political appointees law." Apparently it has lost its understanding of the distinction between the party and the government. For example, the proposed law stipulates that political appointees shall not use government resources for partisan political activities. It stipulates that when political appointees leave office, they must be accountable. It stipulates that they may not conceal or damage documents or data. It stipulates that during working hours they may not participate in partisan political activities. Two changes in ruling parties have already taken place. Yet the no man's land between the party and the state has apparently grown. This law will redefine and clarify the powers and responsibilities of political appointees. It will encourage both the ruling and opposition parties to engage in reflection. But adding the "Big Mouth Clause" to the law is not necessarily an improvement. It is not necessarily beneficial. The existence of the provisions may encourage the arbitrary invocation of the law merely to harass political appointees. It may invite unnecessary conflict and turbulence.

Given political developments on Taiwan, stuffed shirt political appointees no longer meet the requirement of the times. If they lack communication skills, they may find it difficult to be effective political appointees. In that case, officials who commit verbal gaffes should resign before being asked.
We hardly need laws to force them out. Until then, we may wish to leave more room for discretion. We hardly need to sew their mouths shut with the law.

【聯合報╱社論】 2010.12.16