Friday, January 29, 2010

Do Not Allow Taxpayers to Remain Hostages of Big Banking

Do Not Allow Taxpayers to Remain Hostages of Big Banking
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 29, 2010

Unemployment in the US has reached 15 million since the financial tsunami, or nearly 10%. The Obama administration has provided hundreds of billions in government relief for major banks. The banking industry meanwhile, has been doling out huge dividends with complete impunity. The result has been intense public antipathy. Yesterday Barack Obama announced the largest scale financial reform bill since the 1930s. The bill will impose limits on the size of big banks and on their range of services. Obama vowed that he would no longer allow taxpayers to remain hostages to Big Banking. His proposal sent shockwaves through the financial sector and sent financial stocks tumbling on Wall Street for several days in a row.
This is the third time in one week that Obama has targeted Wall Street's big banks. First, on the 14th of this month, he announced the imposition of a "Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee" on the nation's 50 biggest banks. He plans to levy a tax of 90 billion USD on them over the next decade. He intends to get back every dime the taxpayers lost. Next, he ordered the establishment of an independent consumer finance protection agency, responsible for the protection of consumers of financial services. On the 21st of this month he introduced the "Volcker Rule." This financial reform was proposed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. It will prohibit commercial banks from engaging in dealer transactions. They will not be allowed to own or invest in hedge funds or private equity funds. In addition, any single bank's deposit insurance may not exceed 10% of the US total. This rule will apply to non-insurance deposits as well. These reforms will have a major impact on mergers and acquisitions within the financial sector.

In 1929 the US stock market crashed, sending the economy into the Great Depression. At the time the securities industry was regarded as the culprit. In 1933 the US Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act, imposing severe restrictions on commercial banks and investment banking sub-sector operations. The bill was not repealed until 1999. Obama has now introduced the "Volcker Rule." It is considered a new version of the Glass-Steagall Act, one that will lead to massive changes in the financial industry's business model. It is widely believed that tanking public support, coupled with the Democratic Party's election defeat in Massachusetts, forced Obama to reposition himself relative to the fat cats on Wall Street, in order to salvage his tarnished image.

The announcement of the "Volcker Rule" was greeted with widespread international approval. The President of the Bank of England, the President of the Swiss National Bank, and the French Finance Minister have all expressed their support. Mario Draghi, Chairman of the International Financial Stability Committee (FSB), said Obama's financial reform will help promote international financial reform. This week the World Economic Forum (WEF) will convene in Switzerland. Early next month the G7 finance ministers will meet. In May the Group20 will meet. All of them will focus on strengthening financial supervision.

But Wall Street firms strongly object to Obama's financial reform bills. Many bankers who deliberately stayed away from the World Economic Forum last year have decided to become personally involved. They intend to use the forum to make their wishes known to national policy-makers and the media.

Wall Street analysts are skeptical. They doubt that Obama's financial reforms will prevent future financial crises, or change the "too big to fail" status of big banks. Suppose a large financial group sells private equity funds and hedge funds. In the event of a financial crisis, will the government really do nothing? Analysts expressed doubts. The root cause of the financial tsunami was toxic securities invented by Wall Street and sold to investors. The process lacked clear supervision. The Volcker Rule does not touch upon this thorny issue. But not all financial industry leaders are opposed to Obama's proposals. For example, former Citigroup chairman John Reed has expressed his support.

Obama's financial reforms face two major challenges. First, the bill must be passed by Congress. The Democratic Party lost a crucial battle in Massachusetts. Its support in the Senate remains in doubt. Secondly, in an era of globalization, Obama's financial reforms need support from other governments. Will the international financial supervisors meeting at the World Economic Forum really reach a consensus? It is difficult to be optimistic.

From an international perspective, unemployment is rising, governments are spending vast sums on relief for Big Banking. Meanwhile these big banks remain utterly indifferent to public perceptions. They continue to hand out huge bonuses, provoking taxpayer wrath. Obama is taking advantage of this sentiment to aggressively promote financial reform. He is clearly speaking to the taxpayer. He has declared his commitment to reform. He hopes to win the hearts of the public. The financial tsunami has not impacted the financial sector on Taiwan as badly. But no matter which party comes to power they firmly support the interests of the big banks and financial groups. They have never been willing to allow banks to fall. Taxpayers have always been held hostage by the big banks. This phenomenon must be reversed. Otherwise bad money will drive out good, becoming the biggest obstacle to progress in the financial sector.

On the first anniversary of his administration, Barack Obama's prestige has taken a beating. But he has demonstrated a resolve to promote a new wave of financial reforms, and a determination to turn the tide. As he approaches the second anniversary of his administration, President Ma's prestige has also taken a beating. Does he have the resolve to protect the interests of taxpayers and promote a new wave of reform?

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.01.29






華爾街分析師質疑,歐巴馬的金改無助於防範新的金融危機,也無法改變銀行「大到不能倒」的現況,假設某大型金融集團出售旗下私募基金與對沖基金,將來若發生金融危機,政府真的見死不救?分析師質疑,金融海嘯的根源是華爾街發明了一系列有毒證券,然後銷售給投資人,這個過程缺乏明確的監理,而伏爾克法則完全未觸及這個棘手問題。不過,並非所有金融業者都反對這項方案,例如,前花旗集團董事長瑞德(John Reed)就表示支持。




Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hoping for a Rational Debate on Cross-Strait Peace

Hoping for a Rational Debate on Cross-Strait Peace
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 28, 2010

The Wang Wang Group and the China Times Media Group sponsored a "We demand peace! We demand a Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law." Yesterday the multimedia debate took place without incident. The participants included honorary UMC chairman Robert Tsao, Chinese Integration Association Director Chang Ya-chung, and former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui. The debate explored the feasibility of a "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law." The participants presented their positions, took part in a Question and Answer period, and debated the issues. Sparks flew. Sensitive issues were dealt with by means of constructive dialogue. The participants did not reach any consensus. But their differences were not as great as imagined. Most importantly the debate established a model for rational discussion of this sensitive topic.

The debate originated with UMC Chairman Robert Tsao several months ago, when he purchased newspaper ads promoting a "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law." Tsao thinks that such a law could defuse internal disputes over reunification and independence, and might enable long term peaceful cross-Strait coexistence. But as his proposal immediately triggered a wide range of reactions, pro and con. Some consider his proposal highly creative. Others disagree. For example, Chinese Integration Association director Chang Ya-chung expressed skepticism about Tsao's proposal five times. The Green Camp argued that Tsao's version of a "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law" excluded any referendum on independence, making it unacceptable to them. This suggests that considerable differences remain over the advantages and disadvantages and feasibility of the "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law." Will we continue to sit back and watch as both sides talk past each other? Or will we try to allow parties holding different views to engage in dialogue? The answer shjuld be clear. The Republic of China has undergone two changes in ruling parties. It should be mature enough to permit the rational discussion of sensitive issues. It should not remain permantly trapped in feeble-minded name-calling.

During yesterday's debate the participants disagreed. It was inevitable that they would challenge each other and engage in a war of words. But both the live audience and readers who pored over the transcript of the debate afterwards, would probably agree. All three parties were pursuing the best interests of the public on Taiwan and attempting to maintain cross-Strait peace. The only real disagreements between the three parties were over the feasibility and consequences of Tsao's initiative.

For example, Robert Tsao's "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law" emphasizes "procedural justice." It allows the public on Taiwan to decide whether to reunify. It allows the public on Taiwan to decide whether it wants reunification or independence, instead of allowing Blue and Green camp politicians to demagogue the issue. Chang Ya-chung however, thought that if the two sides failed to reach a certain degree of mutual trust, the "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law" would probably be subject to political manipulation. It would ultimately become a "Cross-Strait Peaceful Secession Law." The so-called "Referendum on Reunification" might well turn into a "Referendum against Reunification." Lin Cho-shui considered the "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law" well intentioned but infeasible. It might well turn into another "Defensive Referendum," originally intended to diminish acute identity issues on Taiwan, but actually counter-productive.

Regardless which of the three parties' views was most persuasive, we can at least agree that sensitive cross-Strait issues should be discussed in just such a manner. Honorary UMC Chairman Robert Tsao is attempting to engage in rational thinking about cross-Strait disputes. He put forth his "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law." He believes it can resolve internal disputes on Taiwan and cross-Strait disputes between Taipei and Beijing. But both Chinese Integration Society Director Chang Ya-chung and former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui opposed his initiative, albeit from different perspectives. They felt his intitiative was not particularly feasible. Just how feasible is the "Cross-Strait Peaceful Coexistence Law?" Which of the three parties' take on this controversial initiative is the most reasonable? The best way to clarify controversial issues is to debate them, and see whose ideas are the most feasible. We may not arrive at a final consensus. But at least the initiative has undergone rational debate. At least we have had an opportunity to point out the advantages and disadvantages,s as well as the blind spots. Any cross-strait initiative can be subjected to the same such dialogue. Blue and Green camp politicians will no longer hold a monopoly on the discussion of cross-Strait issues. Everyone will be able to participate in the discussion of public issues.

More importantly, this debate can ensure a rational atmosphere for future discussions. No one used harsh language to defame others during this debate. No one resorted to name-calling or conspiracy theories. We have long looked forward to the advent of rational dialogue. This debate was a real life example of rational dialogue.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.01.28
社論-理性辯論 樂見兩岸和平成公共議題







Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Four Years Later: Nominating Huang Shi-ming

Four Years Later: Nominating Huang Shi-ming
amidst Applause and Hisses
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 27, 2010

President Ma Ying-jeou has nominated Huang Shi-ming Prosecutor General. Inspection Commission spokesman Chen Chi-ming termed it a "belated appointment."

In March 2006, Chen Shui-bian nominated Hsieh Wen-ting Prosecutor General. In January 2007 he nominated Chen Tsung-ming. At the time everyone wondered "Why didn't he nominate Huang Shi-ming?" Four years later, Ma Ying-jeou has replaced Chen Shui-bian. Chen Shui-bian has been convicted in the first instance for corruption. Chen Tsung-ming, the first Prosecutor General under the new system, has been impeached by the Control Yuan and forced to resign. Huang Shi-ming has finally been nominated. During the past four years, Chen Shui-bian has been convicted, and Chen Tsung-ming has been impeached. The cost to society has been high. The political system and justice system have experienced severe shocks. Huang Shi-ming's nomination now, may be even more appropriate than his nomination four years ago, because the lessons learned may keep us from repeating them in the future. We hope this "belated appointment" for which we have paid a heavy price, will yield a belated return, and have a belated impact.

Over the past four years, the nomination process for the Prosecutor General has repeatedly provoked controversy. Chen Tsung-ming, the new Prosecutor General, is an individual who provokes controversy. In the eyes of the public, Huang Shi-ming has long been the ideal nominee. He is even regarded as the only solution to an institutional impasse. Given the social climate, President Ma had no alternative but to nominate Huang Shi-ming. The public would not have accepted any other candidate. Yesterday people were asking "Why wasn't Huang Shi-ming nominated?" Today people are saying "Huang Shi-ming has belatedly been nominated." Such public expectations, viewed optimistically, are the key that can break the deadlock. Such public expectations, viewed pessimistically, are the seeds of an even greater crisis. Suppose Huang Shi-ming lets us down? How will the public react? This constitutes a potential judicial and political crisis. It is also a test of Huang Shi-ming's personal reputation.

We believe the judiciary has many people like Huang Shi-ming. But four years of political chaos have turned Huang Shi-ming into a moral paragon. This is a cross Huang Shi-ming may have to bear upon assuming office. Consider the superlatives the public has heaped upon him: judicial iron man, never bows to power, a paragon of moral rectitude, meticulous, utterly without favoritism, untouchable. In today's world, such a person amounts to a fictional hero. No wonder some say his appointment invited "hisses amongst the applause." Some say he is impervious to reason, that his appointment was overkill, that he is too strict, too straightlaced, too extreme, too inflexible, does not communicate with legislators, and is therefore unsuitable as Prosecutor General. Before Huang Shi-ming was nominated, he was regarded as The One. Now that he has been nominated, some fear he will enforce the law with Draconian harshness. Huang Shi-ming will soon be appointed Prosecutor General in the midst of such contradictory public sentiment. One can say that the road is long and the load is heavy.

Frankly, like the public, we expect a great deal from Huang Shi-ming. But will his severe character make him unsuitable for the job? We are unsure. We are sure only that the public does not want a slick Prosecutor General. It does not want a smooth Prosecutor General. Huang Shi-ming has been described as a "nerdy style judge," reticent about making friends, austere in his dining habits, not inclined to socialize. " He is self-disciplined, dislikes the limelight, enjoys solitude, and socializes as little as possible. If he were to appear at the same social gathering as Chen Tsung-ming, Shih Mao-lin, and Huang Fang-yen, his taciturn style would be the most practical and effective means of dealing with the hydra-headed judicial reform program,

The judicial process is corrupt mainly because justice system officials have been corrupted by improper personal relationships between the justice system and the political system, or the justice system and business interests. Given the proliferation of such relationships, deals have surely been made. The ruling administration is in a position to grant official posts. Businessmen are in a position to offer banquets or gifts. Administrative chiefs have discretionary powers, and for businessmen, banquets and gifts are a drop in the bucket. But when administration officials or businessmen offer justice system officials a quid pro quo, they are buying and selling justice, they are twisting and distorting justice. Yeh Sheng-mao leaked the contents of the Egmont Group report to Chen Shui-bian. Shi Mao-ling and Chen Tsung-ming visited Huang Fang-yen at his private residence. Chen Tsung-ming attended banquets thrown by businessmen under indictment. They were reproached for buying and selling justice, something the public cannot tolerate.

For one hand to wash the other, both hands must understand each other. The public is confident that President Ma would never strike a political deal with justice system officials. Wang Ching-feng and Huang Shi-ming belong to a generation of justice system officials whose personal dealings are open and above board. We must treasure this opportunity to clarify the relationship between politics and the law. We must establish a new tradition, based on the principle that "the ruling authorities will not buy justice, and justice system officials will not sell justice." Only with such a foundation, can we talk about judicial reform in other areas.

Huang Shi-ming says he does not seek fame. Today, because he does not seek fame, he has found fame. Huang Shi-ming's reputation was given to him by the public, not by the ruling authorities. Quite the contrary. The ruling authorities are often reluctant to praise justice system officials. Praise from them often hurts the reputations of justic system officials. The Ma administration should consider this a warning. Huang Shi-ming should consider this an encouragement. If they do so, this appointment just might not disappoint the public. It just might establish a new model for reform, and new traditions for the justice system as a whole, and Huang Shi-ming as an individual.

2010.01.27 01:38 pm









Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Force Manufacturers to Relocate rather than Sign ECFA?

Force Manufacturers to Relocate rather than Sign ECFA?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 26, 2010

The first round of negotiations over ECFA begin in Beijing today.
Three main reasons have been cited for opposing ECFA. Reason 1. ECFA is not merely an economic issue. It is also a political issue. Signing ECFA means that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will be more closely bound together. Reason 2. Beijing should publicly agree to Taipei signing FTAs with other countries. Otherwise, Taipei should refuse to sign an ECFA with Beijing. Reason 3. We have alternatives to signing ECFA. For example, we need only build factories in any one of the ASEAN plus One or ASEAN plus Three nations. Once we do so, we automatically gain access to them all.

Let's begin with Reason 1. Signing ECFA will give us a 5-10 percent Mainland tariff reduction. But this applies only pertains to exports. Even more important is total exemption from tariffs. That would allow manufacturers to keep their factories on Taiwan, increasing employment opportunities on Taiwan. If we do not sign ECFA, the manufacturers may be forced to move their plants to Southeast Asia or Mainland China. If that happens, the unemployment problem on Taiwan will surely deteriorate. Therefore, one of the reasons for signing ECFA is to encourage manufacturers to keep their roots on Taiwan. Those who oppose signing ECFA may ask "What's wrong with relocating?" This may solve the manufacturers' problems, but exports will become less competitive. Worse, it will exacerbate unemployment on Taiwan. If manufacturers are able to set up factories on Taiwan, why should they be forced to move to Southeast Asia?

When it comes to signing FTAs with other countries, there appears to be no difference between the pros and the cons. But even if we can't sign FTAs with other countries at the moment, we must sign an ECFA with Mainland China. Globalization and regional economic organizations are a macro level trend. Taipei must seek the same tariff treatment as other countries on Mainland China. It must provide incentives for companies to build plants on Taiwan. Therefore it must sign ECFA. Taiwan's exports constitute 70% of its GDP. Taiwan's exports to Mainland China constitute 40% of its total exports. We now face ASEAN plus One (Mainland China), ASEAN plus Three (Mainland China, Japan, and South Korea), ASEAN plus Six (add India, New Zealand, and Australia), and ASEAN plus Seven (Russia). Do people really want manufacturers on Taiwan to relocate, rather than sign ECFA? Those who oppose ECFA do not object to products from Taiwan being sold on the Mainland. Do they object to products from Taiwan being tariff-free? Do they object to manufacturers on Taiwan remaining on Taiwan? Of course it would be best if Taipei could also sign FTAs with other countries. But for the time being it can't. Therefore it must sign an ECFA with Beijing.

If Taipei can some day become part of "ASEAN plus Four," it might be able to use its membership to protect its political interests. But the threat to the livelihood of lower level agricultural and industrial workers is more serious than any threat posed by ECFA. It is precisely because cross-Strait politics is such an important factor, that ECFA will reduce the negative effects on agriculture and industry. Taipei must stand tall. It must face the test of globalization. ECFA is a globalization issue. But it has been deliberately spin-doctored and turned into an issue of cross-Strait politics. It has become a blind spot in the dispute over ECFA. In order to meet the challenges of globalization and regional economic organizations, we must sign ECFA. We must factor in any political risk. As long as the Republic of China, from the president down to neighborhood chiefs, maintains its system of democratic elections, it will have all the support it needs. It will be able to maintain political security in the form of the "status quo and peaceful development"

The most fundamental concern is that after signing ECFA, Taipei must not be subject to Beijing's control. ECFA is of course not limited to only economic matters. It also has political implications. Therefore the choice to sign or not sign ECFA, is actually a choice between two political strategies. Naturally advocates Taiwan independence oppose ECFA. But if the proposal advocates "neither reunification nor independence," they should agree to sign ECFA.

If we wish to usher in globalization, we have no reason to oppose ECFA. ECFA will solve cross-strait economic and trade problems. But more importantly, ECFA will solve "ASEAN plus X" regional economic problems. We must be able to survive in a globalized world. Only then can we find solutions to our political problems. If our economy cannot survive, how can we find solutions to our political problems? One might say that signing ECFA will bind Taipei. But it would be more accurate to say that not signing ECFA will bind Taipei to the wrong political strategy.

Taipei's economic path has been affected by its political situation. Conversely, Taipei's political path has been affected by its economic situation. The advent of globalization and regional economic organizations are Taipei's greatest economic challenges, and also its greatest political threat. In cross-Strait relations, the challenges of bilateral economic and trade relations have already exceeded those of direct political or military threats. The controversy over ECFA boils down to a simple reality. Taipei must adopt certain political and economic strategies for its survival. But Taipei cannot ignore globalization and regionalization, and the "ASEAN plus X" tidal wave. It cannot ignore the urgency and necessity of signing ECFA. That is, unless we really want manufacturers to relocate.

2010.01.26 02:59 am









Monday, January 25, 2010

One China, Different Interpretations: A Breeding Ground for Taiwan Independence?

One China, Different Interpretations: A Breeding Ground for Taiwan Independence?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 25, 2010

Toward the end of last year the United Daily News published a series of six editorials entitled, "Thoughts on the 99th Year of the Founding of the Republic of China." They received considerable attention from people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. We do not necessarily believe the arguments presented in our editorial series are unassailable. We wrote them merely to stimulate discussion and encourage brainstorming.
Cross-Strait issues are troublesome. They provoke intense disagreement. We are gratified that many people agree with our "Six New Years Day Editorials." But we also respect those who disagree. But if our editorials have been misunderstood or misinterpreted, we would like to clarify our position, to avoid conveying any misleading impressions.

Chang Ya-chung, Hsieh Ta-ning, and Huang Kuang-kuo are three scholars. They have published an article entitled "Six Questions for the United Daily News." They maintain that the "One China, Different Interpretations" argument advanced in our Six New Years Day Editorials is equivalent to Taiwan independence, that it provides a breeding ground for Taiwan independence. This is a misunderstanding. This is also a distortion. [Translator's note: unable to ascertain the proper translation for "我們有不能已於言者"]

These three scholars have long been concerned about cross-Strait issues. They have made a number of in-depth investigations. They have offered many creative suggestions. They have inspired widespread admiration. But their recently published Six Questions touts their own theory of "One China, Same Interpretation," "One China, Three Constitutions," and "Cross-Strait Reunification," which they characterize as the "Strategic Cornerstone for Cross-Strait Peaceful Development." It refers to "One China, Different Interpretations" as illogical, infeasible, and inconsistent with the interests of the concerned parties. It even equates "One China, Different Interpretations" with hardline Taiwan independence, with creeping Taiwan independence, with a breeding ground for Taiwan independence, with shielding Taiwan independence, and with an independent Taiwan. To say that "One China, Different Interpretations" is infeasible is to express an opinion. But to suggest that "One China, Different interpretations" is the equivalent of Taiwan independence, or a breeding ground for Taiwan independence, is neither here nor there.

In fact, we see no clear-cut difference between their Six Questions and our Six Editorials. A detailed discussion will take time. But our two positions have at least two things in common.

First. Both advocate a Big Roof Theory. Our Six Editorials stress a process oriented theory for peaceful development. We hope to moderate, soften, transform, and improve upon the goal oriented theories for reunification and independence. Because we emphasize process orientation, we advocate a Chopsticks Theory involving neither reunification nor independence, and a Cup Theory which preserves the Constitution of the Republic of China and the status quo. Stressing process orientation does not mean evading the issue of goals. Therefore we also advocate a Big Roof Theory to deal with the issue of long term objectives. For example, the two sides could set up a confederation. The Six Questions seem to imply that "One China, Different Interpretations" fails to explain the meaning of "One China." But our Six Editorials make it clear that the "One China" in "One China, Different Interpretations" is a Big Roof, a Third Concept, a higher level concept. For example, setting up a confederation would involve a Third Constitution. It would be no different from their Six Questions. When it comes to "Different Interpretations," their Six Questions and our Six Editorials both champion a One China Constitution. We differ even less on this issue. Their Six Questions assert that accepting One China does not mean we must accept Beijing as the central government, and Taipei as a local government. But isn't that a kind of "Different Interpretation?" After all, their Six Questions do not accept the premise that "One China means the PRC." How different is that from our assertion that "One China" ought to refer to a Third Concept or Third Constitution? In fact, their Six Questions say that a peace agreement should be the first document to establish cross-Strait political mutual trust. That was also our proposal. So what's the difference?

Their Six Questions equates "One China, Different Interpretations" with Taiwan independence and a breeding ground for Taiwan independence. They even say it poses an embryonic threat. This distorts the facts. What champion of Taiwan independence would advocate a One China Constitution? What person attempting to establish a breeding ground for Taiwan independence would urge the two sides to return to the starting point, to Sun Yat-sen's 1911 Revolution? What person attempting to establish a breeding ground for Taiwan independence would advocate a rational process to clarify long term objectives?" The three scholars may have ambitious goals for a Greater China. But is it necessary to characterize others as having a waif mentality?

In fact, our Six Editorials proposes breaking cross-Straits relations into many parts. Their Six Questions proposes combining many parts into one. But without the parts how can one have the whole? Without the whole, how can the parts have any order? Processes and goals are mutually complementary. They need not be mutually contradictory.

Secondly, Beijing is the main variable. Their Six Questions characterize our Six Editorials as wishful thinking. They may have a point. But their Six Questions also unwittingly engage in wishful thinking. Their Six Questions point out that substantive power in cross-Strait relations is asymmetrical. But their Six Questions and our Six Editorials face the same problem. Their Six Questions pose a powerful challenge to our Six Editorials. They ask why Beijing would accept "One China, Different Interpretations." Their six lengthy articles point out that Beijing's repeated rejection of "One China, Different Interpretations" amounts to opposition. But aren't they afraid that people will say the same thing about their Six Questions? Why would Beijing accept "One China, Three Constitutions?"

Beijing's opposition is not cast in stone. We do not oppose "One China, Three Constitutions." We think that "One China, Different Interpretations" and "One China, Three Constitutions" are essentially the same thing. If Beijing can accept "One China, Three Constitutions," it has no reason not to accept "One China, Different Interpretations." Since both of them advocate the Big Cup Theory and Big Roof Theory. But it makes no sense to badmouth "One China, Different Interpretations" in order to advance "One China, Three Constitutions."

In order to resolve the cross-Strait impasse, political and civic leaders on both sides have proposed innumerable policy prescriptions. All of them have encountered the same problem -- rejection by Beijing, or rejection by Taipei. This is the same problem faced by "One China, Three Constitutions" and the "One China, Different Interpretations." Nevertheless, debates rage on both sides, because what is unacceptable isn't cast in stone. Creativity requires the breaking of molds. As their Six Questions noted, the Grundlagenvertragbasic, or Basic Treaty between East and West Germany and the European Union's Helsinki Final Act were repeatedly rejected before they were finally adopted. By the same token, the two sides have moved away from the rhetoric of "Liberate Taiwan!" and "Counterattack the mainland!" They have arrived at today's theme: peaceful development. Did they not succeed in breaking through the unacceptable? We hope the two sides can accept "One China, Different Interpretations." We hope the two sides can accept "One China, Three Constitutions." We do not care whose theories become the official basis for cross-Strait negotiations. We are concerned only about adopting a rational process for the formulation of cross-Strait objectives.

Because we stress process, we do not think that our assertion that Taiwan's future should be decided by 23 million people is a deviant position. We believe the ultimate resolution of cross-Strait issues must resolve the issue of Taiwan independence. Taiwan independence can only be transformed. It cannot be eradicated. In particular, "One China, Different Interpretations," Lee Teng-hui's "Two States," and the DPP's Taiwan independence are not one and the same. Why the accusation that we are birds of a feather? Are the three scholars merely seeking targets for their arrows?

Finally, we solemnly declare that our Six New Years Day Editorials have nothing to do with the Ma administration. Nothing whatsoever. In fact, "One China, Different Interpretations" is a concept still in development. During the Lee Teng-hui era we advocated "One China, Different Interpretations." We are not worried about whether the Ma administration's "One China, Different Interpretations" differs. We merely wish to make some small effort on behalf of "One China, Different Interpretations." We welcome the creative thinking behind "One China, Three Constitutions." But we hope "One China, Different Interpretations" will not be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Soliciting a wide range of opinions cannot be a bad thing.

2010.01.25 04:09 am














Friday, January 22, 2010

Su Huan-chih and Hsu Tien-tsai: Why Not Forcibly Occupy the Podium in the Legislature?

Su Huan-chih and Hsu Tien-tsai: Why Not Forcibly Occupy the Podium in the Legislature?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 22, 2010

The ruling and opposition parties were stalemated in the Legislature over the Law of Local Institutions. But eventually after several bouts of scuffling, they successfully held a vote. Such scenes have become commonplace. What leaves the public most angry and confused is that the Legislative Yuan has already undergone a number of structural reforms. It has an internal consultation system. It has a voting system. Yet every time it votes, physical confrontations erupt because the DPP "occupies the podium" by means of brute force. Must the Republic of China legislature remain trapped outside the evolutionary path of democracy?
We're not sure when physically occupying the podium using brute physical force became the DPP's political trademark. Years ago the DPP accused the KMT of one party rule. Their sentiments were shared by society. This led to the reform of the "10,000 Year Legislature." But when the DPP became the ruling party, it continued to throw shoes at its political opponents in the legislature. It continued to use superglue to disable locks to the doors of the legislature, in order to block the passage of bills that did not meet with its approval. The current legislature is the seventh. Its composition is based on the single member district, two ballot system the Green Camp demanded and got. Yet the Democratic Progressive Party continues its practice of physically occupying the podium by means of brute force, It offers all sorts of elaborate rationalizatons for its brawling. But the Blue Camp commands a huge majority in the legislature. It represents the clearly expressed will of a democratic majority. Can the DPP truly ignore this simple reality?

The way the Law of Local Institutions was amended was indeed rushed. The process was indeed too hasty. It was indeed less than entirely rational. But the amended law is an improvement over the original one. The most controversial items have been revised. Additional provisions have been made for the reassignment of township and city mayors to district chiefs. Township and city representatives may not be reassigned to the District Advisory Committee. They may not receive 45,000 NT in research fees. The ruling and opposition parties had already reached a consensus in the morning. But by the afternoon Tsai Ing-wen and Ko Chien-min suddenly reneged. Under the circumstances, the public cannot help wondering whether the Democratic Progressive Party's stonewalling was motivated purely by the desire for a violent confrontation, and by the desire to occupy the podium purely for the sake of occupying the podium.

The Democratic Progressive Party stonewalls on every issue. It practices a "scorched-earth policy." This shows that its actions are utterly unprincipled, and that the DPP is utterly insincere concerning the rational evaluation of public policy. When the DPP was in power it proposed amendments to the Law of Local Institutions. It proposed abolishing township and municipal self-government elections, township and mayor appointments, and the township people's congress. It attempted to abolish grass-roots elections on a scale far greater than today's restructuring of the five major metropolitan areas. Predictably, now that the DPP's role has changed, it is turning around and denouncing the KMT, accusing it of amending the law in order to disrupt local self-government and undermine constitutional order. Apparently the Democratic Progressive Party's stand on the Law of Local Institutions changes according to whether it is in or out of office.

Worse still, the Executive Yuan's original version originally stipulated that township and municipal representatives reassigned to the District Advisory Committee could receive a 45,000 NT monthly salary. This stipulation was advanced by DPP Tainan Mayor Su Huan-chi and DPP Tainan County Executive Hsu Tien-tsai. During consultations between the central and local governments, other participants agreed with the DPP city mayors and county executives. It was only when the legislature began its third reading that the Green Camp suddenly sounded the alarm and accused the KMT of attempting to "install its own people." It even proclaimed that it would defend constitutional government "to the death." But doesn't the Democratic Progressive Party leadership's heroic posturing directly contradict its city mayors' and county executives' opportunism? Doesn't it reveal the DPP's internal contradictions. Doesn't it reveal how it says one thing, but does another thing? The Ma administration's decision-making process may be obtuse. But the chronic and habitual hypocrisy of the Democratic Progressive Party makes it impossible for the public to find any emotional relief.

As far as the KMT is concerned, it won a victory during the melee over the Law of Local Institutions. The Ma adminstration bears scars from the process. An initial lack of communication and evaluation, along with blind obedience of DPP city mayors and county executives led to wrong decisions and widespread discontent. Eventually a brawl within an extraordinary session resolved the differences, and blocked the DPP's attempt to interfere with the review procedure. Actually, it was merely technical victory. But Blue Camp legislators have felt considerable excitement over the past two days. Wang Jin-pyng declared that "This is more like it. This is the way political party must conduct itself." In the end the KMT broke the senseless deadlock the Democratic Progressive Party created when it physically occupied the podium using brute force. This could be considered progress. The important thing is that the Blue Camp legislators, who constitute a three quarters supermajority, have finally become a team. Even more significantly, the will of the people, expressed two years ago during the legislative elections, has finally broken through psychological and strategic barriers in the Legislative Yuan. It is finally enabling the machinery of government to function.

In today's open political environment, the ruling party has little room for clandestine operations. Many deficiencies in administrative decision-making can be overseen by the media and improved by elected representatives. That is why the DPP must forsake its strategy of "perpetual protests." It must adopt more rational means of checks and balances. Only then can it avoid sacrificing the interests of the nation and the public with day after day of scorched-earth warfare.

Why don't Su Huan-chih and Hsu Tien-tsai come to the Legislative Yuan and physically occupy the podium by means of brute force? The Democratic Progressive Party has long been more adept at rhetoric than the KMT. But its dismal record of governance has given the public an insight into chaotic policy. The DPP must find a more civilized strategy for ensuring checks and balances. It must establish a comprehensive policy. It must overcome its own contradictions and hypocrisy. Only then can the DPP restructure itself and raise its political stature.

2010.01.22 03:22 am









Thursday, January 21, 2010

When Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin Turn Up in Huang Fang-yen's Living Room

When Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin Turn Up in Huang Fang-yen's Living Room
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 21, 2010

The public does not know whether Chen Tsung-ming leaked case information to Huang Fang-yen. But the Control Yuan had good reason to conclude that Chen Tsung-ming was happy to see Huang Fang-yen flee the country and go into hiding. After all, if Huang Fang-yen was investigated, he just might reveal the details of his association with Chen Tsung-ming, to the serious detriment of Chen Tsung-ming.
The articles of impeachment describe the February 26, 2007 Chinese New Years banquet at Huang Fang-yen's house in great detail. Control Yuan Member Li Fu-dian, a co-sponsor, said that Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin and Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming attended the banquet. Together they appeared at the private residence of Huang Fang-yen, a suspect in the Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng corruption cases. This was not merely questionable, it raised "suspicions of criminal conduct." Li Fu-dian concluded that there were clear grounds for suspicion.

Chen Tsung-ming's rebuttal was hardly convincing. He said "According to this logic, nobody is permitted to have contacts with those in power." But Chen Tsung-ming is the Prosecutor General. He is not just anybody. At the time Huang Fang-yen was a key figure in the Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng corruption case. How could he be considered "just another person close to the ruling government?" Yet both the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General showed up in Huang Fang-yen's home, the same time that the Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng corruption cases were making the headlines. How can this be possibly be classified as routine contacts with those in power?

Control Yuan member Chien Lin Hui-chung, another co-sponsor, said that "anyone who bothered to read a paper" at the time knew that Huang Fang-yen and Chen Shui-bian had a special relationship. They had special roles in Chen Shui-bian's corruption case. Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin were even more familiar with the facts of the case than the average citizen. How could they not know who Huang Fang-yen was? The Chinese New Years banquet Chen Tsung-ming and Huang Fang-yen attended had already raised "suspicions of criminal conduct." Yet Chen Tsung-ming had the temerity to argue that "According to this logic, nobody is permitted to have contacts with those in power." He had the gall to feign innocence. This is both self-deception and deception of others. This is especially unforgivable.

That Chinese New Years banquet was perhaps the single most sordid political scenario in recent memory. It was perhaps the most shameful judicial scenario in recent memory. Add to this Bureau of Investigation Chief Yeh Sheng-mao's leaking of case information collected by the Egmont Group to Chen Shui-bian during the same period. The public can imagine how far the nation's justice system degenerated under DPP rule. The justice system had already lost its transcendent status. Even the "Three Heads" had been reduced to hatchetmen. The public believes the "Three Heads" covered up Chen Shui-bian's corruption. It suspects even the relationship between the justice system and the ruling government. It wonders why the High Speed Rail System scandal was prosecuted so haphazardly and why the focus was deliberately shifted to peripheral instead of central issues.

The "Three Heads" are responsible for the administration of justice. But by then they had become the president's accomplices -- tools for political domination and political infighting. Ironically, reports of Chen Tsung-ming's Chinese New Years banquet at Huang Fang-yen's house originated with then Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin. Shih Mao-lin's report emulated Chen Tsung-ming's legal response. Shih Mao-lin's report naturally failed to mention his own presence on the premises. Chen Tsung-ming naturally failed to mention Shih Mao-lin's presence. The Control Yuan's impeachment notes that both of them were present. Leave aside the question of whether they are criminal suspects. Their reports alone are prima facie evidence of perjury. Are they qualified to continue serving as Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General?

It is rumored that the Control Yuan's impeachment of Chen Tsung-ming has provoked a "reaction from prosecuters at the grassroots level." Do prosecutors truly believe Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-lin did nothing wrong when they visited Huang Fang-yen, just as the Chen Shui-bian corruption case was reaching full boil? Is it unreasonable to suspect criminal conduct in the Chinese New Years banquet incident? Is it unreasonable to suspect a connection between "imperial witness" Huang Fang-yen's flight abroad and Chen Tsung-ming's concern that Huang might turn around and implicate him? Is it unreasonable to conclude that Chen Tsung-ming's characterization of Huang Fang-yen as "an ordinary acquaintance" was unmitigated nonsense? The Control Yuan's impeachment was initiated only after the Chen corruption case reached a certain point. Did so-called "prosecutors at the grassroots level" really consider the impeachment interference with the judicial process? In fact the Control Yuan's impeachment helped rid the ranks of prosecutors of rotten apples. Yet so-called "prosecutors at the grassroots level" characterized the Control Yuan's actions as persecution of the virtuous. Is their characterization not just a wee bit dubious?

These self-styled "prosecutors at the grassroots level" are clearly a minority. Their perception is at dramatic odds with that of the public. Why don't these self-styled "prosecutors at the grassroots level" host a Chinese New Years banquet and invite all the key people in the cases they are prosecuting? They can assure the public they are engaging in "nothing more than routine contacts with ordinary people."

Chen Tsung-ming's attitude is no different from those of the typical criminal suspect. "You think I committed a crime? Prove it!" He is arguing that if there is no evidence that he committed a crime, then he cannot be impeached for attending a Chinese New Years banquet with Huang Fang-yen. Real prosecutors at the grass-roots level have encountered many suspects who talk tough but who have no leg to stand on. Does Chen Tsung-ming really consider his attitude following the commission of a crime something the public ought to emulate?

If the judicial system wishes to redeem itself, it must set an example for the nation. Shih Mao-lin, Chen Tsung-ming, and Yeh Sheng-mao are the "Three Heads" responsible for the administration of justice. Their conduct as individuals was questionable. Worse, they and the president were accomplices who undermined the nation's system of justice. Add to this triumvirate a fourth, Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo, who helped the president lobby legislators. This is the worst example of an independent judiciary being undermined since the lifting of martial law. It is an example of the irreparable damage the DPP inflicted upon our nation and society during its rule. We still do not know whether members of the judiciary feel shame. They appear intent on inflicting material injury upon others. This is no longer a question of Chen, Shih, Yeh and their personal reputations. This is an indication that judicial reform has undergone catastrophic failure.

2010.01.21 03:22 am











Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chen Tsung-ming's Wounds: Not Impeachment, But Loss of Public Trust

Chen Tsung-ming's Wounds: Not Impeachment, But Loss of Public Trust
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 20, 2010

The Control Yuan has impeached Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming by a vote of eight to three. It has also demanded by a vote of seven to three that the Ministry of Justice bring the matter to a swift resolution. The Control Yuan has gotten tough. Chen Tsung-ming has responded by tendering his resignation.
The first Prosecutor General under the new system has been impeached. This is deeply regrettable, not just for Chen Tsung-ming personally, but for the entire judicial system. Ever since Chen Tsung-ming's role and behavior became the subject of a major scandal, we have urged him to be smart and consider resigning. Given his protestations of innocence, his words and deeds clearly run counter to public expectations. He may feel personally aggrieved. But as the highest ranking official within the prosecutorial system, he must boldly resign. He must do so to uphold justice and to maintain respect and trust in the administration of justice. Only by doing so, can he maintain his own reputation and minimize the damage done to the judicial system. Instead Chen Tsung-ming dragged his feet so long he forced the Control Yuan to impeach him. On the one hand, Chen Tsung-ming set a negative example for judicial ethics. On the other hand, he left huge scars on the nation's system of justice.

Chen Tsung-ming has provoked a great deal of controversy. He may not have left traces of illegal conduct. That is why the Control Yuan's reasons for impeachment did not include references to illegal conduct, but rather to negligence. For example, the impeachment points to Chen Tsung-ming and Shih Mao-ling's frequent meetings at Huang Fang-yen's private residence, and to his self-contradictory testimony when questioned by the Legislative Yuan. He even personally visited a building contractor named Tsai, a witness in the Chen Shui-bian corruption case, at Tsai's office. The Control Yuan concluded that his conduct was suspicious, but difficult to prove illegal. Therefore they characterized his conduct merely as "dereliction of duty." In fact, Chen provoked all manner of controversy. For example, during the Discretionary Fund controversy, he failed to preside over a unified opinion. He sat idly by as conflicting standards of justice prevailed in different jurisdictions. The political tides turned. But this inconsistency remained under the purview of an independent prosecution. Control Yuan members were unhappy with the situation. But getting to the bottom of the matter proved difficult. Chen Tsung-ming and Huang Fang-yen were suspected of leaking information. Suspicions linger. But this is not something the Control Yuan can comment on. It lacked proof that Chen Tsung-ming engaged in illegal conduct. But characterizing Chen's words and deeds as "dereliction of duty" was fully consistent with public perceptions. Chen Tsung-ming should not have met in Huang Fang-yen's private residence, just as another man's underwear must not show up in the Queen's chambers. It is not necessary to talk about whether there is evidence of illegal conduct. The fact is Chen Tsung-ming must take full responsibility for his unethical conduct.

Chen Tsung-ming Chan has tendered his resignation. This was a wise decision. He must not be so oblivious as to continue stonewalling, to the point where he is impeached. His allegation that the Control Yuan "fabricated facts and maliciously defamed him" will only provoke even greater public disappointment. It can only exacerbate the damage done to his personal reputation. The job of Prosecutor General involves important duties and responsibilities. A Prosecutor General must maintain public respect and public trust in the administration of justice. Chen Tsung-ming has already lost the public trust. That much is abundantly clear. Chen Tsung-ming landed himself in his current plight. He would do well to ask himself whether as Prosecutor General, he still commands the people's respect and trust.

The Prosecutor General is a unique cabinet position. No one within the administrative system can force him to resign. Therefore, anyone who assumes this position must measure himself against the highest standards for professional conduct. Chen Tsung-ming's given name means "smart." But Chen Tsung-ming lacked the smarts to know when to fold. Instead, he has landed himself in his current pickle. He severely damaged the image of the justice system. Chen Tsung-ming could have minimized the damage to himself and to the nation by making a moral choice. Instead he forced the Control Yuan to impeach him. This harmed Chen Tsung-ming. It also left a massive scar on "the first Prosecutor General" under the new system.

Chen Tsung-ming's words and deeds have provoked intense public indignation. As mentioned earlier, Chen Tsung-ming has lost the public trust. The public has even concluded that if it could not rid itself of Chen Tsung-ming, then the entire government would remain riddled with problems. Chen Tsung-ming did not know enough to resign. He forced the Control Yuan to impeach him. Chen Tsung-ming apparently failed to realize that if he was unable to maintain his status as a moral paragon, he would have no leg to stand on. In fact, Chen Tsung-ming's real wound was not inflicted by the Control Yuan when it impeached him. His real wound was inflicted upon him by himself, when he lost the public's respect and trust.

The Chen Tsung-ming case is a major blow to the justice system. The lesson is that for administrators of justice, public respect and trust are the ne plus ultra. The loss of that respect and trust renders the administration of justice meaningless.

陳聰明的重傷不在彈劾 而在失去社會信任
2010.01.20 03:13 am








Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From Li Chia-tung to Lin Yi-hsiung

From Li Chia-tung to Lin Yi-hsiung
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 19, 2010

On the 17th of this month, Professor Li Chia-tung published an article in this newspaper's "Hall of Fame," entitled "South Korea Can Export Nuclear Power Plants. Can Taiwan?" It was reminiscent of Lin Yi-hsiung's frequent appearances during street protests.
Lee Chia-tung and Lin Yi-hsiung appear to have similar temperaments. Both may be bleeding heart humanitarians. But the two have fundamental differences. Li is an intellectual. Lin is a politician.

The differences between Li and Lin on nuclear power generation are intriguing. Lin Yi-hsiung opposes nuclear power generation. He quotes scientific sources to prove that nuclear power generation is a danger to society. He has linked "anti-nuke" with "referendum." He has turned it into an issue of human rights and political justice. The "referendum on nuclear plant no. 4" has become a synonym for "Lin Yi-hsiung." Lee Chia-tung is a scientist. He is familiar with the arguments against nuclear power generation. But in a article entitled "South Korea Can," he characterized South Korea's 40 billion dollar nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates, after winning a competition against the United States, Japan, and France, as a world shaking industrial and technological achievement. Actually, the Republic of China and South Korea began using nuclear power at the same time, about thirty years ago. The ROC was once even in the lead. Today, Lee Chia-tung is demanding to know why we aren't ashamed for lagging so far behind South Korea?

Lee Chia-tung is one of a small number of prestigious "self-made" intellectuals. He has never attached himself to any pressure group or political party. By writing about the issue, one article at a time, he has made a name for himself within the community. At first, his concern was humanitarian. It was the borderless humanitarianism of Mother Theresa and of Shusaku Endo's "Deep River." Later, he became a vigorous advocate of education. He personally taught poor students English. He considers giving people the gift of knowledge an act of humanitarianism. It prevents them from being exploited as a result of their ignorance. More recently, Lee Chia-tung has turned his attention to technology and industry. His article "South Korea's Nuclear Power Plant" is a must-read.

Lin Yi-hsiung is an emotionally intense humanitarian. The difference between Lin and Lee Chia-tung is that Lin's humanitarianism comes packaged with political arguments. Lin Yi-hsiung has three proposals. First, his "Basic Draft Law for the Republic of Taiwan." Lin wants to establish a "Taiwanese national identity" and considers this a humanistic solution. Secondly, his single-member district two-vote system. It was intended to reduce the probability of "Mainlanders" getting elected, thereby reducing "ethnic conflict" (more accurately termed "communal strife") and social friction. This too had a humanitarian aspect. Thirdly, the fourth nuclear power plant referendum. This was also a humanitarian ideal.

As previously mentioned, the biggest difference between Lin and Li is that Lin is a politician, while Li is an intellectual. Lin Yi-hsiung's three propositions, his "Basic Law for the Republic of Taiwan," his single-member district two-vote system, may have humanitarian implications. But his humanitarianism is part of a political package deal. As for his opposition to Nuclear Power Plant No. 4, he finally persuaded President Chen Shui-bian to halt construction in October 2000. Halting construction of the plant however created a political and economic crisis for Chen Shui-bian. Furthermore, construction on the project was halted without resort to the referendum process, i.e,, without public consent. In terms of justice, Lin Yi-hsiung's position on Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 was self-contradictory. Chen Shui-bian never initiated a referendum on the plant. If the decision whether to hold a referendum is made on the basis of political power, then is the decision whether to halt Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 also to be made on the basis of brute political power?

Li and Lin both have ideals and passion. But if one wishes to save the nation, one needs to be realistic as well as idealistic. Besides passion, one needs knowledge. Lin Yi-hsiung dropped his demands for a referendum as soon as Chen Shui-bian acquired the power to halt the project. Those with differing views on nuclear power generation could only bow to the dictates of political power. Is nuclear power generation a question of political power? Or is it a question of scientific knowledge? Lin Yi-hsiung mobilized crowds to oppose nuclear power generation. Lee Chia-tung stayed in bed, reading reader comments posted in the newspapers. Whom should the public listen to? Where do we go from here?

In fact, both Li and Lin play indispensable roles within society. Lin alerts us to the risks of nuclear power generation. Lee offers us a choice based on reality and factual knowledge. Today there is a resurgence of support for nuclear power generation. This will not diminish people's concerns about nuclear power generation. But it shows that knowledge of the anti-nuke position will not necessarily make the anti-nuke position the only policy choice. France's total generating capacity is over 80% nuclear. Belgium's is 60%, Japan's is 34%, and Switzerland's is 42%. Even the United States' total generating capacity is over 20% nuclear. The Republic of China's is only 17% nuclear. Are there no Lin Yi-hsiungs in those countries? Are there no Chen Shui-bians in those countries to halt construction of nuclear power plants on behalf of their own Lin Yi-hsiungs?

South Korea is building more than nuclear power plants for the United Arab Emirates. The Samsung Group has just completed construction on the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world. Does the public on Taiwan wish to continue linking humanitarianism and "love for Taiwan" with ideology? Or should we promote the humanitarian sentiments expressed by Mother Theresa and by Shusaku Endo in "Deep River?" Should we revitalize our educational system, our technology, and our industry to demonstrate our "love of the land?"

Lee Chia-tung puts pen to paper. Lin Yi-hsiung takes to the streets. Both are passionate humanitarians. Both are respected by the community. But idealism must also take into account reality. Passion must also be accompanied by knowledge. In particular, attention should be paid to the hijacking and corruption of humanitarianism by political power. Ideological zealotry plus nativist sentiment will inevitably spell disaster.

2010.01.19 04:17 am











Monday, January 18, 2010

The Su Family of Yunlin: The Ideological Spark that Transforms the DPP?

The Su Family of Yunlin: The Ideological Spark that Transforms the DPP?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 18, 2010

Su Chih-hao is the executive director of the Su Tung-chi Foundation. On the 12th of this month he published a newspaper article entitled, "Liberation from the Insular Mentality." He appealed to the Democratic Progressive Party to forsake its self-imposed isolation and seek peaceful contacts with the Mainland, in order to create a win-win situation. Su Tung-chi is Su Chih-hao's father. Su Chih-hao is Su Chih-fen's brother. When a family with a long history of Green Camp political activism makes such an appeal, it is definitely an attention getter.
Su Tung-chi's son in law, i.e., Su Chih-fen's husband, is a mathematics professor Huang Wu-hsiung. By coincidence, about the same time last year, Huang published a proposal entitled, "Seeking Fifty Years of (Cross-Strait) Peace," and initiated an online signature drive. He proposed "maintaining the status quo for fifty years, no reunification, no independence, and Republic of China demilitarization written into the Constitution." Huang Wu-hsiung's cross-Strait views overlap with President Ma Ying-jeou's "no reunification, no independence, no use of force." If anything, they are more radical than Ma's. calling as they do for a constitutional amendment.

The cross-Strait situation is changing. On Taiwan the Blue and Green camps are locked in a fierce struggle. Could the son in law of the Su Family be the spark that transforms the DPP's thinking about cross-Strait relations?

The Su Family in Yunlin was among the few families on Taiwan active in the resistance movement during the Japanese occupation. During the Japanese occupation Su Tung-chi went to Mainland China to participate in the Sino-Japanese War. Following retrocession he joined the Youth League. He ran for County Councilor and County Executive. He helped Lei Chen organize the "China Democratic Party." He was also involved in the Taiwan independence related "3/9 Incident" and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was only 39 years old when he entered prison. He was granted amnesty due to the passing of President Chiang Kai-shek and released from prison. Su Tung-chi's entire life reflects the best traditions of the democratic and opposition movement on Taiwan. Meanwhile Yunlin, Taiwan's most "native" agricultural county, best reflects Taiwan's grass-roots character. The son in law of the Su Family has made a cross-Strait proposal quite different from that of the Green Camp and the DPP. The Su Family's influence may not be fully realized, but the Su Family has a long history in the opposition movement. One seldom encounters such a capacity for transcendence. The Green Camp and the DPP should settle down and carefully consider the views expressed by the Su Family's son in law. His views may become the basis for future cross-Strait policy.

The United Daily News analyzed Huang Wu-hsiung's "Proposal for Fifty Years of Peace" in a newspaper editorial published on February 10, 2009. Su Chih-hao's article was not as specific as Huang Wu-hsiung's. But in terms of reasoning and emotion, it was equally moving.

Su Chih-hao wrote that for the DPP, cross-Strait relations, reunification, and independence were blind spots. The times are changing. The tide is changing. Mainland China is changing, The world situation is changing. The Democratic Progressive Party must adapt to a changing world. It must remain responsive to public opinion. It must move closer to the center.

Su Chih-hao has offered some sobering thoughts about democracy on Taiwan. He said that the era of democratic reform and liberalization may be mere illusion. Winning elections, expediency, and short-term advantage are everything. An insular mentality is bedeviled by amnesia. The economy may be first rate, but politics are third rate. Internal bickering is eroding the island's foundations. But the KMT and DPP can offer no solutions.

Su Chih-hao has a rather positive evaluation of Deng Xiaoping. He has high praise for Deng's "wisdom, foresight, self-confidence, perseverance in the face of overwhelming opposition." He also had positive things to say about Chiang Ching-kuo. "(Chiang Ching-kuo's) one small step for a man sounded the bell for cross-Strait peace. It created an opportunity for peaceful cross-Strait interaction." Remarks such as Su Chih-hao's are rare within the Green Camp.

Su Chih-hao exhorted the Democratic Progressive Party. He said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have the same culture and belong to the same race. They are connected by an umbilical cord. They are brothers, and ought not to be hostile nations. The DPP need only set aside disputes and seek common ground in its referendum on self-determination. "Great wisdom," it is said, "often appears foolish." The DPP can be reborn. It can engage with the Mainland. It can demonstrate greater goodwill. Lien Chan and James Soong broke the ice during their Journey of Peace. The DPP can follow suit.

Su Chih-hao exposed the hollowness of democratic politics on Taiwan. He said, "democratic reform and liberalization may be merely an illusion." Politics on Taiwan is "third rate politics that offers no solutions." He noted that cross-Strait relations are at a critical juncture. The so-called "bottom line referendum on self-determination, " overlaps with the "referendum on reunification" promoted by Tsao Hsing-cheng and others, including this paper. In sum, Su Chih-hao's proposals have much in common with mainstream thought on Taiwan. Democracy on Taiwan should be used to protect the Republic of China in cross-strait interactions. It should not be used to divide Taiwan. It should not blindly oppose globalization and insist on hostility toward the Mainland.

Su Chih-Hao wrote that the times are changing, the tide is changing, Mainland China is changing, and the world situation is also changing. Chiang Ching-kuo saw this 20 years ago. Twenty years later, apart from the blind, and liars committed to self-deception, everyone sees it. Are the Su Family of Yunlin really the only people in the DPP and Green Camp able to see it? Are Su Chih-hao and Huang Wu-hsiung the only ones able to see it? Are these people blind, or merely engaging in self-deception?

Are cross-Strait issues and democratic politics on Taiwan merely "third-rate politics that offers no solutions?" What sayeth the DPP?

2010.01.18 04:11 am













Friday, January 15, 2010

A Jerry-Rigged Economic Policy: No Direction, No Future

A Jerry-Rigged Economic Policy: No Direction, No Future
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 15, 2010

The financial news on the 12th of this month focused on two points. Both have considerable influence on our economic development. First, the Council of Labor Affairs adopted a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Law. It hopes to adopt German legal reasoning, which stipulates that "mergers and acquisitions may not result in employee changes." It wants to forbid un-incorporated companies and financial holding companies from dismissing employees following mergers and acquisitions. Secondly, it wants to replace regulations pertaining to the promotion of innovation in sunset industries. It wants grants to promote research and innovation, along with business tax cuts, in order to attract foreign capital.
These two bills are merely the beginning. Other bills have already entered their second or third reading in the Legislative Yuan. All are equally controversial. If the Labor Standards Act is amended in accordance with the Council of Labor's demands, financial holding companies will be petrified. It will also take Taiwan farther away from the free market. Businesses undergo mergers and acquisitions in order to achieve synergy. Changes in the work force are essential for improved company performance. If financial holding companies are not allowed to lay off personnel following mergers, it is certain to discourage companies attempting to expand their financial reach. What's worse, the new bill may even be retroactive. The stipulation that "mergers and acquisitions may not lead to employee changes" may express the spirit of German law. But German laborers enjoy close-knit legal protections based on a venerable philosophical foundation. Taiwan must not selectively imitiate Germany's labor laws. This haphazard transplanting of another nation's laws may not be appropriate for our society, and will inevitably inspire skepticism.

The new industrial innovation law is also controversial. This law can be boiled down to two words: "tax cut." It cuts the general business income tax to 20%. Even more controversial is Article 30. It cuts taxes for operational headquarters to 15%. The logic of the ruling party has always been to bring tax rates down to those of Singapore and Hong Kong. It has long applied this logic to both business regulations and the income tax. Early last year, a substantial cut in the inheritance tax rate reflected this very thinking. But Singapore and Hong Kong are small. Neither has a manufacturing base, and no broad based work force. Their economic and social structures are very different from Taiwan's. We are obviously different from Singapore and Hong Kong. Yet we insist on emulating their low tax regime to attract cross-border business. This is another example of our haphazard transplantation of other peoples' tax systems. This has long been a target of criticism by economic and financial experts.

In addition to the aforementioned two bills, we have the national health insurance system, labor pension system and social welfare system. All three were adopted in the past few years. These were inspired to a considerable extent by the Scandinavian countries. The Republic of China's health insurance program has been praised by Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. But Krugman failed to notice that our Director of Health has demanded a health insurance premium increase upon threat of resignation. The increase remains far off. On the one hand the public on Taiwan enjoys the level of health care and social welfare enjoyed in Scandinavia. On the other hand our tax burden is merely one-third that of the Northern European nations. We get more. We pay less. No one in the government cares that the health insurance program and pension program cannot possibly continue in this manner forever. Put simply, we want only to transplant the Scandinavian system of welfare benefits. The rest of the system we refuse to look at.

Politicians on Taiwan love jerry-rigging. Public infrastructure uses mass rapid transit systems and trains from Canada and France. It uses high-speed rail transport components from Japan and Europe. They are all cobbled together haphazardly, depending upon our politicians' whims. On the policy front, we imitate Germany's labor laws, Hong Kong and Singapore's tax cut regimes, the Scandinavian countries' social welfare system, America's university system, and the Communist Party's party organizational structure. Our constitution is a major work of jerry-rigging. It components can euphemistically be described as "the best of all worlds." But in fact it is rife with incompatibilities. Mutually-exclusive organs have been transplanted into a single body. The final outcome is certain disaster.

If a country wants to adopt the Scandinavian welfare system, it must impose high taxes to cover its expenses. It cannot possibly maintain a low tax rate. If it insists on a low-tax rates to attract cross-border business, it will not have enough funds to take cover social welfare. Also, since 2001 our government has been promoting a knowledge economy. But it fails to understand that rapid changes within a knowledge-based economy necessitate frequent labor force disruptions. Therefore promoting a knowledge-based economy will inevitably affect labor policy and social welfare policy. Unfortunately, Taiwan's populist political climate, short-sighted politicians, and the mindset of the man in the street have never fully meshed. A jerry-rigged machine is usually riddled with defects. It can seldom continue operating over time.

No one knows where our government is taking us with its public policy. Is it towards Scandinavia's Nanny State? Singapore and Hong Kong's low tax, small government regime? Germany's state capitalism? America's free market? The United Kingdom's privatization model? South Korea's consortium led government? Indonesia's crony capitalism? Where exactly is it taking us? The public on Taiwan no longer dares to hope for enlighted leaders with shining visions. All it wants is a clear direction. Nothing more.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.01.15
社論-拼裝車式經濟政策 沒方向也沒前途








Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Government must Reorganize in order to Increase Its Effectiveness

The Government must Reorganize in order to Increase Its Effectiveness
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 14, 2010

Take a close look at the Republic of China's laws. The "Executive Yuan Organic Law," which has been in force for 60 years, is perhaps a rare bird. Times have changed. The executive branch has been subjected to repeated changes in its organization. Yet amending the law has proven impossible. Recently the Legislative Yuan allowed four laws to enter their third reading. In doing so, it turned a page in the history of governmental reform. One cannot help but cheer the Ma administration's persistence. But the reorganization of the executive branch is an unprecedented and Herculean task. It entails streamlining the civil service -- another huge task. Care must be taken during the follow-up. The each step must be closely monitored to minimize the negative impact of reforms.

The "Executive Yuan Organic Law" was promulgated in 1947. After the government moved the capital to Taiwan, it was amended for the fourth time, in 1949. Fifteen ministries and three commissions were streamlined, reduced to eight ministries and two commissions. Since then this arrangement has remained largely unchanged. The last amendment was 30 years ago, in 1980. The "Administration of Justice Department" was renamed the "Ministry of Justice." During the final years of the Chiang Ching-kuo administration, the Lee Teng-hui administration, and even the eight year long Chen Shui-bian administration, the Executive Yuan Organic Law was the subject of repeated discussion. The Chen administration even established "representatives for the reinvention of government." In 2002 and 2004 it proposed two draft amendments, but failed to win the support of the legislature. Meanwhile, the 60 year old organizational structure has expanded. It now has eight ministries and over twenty commissions. It has too many agencies, making coordination and intregration of operations difficult.

The current amendment process will merge ministries and commissions. A single overhaul will result in 14 ministries, eight commissions, three independent agencies, and two bureaus. The Central Bank and National Palace Museum will be preserved. The raison d'etre for many government agencies will be evaluated. For example, the National Science Council and Atomic Energy Commission will be merged into the Ministry of Science and Technology. The Public Works Commission will be merged into the Ministry of Transportation and renamed the Ministry of Transportation and Construction. The National Youth Commission will be broken up and its functions assigned to the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labor. Many years ago the Sports Commission was moved out of the Ministry of Education. It will now be moved back. The functions of the Coast Guard will be assigned to the newly established Ministry of Defense Oceanographic Commission, The functions of the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs Water Resources Agency will be incorporated into the upgraded Ministry of Environmental Resources. The Council for Economic Planning will be merged into the Ministry of National Development. The largely symbolic Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission will become a thing of the past, to be merged into the Mainland Affairs Commission.

The reorganization and merger involves the reallocation of both operations and personnel. Their decades long standard operating procedures will be disrupted. Therefore the run-in period for these government agencies may be much longer than expected. And we haven't even mentioned the impact on the Sports Commission, which is being restored to its former status. The Sports Commission was set up many years ago. It has always been a small agency handicapped by a small budget. It lacks the resources to take nurture professional athletes. It is unable to cultivate new talent. Past calls to upgrade the Sports Commission to the level of a Sports Ministry have led nowhere. Instead of being upgraded, it has been downgraded to its former status. Sports promotion may not depend upon the status of the agency doing the promoting. But the downgrading of the Sports Commission raises concerns over its future budgets. The government must take concrete actions to demonstrate that it values sports. Only then can it rally athletes and fans.

Besides the Sports Commission, the Aviation Safety Commission and the Consumer Protection Council have also been demoted. They have become third tier agencies within the executive branch. The Executive Yuan needs to explain itself better. But in the eyes of consumer organizations, it has not. During the third reading of the "Executive Yuan Organic Law," the Consumers' Foundation and other private groups gathered outside the Legislative Yuan to protest. Over the years, the Consumers' Foundation's efforts have raised consumer consciousness. Government agencies are following in the footsteps of the private sector, establishing the Consumer Protection Commission. Consumer Protection officials have gradually solidified their authority and credibility. They are now able to influence the public. The government must stand on the front lines, watching out for consumers. This will be a major challenge.

Integrating the National Development Council with the Economic Planning Council and the Research Council is a good idea. The CEPD is responsible for national land planning and economic and trade planning. Following up on the progress of the Research Council should make this integration more successful. The CEPD had an inter-ministerial coordination role for major projects. When necessary, the Vice President of the Executive Yuan often served as part-time chairman of the Council. But the time for this kind of CEPD is long past. Many people probably have no ideal what the Council for Economic Planning does. So what if it is renamed and restructured? What will that do? The Oceanographic Commission is even more so. The Marine Ministry is a Chen administration program consistent with DPP policy, but utterly irrelevant in terms of KMT policy. The Coast Guard has its role of course. But otherwise, what purpose does this agency serve?

The purpose of governmental reform is to enhance administrative efficiency. Ten years ago, the provincial government was frozen, by invoking this very reason. Ten years later, the after-effects of freezing or abolishing the provincial government are still being felt. The central government is still finding it difficult to reach the grassroots. The government must be reformed. But no matter how much one streamlines and restructures, the government must provide efficient and attentive service. If one cannot achieve this, any government downsizing project will be considered a failure. The Ma administration insists on reform. It must address these problems. Only then will the fruits of reform not wither on the vine.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.01.14
社論-政府必須再造 後續配套尤重效能

細數中華民國各項法令,大概很少像《行政院組織法》這樣的大案,歷六十年施行,時空背景全部轉變,組織本身多次調整擴編,卻始終修改不成、動彈不得。這一 次,立法院在會期結束前,讓政府再造四法完成三讀,寫下政府組織變革的新頁,不能不為馬政府的堅持喝采。不過,由於相關組織調整空前巨大,又牽涉公務員精 簡移撥的大工程,後續配套尤須審慎,每一個環節都必須盯緊進度,俾使改革的負面效應降到最低。

《行政院組織法》在民國卅六年頒布,政府遷台後於卅八年第四次修正,將大陸時期的十五部三會,精簡成八部二會,從此這個架構基本不變,最近一次的條文修正 已是卅年前、民國六十九年的事了,唯一的修改是將「司法行政部」更名為現行之「法務部」。蔣經國總統執政末期、李登輝執政時期、乃至扁政府八年,行政院組 織法反覆被提出討論,扁政府甚至特別成立「政府再造委員」,並在民國九十一年、九十三年兩次提出修正草案,卻始終無法得到國會的支持。然而,原有的組織架 構歷六十年,已經擴大到八部廿多個委員會,不但組織數量過多,業務協調、整合更加困難。

這次修法,部會經歸併調整後,一次大修為十四部八會、三個獨立機關、二處,還有維持現制的央行與故宮。許多部會重新檢討業務功能,比方說:國科會與原能會 合併成為科技部,公共工程委員會併入交通部並更名為交通暨建設部,青輔會業務打散分別納入教育部和勞動部,多年前從教育部移出的體委會恢復舊制,回到教育 部,海巡署也將業務分別納入國防部與新成立的海洋委員會,還有調整包括農委會與經濟部水利署在內的業務,併入升級後的環境資源部、研考會與經建會則合併為 國家發展部,至於僅餘象徵意義的蒙藏委員會也終於走入歷史,納入陸委會。

這些整併不僅只是業務與人員的調撥,因為數十年習慣的機關運轉模式,都將因此受到衝擊,機關間的磨合期可能比預期還要長,更不要說類似體委會恢復舊制對體 育圈的打擊有多大。體委會成立這麼多年來,一直處於小單位微預算的困境,既無法擁有龐大的資源照顧職業選手,也無法有計畫的培育新秀,過去一直有呼聲希望 能將體委會提升為體育部,這次不但升格未成,甚至再被打回原形,固然推廣運動不靠機關層級有多高,但是降級改敘的體育署還能爭取到多少預算,實在令人憂 心,政府必須展現實際的行動,拿出具體作法,證明對運動的重視,才能凝聚體育圈的心。

體委會之外,這次還有飛安會與消保會,同樣降級改敘,成為院本部下設三級單位,行政院的說法是可以更有效能,看在消費者運動團體眼裡,卻完全不是這麼回 事。《行政院組織法》三讀通過的同時,消基會等民間團體就在立法院外抗議,這麼多年來,在消基會的努力下,台灣消費者意識抬頭,政府部門腳步在民間之後成 立消保會,消保官也逐步建立起權威和公信力,如何說服社會大眾,政府還是會站在第一線為消費者把關,勢必成為重大挑戰。

再比方說,國家發展委員會整合經建會與研考會,想法不錯,經建會本來就要負責國土與經貿願景之規畫,加上研考會的管考追蹤,理應讓這個工作更落實,過去經 建會還有跨部會協調財經重大方案之功,重要的時候還經常由行政院副院長兼任主委,問題是,這樣的經建會似乎早成過去,很多人可能懷疑,現在的經建會到底做 些什麼都不清楚了,即使更名改制,又能做什麼?海洋委員會的情況更是如此,海洋部是扁政府提出的方案,符合民進黨的政綱政策,然而,這個政策概念一直不在 國民黨政府腦袋裡,除了海巡署原有業務外,這個新設機關能做什麼?

政府組織改造的目的是要提升行政效能,就像十年前凍廢省政府也用了相同的理由,十年來凍廢省的後遺症還在持續中,中央政府事權管理依舊很難快速有效地下達 基層,政府必須改造,但是,不論如何精簡再造,對民眾而言,最重要的還是這個政府能提供有效率、且貼心的服務,如果做不到,任何政府瘦身工程都是失敗的, 堅持改革的馬政府必須非常嚴肅面對、並處理後續問題,才不會讓改革的果實未成熟就凋零。