Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Nation's Justice System Must Not Be Undermined

The Nation's Justice System Must Not Be Undermined
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 30, 2010

The Taipei District Court has handed down its decision in the Lafayette Frigate case. Lei Hsueh-ming and several other naval officers have been found not guilty. The judge explained his decision, saying that prosecutors offered no evidence of illegal profiteering. These particular defendants had nothing to do with the kickbacks. The court decision vindicates Taipei District Prosecutor Huang Shi-ming, who refused to prosecute the defendants even though it cost him his job.

President Chen Shui-bian once vowed to prosecute this case "even if it shook the nation to its foundations." It has now been shown that prosecutors perverted the law by persisting in a wrongful prosecution. They undermined the authority of the justice system, and shook the foundations of the justice system.

Nine years ago, under pressure from Chen Shui-bian, Prosecutor-General Lu Jen-fa spoke to Huang Shi-ming for nine straight hours, deep into the night. But he could not persuade Huang Shi-ming to prosecute the Lafayette Frigate case. Huang Shi-ming, who had been Prosecutor General for only ten months, was immediately fired. As soon his replacement was found, the Lafayette Frigate case went ahead, in accordance with the wishes of higher ups. Today, after nine years of wrangling in the courts, this politically-motivated fiasco has been exposed for what it is -- wrongful prosecution.

The prosecutorial system is said to be "a unified system." Higher level prosecutors exercise considerable authority over lower level prosecutors. But in order to maintain the credibility of the prosecutorial system, they must resist political pressure, and ensure that prosecutors are able to prosecute cases immune from political interference. This of course is the Chief Prosecutor's job. But what if the Chief Prosecutor himself tolerates political interference, or even invites it from those in positions of power? What if prosecutors have no qualms about abusing their authority, and force subordinates to serve the needs of powerful politicians? Then they have debased themselves, turned the prosecutorial system into a political tool, and undermined the credibility of the prosecutorial system, When people lose respect for the nation's legal system, the consequences are serious indeed. Prosecutor General Huang Shi-ming has blown the lid off this case of intervention by the Chief Prosecutor. If the prosecutorial system fails to deal with this case in earnest, it cannot allay the nation's doubts.

The review and reform of the prosecutorial system must address at least two issues. First, it must seek accountability. If a prosecutor betrays his professional responsibility and enages in indiscriminate prosecutions, he has violated Article 25 of the Criminal Code, and is guilty of "abuse of prosecutorial authority." Some may say that the charges listed in this section exist in name only. Many cases have been handled outrageously. One never sees justice system officials prosecuting their own family members. Hou Kuan-jen falsified court records in an effort to railroad Ma Ying-jeou, but he was never punished for it. This is precisely why unscrupulous prosecutors who engage in arbitrary prosecutions for ulterior motives have nothing to fear. This is why whether the defendants are found guilty in this case or not, prosecutors must nevertheless clean house. They must be thorough. Even they find that no crimes were been committed, these cases must be investigated for dereliction of duty, as a warning to future offenders.

Secondly, the unified prosecutorial system must establish a monitoring system to limit the power of the chief prosecutor. Take the Lafayette Frigate case. When the prosecutor in charge disagreed with the original prosecutor, the chief prosecutor abused his authority by reassigning him and replacing him with someone more obedient. A unified prosecutorial system that repaces prosecutors with those more obedient hardly meets the requirements of justice. Therefore prosecutors must establish ground rules for chief prosecutors who reassign subordinates. Judges are assigned to one case and not another according to certain criteria. Once they have been assigned, they may not be arbitrarily reassigned. Prosectors are similar. They too must handle cases on a professional basis. The rules for by which they are assigned need not be as strict. But criteria must nevertheless be established. Otherwise the same problems will recur. When judges encounter conflicts of interest, they can be reassigned by a conference of presiding judges. The prosecutorial system must establish a similar mechanism for the prosecutors. This will allow subordinates to speak up on their own behalf.

The prosecutorial system must engage in self-examination. Prosecutors owe the defendants in the Lafayette Frigate case an explanation. Had the prosecutor in charge not been changed, Lei Hsueh-ming and the other naval officers might have been spared a ten year legal ordeal. They may have been acquitted, but have they really received justice? The case files have been examined under a microscope for the past ten years. The warship procurement process has been reviewed from beginning to end. Does the prosecution really intend to appeal?

The facts behind the Chen Shui-bian corruption case continue to emerge. One of the most shocking revelations is how the Chen regime undermined the independence of the judiciary. Bureau of Investigation Chief Yeh Sheng-mao served as President Chen's hatchetman. Justice Minister Shi Mao-lin, and Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming dined at the home of Chen Shui-bian crony Huang Fang-yan. Public Prosecutor General Lu Jen-fa pressured Taipei City Chief Prosecutor Huang Shi-ming to prosecute the Lafayette Frigate case. These scandals have shaken the foundations of the nation's justice system. It is now time to heal these wounds.

2010.06.30 01:48 am









Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ECFA: Economic Interests and a Race Against Time

ECFA: Economic Interests and a Race Against Time
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 29, 2010

Today in Chongqing, Taipei and Beijing signed a Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). This is undoubtedly the most important step the two sides have taken to promote economic and trade relations since normalization, and constitutes a landmark event. ECFA is rooted in economics and trade. It helps cross-Strait economic interaction take a certain path. It helps Taiwan integrate itself into the regional economy. But the benefits ECFA provides will not appear magically merely because the agreement has been signed. Taiwan is running a race against itself, against the world, and against time. We do not have a moment to waste.

ECFA includes an early harvest list of 539 goods and 11 services. The mainland will allow these to be implemented first. The window of opportunity will be opened further in the mid to long term, and allow other governments to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with Taipei. This will enable Taiwan to integrate itself into the regional economy and avoid marginalization. From a larger perspective, ECFA will kickstart Taipei's accession to the WTO, begun nine years ago. The importance of this large-scale economic reform cannot be overstated.

Before the benefits of the early harvest list materialize, many things can happen. The immediate benefits of the early harvest list are time-sensitive and fleeting. Our chances of signing FTAs with other governments has been improved. But whether any FTAs will actually be signed is not entirely up to us, and remains far from certain. Can Taiwan survive the pain of economic reforms? That will depend on the determination and ability of those in power. These three factors, interacting with each other, will enable Taiwan's economic metamorphosis.

Take the early harvest list. This is a special arrangement that allows the two sides to enjoy the benefits of liberalization even before negotiations over trade liberalization have begun. This allows industries on the early harvest list to enter the mainland market in advance, and be more competitive. This is why the government is promoting ECFA so vigorously. What the government is not saying however, is that these early harvest items are time sensitive. These goods and services must be liberalized within six months after ECFA goes into effect. This means that the sooner the two sides complete their negotiations, the sooner they will liberalize, and the shorter the early harvest period. The two sides however did not clearly define the length of the consultation phase. Therefore the consultation phase has a beginning, but no end. This makes the definition of the early harvest phase uncertain. Businesses naturally want the early harvest phase to last as long as possible. But that is neither consistent with Beijing's interests nor with international norms. It could also encourage corporate complacency. The best response is to take advantage of the early harvest provisions as soon as possible, and establish a competitive position in the mainland market.

Now take FTAs. ECFA is a essentially the phased implementation of an FTA, but it is not an FTA as such. Politically, a high degree of mistrust lingers between Taipei and Beijing. Economically however, the two sides have a special relationship, and a high degree of economic interdependence. This makes ECFA very different from normal international trade agreements. For example, the early harvest list accounts for fully 16.5% of all trade. This far exceeds normal FTA standards, and makes ECFA very different from other FTAs. The explicit timetables for the start of negotiations are all special cases. But these special cases may become the model other governments use when signing FTAs with Taipei and Beijing. They may provoke challenges from the opposition. They may become obstacles when Taipei attempts to sign agreements with foreign governments. The government must anticipate such problems.

Also, Taipei hopes that through ECFA, and Beijing, it can participate in the process of world-wide regional integration. This is increasingly likely, given improved cross-Strait relations, but it remains a unilateral expectation. Taipei must offer incentives sufficient to induce foreign governments to sign FTAs. This is a practical matter that the government must consider during the post-ECFA era. Now that the two sides have signed ECFA, this may accelerate the pace at which the South Korean and other governments sign FTAs with Beijing. This will affect Taipei's interests vis a vis ECFA. The world continues to turn. Taipei must not assume that just because it has signed ECFA, it can sit back and rake in all manner of benefits. If so, it has signed ECFA in vain.

As Japanese strategist Kenichi Ohmae astutely noted, ECFA is a multivitamin formula tailored for Taiwan. Vitamins can help one stay fit. But they cannot ensure one's survival. Therefore, in order to maintain our competitive advantage and economic development, it is not enough merely to take a multivitamin. One must also have a strategy for keeping fit. The key is whether the government can use the leverage provided by ECFA to promote economic reform. That is why President Ma intends to announce a post-ECFA global economic strategy. We for one, are eager to hear what he has to say.

2010.06.29 03:13 am








Monday, June 28, 2010

DPP Must Dialogue, Not Merely Shout Slogans

DPP Must Dialogue, Not Merely Shout Slogans
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 28, 2010

The Democratic Progressive Party held an anti-ECFA protest march this weekend. It made clear that some on Taiwan hold different views of ECFA. This is perfectly normal in a democracy. But if the DPP hopes to assume greater responsibility for the nation's future, it must be able to engage in responsible dialogue, and not merely shout empty slogans.

Some people have long been opposed to ECFA. In part this has to do with Green Camp electioneering. But this also has to do with some peoples' fears about cross-Strait economic integration. Agriculture and other traditional industries in particular are sensitive to competitive pressures. They lack confidence in the government's willingness to protect vulnerable segments of the economy. Therefore they are resistant. Their feelings are understandable, and should be dealt with sympathetically. But the reality is that Taiwan faces intense international competition. The Democratic Progressive Party has led its supporters onto the streets. It must now face the difficult challenges confronting Taiwan.

First, the DPP must be able to dialogue with the public on Taiwan, not just its core supporters. ECFA is a new beginning for cross-Strait economic and trade cooperation. Cooperation and exchanges are taking place with a depth, breadth, and pace that are unprecedented. Positive cross-Strait interactions have gained public support. The Green Camp may attempt to incite fear and loathing. It may engage in rhetoric utterly divorced from reality. Some may be frightened to death. Others may scoff. Neither is conducive to a rational discussion of the issues. This also diminishes the DPP's capacity to debate cross-Strait policy. It enables the KMT to monopolize the discussion of cross-Strait issues.

ECFA or any other government policy must be subject to public oversight. Other options may be discussed. After all, the highest priority is to seek opportunities for economic development. The Green Camp's rallying cries depict ECFA as the scourge of god. Once it's signed, they warn, Taiwan is finished. Yet local DPP leaders are only too happy to use the opportunity to sell more fruit and produce to the mainland. On the one hand they insist on shouting slogans. On the other hand they insist on reaping profits. What is this, if not a clear case of hypocrisy?

Whether in office or out, political parties have their ideals. But they must also respond to real world problems. The foremost concerns of the public on Taiwan are physical survival, economic prosperity, personal dignity, and individual well-being. How these should be achieved may be debated. The DPP should be able to engage the general public in dialogue. The DPP says it doesn't want ECFA. So how does it intend to promote prosperity and prevent marginalization? How does it intend to look after the interests of all people? Blind opposition and sloganeering is not an option.

Secondly, the DPP should also be able to dialogue with Beijing. Mainland China is the most significant factor in Taiwan's development, diplomatically, economically, and militarily. In particular, the mainland's rapid increase in economic power has made it the most important player in the world, and diminished Taiwan's value as a counterforce. Upholding the sovereignty and dignity of the Republic of China means refusing to yield to threats or inducements from Beijing. But it doees not mean provoking cross-Strait confrontations, squandering precious resources, and even denying oneself breathing room.

A responsible political party must offer a practicable cross-Strait policy. Deep Green elements may not trust Beijing. But cross-Strait civil exchanges are close, and involve a wide range of interests. The DPP must also consider how it wishes to handle relations with Beijing, how to dialogue with Beijing, how to find common ground, or at least establish channels of communication. Only then can it negotiate on behalf of the public on Taiwan. How the DPP can develop a theoretical framework by which it can dialogue with Beijing will be a major challenge. But a political party without a practicable cross-Strait policy cannot meet Taiwan's needs.

The DPP must also be able to dialogue with the world. It must learn to accurately grasp the international situation, to conduct multilateral exchanges, to participate in exchanges concerning economics, trade, science and technology, investments, culture, academia, and NGOs. It must learn to promote the Republic of China's diplomatic relations. The Republic of China's international status is unique. The DPP must learn how to communicate this to the international community.

For example, the Ma administration's "cross-Strait reconciliation" and "diplomatic truce" moves enabled Taipei to attend the WHA. The DPP insists that such policies harm Taipei's interests. The DPP may suggest different options. But it must not depart from reality, and it must be able to persuade the international community. Some DPP leaders point to other countries. They say these countries have signed FTAs with the EU, the U.S., and ASEAN. They conveniently fail to mention that the Republic of China has only 20 or so allies. Its situation is very different from other countries.

Finally, and most importantly, the DPP must learn to dialogue with the future. If it continues hiding insides its shell, it will eventually lose its courage and fritter away its dreams. It will forsake a valuable but fleeting opportunity. A political party capable only of living in the past, and capable only of looking inward, can never meet the needs of a public that hopes for a better future.

The Republic of China is a reality. It encompasses a commitment to a common past, it confronts a common reality, and it shares a common responsibility to create a better tomorrow. Any political party, Blue or Green, pro-reunification or pro-independence, must have the capacity to respond to public opinion, to reality, and to the future. While it opposes ECFA, the Democratic Progressive Party ought to contemplate what it can do for the people, besides shouting slogans.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.06.28












Friday, June 25, 2010

ECFA and the Destiny of the DPP

ECFA and the Destiny of the DPP
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 25, 2010

The Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) will be signed in Chongqing on the 29th of this month. The Democratic Progressive Party will initiate a new round of anti-ECFA political moves.

Once the agreement is signed, it will be a done deal. Even if a referendum is held, the wording of the referendum will have to be changed to read, "Should the already signed ECFA agreement be repealed?" If the DPP demands a referendum, it will be compelled to unambiguously declare, "We oppose ECFA." It will no longer be able to bob and weave, and claim it is calling for a referendum merely as a matter of "democratic procedure." If during Legislative Yuan deliberations the Democratic Progressive Party demands an "item by item review," it will mean it has changed its tune, and is asking merely for "partial revisions" rather than a "total repudiation." Will that mean the DPP is prepared to accept the results of a legislative review and vote? Conversely, if the DPP still wants "total repudiation," why bother with an "item by item review?" Moreover, if the Legislative Yuan submits ECFA to an "item by item review," how can a referendum "totally repudiate" it?

The DPP must make a choice. Is it demanding a "total repudiation of ECFA," or is it merely "in partial disagreement with ECFA?" It must decide. One or the other. Otherwise, it will merely be contradicting itself.

During this round of ECFA negotiations, the DPP has indeed contributed by playing the role of bad cop. The Democratic Progressive Party has taken advantage of ECFA to incite Blue vs. Green conflict. This may be one reason Beijing made major concessions. But now that Beijing has made major concessions, it has left the DPP in a quandary. The DPP may be scratching its head, wondering, "Just why did Beijing make so many major concessions?"

ECFA has become a hot button issue on Taiwan. This is why the content of ECFA has taken on an obvious political coloration. Objectively speaking, based on the content made public so far, ECFA is an astonishingly lop-sided trade agreement seldom seen in the world. Taiwan's early harvest list includes 539 items, worth a whopping 13.83 billion USD. Mainland China's early harvest list includes 267 items, worth a mere 600 million USD. Seventeen of Taiwan's weaker industries were included on the early harvest list. Eighteen of Taiwan's agricultural and fishing products were included on the early harvest list. Mainland agricultural products will not be sold on Taiwan. Mainland workers will not enter Taiwan. Taipei hopes to sign an FTA with Washington. But American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt said that even beef and rice would have to be negotiated. By contrast, look at the ECFA early harvest list. If it weren't for our unique political status, would Beijing have made so many major concessions?

But the most significant aspect of ECFA is that given the threat ASEAN plus N poses for Taiwan, it has achieved an equal footing with the mainland. ECFA will also improve Taiwan's chances of becoming an international platform. ECFA will help Taiwan confront the challenges of globalization and international coopetition. This is why the benefits of ECFA outweigh the deficits, and the gains outweigh the losses. This is why it is not easy for the DPP to flatly repudiate ECFA.

Furthermore, any trade agreement is inevitably going to be a "potluck dinner." If I want to eat the dishes you brought, I can hardly tell you not to eat mine. Hence, the tug of war between liberalization and protection. The Democratic Progressive Party is not about to oppose the benefits Taiwan has received is it? Or does it intend to oppose the inclusion of 100 petrochemical industry items on the early harvest list? Does it intend to oppose the inclusion of orchids and groupers? The DPP has no basis for its allegation that "The government failed to demand what it should have demanded." From the very beginning, the Democratic Progressive Party opposed seeking any relief on tariffs. Tsai Ing-wen even favored "building plants on the mainland for high tariff industries." That being the case, all the Democratic Progressive Party can do is demagogue the 267 items on the mainland's early harvest list. But if the DPP compares the pluses and minuses on the two sides' early harvest lists, it will be forced to conclude that Taiwan's benefits outweighed its deficits, and its gains outweighed its losses.

This round of negotiations over ECFA once again underscored the DPP's destiny. During cross-Strait negotiations, when the DPP plays bad cop, it does indeed provide an assist. But that's it. The DPP's role is limited to playing bad cop, nothing more. It is incapable of taking the lead in cross-Strait relations amidst increasing globalization. This is the DPP's political destiny. ECFA does indeed offer both advantages and disadvantages for Taiwan. It does indeed involve both gains and losses. But it unquestionably offers more advantages than disadvantages, and more gains than losses. After all, the DPP did not totally repudiate ECFA. It could only point to a few of the deficits and losses, in an effort to incite conflict and divide society. On the one hand, the DPP is unable to offer any alternatives. On the other hand, it is unable to deny that ECFA's advantages outweigh its disadvantages, and its gains outweigh its losses. All it can do is tear society apart as it engages in internal struggles over the party's future. Such is the DPP's political destiny.

ECFA has effectively been signed. The Democratic Progressive Party sees this as more grist for its political mill. The prospect of another issue to demagogue fills it with glee. But ECFA has again revealed the DPP's increasing marginalization and negation in the mainstream of cross-Strait affairs and globalizaton. In cross-Strait affairs it invariably plays bad cop. On Taiwan it invariably incites social divisions. Can the DPP escape its sorry destiny?

2010.06.25 03:38 am










Thursday, June 24, 2010

The DPP Protest March and Its Ersatz Leftist Rhetoric

The DPP Protest March and Its Ersatz Leftist Rhetoric
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 24, 2010

On Saturday the DPP will kick off its "Great Anti-ECFA Protest March." The theme of its protest march will be "The KMT and CCP are singing a duet. The rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle." Of the two, the charge that "The KMT and CCP are singing a duet" is old hat. But the allegation that "The rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle" is new for the DPP.
The DPP alleges that "The rich and the poor and locked in a class struggle." It would have the public believe that ECFA is beneficial to huge conglomerates, but not to "weaker industries," to agriculture, or to the lumpen proletariat.

Actually this line of argument is nothing new. Direct flights between Songshan Airport and Hongqiao Airport are transforming Songshan Airport into a business airport. The DPP has alleged that business airports are beneficial only to the wealthy, but not to ordinary members of the public. Thirty years ago it was the highway system. At the time the "dang wai" movement alleged that the highway system was beneficial only to the wealthy, not the ordinary citizen.

ECFA will have different impacts on different industries. Some favorable, some unfavorable. At the macro level, one must weigh the benefits against the deficits. At the micro level, impacted industries must be protected. In other words, one must simultaneously liberalize and protect. One must not focus solely on one's political agenda, demagoguing the issue by inciting rich vs. poor class struggle. Unfortunately the "dang wai" movement and the DPP have relentlessly turned the highway system, commercial airports, and ECFA into grist for the political mill.

In fact, the DPP is not a class-based political party. Nor is it a left-wing political party. Its rich vs. poor rhetoric is merely a tool in its political struggle. The clearest example is the year 2000. Before the Chen administration assumed power, various social movements within the DPP were highly active. But soon after the DPP assumed power, these social movements withered on the vine. Collusion between the Chen regime and Big Business created a major stink. Now that the DPP has been forced out of office, these fringe groups have gradually been revived. As we can see, the DPP's proletarian and leftist coloration is mere opportunistic posturing, devoid of substance or meaning.

In fact, the DPP is one of the few political parties among the world's emerging democracies without any trace of anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist political coloration. The reason is the Democratic Progressive Party and the "dang wai" movement have their roots among wealthy "huang min" (Subjects of the Japanese Emperor), land owners, and foreign missionaries. That is why the DPP lacks an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist mindset. That is why the DPP's "proletariat" and "leftist" posturing does not come naturally, but is mere political posturing.

ECFA must simultaneously liberalize and protect. It must seek liberalization for key industries. It must seek protection for weaker industries. Tsai Ing-wen was once involved in WTO negotiations. She knows this perfectly well. So does the Democratic Progressive Party, which oversaw its signing. Yet in order to demagogue the ECFA controversy, the DPP is shouting slogans such as "The KMT and the CCP are singing a duet" and "The rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle." It is linking "opposition to [mainland] China" with "opposition to the rich." This is no different from allegations that commercial airports and the highway system are beneficial only to the rich. It has merely raised the ante.

The ECFA early harvest list has yet to be made public. Yet the DPP is already screaming "The government failed to demand what it should have demanded. It failed to defend what it should have defended." It is clearly shooting first and asking questions later. No matter what the issue, it is determined to apply this same rote formula. The DPP is not interested in a rational policy debate. It is waging a political war.

In the past, the DPP demagogued the issue of "old age allowances" and "elderly farmers allowances." But these were merely local issues. Now the DPP is turning ECFA into a class struggle between conglomerates and the underprivileged. It is equating the interests of conglomerates with "pandering to [mainland] China." It is equating "opposition to the rich" with "opposition to [mainland] China." It is equating "hatred of the rich" with "hatred of [mainland] China." Isn't such political demagoguery just a wee bit excessive? Every time the DPP wants a baby, it advocates taking a knife and cutting the baby out of the mother's womb.

The DPP is not a left-wing political party. It is merely an "ersatz leftist" or "pseudo-leftist" political party. The ECFA controversy is the first time the DPP has linked "opposition to the rich" with "opposition to [mainland] China" and "hatred of the rich" with "hatred of [mainland] China." It is playing upon the resentment felt by weaker industries and the insecurity felt by disadvantaged groups. The DPP's demagoguery is not helping the public balance liberalization with protection. It is merely enabling the DPP to use ECFA to divide the rich and the poor, the cities from the countryside, and the nation as a whole.

Tsai Ing-wen comes from a wealthy family. Yet she has now become the most "leftist" chairman ever of the Democratic Progressive Party. Confronted with the impact of ECFA, she advocates "forsaking our economics first priorities" and "repudiating our export-oriented model." Is this "genuine leftism" or "ersatz leftism?" Is it a "alternative policy" for national governance? Or it is merely an agenda for partisan political struggle?

2010.06.24 02:47 am



其實,這種論述模式並無新義。日前「松山 /虹橋」對飛,松山機場將朝「商務機場」轉型;民進黨也說,商務機場只是對有錢人有利,對社會大眾不利。更早的事例是三十多年前高速公路通車,當時的「黨外」也說,高速公路只利於「有錢人」,但對庶民不利。









Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ECFA: Multivitamin Formula for Taiwan's Economy

ECFA: Multivitamin Formula for Taiwan's Economy
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 23, 2010

Negotiations over the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) have begun. The contents of the "early harvest" list have gradually emerged. As one can imagine, some items were not included. Or else they were included, but the items were not manufactured by that many companies. This led to much dissatisfaction. Take the petrochemical industry. Wang Wen-yuan, CEO of the industry leading Formosa Plastics Group said "It's so sad, I'm almost in tears." Don't even mention "Boss Lai," whom President Ma Ying-jeou cited during the Two Yings Debate. If his company fails to benefit from ECFA, he won't be sad. He'll commit suicide by smashing his head into a wall.

During the Two Yings Debate, the most impressive aspect of President Ma's performance was his reference to living, breathing industry heads. When President Ma visited Boss Lai's factory in Taichung, Lai told him that if machine tool exports are good, our workers' jobs will be secure. If exports are poor, our workers' will be negatively impacted. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen asserted that not signing ECFA would lead to a less than 1% difference in tariffs. President Ma made a point of refuting her. He said Boss Lai told him the difference in tariffs for the machine tool industry would be a whopping 8%! Invoking Boss Lai allowed the president to gain quite a few debating points. But because he was the only concrete example cited during the entire debate, Boss Lai in effect became the star of the Two Yings Debate. It was widely assumed that Boss Lai's machine tools would be included on the ECFA early harvest list, and become one of the major players.

To everyones' surprise automotive, petrochemical, and machine tools did not appear on the early harvest list during the third round of cross-strait negotiations as expected. The automotive parts section did not include "assembled vehicles." The industry is disappointed. But at this stage measures relating to liberalization are extremely complex. They include quota allocations, the coordination of regulations, the determination of local content rates. None of these can be determined in such a short period of time. Take the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), for example. Parts and assemblies must include 62.5% local content before they may be sold. Taiwan clearly cannot achieve this standard. The scale and capacity of the mainland's automobile production far exceeds that of Taiwan. Full liberalization would leave Taiwan companies unable to compete. For Taiwan the WTO model of quota management and gradual opening is actually more favorable and less stressful. Therefore industry heads can probably accept the removal of the automotive industry from the first phase list. Can Taiwan's automotive industry achieve international competitiveness? Can it emerge from its limited and weak situation in Taiwan's market? ECFA provides an important opportunity. We can proceed slowly, but not too slowly.

One week remains between now and the siging of ECFA, scheduled for the end of June. Both sides are preparing for begin the fourth round of consultations. In response to industry disappointment, Premier Wu Den-yih explained. The petrochemical industry originally proposed 111 items. Agreements have already been reached on 94 of them. Items not included constitute a small part of the whole. Over a dozen machine tool items are already included on the early harvest list. According to senior party and government sources, our side has already proposed a 38 item early harvest list. Among them, eight machine tool industry items and one petrochemical industry item may be included. Petrochemicals and machine tools are Taiwan's strengths. Of course the mainland will object. The best thing to do is to wait for the final outcome.

In any bilateral economic and trade negotiations, each side always fights for its own interests and attempts to minimize any potential losses or negative impacts. For industry heads, these are commercial interests that must be fought for. For the Republic of China government, they include undeniable political as well as economic interests. This is especially true during election season, when ECFA has become a political football. The DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and "nativist" pressure groups are preparing an anti-ECFA protest march this weekend. If the early harvest list is not as favorable as expected, "nativist" pressure groups will feel even more justified in their opposition. Former supporters may wonder, if the government failed to obtain the best terms possible, what was it all for?

Famed management guru Kenichi Ohmae spoke at the presidential palace last month. He said ECFA is a multivitamin formula that can strengthen Taiwan's economy. Even Japan is concerned. ECFA and FTAs allow businesses on Taiwan to compete on a level playing field. Next year is critical, and will decide whether businesses on Taiwan can ascend to the world stage. The matter is urgent and requires immediate action. Originally Ohmae did not think consultations between Taiwan and the mainland would come to much. But mainland China has demonstrated considerable patience. Therefore ECFA offers many incentives for Taiwan. Taiwan can become a hub for Greater China. Even if it does not become an airline hub, it can become a business hub. According to Ohmae Taiwan need not worry about excessive reliance on the mainland. All Asian countries are in the same boat. One could even say that Taiwan is using its advantages to take the lead.

Taiwan's advantages are geographical, economic, and to some extent political. In the face of strong international competition and irreversible cross-Strait developments, one must seize the moment. One must seek a satisfactory result for a majority of the people. If the results are not as expected, then one of the greatest achievements of the Ma administration may instead become one of its worst liabilities, and negatively impact the year end five cities mayoral elections. The negotiating team must remain vigilant and put out its best effort.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.06.23
社論-ECFA是精心調製維他命 可補台灣經濟








Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RMB Revaluation Will Test Taiwan Exports

RMB Revaluation Will Test Taiwan Exports
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 22, 2010

This weekend the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit will be held in Toronto, Canada. On the 19th, the Bank of China (PBOC) announced that it would take another step toward the formation of a RMB exchange rate mechanism. The RMB would no longer be pegged to the U.S. Dollar. This policy statement was interpreted as a positive response to international calls for the upward revaluation of the RMB. It may help resolve Sino-US trade tensions. On Monday the RMB rose sharply against the dollar. It closed on a new high, the highest since July 2005. Asian currencies and stock markets rose in tandem. The US and the EU are certain to return to a floating exchange rate mechanism.

The PBOC stressed that the RMB will be pegged to a basket of currencies, rather than the USD. The RMB would not be revalued upward in a single move. The RMB is currently not subject to sharp fluctuations. This statement clearly shows that the RMB will not be revalued abruptly in a single move, and will not be subjected to floating range trading practices.

During the September 2008 financial crisis Asian currencies plummeted one after the other. The Bank of China pegged the RMB to the dollar, and played a key role in ensuring stability. Since the beginning of this year, international pressures for the upward revaluation of the RMB have increased. News reports note that in early April the Beijing authorities undertook exchange rate reform. They intend to allow the RMB to float periodically. A second earthquake and the European debt crisis forced the postponement of these reform measures until the end of June.

The Beijing authorities have always adopted a hardline attitude in response to international calls for RMB revaluation. They have always said that the yuan is a Chinese currency, and must not be the target of irresponsible remarks by the international community. The current PBOC statement stressed that RMB exchange rate reform would help fluctuations remain within a controllable range, consistent with mainland China's economic fundamentals and macro-control needs, and that it would adopt a gradual approach. The current change will help mainland China's balance of payments, and is not directed at bilateral trade issues with any particular country.

The market believes the new wave of RMB revaluations will not be too large. This year the RMB rose 16.5% against the Euro. This has seriously eroded the profitability of mainland China's exports to Europe. New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubin thinks if the Euro continues to weaken after the RMB adopts floating range practices, that it may need to be devalued. According to a Bloomberg News survey, RMB Exchange Bank personnel expect it to appreciate about 1.9% before the end of the year

It is generally believed that the return to a floating range RMB exchange rate mechanism demonstrates mainland China's confidence in an economic recovery. For the mainland, it will help contain inflation and promote economic restructuring. The appreciation of the RMB will be conducive to industries keyed to domestic demand. Airline and metal stocks in particular have soared, and people's purchasing power has increased. Upward revaluation will also improve the standard of living. Internationally, RMB revaluation will reduce the imbalance in global trade, in particular under-consumption in the United States and Europe. The United States hopes the mainland Chinese domestic market will play a balancing role.

Observers have long expected a revaluation of the RMB. But Foxconn is being battered by waves of wage increases. The revaluation will have a considerable impact on mainland China's export-oriented businesses, as well as Taiwan businesses on the mainland. The PBOC statement stressed that reform will promote industrial upgrading, reorient the economic development model towards domestic demand, and shift export industries from simple processing to advanced processing and finishing. Reform will help employees shift from manufacturing jobs to service jobs. This statement clearly shows that Taiwan businesses can no longer rely on export-oriented exchange rate advantages to earn a modest profit. They must make a full commitment to transformation and upgrading.

Consider the upward revaluations of the NTD between 1986 and 1989. Shoes, umbrellas, sunglasses, household appliances, textiles, and other industries gradually moved to the mainland in search of low cost labor and land, and established a whole new realm on the mainland. Between 2005 and 2008, the RMB rose 21% against the USD. Mainland wages rose, and environmental conditions improved. Taiwan businesses moved once again, this time to Vietnam, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia. Over the years, Taiwan businesses have used mainland China's vast low-wage labor resources and favorable exchange rates to create numerous OEM miracles.

Now, a new wave of RMB revaluation, however modest, means that mainland China has begun changing its industrial structure. An increased emphasis on domestic demand will test export-oriented Taiwan businesses. They will face pressure to move upmarket. Only by adding value can Taiwan businesses prevail. OEM industries must make the transition to branding. The road may be hard, but computer industry success stories include Acer and ASUS. Only by developing one's brand, can one integrate one's resources in the production chain. Otherwise one will be forced to offshore once again in search of lower wages.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.06.22








回顧一九八六年至八九年那一波新台幣升值風潮期間,國內包括鞋、傘、太陽眼鏡、家電、紡織等產業紛紛外移到大陸尋求低廉的工資與土地,在大陸開創另一片天;二○○五年至 ○八年間,人民幣兌美元升值了廿一%,大陸工資與環保條件也普遍提升,台商則進一步往越南、印度與東南亞發展。這些年來,台商利用大陸龐大而低廉的工資與匯率,創造了多項代工王國的奇蹟。


Monday, June 21, 2010

Soft Power: Theme for a Golden Decade

Soft Power: Theme for a Golden Decade
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 21, 2010

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-ping led a delegation to Shanghai to discuss direct flights between Songshan Airport and Hongqiao Airport. He spoke of using soft power to move the world. What exactly is Taiwan's "soft power?" How can it move the world?

The theme song of the Taiwan Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo is "Taiwan's Heartbeat." The lyrics proclaim: "I piously light the incense stick. My hand holds a column of hope; A little less hate, a little more us; A little less chill, a little more gentleness; Use freehand to render Cloud Gate, use fireworks to build a city; Matsu abides, generation upon generation of the pious; Sky lanterns ascend, carrying aloft our wishes, no need to delay." The lyrics mention Taroko Gorge and the Lungshan Temple. They mention Mei Nung paper umbrellas and Sanyi woodcarvings. They mention Pingtung Bluefin Tuna and the neon lights of the night market. Visitors from Taiwan were moved to tears.

Make no mistake. This is the Taiwan we grew up with. This is the Taiwan we know and love. This is the Taiwan clear in our memories, the one we are eager to promote to the world. But this Taiwan reflects only Taiwan's inner cohesion. To move the world, we must bolster Taiwan's connections to the outside world. We must make Taiwan's connections to the outside world as strong as its internal cohesion. Only then can Taiwan's "soft power" flex its muscles.

The film "Cape No. 7" set box office records on Taiwan. It reduced many to tears. It made many laugh. But it left audiences in Hong Kong, mainland China, and even Japan cold. The reason was its local color, which included a mixture of Mandarin, Hoklo, Japanese, and English jokes. It was a uniquely "Taiwanese" experience. By the same token, if the Taiwan Pavilion theme song were to emphasize the Ba Jia Jiang and Yunghe Soybean Milk, many visitors would be left scratching their heads. That is why the song includes rap, and the lead singer is Jolin Tsai. That is why the Taipei Pavilion hired Wong Lee Hom as Goodwill Ambassador. They were popular in Chinese cities everywhere. These icons of pop culture in Southeast Asia attracted popular attention.

In recent years, Taiwan has gradually developed another kind of introspective self-confidence, rooted in "native" values, different from reckless "Taiwan is knee-deep in money" self-confidence. Today Taiwan needs more than just the ability to "connect with the outside world." It needs a more universal vision. It needs to connect with a more international aesthetic. The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and Franz Porcelain are no longer the only cultural creative achievements capable of showcasing Taiwan's achievements. Other bits and pieces of culture and cultural artifacts are also worth introducing to the world.

For example, Luo Chi-cheng, newly appointed Chairman of the Kuanghua Cultural Centre, recently organized a series of exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan. He invited 20 cultural leaders from Taiwan to attend a forum in Hong Kong. Included were works by famed crossover Hong Kong author Wang Wenhua, "knowledge as value" illusionist Chan Hong-chi, and "First Witch of Taipei" Han Liang-lu. These people are all champions of high culture. They also command local market appeal on Taiwan. What matters today is not quasi-official efforts on behalf of "cultural exports." The marketing of art in the modern market place has helped MIT products rid themselves of the OEM label. It has given Sun Chui-feng and Yen Chang-shou the opportunity to represent Taiwan culture.

Today's Taiwan is no longer the OEM Taiwan that sells cheap umbrellas and plastic shoes. Today's Taiwan is not just Acer and Giant. Giant promoted local "bike culture" on Taiwan. It used cycling to encourage the "discovery of a new Taiwan." The Eslite brand has created an elevated "bookstore culture" on Taiwan, the mainland, and Hong Kong. Such achievements are truly remarkable. Proud people on Taiwan how have the courage to promote Taiwan. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-ping personally presented high school students in Shanghai with tickets to Taipei's Flower Expo. Tainan County Magistrate Su Huan-chih treated people to Taiwan mangoes in a Beijing supermarket. Their efforts were similarly motivated. They expressed the beauty of both content and form. They elevated Taiwan's soft power to new heights.

As Taiwan connects with the rest of the world, it has proclaimed a desire for peace. "Fewer scars, more applause. Fewer conflicts, more simplicity." The bottom line is that as Taiwan connects with the outside world, it must eventually return to person to person, lifestyle to lifestyle relationships. The best way to enhance the quality of life on Taiwan is summed up in lyrics of the song, "Taiwan's Hearbeat." "This is a land of many, many choices." This was a hard-won achievement. But this soft power is the best way to create a Golden Decade.

2010.06.21 02:16 am









Friday, June 18, 2010

Su Tseng-chang's "Early Green" Loses to Lee Teng-hui's "Late Green"

Su Tseng-chang's "Early Green" Loses to Lee Teng-hui's "Late Green"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 18, 2010

Su Tseng-chang has yet to take a stand against ECFA. Some Taiwan independence advocates are saying, "If any of the five mayoral candidates fails to express opposition to ECFA, we will not support him."
One of the characteristics of Green Camp politicians is endless flip-flopping regarding their political path. For example, yesterday's "Five Noes" has become today's "one country on each side." Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang's flip-flopping on ECFA is even more flagrant than Lee Teng-hui's. Endless flip-flopping is not merely a characteristic of Green Camp politicians. It is also the main reason the Green Camp political path is unlikely to become the nation's political path.

Compare Lee Teng-hui, Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang. Su Tseng-chang has the deepest connections with the Green Camp. He was a Formosa Incident defense attorney. He is considered a first generation Green Camp elder. By contrast, Lee Teng-hui served as Republic of China president under the Nationalists for 12 years. He changed his political colors only after stepping down. Tsai Ing-wen got her start as a staffer in Lee Teng-hui's KMT. Only later did she defect to Ah-Bian's DPP. She was elected chairman of the DPP only four years after her defection. Su Chen-chang's political coloration was Green all the way. Lee Teng-hui and Tsai Ing-wen changed their political colors from Blue to Green. By comparison, their flip-flopping is far more obvious.

Now however, all three must confront ECFA. On today's Green Camp ideological spectrum, Lee Teng-hui and Tsai Ing-wen are paradoxically coming across as "greener" than Su Tseng-chang. Lee and Tsai were "Late Greens." Su was an "Early Green." Yet Lee and Tsai are coming across as greener than Su. The reasons behind this are intriguing.

Lee Teng-hui was the founder of the National Unification Council and the author of the Guidelines for National Unification. He was expelled from the KMT after serving out his term as president. Only then did he join the Green Camp. Even then he urged successor Chen Shui-bian not to dismantle the "two pillars," aka the National Unification Council and the National Unification Guidelines. After Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008, Lee Teng-hui clearly hoped to cozy up to him. But the public response was negative, so Lee beat a hasty retreat. Lee was the standard-bearer for the National Unification Guidelines. Today, he has become the standard bearer for opposition to ECFA. Is such endless flip-flopping motivated by rational considerations, or merely by political opportunism?

Now take Tsai Ing-wen. During the Two Yings Debate, she had yet to express opposition to ECFA. She merely hoped to "delay signing" and demanded "conditions." But once the debate was lost, she had to position herself for re-election as party chairman. She had to respond to "Tsai/Su coopetition." That was when she began to characterize ECFA as a "duet sung by the KMT and CCP" and a "struggle between the rich and the poor." Consider the issue of national identity. That was when she went from referring to herself as the "former Vice Premier of the Republic of China," to referring to the Republic of China as a "government in exile." Such flip-flopping reflects internecine struggles within the Green Camp over both personal power and the nation's political future.

Su Tseng-chang was one of the DPP's founding fathers. Lee and Tsai were not. Su was a pioneer of the DPP's "Taiwan independence party platform." But Su's political path has never been all that clear. Su Tseng-chang's hollow political image is summed up by his equally hollow "charge, charge, charge" political mantra. In fact, the reason Su's political path has never been all that clear, is his major flip-flops. He once refused to back Ah-Bian. But now he has compromised. He once insisted he "would not accept the vice-presidential slot." But eventually he acquiesced to a "Hsieh/Su ticket." Today he is campaigning for Taipei Mayor. He has been forced to take a position on Songshan Airport and ECFA. If Su Tseng-chang were running for Mayor of Greater Kaohsiung, he probably would not hesitate to oppose ECFA. But he is running for Mayor of Taipei. He must use the moderate rhetoric of "Taipei and Beyond."

Compare Lee, Tsai, and Su. The defining character trait of Green Camp politicians is endless flip-flopping. Green Camp politicians flip-flop endlessly on their vision for the nation's future as well. Chen Shui-bian could go from "Five Noes" to "one country each side." Lee Teng-hui could go from proposing "National Unification Guidelines" to asserting that "the Republic of China no longer exists." Su Tseng-chang is running for Taipei Mayor. He feels compelled to adopt a moderate stance on ECFA. The other four DPP candidates however have all have expressed sharp opposition to ECFA. Even on such a major national issue, they are each going by their own playbook. They flip-flop personally. They flip-flop ideologically. The precedents set by Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian provide us with a lesson. In response to threats to their personal power, Green Camp politicians flip-flop endlessly. But their endless flip-flopping paradoxically, generates to new threats to their personal power. Endless flip-flopping and endless threats to their personal power become two sides of a vicious cycle.

This vicious cycle makes it impossible for Green Camp leaders to extricate themselves from power crises. It make it impossible for the Green Camp to rise above endless flip-flopping regarding the nation's future. Should they advocate Taiwan independence? They flip-flop endlessly. They hem and haw. Should they back Ah-Bian? They flip-flop endlessly. They hem and haw. When in power, they say one thing. When out of power, they say something else altogether. They have one political platform for Taipei. They have an entirely different platform for the four other four cities.

While Su was drafting the "Taiwan Independence party platform," Lee was President of the Republic of China. He was holding high the "National Unification Guidelines." Tsai Ing-wen was still a nobody. Today however, Lee and Tsai are perceived as even greener and even more independence-minded than Su. If Su Tseng-chang were running for Mayor of Kaohsiung, would he allow Lee and Tsai to posture as "greener than thou?" As "more independence-minded than thou?"

Green Camp leaders flip-flop endlessly, both personally and ideologically. What possible justification can they offer in their own defense?

2010.06.18 02:34 am












Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Welcome with Open Arms the Return of the Salmon

Welcome with Open Arms the Return of the Salmon
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 16, 2010

Labor is on strike all over the mainland. Wages are skyrocketing. What is to become of Taiwan businesses on the mainland? This is a matter of urgent concern.
Mainland China is the "world's factory." Taiwan is its primary upstream supplier. Recently Taiwan's economy has slumped. One of the main reasons behind Taiwan's economic growth is exports by Taiwan-based businesses on the mainland. The industrial environment on the mainland has changed. This has affected not just Taiwan businesses, but Taiwan's economy as a whole. Naturally the government cannot turn a blind eye to this development.

Officials are now enthusiastically beckoning Taiwan businesses, "Why not return? We welcome you with open arms!" In fact these arms have been open for who knows how many years, for over a decade, but nobody ever noticed. Open arms are nothing new. Why should anyone expect a sudden increase in enthusiasm now?

This scenario cannot help but leave one feeling sad and helpless. Taiwan businesses are like ants on a hot stove. They don't know where to run to keep from being burned. Some observers assume that since our government has done nothing, these businesses have no choice but to return to Taiwan. Officials could then pad their resumes. But this is wishful thinking, and unlikely to pan out. Taiwan businessmen are fending for themselves. They are engaging in land speculation, switching to domestic sales, and changing track. Even assuming we wish to preserve these industries, plenty of backward countries have wages lower than the mainland, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Unless Taiwan makes itself more attractive, will the salmon really be forced to return?

Officials have endlessly stressed Taiwan's outstanding talent, proud technological standards, comprehensive infrastructure, superior location, and therefore Taiwan's great appeal. But none of this is new. These conditions have prevailed for over ten years. Yet an endless stream of businesses have fled Taiwan.

Believers return stress the need for a 17% cut in business taxes. They stress the need for additional concessions and subsidies substantial enough to encourage the salmon to return. But difficulties abound. The government's finances are already in dire straits. How can it offer more concessions and subsidies? If Taiwan businesses on the mainland are given special dispensations, is that fair to Taiwan businesses on Taiwan?

In fact, if we merely change our thinking, all these problems can be solved. Imagine endless, barren stretches of land in Yunlin and Chiayi. If only we could replicate the essence of Singapore there. Imagine a clean and beautiful countryside, comprehensive and convenient facilities, orderly planning, decisive and effective management. Add across the board liberalization, low taxes, a simplified tax system, ready access to transportation, including access to the Port of Mailiao in under one hour by car, and from there to other major ports. Imagine a new town in which every worker has his own house, and all his living needs have been met. Imagine the same labor policies as Singapore.

This oasis amidst a wasteland would need no officials with open arms. Overseas companies would fall over each other to locate there. It would not be Singapore. It would be better than Singapore. It would have the whole of Taiwan's economy as backup. It would be close to the favored Chinese mainland. It would be a thousand miles ahead of Singapore. After businesses elbow each other aside to relocate there, it would attract limitless capital and business opportunities. It would not even require public subsidies for infrastructure construction. Domestic investment would surge, creating millions of jobs.

In this "economic and trade zone," would we still cling to base salaries of 500 USD? To contracts that bind employees hand and foot and provoke unnecessary labor conflicts and administrative burdens? If employees prosper, would such negative and meaningless regulations be necessary? Therefore, in these particular locations, the minimum wage may no longer be necessary.

These competing vendors will of course include Taiwan businesses. Such a superior environment, combined with low cost labor similar to Singapore's, is something they have long dreamed about. Some worry this may attract sweatshops unable to survive on mainland coastal regions. Tens of thousands, even millions of foreign workers would be confined within these plants, replicating Foxconn's painful experience. "Is this really what Taiwan wants?" they ask.

Those who project such dire scenarios clearly not believe Singapore is a hotbed of sweatshops, with countless oppressed workers struggling to survive in conditions worse than death. Would Singapore's situation, replicated on Taiwan, really be as awful as described?

Of course not! When businesses elbow each other aside for resources in this "special economic zone," the most capable will come to the fore. They will be the most competitive companies with the most efficient supply chains, the ones most able to complement Taiwan's peripheral industries, create jobs, develop Taiwan's advantages, and upgrade Taiwan's overall competitiveness. Sweatshops will find it hard to find a footing. Instead, this free and open "special economic zone" will enable Taiwan to shine, and to create a new future for the people.

Those who advocate an "economic zone" today are pursuing just such a goal. The logic is so clear. Who can dispute it?

2010.06.17 01:38 am














Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ten Year War of Resistance? Is It Really that Serious?

Ten Year War of Resistance? Is It Really that Serious?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 15, 2010

Taipei and Beijng reached a consensus during the third working session of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). Meanwhile an ECFA referendum proposal submitted to the Referendum Commission was shot down. Its sponsors, the DPP, TSU, and nativist pressure groups vowed to wage a "ten year war of resistance" against the agreement. They declared their intent to closely oversee the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy. Government policies have always needed close oversight. In the event of a third change in ruling parties, the target of the nativist pressure groups' ten year war of resistance may well change. These pressure groups may demand that the DPP abolish ECFA. The KMT's position on cross-Strait policy is clear and firm. The KMT believes expanded exchanges are essential. Ironically, the DPP is the party that must justify its position. It can no longer sow dissension between North and South in an effort to cloud the issue or fool the voters.

The DPP is the largest opposition party. It is the one nativist pressure groups have pinned their hopes on. The DPP must bear in mind that it was once in power for eight years. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party enforced the "avoid haste, be patient" cross-Strait edict handed down by Lee Teng-hui late in his administration. The Ah-Bian administration's "active management" imposed limits on direct cross-Strait transportation links and the influx of mainland capital, But it was never able to extricate itself from its dilemma. This was one of the main reasons for the second change in ruling parties.

The Ma administration has been in office two years. Regardless of how effective its other policies may be, its cross-Strait policy is a significant improvement. Direct cross-Strait flights have continuously increased. The number of flights between Songshang Airport and Hongqiao Airport has increased by multiples. Songshan Airport had fallen into a state of semi-stagnation during the eight years of the Chen administration. The Ma administration's cross-Strait policy has brought Songshan Airport back to life. Li Ying-yuan and Frank Hsieh, two DPP candidates for Taipei Mayor, both advocated moving Songshan Airport and converting it into a Central Park for the nation's capital. From an urban development and environmental perspective, this is a tempting option. Especially if Songshan Airport had no potential for development. But the situation has changed dramatically. Songshan Airport has become the most popular airport for direct cross-Strait flights. Su Tseng-chang is the Democratic Progressive Party candidate for Taipei Mayor. This change has embarrassed him in particular. The vast majority of air travelers are accustomed to flying directly to the mainland from Songshan Airport. They prefer it. Moving Songshan Airport is not a policy that would curry favor with them. For political candidates, policy proposals must change as the situation demands. But for the DPP Songshan Airport is no ordinary direct flight airport. It involves subtle issues of cross-Strait relations and national development. The DPP's biggest problem is how to frame an argument that will satisfy its fundamentalist supporters but also the far more numerous moderate voters who will determine whether the DPP returns to power.

Songshan Airport is a simple issue. Yet it constitutes a complex dilemma for the DPP. From this we can see why the Cross-Strait Economic Framework Agreement is such an intractable problem for the DPP. The Democratic Progressive Party opposes ECFA. But it is impotent to prevent closer cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges. It opposes a cross-Strait agreement. But the greatest harm the DPP's obstructionism has done, is to Taiwan businesses and Taiwan's vast economic interests. No bilateral agreement is going to have only an upside and no downside. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen accuses the Ma administration of wishful thinking, of seeing only the benefits and ignoring the risks. But the Democratic Progressive Party has fallen prey to the other extreme. It sees only the risks and ignores the benefits. The DPP has exaggerated the cross-Strait policy risk for eight years. The majority of the public does not buy its arguments. The Ma administration has expanded exchanges, conveyed goodwill, and sought victory amidst danger. Over the past two years, it has achieved impressive results. The public has witnessed the Ma administration's policy achievements. It sees results. Hypothetical, virtual risks are merely a Procrustean Bed into which the DPP continues to force fit its cross-Strait policy.

For example, while the Democratic Progressive Party was shrilly voicing its opposition to ECFA, local DPP county and municipal chiefs were visiting the mainland. They were visiting the Shanghai World Expo, or promoting their cities. Democratic Progressive Party officials on the mainland were afraid to voice opposition to ECFA. DPP legislators even heaped abuse on a contestant who participated in a beauty pageant on the mainland, blasting her for "demeaning the nation's dignity." To their dismay, the contestant turned out to be the girl friend of a DPP legislator's son. They were forced to offer an abject apology. In the end, their knee-jerk political response hurt only themselves. Similar incidents have occurred. Attorney Chen Chang-wen wrote an open letter to the Referendum Commission. He found himself denounced as the "KMT's hatchetman" by the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, and the Liberty Times. Some critics even drew parallels between the Chen family's shortcomings and Chen's political stance. But according to their logic, wouldn't that make any academic who stood up and publicly criticized the Referendum Commission a "hatchetman for the DPP, TSU, Deep Green, and Taiwan independence elements?" Under a democratic political system, no act of oversight or opposition should subject a person to personal attacks or artificial political labeling.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party governed for eight years. The spiritual leader of the Taiwan Solidarity Union and other nativist pressure groups served as Republic of China President for 12 years. Both have enjoyed the fruits of our democracy. They should be capable of discussing policy rationally. They can begin with the mayoral elections for the five directly administered municipalities. The DPP and KMT must have the courage to declare their stand on ECFA, and allow voters to vote their consciences. Their ballots will impact not just the year end five municipalities election. They will impact the 2012 presidential election. Most importantly, they will impact the coming decade.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.06.15






曾經執政八年的民進黨,或精神領袖曾經擔任過十二年中華民國總統的台聯等本土社團,都享受過台灣民主的果實,理性討論政策應該是再簡單不過的道理,就從五都選舉開始,請民進黨和國民黨勇敢且負責任地拿出對ECFA的政黨立場,讓選民慎重地面對手中一票。這一票,不只攸關年底五都、未來的二 ○一二、最重要的,還有台灣未來十年!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chen Corruption Case: What Conceivable Justification for the Second Instance Ruling?

Chen Corruption Case: What Conceivable Justification for the Second Instance Ruling?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 13, 2010

The High Court has announced its ruling in the Chen Family Corruption Case. It has found the Chen family guilty as charged in the State Affairs Fund scandal, the Longtan Industrial District scandal, the Nangang Exhibition Hall scandal, and the Diana Chen bribery and money laundering scandals. In his ruling, the trial judge sternly rebuked Ah-Bian, Ah-Cheng, and others for crimes for which they cannot evade reponsibility. But he simultaneously reduced the lengths of their sentences and the amounts of their fines, sharply. This flagrant contradiction between his stern rebuke and his lenient sentence is utterly incomprehensible.

Consider the charges against Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-cheng, and the sentences they received. Consider the State Affairs Fund. Before the criminal code was amended in 2006, each subsequent offense called for a sentence 1.5 times as long as the initial offense. The High Court sentenced Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng each to 14 years imprisonment. After the criminal code was amended, each offense was punished separately. The court found Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng guilty of 10 offenses. They were each sentenced to six years for each offense. Their sentences for each offense were reduced to three years. The total sentence was 30 years. The State Affairs Fund scandal is punishable under Article IV of the Corruption Act. It involves the "usurpation of public property," and is punishable by a sentence of 10 to life. In other words, the High Court did not impose the maximum sentence, but instead reduced their sentences to only three years for each offense.

Consider the Longtan Industrial Zone scandal. According to Article V of the Corruption Act, Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng were each subject to at least seven years imprisonment for "accepting bribes in one's capacity as an official." The High Court originally sentenced Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng each to 12 years. Consider the Diana Chen bribery scandal. Pursuant to Article V of the Corruption Act, they were each sentenced to eight years for "accepting bribes in one's capacity as an official." Consider the Nangang Exhibition Hall scandal, in which only Wu Shu-chen was charged. Pursuant to Article IV of the Corruption Act, she was found guilty of "accepting bribes in breach of official duties" and sentenced to 16 years. On the basis of corruption charges alone, the High Court sentenced Chen Shui-bian to 64 years imprisonment, and Wu Shu-cheng to 80 years imprisonment. Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng were found guilty of falsifying official documents and money laundering, and sentenced for these crimes as well.

So many crimes. Such long sentences. Yet the High Court abruptly reduced the court's ruling of life imprisonment in the first instance, to "20 years imprisonment." Individuals convicted under the Republic of China criminal code often do not receive life sentences. Short of a life sentence, the longest sentence the courts are permitted to impose is 30 years, not 20 years. The upper limit of 20 years applies only to isolated offenses. Suppose the court does not wish to give Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng life sentences. Altogether they were sentenced to 70 to 80 years. Shouldn't their sentences have been reduced to 30 years, and not merely 20? Also, apart from their terms of their imprisonment, the 200 million NT fine imposed upon Chen Shui-bian by the court of the first instance has been reduced to 170 million NT. The 300 million NT fine imposed upon Wu Shu-cheng has been reduced to 200 million NT. What justification can the high court offer for that?

The High Court has sharply reduced Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's sentences. But it has offered no justifications whatsover for pulling its punches. Instead, all we see is harsh language.

For example, the judge rebuked Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng, saying that "high officials must be clean. They must not abuse their power for the benefit of their cronies and family members. Abusing public power for private gain shames the government, undermines society's values, and encourages lawlessness." The judge went to say that [Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng] allowed family members to misappropriate public funds for private use. In the name of national economic development, they conducted illegal transactions that lined their own pockets. Heads of public agencies squandered public public funds, providing financial relief for favored private companies. Out of fear, the Minister of Finance arranged public jobs for private individuals. Through family members, Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng used convoluted methods to launder illicit funds abroad. To disguise the criminal nature of their financial gains, and to avoid criminal prosecution, they knowing broke the law and betrayed the public trust.

What is one to make of such a stern rebuke, in conjunction with such a sharply reduced sentence? Most culpable and abhorrent of all is Ah-Cheng. She abused her power to satisfy her greed. Instead of forcing her to return her ill-gotten gains to the national treasury, the High Court has reduced her fines. What possible justification can the High Court have for its action? As president, Chen Shui-bian engaged in all manner of evil-doing. He should not be punished above and beyond the limits of the law. But what possible justification can the judges have to abet his criminal conduct by deliberately lightening his sentence? When the rebuke issued by the judge is diametrically opposed to the sentence handed down, the public is naturally going to feel conflicted. In short, the decision of the High Court is sharply at odds with ordinary citizens' understanding of the law.

Now consider characters other than Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng. Take family members such as Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching. Take Ah-Bian confidants such as Ma Yung-cheng and Lin Teh-hsung. They too have had their sentences sharply reduced, also for no conceivable reason. For example, the High Court ruled that Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching knew perfectly well that Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's vast fortune was illicit gains, but nevertheless decided to act as accomplices in their complex money laundering schemes. The media even reported on the two of them, living it up abroad. In the eyes of society, Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching bear a heavy responsibility. Yet Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching received sharp reductions in their fines. Huang Jui-ching received probation. The 200 million NT they were required to pay in the first instance was reduced to a mere 10 million NT. Are the the judges truly unaware of the Chen family's financial clout? The reasons behind this slap on the wrist remain shrouded in mystery. The rebuke issued by the High Court was so harsh. Yet its sentence was so light. That is what the public finds utterly incomprehensible.










Friday, June 11, 2010

DPP Infighting over the Five City Elections

DPP Infighting over the Five City Elections
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 11, 2010

During the 2008 presidential election, Chen Shui-bian and Frank Hsieh engaged in an internal DPP power struggle. They fought over personal power and the party's future. Eventually this internal struggle hijacked the DPP's presidential campaign.

Chen Shui-bian hoped to manipulate the presidential election. He hoped to maintain his status as the standard bearer for the Taiwan independence movement. He hoped to use that status to evade prosecution for corruption after leaving office. Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh was initially reluctant to express solidarity with Chen and reluctant to endorse the demand for a referendum on UN membership. But he lost to Chen Shui-bian. He also lost his bid for the presidency.

The upcoming mayoral elections for the five directly administered municipalities mirror internal struggles within the DPP for personal power and over the party's future. Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang are in coopetition over personal power and the party's future. Tsai and Su are the only two candidates for the 2012 presidential election. Su Tseng-chang, who is running for Taipei mayor, has vowed that if elected, he will serve out his term in full. Tsai Ing-wen, who is running for Xinbei City mayor, has said only that if elected, "we will be responsible to the end." Even this tiny difference leaves a lot to the imagination. Also, now that ECFA has become a plank in the DPP election platform, it will only intensify the Tsai vs. Su power struggle.

The DPP has demagogued the issue of ECFA so long it can no longer stop. Opposition to ECFA has become the clarion call in four out five DPP mayoral campaigns, including Tsai Ing-wen's campaign for Xinbei City mayor. Only Su Tseng-chang, in his campaign for Taipei mayor, has expressed reservations about opposing ECFA. So far he has made only two remarks about ECFA. He said "Entering (mainland) China means getting locked in (mainland) China" and "I favor opening, but with conditions." Given public sentiments in Taipei City, Su Tseng-chang may be wise to go easy on ECFA. On the other hand, Tsai Ing-wen, along with the three other DPP mayoral candidates, have been demagoguing the issue of ECFA. She has even threatened to raise such a ruckus that no one will have any peace. This is clearly inconsistent with the interests of Su Tseng-chang's election campaign.

Up until the Two Yings Debate, Tsai Ing-wen had yet to express any opposition to ECFA. She merely adopted a "go slow, add conditions" position. After losing the debate however, her rhetoric changed. She spoke of "abolishing ECFA once we assume power," and of "holding a referendum to abolish ECFA." She referred to the ROC as a "government in exile." She expressed opposition to our "economics above all attitude" and doubts about our "export-orientation." After Tsai Ing-wen announced her candidacy for Xinbei City mayor, and the TSU proposal for a referendum on ECFA was shot down, she adopted an even harder line on ECFA. She denounced ECFA as a "duet sung by the KMT and the CCP." She adopted the rhetoric of class struggle, claiming that "the conglomerates will benefit, but the poor will be victimized." Tsai Ing-wen has used the occasion to move closer to the Deep Greens. She is attempting to seize the party leadership, and shrink Su Tseng-chang's manuevering room. Su Tseng-chang initially proposed a "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" scenario. But Tsai Ing-wen wants a "Five Cities Network." Su Tseng-chang's marginalization is clear to see. Coopetition between Tsai and Su in the five mayoral elections has become a two way power struggle over who will call the shots in the five mayoral campaigns, and a prelude to the 2012 presidential election.

Internal DPP struggles over the five mayoral elections are more than a power struggle between Tsai and Su. Other demands have been made, including calls to "share party power" and demands that "the princes of the party must become standing committee members." Chen Chih-chung has announced his candidacy. DPP city council candidates have formed a "Chen Shui-bian Alliance." This represents another sort of inner-party struggle. This scenario confirms Taiwan's political destiny. Internecine power struggles within the DPP are an insoluble problem. They will go on forever. Then will be played up during elections. The larger interests of Republic of China citizens on Taiwan will never be addressed.

Tsai Ing-wen has already been thoroughly "DPP-ized." She has already embarked upon a one way path, politically and socially. She has already passed the point of no return. To consolidate her status within the party, and to gain an advantage over Su Tseng-chang, she has encouraged the DPP to adopt an anti-ECFA stance. She has spouted such extremist rhetoric as "a duet sung by the KMT and the CCP," and "the conglomerates will benefit, but the poor will be victimized." This is remarkably similar to how Chen Shui-bian encouraged the DPP to adopt such extremist rhetoric as the "rectification of names" and "one country on each side." The only difference is the issue at hand. Chen Shui-bian's thinking was "as long as the head gets through, the body can get through." But if Tsai Ing-wen categorically repudiates ECFA, and incites rich vs. poor class struggles, neither the head nor the body will get through. One can safely predict the outcome of both the five mayoral elections and the 2012 presidential election. Does Tsai Ing-wen really wish to incite class struggle on Taiwan? With the 2012 elections looming, does she really wish to turn the clock back to the era prior to cross-Strait flights and ECFA? If she does, then even if the head gets through, the body will not get through.

Taiwan is afflicted by a lethal defect. That defect is not the consensus formed by mainstream society. That defect was created by the DPP. Due to internal power struggles, the DPP is incapable of ever reaching a final consensus. Internal differences over the party line may provide leverage for political struggles within the party and on the island of Taiwan. But they are useless in cross-Strait relations and in the global arena. They cannot offer Taiwan any kind of future. Coopetition between Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang has once again left us with an insoluble dilemma.

2010.06.11 03:09 am