Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cross-Strait Security Cooperation Should Begin with Dialogue

Cross-Strait Security Cooperation Should Begin with DialogueChina Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 31, 2010

Beijing issued another statement yesterday. Its national defense sector explored the possibility of cross-Strait military confidence-building measures. It suggested "proceeding step by step, doing the easy things first," predicated upon the One China Principle. Because the five cities elections are approaching, the Ma administration will probably respond cautiously, hoping to minimize any negative effect on the year-end elections. But in the wake of ECFA and direct links, the two sides will find it difficult to avoid "non-traditional security cooperation." The government may wish to look at the issue of cross-Strait military confidence-building measures from this perspective.

The cross-Strait military confidence-building measures members of the public are most concerned about have to do with "traditional security." They worry about undermined sovereignty, Washington/Taipei arms sales, a reduced ability to defend Taiwan and Penghu, and a lowering of our guard. But merely initiating a dialogue on security cooperation involves none of the above risks. It can be both easy and gradual. Based on three links, it would consist mainly of "non-traditional security measures" such as humanitarian relief, maritime rescue, counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, and environmental protection issues. It is referred to as the SCFA, or Cross-Strait Security Cooperation Framework, and is a matter of considerable urgency, since maritime accidents can occur at any moment.

In October 2008, for the first time since three mini-links between Kinmen and Xiamen were established, the two sides held joint martime rescue exercises. The main impetus was the fire which broke out on the mainland vessel Tongan, while it was docking at Kinmen. At the time there was no cross-Strait cooperation mechanism. Panic ensued. Only after Xiamen deployed emergency firefighters was a tragedy averted. In order to prevent any further such eventualities, the two sides finally decided to hold maritime rescue exercises. Unfortunately they ran out of steam, and cross-Strait cooperation has yet to be normalized.

In January 2001, the two sides implemented "mini three links" between Kinmen and Xiamen. Over the next seven years, 2.55 million passengers crossed over. During all that time, not a single major shipwreck occurred. But with increased exchanges, who can say that nothing will go wrong in the future? In particular, now that ECFA has been signed, the volume of traffic between Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Mainland is likely to exceed expectations. The slightest carelessness could lead to an accident at any time. If the two sides fail to establish a cross-Strait mechanism for maritime cooperation, the consequences could be unimaginable.

The worst case scenario would be a maritime or air disaster involving one of our ships or planes. Suppose the other side arrives on scene first. It completes rescue operations, safely returns our disaster victims, then engages in wholesale self-promotion, while our side is seen as having done nothing. What will the public on Taiwan think? They might begin asking why they should pay for such a vast yet useless defense establishment. Such an incident would have a greater impact on public morale than guided missiles.

In addition to maritime security, the two sides must face the challenges posed by pirate attacks and terrorism. On June 16, the International Maritime Bureau issued warnings about piracy in the South China Sea. Pirates frequently hijack vessels in the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia. The Strait of Malacca has become a "Second Gulf of Aden." Many waters in the South China Sea are not patrolled. They have become pirate havens. Some coastal countries turn a blind eye to rampant piracy. This encourages even greater lawlessness on the part of the pirates. The situation is now out of control.

To combat piracy, the International Maritime Bureau expects Mainland China to do something similar to what has been done in the Gulf of Aden -- send warships to escort commercial vessels in the South China Sea. There is reason to believe that once Mainland China acts, it will be even more aggressive than in the Gulf of Aden. Such escort operations could encroach on sovereign waters.

Failure to reach a prior understanding and establish a mechanism for maritime humanitarian relief is likely to marginalize us on security issues in the South China Sea. Once a mechanism for cross-Strait cooperation is established, emergency rescue can no longer be one-way. It will require two-way communications, consultation, and decision-making. At most distinctions will be made between first and second responders. But neither side will be completely shut out.

The Ma administration desperately needs to reach an agreement over ECFA. Above all, ECFA will enable us to sign FTAs with other countries. Similarly, the establishment of a cross-Strait maritime security mechanism will enable Taipei to participate in regional security operations. The establishment of cross-Strait "non-traditional security" will help strengthen direct links. It may also reduce concerns in neighboring countries.

How should we proceed? We have three paths before us. First, we have "mini three links" maritime and air traffic safety. The two sides can hold regular cross-Strait search and rescue exercises. Vessels at the local government level can participate in joint operations, transitioning later to paramilitary operations. ROC Coast Guard vessels can participate in joint operations with the other side's public safety vessels and other armed vessels. We can move toward normalization, and promote cross-Strait confidence.

Secondly, we have "three links" maritime and air traffic safety. The two sides can dispatch paramilitary vessels to high seas not in dispute, or the Western Taiwan Strait SAR, to monitor from the sidelines, building cross-strait trust.

Thirdly, we have South China Sea maritime safety. The South China Sea contains economic zones around islands held by the two sides. The two sides can work together to protect marine ecological resources. They can participate in humanitarian relief efforts, anti-piracy efforts, and anti-terrorism efforts. They can maintain the smooth flow of maritime traffic, and reduce the concerns of neighboring countries. The two sides can work together on fisheries policy. Paramilitary vessels can provide backup and escort for fishing vessels. The two sides can set up an information exchange support center. They can resort to a two-pronged approach, moving from cross implementation to parallel implementation.

So-called "non-traditional security" has become an important aspect of international security. It also offers opportunities for cross-Strait security cooperation. Time waits for no man. Cross-Strait maritime rescue exercises can be staged at any time. We urge the government to make advance preparations.



目前最讓民眾疑慮的兩岸軍事互信,主要在「傳統安全」領域,擔心主權受損,動搖美台軍售,削弱台澎防衛能力,進而卸我心防。但「安全協作」啟動對話,沒有以上顧慮,既「先易」又「漸進」,主要以三通為基礎,以「非傳統安全」(人道救援、海上應急救難、反恐、反海盜和環境生態保護等)為主要內涵,姑且稱之 SCFA(兩岸安全Security協作框架)。這在時空上不僅有緊迫感,海上意外也隨時可能發生。












Friday, July 30, 2010

The Meaning behind DPP Factional Struggles

The Meaning behind DPP Factional StrugglesUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 30, 2010

Four years ago, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) declared that it was dissolving its factions. But the main attraction during the DPP's recent plenary meeting was factional infighting and quid pro quo deal-making. As long as the DPP's factional infighting persists, the DPP will to remain a party that spins its wheels and goes nowhere. As long as the DPP's factional infighting contaminates its immediate surroundings, Taiwan will remain a society that spin its wheels and goes nowhere.

The recent restructuring of the Central Standing Committee has led to three results. One. The Chen Shui-bian camp has been annihilated. Two. The influence of party elders and hardline Taiwan independence elements has declined. Three. The New Tide faction, the Su Tseng-chang camp, and the Green Friendship Alliance have become the biggest winners. This outcome suggests that Chen Shui-bian no longer has the werewithal to stir up trouble within the party. That said, the DPP has yet to emerge from the shadow of Chen Shui-bian. In other words, the strategic scenario has experienced a minor and temporary shift due to the Five Cities Elections. The party has yet to take a long, hard look at its party line. What the changes in the Central Standing Committee signify remains unclear.

Consider the Chen Shui-bian camp. Members of Chen's Justice Alliance can only run for their lives. During the May party representatives election, the New Tide faction and the Frank Hsieh camp ganged up on the Justice Alliance. As a result Luo Wen-chia and Huang Ching-ling were routed. Yu Cheng-hsien defected to the Chen Chu camp. Chen Chi-mai joined the Frank Hsieh camp. As the situation stands, it makes no difference how much of a fight Chen Shui-bian might put up. His influence over the DPP leadership has evaporated.

Consider the party elders. Trong Chai is the only member of this faction with a seat on the Central Standing Committee, He is already finding it hard to promote his agenda. Annette Lu badly misjudged the situation when she aligned herself with the party elders during a recent crisis. She no longer has any chance of remaining on the Central Standing Committee. Carelessness spelled defeat for the "Old White Rabbit." The Chen Shui-bian faction suffered a humiliating defeat. The problem however, is that Chen Shui-bian, Annette Lu, the party elders, and hardline Taiwan independence elements have basked in the limelight for too many years. They are not about to retire quietly from the battlefield. That much we know beforehand.

The old soldiers have gradually fallen by the wayside, howling in anguish. Ho Chi-wei, an complete unknown, has been elected to the Central Standing Committee. That was the most interesting development during the recent plenary meeting. Ho Chi-wei is thirty-something. Were he not the son of Hsueh Ling, what chance would he have had? As it is, he was a shoo-in for Central Standing Committee memership the moment he announced his candidacy. Factional struggles within the DPP are a cold-blooded affair. But they also involve subtle gamesmanship. Rivals don't confront each other directly. They don't concern themselves with belief systems. They "rise above" political ideology. They care only about power. Ability, integrity, and ideology must kowtow before the power of conglomerates. DPP leaders may spout high-minded green ideology. But they meekly tolerate these plutocrats in their midst. The scene is so tranquil, but the implications are so thought-provoking.

In addition to Ho Chi-wei, Yen Hsiao-ching, a forty-something with the New Tide faction was elected to the Central Standing Committee. By a one vote margin, he edged out an indignant Annette Lu. For the New Tide faction this may have been a windfall. But for the party, it was merely a further debasement of Central Standing Committee membership. The New Tide faction has cultivated fresh talent for years. It has a protocol for orderly generational secession. Four years after the "dissolution of factions," the New Tide faction is alive and kicking. Other factions can only look on enviously. But consider the larger interests of the party. The Chen family was an albatross around its neck. The party has rid itself of that albatross. It stands at a new watershed. What lies on the other side of the ridge? Even the DPP leadership doesn't know.

During the recent plenary meeting the New Tide faction/Su Tseng-chang camp faction scored a major victory. No one was surprised. But lest we forget, the same scenario played out once before in 2006. The Chen family was engaged in runaway corruption. The public was starting to complain. Premier Su Tseng-chang, supported by the New Tide faction, emerged victorious. The theme of that plenary meeting was "an honest face, a bold vision," Ironically, it insisted on covering up for Ah-Bian. Even more ironically, Ah-Bian eventually ordered the dissolution of factions, and ganged up on the New Tide faction. Frank Hsieh and Chen Shui-bian ganged up on an overexposed Su Tseng-chang, and forced him to relinquish his 2008 presidential campaign.

Four years later, the New Tide faction and the Su Tseng-chang camp have recaptured the Central Standing Committee. But who knows whether this formidable strategic alliance will remain following the year-end elections? Will factional disputes during the elections result in backstabbling? Frank Hsieh would rather break his promise than lose his central role on the political stage. The moves he and the other factions make should be closely monitored. Su Tseng-chang asked Chang Hong-lu to relinquish his Central Standing Committee seat, and give it to Chen Ming-wen. Superficially, this was a generous gesture. In fact, it was motivated by selfish calculation. If Su Tseng-chang had not preemptively seized the candidacy for Taipei mayor, how much momentum would he still have today? Meanwhile, Tsai Ing-wen must guard against Frank Hsieh, and not repeat the mistakes Su once made.

The theme of the recent plenary meeting was "a glorious and blessed new generation." Each of the five cities mayoral candidates staged photo ops, with them holding the hands of young children. The atmosphere oozed warmth. But four years ago, when the theme of the plenary meeting was "boldness and vision" its sole accomplishment was the coverup of Chen Shui-bian's corruption and an open power struggle. The DPP put on quite a show. But the public was hardly impressed by what it saw.

2010.07.30 03:18 am










Thursday, July 29, 2010

Only Judges Such as This Could Deny that Chen Che-nan was Deputy Secretary-General

Only Judges Such as This Could Deny that Chen Che-nan was Deputy Secretary-GeneralUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 29, 2010

Former Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Chen Che-nan traded political influence for money. He was convicted in the first instance of "fraud involving the abuse of official authority" and sentenced to 12 years in prison. But lo and behold, the judge in the first instance retrial ruled that Chen never abused the authority of his office, and reduced Chen's sentence to a mere seven months. When the news leaked out, there was an immediate public outcry.

The original bill of indictment charged businessman Liang Po-hsiung with making illegal loans, and called for a one year term. It said that Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Chen Che-nan knew highly-placed prosecutors and investigators could peddle their influence, and that he had accepted a 6 million dollar check and a 1.1 million dollar "red envelope" from Liang Po-hsiung. That was why Chen was charged with "fraud involving the abuse of official authority," and why prosecutors specified an eight year prison term. A conviction in the first instance with malice aforethought would have increased the sentence to 12 years. A conviction in the second instance on the original charge of corruption would have meant a sentence of nine years. Either would have exceeded the eight years prosecutors were seeking. According to reports, the first instance retrial reduced Chen's sentence to one year and two months, and later to only seven months.

The reason the first instance retrial judge gave for for reducing Chen's sentence to seven months was that the charges had been changed. The "corruption" charge had been reduced to a run of the mill "fraud" charge. The first instance retrial judge said Chen Che-nan deceived Liang Po-hsiung, making him believe he could make Liang's legal problems go away. He said that "over the years Chen Che-nan had cultivated many political and social contacts," and that Chen Che-nan never traded on his status as Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General. This raises an obvious question, namely, "Did Liang Po-hsiung actually say that?" Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Chen Che-nan assured Liang Po-hsiung that he could make Liang's legal problems go away -- for an appropriate sum of money. But the first instance retrial judge, with the wave of a magic wand, reduced Deputy Secretary-General Chen Che-nan to "just another civilian who had cultivated political and social contacts." He instantly transformed Chen Che-nan from high-ranking government official into John Q. Citizen.

Herein lies a question. Did Chen Che-nan offer to broker a deal based on his status as "Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General?" Let us review the facts. Fact One. Chen was certifiably Deputy Secretary-General. No question about that. Fact Two. Chen knew he was Deputy Secretary-General. Fact Three. Liang Po-hsiung knew Chen was Deputy Secretary-General. The judge knew Chen was Deputy Secretary-General. Under the circumstances, how can anyone argue that Chen's crime was not committed in his capacity as Deputy Secretary-General? When precisely during the commission of his crime, did Chen lose his status as a high-ranking government official? Note that the first instance retrial judge knew Chen was Deputy Secretary-General. But he argued that Chen did not extort 10 million dollars in "litigation fees" by trading on his status as Deputy Secretary-General.

Does such an argument really hold water? Can Wu Shu-cheng really argue that she committed fraud only on the basis of her status as "the mother of Chen Chih-chung," and not as "the wife of the President" or "the First Lady?" Moreover, if Chen Che-nan merely exploited his "years of cultivating political and social contacts," wasn't his status as "Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General" the highest expression of his "lifetime of cultivating political and social contacts?" This "white horse is not a horse" sophistry is utter nonsense, and cannot possibly restore public faith in the justice system.

The first and second instance trials handed down long sentences, precisely because Chen was a high-ranking government offical who engaged in influence peddling. Who knew the first instance retrial judge would sentence him to only seven months? Who knew the judge would insist that Chen's crime was unrelated to his status as a high-ranking government official? If Chen Che-nan had not been Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General, would he really have been worth the sky-high price of 10 million dollars Chen demanded from Liang Po-hsiung? In the end, Liang paid Chen 7.1 million yuan to let him walk. Did Full Court judges Tseng Teh-shui, Tsui Ling-chi, Chen Heng-kuan ever confront Chen Che-nan? Did they ever ask him whether he undertood that he was the Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General during the commission of his crimes?

The key to this case is whether Chen "abused his authority as a government official to engage in fraud and corruption." Suppose for the sake of argument that Chen Che-nan never took advantage of his position to make contact with the presiding judge in Liang's case? The fact remains that Chen used his status to broker a deal for Liang. Is Chen Che-nan's status as "Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General" is something judges can switch on and off at will, as if by remote control?

Suppose for the sake of argument that the crime was "merely a routine case of influence peddling." The statutory punishment is still five years. Suppose for the sake of argument Chen Che-nan never relied on his status as "Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General" to commit his crimes? This of course is an impossibility. Chen knew he was "Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General" when he was committing his crime. The only person who refuses to admit this is the first instance retrial judge. He imposed a sentence of only seven months on an "official within the highest ranks of the Presidential Office guilty of influence peddling." How can other defendants who have been handed down heavy sentences possibly accept such a grotesque double standard?

Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Che-nan traded legal favors for money. President Chen Shui-bian embezzled money. Each of these crimes committed by high-ranking government officials, was an example of knowingly violating the law. Each of these crimes severely injured our justice system. The courts should ensure that these criminals pay for their crimes. We should expect nothing less. Alas, our judges have helped these highly placed government officials escape justice. Even after Chen Shui-bian confessed that the Southern Front Project was a fraud, the judge insisted it was genuine. A life sentence was reduced to two years. Even though Chen Che-nan admitted he was the Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General, the judge insisted that Chen never used his official status to peddle influence. A 12 year sentence was reduced to seven months. This is not the defense of justice in accordance with human rights. This is the undermining of justice by perverting the law.

Judges such as these are either hacks or shysters. What else could they be?

2010.07.29 03:22 am











Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Preventing Mainland Students from Coming Compels Taiwan Universities to Leave

Preventing Mainland Students from Coming Compels Taiwan Universities to LeaveChina Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 28, 2010

Recently, several universities on the Mainland began recruiting high-scoring senior high students from Taiwan. This attracted public attention on Taiwan. The data suggests that in the coming years, such recruitment attempts will become an increasingly common. This has raised concern that the best students on Taiwan will be lost. News reports also indicate that the Mainland is attempting to persuade the National Taiwan University and other universities to establish special classes or campuses on the Mainland. Therefore, if the goverrnment prevents Mainland students from studying on Taiwan, the Mainland will induce our best universities to leave Taiwan.

The provision of higher education is a special kind of service industry. Education and other key service industries are under the aegis of different agencies. The Financial Supervisory Commission controls finance. The Ministry of Communications and Transportation controls tourism and telecommunications. The Department of Commerce controls retail shops. Most manufacturing industries find themselves in highly competitive circumstances. For example, suppose South Korea's Samsung panel industry gains an advantage. Taiwan's AUO will be hurt. If Toyota is impacted, global demand for Germany's Volkswagen or South Korea's Hyundai will increase. But not all service industries work this way. If the service sector in Nation A prospers, that does not mean a recession will hit the service sector in Nation B. Internationally speaking, service sector competition is not a zero-sum game. Take universities. An improvement in Beijing University's reputation will not diminish National Taiwan University's reputation. The two sides may both be recruiting students. But that does not imply a conflict of interest. It all depends on how the government approaches the matter.

In general, the Mainland wants exchanges with Taiwan. It has confidence in its economy. Therefore it has opened its arms to students from Taiwan. Taiwan's economy may not be as robust as the Mainland's, but that need not undermine our confidence. Calls for a halt to cross-Strait exchanges are largely ideologically motivated. Eight years of DPP rule has indoctrinated some on Taiwan with an "inordinate fear of Communism" rooted in ideological extremism. Two years ago, during the presidential election, a DPP campaign ad used language that dripped with contempt for people from the Mainland. It actually warned that "Parks will become toilets. Conversation will become expectoration." DPP fundamentalists are contemptuous even of wealthy tourists from the Mainland who came to Taiwan to spread money around. Imagine how they feel about patients who come to Taiwan seeking medical care, or scholars who come to Taiwan to take advantage of its educational resources.

Under a free economy, economic and trade exchanges between the two sides is certain to be quite complex. One cannot obstruct such exchanges simply by imposing one's will. Forcibly preventing people from coming to Taiwan could inadvertently force Taiwan to pay an even higher price. A fellow of the Academia Sinica Institute of Finance and Economics gave a speech on July 5 that cited a case worth the DPP's attention.

As everyone knows, Mainland China has a huge population. The standard of medical services however, is low. Among wealthy Mainlanders however, there is a strong demand for quality medical care. Medical care on Taiwan is among the best in the world. The quality of doctors is excellent. The language and cultural pose no barriers. Wealthy patients from the Mainland are naturally going to seek treatment on Taiwan. Taiwan must make an effort to attract these wealthy patients. If one is afraid that outside patients will "consume" local health care resources, one can establish "special zones." One can provide a limited variety of medical treatments in designated zones. That way health care for outsiders can remain distinct from government provided health care for insiders. But Taiwan independence fundamentalists are obstinately opposed even to such special administrative regions. Academia Sinica members have issued a stern warning. The Taiwan independence fundamentalists' hatred and insularity will almost certainly harm Taiwan.

The government on Taiwan can refuse to allow Mainland patients to seek medical treatment on Taiwan. But this will not diminish the urgent medical needs of wealthy patients from the Mainland. Market incentives will lead to the establishment of many hospitals on Mainland China. These hospitals will recruit many doctors. Over time, as long as wealthy patients on the Mainland are willing to pay, hospitals and doctors on Taiwan will establish operations on the Mainland. In the language of international trade, prohibiting patients from the Mainland from "inputting" to Taiwan, will lead to the "outputting" of hospitals and doctors to the Mainland. The same is true for cross-Strait education. The "inputting" of patients is usually referred to as international medical services. The "outputting" of hospitals on the other hand, is considered direct foreign investment (FDI). Robert Mundell is the Father of the Euro. Forty years ago he warned that trade in goods and services is interchangeable with direct foreign investment. If a government prevents the flow of merchandise, the consequence is often capital flight. This capital flight is clearly more deleterious to the nation from which it flees than the flow of any merchandise.

In short, those who would prohibit trade with the Mainland had better think matters through. The consequence of governmental barriers is frequently capital flight. Capital flight really can "hollow out" Taiwan. Those attempting to prevent trade with the Mainland usually characterize themselves as "Taiwanese patriots." They usually characterize anyone who "hollows out Taiwan" as a "traitor to Taiwan." But this is precisely what they are guilty of. The line between "patriotism" and "treason" is often quite thin. It often depends on a sophisticated understanding of trade theory. The slanderous propaganda in their newspaper ads may have a short term impact. But in the long run how will these self-styled "Taiwanese patriots" escape blame for "hollowing out Taiwan?"

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.07.28
社論-不讓陸生輸入 當心學校出走








Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Eighth Naphtha Cracking Plant Controversy -- from the Perspective of the Sixth Naphtha Cracking Plant Controversy

The Eighth Naphtha Cracking Plant Controversy --from the Perspective of the Sixth Naphtha Cracking Plant Controversy
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 27, 2010

Last week the Ministry of the Interior held its first conference for the protection of dolphins -- the "Cho-shui Creek Tidal Flats Charitable Trust." The atmosphere during the conference was unexpectedly tranquil and reasonable. It was the calm before the storm. The Ministry of the Interior and other agencies adopted a neutral stance, in strict accordance with the law. The agency responsible is willing to prepare the required legal documents in advance, then submit the case for approval. This was the second time in 20 days that controversy over the Sixth Naphtha Cracking Plant flared up. Uncertainties over worker safety have diminished production capacity by nearly one half. This has made a balance between development and conservation even more urgent.

Environmentalists say that the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Technology Company's Eighth Naphtha Cracking Plant is endangering Chinese White Dolphins. On the same day, company representatives, accompanied by Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-in and Industrial Development Bureau Chief Tu Chi-jun, held a press conference. They make it abundantly clear that if the project was still bogged down by environmental hurdles in November, they would "call it quits." For company representatives to adopt such an attitude is perfectly understandable. But when officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs endorse such a stance and cast doubt on their own neutrality, it is hardly helpful to arriving at a rational solution.

Should the mudflats on the north shore of the Cho-shui Creek in Changhua County's Ta Chen Village be turned into an industrial zone? That is of course a national land use issue. But it also involves Chinese White Dolphins, which are threatened with extinction, and the question, "Whither Taiwan?" This makes it more than just a fight between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Kuo Kuang Petrochemical on one side, with 40,000 supporters of the Environmental Trust Foundation on the other side. This makes it a question about where 23 million people ought to be headed.

Clearly the most important issue for the public is how to balance economic development with environmental protection, i.e., how to ensure sustainable development. Controversies have erupted over Phase Three of the Central Taiwan Science Park Environmental Impact Report, the use of land belonging to the Number 202 Munitions Plant in Nangang as a biotech park, and the invoking of eminent domain in order to acquire agricultural lands in Miaoli Tai Po. In each of these cases, some members of the public have taken exception to the government's policy of sacrificing the environment for the sake of economic productivity. They have lodged protests, demanding that the government address their concerns.

Taiwan has enjoyed sixty years of economic growth, in part at the expense of the environment. We began by cutting down forests and exporting the lumber. Later the Kaohsiung Harbor ship-breaking industry, the acid treatment of heavy metal waste, electroplating, dyeing, cement manufacturing, petrochemical, and other highly polluting, energy-intensive industries have exacted a heavy price on the environment and on peoples' health. The petrochemical and other environmentally harmful industries have contributed to our economic prosperity. For that we must be grateful. But the question 23 million people on Taiwan ought to be asking is, should we continue sacrificing the environment for the sake of economic prosperity today.

Over the past 60 years pro-development forces have called the shots. But they are not an unassailable monolith. They too must change their thinking, in step with the public on Taiwan. That is progress. That is reason. Ship-breaking and the acid treatment of heavy metal waste have been outsourced. Kaohsiung's cement industry has been shutdown. Projects such as the Liwu Creek Power Plant, Zonta Cement Plant, and the Yuli Yushan section of the New Central Cross-Island Highway have been put on hold. This shows that government agencies understand the public's priorities, and is honoring the public's wishes.

Consider the clash between developers who want to proceed with the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Plant Project and environmentalists who want to protect Chinese White Dolphins. In their fight over how the Cho-shui Creek mudflats ought to be used, they must convince not just the government and shareholders, but 23 million members of the public. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Kuo Kuang Petrochemical argue that the petrochemical industry may be a energy hungry, highly polluting industry, it is nevertheless essential to our economy. There really is no alternative to constructing the plant on Chinese White Dolphin habitat. The Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Plant Project may not be a low impact, new era technology such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, or information and communications technology. But it will generate 500 billion in profits each year.

Environmentalists whose priority is the protection of the Chinese White Dolphin, must convince the public that the protection of endangered species is the mark of a civilized nation. The mudflats are Chinese White Dolphin habitat essential to their feeding and reproduction. If the land is reclaimed, the Chinese White Dolphins face extinction. The Chinese White Dolphins migrate from the west coast across the "Black Water Ditch" (Taiwan Strait). They travel through the Yun Chang uplift, the Kuanyin depression, and other formations in the Taiwan Strait. Their migratory path is affected by the Kuroshio Current and ocean currents along the Mainland coast. One cannot train them to change paths. One cannot use bait to induce them to live in regions outside the area earmarked for development.

What kind of Taiwan do we want? An environmently friendly Taiwan? Or one that trades its environment for wealth? A public consensus outweighs any consensus reached by a handful of economic experts, capitalists, and industry experts. A public consensus must be respected. This is a society in which the people are the boss.

This case may be seen as the first step in a rational policy debate. Whether the "Environmental Charitable Trust" bill will be passed is still unknown. But the forward-looking ideas in the proposed Environmental Charitable Trust will enable the public to consider the relative importance of Chinese White Dolphins and the petrochemical industry, as it proceeds down the road toward a sustainable future.

2010.07.27 01:29 am











Saturday, July 24, 2010

What Ever Happened to the DPP's "Political Platform for the Coming Decade?"

What Ever Happened to the DPP's "Political Platform for the Coming Decade?"China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 24, 2010

Following the Three in One Elections, the Democratic Progressive Party achieved a string of electoral victories. It has gathered momentum in the Five Cities Elections, and the KMT is feeling the heat. However, a recent reorganization of the party's power structure has caused the DPP to revert to form. The party is now caught in a power struggle. It has lost sight of the issues, and unable to offer any coherent policy proposals.

The workings of the DPP have been remarkably consistent with sociologist Robert Michel's "Iron Law of Oligarchy." To wit, the DPP's euphemistic "democratic centralism." The DPP's Central Standing Committee and Central Executive Committee elections have long been held hostage to factional power struggles. Even Annette Lu recently became another "white bunny who strayed into the jungle." She unsuccessfully tried to seize power within the Central Standing Committee. Her bid was much too naive. The DPP nomination process has long been decided by party factions or party bosses. No one has ever seized power on the basis of personal charisma.

The current "new faces, old forces" power struggle has gone too far. Chen Sheng-hong is the head of a local DPP political machine. He and his wife, DPP legislator Hsue Ling want their son to be made a member of the Central Standing Committee, so that he can run for city councilman. Chen Sheng-hong had himself transferred to the Central Standing Committee, and made Chairman of the Central Evaluation Committee. The DPP is the largest opposition party on the island. Yet it allows itself to be manipulated by a single family. The Party Chairman and Party Princes have yet to utter a single word in protest. They have demeaned themselves by kowtowing to the demands of power.

The New Tide Faction, the largest faction in the DPP, is not much better. In order to counter Annette Lu and seize three seats on the Standing Committee, it endorsed Yen Hsiao-ching, an inexperienced Kaohsiung County Councilman for Central Standing Committee member. The Central Standing Committee should not be a gerentocracy. But the new generation is politically unqualified. They were nominated to the Central Standing Committee purely to protect the interests of their respective factions. Such a Central Standing Committee will inevitably degenerate into a "smoke-filled room" for the divvying up of factional spoils, not a forum for the discussion of important policies.

Politics has always been about the distribution of power. But the conduct of the DPP is cause for concern. It is the reason why the DPP cannot find a new direction. Party elections are all about "power for the sake of power." They represent what the party is really about. The party may not be able to explain its policies. But its objective is plain for all to see -- to seize power, and nothing else.

The DPP, whose current objective is to regain power, pales before the DPP prior to gaining power. Before the DPP gained power, it understood that its cross-Strait policy was its Achilles Heel. During debates over the party's Mainland policy, party insiders and outsiders worked closely to arrive at a consensus. Dissenters wtihin the DPP expressed their opposition openly. For one, this was consistent with intra-party democracy. For another, public debate involving diverse views offered the greatest possibility of arriving at workable policy. In 1999 it allowed the DPP to propose its comparatively moderate "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," and to ameliorate voter anxiety.

In 2008 the DPP was routed. One reason was Chen family corruption. But another reason was hardline Taiwan independence cross-Strait policies that moved far away from the political center. Tsai Ing-wen has been DPP chairman for two years. Yet the DPP has deliberately refused to offer a clear cross-Strait policy. The party leadership is afraid that cross-Strait policy debate may anger Deep Greens and cause a split within the party. But refusing to discuss such issues is tantamount to allowing Deep Green hate speech to monopolize the debate. Given such an atmosphere, any cross-Strait negotiations or agreements will inevitably be characterized as "Selling out Taiwan!" ECFA will inevitably be characterized as "the establishment of a One China Market," as "the first step towards reunification," and "the disenfranchisement of the disadvantaged."

Tsai Ing-wen repeated appealed to DPP legislators to engage in rational discussion of ECFA. But Deep Greens dictated policy. Therefore bloody clashes were entirely predictable. What's worse, the DPP has yet to offer a reasonable cross-Strait policy. Its opposition to ECFA is rife with internal contradictions. If ECFA is really all bad and no good, Tsai Ing-wen should have threatened a referendum to repeal ECFA long ago. The DPP should have been eager to add a sunset clause to ECFA. But some DPP leaders are afraid Beijing might attempt to influence the election by terminating ECFA.

The DPP's internal contradictions are not limited to cross-Strait policy. The DPP has accused the Ma administration of giving tax cuts to the rich. But DPP legislators took the lead by proposing a 17.5% tax cut for big business, forcing the KMT to raise the ante. The Five Cities Elections are upon us. DPP elders are asking Lin Yi-hsiung to rejoin the party, and work for its future. But Lin Yi-hsiung demands a halt to the construction of the Number Four Nuclear Plan, or a referendum to that effect. Has the DPP leadership taken this into account? The DPP has never offered a coherent energy efficiency and carbon reduction policy. Yet this is clearly an important issue that every political party in the 21st century must think through.

Any political party that wishes to return to power, must offer a set of policies appropriate for a new era. The British Conservative Party had the courage to propose unpopular measures such as streamlining the government. Nevertheless it won the support of voters come election time. For the sake of peace, Tsai Ing-wen proposed a "Political Platform for the Coming Decade." It demonstrated her desire for a responsible policy. But the DPP is courageous only during internal power struggles. It is pusillanimous during debates over important policy. That is why it is hard to be optimistic about the fate of the Political Platform for the Coming Decade.












Friday, July 23, 2010

Forced to Flee: Hon Hai or Dolphins?

Forced to Flee: Hon Hai or Dolphins?United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 23, 2010

Hon Hai Group Chairman Terry Gou has recently been subjected to relentless of criticism. Guo asked, "Is there really no place for me on Taiwan? Will I really be driven out?" Meanwhile, an environmental impact report has paralyzed the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Company. One reason is that its facilities may obstruct the migratory route for white dolphins. Environmentalists oppose driving the white dolphins out.

But just who is being driven out of Taiwan? Is it Hon Hai? Or is it white dolphins? Does a majority on Taiwan really favor these two extremes? Can we not find a balance between realism and idealism? Whether the issue is labor rights or ecological and environmental claims, can we not eschew anti-business demagoguery and political sloganeering?

Some capitalists are indeed despicable. The Wall Street fat cats responsible for the financial tsunami swallowed up the life savings of countless ordinary folk the world over. But other entrepreneurs are decent people who create employment opportunities and promote social progress. Often a nation's economic pulse and competitiveness depends on just such a handful of key industrialists.

The Republic of China remains in dire political and economic straits. If we wish to become a "free trade island," and establish an "Asian Pacific Platform," we must attract businesses and raise capital. We must "build nests to entice the phoenix." We must attract Taiwan capital, Mainland capital, and foreign capital. We must "join the world." But even more importantly, we must "keep our roots on Taiwan." Therefore, maintaining a certain amount of manufacturing capacity on the island is essential. Because only manufacturing industries can retain unique technical advantages. Only the manufacturing sector can increase employment opportunities.

But soliciting businesses to set up factories, especially within the manufacturing industry, inevitably leads to conflict over labor rights, rivalries between regions, and concerns over environmental protection. When Taiwan was still known as "Formosa," the entire island was a natural deer park. Now the only place one can see a deer is on a nature preserve. As long as human beings continue to inhabit the earth, this competition between development and conservation will not end. That is why we face a dilemma over white dolphins today.

The social cost of attracting business and capital must be proportionate. But the Republic of China's central policy is to attract global investment. If every major investment is subjected to such an unrealistic selection process, how much room will remain for economic development? When some people wanted to establish a biotech park, a prominent author characterized the site as "Taiwan's lungs." When some people wanted to construct a petrochemical plant, ecologists said "Don't drive out the dolphins!" When some people wanted to construct an enclosure around a Technology Park, 24 farming families vowed to "til their fields to their last breath." How one views such controversies of course, depends on one's perspective. Both sides claim to be on the side of the angels. Take the Tai Po land incident for example. Ninety-eight percent of the farmers favored selling the land. But a mere two percent who opposed selling the land dictated the outcome. We are reluctant to comment on the merits of each sides' arguments. But we cannot help wondering, should our economic policy really be dicated by this "98:2" standard?

Now let us return to Terry Gou. Guo built factories on both sides of the Strait. At the very least, he fully complied with the law. Working conditions exceeded both legal requirements and standards set by other manufacturers. The main cause for the plant controversy was political and social factors unique to the Chinese Mainland. Arguably Gou could have done better. After all, he eventually offered raises. But to label him "Taiwan's Shame" is unjust. It is unseemly for university professors to engage in such name-calling. Mainland factories belonging to Japanese companies have also experienced labor strikes. Should the management of these companies be indiscriminately labeled "Japan's Shame?" Terry Gou is an entrepreneur struggling to survive within a labor chain controlled by the West. The income from his OEM work represents merely 2% of the upstream income. Both sides of the Strait ought to be ashamed about this 2% OEM number. But who if anyone deserves to be denounced as "Taiwan's Shame?" Just who are the university professors who slapped this label on Terry Guo?

The public fears entrepreneurs even as it invests its hopes on them. The choice between Hon Hai and white dolphins underscores the relationship between corporate responsibility and public expectations. Certain entrepreneurs are publicly reviled, including those who colluded with the Chen Shui-bian regime during its "Second Round of Fiscal Reforms." Such crony capitalists deserve to be reviled. But legitimate businesses that promote economic development and benefit the community deserve public support and encouragement.

How can Taiwan's economy be brought back to life? In the end it all boils down to persuading businesses to invest, thereby transforming Taiwan into an island of free trade. Assuming this view is correct, assuming this is the way out for Taiwan, we must be fair to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs confront global challenges. We can urge them to be sociallly responsible regarind labor rights and environmental protection. But we cannot expect them to live with "98:2" standards. We must not demonize them as "Taiwan's Shame."

Does anyone remember how DuPont and Bayer were driven off Taiwan? Then Chen Shui-bian era presidential economic adviser Vincent Siew pronounced it the "death knell" for foreign investment on Taiwan. Now, over a decade later, we are again "soliciting business." But will naysayers amounting to 2% of the public drown out the yeasayers who constitute the other 98%?

Lukang did not want DuPont. So DuPont went to the Mainland. Ilan did not want the Number Six Naptha Cracking Plant. So the Number Six Naphtha Cracking Plant went to Yunlin. These are all choices we make. Hon Hai and white dolphins represent two sets of values. For four centuries we have been choosing between the two. In the centuries to come, we too will have to make similar choices.

2010.07.23 02:39 am












Thursday, July 22, 2010

Judicial Yuan Appointment Must Transcend Partisan Politics

Judicial Yuan Appointment Must Transcend Partisan PoliticsChina Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 22, 2010

Summary: Judicial Yuan President Lai Ying-chao was resolute about tendering his resignation. He was determined to assume responsiblity for systematic corruption among High Court judges. President Ma has accepted Lai's resignation. He has asked Judicial Yuan Vice President Hsieh Chai-fu, who tendered his resignation at the same time, to remain until a successor can be found. The Special Investigation Unit is investigating High Court judges. This has shattered the credibility of our justice system. But President Lai's unwavering resignation was a rare demonstration of political responsibility. He earned the public's respect, and set an example for his peers.

Full Text below:

Judicial Yuan President Lai Ying-chao was resolute about tendering his resignation. He was determined to assume responsiblity for systematic corruption among High Court judges. President Ma has accepted Lai's resignation. He has asked Judicial Yuan Vice President Hsieh Chai-fu, who tendered his resignation at the same time, to remain until a successor can be found. The Special Investigation Unit is investigating High Court judges. This has shattered the credibility of our justice system. But President Lai's unwavering resignation was a rare demonstration of political responsibility. He earned the public's respect, and set an example for his peers.

Does anyone remember how former Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming refused to step down despite public skepticism about his integrity? With his swift resignation, President Lai demonstrated far more character. That was obvious. His resignation was so unequivocal even the president was taken by surprise. Lai resigned only as Judicial Yuan President, not as a High Court judge. This would have enabled the president to keep Lai on as a High Court judge. Lai did not realize this would significantly limit the president's options regarding personnel appointments. Therefore special importance was put on him simultaneously resigning as High Court judge. Simultaneously resigning his posistion as High Court judge would allow the president to recruit from circles other than current judges. Lai was both thoughtful and honorable. President Lai's willingness to assume responsibility ended any hemorraging within the justice system. It raised public hopes for judicial reform. has opened up new horizons. It allowed the administration to carefully consider the next wave of judicial appointments and its policy direction. The administration should consult a wide range of people before making its final decision.

The Special Investigation Unit's handling of cases has inspired the public to consider the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption, or ICAC. Similar calls have been heard everywhere. But the design of the Special Investigation Unit and its recent moves mean it is essentially the same as an Independent Commission Against Corruption. If one insists on having the name as well as the game, one could simply rename the Special Investigation Unit the "Independent Commission Against Corruption." The first chief of the Special Investigation Unit was improperly selected. Chen Tsung-ming has resigned. We should not throw the baby out with the bath water. We should not assume that establishing a separate Independent Commission Against Corruption is the only way. The key is systemic reform of the justice system. We must eliminate its defects while retaining its virtues. We must establish an effective exit mechanism for judges. We must eliminate diseased tissue while preserving the healthy. We must avoid untoward eventualities. After all, improving the quality and efficiency of the trial process is not the responsiblity of the Special Investigation Unit or an Independent Commission Against Corruption. Judicial integrity is merely a minimum requirement for the justice system. The only way to improve the trial process is to improve both the trial system and judicial appointees.

Former Judicial Yuan President Ong initiated judicial reform, but his campaign was only a partial success. Now President Lai has resigned. Judicial reform can no longer be delayed. Everyone agrees that judicial reform is not a panacea. It cannot effect an overnight transformation. Therefore one must appoint a Judicial Yuan President with a sense of mission. One must allow enough time for knowledgeable professionals to review the Big Picture and eliminate all obstacles. One must not maintain the status quo and continue muddling along as before.

What kind of abilities should the next Judicial Yuan president have? He must have a deep understanding of the law. He must have an impeccable professional reputation. He must have considerable administrative ability. He must be able to transform the justice system into a high quality, professional service provider. With judicial independence as a precondition, he must find a way to increase the quality and efficiency of the justice system. The ability to manage the "economics of law" will be indispensable. Public expectations are running high. Unflinching determination will be essential in leading the trial system out of its crisis of public confidence. Allow us to speak frankly. Taiwan has many talented individuals. But few candidates meet the aforementioned requirements. The president will have to choose carefully.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind the ruling and opposition parties that judicial reform should transcend partisan political struggles. It must not be rooted in selfish calculation. The "Justice Act" has remained stalled in the Legislative Yuan for years, unable to see the light of day. The result has been the decline of judicial discipline. The mechanism for evaluating and eliminating unfit judges remains ineffective, nothing more than the result of political struggle. How can one not be distraught? Judicial Yuan appointments impact judicial reform. They determine whether judicial reform will be able to make a fresh start. The ruling and opposition parties must not view this issue purely from partisan perspectives. They must not turn judicial appointments into partisan political struggles. Too much political calculation is not healthy to the reform of the trial process. The ruling and opposition parties must allow the nation to recruit the talent it needs.

The President of the Judicial Yuan is chosen from among High Court judges. He or she will preside over constitutional interpretations and play a key part in the next wave of judicial reforms. President Lai's departure has left the president with a personnel appointment decision that could make or break the Republic of China's democracy and its rule of law. When the president makes his appointment, he should throw open the doors of his mind. He should ask himself what the real requirements are for judicial reform. He must find good people to assume this heavy responsibility. The future of the rule of law in the Republic of China depends on it.









Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lacking: Not an ICAC, but Public Trust

Lacking: Not an ICAC, but Public TrustUnited Daily News editorial Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 21, 2010

Several High Court judges are suspected of accepting bribes. President Ma has chosen this occasion to announce the establishment of an "Independent Commission Against Corruption."

Whether the Republic of China should establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption has long been a controversial issue. Opponents say that an Independent Commission Against Corruption would be redundant. Its functions would overlap with those of the existing Bureau of Investigation. This would make it difficult to ensure its independent character. Moreover, the members of any Independent Commission Against Corruption would probably be drawn from existing institutions. If the public doesn't trust our current institutions, why should they trust new insititutions consisting of members drawn from existing institutions?

Therefore reducing corruption and increasing clean government is not a matter of establishing new institutions. It is a matter of gaining the public trust. The Bureau of Investigation Special Investigation Unit does not lack the ability to fight crime. What the Bureau of Investigation lacks is the ability to resist political pressure. Critics have long accused it of "selective prosecution." The Bureau of Investigation even tipped off former president Chen Shui-bian. It leaked important information about Chen's corruption and money-laundering case to the suspect himself. How can the public possibly believe that the Bureau of Investigation is determined to fight corruption? The Special Investigation Unit consists of elite members of the prosecutorial system. Its authority is considerable. But the Prosecutor General partied with important witnesses in a case under active prosecution. How can the public believe prosecutors will not pull their punches? Despite a plethora of concerns, the public finds the idea of a separate ICAC appealing.

If one wishes to discuss the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption, one can hardly avoid mentioning Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption, or ICAC. Why has Hong Kong's ICAC won the public trust? Hong Kong's ICAC has a unique operating mechanism. For example, the ICAC is not subject to the control of Hong Kong's Department of Justice (DOJ). Hong Kong's DOJ is roughly the equivalent of our [District Prosecutors Office?]. Instead, Hong Kong's DOJ and ICAC check and balance each other. The two institutions were previously under the supervision of the Colonial Governor. Now they are under the supervision of a Monitoring Committee appointed by Hong Kong's Chief Executive. Monitoring Committee members are drawn from the private sector. They are authorized to monitor individual cases. The Monitoring Committee has the right to demand a ruling from the Chief Executive on cases that the ICAC or DOJ refuse to prosecute.

Can Hong Kong's ICAC be successfully replicated on Taiwan? The Monitoring Committee probably cannot. Hong Kong's ICAC is able to maintain its independence due to its Monitoring Committee and other design features. But if this system were transplanted in our society, it simply would not work. Suppose we established a Monitoring Committee to monitor individual cases being prosecuted by an ICAC or the Bureau of Investigation. This would not ensure the independence of the ICAC. Instead, the Monitoring Committee itself would become the focus of a political struggle. Furthermore, the status of the ICAC is unrelated to how well it does its job. Consider our own Special Investigation Unit. Its head is appointed by the president. The Legislative Yuan approves the appointment of the Prosecutor General. Their status could not be any higher. Their institutional independence could not be more assured. Hong Kong's ICAC has established an excellent reputation. Our own Bureau of Investigation Special Investigation Unit, on the other hand, is not trusted by the public. Clearly the reason has nothing to do with the system as such.

Hong Kong's ICAC has won the public trust, and established an excellent reputation. In addition to wielding great power, its members have a sense of purpose and responsibility. That is the most important factor of all. But suppose that motivated by cronyism, its members tipped off suspects, the way our Bureau of Investigation has? Suppose that lacking self-restraint, its members exceeded their authority, the way our Prosecutor General has? The ICAC would hardly be effective as it is today.

Laws do not enforce themselves. Even the best system requires individuals of excellence to make it work. If is members have no consciences, everythig will come to naught. This is true for any prosecutorial authority or ICAC. This is true for the courts as well. Corrupt judges with "independent authority in trying cases" pervert the law, They are extremely difficult to monitor and sanction. If they can try cases "independently," they can engage in corruption "independently." In the end, the only thing one can rely on is the judge's conscience.

Therefore to establish an ICAC, one must first design an operating mechanism. One must concentrate on how its members are selected, and comply with professional norms. The ruling administration has announced the establishment of a new institution on the heels of the High Court judge corruption case. Perhaps its motive is political propaganda. But new institutions without a new spirit can only squander economic resources and increase institutional redundancy. President Ma's order deserves further consideration. But until his proposal has been given sufficient consideration, it would be better to go slow.

One may or may not choose to establish new institutions. But either way, the existing Bureau of Investigation and Special Investigation Unit must do better. They must improve their reputations. They must justify their existence. Perhaps the ruling administration no longer believes in the Bureau of Investigation and Special Investigation Unit. If so, why should the public believe in the ruling administration? Why should it believe that any ICAC it establishes will be better and more trustworthy, that it will reduce corruption and increase offical integrity?

不是沒有廉政署 而是沒有公信力
2010.07.21 01:40 am










Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Political Appointees Must Set An Example by Stepping Down

Political Appointees Must Set An Example by Stepping DownChina Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 20, 2010

Judicial Yuan President Lai Ying-chao submitted his resignation several days ago, because three High Court judges were suspected of accepting bribes. Lai submitted his resignation because he must assume responsibility for the lapse in judicial discipline.

Some people say Lai should not resign. They say that the High Court judges may have taken bribes, but what does that have to do with the Judicial Yuan president himself? Some see the issue through partisan eyes. They accuse President Ma of forcing out the sole remaining yuan president appointed by a DPP administration. Some say Lai should stick to his guns, and see judicial reform through to the end. We cannot agree with these justifications. Officials today willing to resign their positions out of a sense of responsibility are as rare as hen's teeth. Judicial reform requires capable leadership. But a sense of honor is as important as ability. The political atmosphere is as important as judicial integrity. As we take stock of officialdom on Taiwan, we feel his resignation deserves commendation.

The integrity of political appointees has undergone a swift decline. Too many unspeakable scandals have erupted. Take Chen Tsung-ming for example. He too is part of the justice system. He had the effrontery to dine with Huang Fang-yen, a possible accomplice in the Chen Shui-bian corruption and money-laundering case. He refused to take a stand on the Discretionary Fund issue. Talking heads blasted him, but he refused to resign. He justified himself by repeating that "I must stay on to finish the job." Only when the Control Yuan threatened to impeach him, did Chen Tsung-ming feel obligated to resign. The rumors and controversies surrounding Chen Tsung-ming relate to him personally. The current judicial crisis involves only High Court judges, not Lai Ying-chao specifically. Compare the two justice system officials. The difference between the two should immediately become apparent.

Forty years ago, during the Chiang Ching-kuo era, a Suao Harbor fishing boat sank, drowning dozens of students. Then Minister of Education Chiang Yan-shi assumed responsibility and resigned. When a building on the Yuan Feng Senior High School campus collapsed and crushed several students, Huang Kuen-hui, then Bureau of Education chief also resigned. When aircraft belonging to the state-run China Airlines crashed, the Minister of Transportation was forced to resign. Insiders often joke that Lien Chan was lucky. When others served as Minister of Transportation, they were forced to step down in response to air disasters. But Lien Chan experienced smooth sailing all the way, For three long years, not one air disaster occurred. Air disasters are of course affected in part by airline safety procedures. But luck may play an important part as well. When political appointees are held responsible even for random events such as these, then of course Lai Ying-chao must be held responsible for judicial discipline. Of course Chen Tsung-ming must be held responsible for his personal misconduct. It is only right.

It is universally accepted that political appointees should assume responsibility for their policy failures. But just how does one define "policy failure?" If one is unable to implement a policy, or if a policy that has been implemented leads to disaster, officials can always blame bad weather, overseas economic factors, financial shocks, even sunspots. Allow us to use a metaphor to explain what we mean by responsibility. Think of a national government as a private company. A nation's political leader is the company manager. A nation's citizens are the company's shareholders. A whole range factors will determine the success or failure of the company, including a considerable element of luck. But regardless, the company's business manager must assume responsibility for the company's performance. Whether he turns out to be a hero or a zero will ultimately depend upon the success or failure of the company's operations. He cannot blame anyone else. A company manager must assume final responsibility. The same is true of a national government's political appointees.

During Chen Shui-bian's eight years in power, political appointees came and went regularly. Whether they remained in office or were given the boot depended entirely on President Chen's changing moods. Neither ability nor integrity mattered. Political appointees would pray desperately that nothing went wrong on their watch. They were paralyzed, afraid to do anything that might rock the boat. Two years ago, with the change in ruling parties, everyone assumed that the bureaucratic mindset that prevailed under the previous regime were a thing of the past. But during the past two years, cabinet members in more than one municipal administration have left observers dumbfounded. Apparently what the Ma administration wants from officials more than anything else is obedience. It care nothing about an official's judgment or ability. When problems surfaced, high-ranking officials with the Presidential Office and Executive Yuan find it hard to blame cabinet members, because cabinet members refused to do anything but carry out orders from their superiors. Given such an atmosphere, it is utterly unrealistic to expect political appointees to demonstrate backbone and behave responsibly.

Yuan President Lai Ying-chao assumed responsibility and resigned. Did he do so to bring the Republic of China's dysfunctional officialdom out of its slump? Whatever his motives, he set a positive example. Will judicial discipline be restored as a result of the current scandal? It is hard to say. But Lai's bold move deserves praise.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.07.20








Monday, July 19, 2010

Discussing Democratic Evolution with the DPP

Discussing Democratic Evolution with the DPPUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 19, 2010

Incidents of physical assaults committed by the DPP within the Legislative Yuan are nothing new. The latest assault gave the DPP yet another convenient excuse to walk out of the emergency session. The DPP's tricks are clearly getting old. Let us take a moment to review the history of democracy on Taiwan. The era of reform was characterized by shrill slogans and violent acts. But martial law was lifted over 20 years ago. Yet the DPP remains attached to physical conflict. It assaults fellow legislators and sheds their blood at the slightest pretext. We travel the road to democracy, but somehow the farther we travel, the bleaker the landscape becomes.

Twenty years ago, DPP legislators assaulted their colleagues. They threw chairs and tore out microphones. They resorted to any and all means imaginable. They ended the so-called "10,000 year legislature." They promoted political reform and ended single-party rule. Their methods were radical, but received considerable public support. Their aim then was to make politics on Taiwan more mature and democratic. But the Legislative Yuan has been democratically elected for the past twenty years. One-party rule is long dead, as dead as the "10,000 year legislature." Two ruling party changes have taken place at the central government level. So why is the DPP still addicted to confrontation? Why does it persist in assaulting fellow legislators? Why does it persist in forcibly occupying the podium? Why does it persist in referring to majority rule as "majoritarian violence?" Does the DPP truly not realize that it is going nowhere?

Consider the spirit of representative government. The proportion of seats within the legislature are the result of popular elections. Legislators are authorized by voters to exercise law-making powers within the legislature, in accordance with parliamentary procedure. The power to legislate is the essence of representative politics. The current legislature has a Pan Blue majority and a Pan Green minority. This may not meet with the approval of the DPP, but it was a collective political decision on the part of the Republic of China electorate. Every political party must defer to such expressions of the public will. This is the basis of democracy.

The DPP has never won a majority within the legislature. The reason why is simple. It maintains an overwrought, extremist stance on national identity, and a narrow, bigoted view of "ethnic identity," or more accurately, "community group affiliation." As a result, it has never gained the trust of a democratic majority. Add to this the fiasco of the DPP's eight years in power, during which it proved utterly incapable of governing the nation or formulating a strategy for economic development. Its time in office only increased people's misgivings. The DPP stubbornly refuses to engage in soul-searching. Instead, it blindly lashes out in anger. Such behavior only leaves the public more disgusted, and only makes it harder for the DPP to make a comeback.

The process by which legislators are elected has undergone a long string of reforms. The reforms may involve the single district, two-vote system. They may involve the halving of the number of seats in the legislature. But the DPP took part in their passage and even proposed many of the reforms. The process by which legislators are elected to office is above reproach. Yet the DPP obstinately refuses to admit that a democratic majority considers its platform unacceptable. It endlessly resorts to stonewalling. It even incites and organizes street demonstrations. Such behavior is not merely high-handed and undemocratic. It shows that the DPP is unwilling to abide by the basic rules of democracy. Is the DPP truly unaware of these realities?

Elections are an essential component of democracy. A rational legislative process is an important component of democratic politics. The problem with the DPP is that it remains preoccupied with symbolic political gestures. It glosses over or avoids substantive policy matters. Over time, this deprives the government of checks and balances. It renders the legislative process crude and imbalanced. The DPP has long been derelict in its duty as an opposition party. Its irrational opposition to ECFA is merely the most recent example. Such opposition epitomizes the Green Camp's obstructionist attitude for the past twenty years.

In recent years, the Republic of China's democracy has stalled. A major factor is the DPP's refusal to let go of the past and move toward the future. During the early stages of the Republic of China's democratic evolution, the DPP made an undeniable contribution. But the Republic of China's politics has matured. Unfortunately the DPP refuses to mature along with it. An opposition party that can only assault fellow legislators is an opposition party that can only debase and marginalize itself. An opposition party that can only engage in mindless obstructionism, is an opposition party that has forfeited any right to lead the nation. How can the DPP possibly contribute to the growth of the Republic of China's democracy?

Look back at the DPP's path for the past twenty years. Look at what it has lost. It lost the enthusiasm and ideals of the "dang wai" era. It lost sight of the goals it set for itself. Twenty years is a long time. The DPP leadership has changed completely. Society on Taiwan has undergone generational change as well. The DPP would have the public believe that the assaults committed against fellow legislators are part of a "sacred struggle for democracy." Who, pray tell, buys into that?

The Republic of China's democracy must evolve. Both ruling and opposition parties must promote that evolution. We would like to remind the DPP of three things. One. The DPP must return to its proper role as a loyal opposition party. Two. The DPP must adopt opposition tactics consistent with the principle of proportionality. Three. The DPP must adopt a constructive approach to policy matters. Only by doing so can the DPP rediscover its purpose as an opposition party. Only by doing so can the DPP regain the public trust. A political party can refuse to grow up. But the public on Taiwan can hardly be expected to do the same.

2010.07.19 02:32 am










Friday, July 16, 2010

David Shear Diametrically Opposed to Tsai Ing-wen on ECFA

David Shear Diametrically Opposed to Tsai Ing-wen on ECFAUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 17, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen warns that the cross-Strait economic framework agreement (ECFA) upsets the strategic balance in Southeast Asia. She warns that Southeast Asia will become a "Sinocentric Southeast Asia" that will weaken and marginalize the United States' presence in Southeast Asia.

Her remarks may convey the ring of a "strategic international perspective." But they were clearly intended for Washington's ears. They imply that once Taipei and Beijing sign ECFA, Mainland China will become the "center of gravity" for Southeast Asia, and that the United States will lose influence. The subtext is that in order to prevent the United States from being marginalized in Southeast Asia, Taipei should not sign ECFA. The subtext is that if Washington wishes to maintain the current "strategic balance in Southeast Asia," it must not support ECFA.

Unfortunately for Tsai Ing-wen, Washington has offered precisely the opposite response. According to State Department Acting Deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid, ECFA is a "positive development" that the U.S. government "encourages." This was followed by similar remarks by Assistant Secretary of State for Asian-Pacific Affairs David Shear. During a keynote speech Shear said that ECFA will benefit Taiwan and the world, and that the United States was delighted to see the two sides sign such an agreement. This remark may well be the most favorable evaluation of cross-Strait interactions that Washington has offered in 60 years. It was a rare moment in history.

David Shear's comments were actually quite circumspect. He reiterated that the United States does not support Taiwan independence, and is opposed to any party unilaterally changing the status quo. He added that cross-Strait economic exchanges and cultural relations were the healthiest they have been in decades. He said ECFA would accelerate this "positive development" and make Taiwan more attractive to foreign investors. He added that Washington was willing to strengthen Taipei/Washington economic cooperation by means of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). He said that for the past 60 years, Taiwan has developed politically, socially, and economically. He said this proved that Taiwan can be simultaneously Chinese, modern, and democratic. He said the whole world "can learn from the Taiwan experience" how to promote modernization. He said ECFA showed Taipei's desire to become "an important and valuable member of the international community." He said "The United States is strongly encouraged by this development." The Republic of China withdrew from the United Nations forty years ago. Since then, when has Washington ever praised Taipei so generously? During the 60 years since 1949, when has Washington ever reaffirmed Taipei's cross-Strait policy so enthusiastically?

The DPP should reflect on Washington's assessment of ECFA. Why is its assessment diametrically opposed to Tsai Ing-wen's? Tsai Ing-wen warns ECFA is harmful to the "strategic balance in Southeast Asia." She insists that the rise of [Mainland] China will lead to the United States' marginalization. But David Shear's remarks show no hint of such concerns. Just the opposite. Shear affirmed ECFA, saying it was helping to make cross-Strait relations the healthiest they have been in 60 years. He said it showed Taipei's desire to become an important and valuable member of the international community. He said Washington was deeply encouraged. David Shear was clearly evaluating ECFA from an elevated international and global perspective. But his international and global perspective was entirely different from Tsai Ing-wen's.

Tsai Ing-wen has a strategic perspective -- of sorts. Her strategic perspective is the outdated perspective of the 20th century Cold War. David Shear's comments represent a very different strategic perspective, a post-Cold War 21st century perspective.

For example: Tsai Ing-wen warns that ECFA will facilitate the rise of [Mainland] China in Southeast Asia. But in David Shear's eyes, Beijing has already erected an ASEAN plus N framework. Therefore Taipei has no choice but to sign ECFA. Tsai Ing-wen warns that Taipei must take measures to block the rise of [Mainland] China. But David Shear apparently believes that Taipei should strive to improve the environment for foreign investment. Tsai Ing-wen assumes that Taiwan must be "anti-Chinese," even "non-Chinese." But David Shear believes Taiwan can be simultaneously Chinese, modern, and democratic.

We have repeatedly urged both the ruling and opposition parties to take note of Washington's assessment of cross-Strait interactions. Washington has said nothing negative about the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy for the past two years. Now David Shear, addressing ECFA on behalf of the US government, has praised it to the skies. Needless to say this is a clear indication of Washington's strategic perspective.

Skeptics may conclude that this is Washington's way of jettisoning Taiwan. But a fairer evaluation would be that this reflects Washington's transition from military confrontation to political/economic coopetition. Washington remains committed to Taipei. But the nature of that commitment has changed. Taipei must learn to read the signs.

Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian over-estimated Washington's military commitment to Taipei. They clung to fantasies about Washington's desire to use Taiwan independence as an anti-communist pawn. Tsai Ing-wen has apparently compounded that error. David Shear has pointed out her errors, one by one.

The United States will not be marginalized. But Taiwan is being marginalized. This may well be a concern for David Shear. But he offers a completely different perspective, and a completely different set of countermeasures than Tsai Ing-wen.

2010.07.16 03:38 am