Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Swift Justice for Unscrupulous Plasticizer Users

Swift Justice for Unscrupulous Plasticizer Users
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 31, 2011

Apparently the degree to which toxic plasticizers have harmed the public is greater than previously imagined. They have been found not just in food, but in cosmetics. Food and cosmetics are commercial products. Unscrupulous businesses knowingly violated the law. Innocent people spent good money only to buy poison and damage their health. The government must severely punish those companies that engaged in such malicious behavior.

Health officials and prosecutors have investigated for days. The story behind the world's first case of plasticizer food contamination is becoming increasingly clear. The two main upstream "drug connections" were the Yu Shen Chemical Company and the Pin Han Perfumery Company. Yu Shen has been in business over 30 years. It is the largest supplier of toxic emulsifiers. The number of midstream and downstream industries affected is difficult to determine. Almost all domestic food industries, large and small, have been affected. Like the public, they too have become victims.

An inter-ministerial team is currently investigating. It has already discovered over 500 types of contaminated products. These 500 plus products, in turn, have affected other food companies. If hundreds, perhaps even thousands of food companies intentionally added plasticizers, then the safety of domestic food products is in serious question. But based on food industry reactions, the volume and cost of plasticizers used in the food manufacturing process is minimal, It is unlikely that the food industry intentionally added poisons and harmed people. Many of the food companies named are listed or highly reputable companies that have been in business for years. Amidst this turmoil, the government must quickly identify the flow of raw materials and assign blame. Some food manufacturers are innocent. The public must not be forced to constantly wonder what it can eat.

Yu Shen and Pin Han's evil deeds deserve universal condemnation. Five major product categories have been affected, including sports drinks and fruit juices. Even baby foods and health foods have fallen victim. Many purchasers of health food already have weak constitutions. Infants and young children are even more vulnerable. Those who sold raw materials containing plasticizers to these segments of the food industry deserve the harshest condemnation. How can these suppliers sleep at night?

There are 16 kinds of plasticizers. According to prosecutors, Yu Shen began using DEHP plasticizer a few years ago. This kind of plasticizing agent is metabolized by the body within a day or two. As soon as one ceases eating the problem food, one will be just fine. But Yu Shen over a period of at least 25 years prior to that, it used DOP, a more toxic plasticizer. This plasticizer cannot be metabolized and excreted. It accumulates in the body. These deadly toxins were actually added to legal emulsifiers that people put into their bodies. Companies violated the law. Their actions may not amount to murder. But they could be seen as attempted murder.

The plasticizer tempest has provoked panic among the public. The food industry is losing money. The storm has raged for several days. We now see which government agencies made mistakes and must be forced to improve.

First, the Health Department imposed stringent standards for many toxic substances. It stipulated that they "may not be added," and "must not be detectable." But the government cannot merely lay down the law. A law written on a piece of paper will keep the public safe. Otherwise, plasticizers would not have been found in thousands of food products.

First, plasticizing agents, environmental hormones, antibiotics, and chemical additives, must be prohibited by law. Then the government must conduct spot checks. It must engage in an ongoing battle of wits with opportunistic businessmen who deliberately seek out loopholes. It must do everything in its power to eliminate harmful substances from peoples' lives.

The EPD is responsible for poison control. Plasticizers are currently classified as class four poisons. Many experts and groups are hoping to reclassify them as class two poisons. Reclassification would enhance control efforts. Once the illegal industries have been uncovered, the punishments can be increased. The EPA has never had a positive attitude. Given its negative attitude, how can it respond appropriately to public demands for increased food safety?

According to a recent EPA investigation, among the 300 domestic sellers of plasticizer ingredients, 20 have not filed import and export product transaction reports. These 20 companies constitute less than 1/10th of the industry as a whole. But as long as a few kilograms of illegal plasticizer find their way into the food industry, the harm will remain unimaginable. If not for the current turmoil, these 20 raw material suppliers would have slipped through the net. The EPA must establish more rigorous inspection methods.

During the current turmoil, food companies and [channel operators?] have complained that the government lacks standard operating procedures. First it demanded that food companies submit reports proving their products were free of DEHP, Later it demanded that they be free of six kinds of plasticizers, But domestic testing capacity was inadequate. Food companies found themselves in a giant traffic jam. In the future the public will demand even stricter food safety and supervision. The government agencies' inadequate testing capacity must be addressed, as soon as possible.

The Mainland authorities are closely following the progress of the plasticizer turmoil on Taiwan. Mainland China's Supreme People's Court and the courts at all levels, punish criminals who endanger food safety harshly, in accordance with the law. The plasticizer incident has undermined the health of the nation, and the livelihood of food companies. Swift justice is one of the principles the government must ensure.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2011.05.31













Monday, May 30, 2011

Yesterday Chuang Kuo-jung, Today Chiang Wei-wen

Yesterday Chuang Kuo-jung, Today Chiang Wei-wen
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 30, 2011

During the 2008 general election, the Chen regime touted "de-Sinicization" and the "elimination of Chiang influences." Then Ministry of Education Secretary General Chuang Kuo-jung made himself the focus of public attention. He publicly shouted, "F**k Chiang Ching-kuo." Now, as we approach the 2012 general election, Chiang Wei-wen, an associate professor of Taiwanese literature at Cheng Kung University, is in the news. Chiang distributed posters blasting author Huang Chun-ming as a "Taiwanese author who does not write in Taiwanese, but instead in Chinese. He is a disgrace! "

Chuang and Chiang have something in common. Both promoted "de-Sinicization" and the "elimination of the legacy of the Republic of China." Both were young or middle-aged professors at national universities. The only difference was that Chuang Kuo-jung promoted "de-Sinicization" and the "elimination of the legacy of the Republic of China" as a mouthpiece of the Chen regime. Chiang Wei-wen promoted the same ideas under the guise of an opposition scholar. He and current Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen both argued that "the Republic of China is a government in exile."

This is a living portrait of the Green Camp political culture. Chiang Wei-wen and his followers are pillars of the Green Camp. Therefore, when the Green Camp is in power, Chuang Kuo-jung and his followers can lead the ruling administration around by the nose. The ruling administration has no choice but to daqnce to the tune of Chuang Kuo-jung and his followers. Otherwise it will be unable to answer to them. If it loses the support of Chiang Wei-wen and his followers, it will lose the Chuang Kuo-jung seal of approval. Therefore is is hardly surprising that Tsai and Chiang both argue that "the Republic of China is a government in exile." Tsai Ing-wen gains the support of Chiang Wei-wen and his camp followers. Chiang Wei-wen and his camp followers, meanwhile, pin their hope of "de-Sinicizing" Taiwan on Tsai Ing-wen. To Chiang Wei-wen and his camp followers, Tsai Ing-wen is the next Chuang Kuo-jung or Chen Shui-bian.

The Chiang Wei-wen incident is not about academics. It is about politics. At its core, is the notion that "the Republic of China is a colonial government in exile." According to Chiang Wei-wen, the "Taiwanese language" includes the Hakka dialect, the Taiwanese aboriginal languages, and so-called "Taiwanese," i.e., the Minan dialect, but not the "Chinese Language." Why? Because the "Chinese Language" is purportedly "the language of the colonizers." Therefore it must be lumped in the same category as Japanese, English, and "other foreign languages."

According to their logic, the public on Taiwan is under ruled by "the Republic of China colonial government in exile." Its official language, Chinese, is a "foreign language," and yet it is deemed the "National Language." Chiang Wei-wen proposes to repeal the "Republic of China" national title. He says that to retain this national title is to retain the colonial government in exile. He proposes to abolish the "Chinese Language" and by means of "education," and change it to the "Taiwanese language."

Chiang Wei-wen's language proposal is merely an instrument of his political proposals. In fact, so-called "Taiwanese" is one of the basic "Han languages." Chiang Wei-wen and his followers want to rewrite "You and I" as "You kap me." But all they have done is take a regional dialect and call it a "language." All they have done doing is carry out an experiment. They have not departed one iota from the main body of the Chinese language. Besides, even the "Taiwan Independence Party Platform" is written using Chinese characters. Is that too "a disgrace?" Now consider their political concepts. So-called "Taiwanese," in its written form, is obviously Chinese. Suppose they completely jettison the traditional written form and write it using Roman letters? Chen Shui-bian advocated something similar when he claimed that Taiwan was actually under the jurisdiction of a U.S. military government. That claim amounted to the unconditional surrender of the Green Camp's hallowed notion of "Taiwan's primacy."

In 2008, Chuang Kuo-jung ranted and raved. Shih Ming-teh was the leader of the Red Shirt Army. The Green Camp accused Shih of "selling out Taiwan," It denounced Shih as a "traitor to Taiwan." Today, Chiang Wei-wen is ranting and raving. He has denounced Huang Chun-min, saying that Huang is a "Taiwanese author who does not write in Taiwanese, but in Chinese. He is a disgrace!" As the Green Camp sees it, when Shih Ming-teh championed "opposition to corruption," he betrayed "Taiwanese values." Huang Chun-min is a prolific author whose works are rich in local content. But as Chiang Wei-wen and his camp followers see it, none of that matters compared to a single "you kap me" phoneticization. The Green Camp's central article of faith remains the notion that "the Republic of China is a colonial government in exile."

Chiang Wei-wen is a Deep Green icon. His views are typical of Deep Greens. Most Green Camp figures are not quite so ridiculous. But all share the same central article of faith: "the Republic of China is a colonial government in exile." This is true of Lee Teng-hui. This is true of Chen Shui-bian. This is true of Koo Kuan-min. And this is true of Tsai Ing-wen.

Therefore if Tsai Ing-wen is elected president, she will be Chen Shui-bian redux. How can she possibly step up and assume the duties of "Republic of China President?" Chuang Kuo-jung, Chiang Wei-wen, and their followers, insist that "the Republic of China is a colonial government in exile." How can Tsai Ing-wen possibly assume the reins of such a government? For example, Chuang Kuo-jung, Chiang Wei-wen, and their followers oppose the 1992 Consensus. How can Tsai Ing-wen possibly free herself from this Green Camp/Taiwan independence movement straitjacket?

昔有莊國榮 今有蔣為文
【聯合報╱社論】 2011.05.30










Friday, May 27, 2011

Black-Hearted Businessmen Fined a Mere 30 Million NT

Black-Hearted Businessmen Fined a Mere 30 Million NT
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 27, 2011

A well-known energy drink, advertised as a health food, has been found to contain industrial plasticizers as an additive. Many young people drink it every day. Yet it may damage a person's reproductive system. The main culprit is the Yu Shen Company. It has sold its "black-hearted merchandise" on both sides of the Strait as well as overseas. Yet the government will only be fining it 30 million NT. The public is incredulous.

This toxic beverage incident originated with upstream suppliers, who adulterated the products with additives. The toxins flowed down the supply chain, spreading everywhere. Ordinary people everywhere have been poisoned. The extent of the damage is difficult to estimate. It has affected not merely beverage manufacturers on Taiwan. It has harmed the image of products from Taiwan in general. It is a serious threat to the health of consumers. Supermarkets, superstores, and big box stores have taken them off the shelves. But this addresses only certain brands. We must get to the bottom of the problem, Some eating establishments add illegal plastizers to their drinks. Local health departments have a great deal of hard work ahead of them.

Prosecutors estimate that the Yu Sheng Company has been adding the illegal plastizer DEHP to their emulsifiers for five years, This is when the "sports drinks" and "health foods" era began. Motivated by greed, many beverage manufacturers hoped to reduce costs. They manufactured toxic beverages and are now paying the price. Not only have their reputations been destroyed, consumers have been harmed. These businessmen committed these horrible crimes. This is not something disclaimers that "We were victims too" can gloss over. Too many businessmen were irresponsible. Consumers should also consider getting back to nature and eating plainly. They should stop believing the myth of commercially packaged health.

One thing is puzzling. The Department of Health has ruled that foods may not contain additives such as phthalates. Then why are there so many known manufacturers of this illegal raw material? Why didn't the Department of Health discover this problem five years ago? Is testing by health officials nothing more than a formality? Is it nothing more than an obstacle to get out of the way?

This is a difficult question. But a heroine has already provided us with the answer. A Department of Health inspector named Yang has been relentless in her pursuit of the truth. When she tested an unrelated weight loss beverage, she discovered chemicals that should not have been there, After repeated analysis, she traced the problem to the suppliers of the emulsifiers. She turned the evidence over to prosecutors. Only then did they discover that even more beverages were affected. This bold and painstaking heroine deserves public plaudits. But she was a lone individual, surrounded by a callous bureaucracy that routinely engages in pro forma ritual, and by civil servants with no sense of responsibility. Food and Drug Administration Chief Secretary Luo Chi-fang technician praised this woman, who is also a mother, saying that "She could have pretended not to see. But she was unafraid to make waves." The words "pretended not to see" sums up why a toxic beverage could remain undiscovered for five years before being exposed.

This heroine did not expose only "black-hearted" business tycoons. She also exposed a motley crew of business opportunists. She made it impossible for indolent officials to run for cover. How many questionable products were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for inspection over the past five years? Just one aggressive and responsible inspector would have been enough to identify the problems in advance, and reduce the number of people harmed. Given such omissions, the Department of Health and the Executive Yuan cannot "pretend not to see."

Due to indolence, food inspections have not improved. Food regulations have lagged behind, also to the point of absurdity. Recently CAS approved meat products that were part of school lunches, were found to contain banned substances. The Department of Health merely fined the culprits six to 30 million NT. The current toxic beverage incident has impacted a wide range of food products. Its impact is far-reaching. Yet according to the Food Sanitation Law, the government can only impose a maximum fine of 30 million NT. The law is a dinosaur. It is totally inadequate to deter "black-hearted" businessmen. Still less it is able to act as an effective sanction. How can it possibly safeguard public health?

The current toxic beverage incident is no less harmful than the Mainland contaminated milk powder incident from three years ago. In the tainted milk incident, the two people who manufactured the melamine contaminated milk powder were sentenced to death. Executives who manufactured the Sanlu milk powder were also given heavy sentences. By contrast, the government on Taiwan, which boasts of its democracy and rule of law, is imposing administrative penalties of 30 million NT on those who endangered public health. Is human life on Taiwan that cheap? Or are food laws on Taiwan still in the Stone Age, unable to catch up with social change? The situation is truly serious. If government agencies fail to act, who will assume responsibility for government compensation in the aftermath?

The devil in the details. The current toxic beverage incident tells the story. So many beverages advertised as healthy and natural, in fact contain toxic chemical substances. Consumers are tricked into putting these substances into their bodies. The heroine who exposed the evil-doers has earned our admiration. But the government's negligence has earned our contempt.

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.05.27










Thursday, May 26, 2011

Exceeding the Statute of Limitations: Do Prosecutors Have Consciences?

Exceeding the Statute of Limitations:
Do Prosecutors Have Consciences?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 26, 2011

In 1996, a young girl named Hsieh was raped and murdered inside the Air Force Air Combat Command. The Special Investigation Unit, the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office, and the High Military Court Prosecutor's Office, formed an ad hoc group to begin a new investigation. Yesterday the group determined that Chiang Kuo-ching, who was executed by firing squad, was not the actual perpetrator. Instead, a former soldier named Hsu Jung-chou committed the crimes. The group called for a prison sentence of 20 years. It found that Air Force counter-intelligence team officers Ke Chung-ching, Teng Cheng-huan, Li Chi-ren, Ho Chu-yao, Li Shu-chiang, and others, used torture to extract a confession from Chiang Kuo-ching. They abandoned the military prosecutor-led investigations headed by counter-intelligence unit commander Chen Chao-min. Because the suspects "were not prosecuted within the 10 year statute of limitations," they would be punished but not prosecuted. When this news broke, people were astounded.

This was a real world example of "officials covering for each other." These officials condoned the abuse of power and used torture to extract confessions. They conspired to minimize, cover up, and eradicate the commission of a crime. Special Investigation Unit investigators spent a full year on a major case. Yet this is all they have to show for their effort. Serious consideration should be given to prosecuting them for criminal abuse of power. How does the Commander in Chief feel as he watches military prosecutors applying this sort of media spin to the administration of justice? What does he have to say for himself? Does he bear any responsibility?

Consider one suspicion. They knew he was guilty. So why didn't they indict him before the statute of limitations expired? The Control Yuan should investigate. Who delayed prosecution? The prosecution must tell us whether those who delayed prosecution bear criminal liability. Even more puzzling, why is the statute of limitations merely 10 years? It turns out the ad hoc group began by prosecuting the suspect for a misdemeanor that carried a maximum sentence of three years. That was why the statute of limitations ran out. A group of officers was assigned to investigate. It tortured prisoners to extract confessions. It convened a courts martial, convicted, and summarily executed the wrong suspect. It abused governmental authority, and murdered him. Yet all its efforts yielded nothing more than a three year sentence for a misdemeanor? Why shouldn't the Special Investigation Unit and the prosecutor be tried for murder? Why not prosecute them for abuse of power, in accordance with Article 125 of the Criminal Code? Why not prosecute them for torture, in accordance with Article 126 of the Criminal Code? These are all felonies that carry a minimum sentence of seven years. The statute of limitations on them is 20 years. Why not make use of them?

The prosecution's legal rhetoric is esoteric. As a result, most people do not understand it, In any event, those who were tortured were not prosecutors or judges. They lacked special status, According to a 1941 Supreme Court case, these articles do not apply to case officers. Put simply, judges who wrongfully hand down death sentences bear no criminal liability. Prosecutors who wrongfully issue indictments bear no criminal responsibility. Military officers who resort to torture bear no criminal responsibility. No one committed a felony. No one will be prosecuted.

Prosecutors, please use your customary logic when responding to the national outcry. Chiang Kuo-ching was innocent. The government took an innocent man, convicted him, and executed him. Do not talk about how one must pay for murder with one's life. Chiang was not even guilty of a felony. Don't you feel ashamed? Over the years, how often have such legal abuses dogged criminal cases? How often were indictments rooted in pure conjecture? What was this, if not the result of long years of officials covering for each other? Years ago these remarkably efficient conspirators, falsely convicted Chiang Kuo-ching and took his life. Today, these skilled conspirators have successfully evaded responsibility, and enabled major and minor criminals within the military hierarchy to get off scot-free. Does the prosecution have any conscience left to speak of?

Consider a second suspicion. Why wait until Hsu Jung-chou was indicted before admitting that Chiang Kuo-ching was wrongfully executed, and that the military used torture to extract a confession? One man was wrongfully executed. Do they really need to wait until another patsy is paraded before the public before admitting that fact? Did they intentionally delay their prosecution? Could the suspect currently under indictment be yet another patsy? Are they merely using him to avoid conducting a genuine investigation? Couldn't they have indicted Hsu Jung-chou long ago, given the evidence in his case file? Is what was false yesterday true today? Is what was true yesterday false today?

Consider a third suspicion. The last time the case was "solved," the crime was depicted as an outrage to heaven and earth. They sought the death penalty. This time however, they are not demanding the death penalty. Do they have a hidden agenda? Is it because Hsu deserves sympathy? Or is it because the evidence against him is weak? If the evidence is weak, they should not have indicted him in the first place. Random prosecution constitutes prosecutorial misconduct. Are they concerned that seeking the death penalty might highlight the military's wrongful execution of Chiang Kuo-ching? Are they aware that their current indictment may be perceived as absurd and ironic. Is that why they are demanding only a light sentence?

In short, the military personnel in this case may be charged only with misdemeanors. Prosecutors and police investigators may also be charged only with misdemeanors. The public sees that indictments for abuse of authority are merely for show. The only thing for real, is conspirators evading punishment. Ordinary citizens who commit crimes are presumed guilty. They are tortured to extract confessions. Military officials, prosecutors, and police who commit crimes, get off scot-free. Can the rule of law and justice still be found on Taiwan?

Now we understand. The Special Investigation Unit and the prosecutors will never be convicted for abuse of authority. But they know in their heart of hearts, that in many people's minds, they have already been found guilty of two crimes. One, they abused their authority by failing to indict. Two, they abused their authority by torturing Hsu Jung-chou. The logic is simple. Military officers who commit murder are not prosecuted. So why should Hsu Jung-chou be prosecuted?

2011-05-26 中國時報










Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Do First Time Voters Really Want?

What Do First Time Voters Really Want?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 25, 2011

The ruling and opposition presidential candidates are Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen. Both consider winning over first time voters essential to their election strategy. First time voters, as the name implies, are citizens who have just acquired the right to vote. This group of voters ranges from 20 to 24 in age, and comprise approximately 1.23 million people. It is large enough to decide the outcome of the election. More importantly, this group of young people, who will be going to the polls for the first time, have no strong political preferences or ideology. They are not burdened by historical grievances. In other words, they are true centrist voters. But do the two major parties really know what these young people want?

The two major political parties attach great importance to first time voters. They did not begin doing so this year. They began doing so when former president Chen Shui-bian was running for Mayor of Taipei. His campaign slogan, "dreams are beautiful, walk hand in hand with hope," was a classic case of youth oriented propaganda. Middle aged and older voters have experienced too many national and family tragedies. They have strong feelings about their experiences. In both the Blue and Green camps, they have fixed attitudes. The KMT has been in power a long time. It has gained the support of a large group of people who do not want too many political changes, They view changes in a nation's ruling party with concern, even anxiety. Enthusiastic young people who are relatively apathetic about politics running for elective office could change the political status quo.

Beginning with Chen Shui-bian, the DPP became more attractive to young people than the KMT. The DPP began making heavy use of young people. In both party positions and elective office, they gave young people more opportunities to advance themselves than the "old fogey" dominated KMT, The DPP subculture allows these young people to challenge the old fogies without guilt.

Chen Shui-bian's corruption dealt a major blow to the DPP. But for young people, the DPP's political rhetoric is still more appealing than the KMT's. Su Tseng-chang's party primary campaign literature quoted a first time voter in his own family, who said: I want a good job. I want to get married and have children. I want to be able to support my children. I do not want Taiwan to lose face.

Simply put, young people have a dream. But they are not overly ambitious. They know the pressures of real life. They do not want this pressure to crush their dreams. Su Tseng-chang cleverly invoked the language of these young people: I do not want Taiwan to lose face. But he avoided invoking the Democratic Progressive Party's long-held fears about sovereignty.

Most young people do not bother to distinguish between the "Republic of China" and "Taiwan." Taiwan is part of a sovereign and independent nation called the Republic of China. Young people do not want Taiwan to lose face. But they feel no particular attachment to Taiwan independence ideology. They cannot tolerate ruling and opposition party political leaders constantly treating national sovereignty as a political football. When the Democratic Progressive Party criticized the Ma administration for "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan," their reaction was: Boring! But although they might respond in this manner, it does not mean they are more inclined to vote for the KMT. Just as when they express hope that Taiwan will not lose face, it does not mean they will vote for the DPP.

Young people are more inclined to vote for the man himself than the party. What they value is a leader's approachability and ability to govern. When a current leader comes and goes, he needs hordes of bodyguards. This means he has limits to how approachable he can be with his constituents. He is even more hobbled when it comes to resolute governance. Taiwan's competitiveness jumped in the Lausanne International Institute for Management's latest report. But the government's efficiency rating fell. Even though this included the Legislative Yuan, and even though partisan politics exacts a cost, it is easy to oversimplify and say that the leader is not bold enough.

The incumbent must bear all sorts of burdens. He is subject to constant scrutiny. But when a challenger paints a picture of a better future, he must confront an important question. Can that better future he painted be achieved by means of his political platform? Many younger people have no party affiliation. They have no ideology. All they want is a genuine opportunity. All they want is a fighting chance. All they want is a more livable environment. They do not want Taiwan to become uninhabitable for their children. These are not problems to which debates over sovereignty or Closed Door cross-Strait policies can provide solutions.

Ma Ying-jeou has packaged his appeal to first time voters in the trappings of "generational justice." He says that sustainable development has three requirements: national rights (sovereignty), human rights, and environmental rights. He says this generation must consider the well-being of the next. Ma Ying-jeou has offered a blueprint for the future. But this world is not a utopia. One can reduce the gap between rich and poor, but one cannot make it disappear. One can establish a social safety net for widows and the orphans. But someone will always slip through the holes. One can reduce the unemployment rate. But one cannot reduce it to zero. One can ensure fair access to education. But one cannot change the fact that under a capitalist society some will inevitably be more competitive than others. One can provide everyone with a home. But one cannot ensure that everyone lives in luxury. One can be environmentally friendly. But one must also find alternative employment through industrial restructuring. Otherwise, sustainable development will become empty talk.

One never stops pursuing dreams. Younger people are never content with the status quo. This means they have more room to grow. This provides the impetus for national progress. This is the vision upon which ruling and opposition political leaders must draw. They must accept the criticism leveled against them by young people. More importantly, they must reclaim the passion that once led them to pursue their ideals.

2011-05-25 中國時報











Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Is the International Institute for Management Telling Us?

What Is the International Institute for Management Telling Us?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 22, 2011

The Swiss International Institute for Management (IMD) has published its 2011 World Competitiveness Report. The ROC's ranking increased from 8th place last year to 6th place this year. This is the highest ranking the ROC has ever achieved. The report does not necessarily reflect a nation's ultimate economic competitiveness. Nevertheless the report enables us to see the ROC's problems. For example, the United States was ranked number one. But its economic recovery is still in the doldrums. Its unemployment rate is still over 9%. The PRC ranked 19th. But its economic growth remains strong.

The competitiveness report is divided into four major categories, using four indices. Each index is subdivided into even finer indices. The first index is economic performance. In this, the ROC rose from 16th place to 8th place. The second is governmental effectiveness. In this, the ROC fell from 6th place to 10th place. The third index is business performance. In this, the ROC remained in 3rd place. Finally, there is infrastructure. In this, the ROC rose slightly, from 17th place to 16th place. Based on these numbers, Overall, the ROC rose from 8th place to 6th place, mainly because its eye-catching economic performance. Had the government not imposed a drag on its performance, it would have improved even more.

The IMD uses different methods of scoring. These include so-called "hard targets" (statistics). Much of the score is derived from questionnaires filled out by high-level corporate managers. Most are from large companies engaged in international trade. These include foreign multinationals. Some of the questionnaires may be somewhat subjective. But they also provide concrete data that cannot be obtained any other way. Consider the part relating to government efficiency, The scores on the questionnaires were higher than the numerical scores. They were just the opposite of the "economic performance" scores.

Taiwan has long scored poorly on governmental efficiency, usually below the top 20. In 2004 and 2005, it ranked 18th. In 2006 it fell to 23rd place. In 2008, it ranked 16th. In 2009, it fell to 18th place. Strangely enough, in 2010 it lept to 6th place. This year it it fell from 6th place to 10th place, the second highest ranking of all time. The media and the opposition DPP have made a great deal of this. The DPP has lambasted the ruling KMT as the embodiment of both incompetence and of evil. But it has scant justification for doing so. After all, when the DPP was in power, the government also ranked below the top 20 in efficiency. What right does it have to make such irresponsible remarks now?

Nevertheless a decline is a decline. If one's ranking falls, one must undergo a review process. Officials who imposed controls on oil prices complain that they were penalized for siding with the common man. This is not necessarily the case. Consider the many secondary indicators of governmental efficiency. The government has long underperformed fiscally. This time, its performance was even worse. This may have been due in part to the financial tsunami and tax cuts to enhance competitiveness. But the biggest factor was the impact of public shares on business activity. Here, the ROC fell from 12th place to 35th place. Consider bureaucratic meddling in business activities. Here, the ROC fell from 8th place to 20th place. These indicate a real pattern.

Many government agencies have gradually withdrawn from quasi-public enterprises. But some legislators and journalists have made populist demands, encouraging the government to "get tough." Government agencies responded by once again asserting themselves through publicly owned shares. The governments has increased its ownership in these businesses through state-owned enterprises and government funds. It has meddled in the affairs of company boards. It has even engaged in struggles for control, as if it was merely another competitor in the free market. It has violated the clear promises it made concerning public offerings. This is how the government influences business activities through public shares.

The FSC and the National Communications Commission (NCC) are charged with overseeing certain industries. Typically these agencies care nothing about ensuring profitability. They care only about fighting corruption. While overseeing these industries, these agencies have meddled inappropriately. They have gone overboard in meting out punishment. They have dragged their feet when reviewing corporate mergers and acquisitions. First instance reviews take almost a year. That means lost opportunities. While overseeing investments on the Mainland, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has been too slow to liberalize. Its review process is even slower. It is virtually strangling businesses. To characterize it as as "hobbling businesses bureaucratically" is no exaggeration.

Regarding environmental protection projects, such as renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy density, and addressing climate change, the government's response has been inadequate. The government should practice greater fiscal discipline. It should reduce bureaucratic meddling in business activities. It should liberalize the laws. It should avoid the path of "anti-privatization" and "officials enter, citizens exit." On environmental protection, it should implement energy conservation and carbon reduction, as soon as possible, It should not substitute sloganeering for reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.

The ROC ranked third in industry performance, and third in manufacturing unit labor costs. On the plus side of the ledger, it has high labor productivity. On the minus side of the ledger, lower wage costs mean workers on Taiwan are "cheap" and offer "high value for money." The ROC's s overall economic picture is first rate. But the public does not feel it. That is why it does not feel the recovery.

We need not treat this report on competitiveness as if it were the Holy Bible. But the two sides have benefited from the cross-Strait thaw and ECFA. These have enabled the ROC to make the greatest improvements in its ranking ever. We still have reason to rejoice. The public and government both deserve praise. The report includes negative assessments. But it also provides us with important information. Does the government have the eyes to see? Does it have the courage to respond?

2011-05-22 中國時報











Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nominations Should Stress Professionalism, Not Political Rewards

Nominations Should Stress Professionalism, Not Political Rewards
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 21, 2011

Election season is upon us. The ruling and opposition parties are each holding their legislative primaries. Several veteran legislators have lost their bid for re-election. This has been the case for both major parties. Changes to the electoral system may have affected the election results. Public sentiments may also have changed. A new generation of voters is replacing the old. The two major parties are about to announce their nominees for the upcoming legislative election. It is time to consider what is missing in the ROC Legislative Yuan. It is time to consider how the mechanism by which political parties nominate legislators without portfolio can be changed and improved.

The Legislative Yuan is the primary battlefield for to partisan political struggles. It is a political body whose primary concern is political maneuveuring. But the main function of the Legislative Yuan, as its name implies, should be to legislate. The authoring of laws is not merely a political activity. It is also a professional activity. In the past, fisticuffs often broke out in the legislature. It was not a place where one could engage in rational political discourse. The impression it left on the public was negative. In recent years, there have been fewer fisticufss. But has political discourse become more professional as a consequence? Not really.

The Legislative Yuan deals with two kinds of legislation. The first is legislation which closely affects a party's political fortunes. Such legislation is highly political in nature. Absent negotiations, they are likely to meet resistance. If they are passed without negotiations, they are likely to lead to major mobilization and conflict. It is a case of politics above all else. The second type is legislation not political in nature, but whose authorship requires a high degree of professionalism. Such legislation requires professionalism far more than political correctness. Such legislation vastly outnumbers highly political legislation. If such legislation receives inadequate attention from legislators, the laws will be poorly written.

Some people think that if legislation requires professional authorship, it can be written by the executive branch. They say legislators have too many other matters to attend to. They may actually detract from the process. This argument does not hold water. But it does highlight the problem. Some people think too much participation by legislators undermines the quality of legislation. They question the professionalism of legislators. They feel that the executive branch ought to determine the content of bills to be passed by the legislature. This affirms the professionalism of the executive branch. But it ignores the importance of legislative checks and balances on the executive branch. The Legislative Yuan is not supposed to be a rubber stamp. If lawmakers lack legislative expertise, this is a problem that must be addressed, and not bypassed.

A while back, a referee caused an uproar by sexually molesting several young children. Many blamed the justice system. In fact, when the criminal codes were amended, the sexual molestation of young children was divided into two categories: forcible, and non-forcible. This forced the courts to determine whether young children were subject to force during sexual molestation. This reflected a defect in the law. This was a law that was non-political in nature. A lack of professionalism within the Legislative Yuan led to a defective law and serious consequences.

After taking office, President Ma promoted two domestic laws patterned after the UN Human Rights Convention. The plan to adopt two provisions of the convention and make them domestic law was well-intentioned. But the law includes at least three defects. These defects reveal the lack of professionalism within the legislative process. First, the two provisions of the UN Convention on Human Rights, involve certain objective preconditions. The authors of the laws lept before they looked. They failed to discriminate. Their rush to transform the two conventions into domestic law was clearly premature. Secondly, they passed the laws, but they failed to include the two conventions as an attachment. They passed the wrong portion of the Chinese language edition of the two conventions. Transposing them and reusing them led to confusion. Such a mistake was unprecedented. Thirdly, two years after their passage, they will be in contravention of domestic law, and will have to be totally amended. The laws will expire in December of this year. The Legislative elections are just around the corner. Hundreds of laws must be amended within by then. [ 縱不跳票? ] Rash package votes are clearly at odds with proper procedure. These laws were legal landmarks. If even they were handled so shoddily, one can imagine how poorly written other laws must be.

The laws passed by the Legislative Yuan cannot withstand close scrutiny. This was the direct result of a lack of legal professionals. This is not a matter legal aides from the Legislative Yuan Legal Bureau can handle. The Legislative Yuan has over one hundred legislators. Only a handful know the law. In Western countries, legislators hark from the legal profession. They account for a majority of the members of their parliaments. In earlier days, DPP legislators were mostly lawyers. Today they have no knowledge of the law, but fill the legislature. The number of KMT legislators who have no knowledge of the law is even more appalling. The Legislative Yuan passes criminal and civil laws that affect people's lives. This requires a high degree of professionalism. But legislators lack talent they can rely on. This is deeply worrisome. The legislator without portfolio seats within the Legislative Yuan are supposed to be for professionals of special ability. But the ruling and opposition parties have chosen to use these seats as rewards for political cronies. The Legislative Yuan is now filled with partisan pit bulls, but few professional legislators. If the quality of the legislation falls short, who is to blame?

The time to nominate legislators has come. Can the two parties nominate candidates with an eye on improving the quality of legislation?

不分區提名 重法律專業勿政治分贓
2011-05-21 中國時報


不可諱言,立法院是政黨政策角力折衝的關鍵所在,是個高度講究政治運作的機關。不過,立法院的主要功能,從其名稱可知道,是立法。法律的制訂,不僅僅是政治性活動,同時也是專業性活動。過去立法院經常打架,不是個理性問政的地方,予人的印象極差,最近數年,打架少了,但是理性問政的專業程度有增加嗎 ?恐怕不會得到太高的評價。







Friday, May 20, 2011

Love For Taiwan is not the Exclusive Franchise of Any Minority or Any Political Party

Love For Taiwan is not the Exclusive Franchise of Any Minority or Any Political Party
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 20, 2011

Three years ago, President Ma Ying-jeou delivered his inaugural address. People across the nation witnessed a second change in ruling parties in the Republic of China. Three years later, President Ma Ying-jeou walked out onto Ketegelan Boulevard and met with the press. Ma Ying-jeou's action underscored how much importance he attached to his words. Needless to say, it also underscored how much he wants to be re-elected six months from now.

During the press conference, President Ma proposed that Tainan Airport become the ninth airport to offer cross-strait direct flights. He underscored the need for "generational justice," Young people, he said, are the future of Taiwan. He stressed that "Love for Taiwan" was not the exclusive franchise of any minority or any particular political party. Experience has shown that a Closed Door Policy leads to national decline. Only opening a nation up can bring prosperity, can lay a foundation for the next generation. Only that exemplifies genuine "love for Taiwan."

This is what we have long maintained. We call on ruling and opposition politicians to refrain from divisive political language. We ask them not to hurt the feelings of the majority on Taiwan, merely for electoral advantage. Everyone on Taiwan loves Taiwan. Taiwan is our home. It is where we have chosen to settle. Our achievements and the welfare of the next generation, all depend upon prosperity and growth on Taiwan.

Recall the situation before the second change in ruling parties. The Republic of China had fallen victim to wholesale corruption, perpetrated by its own head of state, Eight years of scorched earth diplomacy had reduced diplomatic support for the ROC to a new low. The economy was in stagnation. Ma Ying-jeou was elected by a landslide. This reflected public demand for clean politics, economic liberalization, social harmony, and cross-Strait peace.

Over the past three years, the Ma administration has been buffeted by one wave after another. The global financial tsunami, the recession, and Typhoon Morakot severely traumatized the Liu cabinet. This was followed in quick succession by the H1N1 Influenza epidemic, which left the administration gasping for air. Amidst these difficulties, the Ma administration promoted cross-Strait direct links full force. It opened Taiwan to tourists from the Mainland. It brought the two sides closer to each other than they have ever been. It eased the harm done by the financial tsunami. It signed the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), writing a new page in cross-Strait economic and trade cooperation. It gained the ROC increased international space. The Ma administration gained the ROC observer status at the WHO, under the name "Chinese Taipei." It succeeded magnificently in gaining visa-free status for ROC passport holders, with 114 countries. These achievements are not something the DPP can dismiss merely by accusing the Ma administration of "pandering to [Mainland] China,"

In March, the Executive Yuan Research, Development and Evaluation Commission conducted a study. President Ma had over 400 planks in his election platform. They included "completed" and "under implementation with phased results." Ma fulfilled 90% of his election promises. These promises include National Pensions, Labor Pensions, the five cities restructuring, government reorganization, taxes for civil service employees and teachers, and the luxury tax. Every one of these was discussed endlessly by previous administrations, but all to no effect.

Yet all these achievements have failed to ensure President Ma Ying-jeou's popularity, which has fallen precipitously since he was first elected. A string of large and small by-elections have been held over the past three years, in which the ruling KMT endured repeated defeats. Taiwan emerged from the financial tsunami. According to the Lausanne Institute of Management, Taiwan's global competitiveness rating lept to number six. Yet most members of the public insist they have experienced no recovery. Why not?

Consider cross-Strait diplomacy. The ROC is in a difficult situation internationally. The Ma administration has made the best of a bad situation. It should not worry about the opposition party criticizing it for "surrending its sovereignty to Mainland China." On the contrary, the Ma administration should ask itself whether it is too tentative in its promotion of cross-Strait exchanges. Is it more concerned with formal agreements than with substantive progress? For example, Mainland investments on Taiwan are subject to strict controls. Mainland students studying on Taiwan are subject to all sorts of limitations. Even students from Taiwan studying on Mainland China, cannot obtain military service deferments.

Consider domestic policy. To the opposition party, the five cities restructuring, may have seemed like a farce. The five cities are still in the middle of break in period. The Executive Yuan will be reorganized early next year. How will the various ministries be reorganized? Everyone is worried. Second-generation health insurance has finally passed. But a high price was paid. The Director of Health was forced to resign. Ma ended the controversy over the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical controversy. But no one praised the president for his resolve. Even President Ma's nomination of important officials aroused major storms.

All sorts of major policies were pushed through. Yet criticisms outnumber praise. The reason why is not complicated. First, the government agencies concerned failed to make comprehensive plans. Second, even when they made comprehensive plans, they lacked confidence. They did not persevere, They compromised, and debased their accomplishments. Third, government officials lacked the ability and courage to defend their policies. Fourth, the President is still accustomed to inner circle decision-making. Before launching policy, he failed to solicit the views of the public. Only when disputes arose, did he rush to put out the fires.

President Ma is a rare bird -- an honest political leader. He is decent. He is not weak. Still less is he incompetent. He has a clear vision of the direction the nation ought to take. He must not be afraid to implement that vision. He must not allow himself to become mired in details and lose his focus. The ROC is a democratic society. For 35% of the public to oppose you is normal. Solicit a wide range of opinions before making a decision, But in the end, arrive at your own decision. Make your administration work as a team. This is the least we can expect from a leader. President Ma: Have confidence. Be a leader.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2011.05.20












Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will President Ma Be Re-Elected?

Will President Ma Be Re-Elected?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 19, 2011

Tomorrow is May 20, the third anniversary of Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration. On January 14 of next year, we will hold the next presidential election. Almost all the polls show President Ma having a difficult time getting reelected. Will this be his last year in office?

In 2008, Ma Ying-jeou won the presidential election, He won mainly because voters gave him two mandates. One, to clean up political corruption, and two, to change cross-Strait policy. Over the past three years, President Ma has fulfilled both these mandates. He has fulfilled the voters' demands. And yet his bid for re-election remains troubled.

Consider political corruption. Chen era scandals such as the high-speed railway scandal, the Longtan Land Acquistion scandal, thje Nangang Exhibition Hall scandal, the justice system collusion scandals, the PNG scandal, the Taiwan Goals scandal, and other bizarre scandals are all things of the past. The Ma administration's troubles are confined to legislative election vote-buying, and few central or local government officials implicated in corruption cases. Over the past three years, President Ma's own conduct has been exemplary. The most earth-shaking "scandal," within the KMT was the Flora Expo "water spinach scandal." This shows how dramatically different the current administration is from the Chen administration.

Consider cross-Strait policy. Twenty years of folly under Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian left cross-Strait relations in shambles. For the past three years, the Ma administration has moved cross-Strait relations toward peaceful development and win/win coopetition. It has been a daunting taks, akin to turning the world on its axis, or akin to reviving the dead. The Chen regime's moves toward Taiwan independence brought the two sides to the brink of war. They turned Taipei and Washington into enemies. They turned Taipei into an international "troublemaker." Moves toward Taiwan independence created social divisions and widespread suffering. The Ma administration seized this historical opportunity. It upheld the principles such as the 1992 Consensus, "One China, Different Interpretations," "No Unification, No Independence, No Use of Force," "no recognition of each other's sovereignty, no repudiation of each other's authority," and "putting Taiwan first, benefitting the people." It allowed direct cross-Strait flights, and Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan. It promoted a diplomatic truce, signed 15 bilateral agreements, including ECFA. Cross-strait relations moved from hatred to peaceful development and win/win symbiosis. William Stanton, Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, described cross-Strait relations today as a "Godsend," as a "success story."

President Ma has these two major achievements to his credit. So why is his bid for re-election still in so much trouble? There are two reasons. One, over the past three years, he has been unable to win the hearts and minds of Green Camp voters. Two, he has lost the once passionate support of Blue Camp voters.

Three years ago, Tsai Ing-wen promised to "lead the DPP into the post-Chen Shui-bian era." Her promise won her the DPP chairmanship. Today however, she is working hand in glove with Chen Shui-bian, Lee Teng-hui, Frank Hsieh, Koo Kuan-min, and other Taiwan independence elements. She refuses to apologize for DPP corruption. She refuses to promise not to pardon Chen Shui-bian. She refuses to retreat on Taiwan independence. Yet her momentum far exceeds Ma Ying-jeou's. In 2004, 50.11% of the voters supported the DPP and Chen Shui-bian. In 2008, 42% of the voters supported the DPP and Frank Hsieh. Today, they apparently have even more reason to support the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen. Ma Ying-jeou cleaned up corruption, and turned cross-Strait relations around. But this means nothing to the 42% of the voters in the Green Camp. They will never vote for Ma Ying-jeou. They need no reason. Nor can they offer one.

Over the past three years, President Ma has lost his once enthusiastic supporters. This is another crisis in the way of his re-election. Three years ago, 58% of the voters threw their support behind a law-abiding, honest, self-disciplined presidential candidate who disdained populist demagoguery and Machievellian trickery. But once Ma Ying-jeou became president, those same personality traits took on the opposite meaning. He was perceived as dull, conservative, hidebound, indecisive, even weak and incompetent. What accounts for this discrepancy? Some blame President Ma's poor judgment, for example, during the recent Grand Justices nomination. Some blame the public for harboring unrealistic expectations, blaming him for the long delays in the Chen corruption trials. But one point is a constant. The public apparently prefers politicians with flash, even ones who flip-flop endlessly. They tire easily with those who are straight-laced and who lack charisma. They may feel alienated from them, even contemptuous of them. Ma Ying-jeou is unable to hold on to his supporters, for whatever the reasons may be. Hardliners dislike Ma Ying-jeou because he is wishy-washy. First time voters consider him less "fresh" than Tsai Ing-wen. No matter how solid Ma Ying-jeou might be, he cannot withstand this steady erosion. His supporters have lost their enthusiasm, and Ma Ying-jeou's re-election campaign lacks momentum.

President Ma is the incumbent. But he enjoys an advantage only because he is honest and trustworthy, and because his cross-Strait policy has provided everyone, at home and abroad, with a peace dividend. The Green Camp advocates Taiwan independence and refuses to recognize the Republic of China. It sees the peace dividend as a quid pro quo for "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." President Ma's cross-Strait policy has not changed Green Camp political allegiances. Meanwhile, President Ma's honesty and trustworthiness have been devalued by negative impressions of Ma as a "teflon" politician, as someone who shrinks from the front lines, as an irresolute panderer, who is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, as someone who is always "a day late and a dollar short," and even "incompetent." These negative impressions have alienated former supporters. In other words, the Green Camp remains hostile to Ma Ying-jeou. The Blue Camp is disappointed with Ma Ying-jeou because he comes across as sluggish to the point of obtuseness. This is why Ma Ying-jeou's re-election bid is in trouble.

But President Ma's accomplishments over the past three years, go far beyond the presidential election. He has taken cross-Strait relations past the point of no return. Even if he fails to win re-election, his successor will have to follow in Ma's footsteps. The more his successor refuses to follow in Ma's footsteps, the more disastrous the consequences will be. President Ma is relatively bland, in both style and substance. He is not the kind to provoke an internal crisis by demanding the "rectification of names," or proclaiming that the "Pacific Ocean has no lid." He is not the kind to provoke an international crisis that tars Taipei as a "trouble maker," or to embark on a "lost voyage." His personal style is one of self-restraint. He is not one to stir up trouble. He is not one to use people as political tools. He may come across as dull. But he is a national leader who has avoided tearing his nation apart, who has maintained cross-Strait and international peace. If President Ma fails to win re-election, his successor must win the trust of the public, of Beijing, and of the international community. Otherwise the Big Picture will not remain secure.

Over the past three years, President Ma has completed what President Chiang Ching-kuo set out to do 23 years ago, when he lifted martial law and liberalized the political system. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian linked our democratic institutions to Taiwan independence. They made them part of a hostile cross-Strait power struggle. Ma linked our democratic institutions to cross-Strait peace. He liberated us from Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian's negative legacy.

As matters stand, President Ma might not win re-election. But if Ma's successor departs from his cross-strait policy, and fails to inspire the same trust at home, across the Strait, and around the world, it will be impossible to promote the security of the nation.

In conclusion, President Ma's leadership over the past three years may be riddled with controversy. It may contain defects. It may have failed to fulfill its potential. But its overall political direction is correct, and it is morally unassailable. Even if Ma fails to win a second term, its achievements have already transcended the presidential elections. Any future president will find them difficult to surpass.

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.05.19













Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Diplomacy Should Not Distinguish Between Blue and Green

Diplomacy Should Not Distinguish Between Blue and Green
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 18, 2011

During the DPP presidential primaries, former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang reiterated that "[The ROC government on] Taiwan is in no danger of losing its sovereignty. Taiwan is in no danger of being reunified." Hsu raised 5 million NT so that he could enter the presidential primaries and speak his mind. Unfortunately, the primaries were soon over, and the 5 million NT fee was all for naught. No one within the party paid any attention to him. Even Tsai Ing-wen, who prides herself on being moderate and rational, has persisted in scare-mongering over the issue of sovereignty, as her primary strategy in her quest for the presidency. The DPP has lambasted the Ma administration. It has accused it of "forfeiting its sovereignty and humiliating the nation." But the DPP could hardly evade the embarrassing reality. During its eight years in power, the DPP attended WHO meetings no less than 18 times under the name "Taiwan, China."

The ROC government is in a difficult situation internationally. At home and abroad, the election has precipitated intense Blue vs. Green conflict. But diplomacy ought to be above Blue and Green. The ROC government fought many years to obtain WHO observer status. This status ought to be cherished. It makes no sense to sacrifice the national interest for the sake of the presidential election.

The simple fact is that ever since United Nations Resolution 275 expelled the Republic of China from the UN, 40 years ago, all United Nations organizations have viewed us as a province of [the Peoples Republic of] China. This is the international reality everyone on Taiwan must face. It is the reason we were unable to participate in WHO activities for so many years. Only when the Ma administration adopted the "Zhong Hua Tai Bei" (Chinese Taipei) nomenclature that we were granted observer status. Only then could the ROC government communicate with other nations regarding outbreaks under International Health Regulations (IHR). Also, our representatives to APEC have been accorded the highest status ever in recent years. ROC citizens have now been accorded visa free treatment by 113 nations. These diplomatic breakthroughs and this progress cannot be denied.

The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. During that time, its scorched earth diplomacy led to a conflagration. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was rendered impotent. Allies defected. The number of nations befriending us dropped from 29 to 23. Repeated protests lodged with the WHO failed to gain us admission. Between 2004 and 2007, the ruling DPP knew it lacked the required votes. Yet it insisted on forcing a vote in the WHO. In the end, the votes were not there. The public was let down. Something the DPP could not achieve, the Ma administration succeed in achieving. We have a question for the DPP. If you return to power, do you intend to relinquish our "Chinese Taipei" observer status at the WHO?

In 2005, the WHO agreed to allow the ROC government to participate in the activities of peripheral WHO organizations. That year, the WHO and the PRC authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding. They defined Taiwan as a province of [the Peoples Republic of] China. The ruling DPP lodged a verbal protest. But nothing changed. In the end, who was humiliated? Others may not understand the situation. But Tsai Ing-wen was vice premier. She knew what happened.

When Lee Teng-hui was in office, Tsai Ing-wen requisitioned 2.62 million NT from the National Security Council, for the "816 Project Study." The study concluded that if the Republic of China government hoped to reconnect with the international community, it would have to admit that "Zhong Hua Tai Bei (Chinese Taipei) was an international reality, and the best way [for the ROC government to participate in international activities.]" The Ma administration has merely implemented the recommendations of the study commissioned by Tsai Ing-wen. How exactly has it "forfeited its sovereignty and humiliated the nation?"

The DPP argued that when participating in international activities, it is best to use the term "Taiwan." If that is impossible, "Chinese Taipei" is an acceptable compromise. The DPP accused the Ma administration of accepting the term, "Taiwan, Province of China," The DPP claimed it would never do that. But we have to ask the DPP, when did the Ma administration ever accept the term, "Taiwan, Province of China?" Didn't the Ma administration attend the WHO under the name "Chinese Taipei?" Didn't the Ma administration lodge a stern protest with the WHO? The DPP has it backwards. When the DPP was in power, it attended 18 meetings under the name "China, Taiwan." Did the DPP government accept the idea that Taiwan is a province of [the Peoples Republic of] China?

The Democratic Progressive Party argues that our name is not the problem, that what's important is our identity. Under the Olympic model, it argues, we have full membership. Under the WHO General Assembly however, we do not. The DPP argues that "This is quite different from our so-called diplomatic breakthrough," True. Everyone in the country wants full formal membership. But the DPP was in office for eight years. It was unable to win observer status for us. What right does it have to make such irresponsible accusations today?

The Ma administration has been in office three years. People may hold different views about its performance. But it has made important diplomatic breakthroughs, and outstanding progress in cross-Strait relations. The DPP is challenging the Ma administration's diplomatic achievements. But in doing so, it has merely reminded the public about the DPP's scorched earth diplomacy, and the painful memories of its eight year reign.

Tsai Ing-wen is Chairman of the DPP. She was once Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, and Vice Premier of the Executive Yuan. Tsai Ing-wen prides herself on being a representative of moderation and rationality. If so, then her deeds must match her words. She may not contradict herself. Tsai Ing-wen is a presidential candidate whom many have pinned their hopes on. We must remind Tsai Ing-wen that she may not repeatedly say one thing while doing another. Tsai Ing-wen blasted the 18% preferential interest rate for civil service employees. But all the while, she herself was benefitting from it. When this was made public, she said she was renouncing it. But soon afterwards she made the baffling declaration that she would no longer turn her 18% over to charity. The most recent reports say that she is continuing to receive the 18% interest payments. Tsai Ing-wen recently expressed opposition to the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Plant project. But she once phoned members of the environmental impact assessment committee, demanding that phase three of the Taichung Science Park be swiftly approved. Does anyone dare entrust the affairs of state to a political leader whose words so flagrantly contradict her deeds?

拚外交 不應該分藍綠
2011-05-18 中國時報



事實上,自從聯合國二七五八號決議文,將中華民國排出聯合國後,四十年來聯合國組織就認為我為中國的一省。這是台灣不能不面對的國際現實,也因此導致我國長期無法參與世衛組織。直到馬政府才得以「中華台北(Chinese Taipei)」名稱,以國家級觀察員身分與會,台灣並已能與國際衛生條例(IHR)相關國家進行疫情聯繫;此外,參與APEC的代表層級也是歷年來最高,還有一百一十三國免簽證。這些外交突破和進展,不是任何人能予以否定。



更何況,早在李登輝執政時期,蔡英文就向國安會請款二百六十二萬元,進行「八一六專案」研究,其研究報告的結論直指,中華民國要走出國際,「中華台北(Chinese Taipei)是國際現實下,台灣最好的途徑與方法。」馬政府落實執行她曾經研究的結論,有何喪權辱國可言?





Monday, May 16, 2011

The Perng Phenomenon and DPP Political Calculations

The Perng Phenomenon and DPP Political Calculations
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 16, 2011

Like his counterparts in most other democratic nations, the Republic of China Central Bank President enjoys considerable autonomy. Perng Fai-nan has fulfilled his role especially well. He is well thought of, both at home and abroad. He has successfully risen above partisanship. This is not an easy feat on Taiwan. As a result, Perng Fai-nan's late night meeting with Tsai Ing-wen provoked an uproar. It reflects the tensions behind the 2012 presidential election. It also reflects Blue vs. Green opposition on Taiwan. Public figures who can be classified as neutral, are few and far between.

Tsai Ing-wen deliberately downplayed the significance of the secret Tsai/Perng meeting. She stressed that Perng Fai-nan was a respected financial expert. He is "public property." Anyone, from either the ruling or opposition parties, has the right and even duty to seek help from him in solving Taiwan's fiscal woes. What she said is true. But the timing was just too sensitive. The ruling and opposition parties have just confirmed their presidential nominees. The candidates are about to choose their running mates. A late night meeting between Tsai and Perng at this moment will naturally arouse suspicions. In fact, Perng Fai-nan knew the timing was sensitive. He knew the location was sensitive. That is why he initially issued a denial to curious reporters.

The "Tsai/Perng Meeting" is being seen as evidence of a "Tsai/Perng ticket," primarily because of the DPP. Is the DPP seeking a running mate from outside the party?

First of all, the party does need internal restructuring. In theory, if Tsai Ing-wen chooses a running mate about as popular as her, such as rival Su Tseng-chang, that would make for the strongest possible ticket. But relations between Tsai and Su are chilly. Worse, the DPP presidential primary was virtually a showdown between pro-Su and anti-Su elements. Tsai Ing-wen might be willing to set aside her personal feelings and designate Su her running mate, But such a decision would lead to dissatisfaction among party members opposed to Su. On the other hand, if she chose election expert Frank Hsieh, she would provoke a backlash among pro-Su forces. No matter which force prevails, the result would be detrimental to the DPP's election prospects.

Su and Hsieh are party elders. Neither Su nor Hsieh as running mate would preserve the balance of power. Tsai Ing-wen cannot find a middle-aged running mate within the party. Because this person would be perceived as Tsai's successor. This would upset the balance of power among DPP factions. It would provoke a backlash. Tsai Ing-wen has yet to fully consolidate her power within the party. The choice of a middle-aged running mate would run the risk of provoking a power struggle.

In order to preserve the balance of power within the party, Tsai Ing-wen's best option is a running mate from outside the party. In fact, as soon as the DPP made her the party nominee, party leaders immediately began setting conditions. They insisted that Tsai Ing-wen choose a running mate from outside the party, from the financial sector. Another important factor of course, is the DPP's desire to expand its voter base.

Over the past two years, the DPP has gained the upper hand. It won the three in one county and municipal elections, the legislative by-elections, and the five cities elections. But the main reason it won, was that Pan Blue voters stayed home in droves. Green Camp voters remained solid. They participated enthusiastically. During last year's five cities elections, the turnout was as high as 70%. But the DPP, which attempted to appeal to swing voters, still fell short in Greater Taipei. The turnout rate during the presidential election could be as high as 80%. Hsu Hsin-liang referred to these voters, comprising 10% of the total, as "economic voters." They are centrist oriented, and are the key to the presidential election.

How can the DPP attract these swing or independent voters? Political parties do not provide policy. They provide human capital. Fiscal policy was never one of the the DPP's strong suits. In recent years, ideology has led to even greater rigidity. This has created the perception that the DPP "cares only about ideology, not about economics." The DPP has long been proficient in law and politics. It has long been lacking in financial experise. That is why the first time the DPP assumed power, it was forced to retain the services of KMT financial experts. Either that, or look to the business community. The DPP's current situation is not much better than it was back then.

Under the circumstances, Perng is indeed the best vice presidential candidate for the DPP. This is not the first time Perng's name has been mentioned. During the DPP era, Lee Teng-hui wanted Perng as his premier. When Frank Hsieh was running for president, he wanted Perng as his running mate. The Green Camp was not alone. When Ma Ying-jeou was casting about for a running mate, Perng's name came up. Perng Fai-nan has also been considered as a potential Blue Camp candidate.

How can one explain this "Perng Phenomenon?" When he was central bank president, he was professional, honest, and reliable. He enabled Taiwan to survive the financial crisis, and several exchange rate fluctuations. The public trusts him implicitly. No wonder his approval rating has remained the highest in the Ma administration.

More importantly, the Republic of China is a nation of political extremes, with a giant hole at the center. Any centrist force hoping to become involved in politics may mean well. It may start off with enthusiasm, but will inevitably resign in defeat. The best example of course is Lee Yuan-tse. Once he got caught up in the political maelstrom, even his halo as a Nobel laureate and president of the Academia Sinica could not save him from being perceived as a member of the Green Camp. Lee began to lose his appeal to other parties, his authority, and his credibility.

People with a sense of mission cannot of course worry constantly about being slandered or ridiculed. They must not be afraid to take a stand or to enter politics. The important thing is whether they consider it worthwhile. The answer is clear, the DPP needs Perng far more than Perng needs the DPP. After all, the vice president is merely a potential successor to the president. He is of far less importance than the central bank president. If Perng eventually retires and leaves his post as central bank president, he must ask himself whether as DPP vice presidential candidate he would really be able to change the Democratic Progressive Party's fundamental character?

2011-05-16 中國時報













Friday, May 13, 2011

Can Tsai Ing-wen Free Herself from the Macao Model?

Can Tsai Ing-wen Free Herself from the Macao Model?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 13, 2011

Over the past two years, the DPP has failed to offer any new cross-Strait arguments. The DPP has been willing to say only that it does not recognize the 1992 Consensus. Former DPP Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu recently visited the United States. During his visit, he suggested the "Macao model" as a substitute for the 1992 Consensus. By doing so, Wu unwittingly showed the Democratic Progressive Party's hand. He unwittingly showed that if the DPP returns to power, cross-Strait relations may well suffer an across the board setback. He showed that the DPP was desperate, and had nothing to offer.

Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly lambasted the Ma administration for "pandering to [Mainland] China," and "failure to assert sovereignty." But what has the DPP done? What is its position on the status of Taipei and Beijing? Under Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP leadership has done everything possible to dodge the issue. Shortly after Tsai Ing-wen declared her candidacy, she trotted out her mantra, "peace but with differences, peace and the search for common ground." This mantra is extremely vague. It bears no resemblance to practical policy. It also leaves far too much room for interpretation by the two sides.

It was not until the DPP presidential primary, when Hsu Hsing-liang forked out 5 million NT to enter the presidential race and participate in the presidential debates, that the DPP was free to openly discuss cross-Strait policy. Hsu challenged Tsai Ing-wen. He said that ECFA was a bilateral agreement whose tariff conditions benefitted Taiwan one-sidedly. Yet Tsai Ing-wen wanted to appeal ECFA to the WTO. This might invalidate ECFA. More importantly, Hsu Hsin-liang challenged Tsai Ing-wen over bilateral direct links and trade agreements. These were possible only because the Ma administration recognized the 1992 Consensus. If the DPP returns to power and refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges could be completely disrupted. What contingency plans does the DPP have, in the event this happens?

During the primary debates, Tsai Ing-wen never gave Hsu Hsin-liang a direct answer. Instead she waited until the DPP presidential nomination was announced. She then told the media that cross-Strait relations should look to the future. If the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power in 2012, she promised, it would maintain an open and pragmatic approach to cross-Strait exchanges. Cross-Strait exchanges would be based on a "shared and sustainable basis. "

Her statement was extremely vague. The DPP candidate has already been announced. Yet Tsai Ing-wen remains reluctant to discuss cross-Strait policy. That is why Joseph Wu's mention of the Macau model aroused so much public concern. Joseph Wu said that if the DPP returned to power, ECFA and other cross-Strait agreements would not be overturned, but that the DPP would not accept the 1992 Consensus. Wu said that if Beijing broke off talks between the SEF and ARATS, the two sides would fall back on the Macau model of "industry to industry" and "organization to organization" communications during the Chen era.

The Macao model had its origins in the DPP era. Cross-Strait communications had been disrupted. Therefore in 2005, Spring Festival charter flights for Taiwan businessmen were negotiated by means of private sector consultations. DPP officials were overjoyed with this model. But the Macao model is hardly ideal for cross-Strait exchanges. Negotiations for the Spring Festival charter flights for Taiwan businessmen were conducted on the Mainland side by Civil Aviation Administration officials, and on our side by a representative of the Taipei Airlines Association. Our side was deprived of governmental status. Worse, the relationship between the negotiators became one of "officials addressing citizens." Paradoxically, this demeaned Taipei's status.

An even more serious objection was that the government ostensibly commissioned a non-governmental organization to conduct cross-Strait talks. This blurred the lines between public authority and civil society. As a result, Beijing could readily leapfrog the ROC government, and talk directly to private sector groups. It could grant favors to private sector groups on Taiwan. Lured by profits, these groups fell over each other and made a beeline to Beijing. The government no longer figured in their calculations. Has the DPP forgotten how harshly they criticized Beijing for "using businesses to beseige and isolate the government?" This is the side effect of the Macao model.

Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP insist on repudiating the 1992 Consensus. But direct links and ECFA are not the only victories scored by the Ma administration on the basis of the 1992 Consensus. Victories include cross-Strait "government to government" negotiations on other issues. The DPP insists that the 1992 Consensus stresses the One China Principle, and therefore demeans Taiwan's [sic] sovereignty. (Translator's Note: Taiwan has no sovereignty. Taiwan is an administative region of the Republic of China. The Republic of China has sovereignty, not Taiwan.) But real world practice shows that the Macao model is more likely to demean the Republic of Chna's sovereignty. The Macau model eliminates the role of the government. In the long run, it works to the Republic of China's disadvantage.

Tsai Ing-wen has publicly declared that Joseph Wu never participated in DPP policy discussions regarding Mainland China. She said his statements cannot be regarded as representative of the Democratic Progressive Party. But Tsai Ing-wen has repudiated the Macao model, while faiing to offer any alternatives. In fact, the Macao model is the only alternative left to the Democratic Progressive Party. The DPP has no other alternative. If the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, cross-Strait exchanges will again be disrupted, When that happens, the DPP will be impotent, unable to do anything. Does the DPP really intend to fall back on the Macau model to deal with complex cross-Strait relations?

One cannot prove that one "Loves Taiwan" merely by foaming at the mouth. Cross-Strait relations require more than rigid ideology. The DPP has dismissed Joseph Wu's remarks about the Macao model. They say he mispoke. But Joseph Wu's remarks were highly significant. Joseph Wu tried to offer an alternative to the 1992 Consensus. His alternative proved detrimental to the Republic of China. This is something the DPP must contemplate.

2011-05-13 中國時報