Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Alarming Numbers: Is the Government Listening?

Alarming Numbers: Is the Government Listening?China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 28, 2010

The government recently made public three sets of numbers. These numbers, which came from the Executive Yuan Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), the Financial Data Center, and the Ministry of the Interior, revealed a consistent trend. The gap between rich and poor is greater than it was a decade ago. Actually, the numbers are merely the tip of the iceberg. The structural problems behind the numbers are even more important. These problems, which include an imbalanced, unjust tax structure, are not problems the poor can remedy by themselves. These are problems for which the government is clearly responsible. If the government concentrates only on changing industry structure, and ignores tax reform, it will not be enough.
The economy is booming this year. The DGBAS has revised its GDP growth rate upward, to 8.24%, a 20 year record high. Department stores in Taipei held a "VIP Night." In six hours they set a record by selling over 800 million NT in merchandise. Wives of wealthy tycoons used their credit cards to buy jewelry. They made staggeringly extravagant single purchases as high as 70 million NT. By contrast, those at the bottom of the economic ladder, are living from hand to mouth. Even average wage earners are making less than they did 10 years ago, after accounting for inflation. They have become the working poor.

The DGBAS Family Income and Expenditure Survey has five income tax categories. Between 2000 and 2009, the ratio between the disposable income of the poorest 20% and the wealthiest 20% increased from 5.57 times to 8.22 times. This does not include social welfare and tax revenue transfers. The Ministry of Finance Finanicial Data Center (FDC) has 20 income tax categories. Between 1998 and 2008, the income gap between the wealthiest 5% and the poorest 5% increased from 33 times to 66 times. Both numbers were record highs.

The DGBAS and FDC findings may or may not have blind spots. The former relies mainly on questionnaires. It has access to over 13,000 samples. But in fact gaining access to both the very rich and the very poor is extremely difficult. The questionnaire does not include real estate transactions and stock market gains. The Financial Data Center bases its findings mainly on the "taxable income" of over 5.4 million taxpayers. Capital gains and overseas income are not included. Therefore, these two statistics seriously underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. Second quarter Ministry of the Interior statistics showed a total of 108,000 poor families, and 260,000 poor people, Both reached record highs. But the survey does not include the "nouveau pauvres" able to work but unable to find jobs because industries relocated or went under due to lack of competitiveness. Low tech, low wage, and low income workers are members of the near poor, hence ineligible for government subsidies. According to conservative estimates, Taiwan has nearly one million nouveau pauvres. These invisible poor find it nearly impossible to share in the fruits of economic growth.

The FDC Family Income and Expenditure Survey found that over the past 10 years the average disposable income of the lowest income group has fallen from 275,000 NT to 222,000 NT. It has regressed to the level of 1991. People are asking questions. If the fruits of economic growth cannot be shared among all citizens, what is the point of such economic growth?

The growing gap between rich and poor is due in part to the impact of globalization and imbalances in industry structure. But an even bigger problem is an unfair tax system. As the DGBAS numbers show, the government has narrowed the wealth gap by means of social welfare and tax measures. Of the two, social welfare is becoming more important, while taxes are becoming less important. The impact of taxes two years ago was 0.16 times. Last year it fell to 0.13 times. The impact of the income tax has shrunk to the point where it is almost undetectable.

The Republic of China is the one of the world's few nations that do not tax capital gains. In recent years, it has continued to give tax cuts to the rich, further increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. The government's improper tax cuts have resulted in a loss of tax revenue, and increased financial constraints on the government. The central government debt will reach a peak in 2011. In a vicious cycle, fiscal difficulties will directly impact social welfare and education. Even civil service salaries may be impacted. Interior Ministry officials say frankly that "The real problem on Taiwan is that the government never taxes the rich."

Internationally, income inequality is usually measured by means of the Gini Coefficient. The higher the number, the greater the gap between rich and poor. Singapore, Mainland China, and Hong Kong have wealth gaps more serious than Taiwan. The Nordic countries, Japan, and South Korea, have wealth gaps less serious than Taiwan. Do we want to compare ourselves against our betters? Or our inferiors? If we compare ourselves against ourselves ten years ago, we find the wealth gap on Taiwan has increased significantly. We have over a million newly poor and near poor families scattered over all corners of our society. They are not included in the statistics. Yet President Ma had the chutzpah to say that "The wealth gap on Taiwan is not that serious."

Poor people rarely have the opportunity to speak out on their own behalf. Even when they do, no one listens. If the Ma administration is only willing to put a gloss on the economic growth figures, if it persists in complacency, if it ignores the increasing gap between rich and poor, the poor can do little about it.

Three years ago, President Ma criticized the ruling Chen administration. He said, "It is deeply regrettable that the Chen administration has turned a blind eye to the urgent needs of newly poor families." President Ma has been in office for over two years. The public must now ask President Ma whether he hears the voices of the poor.




主計處家庭收支調查以五等分位計,最富有二○%與最窮二 ○%可支配所得差距(未納入社福與租稅移轉收支),從二○○○年的六.五七倍增至二○○九年的八.二二倍。財稅資料中心依綜合所得資料分為二十等份,最富有五%與最窮五%的所得差距,從一九九八年的卅三倍增加至二○○八年的六十六倍,兩項統計均創歷史新高。








Monday, August 30, 2010

Peace is Essential, Reunification is Optional

Peace is Essential, Reunification is OptionalUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 30, 2010

Yang Chiu-hsing has resigned from the DPP and is running as an independent. He has proposed a novel perspective on cross-Strait relations. He said we should realize that the relationship between Taipei and Beijing is no longer a hostile relationship.

Why were relations across the Strait hostile? Reason One. Some on Taiwan wanted to promote de jure Taiwan independence. Beijing was opposed. Hence the hostility. Reason Two. Beijing wanted to reunify the nation by "gobbling up Taipei." Taipei resisted. Hence the hostility. Reason Three. Reasons One and Two could well lead to war. Hence the hostility.

Therefore, if the two sides wish to change their relationship from one of hostility to one of harmony, the solution is "no [short term] reunification, no independence, and no use of force." The reasoning behind this solution is sound. The fact that it is President Ma Ying-jeou's proposal ought to be irrelevant. In fact, if Ma had not been the one to propose it, some opponents might not feel so compelled to oppose it. People might better be able to appreciate its soundness. One might just as easily rephrase it as "confront reality, ensure peaceful development."

In recent years, "opposition to [short term] reunification" has gained ground. Taipei, Washington, and Beijing have reached a tacit agreement to "maintain the status quo." This has not ruled out reunification. But it has significantly relaxed pressures and tensions associated with reunification. Furthermore, the Ma administration's explicit policy of "no [short term] reunification" as an explicit policy is an unprecedented breakthrough. A precondition of Ma's policy is of course, opposition to independence as well. "One China, different interpretations" can be regarded as "no reunification, no independence." It can also be regarded as "both reunification and independence." Beijing has made an international commitment not to "unilaterally change the status quo." It has argued that "although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they are nevertheless inseparable parts of one China." It has argued that "although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they can reexamine their special relationship from a pragmatic perspective." It is even willing to "discuss the status of the Republic of China." Beijing's arguments show that the definition of reunification is open to interpretation. They show that pressure to reunify has eased.

The main cause of hostile cross-Strait relations was Taiwan independence. The global scenario has evolved to where Taiwan independence is no longer a feasible solution to cross-Strait problems. All Taiwan independence can do is generate cross-Strait hostility. Taiwan independence cannot solve Taiwan's internal problems. Its primary purpose is to generate internal divisions on Taiwan for the sake of short term political advantage. Taiwan independence has generated cross-Strait hostility, but has not harmed a hair on Beijing's head. It has fostered internal divisions on Taiwan, and ripped apart its society. Isn't this hostility precisely what Yang Chiu-hsing characterized as "unnecessary conflict?"

"No reunification, no independence" are relative and complimentary concepts. If Taiwan does not move toward independence, Beijing can relax its pressures for reunification. If Beijing relaxes its pressures for reunification, that may weaken, moderate, and transform pressures for independence. They key for the ruling government of the Republic of China is to preclude Taiwan independence. Only by precluding Taiwan independence, can it maintain a situation with "no reunification, no war." Only then can it promote ECFA as the basis for cross-Strait peaceful development.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Progressive Party cannot bring itself to forsake Taiwan independence. It remains committed to perpetuating hostile relations, both in cross-Strait and internal affairs. It is being held hostage by Taiwan independence elements, unable to break free. Regarding ECFA, the DPP may wish to resolve cross-Strait hostilities. But as long as the DPP remains committed to Taiwan independence, it must insist on hostile relations. How can it possibly express approval of ECFA? As long as it wishes to abolish ECFA if and when it returns to power, it must incite increased cross-Strait hostility. It is convinced that only by rejecting ECFA, can it achieve Taiwan independence and found a new nation.

The Democratic Progressive Party continues to see Taiwan independence as the opposite of reunification. It seems to think that if it fails to advocate Taiwan independence, then it is "pandering to Beijing and selling out Taiwan," and "endorsing reunification." But years of agitation have made clear that political struggles on Taiwan involve mainly "Taiwan independence vs. opposition to Taiwan independence," rather than "Taiwan independence vs. reunification." As mentioned earlier, President Ma also advocates "no reunification, no independence." Even President Hu Jintao has diluted "peaceful reunification," reframing it as "peaceful development." One might say that the main goal of the authorities on both sides, as well as the majority of the public, is peace rather than [short term] reunification.

Yang Chiu-hsing says the relationship between Taipei and Beijing is no longer a hostile one. This ought to be the greatest common denominator in cross-Strait relations, as well as in local politics. Even the DPP knows better than to publicly advocate hostile cross-Strait relations. The DPP's political Achilles Heel is not its opposition to reunification, but rather its demands for Taiwan independence. It is possible to maintain peace if the two sides do not reunify, at least for the time being. But if the government on Taiwan demands independence, only hostile relations are possible. When it comes to cross-Strait relations, Taiwan independence is the antonym of peace.

Cross-Strait relations must be based on peace. Peaceful development is possible even if one "opposes reunification." It is possible even if one insists that the two sides "have yet to be reunified." It is possible even if one advocates "temporarily delaying reunification." It is possible even if one "wonders whether reunification is feasible."

Peacefully promoting development, and promoting the development of peace is possible only if one maintains cross-Strait peaceful development. Only then can one establish the conditions necessary for long term, beneficial, democratic development. Only then can one achieve a permanent cross-Strait peace.

可以不統一 不能不和平
2010.08.30 01:44 am







相對以觀,民進黨迄仍不能否棄台獨的主張,除了使兩岸及台灣內部皆陷於「敵對關係」,亦使它自己被台獨挾持而不能施展。以ECFA而論,就是欲化解「敵對關係」的重大工程;但民進黨若主張台獨,就必須堅持「敵對」,則豈能贊同ECFA?而若欲在執政後廢止ECFA,更必將使兩岸陷入「敵對」。尤其,沒有 ECFA就能台獨建國嗎?





Friday, August 27, 2010

Five Cities Election Battles, Retail and Wholesale

Five Cities Election Battles, Retail and WholesaleUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 27, 2010

Internal divisions have appeared within the Green Camp over two mayoral races in southern Taiwan. But these divisions have not benefitted the Blue Camp. In fact the Blue Camp appears to have bogged down even in the two mayoral races in northern Taiwan. Some inside the KMT are concerned. If their candidates cannot increase their lead over the DPP by September, they had better be prepared for defeat. The Ma administration is proud of ECFA. Taiwan has experienced two consecutive quarters of double-digit economic growth. Therefore the low morale within the ruling party is surprising.

For the KMT, the chaos of the Five Cities Elections means public opinion has been hard to fathom. It also means the KMT has failed to generate any enthusiasm among the public. Therefore the Blue Camp has not gained as much advantage in the north as expected. Instead of complaining about voter indifference though, the KMT should reexamine its election strategy and ask if it has done enough to cultivate voter support. Sources within the party have revealed that the next round of campaign appeals will focus on cross-Strait and foreign affairs. These and other issues are the "Green Camp's Achilles Heel." The KMT will target Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen, and hit them hard. Whether this tactic will work is uncertain, but it is worth exploring.

The Five Cities Elections can be regarded as a prelude to the 2012 Presidential Election. But basically they are local elections. Escalating the debate to the level of cross-Strait and foreign affairs may allow the KMT to check their opponents. But it will not necessarily allow the KMT to inspire a sense of urgency among its constituents. Su and Tsai both served as vice premier. Tsai Ing-wen is the chairman of the main opposition party. The Blue Camp can play their cross-Strait and foreign affairs cards. It can highlight the contradictions and weaknesses in the DPP candidates' election platforms. But in the mayoral elections, voters are more concerned about governance, expansion, and growth at the municipal level. If Su and Tsai can inspire people at the municipal level, voters may not care about their extremist views on cross-Strait and foreign affairs. After all, this is a mayoral election, not a presidential election.

Signing ECFA and improving cross-Strait relations is one of the Ma administration's crowning achievements. Follow-up economic effects can also be expected. But from a political perspective, after two years of setbacks, ECFA's marginal utility is close to exhausted. As the theme of the Five Cities Election, the issue is too old and tired. Besides, what inspires voters on Taiwan has never been glowing reports on the status quo, but shining visions of the future. From this perspective, no matter how much the Blue Camp may play up progress in cross-Strait relations, it is still only playing defense. The Green Camp can easily assume the offensive. It can easily claim that ECFA is merely a "pie in the sky," and will merely "increase the gap between rich and poor." The Ma administration's political achievements can be instantly transformed into public grievances. This is one of the cruel paradoxes of popular elections. It has proven true for the past 20 years, and there is no room for naivete.

By contrast, the DPP has treated the election as a local level campaign from day one. It never intended to make it a central government issue. It adopted a very different strategy. This is the advantage of being in the opposition. One need not lay out a larger framework. One need only zero in on weaknesses in the ruling party's governance. Doing so is enough to create a media effect and attract voter attention. Put simply, the KMT has launched a "wholesale war" at the central government level. The DPP meanwhile, is fighting a one on one "retail war" at the local government level. The entire nation is looking at these elections. But they are elections filled with local color. Who will emerge victorious? That will depend on the wisdom and adaptability of the two parties.

Given voter apathy, the KMT may need to alter its strategy. It may need to fight a "retail war." Only then can it narrow the distance between itself and local voters. The Blue Camp has always been less adept at offense than the Green Camp. It has always been less adept at spinning the issues. If its candidates blindly obey party leaders, they may find it even more difficul to underscore their individual merits. The most obvious example is Su Chih-fen's handling of the Number Six Naphtha Cracking Plant issue. The KMT watched helplessly as Green Camp apostate Yang Chui-hsing hijacked this "anti-business" issue. Clearly KMT candidates are sorely deficient in flexibility. Among the Blue Camp candidates, Jason Hu is is the most self-assured. This has much to do with his personal image. He is a bona fide expert in local retail sales.

There is a saying in American politics. All politics is local. It means one must meet the voters where one governs. One must speak the language they understand. One must implement policies they understand. One cannot say that the Five Cities Elections are not heating up. So why are voters so apathetic? The problem is candidates have yet to fully exploit the local level retail market. The ruling and opposition parties have yet to understand the needs and aspirations of their local constituents. They do not know what they should be selling. Yang Chiu-hsing left the DPP. If nothing else, he issued a bold challenge to the people of Kaohsiung. He offered voters a third way. Meanwhile, voters in the two cities of northern Taiwan have been presented with a surrogate for the presidential election. No one seems to know whether the candidates intend to complete their terms of office. The candidates are unwilling to promise they will not run off in the middle of their terms. No wonder voters are disaffected.

To overcome voter apathy, the KMT must change its one size fits all, wholesale level campaign strategy. It must be more flexible and responsive, closer to its local constituents. If it insists on campaigning on the basis of high-profile issues such as cross-Strait and foreign relations, it may well end up singing to an empty hall.

2010.08.27 03:15 am









Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Court Must Restore Trust in Its Rulings

The Court Must Restore Trust in Its RulingsUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 26, 2010

After several months of searching, President Ma Ying-jeou has appointed Lai Hao-min President of the Judicial Yuan, and Su Yung-ching Vice President. The newly appointed Lai said that the public can no longer tolerate corrupt judges. People have taken all they can take. But corruption-free judges should be a given. The newly appointed president must do more than eliminate corruption. He must restore public trust in the court's rulings. He must restore public confidence in the justice system.

Recently, the number of judicial scandals exploded. Under nearly two decades of ineffectual "judicial self-management," several judges accepted bribes, another attempted to influence the outcome of his son's trial, another devoted more time and energy to his hobby than his duties as a judge, another used his illicit lover as a go between, others consorted with defendants, still others issued rulings utterly inconsistent with common sense. Their perversions of the law and abuses of power have opened the eyes of the public. Even the highest levels of the judicial system have come under suspicion, and seriously undermined confidence in the administration of justice.

In the short term, the new president must clean house and appoint new personnel. He must ensure that trials are once again fair. Cleaning house is not that difficult. The new president must start small. He must set an example. He must decline to attend unnecessary banquets. He must ensure that austerity once again becomes the judicial norm. Judges must no longer be wined and dined by criminal defendants. The air must be cleared. Clean officials must be appointed. The new appointees must be responsible individuals, unfraid to give offense, and willing to make tough administrative decisions. Those seeking favors or backdoor opportunities, those who care more about holding office than assuring justice, and bureaucrats adept at evading responsibility, need not apply. The new president has taken office. The secretary general will resign. The deputy secretary general, the president of the high court, and the president of the Kaohsiung Branch of the Judicial Yuan will all have to be replaced. The new president's first set of personnel appointments must demonstrate a commitment to integrity and responsibility. Only then can he restore the integrity of the justice system.

In addition to cleaning houseand appointing new personnel, rehabilitating the justice system will require breaking up the tight little circles judges currently inhabit. Judges place too high a value on seniority. They defer too much to their superiors. They care more about the judgment of insiders than the judgment of the outside world. They have forfeited their independence. They have formed tight little circles. That is why influence-peddling within their circles is taken for granted. That is why they have forgotten that their raison d'etre is to provide justice for the people. These tight little circles must be broken. Only then will judges have the courage to take responsibility for their rulings.

The new president should immediately examine the role of judges' assistants. He must ensure that presiding judges are actually doing what they are paid to do. He must establish ethical standards and job discipline. He must institute internal controls. He must improve discipline and eliminate indolence. He must root out judges who live abnormal lives. He must find ways to punish and eliminate them. He must show that the justice system is determined to clean house.

Nearly two decades of judicial self-oversight has revealed that judges are too susceptible to emotional appeals. They are unwilling to even criticize their peers, let alone punish them. Therefore we must implement a cabinet system. The cabinet chief's authority must be limited, and commensurate with his responsibilities. This will reverse the harm done by untrammeled judicial self-management.

If one wishes to prevent judicial rulings clearly beyond the pale, one must eliminate undue influence. One must ensure judicial independence. The new president must supervise and assist trial judges, because judicial independence will ensure the quality of judicial rulings, and help regain public trust. If judicial independence creates a sanctuary for judicial abuse of authority however, then judicial independence is rendered meaningless. Only quality judicial rulings can guarantee justice.

Of course, the newly appointed president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan must also minimize concerns about their political affiliations or political positions. There must be no doubts about their impartiality. Lai Hao-min was once an attorney. Attorneys and legal aid groups are the main force behind judicial reform. Lai must convince judges that his administrative decisions will be unbiased, will be in the best interest of the trial process, and that judicial reform will be effective. Su Yung-ching cast many doubts on Judicial Yuan reorganization and reform in the past. Now however, he will be working with Lai. Everyone hopes their roles as professionals will count for more than their friendship with President Ma. Lai and Su must redouble their efforts. They must prove themselves by walking the walk, as well as talking the talk.

Judicial reform is a monumental undertaking. In addition to short term reforms, there must be mid term reform and long term reforms. These include procedural law reforms, changing the way judges are created, improving the structure of the Judicial Yuan, and evaluating the feasibility of a jury system. But some reforms do not require amending the law. They do not require waiting for the results of another judicial reform conference. Judicial credibility has reached new lows. The new president and the judges must adopt extraordinary measures. They must reform the system. They must get serious about cleaning house. Only then can they meet public expectations regarding judicial integrity and the credibility of judicial rulings.

The public can no longer tolerate unjust and slipshod judicial rulings. The new president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan have only one job -- to restore public confidence in judicial rulings. They must do so not merely for litigants, but for society as a whole. Everyone must believe that judicial rulings are uncorrupt and fair.

2010.08.26 03:01 am











Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where is the DPP's Platform for the Five Cities Elections?

Where is the DPP's Platform for the Five Cities Elections?China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 25, 2010

In its campaign for the Five Cities Elections, KMT leaders have chosen to play the ECFA card. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen, who is also the DPP candidate for Xinbei City mayor, lashed out at them. "Once again, they are wrong!" Tsai Ing-wen argued that the Five Cities Elections are merely local elections. Only when the presidential and legislative by-elections roll around, will cross-Strait and foreign affairs become important. Tsai Ing-wen is partly right, and partly wrong. Regardless, neither the DPP nor the KMT have offered a coherent platform for the Five Cities Elections. As a result, the campaigns have lost their focus. They have become name-calling contests, in which neither side listens to the other. Voters are left with no basis on which to cast their votes -- no political platform, no policy prescription, and no political record.

In one sense, Tsai Ing-wen is correct. The Five Cities Elections are not central government elections. They need not address central government issues. But in another sense, Tsai Ing-wen is wrong. From day one, the Five Cities Elections have not been local elections. Every candidate for the Five Cities Elections is a "Party Prince." Whoever emerges victorious from these elections will be the Blue and Green Camp's rising stars. Even those who are defeated, may be able to run for president in 2012. That is why the candidates are sparing no effort or expense to run.

Tsai Ing-wen is right in another sense. Cross-Strait and foreign issues are usually relevant only during presidential and legislative elections. Basically they should never have been raised during the Five Cities Election campaign. But Tsai Ing-wen is wrong in another sense. The Five Cities Elections are simply too important. The five cities are too populous. Their areas are too large. Their outcome of the Five Cities Elections is sure to affect the political strength of the Blue and Green camps. Most importantly, the Five Cities Elections cannot be compared to past county and municipal elections. Anyone who emerges victorious from them will be assured a place in the pantheon of power. Taipei, Xinbei City, and Kaohsiung City became essential stepping stones to the presidency during the last three presidential elections. Naturally, both ruling and opposition party candidates must answer for their own policy proposals.

Tsai Ing-wen's opponent is KMT nominee Chu Li-lun. In an interview with this newspaper, Chu cited some numbers that demonstrated the revelance of ECFA for local politics. Chu noted that Xinbei City was the beneficiary of a 35 billion NT increase in annual trade, and 13,000 additional job opportunities. The other four cities have also benefitted significantly from ECFA. That is why all three Kaohsiung mayoral candidates, Blue and Green alike, have expressed total or conditional support for ECFA.

Such expressions of support are an embarrassment for Tsai Ing-wen. After all, she is DPP Chairman. Article One in the DPP's literature for the Five Cities Election campaign is opposition to ECFA. The DPP's stand on ECFA has changed constantly. The DPP has gone from opposing ECFA to ignoring ECFA to demanding a referendum on ECFA. It has gone from instigating strident protests to beating a quiet retreat. The DPP's strategy is clear. Before July, ECFA was its main battlefield. After August, it withdrew from this battlefield. Before the third reading of ECFA, the DPP pummeled the KMT, relentlessly. The KMT is hardly about to let the DPP set the agenda and tempo of the election. The DPP waffled on ECFA. It was irresolute on cross-Strait policy. Of course the KMT is going to hit the DPP over the head with ECFA. Of course it will remind the public what the DPP's eight year long Closed Door Policy did to the nation.

In short, whether to bring up ECFA is a matter of election strategy. The Blue and Green camps each have their own game plan. Each plan has its own pros and its cons. For the moment it is hard to say which is better. The tempo of life on Taiwan is fast. Public opinion shifts rapidly. The moment ECFA underwent its third reading, the debate should have ended. The case should have been closed. Since the DPP no longer wishes to fight this on this battlefield, it must find a new battlefield. Fortunately for the DPP, it is an opposition party. It can address whatever topic it prefers. It can harp on the president's governing ability. It can question the cabinet's accomplishments. It can cast doubt on its opponent's qualifications and experience. Every one of these can become the target of its campaign rhetoric.

Every election ploy has weaknesses as well as strengths. For example, the Tsai Ing-wen campaign accused Chu LI-lun of leaving behind a deficit far larger than any previous Taoyuan County Chief. His debt allegedly approached the debt limit, and made it "nearly impossible" for his successor to "hammer out a budget." This is certainly a matter of public policy worth discussing. Xinbei City is not alone. The other four cities face similar situations. Over the twenty years since political liberalization, "construction loans" to local governments have become central government routine. Chu Li-lun admits leaving Taoyuan County with over 15 billion NT in debt. But during his eight years in office, the wealth in county coffers increased by more than 220 billion NT. The debt was purely for construction. Construction attracted financial resources. The public is hardly going to object.

The same was true for Su Tseng-chang, DPP candidate for mayor of Taipei. Su Tseng-chang was Taipei County Chief for eight years. He left behind hundreds of billions in debt. But Taipei County residents remain impressed. They consider Su Tseng-tsang a capable county chief who promoted local development. The Tsai Ing-wen campaign fired a shot. Alas, it failed to strike its target. If anything, many DPP officials with local government experience are shaking their heads, wondering how to respond.

No one likes negative campaigning. But in order to elect officials of integrity and ability, the candidates' records must be subjected to public scrutiny. Only then can the candidates win voter support. The candidates' records must be subjected to review, criticism, and suspicion. When interviewed by the media, Chu Li-lun offered a new framework for Xinbei City development. Does the DPP wish to wage a positive campaign? If so, rather than cast suspicion on the ability of its rival to set the agenda, it ought to offer its own policy blueprint.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.08.25
社論-五都選舉 民進黨施政藍圖在哪










Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Elinor Ostrom and Global Warming

Elinor Ostrom and Global WarmingUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 24, 2010

The Economic Daily News is part of the United Daily News Group. Its "2010 Masters Forum" opened today. Its guest of honor was Elinor Ostrom, last year's Nobel Laureate in Economics, a professor at Indiana University and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics. Climate change is a difficult problem. According to Ostrom, modern man's selfishness and greed have reached extremes. Modern man must reclaim his lost integrity, his sense of altruism and other moral and ethical ideals. He must address the pressing issue of global warming from the level of the individual. Modern man must cherish the shared environment and resources. Only then he talk of sustainable development.

In an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Ostrom said that we must all work together for our communities, large, medium, or small, and for the sustainable development of the globe as a whole. In particular, she championed the concept of community. Tribes, nations, and the world as a whole may be different in scale. But their members are all mutually interdependent. Only by understanding our mutual interdependence can we design a system for "us." Only then can we abandon struggles for advantage, share resources, and enjoy sustainable development.

Ostrom is powerfully committed to "common pool resources." She hopes to prove that the outlook for mankind is not as pessimistic as suggested by Professor Garrett Hardin in his 1968 publication, "The Tragedy of the Commons." The two professors have arrived at very different conclusions. Hardin believes that human greed and selfishness will inevitably lead to environmental tragedy. The traditional solution to this problem is external intervention, either forceful government management or privatization. Only these can prevent tragedy. Ostrom on the other hand, firmly believes in people's "capacity for self-governance." She also believes that public affairs should not always be turned over to the government to handle. That is why she designed a system of "collective action." Public affairs require public participation and public concern. Only through collective study and cooperation can one ensure management efficiency. This is particularly true for the management of natural resources, and is no different for the management of global resources as a whole. They require the participation of everyone on earth. Backroom deals by politicians simply will not do.

Ostrom stressed the concept of "community." When managing common pool resources one must not overlook the power of cultural constraints. Social trust and social consensus is a prerequisite for successful public policy. Common pool resources need not end in disaster or tragedy. Whatever size or scope, as long as members of a community recognize their mutual interdependence, we can begin with the individual and avoid disaster to our common pool resources.

The theme of this year's Masters Forum was "Climate Change and Global Governance." Ostrom proposed new solutions and new ways of thinking about the depletion of earth's natural resources, global warming, and wild fluctuations between droughts and floods. One need not wait for the leaders of each nation to issue binding action plans. One can begin now, starting with the individual. Each individual's experience can become teaching material for members of the "community." Honesty and ethics can replace selfishness and self interest, Only then can one solve these problems.

Ostrom notes that the management of common pool resources faces a major obstacle -- internationally binding agreements. The first of these was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming and control carbon emissions. Its ratification allowed each nation to continue polluting until the protocol took effect in February 2005. Disputes over national interests delayed progress in global carbon reduction. The Copenhagen summit late last year was even worse. It was supposed to establish legally binding carbon reduction standards for the post-Kyoto era, beginning in 2012. Who knew a huge summit with 13,000 attendees would achieve absolutely nothing.

This year, early in April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel convened a small-scale climate summit. She hoped to address the problems overlooked during the Copenhagen summit. To her surprise, her own summit was utterly ineffectual, It even foreshadowed the debacle of the 16th UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. The chaos did not end here. US President Barack Obama promised the international community he would pass a Climate Change Bill promoting domestic carbon reduction. This did not even clear Congress. Since the 1992 Earth Summit, global efforts to reduce carbon emissions have all come to naught.

All this confirms Ostrom's conviction that common pool resources can no longer be managed in a traditional top-down manner. Instead of listening as world leaders yammer on, it is better to step forward and take action. Ostrom's convictions are the result of extensive field experience accumulated during her 40 year long academic career. Her experience with fishing grounds, pastures, forests, groundwater, even management studies of police systems, in both developing and developed countries, has confirmed that people have a strong "capacity for self-governance." The ability to participate in public affairs is the key to avoiding disaster in common pool resources.

Ostrom's visit to Taiwan coincides with drama-filled local controversies over the management of common pool resources. Should the mudflats at the mouth of the Cho Shui Creek be devoted to Chinese white dolphins, or the petrochemical industry? Can we strike a balance between agricultural revitalization and industrial development? Taiwan is a major contributor to carbon emissions, both total and per capita. The establishment of a system for the declaration and verification of greenhouse gas reduction is pending within the Legislative Yuan. The government once led environmental protection. Now the public is becoming increasingly involved.

Public controversy indicates demand for change. We look forward to greater public action in response to global climate change. We look forward to changes in the governance of public affairs on Taiwan. We look forward to the impact of new thinking by Professor Ostrom.

2010.08.24 01:51 am

本報系經濟日報「2010大師論壇」今天登場,邀請到的大師是去年諾貝爾經濟學獎得主美國印第安那大學歐斯壯(Elinor Ostrom)教授,這位諾貝爾經濟學獎首位女性得主針對氣候變遷這一當前最棘手的問題,開出的藥方是:現代人貪婪自私已達於極點,應找回失落的誠信、利他等倫理道德,從自身做起參與解決嚴重的暖化問題,珍惜共有的環境、資源,才有永續可言。





歐斯壯的論述正指出此刻共有財管理的困境。就國際約束力的形成而言,先是遏止暖化、控制碳排放的京都議定書1997年通過,開放各國批准到跨過生效門檻已是 2005年二月,各國的利益糾葛,嚴重蹉跎全球的減碳行動;去年底哥本哈根峰會情況更糟,原本該訂出2012後京都時代具法律約束力的新減碳文件,未料一萬三千人的大會一事無成。





Monday, August 23, 2010

The DPP: Still Leading Taiwan with a Broken Compass

The DPP: Still Leading Taiwan with a Broken CompassUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 23, 2010

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is about to announce its Platform for the Coming Decade, which will lay out its proposal for Taiwan's future during the next ten years. The platform contains an article on "ethnic diversity," (or more accurately, "community diversity"). But judging by its recently released draft version, the DPP remains deeply confused about its vision for Taiwan. If even the DPP itself does not know where it stands, how can it talk about where it intends to lead Taiwan?

In its article on "ethnic diversity," the DPP mentions "Hoklo Chauvinism." But it adopted a holier than thou attitude and "magnanimously forgave" Mainlanders for their "Original Sin." It concluded that "post-war immigrants from Mainland China should not be regarded as "foreigners" or "others." But what is this "I hereby pardon you" tone, other than the embodiment of Hoklo Chauvinism?

Cross-Strait exchanges have led to an influx of Mainland spouses, Mainland students, and Mainland tourists. Yet the DPP was deeply resistant to making this concession toward "post-war Mainland immigrants" who have been on Taiwan for over six decades. Clearly the DPP's problem is not the public's inability to show tolerance toward each other, but rather the DPP's own "Sinophobia."

This circumstance reveals how out of touch the DPP is with the public on Taiwan. The Democratic Progressive Party is presenting a Platform for the Coming Decade because it hopes to revive its shrinking public approval ratings by offering more "exalted" political appeals. But judging by its article on "ethnic diversity." the DPP thinks it can diagnose Taiwan's ills from on high. In fact the real problem is that the DPP is unable to make up its mind about what Taiwan's status ought to be. Its attempts to address the defects in its arguments merely show how many holes they contain.

The DPP has gradually lost touch with the public on Taiwan, for three reasons. One. It remains mired in nostalgia. It persists in polishing its halo as "democratic reformer." It is unwilling to earnestly address the failure of its administration and the defects in its political path. The fact is, eight years in power dramatically altered the public's perception of the DPP. It is digusted by Chen Shui-bian's corruption. It has also come to the conclusion that the Green Camp's political path will only make Taiwan wither on the vine. These are incontrovertible facts. But the DPP has remained silent. It has chosen to engage in self-deception. Meanwhile, the more successfully it appeases its Deep Green core supporters, the more it alienates the general public.

Two. The DPP is much too opportunistic. Its political calculations often ensure short term victory. But in the long term they merely expose the DPP's self-contradictory and disingenuous behavior. Frequent changes in political platform merely expose the DPP's "relativistic" tap-dancing, and the absence of any sustainable strategic framework. Eight years in power have revealed a gaping chasm between DPP rhetoric and DPP reality. The DPP is now rushing to weave a master narrative by which it can lead Taiwan. But lo and behold, it never bothered to ask the public what it really wants.

Three. The DPP has long "used the system to overthrow the system." It has long used the "recitification of names," public referenda, and the authoring of a new constitution to bolster itself. It has attempted to eat away the nation and society from within. It has induced the public to doubt its national identity and national loyalty. The DPP's loyalty is to a "future Nation of Taiwan." Its real purpose is to destroy the Republic of China. Why should voters allow imposters to rule the nation by using the Republic of China as a "backdoor listing?" When and where will their fictitious Nation of Taiwan come into existence? These are questions the DPP must answer in its Platform for the Coming Decade.

But judging by what it has done so far, the DPP's Platform for the Coming Decade has simply evaded the issue of national identity and constitutional structure. Instead, it begins by addressing "foreign relations," democracy, human rights, economics, and environmentalism. This is flagrant evasion. The DPP must first clarify its stand on national identity. Does it still advocate Taiwan independence and nation-building? Is it willing to reaffirm the Republic of China Constitution? Does it still advocate the rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution? If so, then its platform will be nothing more than a UFO without navigation coordinates. If the DPP uses a broken compass to navigate, even it will have no idea where it is headed, How can it lead us in a new direction?

Every political party must find an appropriate niche within a society. It cannot arrogate to itself the leadership of "us," while stigmatizing others as "them." But that is precisely what the DPP did with its article on "ethnic diversity." It zeroed in on "ethnicity," while making no mention of the poor and underprivileged. It lacked even the literary eloquence it had a few years ago. Its resolution on "ethnic diversity and social unity" showed signs of inexorable generational decline. The DPP had better pay attention to these warning signs. If the DPP has the courage to look ten years into the future, it ought to have the wisdom to update its navigation devices. It should not attempt to take to the road with a broken compass.

2010.08.23 12:06 pm










Friday, August 20, 2010

Ma Ying-jeou and Hu Jintao: Mutual Affirmation

Ma Ying-jeou and Hu Jintao: Mutual AffirmationUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 20, 2010

Taipei and Singapore have announced the intention to sign an economic agreement. The Presidential Office clarified, saying that Beijing respects Taipei's move to sign an economic agreement with Singapore. It has not attempted to block the move. Its pragmatic approach is consistent with Taiwan's interests, and "We aprove."

We hope future cross-Strait exchanges will be more like this. Cross-Strait interaction is undergoing change. If the two sides affirm what the other is doing more often, such mutual encouragement can promote "peaceful development."

Over the past two years, cross-Strait coopetition has undergone dramatic change. One might even refer it as a "change in the course of heaven and earth." Future historians will note that these two years were critical, and that Ma Ying-jeou and Hu Jintao were the key figures. They have not betrayed their responsibilities. They have seized this precious opportunity. For that, they deserve affirmation.

A few years ago, such an opportunity would not have arisen. Back then, the setbacks the two sides had endured were not serious enough. The price the two sides had paid was not heavy enough. The soul-searching the two sides had undertaken was not thorough enough. That is why a few years ago such an opportunity would never have arisen. But now the setbacks endured have been serious enough, and the price paid has been heavy enough. The soul-searching was thorough enough. Otherwise we would not have wound up with Hu and Ma. This precious opportunity would have been lost. That is why Ma and Hu should each affirm what the other has done. Needless to say, Lien Chan's courageous and historic "ice-breaking journey" must also be given the credit it deserves.

Deng Xiaoping's "reform and liberalization" rescued the Mainland. His "one country, two systems" rescued the Mainland and Hong Kong. Hu Jintao's historical legacy will be that he, Lien Chan, and Ma Ying-jeou introduced "peaceful development," and allowed the two sides to enter an era of peaceful coopetition.

Hu Jintao's "peaceful development" overrode "one country, two systems" and "peaceful reunification." He did not of course forsake peaceful reunification per se. He merely framed it in a different manner. He and George W. Bush committed to "One China, Different Interpretations" on the Hotline. He modified the "One China Principle," and reframed it as "Although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they are nevertheless both parts of One China." He affirmed that "the status quo manifests itself in the current status of Taiwan's existing regulations and documents." His "Hu Six Points" repeatedly affirmed a "people-oriented" perspective. He made major concessions regarding ECFA. He refrained from obstructing an economic agreement between Taipei and Singapore. Through a Mainland Defense Ministry spokesman, he announced a willingness to discuss the withdrawal of missiles. These actions show that Hu Jintao has refrained from using force. He has refrained from inciting civil unrest on Taiwan. Instead he has attempted to dialogue with the public on Taiwan and to promote cross-Strait "peaceful development." To be fair, such an opportunity was hardly inevitable. This path is not necessarily one that another leader in Beijing could have managed. President Hu Jintao's individual temperament and intellect may well have been a decisive factor.

The two sides are moving toward "peaceful development." This is often interpreted as "Beijing believes it can use economics to control Taiwan, while Taipei realizes it cannot economically separate itself from the Mainland." Some interpret the current cross-Strait economic situation as the anomalous result of economic pressure. Is this in fact the case? The answer will be an important determinant in the final evaluation of Hu Jintao's cross-Strait path. Everyone agrees that cross-Strait relations is a case of "the powerful must be benevolent when dealing with the weak." In other words, Beijing is powerful. It must not resort to trickery to achieve victory. So-called "benevolence" means seeing cross-Strait relations as a moral and civilizational enterprise. It must not be reduced to a case of "Who gobbles up whom?"

Deng Xiaoping had a moral vision for Hong Kong. Although the Mainland could not be made as free and democratic as Hong Kong in the near term, the Mainland would not destroy Hong Kong by imposing "One Country, One System" on Hong Kong. Today, when confronting Taiwan, Hu Jintao and his successors can hardly do less than Deng Xiaoping. Otherwise they would be turning the clock back. Not only would it be heartless, it would be unwise.

Therefore, Hu Jintao's "peaceful development" deserves affirmation. But its final success or failure must not depend on economic appeasement. It must not depend on political trickery. It must depend upon a moral vision of human civilization shared by the Chinese people on both sides of the Strait. Therefore Hu Jintao's record so far deserves affirmation. But difficult challenges remain ahead of him.

Ma Ying-jeou's record on cross-Strait relations can perhaps be best described using his own words, "silent courage." It is said that "the weak must be resourceful when dealing with the powerful." But the fact remains the weaker one is, the less room for resourcefulness one has. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian can testify to this. Therefore the Republic of China's survival may well depend upon the aforementioned principle, "the powerful must be benevolent when dealing with the weak." Benevolence is the practical expression of morality and civility. The morality and civility of the Republic of China's liberal democracy is its greatest strength. If Ma Ying-jeou can take advantage of this strength, he and the public on Taiwan can inspire the public on the Mainland and around the world. He can ensure that cross-Strait relations do not turn back from "peaceful development."

The two sides must be benevolent when dealing with each other. Being benevolent means being "people-oriented." It means pursuing a moral vision of human civilization shared by the Chinese people on both sides of the Strait. It means the two sides affirming each other, not hesitating to encourage one another, It means steady progress towards a win-win symbiosis.

2010.08.20 02:32 am











Thursday, August 19, 2010

Make a Star out of Kaohsiung, not Singapore

Make a Star out of Kaohsiung, not SingaporeUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 19, 2010

On Taiwan, Singapore has suddenly become a star. It has become the theme of the five cities mayoral elections.
Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County are being merged into one, and will hold its first mayoral election. Three camps are scrambling to transform Kaohsiung into another Singapore. The most dramatic of these was Kaohsiung County Chief Yang Chiu-hsing, who quit the DPP and during his swearing-in ceremony declared his intention of transforming Kaohsiuing into another Singapore. The media splashed this news across their front pages. In fact Yang Chiu-hsing was merely following in the footsteps of KMT candidate Huang Chao-shun. The week before, at one of his rallies, Huang cited "surpassing Singapore" as his primary goal. Not to be outdone, another candidate, the DPP's Chen Chu, claimed she had already begun planning for a special economic and trading zone, with Singapore as her template.

Estimates for Singapore's economic growth this year begin at 13 percent, and run as high as 15 percent. Among those countries that have made strong recoveries from the global financial crisis, Singapore's has been especially noteworthy.

In recent years many people have called for a totally free "special economic and trading zone." They hope to transform Taiwan into an "island of freedom." They hope to persuade multinationals to establish operational headquarters and operations centers here. Special economic and trading zones share one fundamental trait. They are invariably situated within the freest and most open nations of the world. They take maximum advantage of their freedom and openess to achieve superior competitiveness. Among Asia's Four Little Dragons, Singapore's record is the most enviable. Singapore's per capita income is over twice as high as as Taiwan's.

The government has already created a dazzling variety of SARs. These range from the early "export processing zones" to the latest "free trade zones." Therefore people trumpet "special economic and trading zones," others cannot help wondering, why so many special zones? Why so much redundancy? Some even wonder whether special economic and trading zones are being tailor-made specifically for sweatshops such as Foxconn. Is the gap between wages for foreign workers in SARs and the minimum wage merely for the benefit of Taiwan businesses? Is it merely so they can use cheaper foreign labor? Such endless suspicions are difficult to rebut. But a simple answer is enough: "Create a New Singapore!"

Industries in Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County are withering. Unemployment is at record highs. From Kaohsiung's perspective, such a remedy is just what the doctor ordered. Whatever Singapore has, Kaohsiung has in equal measure. For example, it has an outstanding deep-water port, a pleasant climate all year round, wide expanses of fertile land, a hard-working, frugal, down to earth Chinese population. Greater Kaohsiung has no defects that would prevent her from becoming another Singapore. But for a long time, Kaohsiung was trapped behind an array of trade barriers. It blockaded itself from developments on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. This made it difficult for Kaohsiung to become another Singapore. Even worse, it demoted Kaohsiung from the 3rd largest port in the world to the 13th.

Singapore's governance ranks first in the world. Kaohsiung's city fathers, on the other hand, encased themselves within ideological cocoons. They remained indifferent to the people's desire for growth and prosperity. Everything in Singapore, from its national airport to its public housing, is beautiful and orderly. Kaohsiung on the other hand, remains chaotic and confused. The contrasts are endless. But they can be summed up simply. Singapore's government cares. Ours doesn't.

ECFA has opened Taiwan's doors. In the coming years, it will open itself up to the world. It will remove trade barriers. We are finally doing what Singapore has been doing for the past 30 years. We have finally removed the chains that prevented Taiwan from keeping up with Singapore. Consider this a starting point. Consider our objective circumstances. Greater Kaohsiung has the same natural resources as Singapore. It too can be transformed into a beautiful and pleasant city. Its infrastructure, central business district, and architecture can be raised to the same international standard. These, combined with its unique cultural characteristics, its human resources, its natural beauty, and its leisure facilities, can create an attractive residential and business environment. Kaohsiung will catch up with Singapore. It will also benefit from greater proximity to Mainland China's coastal areas. This will enable it to surpass Singapore.

Perhaps one day people will not talk about how "Kaohsiung hopes to become another Singapore." Perhaps one day the inhabitants of East Asian ports will talk about how they "hope to become another Kaohsiung!"

We have made a star of Singapore. How can we make a star of Kaohsiung? This is not impossible. Lest we forget, Kaohsiung was once the world's third largest port. Kaohsiung's rebirth will mark Taiwan's transformation.

2010.08.19 03:14 am











Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From Li Ruihuan to Li Yafei: The Presidential News Boycott 18 Years Ago

From Li Ruihuan to Li Yafei:The Presidential News Boycott 18 Years Ago
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 18, 2010

Li Yafei is Deputy Chairman of the Mainland Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). On the 11th of this month, while in Taipei, Li publicly stated that the basis of cross-Strait mutual trust is opposition to Taiwan independence and a defense of the 1992 Consensus.

To the best of our recollection, this is the first time a Mainland official has ever publicly expressed "opposition to Taiwan independence" on Taiwan soil. This can be regarded as a milestone in cross-Strait interaction.

From the perspective of Taiwan independence advocates, Li Yafei's action was tantamount to breaking into their house and spitting in their face. Logically speaking it should have provoked a powerful reaction. But the general public treated Li Yafei's declaration of "opposition to Taiwan independence" in a matter of fact fashion. Even the DPP and Taiwan independence pressure groups acted as if they hadn't heard it. They failed to utter a single protest, and remained dead silent.

Think back 18 years. On October 29, 1992, CCP Politbureau Standing Committee Member Li Ruihuan was in Beijing, addressing visiting members of the Chinese language media. He declared that Mainland China would not sit by and watch Taiwan declare independence. It would resort to any means to prevent it. Even if it meant blood sacrifices. It would fight to the end. It would spare no expense. The next day over a dozen newspapers on Taiwan faithfully reported his remarks. Who knew a few days later then president Lee Teng-hui would personally spearhead an all out newspaper boycott, the first since democracy was instituted on Taiwan.

On November 11, President Lee Teng-hui, Chairman of the Kuomintang, spoke before the Central Standing Committee. He said "After a certain reporter returned, he wrote a terrifying news story that Intimidated our people." The newspaper Lee Teng-hui was referring to was the United Daily News. The president clearly knew that over a dozen different newspapers faithfully reported Li's remarks. But he deliberately singled out the United Daily News. A few days later, Lee Teng-hui met with a number of Taiwan independence pressure groups, and again referred to the United Daily News. He said "I no longer read that newspaper. Do you?" It was then that Lee Teng-hui initiated the "newspaper subscription cancellation movement" or "newspaper boycott."

The president masterminded an all out, overwhelming, take no prisoners newspaper boycott. The DPP and Taiwan independence pressure groups provided the muscle. Political mud flew through the air, accusing the United Daily News of "tilting toward [Mainland] China," of being the "mouthpiece of the CCP," of being the "Taiwan Edition of the People's Daily," of being "Communist fellow travelers." Mass rallies were held everywhere, urging people to cancel their subscriptions. Copies of the United Daily News were piled high then set alight. Movement members attached stickers onto people's mailboxes reading, "Our house does not read the United Daily News." Some stores would not even allow the United Daily News on their racks. Some airlines removed the United Daily News from their inflight reading bins. Some businesses were intimidated into withdrawing their ads from the United Daily News. The sole justification cited for this all out, overwhelming, take no prisoners presidential newspaper boycott was that the United Daily News, like all the other newspapers on Taiwan, truthfully reported Li Ruihuan's "opposition to Taiwan independence" remark.

Lee Teng-hui and Taiwan independence pressure groups intensified their campaign of repression against the media. They set up an "Advertisers Association" and used ad sales to suppress freedom of expression. The President's son-in-law Lai Kuo-chou was made Secretary-General of the Press Council. As we recall that day 18 years later, who could have imagined that "Mr. Democracy" Lee Teng-hui would consign the media on Taiwan to a living hell?

Recall this day 18 years ago. Li Ruihuan spoke of "opposition to Taiwan independence." A newspaper accurately reported Li's remarks. Lee Teng-hui, the DPP, and Taiwan independence pressure groups responded by subjecting the newspaper to a terror campaign. Eighteen years later, Li Yafei is invited to Taipei, the guest of a Taipei-based newspaper. He stood on Taiwan soil. He "broke into the house" and openly declared "opposition to Taiwan independence." Why have the DPP and Taiwan independence pressure groups pretended not to hear? More to the point, why has Lee Teng-hui pretended not to hear? Why are they silent? Is it because they agree with Li Yafei? Or is it that the public on Taiwan no longer agrees with them?

Another fact is equally interesting. The newspaper that invited Li Yafei to Taiwan and provided him with the podium on which he declared "opposition to Taiwan independence," was one of the newspapers that fanned the flames of the newspaper boycott 18 years ago. Never mind that they too published Li's remarks, on the front page. Never mind that 18 years ago they were accused of being "capitalist bandits" and "traitors to Taiwan." Today, 18 years later, these media moguls have the wherewithal to sponsor large scale cross-Strait fora. They are major players in cross-Strait "peaceful development." The 18 year difference truly is ironic. Accused "capitalist bandits" became key figures on both Taiwan and the Mainland. The supermarkets that refused to display copies of the United Daily News on their racks became giant supermarket chains with stores on both Taiwan and the Mainland. The airline which removed the United Daily News from its inflight reading bins became an aggressive advocate of cross-Strait exchanges. The Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan independence pressure groups, and Lee Teng-hui once went berserk and persecuted the United Daily News, merely for printing Li Ruihuan's remark about "opposition to Taiwan independence." Today Li Yafei throws "opposition to Taiwan independence" in their faces. Yet they listen in silence. That was then. This is now.

Think back 18 years, to the presidential newspaper boycott movement. Lee Teng-hui conspired with Taiwan independence pressure groups. Together they used state power to hijack public opinion. But this was also the reason they eventually reached a dead end. Lee Teng-hui conspired with Taiwan independence pressure groups and the Democratic Progressive Party. They used smears such as "Communist sympathizers" "Communist mouthpieces" to block the free flow of information and restrict diversity of thought. They ripped the nation apart. They froze social dialogue. They traumatized the nation. They enabled Lee Teng-hui successor Chen Shui-bian to impose a Closed Door Policy on Taiwan, bringing the Republic of China economy to the brink of ruin.

Lee Teng-hui was ostensibly runhappy with the United Daily News. In fact the Li Ruihuan news article was merely a convenient pretext. During Lee Teng-hui's 12 year reign, he engaged in black gold corruption and destroyed the ROC Constitution. United Daily News criticisms provoked his hatred and enmity. Who today does not know that the nation's constitution was destroyed by Lee Teng-hui?

United Daily News founder Wang Ti-wu said "A president has a term limit. A newspaper does not." A president can in a fit of apoplexy, launch a newspaper boycott campaign. But history will eventually return to reason. Lee Teng-hui, the DPP, and Taiwan independence pressure groups may burn newspapers. But can they burn history?

2010.08.18 10:26 am









同樣耐人尋味的是,這次邀請李亞飛來台灣宣示「反對台獨」的媒體,18年前也曾幫著「退報運動」煽風點火;儘管他們自己當時也在一版頭條刊登了李瑞環的談話。而且,18年前一名被誣為「資匪」、「台奸」的台商,如今在18年後成了這家媒體的老闆,舉行盛大的兩岸論壇,扮演兩岸「和平發展」的要角。前後18 年,此一時、彼一時,真是歷史的反諷。「資匪者」變成兩岸要角,拒聯合報上架的超商成了兩岸鉅子,撤去聯合報的航空公司成了兩岸交流的積極擁護者;所以,也就難怪曾因李瑞環「反對台獨」而瘋狂迫害聯合報的民進黨、台獨團體及李登輝,如今面對李亞飛「反對台獨」四字噴濺到臉上的唾沫,竟然也就聽其自乾,噤若寒蟬。此一時,彼一時,不是嗎?




Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Judicial Self-Management Requires Judicial Self-Discipline

Judicial Self-Management Requires Judicial Self-DisciplineUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 17, 2010

The Judicial Yuan has suspended three judges for influence-peddling and judicial misconduct. They have been handed over to the Control Yuan for prosecution, in the hope that the reputation of the justice system can be salvaged. The justice system has recently been plagued by one disease after another. The root of the problem is the failure of "judicial self-management." This failure has even cast doubt on the desirability of judicial independence. Clearly it is time to rethink judicial reform.

In 1995, a Taichung District Court judge refused to submit his verdict to the executive branch for approval. His action touched off a judicial independence movement. Since then the decisions of judges no longer require prior approval. The judiciary was fully liberated from executive interference. Eventually judges won the right to appoint personnel and assign cases, all under the banner of judicial independence. Judicial self-management took a giant step forward. Administrative oversight however, took a giant leap backward.

Fifteen years later, repeated incidents of judicial misconduct, judicial transgressions, and judicial dereliction of duty have shown that judicial self-management has resulted only in corruption and decadence.

Judge Yang Bing-long's rulings were often penned by his assistant. His office often stood empty. His status as an antiques expert nearly eclipsed his status as a judge. A High Court judgeship is not a sinecure. That Judge Yang could live the way he did, testifies to the failure of judicial oversight.

High Court Judge Kao Yu-shun came forward as a whistleblower. He blew the whistle on Supreme Court Judge Hsiao Ying-kui, who tried to influence the outcome of his son's hit and run case. When a judge's son becomes a defendant, why can his father intercede on his behalf? Why can a trial judge get away with doing favors for friends? Why are judges concerned about offending their colleagues? Why do judges "look after their own?" Why do judges go along and engage in legal sophistry? Why are judges unafraid of the "court of public opinion," but afraid of the ostensibly impartial justice system? Trial judges unthinkingly exchange the public good for personal interest. They undermine public confidence in the justice system by doing it system harm.

Judges luxuriate in judicial independence. But they have failed to demonstrate self-responsibility or self-respect. Therefore a judge's assistant can suddenly become a judge, He can suddenly become the prime mover behind a judicial ruling. Yet the court carries on as if nothing is wrong. A judge can bungle a case. He can commit glaring errors. But as long he does not engage in corruption or accept bribes, the courts look the other way.

When judges are assigned cases, judges with seniority are assigned civil cases, whereas judges with less experience are forced to preside over complex criminal cases. A new batch of "10,000 year judges" has settled in, and judges are assigned on the basis of seniority rather than ability. Judicial self discipline has gone out the window. But the Personnel Review Commission frets more about the rights of judges than their obligations. It worries more about judges than defendants. So-called "judicial independence" has evaporated. These are signs of degeneration. But judicial authorities merely turn a blind eye.

The credibility of the justice system has been severely damaged. It cannot withstand any more blows to its reputation. Fifteen years ago, judges spoke out. They asked everyone to believe them when they said they would manage themselves. The results have proven otherwise. The fact is, judicial independence is only possible with judicial self-respect. If judges lack self-respect, so-called judicial independence will merely provide unscrupulous people with more room to maneuver.

The Cheng Chi Project is courageously trying to clean house. Judges can begin freeing themselves from systemic peer pressure. This is a sign of judicial self-awareness. It is an opportunity for judges to prove themselves to outsiders. Will this opportunity lead to a renewal? That depends on the judges, on whether they follow through on what they have begun.

Judges must set ethical standards for themselves. They must demand moral rectitude and right conduct. They must institute rigorous oversight. They must not permit influence peddling to insinuate itself into the system. They must impose self-discipline. They must distinguish between right and wrong. They must not discriminate between high and low. Special laws for the impeachment of judges have yet to be passed. Until they are, the Civil Service Disciplinary Committee must play a disciplinary role and eliminate unfit judges.

People have yet to regain their faith in judicial self-management. Until they do, executive and other forms of oversight must be restored. Judges must be assigned cases based on the requirements of the trial in question. Long delayed cases must go forward. A review mechanism must be established. Indolent and corrupt judges must be removed from office. External oversight of individual cases must be provided. This will help judges resume their duties as trial judges.

The justice system is in trouble. If Acting President Hsieh Chai-chuan's only goal is to hold the line, he will forsake a rare opportunity for reform. Fifteen years ago, as fate would have it, Hsieh was President of the Taichung District Court. He was unable to deal with the judge who refused to submit to prior approval. This set off a wave of reform. One might say that Hsieh was and is a victim of fate.

Is he a victim of fate? Is this historical irony? The justice system is in decline. We must remind judges that 15 years ago, the public sided with the judges when they demanded the elimination of executive interference. The public yearned for a professional and independent trial system. But if judges become indolent, judicial self-managemtn will degenerate. The trial system will cease functioning, and public trust will be lost.

President Ma Ying-jeou must swiftly appoint a new Judicial Yuan President, one who understands the lesson of history. The new Judicial Yuan President must boldly eliminate the defects within the system. He must help judges reestablish self-discipline and self-management. He must oversee the system. Only then can judges once again hold their heads up high and proudly proclaim, "I am a judge."

2010.08.17 01:45 am















Monday, August 16, 2010

The Name-Callers' Comeuppance

The Name-Callers' ComeuppanceChina Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 16, 2010

Many things in life cannot be understood until one has personally experienced them. Many people are accustomed to cavalierly smearing others. But only when they are the targets of such campaigns can they truly appreciate how vicious they are.
Kaohsiung County Chief Yang Chiu-hsing recently declared himself a candidate for Kaohsiung City Mayor, and voiced his support for ECFA. He was immediately accused of "selling out Taiwan" and "pandering to [Mainland] China." He conceded he had smeared others the same way in the past, and therefore these smears left a deep impression upon him. As we look back today, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether other victims of such smear campaigns really were guilty of "selling out Taiwan?"

Yang Chiu-hsing was probably speaking from the heart. This five-star rated county chief merely announced his candidacy and called for a pragmatic review of the pros and cons of ECFA. But that was all the DPP nomenklatura needed to denounce him as "selling out Taiwan" and "pandering to [Mainland] China." That was enough to leave him speechless and unable to defend himself. Many rival party leaders know exactly how he feels. So do many DPP politicians. Unfortunately they usually engage in earnest soul-searching only after they have been sidelined and pushed out of the party's mainstream.

Cavalierly accusing others of "selling out Taiwan" is an expedient and anti-intellectual political tactic. It is expedient because it requires no proof and is impossible to defend against. It is anti-intellectual because it incites irrational passions. It reduces political and policy debate to name-calling and dogmatism. Even more frightening, it is a weapon to crush dissent, not just from rival parties, but even from rivals within one's own party. It leads to a party with a single voice. It permits only the rote repetition of dogma. It makes progressive thought impossible. Its most vicious after-effect is the manufacture of public hatred. It mires society in inextricable chaos, and retards the nation's progress.

Just how much truth there is to charges of "selling out Taiwan?" The Taiwan Region of the Republic of China has undergone democraticization. Therefore it belongs to all its citizens. It is not something that can belongs to any one individual. Therefore how can it possibly be sold out by any one individual? The President is merely a person elected by the people to administer for four years. Taiwan is not his personal property. As Yang Chiu-hsing noted, even assuming Ma Ying-jeou wanted to sell out Taiwan, he would have to call for a public referendum and a constitutional amendment. Selling out Taiwan is easier said than done. Since no one individual has the power to sell out Taiwan, the charge is essentially empty one, a lie.

Taiwan was once ceded, occupied, and subjected to martial law. The people truly did not determine their own destinies. Their sense of powerlessness and insecurity left a dark shadow. This makes it easy to revive old fears. This may be understandable, but it does not reflect reality. The people are now the masters of the nation. Whether to reunify or to become independent, can be decided only by legal procedures, not by any particular individual or inviduals. Attempting to apply old thinking in a new era can only leave one lost and directionless. Perpetually looking over one's shoulder can neither solve current problems nor enable one to plan for the future.

Yang Chiu-hsing feels that if Taiwan and the Mainland can coexist in peace, if they can treat each other with respect, both their economies will benefit. If the opportunity arises, he will emulate Yunlin County Chief Su Chih-fen and Tainan County Chief Su Huan-chih. He will visit the Mainland to promote the economic interests of businesses on Taiwan. Such voices of pragmatism have gradually begun to emerge within the DPP. They have begun to challenge the Deep Green party line. As they see it, the DPP cannot allow itself to fall behind the KMT in seeking business opportunities for its constituents. Cross-Strait exchanges are increasingly at a breakneck pace. If the DPP insists on treading water, the public on Taiwan will leave it behind. Therefore it must face reality and attempt to keep pace.

The DPP has long been the hostage of Deep Green ideology. So much so that when faced with major changes such as the rise of Mainland China and cross-Strait reconciliation, it was left dumbfounded and unable to cope. Why? Because the DPP is accustomed to exploiting the provincial origins issue. It has benefitted politically from cross-Strait hostility and "ethnic" (communal) tensions on Taiwan. Actually, even assuming one advocates Taiwan independence, as long as one is willing to shelve disputes, one can still promote cross-Strait exchanges. Attempting to help the Mainland understand and respect Taiwan is also a viable option. But the DPP has always defined residents of the Province of Taiwan and the island of Taiwan as victims of oppression, and itself as its loving guardian. Needless to say the role of villain has been assigned to [Mainland] China. Because unless the villain is sufficiently evil, the the value of the DPP will come into question.

Beijing has allowed Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan and made major concessions to Taiwan regarding ECFA. Local leaders have visited the Mainland in order to promote local agricultural products. Democratic Progressive Party and Deep Green forces have lashed back, insisting that Taiwan will eventually suffer dire consequences. After all, if the two sides reconcile, the Democratic Progressive Party will lose its raison d'etre. Alas, the DPP's logic has become less and less convincing. Not because people are naive, but because Mainland China's existence and rise to power is an unavoidable reality. To survive, they must face this reality and attempt to seize any opportunities for their own benefit.

Pragmatism has gradually emerged within the DPP. A political platform for the coming decade is in the works. The Democratic Progressive Party is about to engage in a struggle over its political future. This is more than a change in election strategy. The DPP must rethink its party constitution and its political niche. It must rethink its vision of cross-Strait relations and Taiwan's economic future. Cross-Strait relations are an unavoidable issue for Taiwan and the DPP. Chronic resort to smear tactics will only leave the DPP blinkered and blind. DPP leaders must have the courage to open their hearts and minds. Only then will the DPP become a party able to offer new hope for Taiwan.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.08.16











Friday, August 13, 2010

The 1992 Consensus Remains Intact

The 1992 Consensus Remains IntactUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 13, 2010

Yesterday Li Yafei, deputy chairman of the Mainland China Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), proclaimed a soft landing for the recent discord over the 1992 Consensus. The 1992 Consensus is a "paper window." Recently this newspaper published an editorial urging the two sides not to poke holes in this paper window. Fortunately, it appears that the paper window is still intact.

Our editorial on the 9th urged authorities on both sides to return to the 1992 Consensus. We said that the 1992 Consensus is a work in progress, that has more room for development. It is a translucent paper window that permits the passage of light, but also provides a degree of separateness. We urged the two sides not to poke holes in this paper window.

Li Yafei's latest statement made two points. One. Opposing Taiwan independence. Two. Upholding the 1992 Consensus. But Li Yafei repeatedly stressed an even more important point. He said we should "seek commonalities, not differences." In other words, we should "shelve disputes and seek common ground."

Li Yafei said that since 2008, the basis of cross-Strait mutual trust has been: One. Opposing Taiwan independence. Two. Upholding the 1992 Consensus. Actually these are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, the 1992 Consensus equals opposition to Taiwan independence. On the other hand, the motive for supporting the 1992 Consensus in the first place, is opposition to Taiwan independence. The question has always been how the 1992 Consensus should be interpreted. The answer depends on how one defines "One China." For Li Yafei the 1992 Consensus means that "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have agreed to express their different interpretations of the One China Principle orally."

Newspapers in Taipei however published two different versions of his talk. One version was mentioned above. Another version appeared in the media that hosted his talk. Li Yafei supposedly said "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait agree to express their different interpretations of One China orally." One version says the "One China Principle." The other says "One China." The "One China Principle" has been proven correct.

One China and the One China Principle are not the same. Beijing's current expression, the "One China Principle," is broader. It sees "One China" as a deeper concept that can be further developed. In the past Beijing spoke only of One China, which had a narrower meaning. But no matter how the two sides interpret One China, the concept of One China has become a work in progress. It is no longer a rigid concept, but rather a fact that all can see. It is also the central pillar of cross-Strait "peaceful development."

In the "three old catchphrases," One China was narrowly defined to mean "There is only one China. Taiwan is a part of China. The People's Republic of China is the sole legal government of China." Today however, One China has evolved. Today Beijing speaks of "the two sides have yet to be reunified, but they are nevertheless part of One China." "Maintaining the status quo means maintaining the status of existing regulations and documents on Taiwan." "Both the Mainland and Taiwan are part of One China," "A in-progress style One China." "Contemplating the status of the Republic of China." As we can see, One China is a work in progress. It is more akin to the One China Principle, rather than the arbitrary and rigid One China of yesteryear.

Li Yafei stressed "seeking commonalities, not differences," and "shelving disputes, seeking common ground." Based on this premise, and separated by the paper window of the 1992 Consensus, Beijing speaks of "One China, different interpretations," while Taipei speaks of "different interpretations of One China." "One China, different interpretations" is subsumed under the One China Principle. "Different interpretations of One China" is also subsumed under the One China Principle. As long as the two sides "seek commonalities, not differences," this translucent paper window will allow in light while remaining intact.

Examine Li Yafei's statement under a magnifying glass. What Li Yafei said was that Beijing's interpretation of the 1992 Consensus was "different interpetations of One China." But Li said it allowed room to "seek commonalities, not differences." Taipei's interpretation of the 1992 Consensus remains "One China, different interpretations." Li Yafei may have pressed against the paper window with his finger, but he did not poke any holes in it.

For the past two decades, Taiwan has been immersed in a certain manipulative political atmosphere, one predicated upon the notion that "Taiwan independence equals love for Taiwan," that "subverting the Republic of China equals love for Taiwan." This notion argues that "not to be annexed and reunified by China equals love for Taiwan." Society on Taiwan has a severe "China Complex." One could say we have been seeking a cure for a disease that has bedeviled Taiwan for the past 60 years. Therefore, before Beijing can talk about the One China Principle, it must first forsake its "decapitation principle," which calls for the decapitation of the Republic of China. Only then can we gradually change the minds of an obdurate but influential minority calling for the "recapitation" of the Republic of China by changing it to a Republic of Taiwan. Beijing must realize that without the Republic of China, the One China Principle will lose its backing.

Allow us to once again quote this newspaper's editorial of the 7th, entitled "The One China Principle: The Undeniable Republic of China." The key to the One China Principle is how the public on Taiwan "feels about China." One may wish to consider this newspaper's "Newest Three Catchphrases." "There is only one China. The ROC and the PRC are both part of China, China's territory and sovereignty are indivisible."

What is this, if not "different expressions of One China" plus "One China, different expressions," both taken from the 1992 Consensus?

2010.08.13 02:59 am