Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jury System is First Step in Checking Power of Judges

Jury System is First Step in Checking Power of Judges
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 1, 2011

The Judicial Yuan has approved a "Jury System" pilot program. The system will allow the public limited participation in the trial process. But no sooner were the plans were announced, then critics from all walks of life weighed in. Future passage and implementation of the system may be difficult.

A government can have a tripartite or quinpartite power structure. But judicial power is unique. Only judges may exercise this power, free from any and all interference. Past judicial reform efforts strove for judicial independence. They abolished the "by the book system." They established a system in which judges determined personnel assignments. This prevented "higher ups" and "still higher ups" from interfering with court judgments. Today, we have an independent justice system that conforms to the Rule of Law.

When a trial judge's power is free from any and all interference, the practical result is trial judge absolutism. Judges are virtually gods in their courtrooms. Judges have the final say on everything. As a result, the success or failure of the trial process will hinge on the individual character of judges. An individual judge may have a particular bias or moral defect. He may be clearly incompetent. But his judicial authority will be immune to any checks or balances. This may lead to wrongful convictions and ridiculous sentences. It may lead to controversial, erroneous, and absurd rulings that cast doubt on the credibility of the justice system. Recently, so-called "dinosaur judges" were the target of ridicule. Other judges with strong political colors have handed down highly controversial rulings. Some judges have even practiced corruption, inviting massive criticism. This shows that our pursuit of judicial independence has gone too far. Today the problem is not insufficient judicial independence. Today the problem is a surfeit of judicial tyranny.

In our effort to arrive at a workable system, we have gone from seeking balance to avoiding tyranny. Our efforts were worthwhile. But before we introduce a new system, we must first consider social reality. We must not be Quixotic. When the Judicial Yuan introduced its "Jury System," some compared it to the Anglo-American jury system, or the German assessor/lay judges system. They said that "Such a jury system is absurd. The public cannot be trusted." Leave aside the issue of whether the system is constitutional. Any attempt to introduce such an idealized system in the near term, would be extremely difficult.

First consider the Anglo-American jury system. The jury has the power to rule on the facts of the case. It shares power with the trial judge, consistent with the applicable laws. Jurors may be selected by an elaborate selection procedure. They may be strictly sequestered. They may be receive strict instructions from judges. But a jury consisting of ordinary citizens remains vulnerable to undue influences. They may arrive at unexpected verdicts. This has often occurred in the UK and the US. If the jury system is adopted here, given our social realities, a jury would be unlikely to match Anglo-American standards. The jury system does not always work in the UK and the US. How well would it work on Taiwan? This is not a question of whether we trust the people. This is a question of whether we can afford to gamble with an individual's rights.

Now consider the German assessor/lay judges system. Assessors, along with judges, function as decision-makers during trials. But not all cases use assessors. Only misdemeanors and lower court cases use assessors. Felony cases may include assessors, but fewer assessors than judges. Nor do they take part in the Final Appeal stage. Assessor selection is stricter than jury selection. Given the situation on Taiwan, it would probably be even more difficult to establish a trustworthy selection assessor selection process.

We must consider social reality. The "jury system" is the first step in checking and balancing the power of trial judges. Once we implement such a system, we must see how well it works. We can then choose either the jury system, the assessor system, or some other system. This is the way to arrive at a reliable solution.

We approve of the Judicial Yuan's move to shatter the conservative mindset of the justice system. It has taken an important first step. But such a pilot program must be strengthened. For example, according to the published data, once jurors have been selected, no mechanism prevents undue influence. The jurors have only the right to make recommendations. But while the new system is being tested, jury comments may still exert considerable pressure on judges. We must guard against undue influence. It must be punished. Citizens with a senior high education or better. who are at least 23 years old, qualify as jurors. Given current social realities, this is probably much too lenient. Suppose the judge is 26, and the juror is 23? How reassuring would such a combination be? The devil is in the details. The proposed system must be carefully evaluated.

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.08.01









Thursday, July 28, 2011

James Soong, Why Not Run For President?

James Soong, Why Not Run For President?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 29, 2011

James Soong recently made a bold move. To understand his motives, we must consider the impact of his move on the January 2012 two-in-one election and on the future of the Republic of China.

James Soong said his goal was to win three seats for the People First Party in the Legislative Yuan, and to form a three man PFP party caucus. Does the PFP have the ability to form a three man PFP party caucus? This is not necessarily the key to the political future of the ROC. The question being asked of voters in the current election is, should they remain loyal to the Republic of China and the Republic of China Constitution? Should the government maintain its current cross-Strait policy? Or should it adopt an entirely different strategic policy path? Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen represent two vastly different policy paths. Therefore this election has enormous significance for the future of the ROC, The issues are, should the ROC change its strategic path? Should the ROC change its president? Should the president elect change the strategic path of the ROC, via the Legislative Yuan? The issue is not whether the PFP can form a three man PFP party caucus.

If James Soong runs for president, in the hope of influencing the strategic direction of the ROC, he is well within his rights. How well he can do in the election is not the issue, But suppose he is unable to offer a strategic direction that transcends those offered by Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen? Suppose his goal is merely to stir up the pot, or to establish a three man PFP party caucus? Never mind whether he has the ability. If that is his goal, he is not justified in doing so. Because the question of whether to adopt a new strategic direction transcends the question of whether the PFP is able to form a three man PFP party caucus. Is James Soong's real goal to alter the strategic direction of the ROC? If it is not, then stirring the pot and forming a three man PFP party caucus hardly justifies what he is doing.

What is the purpose of forming a three man PFP party caucus? Is it to enable the DPP's Chou Po-ya to become Deputy Speaker of the Taipei City Council? Is it to enable the Legislative Yuan to make Chen Tsung-ming Prosecutor General? Is it to pave the way for a "Tsai/Soong Meeting," as a follow up to the "Bian/Soong Meeting?" Is it to enable a three man PFP party caucus to play the role of a decisive minority in the legislature? What will the strategic impact on the nation and society be? Suppose Soong's move subverts the strategic picture? Suppose it changes our strategtic direction? Is that James Soong's real goal?

Soong obviously opposes Ma and hates Ma. But he is unwilling to be honest about his motives. This is why James Soong keeps advancing reasons for what he is doing. James Soong can run for president. All he needs to do is launch a petition drive. Green Camp voters will automatically, spontaneously support his candidacy. His candidacy will be assured. No matter what the outcome of the election is, no matter whether Soong wins or Tsai wins, Soong will have fulfilled his goal. He will have exacted revenge on Ma Ying-jeou. James Soong is not running for president. But he is still splitting Blue Camp votes. If he runs for president with the express intention of stirring the pot, Soong will become Blue Camp Public Enemy Number One, He can forget about any three man PFP party caucus. If the People First Party fields candidates for the legislature left and right, it will be publicly admitting that it is merely stirring the pot, that it is not running for office, but merely acting as a spoiler.

James Soong is opposed to Ma and angry at Ma. But he cannot deny the success of Ma Ying-jeou's strategic path. If the PFP considers Ma Ying-jeou's strategic path to be generally correct, why must it set up a three man PFP party caucus? Why must it deliberately create chaos and wreak havoc? What justification does it have? What reasons can it offer? James Soong may be unhappy with King Pu-tsung, But that is no reason to create chaos and subvert the strategic picture.

James Soong's actions are destructive rather than constructive. He hopes merely to foil Ma Ying-jeou's bid for a second term, or to hurt him in the legislative elections, all for the sake of his three man PFP party caucus. His approach is to split the Blue Camp, to wrap his fingers around Ma Ying-jeou's neck. The inevitable result would be a windfall for Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP, Tsai could topple Ma as president. The DPP could gain control of the Legislative Yuan. The election could change the nation's helmsman, and the nation's strategic direction. No one is suggesting that James Soong cannot support Tsai Ing-wen. No one can forbid James Soong to meet with Ah-Bian. But Soong must explain his reasons for bringing down Ma Ying-jeou and helping up Tsai Ing-wen. Does he really think that a three man PFP party caucus, in exchange for subverting the strategic direction of the ROC, constitutes a reasonable political trade off?

James Soong may wish to distinguish between his path and Ma Ying-jeou's, He may wish to advance his own strategic vision. Ma Ying-jeou advocates "no [immediate] reunification." The PFP may choose to advocate "reunification," in the hope of attracting votes from elderly veterans. But can James Soong really champion reunification merely by forming a three man PFP party caucus? And if the final result is that Ma steps down and Tsai steps up, will Tsai's positions on national identity, constitutional allegiance, and cross-Strait policy more closely approximate those held by elderly veterans? Is this not a fraud perpetrated upon elderly veterans?

Besides, consider the worst case scenario. The KMT loses its legislative majority, Ma Ying-jeou loses his bid for reelection. The PFP fails in its attempt to form a three man PFP party caucus.

Ma Ying-jeou's record is far from satisfactory. Tsai Ing-wen's record is not without its achievements. The biggest difference between the two has nothing to do with their public images, but with their strategic paths. If James Soong runs for president, and defeats both Ma and Tsai, he may be able to influence the ROC's strategic direction. But if Soong cannot defeat Ma and Tsai, he must choose between two strategic paths, the KMT's and the DPP's. He must choose between Ma and Tsai. This is a choice each and every voter must make in the general election of January next year. James Soong is no exception. Any three man PFP party caucus must also have a strategic direction.

During next year's elections, the strategic direction of the ROC is more important than any personal grudges. It is more important than 2.4 billion NT, It is more important than any three man PFP party caucus. No one is saying that James Soong cannot subvert the strategic picture, and bring down Ma Ying-jeou. But Soong must make clear whether this is what he really wants. Is James Soong really concerned about three seats in the Legislative Yuan? Or is he merely attempting to subvert the strategic picture? If he is really concerned about three seats in the Legislative Yuan, he does not need to create so much chaos. He should be able to achieve his purpose some other way.

Is James Soong not running for president, but merely attempting to bring down Ma Ying-jeou? Or is James Soong running for president, in order to bring down Ma Ying-jeou? Either way, the results will be exactly the same. In which case, James Soong might as well run for president. Because if Soong runs for president and brings down Ma, Soong might just win. This might make a meaningful difference to the strategic path taken by the ROC.

James Soong opposes Ma and hates Ma. But he must not allow his feelings to overwhelm his concern for the future of the ROC.

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.07.29














Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Different Time, Different Place: But One Still Needs a Platform

Different Time, Different Place: But One Still Needs a Platform
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 28, 2011

Summary: An expression has become all the rage: "Different time, different place." This expression has practically become DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen's mantra. Apparently she finds it pretty handy. The political scene on Taiwan has undergone significant change. It has experienced two changes in ruling parties. Both the ruling Blues and the opposition Greens have been in office before. Neither can eradicate the record of the road they once traveled. Government and opposition leaders may try to rationalize their past policies by saying, "different time, different place." But we must subject them to harsh scrutiny. We must ask them, are the time and place really so different?

Full Text below:

An expression has become all the rage: "Different time, different place." This expression has practically become DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen's mantra, Apparently she finds it pretty handy. The political scene on Taiwan has undergone significant change. It has experienced two changes in ruling parties. Both the ruling Blues and the opposition Greens have been in office before. Neither can eradicate the record of the road they once traveled. Government and opposition leaders may attempt to rationalize their past policies by saying, "different time, different place." But we must subject them to harsh scrutiny. We must ask them, are the time and place really so different?

Consider the subsidies for elderly farmers. The DPP approved an increase from 6000 NT to 7000 NT. The Ma administration followed suit. It refused to let this become and election season trump card for the DPP. But this plank in the DPP campaign platform is an elephant in the living room. When the DPP was in office, Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen firmly opposed this subsidy increase.

The Chen administration cited any number of reasons for opposing the subsidy increase. One was that the government was in fiscal straits. The DPP was placing emphasis on the National Pension System. Under the National Pension System, additional allowances would be incorporated into the system as a whole. Unfortunately, neither the Democratic Progressive Party administration, nor the Ma administration made proper plans. Both failed to fully implement the program. Now that the general election is around the corner, both are attempting to curry favor with voters by offering cash bribes.

The Ma administration's problem is that after three years in office, it has yet to fully implement the policy. The DPP continues to force the KMT to up the ante. Tsai Ing-wen's problem is that she opposed the increase then, but favors it now. Her excuse is, "different time, different place." But are conditions really that different from three to five years ago? The government is still in dire fiscal straits. The National Pension Plan has been implemented. Why is it necessary to increase subsidies for elderly farmers, when they should have been incorporated into the National Pension Plan long ago? Consider agricultural policy. During its eight years in office, the Chen administration opened the market to Mainland agricultural products. It attempted to abolish the Agricultural Cooperative Credit Department. Farmers protested in front of the presidential palace, on a scale far larger than today. Yet Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to shirk responsibility for the Chen administration's policy, with an airy "different time, different place." She even had the chutzpah to visit the grassroots and gladhand the protesting farmers.

This is hardly the first time Tsai Ing-wen has fallen back on a "different time, different place." Last year the DPP lambasted the Ma administration for providing government subsidies to Mainland students. But it soon became clear that this policy was a legacy from the Lee Teng-hui era. The subsidies provided by the Chen administration during a single year, far exceeded the subsidies provided by the Ma administration over two years. Tsai Ing-wen's excuse was, yet again, "different time, different place." This was even more incomprehensible. During the Ma era cross-Strait exchanges were more frequent than during the Lee era and Chen era. How can the Ma administration be criticized for tightening controls?

Consider another example, Tsai Ing-wen blasted the Ma administration over rice wine price cuts. She said "A lot of people do not see this as a major achievement." This is even more bizarre. During the Chen era, Taipei was trying to join the WTO. Tsai Ing-wen's chief negotiator argued, "Our government began negotiations on rice wine prices only after the dispute settlement panel arrived at its decision on Japanese shochu prices. Negotiations took place after the WTO emphasized legal discipline. Legally, we had very little room to maneuver." She even argued that given high living standards on Taiwan, we could afford to buy slightly more expensive wine, that we had no need to dwell on rice wine prices. Given her desertion in the face of fire at the front, was it really necessary to hold the line at the rear?

Tsai Ing-wen could not bring down rice wine prices. The Ma administration could. Taipei was a WTO Member State. Yet the Ma administration could do something the DPP administration could not. It could get different tax rates for cooking wine and drinking wine. If this is not a major political achievement, what is? Such incidents are not confined to rice wine. Let us not forget how the DPP administration agreed to open the market to US beef imports. It even agreed to forsake Taiwan standards for Ractopamine and Clenbuterol in meat inspections. This matter was never satisfactorily resolved. The repercussions are still being felt in Taipei/Washington relations. But the Ma administration has refused to make concessions or to give up. It fights on.

Tsai Ing-wen is DPP chairman. She is competing for the highest office in the land. Before Tsai Ing-wen trots out specific policy proposals, she would do well to review the road she has already traveled. She was a member of the National Security Commission under Lee Teng-hui. She was MAC Chairman and Vice Premier under Chen Shui-bian, Many of her policies remain in force, even today. Many policies still bear her imprint. They are not something a simple "different time, different place" can erase from our collective memory.

She opposes the 18% preferential interest rate for retired civil servants. But upon leaving office, she continued to collect her 18% preferential interest rate payments, and to deposit them in her personal bank account. That is one of the more striking examples. When she was vice premier she pressured EIA officials to approve the Taichung Science Park Project during Phase Three environmental impact assessment. That is another striking example. Tsai Ing-wen may have erased these incidents from her memory. But during the election process, they will inevitably resurface, again and again. There is nothing unfair about this. Just the opposite. This is precisely how candidates must be evaluated. They must undergo rigorous examination. Anything less is an injustice to ROC voters.

Politics may be characterized as clever rhetoric, able to deceive people in the near term. But politics can never erase words uttered in the past. In the process of winning votes, politicians must speak the truth. They must grant voters a modicum of respect. They must not assume that everyone has a short memory, and can easily be fooled. They must be responsible for their words and deeds. They must be responsible to the people. Anyone aspiring to the office of the president must meet these conditions. Why else is the opposition DPP reminding voters that President Ma reneged on his "6/3/3" campaign pledge? Why can't Ma simply say "different time, different place?"

「時空背景不同」 還是要提政見
2011-07-28 中國時報











Monday, July 25, 2011

Will Intraparty Dissent Fall on Deaf Ears?

Will Intraparty Dissent Fall on Deaf Ears?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 26, 2011

Summary: The Blues and Greens are now meeting on the battlefield. On the KMT side, Ma Ying-jeou is waging a one man war. He comes across as frail and weak. Meanwhile, the DPP is wracked by dissent, which the party leadership completely ignores. President Ma appears exhausted. He appears to be running scared. But the DPP is totally ignoring internal dissent. From the perspective of partisan politics, that is the more chilling proposition.

Full Text Below:

The Blues and Greens are now meeting on the battlefield. On the KMT side, Ma Ying-jeou is waging a one man war. He comes across as frail and weak. Meanwhile, the DPP is wracked by dissent, which the party leadership completely ignores. President Ma appears exhausted. He appears to be running scared. But the DPP is totally ignoring internal dissent. From the perspective of partisan politics, that is the more chilling proposition.

The Green Camp has been wracked by dissent. It began with the controversy over nominations for legislators without portfolio, and continued over recent increases in elderly farmers' subsidies, The party leadership has given dissenters the cold shoulder. This is baffling. Wang Hsing-nan, Ker Chien-ming, and Trong Chai, have ripped away each others' scabs. Are their grudges and differences merely personal? Wang Jung-chang and former political commissar Lin Wan-yi are members of the "fair tax reform alliance." On increased subsidies for elderly farmers, they held one position yesterday, and another position today. They spoke of "safeguarding Taiwan's democracy." They criticized the nominees for legislator without portfolio, saying they reflected "a failure of democratic imagination." Tsai Yu-chuang accused nominees for legislator without portfolio of "questionable personal morals." These are important matters of political ethics and political ideals. Why is the party leadership silent? Is the DPP unable to look at itself in the mirror? Does it lack the courage to accept different opinions?

The DPP is wracked by dissent, The reason is clear. One. the DPP leadership has lost its sense of direction. It has become preoccupied with short term advantage. Two. Tsai Ing-wen's leadership remains in doubt. Three. Personal and factional scores remain unresolved. Four. DPP leaders are torn between idealism and opportunism. Among these reasons, the fourth is the most critical. Alas, for the party leadership, opportunism has clearly already won out.

In terms of political evolution, this is hardly a welcome development. The DPP boasts of its dedication to democracy and reform. The myth of Chen Shui-bian as the "Son of Taiwan" has been shattered. Now however, Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to reconstruct this myth. The constant stream of internal dissent merely exposes the hollowness of this myth. Needless to say, the DPP cannot face the truth. The DPP is a political party that flip-flops endlessly, that says one thing but does another, that pursues short term advantage over long term principles, and that cannot remember what it stands for. How can voters possible trust such a party?

Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly been forced to eat crow. She has flip-flopped on the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Plant project, on nuclear power generation, on the 18% preferential interest rate, on ECFA, and on subsidies for elderly farmers. What are her principles for governing the nation? Does she even have hard and fast principles? Just how shrewd is Tsai Ing-wen? Voters have yet to see. But if she ignores the views of her own comrades today, can we really expect her to listen to the people following the election? Isn't that a pipe dream?

These problems are not confined to Tsai Ing-wen alone. They reflect the DPP's lack of openness and lack of self-introspection. When Chen Shui-bian and his family busied themselves with rampant corruption, the DPP mobilized its forces, crushing anyone in the party who dared to oppose corruption. It portrayed them as "brigands," and subjected them to "struggle sessions." Today Tsai Ing-wen and her retinue of supporters know they lack legitimacy. Therefore they turn a deaf ear to dissent. They think if they can suppress dissent, they can convey the illusion of intraparty harmony. But an illusion it all it is. The DPP has foolishly sacrificed its fundamental values, merely to gain an advantage over its enemies in the short term.

The DPP's fickle behavior reveals its lack of consistent principles. Even worse, it reveals its utter selfishness. The DPP is willing to sacrifice the nation, but unwilling to sacrifice the party. Take subsidies for farmers. Concern for the nation's fiscal health, for the systematization of annuities, for the fairness of the welfare system, and for larger scale agricultural problems, mean now is not the time to talk about increases. But the DPP is unwilling to let go of the pork in its mouth, It knows if it takes even one bite, it will revert to form. Nevertheless it cannot resist its own impulses. In fact, four years ago many Pan Greens opposed subsidies for elderly farmers, not just Wang Jung-chang and Lin Wan-yi. But Tsai Ing-wen is surrounded by people preoccupied with seizing power. They do not give a damn how they look.

What's the difference between this election and other elections over the past decade? This election lacks boasting about "reform" and "progress." This is not because political reforms on Taiwan are complete, This is because so many promises of reform and progress turned out to be empty. Reminding voters about them today would merely antagonize them. Hence the appeals to innocent first time voters, begging them to "Save Taiwan!" But no matter how eloquent politicians are, they cannot erase the footprints on the road they have traveled. No matter what rosy promises they might make about the future, they cannot escape the verdict of history. President Ma has been subjected to three years of political inquisition. The DPP's eight years in office was a total wash, marked by endless waffling on issues too numerous to mention. No matter how inexperienced voters may be, they should have no trouble learning the truth. They need only listen to the voices of dissent emerging from the Green Camp.

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.07.26









Sunday, July 24, 2011

Can Taiwan Shrug Off the Lee Teng-hui Complex?

Can Taiwan Shrug Off the Lee Teng-hui Complex?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 25, 2011

Two ruling party changes have taken place on Taiwan. But over the past ten years, democracy on Taiwan has remained mired in web of contradictions. On the one hand, both the ruling and opposition parties praise the passing of the baton. On the other hand, the replacement rate for politicians is surprisingly low. Over the past decade, this has resulted in a "Lee Teng-hui Complex," and even an inability to escape the influence of the "Lee Teng-hui Era." Althought he has retired, this nonagenarian continues attempting to play the role of kingmaker.

Lee was the first president of the Republic of China born on Taiwan. No one can ignore Lee Teng-hui's contribution to democracy. Before leaving office, he said his greatest wish was to be a missionary. Who knew that within six months, he would found the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU)? In the beginning, the purpose of the TSU was to induce the Nativist faction to defect from the KMT. When this attempt failed, the TSU became an independent bastion for the Taiwan independence camp. Within a year, it shattered successor Chen Shui-bian's "new centrist path."

Ah-bian was in power for eight years. On the surface, he and Lee were got along swimmingly. In fact, relations were strained to the breaking point. Ah-Bian both solicited his opinion, and intimidated him. He dared not confront Lee outright of course, The TSU virtually became the DPP's policy maker. In order to crank up election sentiment and bolster support for Taiwan independence, the DPP was forced to follow the TSU's lead on such issues as joining the United Nations or making referenda part of the election process. This remains true even today. The TSU no longer has a single seat in the legislature. But because it unites the Taiwan independence movement, it continues to exert a powerful attraction on the DPP. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen can subtly snub Chen Shui-bian. But she must cling to Lee Teng-hui for dear life.

Even stranger is the effect Lee Teng-hui has on the KMT. It is similar to the effect James Soong has on the KMT. Both have an influence that cannot be ignored. One reason is that Lee is too adept at political intrigue. Either that, or the middle-aged elites within the Blue and Green camps are far too inept. Over the past decade, they have allowed Lee Teng-hui to political developments by dropping rhetorical bombshells and by staging media events.

James Soong was once powerful because of Lee Teng-hui. He fell from grace, also because of Lee Teng-hui. The key issue was not that Lee froze the Taiwan Provincial Government. The key issue was that during the 2000 Republic of China Presidential Election. Lee either acquiesced or conspired in leaking information about the Chung Hsing Bills case and US real estate registered in the name of James Soong's son. Lee and Sung have many scores to settle. Thirteen years after their battle over the freezing of the Taiwan Provincial Government, James Soong attended Lee Teng-hui's birthday party. He even felt compelled to thank Lee Teng-hui for making him "the one and only governor." Had he known this is how things would turn out, James Soong need not have turned against Lee Teng-hui so many years ago. He could have obediently allowed Lee Teng-hui to plan his political future, and the political arena on Taiwan would look very different today.

Lee Teng-hui made good use of James Soong. But he also pulled the rug out from under him, Lee refused to allow Soong to run for president, because Soong was a "Mainlander." "At most he can be Premier." But neither did Lee appoint Soong to his cabinet. Instead he allowed Vincent Siew, Soong's good friend, to assume that role. From that moment on, Siew and Soong were strangers. Today Lee praises Soong as "the best administrator ever," It is even rumored that Lee Teng-hui urged Tsai Ing-wen to make James Soong a member of her cabinet. This has left both the Blue and Green camps dumbfounded. James Soong has ironically become best pawn in Lee Teng-hui's effort to divide the Blue Camp.

The Ma administration assumed office three years ago. Lee Teng-hui has repeatedly criticized the Ma administration for "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." As a result, democracy on Taiwan has undergone regression. Lee seems to have forgotten that of all the Presidents of the ROC who served on Taiwan, he was the only one who ever joined the Communist Party. He seems to have forgotten that he was the one who dispatched a "cross-Strait emissary" to Beijing during his term. He was the one who wanted the Uni-President Corporation to grow tomatoes on the Mainland. He was the one who suggested that Chi Mei set up factories on the Mainland. He accused the Ma administration of "forfeiting the nation's sovereignty." But he seems to have forgotten his own years in power. How many nations offered the ROC visa-free entry back then? He seems to have forgotten that his state visits to allies were made possible only by means of spendthrift checkbook diplomacy, and that he left behind the foul stench of secret national security accounts.

Lee Teng-hui's intense power lust undermined his policy expertise. Consider another example. Lee Teng-hui is an expert in agricultural economy. He contributed to Taiwan's economic development. But during his term the largest peasant movement in history took place. In 2004 Lee blasted Lien and Soong, accusing them of not understanding agriculture. He also blasted Beijing for "dumping" agricultural products on Taiwan. But he seems to have forgotten it was the Chen administration that permitted the importation of Mainland produce to Taiwan, not Lien and Soong.

Today he is blasting the Ma administration, saying that its "small landlord, big tenant farmer" policy was bungled. He trumpets the "80,000 strong army of peasants" during his term as Taiwan Provincial Governor. He argues that there are now 300,000 jia worth of fallow land, calling it such a pity. He seems to have forgotten that he first served as governor, then as vice president, then as president. He was in power for twelve years, Why was the "scale up in order to reduce costs" policy he advocated unsustainable? We have not even mentioned how the scale of agriculture on Taiwan began shrinking during his term of office.

Lee lived through colonial rule and the white terror, Lee has a strong sense of political mission. He has strong feelings about the direction the nation should take. During his term, he advocated "terminating the alien regime," remaking the KMT as a "Nativist" political party, and underscoring "Taiwan's sovereignty." Whether one agrees with his rhetorical style and content, no one can challenge his "Taiwanese values." Lee has already written an unforgettable page in Taiwan's history. Why does he feel compelled to add a footnote that provokes so much unnecessary controversy?

Blue and Green politicians who consider themselves new generation political leaders, may defer to this elder, who once commanded the forces of nature. But they need no longer dance to his tune, Otherwise, what future is there for politics on Taiwan?













Friday, July 22, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen Must Answer Chen Shui-bian

Tsai Ing-wen Must Answer Chen Shui-bian
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 27, 2011

Chen Shui-bian has publicly asked two questions, and is now awaiting Tsai Ing-wen's answer.

The first question is: Tsai Ing-wen, if you are elected president, will you grant me amnesty? Chen Shui-bian recently penned an article entitled "Yingluck Shinawatra Wins on Her Brother's Behalf." He said former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was forced into exile when charges of corruption were leveled against him. His sister Yingluck ran for parliament in his place. She did not distance herself from Thaksin. She acknowledged and affirmed Taksin's achievements. She openly advocated "amnesty for convicted political prisoners." As a result, she won the election and became prime minister. Chen Shui-bian said this is why Tsai Ing-wen should not distance herself from him. He said "distancing herself from me will only lead to defeat." Chen Shui-bian said Yingluck never denied she was "Thaksin's clone." Therefore Tsai Ing-wen should "replicate Yingluck's experience." Chen went on and on. But Chen Shui-bian's real question was "Tsai Ing-wen, do you intend to pardon me, Chen Shui-bian?"

The second question is, "Tsai Ing-wen, why not promise that if elected, you will abolish ECFA?" Chen Shui-bian said the issue of "Taiwan's primacy and national identity," and even the termination of ECFA, are questions that cannot be avoided. These remarks were of course directed at Tsai Ing-wen, who has been studiously avoiding them. Chen Shui-bian feels they must be "confronted directly." He feels she must "dominate the issue and seize the initiative." Chen Shui-bian and Chen Chih-chung have both expressed their views on the matter. Once Tsai Ing-wen is elected, asssuming Beijing does not preempt by terminating ECFA first, then "President Tsai" should do so. Chen said that provisions for the termination of ECFA by either Beijing or the Democratic Progressive Party, is a question that cannot be avoided. Chen went on and on. But Chen's real question was, "Tsai Ing-wen, why not promise that if elected you will abolish ECFA?"

Will Tsai pardon Chen Shui-bian? Will Tsai abolish ECFA? These are questions most people would like to ask Tsai Ing-wen. Today, these questions have been asked by Chen Shui-bian. Naturally she is under increased pressure to respond. These are questions that Tsai Ing-wen must not evade and cannot evade.

For Chen Shui-bian, this was an audacious move that took everyone by surprise. Tsai Ing-wen is under the gun, both inside and outside her party. Logically speaking, Chen Shui-bian should be easing any pressure on Tsai Ing-wen. He should not become the straw that breaks the camel's back. He should wait until after Tsai Ing-wen is elected to bring up such matters. Yet Chen Shui-bian has deliberately chosen this chaotic moment to raise two issues that could impact Tsai Ing-wen's election prospects. What is he doing, but intentionally making life difficult for Tsai?

He has two possible motives for doing this. One. Chen Shui-bian may think that people within the Green Camp have strong feelings about ECFA and a presidential pardon. If Tsai fails to respond to these people, she may find it dfficult to generate any political momentum. Two. Chen Tsai Ing-wen may feel a need to force Tsai Ing-wen to take a stand before the election. On the one hand this would force Tsai to keep her campaign promises. On the other hand this would give him an opportunity to endorse Tsai's candidacy. That way, if Tsai is elected, she will be obliged to fulfill her campaign promises. The act of pardoning Chen will also be given greater legitimacy.

But when confronted with the two questions, Tsai Ing-wen remains hesitant. Will she pardon Chen Shui-bian? Her answers are, "This is a serious matter" and "This is something everyone on Taiwan must contemplate." What sort of answer is that? In response to questions about terminating ECFA, she first said that ECFA "pandered to [Mainland] China and sold out Taiwan." Later she said it "forfeited our sovereignty and humiliated our nation." She said, "one option would be to hold a referendum." She said she "would not rule out having the Legislative Yuan take another look at the law." Finally she said she "would continue the previous administration's cross-Strait policy." Again, what sort of answer is that?

Is Tsai Ing-wen like Yingluck Shinawatra? Consider the current situation. Chen Shui-bian, Lee Teng-hui, Frank Hsieh, Koo Kwan-min, and the Taiwan independence movement have taken Tsai Ing-wen hostage. Tsai Ing-wen has even declared that "people in southern Taiwan feel that a president who represents the Taiwanese people has been hunted relentlessly and persecuted politically." Is this not an expression of support? Does she not resemble Yingluck Shinawatra? Not really. Tsai Ing-wen has yet to fully endorse the Chen regime's eight years in office. Instead, she continues to stress "Taiwan Next," and "taking responsibility for the future." She has not publicly promised to pardon Chen Shui-bian. She merely speaks of "solemnly confronting the issue." Also, Chen Shui-bian opposes ECFA. Tsai Ing-wen however, has refused to take a clear stand on ECFA. In response to such questions, she is nowhere as consistent in her words and deeds as Yingluck Shinawatra. Therefore she bears scant resemblance to Yingluck Shinawatra.

Chen Shui-bian posed two major questions. He was of course, making a calculated, Machiavellian political move. But these are two questions Tsai Ing-wen must face. On terminating ECFA, Tsai has no desire to alarm Chen Shui-bian. According to Chen Shui-bian, if Tsai is elected, Beijing may well invoke the ECFA termination clause. If it does, will Tsai still support ECFA? Or will she preempt by terminating ECFA first? Tsai Ing-wen has no answer. Regarding a presidential pardon, Chen Shui-bian is even less likely to back off. He thinks Tsai Ing-wen should make a clear yes or no declaration before the election. She should ask voters to act as witnesses and support her decision. If Tsai does not answer these two questions before the election, but is elected, these two issues will become a nightmare for everyone on Taiwan.

Tsai Ing-wen finds herself on the horns of a dilemma. Her situation is a little like Yingluck Shinawatra's, but not entirely. For Tsai, "Is she or isn't she like Yingluck Shinawatra?" is an embarrassing question. Yingluck Shinawatra won because she talked the talk, and walked the walk. Voters backed her all the way. But if an ersatz Yingluck Shinawatra says one thing but does another, if she tries to pull the wool over the voters' eyes and muddle through, the result may be very different. Can Tsai Ing-wen become another Yingluck Shinawatra? That depends on whether Taiwan is another Thailand. That depends on whether voters on Taiwan are like voters in Thailand.

Chen Shui-bian wants Tsai Ing-wen to confront the issues, to force her to tell him where she stands. This is what most voters want as well.

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.07.23







蔡英文是不是「盈拉」?以現狀看來,「扁李謝辜獨」都挾持了蔡英文,而蔡英文連「南部認為政治追殺兩位台灣人的總統」都說出來了,難道還不算挺?難道還不是「盈拉」?但是蔡英文畢竟沒有大力宣揚扁政府八年政績,反而口口聲聲「Taiwan Next」,「把未來扛起來」;亦未公開主張特赦陳水扁,只說「嚴肅面對」。再者,陳水扁反ECFA,蔡英文則拒不表態。這些都不如「盈拉」那般心口如一,因此不太像「盈拉」。




Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Healthy and Diverse Media

A Healthy and Diverse Media
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 22, 2011

Following a two year delay, the National Communications Commission (NCC) has approved NEXT TV News Channel's application for an operating license. Jimmy Lai, President of Next Media, established the Media Ethics Commission, and offered it seven major assurances. Sex, violence, and nudity would not be part of its programming. NEXT TV will be available only to Chunghwa Telecom MOD users for the time being. The impact on the existing electronic media marketplace will be limited. But Next Media has made its Taiwan debut. Given its substantial resources and its approach to news coverage, it is certain to have an impact on Taiwan's media market. This is merely the beginning.

Next Media made its world debut ten years ago. It took the standard road for tabloids: sex, violence, and crime. Its pages were crammed with paparazzi photos. It totally subverted Taiwan's traditional media. Its also recorded amazing sales figures in short order. Its revenues were extraordinary, In the process however, it generated considerable controversy. For example, Next Magazine covers showed nude photos of sexual intercourse. Womens groups and parents groups protested, The Taipei City Government demanded that copies be removed from news racks. The Apple Daily showed detailed images of a mother abusing and murdering her four year old daughter on the Internet. The public reacted violently, This however, did not affect advertising revenues. Nor did it reduce readership.

The NCC approved NEXT TV's application for a license a few days ago, in mid-July. Only then did the Media Watch Foundation criticize the Apple Daily's news coverage. A story entitled "Mental Patient Crashes Airport," reported on weak spots in the security at Taoyuan Airport. The report contained no nudity or gore. Yet it was charged with violating reporting requirements for the Mental Health Act. On the same day that NEXT TV received approval, the Apple Daily website ran articles entitled "Night Club Beauty Cheats, Sugar Daddy Bites Nipple, Asserts Ownership" and "Kinky Womanizer Deceives Wife." The stench of scandal and Jimmy Lai's assurances regarding NEXT TV were not entirely consistent with each other.

Next Media's reporting style has had an impact on Taiwan's media that cannot be ignored. Its reporting relies not on text, but on images. Its pages are filled with candid photos. Recently, it has gone even further. In the absence of photos, it has resorted to diagrams. These diagrams show everything, relevant and irrelevant. They satisfy the reader's need for visual titillation. They also make some readers uncomfortable. The Ministry of the Interior wants to amend the "Children and Youth Act." It hopes to tighten standards for the print media. Next Media has forced High Court Judges to convene Constitutional Court sessions to deal with paparazzi photographs. This has increased pressure on the media as a whole.

Two years ago, the NCC refused to approve NEXT TV's application for a broadcasting license. One reason was the launch of its online platform, which mapped out a criminal offender's behavior. For victims, this was insult added to injury. It was an assault on their dignity. Its "dramatized" news coverage techniques simulated news events. But this is not how real news should be covered by professional journalists. The content was also in breach of the program ratings system. Two years later, the NCC eased off. Jimmy Lai made clear assurances to NCC commissioners. NEXT TV would put a three percent cap on sensationalistic news coverage. Commissioners decided that NEXT TV was genuine in its effort to impose internal controls.

The media must attempt to satisfy its readers. But it must not transgress moral and social boundaries. A balance must be struck between self-interest and the public interest. The media must retain some sense of proportion in its news coverage. The watchword for the media must always be "self-discipline." The mass media being what it is, this may be difficult to define. But the rule must apply to the print media, the electronic media, and the Internet alike.

To persuade NCC commissioners, Jimmy Lai established the Media Ethics Committee. This enabled his application, which had been delayed for two years, to finally be approved wtihout objection. Among the Media Ethics Committee members hired by Next Media, are independent scholars and experts deeply concerned about media content and media format. This suggests that NEXT Media is demonstrating sincerity and self-discipline. This is the nation's first such ethics committee. In the aftermath of the News of the World wiretapping scandal, the British Government has been thinking about how to rebuild media ethics and oversight mechanisms. The Media Ethics Committe could offer a self-regulation guideline for all media. Media organizations other than NEXT Media may have closely adhered to moral and social standards. But they too must make the necessary preparations.

Jimmy Lai personally attended the NCC review session. He told commissioners that the News of the World wiretapping scandal "hit home, and taught him a lesson." When Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch appeared before the British Parliament, he was choked with emotion, "This is the most humble day of my career." A day later, Jimmy Lai appeared before the NCC. His demeanor came across as sincere. Apparently it was the most humble day for him as well since becaming a media mogul. In any case, we hope the future will unfold as Lai assured us: AS he put it, "Having made my position clear, I must do what I said. I have no reason not to comply." We too are part of the media industry. We are pleased to see NEXT Media become a part of Taiwan's media market. We look forward to healthy competition, Together we hope to establish a healthier and more diverse media market.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2011.07.22









Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Decoding Tsai Ing-wen's "I am Taiwanese."

Decoding Tsai Ing-wen's "I am Taiwanese."
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 21, 2011

"I am Taiwanese, I am Tsai Ing-wen," This declaration means that "Ma Ying-jeou is not Taiwanese." It means also that "They are not Taiwanese." That is, those who support Ma are "not Taiwanese." Tsai's declaration does not just divide Ma from Tsai. It divides society as well.

Just exactly what is Ma Ying-jeou? According to Green Camp political logic, Ma Ying-jeou is a "mainlander." By implication, Ma Ying-jeou is "Chinese." By further implication, he is a "Chi-Com fellow traveler." Context reveals meaning. Ma Ying-jeou, by implication, is "not Taiwanese." In fact, Tsai's declaration is merely a sanitized version of "Chinese pigs, get the hell back to China." According to Green Camp logic, Ma Ying-jeou stands for a "foreign regime," for "eventual reunification," and for "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." Therefore Ma Ying-jeou is "not Taiwanese," By implication he is "Chinese," just like "those people" on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Therefore Green Camp political rhetoric often equates the China Nationalist Party with the Chinese Communist Party. Lashing out at the Kuomintang means lashing out at the Chinese Communists. Sometimes it even equates the Republic of China with the Peoples Republic of China. Opposition to the ROC is hence equated with opposition to the PRC.

The Republic of China government has scant wherewithal currently to represent China as a whole. This is primarily the fault of Beijing. Few people on Taiwan identify themselves as "Chinese." This too is primarily the fault of Beijing. Therefore when Taiwan independence advocates incite "ethnic struggles," they spin them as showdowns between "Taiwanese" on the one side, and "Chinese" on the other. On Taiwan, being labeled "Chinese" is now the equivalent of being a "Chinese" person from the other side of the Taiwan Strait. The term "Taiwanese" is no longer merely an antonym for "Mainlander." That merely invokes the issue of "ethnicity," or more accurately, provincial origin. Today the term "Taiwanese" has been transformed into an antonym for "Chinese." That invokes the issue of "national identity." According to the self-styled "Taiwanese" in today's Democratic Progressive Party, the Republic of China is a "foreign regime." Ma Ying-jeou is a "Territorial Governor," and supporters of the Republic of China are "Chinese." By implication, opposition to Taiwan independence is opposition to Taiwan. Opposition to Taiwan independence is "lack of love for Taiwan." Opposition to Taiwan independence is proof positive that one is "not Taiwanese." This is the clear and unambiguous subtext behind Tsai Ing-wen's declaration, "I am Taiwanese,"

But champions of this rhetorical framework must prove that Taiwan independence is the only way to save Taiwan, and the only way to demonstrate one's love for Taiwan. Unfortunately for them, Taiwan independence is a movement whose time has come and gone. Since martial law was lifted, Taiwan has been subjected to over 20 years of internal and external shocks. These shocks swept Taiwan independence into the dustbin of history. With their ringing declarations that "I am Taiwanese," Tsai Ing-wen and DPP officials are encouraging Taiwan independence supporters to cling to their delusions. They are inciting social divisions. In fact, Tsai and the DPP no longer have the chutzpah to openly champion Taiwan independence. Otherwise, Tsai Ing-wen would have come right out and declared, "I am a champion of Taiwan independence. I am Tsai Ing-wen!"

This is the pathetic reality behind this political farce. Chinese from the other side of the Taiwan Strait have become "Mainland tourists." They have become Taiwan's "sixth ethnic group," second only to foreign spouses. Tsai Ing-wen was encouraging delusions of Taiwan independence. Why else would she revive the long dead Taiwan independence mantra, "I am Taiwanese?" Since she insists on reviving the "I am Taiwanese" mantra, why not use the more common phrase, "My Nation of Taiwan compatriots?" Why not come right out and champion Taiwan independence?

This has long been the plight of the Democratic Progressive Party. It flirts with Taiwan independence, but does not dare openly champion Taiwan independence. Unfortunately, Tsai Ing-wen remains trapped within this dilemma of self-delusion. Tsai Ing-wen opposes the 1992 consensus. She opposes ECFA. She opposes "politically motivated procurements." All her positions are based on Taiwan independence political and economic logic. But when all is said and done, she cannot publicly champion Taiwan independence. Tsai Ing-wen remains trapped. She can flirt with Taiwan independence, but she cannot openly promote Taiwan independence. In which case, what are we to make of her "Taiwan Next" gimmick?

Three years ago, Tsai Ing-wen became Democratic Progressive Party Chairman. She clearly hoped to shrug off this albatrosss around her neck. In March 2009, she issued a manifesto entitled, "Defend Taiwan with a New Concept of Nativism." She said "Some people have unintentionally [sic] defined Nativism far too narrowly. They have invested it with a specific meaning. Their narrow definition of Nativism is at odds with our need to unite for our collective survival." What does Tsai Ing-wen plan to do with her "I am Taiwanese" TV spot, which intentionally defines Nativism ar too narrowly.

DPP officials can no longer talk through their hats. They can no longer treat the term "Taiwanese" as their private property. Taiwan independence advocates can not longer treat the term "Taiwanese" as their private property, And finally, Tsai Ing-wen has no right to treat the term "Taiwanese" as her private property. Taiwan independence is an ideology that can only create chaos on Taiwan. It cannot save Taiwan. Therefore, it is not a means by which one can demonstrate "love for Taiwan." Taiwan independence advocates must cease using the terms "Republic of China" and "Nation of Taiwan" to divide the nation, They must cease using the declaration that "I am Taiwanese (whereas you are not)" to divide Taiwan.

Some people may persist in using such terms as "love for Taiwan" and "Save Taiwan" to define who is "Taiwanese." Perhaps we should compare Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen. Which of the two has demonstrated greater allegiance to the nation's Constitution? Which of the two has crafted a cross-Strait policy that has benefitted the public on Taiwan? Which of the two deserves the honorific "Taiwanese" more? Perhaps we should let the public decide.

Tsai Ing-wen did not say "I am a champion of Taiwan independence, I am Tsai Ing-wen." She was afraid even to whisper it. Why do DPP officials insist on flirting with Taiwan independence, when they are afraid to champion it?

2011.07.21 02:32 am






這是民進黨的一貫困境,玩弄台獨,卻又不敢明白主張台獨;不幸的是,蔡英文今日仍陷此種自欺欺人的困境之中。蔡英文反對九二共識、反對ECFA、反對「政治性採購」,皆是建立在台獨的政經邏輯之上,但她畢竟絕無可能公開聲言主張台獨。所以,蔡英文仍未走出「玩弄台獨,不敢台獨」的宿命,既如此,她所謂的Taiwan Next怎堪設想?





Tuesday, July 19, 2011

James Soong: Between Illusion and Reality

James Soong: Between Illusion and Reality
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 20, 2011

Grass-roots supporters of the Orange Camp are petitioning to make James Soong a candidate for President of the Republic of China, The leadership of the People First Party reportedly wants him to run for legislator from Hualien. Running for president and running for legislator from Hualien are miles apart. This suggests that despite any brave face James Soong might put on, in his heart of hearts he remains a realist.

By threatening to run for president, James Soong is putting on a magic show. This magic show conceals his bitterness with his loss of power and status, He is alienated from and angry with the Ma camp, It is hard for him to forget the era when everyone greeted him as "the honorable Governor Soong." Even now friends crowd around him, and urge him to run for office, The result has been bittersweet. On the Internet, he boasts a "million man petition." At the grassroots level however, he commands only a few tens of thousands of supporters. How many real world votes will this support translate into on election day? James Soong, a seasoned veteran, knows only too well.

By contrast, his plan to run for legislator from Hualien, is Soong's ultimate reality. Since 2000, he has suffered one defeat after another. He made failed bids for the presidency, the vice presidency, and the mayorship of Taipei City. In the end, he received barely more than 50,000 votes. He may still harbor political ambitions. But can he still fight the good fight? Fu Kun-chi has sunk deep roots in the region. James Soong probably intends to hitch a ride on Fu Kun-chi's coat tails. If Soong runs for legislator from Hualien, he may be able to return to the political stage. But even if Song is elected legislator from Hualien, the only impact he will have on the election, on cross-Strait relations, and on the strategic situation, is likely to be negative. Is this really the legacy Soong seeks? Even Lee Teng-hui is urging him to run for president. Running for legislator could be regarded as self-degradation, as looking tough on the outside, but being weak on the inside.

Just exactly what role does James Soong hope to play on Taiwan's political stage, and in cross-Strait relations? Why run for legislator from Hualien? Just because nothing better is available? He may be able to make trouble for the KMT. But what of it? He may be able to give the DPP a boost, and create chaos. But is that really James Soong's mission in life?

Also, must James Soong be synonymous with the People First Party? Is that something that might change? Years ago, the People First Party rode to glory on James Soong's coat tails. But times have changed. The halo over James Soong's head, has become a dark cloud over the PFP. The PFP is a political party founded on a single person's charisma. It may have difficulty maintaining voter support in Taiwan's highly competitive political arena. For proof, look at Lee Teng-hui's Taiwan Solidarity Union.

James Soong never considered the long term survival of the People First Party. He put himself above the party. His leadership of the party was emotional, even violent. He ignored others' advice. He alienated his original supporters. He drove away the party elite. This, rather than any KMT dominance. led to the decline of the People First Party. The real cause of the PFP's decline was the party chairman's egotism. The public still recalls his conduct during the "Chen/Soong Meeting." James Soong could refuse to remain under the Pan Blue banner. He could argue that "three parties without a majority ensures people power." But his political moves did not reassure the public. The public doubted his power play would improve the situation for Taiwan. They feared it would only make it worse.

Soong's problems began with the 240 million NT Chung Hsing Bills case. Soong insisted that the 240 million belonged to the KMT. Now however, he says the money was the balance from his own campaign funds. The KMT cannot compromise on this matter. The issue concerns more than justice. It concerns Soong's reputation. Soong originally insisted that the money belonged to the KMT. If he and the KMT were to donate it to charity, Soong could erase the stigma from the Chung Hsing Bills case, He could rehabilitate his image. But if the 240 million NT becomes his reason to run for legislator from Hualien, his reputation will soon be in shambles.

James Soong has repeatedly gone on the offensive, and attacked the KMT. But he has offered no national policies superior to the KMT's. The public sees no overarching reason for him to return to politics. Why is he joining the DPP's attack on the KMT? On the issue of black gold, he has even joined in the chorus with Lee Teng-hui. He is saying the money had nothing to do with Lee Teng-hui. Lee Teng-hui has returned the favor, praising Soong as "the best administor on Taiwan." Years ago, the two confronted each other with drawn swords. Yet today they acted out this perverse charade. By the look of things, Lee Teng-hui ought to visit Hualien and stump for James Soong.

This is Soong's greatest tragedy. The express train of time has hurtled ten years into the future, But James Soong remains seated at the same station, waxing nostalgic over the past. Filled with grief and sorrow, he rails against fate, and longs to revisit happier times. But who are his real enemies? Are they his erstwhile comrades, who once fought at his side? Are they Taiwan's voters, whose moods are as changeable as the wind? Or are they the demons in his own heart, who long for revenge?

People Soong once touched may recall the hard working Governor Soong of years gone by. But such memories are being squeezed out by today's images of a sour faced Chairman Soong. Five years ago, when James Soong ran for Taipei mayor, he said it would be his last hurrah. Today James Soong can still be received on the mainland with some dignity, People on both sides of the Strait still recall happier times. Is James Soong determined to sink so low? Is he determined to eradicate these final traces of his legacy, by glad handing and shouting slogans?

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.07.20











Monday, July 18, 2011

Bail and Custody: Prosecutors and Judges have a Responsibility

Bail and Custody: Prosecutors and Judges have a Responsibility
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 19, 2011

The White Rose Movement has been reborn. This time the impetus came from Banqiao District Court Judge Judge Lu Chun-chieh. Lu allowed a taxi driver named Hsieh to go free on 50,000 NT bail. Hsieh is suspected of sexually assaulting a female university student from Japan. Netizens are demanding that Lu step down. Controversy over incompetent "dinosaur judges," out of touch with the expectations of society, is once again shaking up the judicial system.

People are angry. They pity the Japanese woman who came to Taiwan, only to be sexually assaulted. They are outraged by cavalier oversights within the judicial process. The result has been a rapidly accelerating, unstoppable snowball. Public anger is intense and warranted. But detention procedures, the conditions of detention, judgments about their purpose, must be subjected to rational review. Public sentiments must be directed at the problem. Only then can we prevent their recurrence.

The driver, whose surname is Hsieh, was arrested for sexual assault then released on bail. First of all, the prosecutor failed to provide sufficient proof of his guilt. Before prosecutors can detain a suspect, they must present sufficient evidence. When required, this evidence must appear on their reports. They must convince a judge that the defendant must be detained. This is necessary to ensure both the public welfare and the victim's rights.

Detaining a suspect does not imply that he is either guilty or not guilty. Its purpose is to enable an investigation or trial to proceed. It temporarily restricts a defendant's personal freedom. When a crime takes place, one must begin with the presumption of innocence. Judges must be cautious about detaining a defendant. The seriousness of the crime cannot be the sole justification for detaining a defendant. Other considerations, such as flight risk, the possibility that perpetrators might coordinate their testimony, or that perpetrators might repeat their offenses, must all be taken into consideration, to protect the rights of the defendant.

In the Hsieh case, the only reason the prosecutor cited for detaining Hsieh was the seriousness of the crime. No one from the prosecutor's office appeared in court. No one suggested that Hsieh might be a flight risk. No one suggested that the police adopt "preventive detention" measures. Still less did anyone suggest that Hsieh was a repeat offender, with a record for sexual assault. Should such a sexual assault suspect be detained?

Prosecutors failed to provide evidence of guilt. The judge rejected demands that he be detained. Even if prosecutors refile motions to have the defendant detained, they are unlikely to escape blame. Still less can they argue that judges have the authority and obligation to investigate, and use that as a defense. Otherwise, what is the point of having prosecutors? One may as well turn all cases over to the judges, and have them investigate. This last line of defense was incorporated into the Code of Criminal Procedures to ensure justice and fairness. It was never intended as a pretext for prosecutorial indolence. Prosecutors who have not laid the proper groundwork to detain a suspect have only themselves to blame. Meanwhile, the decision whether to detain a suspect, remains the responsibility of the gatekeepers -- the judges. Public safety and human rights are in a constant tug of war. We must not rush to judgment. We must defend to the death the provisions of the law. We must approach every case based on the facts.

In the Hsieh case, the prosecutor cited only the seriousness of the crime as a reason to detain the suspect. This was in violation of the requirements of justice. The prosecutors were negligent. But Hsieh is a taxi driver. He has many opportunities to come in contact with women. If he repeats his offense, that is no trivial matter. Given these questions, the judge failed to ask the prosecutor to provide additional information. He too was negligent. The victims of sexual assault may or may not be Japanese women. Regardless, judges should show greater empathy.

This process reveals how prosecutors and judges routinely handle such cases. The word "detain" on the whiteboard in the bailiffs' room means that someone has lost his freedom and his reputation. If prosecutors want to take someone into custody and hold him at a detention center, they need to do more than check a few boxes on an indictment form. But prosecutors rarely argue their case in court. They are often slapdash in their case preparation. They desperately need oversight. The judge has little time in which to decide whether a defendant should be detained. He must understand the requirements for detention. He must be experienced in his interactions with prosecutors. He must be seasoned and tough. But unless the case is a major case or a media case, in practice judges invariably "allow the cattle to graze." They allow the first instance judges to take on cases alone. Are these judges sufficiently well trained? That remains to be seen.

Another issue warrants concern. That is the impact of public indignation on court cases. Justice requires avoiding human influences. human biases. It requires listening to statements by different parties, and arriving at a judgment based on the evidence. But in the Hsieh case, the media has spoken on behalf of the victim alone. It has painted Hsieh as a demon. It has already convicted him. Netizens meanwhile, immediately painted the judges as "dinosaur judges," without bothering to first understand the problems with custody. The White Rose Movement has used this opportunity to rise again. It is unhappy about the sexual assault bill proposed by the administration. It is also exterting enormous pressure on the judges to detain Hsieh.

Therefore if Hsieh is eventually detained, it will be impossible to tell whether it was due to "public opinion," or to judges exercising their judicial autonomy. Public outrage may result in pressure. But it may not lead to the truth. If the judicial system is negligent in its handling of cases, it will lead to a public backlash. It will invite public contempt.

The public is disappointed with the justice system. Prosecutors and the courts must not blindly succumb to public pressure. They must not pass the buck in order to relieve the pressure on themselves. They must work together to improve the system as a whole. Only by this can they address public concerns. They must take advantage of public discontent to improve the system. The public may vent its anger because it is dissatisfied with the justice system. But it should return to the issue of how to change the system. Only this will prevent populist sentiment from influencing the administration of justice. Only this will allow the public to feel secure in the administration of justice.

交保又收押 檢察官與法官都有責任
【聯合報╱社論】 2011.07.19












Sunday, July 17, 2011

Only Narrowing the Wealth Gap Can Increase Happiness

Only Narrowing the Wealth Gap Can Increase Happiness
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 18, 2011

Last year, economic growth on Taiwan exceeded 10%. International competitiveness greatly exceeded that of South Korea. The chief editor of South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo heaped praise on President Ma Ying-jeou, saying he far outperformed South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. But on the happiness index, South Korea brought up the rear, and Taiwan trailed even South Korea. For both economies, their well-being indices lagged far behind their economic growth indices. Most people within the two economies are not experiencing the benefits of economic growth. That is why the two presidents are trailing in the polls.

Consider last year's data. In terms of economic growth. Taiwan far outperformed South Korea. Consider the past decade, South Korea enjoyed an average growth rate of 4.17%, higher than Taiwan's 3.93%. During the financial crisis, Taiwan's economic growth rate was -1.9%. South Korea by contrast, was one of the few members of the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to maintain a positive growth rate. Since 2004, Korea has surpassed Taiwan in per capita income, This year, for the first time, per capita income on Taiwan surpassed 20,000 USD. It now has a chance to surpass South Korea.

Consider the unemployment rate. Over the past decade the unemployment rate for South Korea has remained at 4% or less. During the financial crisis it never exceeded 4%. During the financial tsunami, the unemployment rate on Taiwan soared past 5%. It fell to 4.27% in May of this year. But it still ranks first among the Four Asian Dragons. It is worth noting that South Korea's atypical employment rate (temporary workers, employment agencies) has increased significantly, in recent years. Taiwan has also experienced the same trend.

Taiwan and South Korea's are economic rivals. But behind the bright economic growth, both economies face a widening gap between rich and poor. According to South Korean government figures, per capita income for the 20% of people at the top of the economic pyramid rose 55% over the past decade. Per capita income for the 20% of people at the bottom of the economic pyramid decreased 35%. As the local media put it, the wealth gap is clear from where people live. The "royalty" live in the the exclusive Gangnam District. There, one ping goes for 30 million won (about 1 million NT). In other parts of of the city one ping goes for 14 million won (about 400,000 NT) Below that is where one finds ordinary people or servants.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the wealth gap on Taiwan has become worse than in Korea. The "Gini coefficient" is an international indicator of the wealth gap. The higher the coefficient, the greater the gap between rich and poor. South Korea's Gini coefficient is 0.314. Taiwan's is 0.345. In recent years, the biggest public grievance has been soaring housing prices. In June the government introduced a luxury tax. But housing prices in the greater Taipei area remain virtually unaffected. In June existing-home prices soared another 10%, setting new highs. In Taipei luxury housing goes for two to three million NT per ping. People without homes can look but not touch.

Consider the manufacturing industry. Revenues earned by former South Korean tycoons account for 70% of the nation's GDP. The South Korean government fully backs its large enterprises. During the financial crisis the Korean Won depreciated nearly 50%. Yet large export-oriented enterprises such as Samsung and Hyundai showed record profits. Ironically, real purchasing power for locals fell due to currency devaluation and higher prices, Life became even more difficult for them. A clear example occurred in June, when South Korean students protested excessively high tuition fees. Many parents could not afford tuition fees approaching 20 million Won (about 300,000 NT). Some students even committed suicide because they could not pay their tuition. To solve the problem, President Lee Myung-bak has pledged to cut tuition at the end of June.

Lee Myung-bak has been called the CEO President. His top priority has been to boost the economy. He introduced a number of policies favorable to conglomerates. According to statistics, the number of subsidiaries controlled by South Korea's thirty largest chaebols has doubled since the financial turmoil. Even small businesses making pizza and tofu have not been spared, Many small and medium enterprises have been swallowed up. Outside criticism and the upcoming election, persuaded President Lee Myung-bak to order a "large and small enterprises shared development committee" review at the end of June. Over 200 types of businesses, including tofu manufacturing, will be reserved for SMEs. Will the "bean curd campaign" work? It will depend on Lee Myung-bak's political will.

Economic growth is up. But are people happier? South Korea's local media wonders. Over the past decade, South Korea's per capita income rose from 10,000 US to 20,000 US. But the South Korean people's happiness index has declined. South Korea's well-being index in the OECD is at the bottom of the heap. Consider the Gallup "global happiness" survey. Among the 124 economies evaluated, Denmark had the highest happiness index. As many as 72% of the population was optimistic about the coming five years. In South Korea, that number was 35%. On Taiwan it was a mere 32%. Both economies were in the bottom half of the class.

Consider the economic growth rate, the wealth gap, and the happiness index. South Korea and Taiwan have many similarities. But a wise leader must realize that economic growth is not necessarily shared by all. It does not make all people happier. Only specific policies that narrow the gap between rich and poor can enhance happiness for most people.

縮小貧富差距 才能增加幸福感
2011-07-18 中國時報










Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do Not Experiment with Our Educational System

Do Not Experiment with Our Educational System
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 15, 2011

The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination has been held for the first time. The "high scores, low achievement" phenomenon, and the "second round admissions" process have provoked ongoing discontent. Some parents are demanding that the government compensate them for applicants' second round admissions, The Control Yuan will investigate, Some people even think the exam might influence the outcome of the 2012 election. How should one solve this problem? Should Taipei, Xinbei, and Keelung increase the number of applicants admitted? For the answer, we must await the results of the second round admissions process on the 15th of this month.

The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination has provoked a major uproar. One reason is that the threshold for admission to certain schools are inappropriate. Another is that Taipei City educational institutions are technically deficient. But the core problem is widespread preconceptions about the ranking of high schools on Taiwan. The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination may help promote 12 year national compulsory education. If the 12 year national compulsory education reforms are to succeed, one of the keys will be the attitude of parents, applicants, high schools, and particularly elite high schools.

The motives behind the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination were good. The exam reduces applicant anxiety. Taipei City, Xinbei City, and Keelung County launched a '“one guideline, one textbook, joint examination." This differed from the “one guideline, multiple textbooks” national examination. The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination offers examination-free admissions. On the basis of Basic Competency Test results, applicants may apply for admission, select their school, and register. But the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination this year was more difficult. Applicants' average scores fell. Senior high schools based admissions on past performance. Either that, or they hoped to attract better students through higher scores. As a result, this year some Taipei Xinbei Keelung high schools set higher thresholds for admission. This led to the so-called "high scores, low achievement" problem.

Once the admissions process was over, schools proceeded with second phase registration and enrollment. Some candidates learned that because their admission scores were higher than their previous grades, the same score, would not have enabled them to enter a school during first round admissions, but would have during second round admissions. First round applicants and parents were extremely unhappy, They chose schools with lower scores. Had they applied using the applicant's previous grades, they might have gotten into a higher ranking school.

The Taipei Xinbei Keelung "high scores, low achievement" phenomenon has been a source of constant controversy. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin decided to solve the problem by means of a "second round admissions" process. Taipei, Xinbei, and Keelung have allocated over 2000 places to applicants who consider themselves victims of the "high score, low achievement" phenomenon. By doing so, Taipei, Xinbei, and Keelung have pleased one party only to displease another. Applicants with "high scores, low achievements" hope to get into a higher ranking school. But the results of second round admissions could impact students retaking the Basic Competency Tests. The places remaining after the Taipei Xinbei Keelung admissions process, would have gone to students retaking the Basic Competency Tests. The Taipei Xinbei Keelung second round of admissions may use up some of those places. They may reduce opportunities for students retaking the Basic Competency Tests. Some students retaking the Basic Competency Tests and their parents are extremely angry. They feel the system must not sacrifice them in order to look after the Taipei Xinbei Keelung students victimized by the "high scores, low achievement" phenomenon. .

Students interested in participating in the second round admissions process must apply today. How serious is the problem? How will it impact students retaking the Basic Competency Tests? We will know soon enough. Should we use the so-called "additional places, extra students" approach? We will know only after second round admissions are complete. Perhaps the matter will not be as serious as some students and their parents anticipate.

Nevertheless, the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination has already angered many. If handled improperly, it could indeed lead to political confronation. Will the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination be continued next year? That is not Hau Lung-bin's decision. Education has long been a difficult problem. Education impacts those directly involved. It also impacts human resources and national development. Political parties may replace one another. But education must endure. The fact is that when those in charge of education are replaced, policies are often changed along with them. As a result, children on Taiwan have become white mice. This has caused students and parents no end of suffering.

In 2014 the government will implement 12-year national compulsory education. It hopes to implement high school and rural community-based studies. it hopes to distribute educational resources more evenly, and to reduce the burden on students. But given the problems caused by the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination, one cannot help worrying. Won't 12 year national compulsory education and examination-free admissions collide head on with everyone's desire to get into elite schools with high admissions scores? The elite high school magnet effect must be reduced. This will take longer than education officials imagine. Do those in charge understand this? Education is not something one can experiment with. It is not something that can be attained in a single bound, The consequences of experimentation may have no end. No matter how good one's intentions, poor execution will have a negative impact. Let the firestorm over the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination serve as a warning.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2011.07.15
社論-別拿教育當實驗 北北基是殷鑑