Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I've been quite critical of the US media's low-quality writing on Taiwan, but I have to admit that this recent article on Chen's political crises out of the Washington Post isn't too bad, all things considered. Singled out for praise:

The sudden storm of scandal and accusations of bumbling leadership raised questions about what the unpredictable Chen might do to regain balance. Some analysts suggested he would become more prudent, scaling back efforts to push this self-ruled island toward formal independence. But others predicted a bold move to revive support among the many Taiwanese who believe that their homeland should be independent in law as well as fact despite China's resolve to absorb it into the mainland.

Look at that verb in the last sentence describing China's dream of annexing Taiwan. Not "retake" or "unify" but "absorb" -- a fairly accurate rendering of reality, there. Progress! The article does supply the usual claims without context:

Su Chi, a Nationalist member of the Legislative Yuan, suggested that Chen might try to radically alter the Taiwanese constitution to emphasize independence, then submit his proposal to a referendum in hopes of rallying public support on the nationalism issue, as he did in winning election in 2000 and 2004.

China and the United States have both warned against such a course, reminding Chen that he has repeatedly promised not to substantially change the constitution. In a recent interview, Chen pledged to follow legal procedure in changing the constitution, which requires him to submit any amendments to the legislature, where Nationalists hold a thin majority. But Su warned that Chen, a lawyer known for political sleight of hand, might find a way to circumvent that pledge despite the warnings from Beijing and Washington.

The idea that Chen might unilaterally alter the Constitution is strictly a Chinese Nationalist bogeyman, since the process for amending the Constitution is so cumbersome and complex, and requires support in the legislature that Chen does not have, that it will simply never happen. There's simply no way Chen can alter the Constitution. It is sad that Ed Cody, the writer of this article, reproduced Su's claims without any context (in fact it is sad that they are reproduced at all). He also does not give any context to Chiu Yi's claims, which he describes as if Chiu Yi were something other than a Blue hooligan:

Chiu Yi, a Nationalist legislator who brought many of the allegations against Chen's family, predicted others will follow, suggesting Chen could be further weakened in the weeks and months to come. In particular, he charged, Chen's wife can be linked to suspicious and perhaps illegal dealings with several large holding companies.

"If I were Chen Shui-bian, with all that's coming out, I would step down," said Chiu, a Cornell-trained economist.

Chiu was invited to Peking University last week to speak to students on his campaign against Chen, who is widely despised in China. But after he told Beijing-based reporters that Taiwan's democracy and free press were essential in allowing him to air his charges, officials from the Chinese government's Taiwan Affairs Office told him he could not make the speech.

I'll bet you didn't know that Chiu Yi, who incited a riot on election night 2004 and trashed a government building, and who should be in jail, was a Cornell-trained economist. Probably because it isn't true; Chiu Yi got his Ph.D at NTU and did a postdoc at Cornell. Jason at Wandering to Tamshui compiled a wonderful list of Chui Yi's shenanigans:

The Evidence: During the pan-Blue protests following their election upset, Chiu kept himself busy on election night by instigating pan-Blue rioters to ram a truck into the Kaohsiung District Court on March 20. Chiu defended himself against the charges, saying "The prosecutors decided to indict me before they had really talked to any witnesses. People who were there with me all knew that I didn't do whatever it was they said I did." Prosecutors, however, had evidence suggesting otherwise, including a video clearly showing Chiu's misbehavior, and charged him with violating the Parade and Assembly Law.

Chiu has made a name for himself by suing others for reportedly secretly filming him sex up his old lady, slamming the pan-blue alliance's legal team for its handling of the post-election lawsuits, suing DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun for defamation, and publicly fighting with ex-Premier Frank Hsieh over whether Hsieh had called First Lady Wu Shu-chen "an empress" over the phone. Most recently, Chiu has made headlines for ditching the PFP to return to the KMT (purportedly to buy win more votes in the year-end mayoral election), and just last night was arrested following an appearance on a popular talk show for failing to show up in court to face charges related to his performance on election night 2004.

Chiu Yi, whose arrest required 200 policeman, is about as much a supporter of democracy and rule of law as I am a supporter of China's planned annexation of Taiwan. Also decontextualized was this comment from Lin Cho-shui, who has been putting out a steady stream of anti-Chen utterances:

"This is very serious," said Lin Cho-shui, a Legislative Yuan member from Chen's party and a firm believer in Taiwanese independence. "He can't be an effective leader anymore. His policies have not inspired a lot of confidence. If it were just his family members' problems, it would not be so serious, but there also have been political problems, particularly relations with the United States."

Still, Cody's correct presentation of China's territorial expansionism is a step in the right direction. I was also delighted that he pointed out that the allegations of financial corruption on the First Lady's part were rumors, although his presentation still gave them entirely too much credence. He also noted that the US has promised to defend Taiwan without claiming that the US was bound by law to do so, another uncommon move in the western media, where far too many writers think the US is obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to come to Taiwan's aid. A solid "B" for this effort. Hopefully next time there will be a little more context for some of the characters quoted.


Jason said...

Cody also missed the fact that Hsiao Bi-khim joined a bunch of young DPP members in signing an open letter to Chen criticizing him for sullying the party's image. Not exactly a Chen supporter anymore, wouldn't you say?

Michael Turton said...

It's fascinating ..... Chen hasn't actually done anything himself. It's the people around him.


Echo said...

Taiwan has police stations and courts where a person can go report anything illegal. But Chiu Yi didn't go that legal path. Instead, he talks to the public through media, and planted seeds into people's minds, *****before the legal system has a chance to investigate*****.

Why does he not follow the legal way?

If you look into what he said carefully, most accusations he made were just not fact but suspecions. He (and other pan-blue politicians) is good at exagerating the suspecions, adding up all circumstancial evidences and making it look guilty. This process provokes the public. Then, a looked-guilty, people-outraged case is investigated. If it ends up with not-guilty charges, Chiu then has the outraged people to support him to ramp the court.

If he goes legal way, all those circumstancial suspecions will have no chance to be manipulated. Only by provoking public first, by which he can tag those suspecions with his own judgement, can he turn doubts into something more.

So the justice-seeking process in Taiwan now has the following pattern:

Pan-blue :
--> raise suspecions to public;
--> exagerated with premature accusation;
--> people got provoked;
--> whole country shouted guilty before any legal investigation
--> district attorneys step in
--> if they don't charge the accused, pan-blue mobilize people to the street

This pattern has been repeatedly used by pan-blue in the past couple of years, and probably will be used again and again in the future.

Judging from the extent of damage it brought to Taiwan's society, I can't stop wondering if Chinese government is behind all these.

Mad Minerva said...

The use of the term "absorb" to describe China's real desire for Taiwan is all too apt. It also puts me in mind of a gigantic amoeba...phagocytosis, anyone? *slurp!* I guess Hong Kong wasn't enough and China's still hungry?

Anyway, the ongoing hullaballoo in Taiwan is playing right into China's hands -- recall how often and loudly it insists that democracy is too unpredictable, too unstable...too undesirable...

Tim Maddog said...

Since the thrust of the comments seems to be leading towards how dishonest the media is, I thought I'd throw in this related bit where Jim Lehrer "channels" The Daily Show's Rob Corddry.

Echo has a good analysis of how it works in Taiwan. To summarize: the pan-blue media pushes whatever unfiltered talking points the pan-blue politicians want to feed the public; therefore, with a relative lack of counter-info, a pre-ordained "verdict" is obtained in their "trial by media."

Anyone who saw Chiu Yi atop that truck at the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office on March 21, 2004 and leading rioters at the Central Election Commission HQ a week later knows should be under the jail, and yet he's on TV accusing others every single day.

In response to Mad Minerva's observation, we should continue to point out as often as possible that it's the pan-blues that are causing all the mess, and that democracy is naturally undesirable to those with authoritarianism at their very core.

Tim Maddog

LA said...

DPP does the corruption, but it's KMT's fault. Now, I have to laugh:)

Anonymous said...

> DPP does the corruption, but it's
> KMT's fault. Now, I have to laugh:)

Pray tell, what corruption is the DPP responsible for? As Michael has pointed out several times already, CSB's son-in-law appears to come from a greedy and self-serving family.

How on earth is the DPP responsible for Chao's individual actions? Was his insider stock dealings sanction or aproved by the DPP? If you can PROVE that, then you might have be making something resembling a point. So far you have not established anytihing except that you can gossip just like everyone else.

oooh said...

After all, gossip is pretty much the only thing Chinese Taiwanese are capalle of. It's like pointing your shotgun at a flock of birds and hoping to hit something. If not, you can always cry about it, and blame it on Chen or DPP of setting them up. Gossip and repeat. I pretty much master the ability to block out everything they try to feed me with, or simply reverse everything they claim.

Echo said...

Here is another typical example [1] of pan-blue's "society-breaking conspiracy". In this case, again, a public guilty sense was induced through media by pan-blue's manipulation with premature judgements based on pure circumstantial guesses and imaginations, way before any legal investigations were conducted.

It was followed by an investigation heavily biased by the outraged public pressure. In the end, the judge sentenced the accused 10 years in jail, 2 more years than what the district attorney asked for. Why 2 more years? The judge said that it is because the accused "deny the crime to the death" (死不認罪).

According to the news report [1][2], the official verdict, which is supposed to list the details of the crimes that the district attorneys can come up with, includes statements like these:

-- Crime motive:
"Because the accused knows X and Y pretty well in person, he SHOULD have the motive to commit this crime."

-- How the crime is committed:
"The accused SOMEHOW committed the crime"

-- Evidence:
"A telephone record between the accused and X showed conversation length of 0 second, indicating that a "signal" for committing the crime was sent."

When you call someone but the phone is not picked up, it shows 0 second on record. So to live in Taiwan, you'd better be home 24 hours a day, and make sure that the recipient be home before you make any call. Otherwise you might one day become a criminal because of that.

According to the accused, the judge ignored all or most of his not-guilty evidences, and made the judging based on public opinions but not facts, making the official verdict read more like a novel [2].

It's for certain that this "novel" will serve as an example for the current hot case about the first family --- if the investigation
and the sentencing of Chao, Jian-Ming (趙建銘)came out anything less, expect waves of anti-court, anti-government, society-breaking demonstrations launched by pan-blue.

It's a pitty that pan-green never came up with any way to counter this trick, even after so many years of fighting against pan-blue.

Sorry, these are not in English:
[1] http://news.yam.com/chinatimes/politics/200606/20060607816756.html
[2] http://news.yam.com/udn/society/200606/20060607817817.html