Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chen Returned to Detention

"Singapore is different from us (Taiwan) as its emphasis is not on democratization. Nevertheless, it is professional, corruption-free and efficient, which is worth our learning...The Singapore Government is very efficient. They can reach consensus easily and there is no squabbling or fighting." -- Ma Ying-jeou, 2007

As expected when the Taipei District Court judge was replaced after a firestorm of complaint from the ruling party and its organs, the Court has returned former President Chen Shui-bian to detention:

The Taipei District Court made the announcement following a marathon 12-hour hearing on Monday.

Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) announced at 2:20am yesterday that Chen would be detained, but the court would not prohibit him from seeing visitors.

The former president, who was last detained on Nov. 12, was released on Dec. 13 following his indictment along with 13 other individuals on charges of embezzlement, corruption and money laundering.

“The court decided to detain Chen because the crimes he is allegedly involved in involve serious corruption, and the court suspected Chen might flee the country or collude with suspects and witnesses in the case if he remained free. The court decided it would be hard to prosecute Chen if he was not kept in custody,” Taipei District Court spokesman Huang Chun-min (黃俊明) told a press conference.

Chen's return to detention was only the tip of a very large iceberg of scariness. Claudia Jean blogs on another important case, the reduction of hours for The Talking Show, a popular program that looked at local politics:

[Claudia Jean] blogged about the Taiwan’s most popular political commentary programme, Talking Show’s weekend slot being cancelled a while ago and in that post, some suspicion of the KMT government interference was raised because the show’s popularity remains high and has even increased after Ma’s governemt’s series of failures and mishandling of the economic and political situations. According to Nielson rating, its reception is as much as 3 other similar programmes put together and the revenue from that show alone would be higher than any others. ‘Cost saving’ was hardly convincing. Today, I saw the following article which confirmed the suspicion.

According to the article, cost saving was indeed just an excuse to reduce hours for Talking Show. The real reason was that the home of the Sanlih TV president was raided by Investigation Bureau. The cause for their ‘investigation’ and the ‘raid’ was not revealed. It was said that the senior management of Sanlih decided to sacrifice the weekend slots for Talking Show as a compromise to the KMT, which is believe to be the evidence presented and discussed by Talking Show , combined by the show host’s personal popularity, is a real headache to a government that often lies and has a lot to hide. Premier Liu and DoH Minister openly criticised Talking Show in the Parliament and Liu also slammed the show host publicly on a separate occassion.

A similar incident happened to a radio station in Taichung after it invited former President Chen for an interview. It was reported that the adverts placed with the radio station were withdrawn rapidly after the interview and Inland Revenue launched an investigation against the radio station, which is still ongoing.

A article in Chinese gives the same information:

黑手肆虐 媒體輓歌
三立被盯上 大話也縮水
全台灣最火紅的三立電視談話性節目「大話新聞」,從二周前開始只播五天,周六、日改由另一位主持人呂惠敏接棒,節目名稱也改為「新台灣加油」。表面說法是 可以節省高昂的主持費,據透露,實際原因卻是,三立老闆林崑海的住所不久前遭到調查局搜索。為了和國民黨妥協,才做出上述的決定。

林崑海是何原因遭到調查局搜索,目前尚不得而知,但三立高層為此召開會議,認為國民黨以司法為武器,只好先避風頭,而大話新聞的縮減天數,就是一種妥協下 的做法。三立提出的理由是,鄭弘儀一集主持費高達十萬元,還要加上委製費,如果一周少兩天,每個月就可以省掉兩百多萬元的支出。但實際上,由於大話新聞的 高收視率,廣告常滿檔,而且帶動前後節目的收視率,三立因大話賺的錢遠比花出去的多,因此這種節省開支的說法,被認為只是一種說辭罷了。

不只三立出現問題,據指出,台中某電台因為邀請前總統陳水扁上節目,結果之後一個月的廣告被大量抽撤,同時也遭到國稅局查稅,問題還沒解決。

摘自Taiwan News財經.文化週刊 2008-12-25 李雲深

It's no wonder, with news like this, that people outside Taiwan are writing worried letters arguing that there won't be a real election in 2012. A commentary in today's Taipei Times compared the previous martial law-era police state and the current KMT administration:

While the past dictatorship allocated government jobs according to birthplace, the majority of posts in Ma’s Cabinet are held by Mainlanders, although they account for only 14 percent of Taiwan’s population. The 228 Incident and White Terror of yesteryear were examples of ethnic politics, and so are the policies of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) now that it has returned to power under the guise of democratic elections.

However, the old and new one-party states are not equal in quality of performance. Although under the old regime the legislature was accused of being a mere department of Cabinet, at least the formality of legislative review did take place. Last month, however, when Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation signed four agreements on direct cross-strait transport links with its Chinese counterpart, the legislature was not even allowed to function as a rubber stamp.

In terms of competence, the old regime oversaw Taiwan’s industrialization and steady economic growth and guided it through energy and financial crises. In contrast, the Ma administration has proved its incompetence by implementing unrealistic economic policies that have led to an economic downturn and provoked widespread public discontent after just a few months of government. Now that the global financial storm has arrived, there is even greater cause for worry.

It can be said that the new one-party state has not inherited the old regime’s competence in running the country, but it matches the Chiang regime in its willingness to use police-state methods to keep the people under control.
I highlighted that sentence to point out the failure of the legislature -- when the agreements were mooted, the Speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, promised that the LY would review them. What did we get? Nada. The legislature has vanished, unnecessary since decisions are made elsewhere. In the old days it was necessary to provide democratic cover, but now, with 7 million voters having picked Ma, such cover can be dispensed with.

The Chen Shui-bian money-laundering case, and the laughable Diane Lee Dual Citizenship case -- it is mere political parody to wag the finger at Lee for having dual citizenship in the US when the mainlander elites are completely disloyal to Taiwan -- these two cases are just sideshows designed to distract the public and media, the judicial equivalent of pandas for the Taipei Zoo.

Welcome to the Lion City, without the efficiency.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PRC-Taiwan alliance trial balloon floated

Taiwan News has a long analysis of the recent brain flash of Hsieh Ming-hui that PRC missiles facing Taiwan protect Taiwan from aggression by Japan....

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The confusion bred by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) administration of President Ma Ying-jeou on Taiwan's relationship with the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic of China reached a new peak of absurdity last week when the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum (TCF) Deputy Secretary General Hsieh Ming-hui declared it was unnecessary for the Chinese military to dismantle over 1,000 missiles aimed at our country before the initiation of cross-strait peace talks.

Previously, Ma himself has moderated his past demand for a dismantling of the offensive weapons before talks on a cross-strait peace agreement could begin to a meaningless call for the "withdrawal" of the medium-range missiles, most of which are loaded on mobile launching platforms that can be easily "withdrawn" from coastal provinces and just as easily redeployed when desired.

Ma's position may well have moderated due to Beijing's refusal to consider any concessions on removing missiles or abandoning its claimed "right" to use force to compel Taiwan to unify with the PRC.

Speaking for the pro-KMT TCF in a news conference December 24 calling for Ma to accelerate peace talks with Beijing, Hsieh turned a possible necessity into an absurd virtue by urging Ma to drop the precondition since the People's Liberation Army missiles could protect Taiwan in a possible conflict with Japan over the competing claims over the Tiaoyutai or Senkaku islets.

Hsieh said that without such "protection" from the Chinese military, Taiwan would be at a great disadvantage since Japan, which can rely on assistance from the United States under the terms of the U.S. - Japan Security Agreement.

There are naturally a host of logical and substantive fallacies in the TCF's position, not the least of which is that it should be obvious that PLA willingness to use its missiles to "defend" Taiwan from an improbable attack by Japan would constitute a military alliance not in keeping with the purpose of a "peace" pact.

Hsieh's statement is also historically false as it is well known that the PLA began to deploy medium - range missiles and other offensive military forces across the Taiwan Strait in the early 1990s (and continues to do so) and conducted numerous military exercises based on scenarios to attack Taiwan in preparation of military action against Taiwan and against the U.S. and Japan if they assisted Taiwan.

Even pro-KMT military analysts, such as current KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang, incessantly emphasized in the 1990s that the PLA deployments were aimed at "preventing Taiwan independence" and made no mention of the notion that PRC military forces could be used to "protect" Taiwan.

Hsieh also apparently believes that most Taiwan citizens have forgotten that the PLA actually "test fired" missiles at targets near our major international ports of Kaohsiung and Keelung and over Taiwan in March 1996 as part of Beijing's rhetorical and military "intimidation" campaign against Taiwan's first democratic election and that the PRC regime has yet to retract its threat of force against Taiwan embodied in the March 2005 Anti-Secession Law.

Besides implying that Ma should make even more political concessions to Beijing, the TCA's position clearly aims to ease international pressure on the PRC, which has been expanding its military budget by double digits for nearly the past two decades, to dismantle its forward offensive deployments in the Taiwan Strait.

The floating of the possibility that the KMT government might drop even this feeble precondition reveals both the effectiveness of the "peaceful development" propaganda adopted by PRC State Chairman and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao and the unseemly and short-sighted haste by the KMT camp to throw away all of Taiwan's bargaining chips and even international alliances in their impatience to strike a political deal with Beijing.

In the past seven months since Ma took office, the president and his KMT government have made a seemingly unending series of political concessions to the PRC beginning with openly accepting Beijing's "one China principle" in the guise of the so-called "Consensus of 1992," self-denigrating Taiwan itself from a "state" into "region," accepting the PRC's primacy on "party - to - party" negotiations and avoiding legislative oversight over cross-strait talks and, most recently, accepting Hu's "gift" of two pandas whose arrival signalled to the world Taiwan's acceptance of a status as part of the PRC.

Indeed, even though Hsieh's trial balloon has yet to be openly backed by Ma or senior KMT government officials, the TCF executive has now openly introduced the grave possibility of an alliance between the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party - ruled PRC and the betrayal of Taiwan's long-term democratic allies of the United States and Japan as the latest sacrificial offering to Beijing.

Whether such slavishness on the KMT camp's part will lead Beijing to respond with "goodwill" or by taking advantage of the apparent weak-kneed ruling KMT to intensify pressure on Taiwan remains to be seen, but the raising of the spectre of a PRC-Taiwan military alliance warns that KMT-CCP reconciliation may not bring "peace" into the Taiwan Strait after all.

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US policymakers take note: this was the Horse you wanted in office, and it wants to make an alliance with the PRC -- that may not yet be formal policy, but it is clearly in the minds of many in the KMT, and the pressure for it will only grow. Taken together with Ma's "diplomatic truce" which signals that Taiwan is no longer going to take independent initiatives to gain international space, but submit to Beijing's decisions on such issues, and the Party-to-Party negotiations between what a friend of mine calls the two CCPs (Chinese Chauvinist Parties) that even now are sealing Taiwan's fate....well, soon the island will be in Beijing's orbit, and the containment policy that many in the US government think they are supporting will be annulled. Actually, it is already as dead as the Demilitarized Rhineland, only that history has yet to be written. But the first drafts of the script are already at the printer's....

China's been sending signals to Japan it wants to come to some kind of settlement on the Senkaku (Diaoyutai) Islands, which have been Japanese since 1895 but which China began claiming in 1969 after Japanese scientists announced the possibility of oil in the continental shelf around them. The US is committed by treaty to defend Japan and its associated territories, and in fact carried out naval exercises with Japan in the islands a few years ago. At some point, once Taiwan is safely annexed, China will begin to turn its attention to the Senkakus, along with other places, such as the South China Sea, where it is claiming territory no Chinese emperor ever owned.

But don't worry, there will be peace, just like there was peace after Munich (and we're going to get a better deal than the Czechs: 24 nuclear plants!). Because everyone knows that it is not in China's interest to have a war, just as it wasn't in the US interest to invade Iraq, or in the Japanese interest to bomb Pearl Harbor, or... yes, regional peace, too big to fail....

UPDATE 2: Hsieh's organization, the TCF, contains several ranking KMT politicians who serve at the Ministerial level. This should be taken seriously.

REF: Chinese military power projected itself globally this week as Chinese ships arrived to fight pirates off the Somali coast. Jonathon Adams has the call in CSM. Welcome to the future....

UPDATE: What do the people want? Commonwealth Magazine asked...from Slide 18 of its recent public opinion survey:



Who wants to be annexed to China? Less than 7% of the population! The US needs to support a valid, internationally overseen referendum of all the people of the island before there is any change in status.

Battery Conviction Upheld in Winkler Case

Wild at Heart sent out this press release on the high court's decision in the battery case against Robin Winkler's assailant. The incident is connection with Winkler's tough stand against the retrograde development project in Mailiao in Yunlin.

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High Court Upholds Conviction:
Battery of Robin Winkler by Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang

For immediate release 2008/12/30

Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association (台灣蠻野心足生態協會)

On 7 November 2007, Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang (蘇金煌) assaulted former Environmental Impact Assessment Committee member Robin Winkler (Wen Lu-bin 文魯彬) at an environmental impact assessment hearing held at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (環保署) Taipei offices. The hearing was held to review the environmental impact of the Formosa Plastics Group’s proposed US$5 billion steel plant in Taisi Township (台西), Yunlin County. In October 2008, Su was convicted of the assault and was sentenced to six months imprisonment convertible to a fine. Both Su and the prosecutor filed appeals with the Taiwan High Court. The High Court today dismissed both appeals and upheld Su’s conviction and sentence by the District Court.

While the Courts of Taiwan have now affirmed Su’s criminal culpability, Wild at Heart is concerned that the media and public do not understood the full truth and significance of what transpired at the Environmental Protection Agency 14 months ago.

During the District Court trial Su Jinhuang repeatedly declared that he did not hit (da) anyone. During the High Court trial he changed his testimony and stated that "Winkler wanted to shake hands with me, and I mistakenly thought he wanted to hit me. I brushed him away and carelessly injured him."1 This statement clearly shows that Su made contact with and injured Winkler in direct contradiction of his testimony in his first trial that he did not hit anyone.

Although Winkler suffered considerable emotional distress from the battery and feared for his personal safety given Su’s long criminal record including a conviction for attempted murder for which he was sentenced to seven and half years imprisonment and prosecution for the rape and kidnapping of a minor in 1981, he bears no ill will towards Su Jin-huang and does not seek to have him apologize or pay damages. Winkler nonetheless filed his criminal complaint against Su for the following reasons:
1. to reveal theviolence and intimidation that is associated with major development projects in Yunlin County, especially those connected to the Formosa Plastics Group;

2. to expose the negligence and complicity of the Environmental Protection Agency with developers and established local political interests in Yunlin County by allowing a convicted criminal and his associates to assault and batter environmentalists during a public hearing at the Agency’s Taipei headquarters; and,

3. to draw the public’s attention to the devastating effects that nearly two decades of industrial projects by Formosa Plastics have had on the environment and society of Yunlin County, traditionally one of Taiwan’s poorest and most agrarian regions. This devastation has been actively aided by local political interests with their organized crime connections and passively abetted by the negligence of Environmental Protection Agency, which not only has utterly failed in its duty to protect the environment of Yunlin County and the health of its people, but also to adequately safeguard the statutory review processes held in its own premises in Taipei.
All Winkler has ever asked from Su is that Su admit that he battered Winkler. Winkler’s real complaint is that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed in its mandate to protect the land and the people of Yunlin County.

For more information, please contact Wild at Heart Attorney George Chen at (gchen@wildatheart.org.tw) or Huang Hsin-yi(黃心怡) at (hhuang@wildatheart.org.tw).

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The battery incident occurred in November of 2007. I have an extensive blogpost on it.

Anschluss Aardvarks + Two New Videos!


This paean to our lost sovereignty comes to you courtesy of Mad Minerva. It's a beautiful day here in Kaohsiung, the sun is shining, and scarf-n-skirt clad pretty girls are everywhere in evidence. So I'll post later on the return of Chen Shui-bian to detention, and on the first trial balloons for the coming PRC-Taiwan alliance (aimed at Japan's Senkakus, of course, which the US is bound by formal treaty to defend -- but don't worry, if Taiwan is annexed to China, we'll have peace....)

UPDATED: A friend passed me links to two videos. First comes this one, Red Caution, in Chinese with Chinese subtitles, on the Chen Yunlin visit. It's hosted on the wonderful blog of Yufu, who is often seeing taking photos at political rallies. Red Terror comes from YushanTv, and looks at clashes between the police and demonstrators. UPDATE 2: Maddog flipped me the links to Red Caution w/English subtitles:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Judge Changed in Chen Shui-bian Case -- UPDATED--

Besides being reminded of former KMT secretary-general Hsu Shui-teh`s famous admission that "the courts belong to the KMT, the script being followed should be familiar to anyone who observed politics in Taiwan during the KMT`s decades of authoritarian or one-party dominant rule.

Namely, if the KMT loses based on the existing game rules, it ceases to follow the rules or rewrites the rule book.
-- Taiwan News Editorial

The Taipei Times reports on the changing of the judge in the trial of Chen Shui-bian:
In a meeting held among the [Taipei District] court’s presiding judges late on Thursday night, a vote decided that Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) would take over the Chen-related case from Presiding Judge Chou Chan-chun (周占春) because Tsai had previously handled cases concerning Chen.

Panning the move as “political intervention,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday said “the judiciary is doomed.”

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that in an effort to avoid human manipulation, the courts had in recent years had to resort to using a computerized system designed to randomly select presiding judges.

“By deciding who shall be the presiding judge by a vote, we are now going backward and future judiciary trials will be filled with political elements,” he said.

The KMT News Network (KNN) reports on the process:

Following a joint meeting of its five presiding judges, the Taipei District Court yesterday announced that former President Chen Shui-bian’s four cases, including the State Affairs Fund case, the money-laundering case, the Longtan Science Park land deal case, and the Nangang Exhibition Hall bid case, would be merged with former First Lady Wu Shu-jen’s State Affairs Fund case for trial.

The Taipei District Court said that the merging of the cases was in accordance with precedents that a later case be merged with a former case if both cases were related and could not be separated for trial. Therefore, based on Taipei District Court’s decision, Tsai Shou-shun, not Chou Chan-tsun, will serve as the presiding judge in the trial of Chen Shui-bian’s corruption and money-laundering cases.

What they did was take the case away from Judge Chou, who was apparently too fair for some people's tastes -- Chou is reported to have said he'd have convicted Ma in Ma's embezzlement case -- and turn it over to Judge Tsai, who has been presiding over the trial of Chen's wife.

The unforgivable error of Judge Chou was to let Chen Shui-bian free without bail. This sensible ruling was too much for some, and KMT attack dog Legislator Chui Yi, a former jailbird himself, said Chou's qualifications to be judge should be examined, and that he ought to be impeached. Chui Yi also complained that Judge Chou cared only about Chen's human rights. Talk show hosts accused Judge Chou of having a political bias.

Thus, faced with the possibility of an unlooked for outcome in the Chen case, the judge was replaced.

I think this is great. Until this moment, in order to educate someone who didn't understand how the trial of Chen was a political persecution, all sorts of lengthy explanation was required. Now the government has made it easy: just note that when the system got a ruling it didn't like, there was a firestorm of complaint, and the judge was replaced. Even the dullest spectator can understand a kangaroo court.

UPDATE: This just in: appellate court vacates the decision to release Chen on no bail at 1:50 am this morning:

This was the second time that the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Prosecutor General’s Office filed an interlocutory appeal (December 25). When Judge Chou Chan-tsun of the Taipei District Court, released Chen without bail, pending trial, the SIU appealed on December 16, and the appellate court vacated the ruling and remanded the case to the lower court for a new ruling. However, Judge Chou, in his new ruling, reaffirmed his original ruling, whereupon the SIU filed an appeal again.

The circumstances have changed this time. Earlier, the Taipei District Court, by unanimous resolution of its presiding judges, decided to merge Chen’s corruption case, the latter case, with Chen’s earlier case, the State Affairs Fund Case in which Chen’s wife was indicted in 2006 and is now being tried by another judge, Tsai Shou-hsun. Chen himself was named a co-defendant but was not indicted at the time because of his criminal immunity for a sitting President under the Constitution. Therefore, when the Taipei District Court rules again on orders of the appellate court in the nearest future, it will be Judge Tsai who will be the presiding judge in the merged case.
So sequence is: (1) Judge Chou at Taipei District Court orders Chen release w/o bail. (2) Appellate court voids this and hands it back to Chou. (3) Judge Chou re-affirms first decision, rejects Appellate court's decision, continues Chen on no-bail release (4) firestorm of complaint in Blue media and from prominent Blue legislators (5) Judge Chou is removed (6) prosecutors refile in Appellate Court and win again (8) now coming up in the script: Taipei District Court under Judge Tsai will revoke Chen's release.

SERIAL 14: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo marries another aboriginal woman to gain the trust of her people! Enjoy the latest installment of Dr. Paul Barclay's translation of Kondo Katsusaburo's experiences up to and during the 1930 Wushe revolt, which were serialized in the local Taiwan Japanese-language papers in the early 1930s. Kondo married into an aboriginal family and traveled extensively in aboriginal territory. (For introduction to Kondo and his era, see Installments 1 & 2. Links to other installments are on the bottom of the right-hand sidebar). Dr. Barclay is the general editor of the wonderful Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection which I urge everyone interested in Taiwan to visit.

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Chapter Twenty-One: Kondō’s Filial Piety

(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 2, 1931)

One day in August of 1908, [Police Inspector] Ōtsu Rinpei, Nantou sub-prefect Mr. Nose, and police officer Captain Ikeda came to Puli and summoned Kondō.

Thanks to you, the crossing was a success. As a safeguard against the Teuda, Truku, and Xakut, we have decided that it is necessary to stretch a guardline from Palan to Sakura-ga-mine. This line will pass through the length of Wushe country, which will probably cause quite a ruckus. Therefore, we would like to ask your assistance once again.

Kondō himself had been thinking of this guardline's necessity for quite some time, and said as much. But unless this very difficult task was carried out with delicacy, it would be hard to avoid a disturbance. In order to make the plan work, Kondō would have to put his life at risk once again. Kondō became visibly flummoxed, in the presence of the officials. He was honored to be called upon, but as recounted above, he had just resolved to make his filial obligations a priority. Though Kondō felt no compunction about devoting himself to the nation, he could not vanquish his anxious thoughts concerning the fate of his family, should something happen to him. So Kondō fervently pleaded to decline this order. He frankly expressed his sentiments to these three men and asked that they send his younger brother instead. They replied that Gisaburō was too young; moreover, he was unsuitable because he held an official post. In the final analysis, only Kondō Katsusaburō was really fit for this task. Acknowledging Kondō's worries about the aftermath of a possible mishap, the officials assuaged Kondō by promising to do all they could to make arrangements [to provide for his family]. They urged Kondō to change his mind and accept the request.

After a long period of obstinate wrangling, Kondō finally gave up in the face of such insistence. The three officials told Kondō that there was a place called Kirigaseki on the way to Wushe from Puli. They said they would sell-off about 30 hectares to Kondō for his family. Still, at that moment, Kondō remained hesitant for some reason. Nevertheless, he could not shake them off, because so much had already been offered and requested. After thinking about it for a while, he gave his reply and set off that day, parting with the officials. Kondō consulted with his younger brother and father. They both said that since so much had already been offered and requested, there was no turning back. So Kondō followed their advice...

Kondō had now backed himself into a corner. Damnable Kirigaseki! From here on in, that place cursed the brothers Kondō. Perhaps Kondō balked at the above mentioned orders because he had premonition of his fate. On October 1st, [1908], Kondō traveled to Wushe to look into conditions among the Aborigines. He gathered the headmen together for a parley. Kondō begin laying out his pretext [for bringing the guardline through Wushe] by telling them that the Government General was bent on revenge for Captain Fukahori's demise. Such revenge would be meted out against Teuda and Truku. These two tribes must be subdued, stressed Kondō, as he asked them to build a guardline through Wushe to Tatsutaka to show their support for the Government General.

It goes without saying that Teuda and Truku were Wushe's enemies. Mona Ludao of Mahebo and Aui Nukan of Hōgō were enthusiastic from the start. They asked Kondō which side he would take. Kondō flatly stated that he was with Wushe, as a matter of course. Mona and Aui then apprised Kondō that he would have to enter their villages if he would join with Wushe. Kondō replied that he would do so if that were the case. However, Kondō stipulated, if Wushe were not united behind the plan of exacting revenge, he could not enter their villages. The headmen answered back that they would find, through consultation, a home and a wife for Kondō [among the villages of Wushe].

Kondō expected something like this to occur. He thought it best to enter Wushe and arrange for the Aborigines to construct the guardline themselves. To accomplish this goal, he knew that he would have to marry an Aborigine woman in Wushe to gain their complete trust. Besides, his current wife [Iwan Robau] was from Palan village, which was no longer a force to be reckoned with. Therefore, he had already resigned himself to becoming a son-in-law of Hōgō or Mahebo in order to control the Aborigines of Wushe and manage the construction of a guard-line. These were the two most powerful villages in Wushe at the time.

The Daily Bubble Tea Weds!

On Saturday I zoomed down to Chungshingshintsun in Nantou to attend the reception of the marriage of my friends Todd and Cathy. Todd is the well known proprietor of the excellent blog The Daily Bubble Tea.

After the wedding, they arrived at the restaurant.

Todd helps his new bride out of the car.

Entering the restaurant.

Cheap, but effective.

The happy couple.

Also present were Michael the Bushman and his lovely wife Hui-chen. Here they are conversing with Todd's parents. Bloggers David Reid and Mark Forman were also there.

Cathy smiles for the camera.

The banquet offered wine, unusual at a down-country wedding, where it is either Taiwan beer or the dreaded Kaoliang, bane of brain cells.

Mark Forman, the Bluesman, also joined the festivities, along with his wife and son.

Todd's brother, in the background, watches the crowd gather.

Michael and Mark discuss BBQ sauces.

Practicing English with Todd's parents.

The bride emerges.

The food. Michael K will no doubt give a complete rundown on his blog, so I will forgo the pleasure.

Mark's son Kevin, a friend of my son's.

The family listen's as Todd's father makes a short speech.

Toasting the guests.

I headed out toward Puli with David Reid of David on Formosa.

The mountains on the way are amazing.

As I said....

We turned onto Rte 136 to go back to Taichung and passed this family out to pick strawberries on a glorious December day.

Locals hard at work.

There are some amazing mountain views on this road.

...and some good opportunities for nice shots like this one, of David Reid.

China Rights Network Expresses Concern About Erosion of Human Rights in Taiwan

The China Rights Network weighs in on the continuing erosion of civil society, rule of law, and human rights in Taiwan....

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President MA Ying-jeou
President, Republic of China
No. 122, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd.
Zhongzheng District
Taipei City 100
Taiwan (R.O.C.)

China Rights Network Expresses Concern About Erosion of Human Rights in Taiwan

Dear President Ma,

Over the past fifteen years the world has come to view Taiwan as a place of hope, where human rights and democratic values became firmly established in the 1990’s after many years of struggle. In recent weeks, however, we have grown increasingly concerned by reports from many groups and individuals. These include international scholars, Freedom House, Amnesty International and the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, a member of CRN. The China Rights Network is a coalition of Toronto-based groups concerned with issues of human rights in China. It is with great dismay that we now feel we must extend that concern to Taiwan as well.

These reports we see raise detailed concerns over the fairness and objectivity of procedures used in the prosecution of alleged corruption cases against former officials of the DPP government and the family of former President Chen. Other concerns have been raised about restrictions on freedom of expression and the actions of police against demonstrators during the visit of Chinese officials to Taiwan in early November.

Changes made at the Guomindang Extraordinary Congress in November, and President Ma’s statements on November 22 about closer party state co-ordination, create anxiety about the possible re-emergence of a “party state”. It is disturbing, for instance, that the Guomindang Party, rather than the government, is conducting negotiations with the Communist Party of China.

Not only is this a departure from normal diplomatic practice, it also contradicts the longstanding policies of former presidents Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui, that the Guomindang would not engage in party to party negotiations with the CCP. The ongoing negotiations, and President Ma’s recent statement that he would not welcome a visit by the Dalai Lama to Taiwan at this time, suggests that he is already being influenced by the PRC, despite assurances to the contrary.

Ironically, on December 10, International Human Rights Day, new developments suggest that all the above concerns are indeed serious, pushing us to take action. On December 10th, executives of Taiwan’s Public Television Network (PTN), along with the Association of Taiwan Journalists, issued statements of alarm over moves by the legislature to assert political control over Taiwan’s Public Television Network. In a move that extends political control, it is reported that more Guomindang legislators will be appointed to an expanded Board of Directors, and certain PTN programming will require advance approval from government departments.

In a further extension of authoritarian tendencies, at 4 a.m. on December 11th, police violently evicted the “Wild Strawberry” student protestors from Liberty Square, along with numerous Tibetans seeking political asylum in Taiwan, who were later dumped in an outlying part of Taipei.

The China Rights Network condemns these regressive moves by the Guomindang Party and government agencies in Taiwan. We are deeply concerned that these actions might indicate a growing Chinese Communist Party influence over Guomindang policies. Human rights are the lifeblood of democracy, and democracy is vital to the just and peaceful development of Taiwan. We thus express our solidarity with the people and organizations that work to preserve Taiwan's hard-won commitment to democracy and human rights.

We applaud the recent statement by President Ma calling for the Guomindang-controlled legislature to ratify the UN Covenants on Human Rights. Further firm leadership and concrete action is urgently required to address all the above issues and prevent the erosion of human rights under your leadership.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Craig, Chair
Michael Stainton, President
China Rights Network
Taiwanese Human Rights Association
of Canada

REFERENCE: First Open Letter from US-based scholars and analysts. Ministry Response. Devastating Response from scholars.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Johnny Neihu: Was Heritage Pressured to Remove Tkacik?

Johnny Neihu announced in his column today that John Tkacik, the fiercely pro-Taiwan scholar at Heritage, has "left" his post as Senior Research Fellow there. To wit:
Not long after last week’s column, I received a series of e-mails from a respected source in the US with knowledge of the workings of The Heritage Foundation, probably the most influential think tank stateside.

Heritage is a very conservative bunch of people. It has a fascinating history that will appall or delight according to your political bent. But one thing is certain: For years it has been home to solid advocacy of freedom from communist thuggery, even when Republican presidents gave up the ghost.

In the past, Taiwan was a US interest mostly because it was anti-communist. Today, things aren’t so simple: the Chicoms and their despised Siamese twin, the KMT, are rejoining at the hip in a manner likely to injure the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese and cripple the integrity of a budding democracy.

Heritage’s most hardline, pro-Taiwan commentator — indeed, one of the most hardline in the US — is John Tkacik (also an occasional Taipei Times columnist), a former diplomat, who has written years of analysis on such matters.

But that has all come to a sinister end. My informant told me that Tkacik has been removed from his post at Heritage as Senior Research Fellow.

Unfortunately, with people too nervous or professionally vulnerable to go on the record, I can’t print most of what was said in the e-mails, including one particularly explicit and disturbing allegation. My legal budget extends about as far as challenging a ticket for double parking.

Anyone for a broad hint? Read on:

The obvious question is: Who would dance with joy to see Tkacik shorn of institutional respectability? Here are some possibilities, though they’re not the only ones:

1. The Chinese government;

2. Taiwan’s KMT government;

3. US individuals/groups/firms with Chinese interests;

4. A rival colleague(s).

Just out of curiosity, when I asked if Heritage could identify “the exact amount of money that the Taiwanese government donates to Heritage formally or informally,” an official kindly sent me a reply.

He said: “The Heritage Foundation receives no funding from the government of Taiwan. And the ASC is entirely a part of The Heritage Foundation. ASC does not have any independent source of income.”

Now that’s a denial. And just as well, too. Gracious, what would have been the ramifications of the top US conservative think tank taking conditional cash from a government that longs for China to be more powerful than the US one day?

So, for now, I’ll have to leave you in suspense on why Tkacik is no longer at Heritage. My humble message to him on behalf of Taiwan’s concussed democrats is: Thank you, John, and Godspeed.

Since my legal budget consists of borrowing money from Johnny Neihu to contest my parking tickets, that's all I am going to say on this subject. My readers are excellent mathematicians and will have no trouble combining 2 and 2 to attain 4.

This is a blow, especially with the so many in the US engaged in those periodic fantasies that strike each generation of Americans anew that if we only make China happy, it will make us rich. Unfortunately being right is not enough; institutions magnify voices, and Heritage was a powerful base for John T.

Thank you, John, and good luck.

Paper on Parade: From 1953 -- The Tiger at Red China's Heels

Enjoy this Saturday Evening Post article on Taiwan from 1953, back when men were men, women were women, and Taiwan was Formosa, by the famous WWII correspondent and author Robert Sherrod. I especially love its exoticizing teaser....

Chiang Kai-shek, given up by almost everyone as a sure loser three years ago, now commands a well-fed, 400,000-man army -- the largest anti-Red force in the Orient. A Post correspondent here reports on his recent interview, on the strange island of Formosa.

...On the strange island of Formosa.

Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6

I post another gem from 1950 here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Daily links, December 25th, 2008

What a year.....I hope you've enjoyed all the snacks provided here as much as I have enjoyed cooking them up for you.

Merry Christmas or Solstice or Hanukkah or Saturnalia or whatever it is you are celebrating these days. Have a few links to get you through a tough day of heavy food and light talk....
  • Remember when you first came and everyone was rude and the street dogs had no hair? Now it is you who is rude and has no hair.....

  • Pashan does a historic trail to Nanao

  • Taiwan bangus is just not as good. Wish I knew what Bangus was...

  • Taiwan 660 on the SIU/SIG's continuing attempt to get Chen's release repealed.

  • The gambling scandal in Taiwan baseball continues to unfold.

  • Anarchy in Taiwan on the protests against unpaid vacations

  • Taking a bus in Taichung: nerves required.

  • The Foreigner notes that in accepting pandas we've become part of the PRC.

  • Cross-Strait Peace Plan from the KMT? Just an outline, actually.

  • Did the ChiComs penetrate Taiwan's F-16 recon missions?

  • A-gu observes how depressing the current administration is. To which should be added, the complete lack of leadership on the economic issues.

  • A Catholic priest from Africa on being black in Taiwan

  • Wild at Heart brings videos on consumption, climate change

  • Jenna thinks Taiwan has the true meaning of Christmas
  • TAIWAN MOURNS: Ai Lijima, Japanese porn star and AIDS awareness campaigner, was found dead, an apparent suicide. Big news here where she had a huge following; a local TV news anchor said she was called in on Christmas to report on this urgent news. [insert mandatory bad male organ pun here]. UPDATE: A commenter below notes:
    Interestingly, there's a Japanese article looking at how her death was reported on such a large scale in Taiwan. Its take is that when Iijima's porn material was one of the first pornographic material to be legally sold in Taiwan - it marked the beginning of an era of openness and freedom of expression. In addition, she was the common link between nearly all men born in the 60's and 70's, because almost all of them hid in their bedroom and watched her videos at one point or another
    MEDIA: China poisons the world again. Jobless Filipino workers return home. 18,000 chickens killed after bird flu is discovered. The special prosecutors appeal decision to release Chen Shui-bian without bail. Links no panacea for the Taiwan economy: Taiwan News points out that they sold everything to China and got nothing in return. "Tonnage through Kaohsiung and Keelung may rise initially thanks to superior infrastructure and reduced freight costs that are expected to help Taiwan shippers save about NT$1.2 billion annually, or about half of the printing costs for the future consumer voucher program." David Kilgour, Canadian parliamentarian, on human rights in Taiwan and China. CNA on the English village in I-lan. The Su-hua Highway being DOA, the government is proposing another East Coast highway. The Chen prosecutors admit OOPS "we threw out personal info without shredding" apparently in total violation of the law (sez pro-KMT UDN) butdidyouseehowmuchthatbadbadbadChenShuibianstole? Our Cargo Cultists who claimed Chinese investment will cure Taiwan of all ills forgot (Ma save us!) that China hadn't issued rules for investment here. Now it has. Taiwanese villages to vote on German firm's wind farm. China is really really really interested in building an aircraft carrier. Really. KMT legislator Diane Lee's hilarious saga of denial of her US citizenship lurched closer to its inevitable conclusion today. Panda bowel movements make news.

    SPECIAL: I've been saying that the US Establishment wants to sell Taiwan to China to achieve "better relations" (= $$$$) and lo and behold the Atlanta Constitution hosts an opinion piece advocating Obama do just that from current large cable company director in Taiwan who is also former Carlyle manager (the big and hugely influential private equity firm), former Dem candidate for Congress, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

    EVENTS: Join Brian the Hypnotist for four days in Bali.

    HELP: From a Reader Comment

    I am opening a (proper) BBQ/ steak house in Hsinchu. My theme is a cowboy/western environment. However I am having difficulty finding stuff related to it in Taiwan.

    I was wondering if you or your reader would know about places/ranch/farm where I might find some items like: Wagon wheels, barrels, hats, lasso, old cowboy boots or anything related to the theme.

    If anyone could help me, it would greatly be appreciated. I will have a couple of free meals for any help.

    Thanks in advance.

    Ian
    ianlambert1@hotmail.com
    www.itsavideotv.com

    Taiwan News on Charter 08 in China

    Taiwan News has some perspicacious commentary on the publication of Charter 08:
    The publication of "Charter 08" by over 300 prominent Chinese citizens on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in conscious imitation of the path-breaking "Charter 77" of Czechoslovakian democrats is a noteworthy step toward the formation of a broad-based and unified democratic movement in the People`s Republic of China.
    As Taiwan News points out, those who believe that annexing Taiwan to China will not harm Taiwan are living in a dream world -- as evidenced by human rights calls from within China. The editorial also notes that while the DPP offered a positive response to the Charter, the KMT has been silent.

    To read this excellent editorial in its entirety, please wait until blog loads COMPLETELY and then click here! Both the launching of the "Charter 08" campaign and the predictable crackdown by the PRC`s Chinese Communist Party regime merits concern and support from Taiwan`s 23 million people for many reasons, not the least of which is the paramount importance of political change in China for the survival of Taiwan`s own democracy or national existence.

    The issuance of the "Charter" is also timely for both the world community because, as observed earlier this week by the Washington Post," it punctures the notion that CCP neo-authoritarianism can offer either an alterative political or economic development path for a world shaken by the structural crisis in the global neoliberal model.

    The Charter thus also punctures the pollyannaish vision of the restored Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government of President Ma Ying-jeou that rapid integration through "deregulation" with the PRC economy and slavish appeasement with the CCP regime will lead to "peace and prosperity" for Taiwan.

    On the contrary, "Charter 08" pointed out that the PRC remains "the only country among the major nations that remains mired in authoritarian politics" and that the CCP`s authoritarian regime "continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises."

    Besides "fostering official corruption, obstructing the rule of law and undermining human rights," the Charter also warns that the PRC authoritarian system has also "polarized society, distorted economic development and ravaged the natural ecology and human environment."

    The "Charter 08" also issued a grave warning of imminent crisis in the PRC by observing that "the sharpening animosity between officials and ordinary people" and the lack of channels for legitimate protest or redress is "raising the possibility of a violent conflict of disastrous proportions" and declared that "the decline of the current system has reached the point where change is no longer optional."

    In addition, the Charter expressed its adherence to "fundamental principles" of freedom, human rights, equality, republicanism, democracy and constitutional rule and proposed 19 areas of reform, including calls for a new constitution, the freedom of speech, association and assembly, an independent judiciary, democratic elections at all levels, genuine guarantees for human rights, the political neutralization of the military and civil service, protection of private property, fair and adequate social security and welfare systems and environmental protection.

    Democratic dialogue

    Charter 08`s advocation regarding the "Taiwan question" is contained in its call to transform the PRC, including Hong Kong, Macau and other "national minority" areas, presumably including Tibet, into a "Chinese federated republic under a democratic constitutional structure."

    "Based on the premises of freedom and democracy, we should engage in negotiations based on equality and cooperative interaction to search for a formula for reconciliation across the two sides of the Taiwan Strait," the Charter declares.

    Unfortunately, "Charter 08" seems to be unable to transcend "great Chinese nationalism" as its implied commitment to eventual unification seems to share the CCP`s rejection of the free right of choice of Taiwan`s 23 million people, not to mention the people of Tibet or even Hong Kong and Macau.

    Nevertheless, we believe that the fact that "Charter 08" neither specifically advocates "peaceful unification" nor endorses the CCP`s "one country, two systems" formula can widen the door of a cross-strait dialogue among advocates of democracy and human rights to contest the "authoritarian" track already functioning between the CCP and the KMT.

    For its part, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party responded positively by issuing a statement Monday offering support for the advocacy of democratization and improvement of human rights contained in "Charter 08" and expressing the "heart-felt desire" that the new campaign "will allow China to take a major step toward democracy.

    Moreover, the DPP noted that, as Taiwan`s democratic development had received concern and assistance from world democratic groups and individuals, "Taiwan has a definite responsibility and necessity to be concerned with China`s democratic development."

    Hence, the DPP added its voice to the denunciation issued Saturday by the Taiwan Association of Human Rights and other civic organizations of the detention of noted Chinese democratic dissident writer Liu Xiaobo and other "Charter 08" signatories by PRC Public Security or National Security agencies.

    Sadly, there has been barely a peep of support for "Charter 08" or protest against the CCP`s detention of Liu or other human rights campaigners from the KMT, whom are rather more concerned with keeping power through "reconciliation" with the CCP than fulfilling Ma`s forgotten campaign rhetoric in support of Chinese democracy.

    Last but not least, "Charter 08" should remind all Taiwan citizens and the world community that deepening and preserving Taiwan`s own democracy is critical to the both the welfare of our own 23 million people and to hopes for the emergence of a democratic and peaceful China.


    BBC on the Fifty-Centers

    [They] need to possess relatively good political and professional qualities, and have a pioneering and enterprising spirit

    Extract from internal document produced by Nanning city authority, Guangxi province


    BBC has an article on what those of us who are active on the internet have long known: that China pays people to invade the net and post apologetics for its authoritarianism, colonialism, and imperialism:

    But cyberspace - where views can be expressed instantly and anonymously - is not as easy to control as traditional news outlets.

    Comments, rumours and opinions can be quickly spread between internet groups in a way that makes it hard for the government to censor.

    So instead of just trying to prevent people from having their say, the government is also attempting to change they way they think.

    To do this, they use specially trained - and ideologically sound - internet commentators.

    They have been dubbed the "50-cent party" because of how much they are reputed to be paid for each positive posting (50 Chinese cents; $0.07; £0.05).

    "Almost all government departments face criticism that is beyond their control," said Xiao Qiang, of the University of California at Berkeley.

    "There is nothing much they can do, other than organise their own spinning teams to do their public relations," said the journalism professor, who monitors China.

    The great thing about these apologists is that being politically correct by Chinese standards means they are totally irrational and ignorant by any reasonable standard -- easy to spot whether paid or not. Their purpose is not so much to win arguments as it is to constantly bombard people with nonsense with they will eventually come to treat as credible, if not to believe -- the real secret to successful propaganda is not quality but repetition -- people will believe anything they hear over and over and, if caught young enough, incorporate it into their identities as fundamental truth, making it difficult to root out.

    My own view is that the way to deal with 50 centers is to simply point out to other forum participants that this poster is behaving like a 50 center and move on. Don't waste time arguing with them or replying to specific points. That is how they win and you lose.

    UPDATE: I should also add two other things. The Chinese gov't knows it can't keep stuff out -- the 50 centers are there to shape the reception of things in the desired direction, to make that when things enter they go in the right pigeonholes and are thought about in approved ways. However, consider what internet fora must be like in China now, where everyone not only has to worry about government censors but also must be suspicious that anyone who approves of government policy -- and there must be many sensible policies in China -- might be a paid poster. Congratulations, Beijing, you've discredited your supporters.

    US Congress Letter on Taiwan

    The Taipei Times reports that 14 US Congresspersons have written to President Bush to warn Ma on human rights...

    Fourteen members of the US Congress have written to US President George W. Bush urging him not to forget Taiwan during his final days in office.

    They want Bush to warn President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that he must respect Taiwan’s basic freedoms and civil rights as he tries to improve relations with China.

    “We want to express our concern about recent developments in Taiwan,” the letter written by Republican Representative Scott Garrett said. “The latest events appear to signal a disturbing erosion of civil liberties and human rights in Taiwan.”
    The text of the letter:

    +++++++++++++++

    December 22, 2008

    The Honorable George W. Bush
    President of the United States
    The White House
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. President,

    As long-term friends of the people of Taiwan and of the Taiwanese Americans in our districts, we want to express our concern about recent developments in Taiwan. The latest events appear to signal a disturbing erosion of civil liberties and human rights in Taiwan. Amnesty International and Freedom House have issued statements in response to these events.

    During Chinese envoy Mr. Chen Yunlin's visit in early November, several news outlets reported that police seized Republic of China flags from anyone waving them along routes traveled by Mr. Chen, while his supporters were permitted to wave the red flag of the People's Republic of China. Other reports include a motorcyclist stopped by police because his scooter was decorated with Tibetan flags and people being detained by police for wearing T-shirts bearing ‘objectionable' slogans like "Taiwan is my country." A music store was allegedly ordered to shut down its sound system because it was playing Taiwanese folk music. Numerous websites and online journals have also documented photo and video evidence of police mistreating those who expressed an opposing viewpoint during Chen Yunlin's visit.

    Even more troubling, news reports have also indicated that more than a half-dozen members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have been interrogated, arrested and detained by police.

    For example, former President Chen Shui-Bian was handcuffed, arrested, and jailed despite the fact that he has not been even been formally charged or indicted. Many believe the allegations against the former President and against other officials of his party are politically motivated.

    We believe that a cordial cross-Strait relationship is conducive to the security and stability in the region. However, the advancement of that relationship should not come at the expense of the civil liberties and human rights of the Taiwanese people.

    Section 2(c) of the Taiwan Relations Act reminds us that "The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States." With this in mind, we hope that you will keep a close eye on these developments and urge the Ma Yin-jeou government to respect the basic freedoms and civil rights that Taiwan's people have fought so diligently to achieve over the last half century.

    Sincerely,

    Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Michelle Bachman (R-MN), John Culberson (R-TX), John Duncan (R-TN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Peter Roskam (R-IL), John Sullivan (R-OK), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

    +++++++++++++++++++

    It's a good letter, but addressed to the wrong person: it should be going to the KMT Central Standing Committee, Chairman Wu Po-hsiung, Hon. Chairman Lien Chan, and Su Chi, head of the NSC. Those are the people who are actually running the show....

    9 Republicans, 3 Democrats. Get on the ball, Dems.

    Along the River

    A few days ago I took a bike ride along the dull gray concreted ditch that is referred to on maps as a 'river' not far from where I live.

    Some construction company has made a lot of money building concrete squares in the river.

    It would seem that the river is dead, a whited sepulchre of cement and gravel.....

    ...yet the occasional bird can be seen hunting for food in it.

    The county apparently got some money for beautification and is busy erecting pretty bridges up and down the river.

    On the other side of the road along the embankment are gardens and small farms.

    A narrow road divides the riverbed from the town.

    Gardens everywhere.

    The paraphernalia of work.

    Further down an informal sign warns you that automobiles cannot go through.

    It's a mystery why there is only barbed wire in this spot.

    With fishing on the increase, even a bit of water like this attracts a few fishermen.

    ...and a bird too.

    An afternoon walk on the riverbank.

    A bright, hazy day.

    The county has also been attempting to brighten the river with parks. Here the park begins.

    A riverside BBQ. Full of Taiwanese friendliness, they naturally invited me.

    Flood control works.

    Danger! Water!

    At the next bridge a little girl sat yelling at her parents to hurry up.

    Another new bridge. Here I ran into Thomas, who reads my blog. Send me an email, man!

    Unfortunately the roads aren't nearly as nice as the bridges, as the county government is totally broke.

    Along the river are farms....

    ....and a small orange grove. The sign warns that the trees have been sprayed with pesticide. Don't get any closer!

    This bridge is still under construction.

    A neat pile of debris from the destruction of a building.

    Of course, there must be a temple nearby.....

    ....and a long-deserted betel nut stand.

    The imposing new Tz Chi hospital complex in Tanzi. I've heard that although it was not needed -- by the formula the National Health program uses there are enough beds in the Taichung area -- the hospital received an exemption and was built. At some point the government subsidy program is going to run out of money to pay for the unlimited demand for subsidies from large hospital building entities -- especially since it appears to lack the ability to say "no" -- and that will be that.