In her office in this hectic part of Manila, Connie Regalado paints signs for a rally the following day. Her latest cause: calling on the government to do more for overseas Filipino workers who are losing their jobs due to the global economic slump.
A couple days earlier, she and other activists went to the airport to pick up 82 such workers, who flew from Taiwan at their own expense. They'd been axed from semiconductor-factory and other low-end jobs, victims of downsizing. The government was also at the airport, boasting of "one-stop shop" services for the workers, inviting them to the presidential palace, even offering them an appearance on a TV game show.
Ms. Regalado wasn't impressed. "It's a sham," said Regalado. "The 'one-stop shop' services aren't even palliative measures. There's no comprehensive plan to address the problem."
That no-nonsense approach has guided Regalado over nearly two decades of activism. Cynical yet committed to social justice, Regalado has dedicated much of her adult career to improving the working conditions, political voice, and basic rights of overseas Filipino workers.
People like this woman are an inspiration. He observes, further down, that more than 11,000 Filipino workers here in Taiwan can expect the ax this year as the
A Taiwanese exchange student was injured in US shooting incident. That will do wonders for those worried parents who are scared to send their children to the US. Speaking of the US, while the Washington Post has had precious little on the Chen Shui-bian trial and the associated hu-ha in the international rights community, it does devote plenty of space to (yet another) I Went To The Temple For New Years travel tale. Isn't it time this subgenre was retired?
Happy news? Taiwan companies scoop up record number of awards in international design competition.
Companies from Taiwan won a total of 201 design awards in 2008 from global organizations such as red dot and International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) after winning 133 in 2007, according to the Taiwan Design Center (TDC).
....if only there was someone buying our innovative products out there. On the other hand, our DRAM makers are taking another big hit from Qimonda, a German chip firm which died owing Taiwan DRAM makers over a billion US dollars for products supplied.
There have been a spate of articles on the alleged tougher line Obama will take with China (like this AP one) but as Bonnie Glaser noted in that article:
"Everybody just needs to be a little patient on this," Glaser said. "I would not draw any premature conclusions that the administration has decided to take a tougher stance....
The Taipei Times editorializes on what Taiwan would like to say to Obama...
Finally, the South China Morning Post, usually reliably pro-KMT, called for a fair trial for Chen Shui-bian.
The island is deeply divided over its relations with the mainland. Throughout his eight years as president, Chen espoused independence, and there is still much support in Taiwan for such a move. His successor, Ma Ying-jeou, has been instrumental in bringing about closer ties with Beijing since taking office in May. The charges against Chen are, in the circumstances, seen by his backers as being political rather than criminal.
Taiwan's judicial system has long been criticised by human rights advocates. They have questioned the arrests and detention of other members of Chen's Democratic Progressive Party. Prosecutors have leaked sensitive information that has led to trial by media. Sectors of society are suspicious of the impartiality of some judges, even though the judiciary has repeatedly asserted its independence.
There is no doubt that yesterday's guilty pleas damage the cause of the Chen family and others tied up in the corruption scandal. There is no more powerful evidence against a person than his or her own admission of guilt. But we may yet find that the pleas are part of a wider strategy. One strand of Confucian teaching advocates that family members must protect one another, no matter what the circumstances, but another says that justice must precede kinship. Many months of the case remain and only time will tell.
Whatever the reason for the pleas, it is essential that justice is seen to be done. Politics must not have any part in the trials. Every effort has to be made to show that Taiwan has an independent judiciary. Only through the impartiality of judges and the transparency of the legal system can this happen. Taiwan's future depends on it.
Of course the charges are political, and of course Chen is a lawbreaker. That, in a nutshell, is the problem.... but if the friends of the KMT are coming out with stuff like this (note that even SCMP uses the phrase "trial by media"), the perception is widespread that the trial is strongly politicized. The scales fell from the eyes of many when the KMT apparently removed a judge it didn't like.... or more likely, they faced an event that could not be spun or explained away.