Monday, October 26, 2009

Chen Shui-bian: if he didn't exist, he'd have to be invented...

economist
The Economist ran a little article on Chen Shui-bian the other day that talked about his apparent support for the arguments of Lin/Hartzell that Taiwan is a US territory. An excerpt:
Mr Chen weighed in to back the association, claiming that, as president, he took orders from the Americans. After his sentencing in September he sued for his freedom in the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, proclaiming his innocence and arguing that America should intervene, as Taiwan was technically under its occupation.
A search over at the Economist will find a long list of articles mentioning Taiwan but few indeed about anything of import, the exceptions being the effects of Morakot on the government -- all the way back in August -- and another August article on a local chipmaker. Chen Shui-bian appears several times, though, in that stretch. Think about it: is Chen more important than the KMT's troubles with its local faction politicians? Than the untrammeled continuance of the construction-industrial state? Than the ongoing missile build-up? Readers could add many more to the list of urgent issues affecting Taiwan in profound, long-term ways that a weekly news magazine with a focus on business might be interested in reporting.

The Economist is a magazine whose readers expect some depth to its analysis, and which has the time and resources to turn out excellent reporting in a witty prose style that thinking people can sink their teeth into. Why put out this crap that appears to be little more than an expression of pro-China glee at Chen Shui-bian's fall, little more than a recapitulation of the KMT's obsession with Chen Shui-bian?

'Cuz it's easy.

Shame on you, Economist. If I read your magazine and wanted to know what the most important issue in Taiwan politics is these days, could I find ECFA? According to the search I conducted at 12:55 pm today: nope (image at top). But I could find a piece about ex-President Chen declaring his support for a meaningless fringe group already shot down in the US courts, said support being already retracted 8 days before the Economist piece was published. That announcement by Chen is waaaay more important than ECFA, a fundamental re-writing of the Taiwan-China relationship. UPDATED: Ran some more searches -- there is one article in August on the "free trade deals" between Taiwan and China.

JUST CUZ I CAN'T RESIST: Oh, and by the way: Chen embraced the Roger Lin case around Sept 23rd. Around Oct 14, Chen repudiated that link.
The office of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday expressed regret over the connection between Chen and a lawsuit filed by Taiwanese activist Roger Lin (林志昇), saying the former president would never meet Lin again or sign any paper he issues.

In a statement issued yesterday, Chen's office said the former president endorsed Lin's lawsuit because he thought it could help clear up Washington's position on Taiwan's status and its Taiwan policy.
Now read the Oct 22 report in the Economist:
Mr Chen said he did this to clarify that Taiwan was separate from China. But local analysts said he desperately hoped to get out of jail. The former president announced that circumstances had forced him to reveal “the existence of the United States Military Government for Taiwan”. But the American appeals court declined the case in early October. The Supreme Court has also refused to consider the association’s case.
Do you get any sense from the Economist presentation that Chen has repudiated the link to Lin and that a considerable time -- several weeks -- passed during the time Chen made the initial statements in favor of Lin and then made the "clarification"?

Stupid question.
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20 comments:

PS said...

The Economist is a great read until it writes about something you know about, and then it's generally WTF.

David said...

I'd like to add the urgent need for judicial reform to the list of issues that need to be reported on. Of course this is partly highlighted by some of the procedural problems in A-bian's case, but the problem runs far, far deeper than just one case.

Amnesty International recently issued a statement about the ongoing two-decade long farce that is the Hsichih Trio trial. There are many other cases which show that there are major problems in the judicial system. There is no political will to address these issues at the moment, but if the international media starting reporting on this issue the government might be embarrassed into taking some action.

Anonymous said...

The arrest, trial and conviction for corruption of a president in a democratic country has probably never happened before anywhere. It is history making news and is still important and newsworthy from a global perspective. It won't go away. It's sad to see so-called supporters of freedom and democracy defending him.

Economic agreements such as ECFA are made globally every other week in some shape or form. They're not really that newsworthy to a global audience most of the time. Closer economic ties and agreements will more than likely help ease the political tensions and should see a reduction in missiles as a result. Don't forget everything in China is done on 5 year timescales - it'll likely be a couple of years until changes are seen. If CSB hadn't constantly provoked China, there might not be so many now anyway (and the argument that China chose to be provoked doesn't wash - you don't wave a big stick at a big dog then blame it for barking/biting at you) Local faction politics aren't newsworthy beyond the local sphere at all.

Anonymous said...

The Economist's coverage of Taiwan lost a lot of depth after Laurence Eyton was given the boot and the mag settled for coverage from Beijing. That was many years ago; in the last couple of years the situation has become simply dire, as you point out with this recent example.

Michael Turton said...

Well put, PS.

Michael Turton said...

David, I'm wondering if it can be embarrassed into taking positive action. I'm worried that 'taking action' will mean producing a whitewash like the Supreme Court ruling that the swap out of the judges in the Chen case was constitutional -- that action will simply mean reinforcing the legitimacy of government action rather than correcting the problem.

Michael Turton said...

Anon@2:09 PM, thanks for reading the blog, and producing one of the finest bits of parodic posting I've seen in a while.

Michael Turton said...

It's sad to see so-called supporters of freedom and democracy defending him.

This one is an especially priceless load of shit. Brilliant, even down to the parody of my own style.

Anonymous said...

"you don't wave a big stick at a big dog then blame it for barking/biting at you"

Don't you usually wave a big stick at a big dog because it's barking/biting at you?

Arty said...

This one is an especially priceless load of shit. Brilliant, even down to the parody of my own style.

There is no way you can persuade Michael that Chen is even more corrupted than KMT. Why? He never has to pay Chen (i.e. political contribution) for certain favors as "normal" business cost in Taiwan. Trust me, the cost is a lot more than KMT is asking. Also, POSITIVE changes usually take TIME. The most annoying thing for me about some Americans is that they think countries with significant differences in value systems could and have to adopt to our values in short amount of time. Hello, it took us 100 years after the Civil War to even achieve some forms of equality and civil rights.

As for Economist, did you see the magazine cover this week :P?

Michael Turton said...

There is no way you can persuade Michael that Chen is even more corrupted than KMT. Why? He never has to pay Chen (i.e. political contribution) for certain favors as "normal" business cost in Taiwan. Trust me, the cost is a lot more than KMT is asking.

ROFL. That's funny, because the scuttlebutt was that the DPP cut was smaller than the KMT, since they lacked the institutional power to enforce higher cuts.

Actually, the idea that Chen is more corrupt than the KMT is laughable. Let me know when Chen piles up A $400 million kickback on a single deal, like the famous Lafayette case, and the DPP becomes the richest political party in the world, like the KMT did. But then facts are not your strong point, are they?

SY said...

A self-respected, fair journalist will not allow himself/herself to be spoon-fed information without properly checking on its authenticity. In this case, the Economist should have at the very least checked out what Chen actually filed as affidavit in the lawsuit.

An easy Google search can get you there (Chen's Affidavit in English - http://www.taiwanbasic.com/court/csb-doc.htm.)

------
Based on Chen's affidavit, let's compare notes:

The Economist wrote on 10/27: "Mr Chen weighed in to back the association, claiming that, as president, he took orders from the Americans."

Fact:
The declaration #8 of Chen's affidavit:


During the period of my Presidency, and according to the TRA, it was my understanding that the United States government only considered me as the head of the "Taiwan governing authorities," and did not recognize Taiwan or the ROC as sovereign states. According to the SFPT of 1952, the United States is the principal occupying power of Taiwan, and to my knowledge there has been no change in this status to date. Based on this rationale, during my term of office, I accepted the instructions of the Chairmen of the American Institute in Taiwan on many occasions, even when their instructions interfered with my Presidential decision making.

-----

The pretext and context of Chen's statemnt that he accepted instructions from the AIT head "on many occasions" are totally lost in the Economist's presentation.

As well, "to accept instructions on occassions" and "to take orders from" are two different matters. The former implies a selective, active mode, while the latter operates in lump-sum, passive fashion.

-----

1. It's a puzzle to me as to why Chen took Lin seriously. But, given that he's been in semi-solitary confinement and all his information flows are checked and recorded by the detention centre, I am giving him the benefit of doubt that he might have initially acted based on false or incomplete information.

2. It is totally unacceptable to me that The Economist took side with the power-haver to unfairly distort the view of and to unnecessarily ridicule a cactive of the power-haver, without giving the captive a fair chance to present his view. I condemn the unfair, mean spirit of The Economist.

The CCP and KMT must be very proud of The Economist.

Anonymous said...

"you don't wave a big stick at a big dog then blame it for barking/biting at you"

Don't you usually wave a big stick at a big dog because it's barking/biting at you?

No. It's been demonstrated time and time again that that is exactly what you don't do. Get in touch with any quality dog shelter, SPCA-type org, and they'll show you the research.

Arty said...

Actually, the idea that Chen is more corrupt than the KMT is laughable. Let me know when Chen piles up A $400 million kickback on a single deal, like the famous Lafayette case, and the DPP becomes the richest political party in the world, like the KMT did. But then facts are not your strong point, are they?

I don't know. My lack of facts and logic apparently is very capable at predicting future outcome while people full of "FACTS" can't do (wink). There are several things you have to consider: First, KMT was rich since it took large amount of gold from China (oh, wait, you don't believe that even there is a Ph.D. thesis written using US data deposit at Kyoto U). KMT also used to own a lot of national assets. Second, DPP as a party is not rich because all the money goes to Chen's own pockets (or his wife and son's) in the name of Taiwan independence hiding in oversea bank accounts. Third, yes, KMT took a lot of kick backs from big government contracts. However, do you know certain "political contribution" only occurred after DPP took power and the contribution usually have to do with business permits and promotions. And the funny thing is that a lot of contribution were asked openly (my parents told me even KMT didn't make the contribution requirement that obvious). Just like taxes, if it is coming directly out of your own pocket, it hurts more. Of course, you don't have to believe me that DPP ask a lot more money than KMT. However, I can tell you that's one of the reasons that a lot of business people don't like Chen and some of DPP politicians (even the deep-green ones)!

I feel deeply sorry about DPP and some of the pro-green people. Because as long as they don't tackle real issues affecting people's daily lives (well they screw up the trust thingy), no matter how incompetent Ma is, there is not hope for DPP to regain power!

Michael Turton said...

First, KMT was rich since it took large amount of gold from China (oh, wait, you don't believe that even there is a Ph.D. thesis written using US data deposit at Kyoto U)

Oooooh. A whole PHD thesis! Arty, the amount of money the gold from china was worth has been a public fact since 1948: about $175 million US dollars.

The rest of your post consists of childish speculations, assertions without any evidence, and a complete lack of understanding of the DPP or the Greens.

Michael

Arty said...

$175 million US dollars.

So KMT uses those money and become a very rich party. Something wrong with that.

The rest of your post consists of childish speculations, assertions without any evidence, and a complete lack of understanding of the DPP or the Greens.

Sorry I am been childish to remind you that you rarely get any prediction right. Clearly you have deep understanding of Taiwan, her people, DPP, and the Greens. When you don't even know how much DPP was asking under the table. Keep denying that as a naive American. I have been political correct calling the donation "political contribution," but some of them are straight blackmail per US standard (yea, it happens to my family on a land deal). If you really care about Taiwan's democracy, work on the corruption first (especially in your own side)! Btw, my statement does not mean KMT is not corrupted but simply states that DPP is worse when herself suppose to be the reformer!

Anonymous said...

Arty ignores that the KMT stole from the people of China through hyperinflation there, then from the people of Taiwan at least three times: once by forcing exchange to New Taiwan dollars on very unfavorable terms, once by exchange of state industry stock for land, many dubious enterprises that ended up worthless, and again through hyperinflaiton.

Anyways, Arty I remember you. You're the one that kept making asinine predictions about Taiwan's stock market that ended up wrong wrong wrong. Don't try to come off as if you're knowledgeable about finance or economics when that's the furthest thing from your academic expertise and you made several public incorrect predictions here. Ma's turned out to be a completely incompetent executive whose lowest ratings were even lower than your beloved Chen Shui-bian; where was your crystal ball on that cupcake? :-D

Arty said...

Anyways, Arty I remember you. You're the one that kept making asinine predictions about Taiwan's stock market that ended up wrong wrong wrong. Don't try to come off as if you're knowledgeable about finance or economics when that's the furthest thing from your academic expertise and you made several public incorrect predictions here.

I did??? Well, please enlighten me, okay I call 6000 bottom when the index was 9000 and told you guys to sell. It went to below 5000 (okay, if this is what you called inaccuracy, that's fine). Should I go find what I posted? As for academic expertise, I do have an economics degree from a school that produced Nobel laureates (although degree means nothing. Trust me on this, and clearly you memory isn't so good because I have mentioned before). I also mentioned economics is not what I do for living because I like more challenge. Why do most Asian people think degree is so important? A Ph.D. from Taiwan even NTU is not likely to be recognized in the US if there is no paper to back it up (I trash a lot of C.V.s this way; well mostly Indian's but still).

Ma's turned out to be a completely incompetent executive whose lowest ratings were even lower than your beloved Chen Shui-bian; where was your crystal ball on that cupcake? :-D

I did mention he could be incompetent before the election. Hack, he went back to Taiwan because he can't even pass the American bar (I know idiot passed it). However, I said he will win! :P He will win again because the opposition is laughable. I don't love Chen, again, I think you either can't read or have a bad memory.

Next time at least make up a name, so I am not speaking to a dinner table.

Robert R. said...

"Next time at least make up a name, so I am not speaking to a dinner table"

You have to work on your Barney Frank quotes...

Arty said...

"You have to work on your Barney Frank quotes..."

No problem will do.