Thursday, November 05, 2009

Shocked-I-Tell-You Events

Happiness is an office decorated with my daughter's paintings.

I was shocked, I tell you shocked, to learn that Premier Wu Den-yih, back before he received his promotion to his current exalted state, traveled to Bali Island in Indonesia with a prominent Nantou gangster back in December, as the pro-Blue CTI reported (quickie translation from Google, slightly cleaned up):

According to a Next Weekly reports, when Wu Den-yih was KMT Secretary General, he and his wife and central Taiwan triad leader Jiang Qin Liang, went to the Indonesian resort island of Bali for five days while traveling, together with Nantou County Magistrate Li Zhaoqing, Mr Li Zeng-Quan, Chushan Town Purple Palace Chairman Zhuang Qiu-An, and Mr Lam Kun-Yi of the Tsaotun Township Council and their wives. As Jiang Qin Liang was still on parole from a ten year sentence, with a record of 30 previous convictions for various offenses....
A spokesman said on behalf of Premier Wu that he had gone there to gain ideas for tourism. Clearly, to attract so august a crowd, Bali Island must have many lessons for land-locked Nantou.

Out walking the pet chicken in front of an apartment complex in Linkou as the stray dogs look on hungrily.

When last we heard from the High Speed Rail on this blog, the government was taking it over as the system was unable to service its debts. The government takeover was necessary to get the political leverage so that the state banks would re-do the loans at a lower rate. Sure enough, the news came out today that the government banks had agreed to refinance the loans...
The Taiwan High Speed Rail Co. (THSRC) yesterday secured a total of NT$ 382 billion in loans from a bank consortium at an average interest rate of 1.8%, helping to relieve the firm from its heavy financial burden. The THSRC also pledged to assist the state-owned shareholders to obtain more than half of the seats on the THSRC board, which is scheduled to be reshuffled next week.

An official pointed out that the bank consortium consisted mainly of eight state-owned banks, including the Bank of Taiwan and the Land Bank of Taiwan, but the bank consortium intended to solicit the participation of several private banks. According to local media, some private banks, including Taipei Fubon Bank and the Chinatrust Commercial Bank, have shown interest.
The comment about the HSR company helping government-connected people get a seat on the board reminds me of this article on China's burgeoning private equity muscle. Private equity firms typically invest in companies in which they see a gap between current management's ability to make money and their own assessment of the potential of the firm. They then chuck out the previous underperforming management, bring in experienced pros to run the companies, and sell off the firm after a few years at large profits, which are repaid to the original private equity investors.

This business has largely been the domain of westerners but China now has the money to begin focusing on Taiwan's listed corporations. Once they have purchased shares it will be easy to install pro-China lackeys, or Chinese themselves, on the boards (Taiwan shareholders typically don't vote). I'm sure you'll be shocked to find that economic relations are not apolitical, despite the claims of thoroughly clueless futurists. Economist Peter Chow wrote a great piece in the Taipei Times the other day on some of the really deep issues involved in moving closer to China.

Screen capture from Taipei Times the other day. Impersonators of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek with a local political candidate.

Quote of the week: I had my students do pro/con essays on the topic of living together, and one male dolefully informed me that one of the disadvantages of cohabiting is that "you must be honest" with your partner.

Those of you into trivia can answer this one which appeared on H-Asia:
I wonder if anybody knows about Hollywood films on Taiwan or Taiwanese issues produced in the 1950s-60s. Is there any equivalent of ‘Sayonara’ or ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ set in Taiwan? There have been many studies on the culture during the Cold War and the American representation of Asia, but I haven’t come across anything specifically addressing Taiwan, therefore I would be grateful if anybody can kindly let me know.
Daily Links
Sad to learn Taiwan lost 400 historic puppets in warehouse fire. Taiwan What's Up says foreigners will soon enjoy lower tax rates. Slightly lower. Over at China Beat there is a reallllly great post on the reconstruction of Hsiaolin Village by Paul Katz. Finally, don't miss this excellent interview with one of the architects of the Taiwan health care system in the NY Times.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

"Tourism" is Taiwanese political code for misappropriating taxpayers money for vacations for politicians and powerful members of organized crime.

Remember the Taitung county councilor Kuang Li Zhen, who was on a "fact finding mission" in Europe for the tourism industry, when a typhoon hit? At the same time, Taichung's mayor, Jason Hu was doing the same thing in Guam. Largesse, largesse, largesse.

Maoman said...

Wu Den-yi was one of the few KMT politicians to personally attend the funeral of Bai Lang's son, who was shot and killed in a Taipei KTV several years ago. Bai Lang, aka White Wolf, is a notorious Bamboo Union gangster who is still in Cambodia, I think. Hell, he could just as easily be in Taiwan. It's not like the cops target gangsters with KMT affiliations.

Anonymous said...

"Quote of the week: I had my students do pro/con essays on the topic of living together, and one male dolefully informed me that one of the disadvantages of cohabiting is that "you must be honest" with your partner."

Michael, you can happily inform your student that it's not true, and that there are still ways around that, especially if you or your partner has excuse or reason to not come home at night. Since most students go home quite often in TW, this is all the time.

les said...

Missing / borked link to the Wu Dunyi story...

SY said...

Folks might be interested in an article in today's WSJ (Nov 5) on the coffee drinking history and culture in Taiwan.

The article is surprisingly accurate. There is no lines like "Taiwan separated from China in 1949....".

Au contraire, the account of the coffee drinking aspect in Taiwan's history before WWII touched on two important Coffee shops in Taiwan's history:

Cafe Bolero: a place where the 1920's intelletuals basked in the liberal air of the Japanese Taishō Era (大正時代) and debated about theories and actions of all kinds of ideologies. Ravel's Bolero was very popular in Taiwna/Japan then. The social/political activists frequented Cafe Bolero as if it were their action centre.

The liberal Taishō Era saw the start of modern Taiwanese nation(alist) movement in the midst of all sorts of activists from anarchists ("Taiwan Black Youth Association"), communists (Taiwan Chapter of Japanese Communist Party), socialists (the Left Wing of Taiwanese Cultural Association) to conservatists (Taiwanese Parliament Movement). The air of excitement and self-liberation of the 1920's was as much visible in Taiwan then as in Europe.

Coffee House Tianma: This is where the 228 series of events got started.

Link (may become chargeable article after 24 hours):

WSJ also published a brief overview of a few coffee houses titled - "Asia's Best Coffee - Taiwan"


Islander said...

wow, quite a lively bashing of the US health care system going on in that NY Times articles on Taiwan's health care system.

Feiren said...

I think the Hollywood film set in Taiwan in the 1960s would be Steve McQueen's The Sand Pebbles It's really about China in the 1920s but was filmed in Taiwan.

Arty said...

US (our) health care system sucked! If you think it is not, you are a fool.

Andrew Rathmann 雷思蒙 said...

Thanks for the link to the article on Taiwanese health care. I live in NYC and I still missed the damn thing in the Times.

Keep up the good work!

Don said...

So the premier's been consorting with a convicted two-time-murderer (ok, just a youthful indiscretion, twice) gang-leading gun-dealing extortionist. And there we were thinking the good old days aren't what they used to be. Well, people don't think so any more. WELCOME BACK KMT!! We missed you

Kaminoge said...

Why does John Naisbitt remind me of Ezra Vogel?