Monday, December 28, 2009

Daily Links, December 28, 2009

It's holiday time again, and everyone is out partying instead of blogging, thus proving that bloggers have actual social lives, and aren't just cheeto-cramming, pajama-wearing troglodytes. Actually, I think the reason all us pajama-wearing bloggers moved here is because in Taiwan, it's ok to wear pajamas in the street...this lets us get out of the house occasionally.

Meanwhile, what is being Cheeto-fueled on the blogs this week? Not much out there....
MEDIA: Everyone's talking about a US request for Taiwan help in Afghanistan. Our future with the students from the Peaceful Riser: at PRC dissident Wang Dan's talk at Providence U a few days ago, students from China apparently deliberately lined up to take up the question time with long, rambling questions and block others. Taiwan records record hike in export orders. Taiwan scammer poses as Brunei royal family member in an old scam. Ma Ying-jeou urges Beijing to "tolerate" dissidents. Note how far that is from being an actual criticism. Another signal from Beijing: as Chen Yunlin was visiting Taiwan to be protected by 700 toughs at a prominent temple in central Taiwan, Beijing sentenced dissident Liu Xiabo. Everyone chorus now: "But look how far they've come!" Scientology wins MOI award. What Taiwan can look forward to: China is developing a system that monitors karaoke systems for politically unacceptable or vulgar songs, and calls the police. Everyone chorus now: "But look how far they've come!" Taiwan SPCA on the animal birth control campaign. Why Taiwan keeps talking about China's missiles. 24 more wetlands listed for protection as Tainan opens the 8th national park. Taiwan airs tourism ad in Times Square. Ted Galen Carpenter, longtime opponent of the arms sales to Taiwan, on the recent arms sales to Taiwan. Taiwan, France agree on mutual inspection of fishing ships in the Pacific. Taiwan opens largest HCPV solar plant in the world. An "Examiner" slide show on Chen Yunlin's visit. Jon Adams with a good piece on the KMT-CCP talks in the Christian Science Monitor. The "Harvard-educated" Ma opposes the apparently uneducated Chairman Tsai of the DPP in the media again. Guys, she has PhD from LSE. There's a bunch of stuff in the media this month about China's Central Asian pipeline politics. And a long piece about how Nepal is turning to India to counter its Maoist insurgents, who have China connections. The China Times has an editorial pointing out one of the most asinine aspects of the Chen Shui-bian case -- that those who "bribed" him aren't being prosecuted. Apparently bribery of a public official was legal until a couple of years ago, at least according to prosecutors. The MOEA remains mum on lifting restrictions on Chinese investment in Taiwan's hi-tech industries.

TODAY'S OBSERVATION: Several people have remarked to me that the reason so many KMT voters are disappointed with Ma and the current KMT is that when they voted Ma in they thought they were getting the Lee Teng-hui KMT.

FACTOID OF THE DAY: Those Snickers bars omnipresent in the island's convenience stores? Yup, made in Moscow.

SPECIAL: Big things going on in Iran. Andrew Sullivan has been following events. Cool that AP is using some of these photos in the media presentations I've seen. Listen to Lisa Gerrard while you read.

SCIENCE COOLNESS: GPS users beware: human-driven global warming is making the atmosphere shrink, affecting the orbits of satellites.
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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Several people have remarked to me that the reason so many KMT voters are disappointed with Ma and the current KMT is that when they voted Ma in they thought they were getting the Lee Teng-hui KMT.

In what sense? You have quite rightly highlighted the problem of gangsterism and corruption at the local level in Taiwan. This reached its nadir under the Lee administration. He was concerned with little more that consolidating his own power. I think he was a very over-rated president.

Michael Turton said...

I don't think it is fair to say Lee was concerned with consolidating his own power. I think what is meant by that is that many of the KMTers bought into the image of Ma as the pragmatic, can-do, forward-looking, not your daddy's KMT leader.

Anonymous said...

Lee was a liberal nativist reformer, who brought in elements of organized crime to keep the KMT in power and thus force the KMT to liberalize and indigenize. Lee was not seeking to consolidate is own power, but rather wrest it away from the conservative mainlander elite within the party (This is more of the tradition Ma Ying Jiu comes from). I think this is evidenced in Lee relinquishing his power after having inherited a functioning dictatorship. Lee did not have to liberalize and could have successfully limited the transfer of power to the people by maintaining the vast organs of the authoritarian state. But he didn't. Under Lee, the ideals of the KMT shifted to simply retaining power and Lee used this greed to force liberalization of the party; in some instances even stealing the DPP's thunder by echoing their platforms and knocking their legs out from under them. The KMT went along with him as it prevented the DPP from making progress with the electorate. Regardless, the indigenization and the Taiwan centered approach of the Lee administrations resonated with the electorate and it translated into votes.

On the contrary:

Ma is really the first president of the democratic era to truly represent the traditional KMT, and for that matter, the core ideals of the post Sun Yat-sen ROC. Unlike Lee, Ma has forsaken Lee's Taiwan centered approach, which was favored by voters during both Lee and Chen presidencies, in favor of an ambiguous approach with a locus in the core beliefs of contemporary Chinese nationalist/Sunist ideology. Ma's continued ambiguity on several positions and policies has left many Taiwanese voters, KMT, DPP and independents, feeling uneasy and distrustful of Ma and his party.

fvarga said...

"Those Snickers bars omnipresent in the island's convenience stores? Yup, made in Moscow"

Ouch! That's a big disappointment for me.

I will double check because I'd never guess that Taiwan was importing this item from Russia.

Anyway, still better than China...
Vodka is better than melamine.
;-)

Anonymous said...

You really don't think China's come a long way since Mao, even since Deng?

These things take time. Taiwan's had 20+ years since martial law was lifted, and things aren't perfect, but they've come a long way.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is fair to say Lee was concerned with consolidating his own power. I think what is meant by that is that many of the KMTers bought into the image of Ma as the pragmatic, can-do, forward-looking, not your daddy's KMT leader.

I am referring to the constitutional reforms that Lee pushed through during his presidency which massively increased the power of the president. The ROC constitution (suspended during martial law) basically provided for a parliamentary system of government, but Lee's constitutional reforms reversed that. Particularly significant was that the President can select a Premier without the approval of the Legislature. A system that can be so easily dominated by one man is dangerous for democracy.
Also. The KMT's tolerance for corruption was much higher in Lee's day. Public disgust with corruption during the Lee era (along with KMT splits of course) was the main factor behind the DPP's electoral successes at the end of the 1990s and Chen's election in 2000.

Anonymous said...

Lee Teng-hui had to consolidate power because the mainlanders would have killed him if they thought they could get away with it. Completely ignoring the historical context and the uncertainty of Lee's rise to power isn't going to make your opinion believable.

Marc said...

GPS users beware: human-driven global warming is making the atmosphere shrink, affecting the orbits of satellites.

LOL, so can we assume that what will finally nudge proper climate change controls is not the fear of drowning island nations and coostal cities and wiping out thousands of species, but simply losing access to one's IPhone?

Michael Turton said...

@Marc, if Iphones can leverage it, by all means let's do it.

Anon, I think Lee's grab for power was motivated by his desire to remake the island's governance in ways that fostered democracy.

I have often wondered whether the vote for Chen in 2000 was an anti-corruption vote. He got 36% of the vote, essentially the DPP base, while 60% of the voters went for corrupt old KMT candidates. I think that is a misreading of the vote.

Anonymous said...

I have often wondered whether the vote for Chen in 2000 was an anti-corruption vote. He got 36% of the vote, essentially the DPP base, while 60% of the voters went for corrupt old KMT candidates. I think that is a misreading of the vote.

Yes, I think you might be right. But I do think that DPP successes at local level in the late 1990s had a lot to do with the corruption issued. Remember the DPP won in many deep blue areas. They are still a long way from repeating that success, partly because the KMT has cleaned up its act (to a degree).

Anonymous said...

"They are still a long way from repeating that success, partly because the KMT has cleaned up its act (to a degree)."


I think what you mean is that the KMT stated they would clean up their act and held a few press conferences and shuffled some positions. They talked about the desire to change for a few months in 2000 and 2001... and then went back to business as usual.

They have actually gone to great lengths to further integrate organized crime into the political process. The recent redistricting that allowed Yen Ching Piao to gerrymander his way from coastal Shalu to landlocked Wu Feng is a prime example of the KMT securing the power base for organized crime figures.