Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sewage Improvements!

Hey, there's an election going on! I havent had a chance to attend a political rally yet, but looking forward to it....The farmhouse scandal having been dealt with, the pro-KMT China Times is out with a poll showing a massive gap between Ma and Tsai, 8.6% with no third party candidate James Soong in the race....

KMT Ma-Wu ticket 41.0%
DPP Tsai-Su ticket 32.4%
No response 26.6%

....and 7.4% with Soong in the race, 38 - 30.6 - 13.2 (Soong). Note that Soong increases the number of declared voters, which may be an indication that he is taking independent voters. I'm skeptical of the poll spread, it feels much too wide.

This week President Ma announced more infrastructure growth, more metastasization of the developmentalist state in its quest to cover the island with concrete and then saturate the concrete in wi-fi. In addition to the usual highway construction, this had a couple of goodies I thought interesting and indicative:
He pointed out that while Taiwan has exceeded the indicators in categories such as employment rate, it is lagging behind some less-developed countries in sewage system infrastructure.

The government will increase the household sewer connection rate from the current 28.2 percent to 39.8 percent in five years and 49.8 percent in a decade, while improving the integral sewage treatment rate from 56.4 percent to 69 percent and 79 percent within the same time frames, the president said.

“The construction of underground sewage systems is costly, invisible to the public eye, and may cause great inconvenience, but it must be done for the sake of the country’s public health,” Ma said.

Another aim is to cut the water leakage rate from the current 20 percent to 17 percent in five years and 15 percent or less in the next decade, the president said, adding that the government will push for the installation of smart meters in 2 million and 6 million households, respectively, over the same periods.
These are good and useful goals. They are also something the American Chamber of Commerce here has been calling for nearly as long as I have been on the island. I hope they carry this out -- kudos to the KMT for proposing this. Taiwan's dismal water infrastructure is a trial for everyone on the island. Perhaps someone has finally decided to listen to AmCham. If so, many thanks for helping to drive an important material improvement in local lives.

Not that this package isn't a massive effusion of vote buying, but the sewage improvement is really needed.
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Daily Links:
  • Sec of State Clinton says US remains committed to leadership in the Pacific and support of our allies, writes long article affirming this, doesn't mention Taiwan. *sigh*
  • Taiwanese youths gather to beat, stab foreigners
  • CFR: China and the South China Sea.
  • Taiwan the irritant that refuses to consider (annexation under the guise of) 'reunification': Ted Galen Carpenter. Well, at least he's not arguing that Taiwan should be tossed to Beijing, and he does point out that the US is running out of room to maneuver. He still doesn't seem to understand that Beijing is half the problem in the Sino-US relationship. What does it take, I wonder?
  • Meanwhile Michael Swaine says that the US should negotiate directly with Beijing over Taiwan because there could be a crisis (no, really?). "It is time for Washington to consider negotiating directly with Beijing, in consultation with Taipei, a set of mutual assurances regarding Chinese force levels and deployments, on the one hand, and major U.S. arms sales and defense assistance to Taiwan, on the other hand—linked to the eventual opening of a cross-strait political dialogue on the status of Taiwan". Would you trust Beijing to keep any agreement made? And further, how is that going to stop Beijing's military build up aimed at the South China Sea and the Senkakus? "This carrier group is aimed at the South China Sea, not Taiwan" Beijing could say against claims that it was violating an agreement. Be serious. Only a comprehensive negotiation that deals with all Chinese territorial expansion across the entire Pacific flank is going to solve this problem, and then we are still stuck with Beijing's inability to keep agreements. Goes double for any agreement made in cross-strait dialogues. 
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4 comments:

STOP Ma said...

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One thing I certainly do not miss about Taiwan is the smell of raw sewage hanging in the air.

It would indeed be nice if Taiwan improved that part of the infrastructure to be at least somewhat modern.
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SY said...

Talking about poll numbers, I am surprised that you make no mention of the recent, sudden announcement by the Global Views group to close their very profitable branch of Global Views Survey Research Center.

The announcement was posted on Oct 10, 2011. Their last poll result on the presidential election was published on Sept 23, 2011, here is the English version (PDF).

The announcement reeks very suspicious because the branch has been profitable. The closure was sudden (to their customers) and immediately effective. There is no reason for them not to wait until after the highly profitable season of presidential election.

My take is that the KMT (the Ma Ying-Jeou regime) killed the center because the poll numbers are just getting less and less lovable.

Robert Scott Kelly said...

Michael, increasing sewage treatment rates is nothing new and the connectivity goals are pretty much the same as promised two years ago in the iTaiwan scheme (which supposedly made sewage lines a priority), and more amusingly as predicted 5 years ago in an Amcham TOPICS article. The fact is, sewage rates have been increasing for years, but it's still dreadfully slow. Ma does deserve credit for pushing construction during his term as mayor, and now again as president, but as a campaign goal it reeks of stale promises. A little like how Hau made the exact same promises for his second term to beautify Taipei. Yes, it is proceeding, but we'll all be long dead before the job is complete and that's not really acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does that Taiwan Today story read like a complete pile of s#@t?