Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Impotence of Being Earnest

"And Ser Lyn Corbray?"
The candlelight was dancing in his eyes. "Ser Lyn will remain my implacable enemy. He will speak of me with scorn and loathing to every man he meets, and lend his sword to every secret plot to bring me down."
That was when her suspicion turned to certainty. "And how shall you reward him for this service?"
Littlefinger laughed aloud. "With gold and boys and promises, of course. Ser Lyn is a man of simple tastes, my sweetling. All he likes is gold and boys and killing."

Ractobeef. So useful, if it didn't exist, it would have to be invented.

The Taipei Times today reported again that the KMT legislative caucus wants the executive branch -- that is, the branch led by President Ma, who is also Chairman of the KMT -- to end the beef impasse by issuing an executive order permitting US ractobeef into Taiwan.....
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday demanded that the executive branch “do its bit” to resolve the dispute over a ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine residues — the latest in a string of moves over the issue faced by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.

Ma on Friday night instructed the party to push for a provisional legislative session to pass an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) which would relax the ban. This came after the legislative session ended without a vote on the bill because of an opposition boycott.
Let's see... Ma wants the legislature to do it, the legislature wants Ma to issue the order. Neither party wants to... everyone is so earnest in their criticism of the President:
We already set the scene for the Executive Yuan to get the issue resolved by an executive order” at Thursday’s caucus meeting, KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said. “Why is the Executive Yuan throwing the ball back into our court?”

Chen said the legislature “had already paid a hefty price” over the US beef issue, as the political confrontation had provoked criticism over chaos in the legislative body and legislative inefficiency.
...with some hacks on Ma:
KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said “an aura of passivity and inactivity” has pervaded the caucus as a result of “misguided [government] policies.”

Tsai agreed with the DPP’s description of Ma as a “lame duck” president, saying that lame-duck signs “have been surfacing.
The pro-KMT China Post's piece on Saturday, Ma Distressed Over Failed Beef Vote, gave the President's very earnest side of things....
The president is “regretful and distressed” that opposition lawmakers have paralyzed the Legislative Yuan, said Fan Chiang.
Opposition lawmakers have paralyzed the Legislative Yuan. Yeah, right. As the China Post's thumbnail history observes, this has been going for months (years actually)...
For months, Ma has actively lobbied for legislators to pass amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that would open Taiwan's borders to U.S. beef containing ractopamine.

But the Executive Yuan is not considering the use of executive order to force open borders to beef, said Executive Yuan spokesman Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) yesterday.

Earlier, Premier Sean Chen had told reporters that an executive order is a legal option, but that revising law through the Legislature is the “most safe way” to resolve the impasse.
The legislature has been punting the beef issue around for months. The legislature is paralyzed. And Ma? He's been distant, arrogant, mismanaging... the TT analysis:
Ma’s critics describe him as a stubborn and arrogant politician who lacks communication and negotiation skills, both as president and KMT chairman, and the traits have taken a toll on his leadership within the party at the beginning of his second term, as KMT lawmakers brush off the government’s attempts to seek unanimous support from the party caucus for reform proposals.

To call for party unity, Ma attended the KMT’s caucus meeting on June 7 and asked party legislators to ensure that the bill on US beef pass the legislature by the end of this legislative session.

However, the caucus meeting, held to strengthen communication between the executive branch and legislative caucus, lasted only an hour. Ma left the room immediately after making a speech, without listening to lawmakers’ responses.
Ok, let's tote up the score. Legislature paralyzed. Beef dominating the headlines. Each side blaming the other. Each side capable of independent action that could easily resolve the impasse. Neither side moving.

It's all a game, folks.

The KMT doesn't want this resolved. If the President wanted a resolution he could just issue an executive order and be done with it. Rather, the party leadership wants this impasse. This is all theatre designed to distract and annoy. If the legislature isn't doing something, well, then it isn't doing anything about the two most important near-term items it should be looking at: the capital gains tax (when was the last time you heard anyone talking about that?) and the land value assessment that hasn't been raised since 1987 (totally vanished from the discourse). That latter item is crucial; it has made land into a tax shelter for the wealthy. Addressing these issues is critical for reversing the upward wealth redistribution in Taiwan. Now neither of these things are on the legislative agenda and more importantly, neither is appearing in the media, which, in its best Golden Retriever style, is focusing on beef pant beef pant beef pant beef pant. Woof!

And the DPP lent a hand with this boycott, tying things up for another five days and ensuring nothing got done. It must have been difficult for Ma to keep a straight face when he was hacking on the DPP for engaging in a boycott, which was exactly what he wanted.

If the DPP wanted to screw the KMT, they should have forced a vote and then moved on to the really important stuff like capital gains, water, or energy policy. Make the KMT look like what it is: the party of the 1%. Remind the public what's really at stake.

Ma and the KMT are just playing a game to make sure that once again, nothing gets done. Four more years of this to look forward to! As a special bonus, this will exasperate the Americans and weaken US support for Taiwan. It is hard for me to interpret this as anything other than a key goal of the pro-China KMT Administration. Don Shapiro of AmCham pointed out the importance of beef in pissing off American Taiwan supporters in a piece for Brookings back in Feb:
Although it considered itself well-versed on the beef issue, an American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei delegation that visited Washington last autumn was still surprised by the vehemence of the criticism of Taiwan it heard from American officials on the subject. One high-level official described Taiwan flatly as “an unreliable trading partner,” for example, while another said the disagreement over beef had “cast a pall” over the entire bilateral relationship. Beef had taken on a symbolic importance far out of proportion to its monetary value of less than 1 percent of U.S. exports to Taiwan.
Sure KMT elites know what the effect of dragging their feet on ractobeef on the US must be.

This of course will be with the tacit approval of those in US circles who want Ma to sell Taiwan to China anyway, since they are all doing business with China, and for whom those 23 million democratic Taiwanese are so many impediments to greater mutual profit.

You can be sure that when the beef issue is played out, the scene will shift back to something else intractable and US-related, like the F-16s. I can see the headlines now. Legislature passes resolution calling for F-35s, Demands F-16 Upgrades be Suspended. Or perhaps Ministry of Defense Admits Budget Will Not Cover Upgrades, US Demands Explanation.

To hell with politics anyway....what a lovely day today was here in the Chung, so nice to get out and take some pictures. Facebook was full of photos from people out enjoying the rare sight of blue skies and puffy white clouds after a week or more of torrential rain. Hope you found some free time to hit the trails or the roads today......
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! Delenda est, baby.


Domenic said...

To hell with politics indeed. I did get out and boy was it hot! A welcome change though.

Dixteel said...

Indeed I often find DPP's lack of tactics regretable. A lot of times DPP should just let Ma do his things to make KMT look bad, and they would be doing a great service to Taiwan.

vin said...

My thoughts exactly on the beef issue -- only elaborated beyond where I could have taken them.

The overarching goal of nearly all actions performed by authority in Taiwan is to maintain the status quo. Thus politics retards change no less than English-teaching methodology hinders the learning of English. And that the public displays its complicity in all of this is clear in the consumer sphere: nearly all retail service purchases, the majority of the public cares in lopsided proportion about the sales pitch versus taking measures to really assess the product.

Life as window dressing -- Life Lite -the ongoing farce produced by the "harmony" value.