Sunday, July 27, 2014

Our Colonial Administration

A spider protects its hatchlings.

A while back I wrote on how the north of Taiwan is the center of a colonial state, whose periphery is essentially everything south of Hsinchu. The reflexive nature of this state is apparent even in the small stuff.

Let us recall that "independence" is in part a regional response to the way the north parasitizes the rest of the nation, sucking up its development money, exploiting its resources, impoverishing its governments, and eating up its promising young people. What people in the south want independence from is the colonial government in Taipei.

Thus, one of the DPP's most important policies is regional development balancing, and part of this are initiatives for moving government offices down to cities in central and southern Taiwan. Lin Jia-lung has even floated the idea of moving the legislature to Taichung (would save a lot of travel money, and think how easy it would be for legislators to keep up with their gangster contacts). A commentary in the Taipei Times yesterday recounted:
The administration of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) promoted more even allocation of resources, starting with the relocation of central government agencies south. Chen heralded the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency as the advance guard in this initiative.

When President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office, this policy was thrown into reverse and the agency began working on its return to Taipei, a process due to be completed by the end of this month.
The Chen Administration had sent the Fisheries Agency to the south. Immediately the Ma Administration, reflexively anxious to preserve and re-assert the coloniality of the north, recalled that Agency to Taipei (that's more of that famous pragmatism, no doubt, for which Ma was so touted by delusional media and experts prior to the 2008 election).

Hand-in-hand with the colonial structure of the government is the colonial attitude that southerns and Taiwanese are inferiors. That too was exampled this week as academics complained about the appointments to head the Museum of Taiwanese Literature -- two individuals with no expertise in that area.
Lung appointed the museum’s director and deputy director, but neither of them has a related academic background, nor authentic connections to Taiwanese literature studies, they said.

The move led prominent figures in the nation’s literary circles to charge that the museum’s mission statement has been abandoned to become a haven for political appointees and the museum has been turned into Lung’s “personal fiefdom.”
The move doesn't signal that Lung has made it her personal fiefdom. What it signals is that Lung hardly considers the positions to be serious and important.

UPDATE: Ben responds and adds
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TaiwanJunkie said...

Ultimately the only solution is to move the capital to Taichung or Tainan. I'm partial to Tainan as it does also carry the historical significance of being the capital of the first Taiwanese kingdom of Tungning. Plus Tainan would benefit from the move a lot more than any of the six municipalities.

Mike Fagan said...

Tainan city just doesn't have anything like the space necessary* to hold all the central government buildings and the city's road network already suffers from congestion as it is. Besides Tainan cannot possibly be a capital city because in modern terms it is essentially just a small town. It's like asking an old woman with a gammy hip to just stick some make-up on and go work in a high-end brothel.

*In terms of surface area, Tainan city proper is actually the second largest city in Taiwan, but this is only because the cities boundaries include the vast, sprawling fish-farm district of Annan.

les said...

How about Chunghsin Hsintun, the home of the 'provincial government'?

Mind you, the ways things are going, that might get revived...

TaiwanJunkie said...

Precisely because it is the smallest of the municipalities, that's why it would be a good candidate for a new capital.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the old idea that was discussed in the 1980s and 1990s by DPP and its predecessor, the "Tang-Wai" group; i.e. to go by the Dutch and German model:

Spread the institutions of the central government throughout the country:

1. Legislative Yuan(the parliament) and Executive Yuan (the cabinet), excluding Prosecutor General Office, move to Taichung.

2. Judicial Yuan, Prosecutor General Office and National Police Agency move to Tainan.

3. The presidential office and residence remain in Taipei.

4. The Examination Yuan moves to Hualien

5. Information and Intelligence agencies in other cities; such as Kaohsiung, Taitung and Hsinchu.

Moving the judicial and law enforcement agencies away from where the cabinet sits reduces the interference of executive power with the judicial power.

If memory serves, Chen's administration also talked about the idea at the beginning of Chen's first term but DPP never held a majority in the parliament. Not much could've been done.

les said...

@anon: Please. We have enough clowns in Taichung as it is without bringing the entire circus here.

Mike Fagan said...

"...and National Police Agency move to Tainan."

No thanks.

Mike Fagan said...

Actually, forget moving the politicians and police around to this or that city. I'd rather flush the entire lot of the corrupt, shit-eating bastards down the toilet and have done with it.

Anonymous said...

And what of the thousands of civil servants who have houses and families in Taipei, and would be uprooted by this scheme?

HHII said...

Well many of those civil servants came from other parts of the country in the first place!

Some would retire, some could move. It's not the end of the world. Retire at 55?

They will never move any government functions out of Taipei while the KMT is in power.

Anonymous said...

(by Anon of 8:11 AM)

Les, admit it: based on the "broken windows theory," Taichung is where the circus should be thrown to. Well, unless you guys get Mr. Lin in to fix the broken windows. :-)

Joke aside. I missed listing Keelung as one of the four port cities for hosting the information and intelligence agencies. Keelung is the north port, Kaohsiung the south port, Hsinchu on the west coast and Taitung on the East. Tainan is also a port city but it would have the National Police Agency.

Mike F, I am sure that the good food and the mild temper of the people in Tainan will tame The National Police Agency and make them human. A satisfied gut under a gorgeous weather will want to take a nap, no? :-)

As to the relocation of the public servants: (1) this would be done over years, not all at once, (2) there are not many public servants that would be affected. Besides, quite a few of them would be glad to get out of Taipei for better quality of life.

Readin said...

"Tainan cannot possibly be a capital city because in modern terms it is essentially just a small town."

Plenty of small towns have been national capitals in modern times. Not that long ago Washington D.C. was considered a "sleepy southern town".

Bonn wasn't all that big. Tel Aviv was capital of Israel not that long ago.

Those aren't "small towns" in the sense of having a few 10s of thousands of people or less, but neither is Taichung.

Readin said...

"Ultimately the only solution is to move the capital to Taichung or Tainan."

At its founding America was concerned about local politics affecting the national government.

They did several things. They created a brand new capital city of limited geographic size outside of all existing urban areas and states (so that none would have a claim on it). They also didn't let the residents of the capital vote.

I'm not sure, given Taiwan's size, that it would be possible to start a brand new city as the capital, but wouldn't it be fun to see them take the right to vote away from Taipei? Wouldn't that solve the problem?