Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's not the politicians, guys

An old coral house on Green island.

Back from vacation. So much to catch up on...

J Michael Cole and a blogger (don't miss the witty exchange between politicians via election signs) both had pieces out recently that bemoaned the island's terrible politicians... Cole described at Thinking Taiwan:
No sooner had the dust settled on the city than the political parties went on the offensive — not to ensure the survival of the victims or mitigate the effects of the disaster, but to undermine their opponents. That isn’t to say that good deeds were not done, but they often were a secondary consideration. The main object was political. Early on, rather than work with officials from the DPP administration, the KMT sent its own separate delegation, while the DPP, fearing accusations that it was politicizing the crisis, had to secretly fund groups that provided assistance to devastated areas. For its part, the KMT-dominated central government quickly reminded residents of the southern city that they would not receive any “special favors.” And judging from the premier’s remarks at the weekend, officials in Taipei saw no need to hurry with reconstruction, as if Kaohsiung were somehow trying to cut in line.

Meanwhile, opponents of Chen Chu (陳菊), the popular Kaohsiung mayor who is running for re-election in November, saw in the catastrophe an unexpected opportunity to attack her. Many from the blue camp have tried to pin the explosions on her, even though evidence has come to light suggesting that critical information — the missing Polypropylene that caused the explosions — was kept from Chen, who is of the DPP. Others in the KMT camp, including officials in the central government, who technically should be above party politics but rarely are, have called for Chen’s resignation on charges of negligence.

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The victims of Kaohsiung and their families, along with the future victims of preventable accidents that nevertheless occurred because lawmakers and cabinet officials were too busy sniping at each other, deserve better representation — more responsible representation — from those we entrust with power.
Similarly, Outreach for Taiwan argues:
Fighting during politicals is one thing, but fighting during a time of trouble is another. Michael J. Cole outlines that even in misery, the house is divided. Recess is over, let’s join hands together and get back in the classroom. For this country to thrive and prosper, Taiwanese politicians must stand together in times of need, not across the aisle screaming at each other.
A couple of election cycles ago, the Hualien election featured Fu Kun-chi, an "independent" booted from the KMT for corruption. Because Fu was under indictment, etc, for involvement in crimes others were already doing time for, he decided to follow a tactic common among local politicians: divorce his wife and have her stand for election in his stead, with voters understanding who would really be running things. Despite this cynical device, and the alleged corruption, etc, Fu won the post in a landslide and is one of the most popular county chiefs in Taiwan.

Things like this are common. In 2005 in a legal move too complicated to explain, the Taitung County chief appointed his wife as vice-chief since he was likely to lose the post due to being indicted. Hsu Tai-li, the KMT mayor of Keelung, is another egregious case. He died after a corruption conviction after heading for years one of the least developed and most poorly run cities on the island. The pan-Blues then promptly selected a convicted vote buyer to follow him. In a recent election in a large central Taiwan city, a major gangster ran his wife for office. She lost, but gained thousands of votes. In the old days gangsters in jail would run their wives for office....

One could go on and on. In the 2000 election two prominent figures from the martial law era gained 60% of the presidential vote. The son of one is now running for mayor of Taipei city and I believe is likely to win. In one central Taiwan district the island's most prominent gangster used to hold the legislative office, until his son took it up. He wins elections by 2-1 margins. All over the island voters routinely return to office local faction politicians whose factions are heavily intertwined with local construction and local organized crime.

Taiwan is an island of nepotism, organized crime, and local factionalism, floating on a sea of government construction money. There is nothing unusual about KMT heavyweight Lien Chan running his son for Mayor of Taipei like a local faction politician ensuring his relatives are elected to local administrative positions. It is just more blatant.

I don't understand why on an island where voters routinely return corrupt, incompetent, grandstanding party-minded hack politicians to office, why anyone would bother to write some variation on "politicians must care about..." because any sentence beginning with that or similar phrases is obviously inane. The problem with Taiwan's politicians is not that they are corrupt party-minded hacks. It is that Taiwan's voters support them because they are corrupt party-minded hacks.

The politicians aren't the problem, just its most outward manifestation, like a sore spot on the surface of the skin indicating the presence of a vast and voraciously metastasizing tumor underneath.
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8 comments:

Wayne said...

Why do you think "that Taiwan's voters support...corrupt party-minded hacks."

Mike Fagan said...

"The problem with Taiwan's politicians is not that they are corrupt party-minded hacks."

Er, actually that is still a problem.

"It is that Taiwan's voters support them because they are corrupt party-minded hacks."

The problem of corruption certainly has cultural and psychological aspects to it, but I wouldn't express it like that. There are also the innocent party-minded hacks; those who trot out boiler plate because they literally don't know any better either because they are already at the limits of their interest or the limits of their intellect, or both.

Anonymous said...

"Taiwan is an island of nepotism, organized crime, and local factionalism....

Your excellent summation reminds me of this 2005 gem from the TT:

The dominant personality trait among Taiwanese is opportunism. For the last three centuries, bettering the lot of oneself and one’s family usually meant some kind of messy compromise with unaccountable and alien power holders. The moral has always been to seek advantage where one can, and don’t pay too much attention to principle.


It doesn't help that the blue voters think they come from a superior gene pool and will never "lower" themselves to work with anyone other than their kind.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, Anon. I'm commenting on the Blue delusions of genetic grandeur later today.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Here is another blurb I saved (I think from a comment on your site a few years ago) It pretty much sums it up. Why give a shit about Taiwan when half the people are sellout kmtards:


Myself, I'm seriously considering throwing in the towel at this point--as everything I thought to be true about Taiwan now seems to be false. If the people are willing to vote for a corrupt, authoritarian, China-centric, mafia-assisted KMT instead of a progressive, pro-Taiwan party what is to be done? If this is the will of the Taiwanese people then so be it, I think, but one can't help feeling we've all been proven wrong once and for all.

STOP Ma said...

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Short-term goals at the expense of long-term advancement is engrained in Taiwanese culture.

I started giving up after the legislature elections 2005. But electing PandaMa with an overwhelming majority in 2008 was the nail in the coffin for me. And then he was elected a second time.
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Anonymous said...

>Short-term goals at the expense of long-term advancement is engrained in Taiwanese culture.


True, because they never had control of their long-term fate. Everybody who can is trying very hard to get a second passport, actually a "real" passport which is recognized by the world. What would you do otherwise if you had the future of your kids to answer for?

STOP Ma said...

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"What would you do otherwise if you had the future of your kids to answer for?"

Anonymous 8:05,

I wouldn't be voting KMT, that's for dang sure!
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