Monday, November 03, 2014

Oil Wars

Filipino workers have a day out on the bike trail outside Fengyuan.

The bad oil/food safety issue is inevitably being dragged into the local campaigns and becoming a partisan political issue in some areas. Since it is generally viewed as a deep-seated problem, candidates for major positions from both parties are forced to come with policies on it. Or at least pretend to have policies for it, since local governments can't do much...

A Taipei Times report shows how the DPP is positioning the oil issue as a government cover-up since the powerful Wei family of Ting Hsin and the powerful Lien family of the KMT are close to each other...
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that as early as on Oct. 9, Taiwan’s representative office in Vietnam told the ministry that the oil exported by Dai Hanh Phuc to Taiwan was intended for use in animal fodder, but the ministry started offloading oils made by Ting Hsin only on Oct 22. Further, it waited until Friday last week to say that 110 tonnes of oil bought from Ting Hsin by oil and fat producer President Nisshin Corp (統清), a subsidiary of Uni-President Enterprises Corp (統一企業), was coconut oil intended for animal feed.
The Pingtung government worker who "inadvertently" mailed confidential documents to Ting Hsin that alerted the company it was targeted has become the cornerstone of the KMT case that the Pingtung government, run by the DPP, was covering for Ting Hsin. The leak was a serious one, tipping off the firm it was being investigated. The Pingtung County Chief, from the DPP, then hilariously claimed that the whole thing was a set up, since the documents sent to the Pingtung office were not marked confidential while the ones sent to the Changhua office were. Clearly the FDA must have lured the poor office worker into sending them off to Ting Hsin. The FDA replied that common sense dictated that they were confidential documents.

But of course, it's the System at work: Ting Hsin is a Big Company with Big Face and Big Clout, and government and individuals all know that their purpose is to serve the needs of Big Business. It's not corruption, just the normal System kow-tow to perceived institutional authority. What is surprising is that there was ever an investigation at all...

Another signal of the System at work: the county government did indeed cover for crap oil makers, again and again dismissing the claims of the farmer whose whistleblowing started the whole affair. Yet this has not become a really serious issue, unlike the leak, possibly because the indifference to the farmer's evidence is a System issue that is a far bigger problem for the KMT than for the DPP.

Another striking fact: an article notes:
“Following the discovery in early September that the lard purchased [by cooking oil manufacturer] Chang Guann Co (強冠企業) from Hong Kong-based Globalway Corp Ltd (金寶運貿易) was animal-feed-grade, the FDA immediately launched an investigation into the nature of all lard oils imported to Taiwan on Sept. 15,” the agency said.

While all imported lard from Japan and Spain were confirmed to be safe for human consumption, the agency said it received a telegram on Oct. 9 from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, saying that the oil products exported by Dai Hanh Phuc Co — from which Ting Hsin had purchased 3,216 tonnes of lard in the past three years — were mainly lard and fish oils intended for use as animal feed.
Note that in just three weeks the representative office in Vietnam was able to verify that the oil exported to Taiwan was crap. This should have been done long ago...

Interestingly the KMT candidate has attempted to make the County's poverty a campaign issue:
Chien said that in the 17 years the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has ruled in Pingtung, the total population has dropped from 913,000 in 1997 to 852,000 last year.

The unemployment rate among youths between the ages of 15 to 29 has climbed from 5.5 percent in 1997 to 12 percent last year, roughly 2.5 percent higher than the national average, Chien said in a recent interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).

The county’s population of elderly has reached 13.54 percent, a whole 2 percent higher than the national average, as the younger generation moves elsewhere to find jobs, while the elderly slowly start to form the majority of the population, he said.

The county’s finances have also slumped in the past 17 years, with debt rising from NT$4.4 billion (US$145 million) in 1997 to NT$26.4 billion last year, Chien said, adding that the figures meant the average county resident is NT$31,000 in debt.
...thus showing how the KMT controlled central government uses its starvation of Pingtung County as political leverage against the DPP. According to pro-KMT news sources, the KMT's own internal polls have the DPP's lead over the KMT candidate in Pingtung narrowing to just 5 points. They blame the leaked document for the drop, which may explain the relentless focus on it.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ko's response to Lien's comparing self to Buddha: "阿彌陀佛 Amitofo".