Friday, December 26, 2014

DPP, as always, 2 steps forward, 1.99 steps backwards

Stop the insanity: some loser brought three of these yapping pests -- I hesitate to dignify them with the good name of dog -- on the bike path on a crowded Saturday.

Sunflower leader Chen Wei-ting finally through in the towel (Taipei Times) and withdrew from the Miaoli legislative by-election over his molestation of women. In addition to the two cases mentioned before, apparently new ones were cropping up. Solidarity.tw has the PTT post that slew Chen's candidacy (in Taiwan young people get their news via old-fashioned bulletin boards, not newfangled PHP forums). I have said all I want to say on this.

Meanwhile, the KMT swept the local elections.   ジェームス@jmstwn (whom you should be following on Twitter) pointed out that while the national level KMT is in chaos, the local level party machines are ticking along. The Taipei Times reported:
While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secured the speakers of the Greater Kaohsiung, Yilan County and Chiayi County councils, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) picked up 15, with the remaining four — Hsinchu City, Lienchiang County, Pingtung County and Chiayi City — won by independent councilors.
The really hilarious one was Tainan. The DPP had a 29-16 seat advantage over the KMT, but the KMT secured the speakership 29-26, meaning that at least five councilors had switched sides. The nation cynically concluded that the five who switched had been bribed, and that many of the independents who sided with the KMT in elections across Taiwan had been bought. Note that I am not making an accusation, just reporting what others say. I certainly do not believe that the KMT could ever do a thing like that. The Speaker of the county/city councils has all sorts of agenda and other powers that enable them to direct patronage funding to key allies, but note that I would never say that the winning speakers had bribed the councilors with the expectation of getting kickbacks on lucrative construction contracts which they will award to their cronies. Because that just never happens in Taiwan.

Yes, it's deeply frustrating.

President Ma is involved in a lawsuit against Clara Chou, maker of public allegations that he took big bucks from Ting Hsin, the company in the black oil scandal. The Special Investigative Division of the Ministry of Justice is investigating the allegations. The Minister of Justice, always fair minded, said yesterday:
Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) yesterday accused Taiwanese media and political pundits of rampant abuse of the freedom of speech and making unsubstantiated accusations, amid widely reported allegations that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his campaign team received an off-the-books political donation from Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團).
So... let me get this straight. As the Minister's own agency is investigating the President over shady money allegations, the Minister holds a press conference to accuse the press of making stuff up, obviously alluding to the allegations his ministry is investigating. It's a good thing the Minister is impartial. I'm sure none of the prosecutors under him will take that as a signal.
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Daily Links:
  • Ryan Scoville with excellent commentary on Japan's new/old position on the Senkakus, with stats.
  • New Taichung mayor Lin denounces the BRT as basically a scam.
  • NYTimes runs another of the ZOMG! The DPP could sour cross-strait relations! pieces we've been seeing since the KMT blowout loss in the recent elections. However, unlike most of those pieces, it provides several quotes from other-than-KMT viewpoints, and ends by noting that Washington probably should think about changing its policy to handle the new reality.
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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!

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Taipei Times: “There have been rumors that [the KMT] might have paid each city councilor NT$50 million [US$1.57 million] per vote,” TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) told a news conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2014/12/27/2003607696

That's certainly enough to make someone consider giving up his/her future in the party! It'd set you up for life! But a million here, a million there, and soon you're talking about some serious money. The KMT assets would have to be involved and Eric Chu should be bashed harder over this. Methinks it's time for an audit of the KMT holding company's recent activity.

I'll be impressed if the DPP actually catches even one person in the act though. You don't pull bribes like this without being careful about it.

Anonymous said...

>>DPP, as always, 2 steps forward, 1.99 steps <<

My take is that, on 11/29, DPP won the lotto hugely with a lotto ticket they found on the street. Less than one month later, they spent all and some, in a shopping spree.

DPP did not march 2 steps forward on 11/29. It was a "gift fallen from the sky". It was easy money; thus, easy come, easy go.

It seems that KMT with its war chest is absolutely commanding the 2016 presidential. Tsai Ing-Wen is out, in my view.

Mike Fagan said...

"My take is that, on 11/29, DPP won the lotto hugely with a lotto ticket they found on the street. Less than one month later, they spent all and some, in a shopping spree."

Could we have that in plain, tortured-metaphor free English please?

Anonymous said...

@Anon8:53--It sounds like the voters you know are totally different from the ones I know. Unless you think it's as easy to buy tens of thousands of voters in a national election as it is to buy a few city councilmen.

R said...

The speaker vote results was definitely disappointing, but I think brushing 2016 off just because of it is overreacting. The KMT with it's huge war chest means it can easily bribe councilors for vote (& the odd secret ballot process make it even easier), the same cannot be said for a presidential election that appeals directly to the electorate.

Another thing to note is the while the DPP should have won the Tainan & New Taipei speaker & did not, the fact is overall this represent a net gain of one speaker as the DPP won in Kaohsiung & Ilan over a KMT incumbent & continue to hold Chiayi County. Hsinchu City council also have an independent speaker that is pan-green from what I read. Considering this, the speaker vote was certainly a disappointment, but not something to get overly worried about imo.

Anonymous said...

"I'll be impressed if the DPP actually catches even one person in the act though. You don't pull bribes like this without being careful about it."

They've already outed the TSU councilor who was bribed in New Taipei. I'm sure heads will roll over this, the party leadership must be fuming.

It puzzles me why they thought they could get away with such a public display of bribery. Obviously their constituents are going to be outraged and the DPP will abandon them. You'd think the results of this election would've gone to show them not to take their positions for granted.

Anonymous said...

Now that former TSU councilor could have her election revoked due to bribery. Her secretary's already been arrested and is being questioned. This would be a great development.
http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/842693

There are also greens in Tainan agitating for recall of the DPPers who sold their votes. If authorities can't get these guys' elections cancelled in time (deadline to bring a case is a week from now) a DPP-endorsed recall campaign would be a very interesting way to enforce party discipline. http://n.yam.com/tlt/politics/20141227/20141227774548.html

Anonymous said...

The article on the Senkakus contains a nice example of CCP incoherence being schooled in the comments.

Mike Fagan said...

"New Taichung mayor Lin denounces the BRT as basically a scam."

Well obviously.

But look - if Lin wants to improve public transport in Taichung, why doesn't the daft pillock just cancel the entire BRT project now instead of fannying around with a three month review? Instead, he could just subsidize the use of Uber-taxis and minibuses. That's got to be at least an order of magnitude cheaper than re-ordering the entire city's road structure. Not to mention that taking a taxi tends to be a far superior (and quicker) experience than taking a stupid bloody bus.

Brian Castle said...

"Not to mention that taking a taxi tends to be a far superior (and quicker) experience than taking a stupid bloody bus."

Busses have two big advantages over taxis. When even halfway full, buses take up a lot less space (and probably use a lot less fuel and cause less pollution) than taxis for a similar number of people. And for women, busses are probably a lot safer (might get groped but you won't get driven away and murdered/raped).

Mike Fagan said...

@Brian

On your first point about space, the comparison is complicated by the fact that bus routes are often indirect and even tortuous so as to serve a greater geographical spread of passengers. This means that whilst a bus full of thirty people takes up less physical space than thirty cars, it will typically occupy that space for a greater time than each of the individual cars would; the bus company is incentivized to go from A to B via the rest of the alphabet, whereas the car drivers have incentives to select the shortest, most direct route from A to B.

And on your second point... for your information, women can and do get raped (and occasionally murdered) whilst waiting at bus stops, so you can forget about that argument.

Anonymous said...

DPP's named the Tainan 5 who will have their memberships revoked: 陳朝來、曾王雅雲、蔡秋蘭、梁順發、莊玉珠. Surprised it was that quick. Each still denying bribery so far.
http://udn.com/NEWS/NATIONAL/NATS1/9157130.shtml

vin said...

@ Mike Fagan…"And on your second point... for your information, women can and do get raped (and occasionally murdered) whilst waiting at bus stops, so you can forget about that argument."

This statement and the link you provide are operating on the pseudo-Platonic premise that” bus stops” per se are more the salient point than the cultural/social (and perhaps geographic) environment around the bus stops and in which the bus stops are located. The name for this logical fallacy escapes me at the moment, but I can look it up if you want. Plus, you cited only one bus-stop instance in Britain (have there been many more?) without uncovering whether the incidence of taxi rapes lower than bus stop rates. Imagining that this means a valid argument has been given is another, separate logical fallacy.

There have been many instances of taxi rapes in Taiwan in the past (I’m not sure it’s still happening much anymore). Anyway, may I shoot back at you what you peremptorily dismissed from Brian Castile? Do you, or does anyone you know, Taiwanese or Western, know of bus stop rapes happening in Taiwan? And if yes, when was the last reported one and what do police records give as the number of taxi rapes in that year?


Anonymous said...

My count is that instead of getting the 29 votes that were expected for DPP, they only had 26. But with two voters out of the country during the vote (one DPP counselor and one independant), there is only one missing vote.
Can someone explain why they need five scapegoats? It is pretty hard to défend oneself when voting is by secret ballot.

CBO

Anonymous said...

“When there was an offer of NT$20 million (US$629,700) under [each of the city councilors’] noses, what could I do?” said Chen, who was one of the members tasked by the DPP with supervising the election.


Damn, that is real money...
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2014/12/30/2003607933

Anonymous said...

Here's the math. Source: http://www.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/new/20141225/530488/

Council: 29 DPP, 16 KMT, 11 independents, 1 TSU (57 total)

HOWEVER, the TSU votes with the DPP, and two of the independents are DPP allies, bringing you to 32 DPP speaker votes. Meanwhile, adding KMT and all other independents together gets you to 25.

Expected Result: 32 or more DPP, 25 or less KMT

Actual Result: 29 KMT, 26 DPP, 2 blank votes, 1 absent

So the DPP dropped 6 votes total, with the KMT adding 4 over its ceiling while 2 greens cast blank votes.

Mike Fagan said...

"This statement and the link you provide are operating on the pseudo-Platonic premise that” bus stops” per se are more the salient point than the cultural/social (and perhaps geographic) environment around the bus stops and in which the bus stops are located."

OK, some bus stops are more likely to become crime scenes than others.

"Plus, you cited only one bus-stop instance in Britain (have there been many more?) without uncovering whether the incidence of taxi rapes lower than bus stop rates."

The National Police Agency website publishes basic data on types of crime, including rape indexed by year but not by such details as whether the victim was abducted from a bus stop or by a taxi driver. It would cost more time and effort than I can spare to answer such a specific question with data. I imagine you'd need to get permission to talk with people high up in the NPA itself to get that kind of data. By all means, take it upon yourself if you've got nothing better to do.

To drag this back on topic, my main points were that subsidized Uber-taxis and minibuses would be a much more efficient and comfortable solution to the public transport problem than a BRT system, and would be at least an order of magnitude cheaper. That cost differential is a major advantage. Lin Chia-lung should, in principle, be able to walk straight into the Taichung legislature with a proposal to cancel all the contracts for the BRT and instead establish a subsidy system for the use of Uber-taxis, and he should be able to win the vote on this primarily because it would save the taxpayers a vast amount of money even after paying compensation to the contracting firms for the BRT. That he hasn't done so isn't necessarily a criticism of him per se as the previous mayor could have done this too. Instead it highlights the poor quality of local governance and the likely involvement of gangsters who Lin will now need to "persuade" to fuck off with just a few million or whatever their cut of the compensation fees would be.

Quibbling about whether women are more or less likely to be raped in taxis or at bus stops is frankly besides the point as in neither case can the risk be eliminated entirely, and in neither case is that risk likely to be particularly high anyway.

les said...

I think the taxi driver demographic has shifted a lot in the last twenty years. I remember govt. stats from the '80s that said 80% of cabbies had been in jail and that 80% of those had been in for violent offenses. Back in those days it seemed like if there was a jewelery store heist or something like that, the getaway vehicle was always a taxi.

These days my taxi drivers always seem to have some sob story about a failed factory or bankrupt trading company to explain his current position.
Of course I know some real lowlifes who own factories and trading companies, but by and large they're out to rob you by stealth, not by violence.

Anonymous said...

I second Les's point. Just about every cab driver I meet in Taipei used to run a small business.

Mike Fagan said...

I don't take taxis often , but in my over 9 years in Taiwan I've only met one dodgy taxi driver.

Brian Castle said...

@Mike Fagan
The thing about the bus stop rape is, people have to wait for taxis too. Whether you're in a bad neighborhood waiting for a taxi or a bad neighborhood waiting for a bus - what's the diff?

I won't get into the details as to which solution is better economically or environmentally. You seem to be conceding that the government has a role (which is only significant because of the libertarian stance you frequently take), I assume because you recognize the roads are a common and the tragedy of the commons applies (if you can't make the road private property then you have to regulate). Since there is no ideological issue it comes down to math and I don't have enough data to dispute - I just have educated guesses which I can't claim are any better than yours.

Brian Castle said...

@Mike Fagan
"I don't take taxis often , but in my over 9 years in Taiwan I've only met one dodgy taxi driver."

From your name and profile pic I'll assume you're a white male from an English speaking culture.

Your experience with taxi drivers is in no way representative of what a young female Taiwanese experiences. Not only are you not sexually attractive to many drivers, you intimidate the crap out of nearly all of those who would want to try anything. White guys have a reputation you know. They're the heros in movies. They won the World War. They're generally a lot bigger than their Taiwanese peers. They're thought to have wild tempers and to frequently resort to violence.

And even if a creep happens to be gay and happens to be physically confident enough to think he could take you, he still will be unlikely to mess with a white foreigner because he might get the FBI or Scotland Yard after him instead of just the local keystone cops. And even if the foreign police stay out, the murder of a foreigner is an international incident that will be embarrassing to the local police and they're likely to put a lot more resources into solving it.

In Taiwan, certain kinds of "white privilege" are real.

Mike Fagan said...

"You seem to be conceding that the government has a role..."

I was only pointing out an obvious alternative.

"Not only are you not sexually attractive to many drivers..."

Well that's ruined my New Year already then hasn't it? Not sexually attractive to taxi drivers? Don't know how I'm going to get over this...