Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chu Voted New KMT Chair, but the real reformer is Ko Wen-je

Dragon God Temple.

Reuters reports:
"China is comfortable with Chu taking charge of the KMT ... It has been trying to build mutual trust," said Tung Chen-yuan, a professor at the National Chengchi University and former vice chairman of Taiwan's China policy-making body.

Chu was the only top politician who two high-level visiting Chinese officials met in 2014, a sign China is betting he will be the island's leader.

"Xi Jinping is very happy to meet Chu and he is waiting," said a KMT source with knowledge of the situation, referring to China's president. Chu was not available for comment.
Chu, the princeling son of a powerful KMT insider, now head of the KMT. Same old KMT. Do not confuse Chu's youth with reform mindedness. The KMT is wedded to its China policy and the 1% in the world of finance and land development. They will never permit the KMT to change. The KMT's structural problems are too great.

Want to see a reformer? It's the new Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je, who is giving the construction-industrial state a beating. translates a viral blogpost of what Ko is taking on:
1. Taipei Dome (VS Farglory)
2. The New Horizon building (VS Fubon Bank)
3. Reducing city gov’t subscriptions (VS print media)
4. The city New Year’s Party (VS TVBS)
5. MeHAS City development project (VS Radium Life Tech)
6. A NT$2.6 billion cafeteria (VS Hwang Chang General Contractor)
7. Lobbying transparency (VS city councilors)
8. Independence of state-affiliated business chairs (VS Chao Shao-kang)
9. National education (VS the Ministry of Education)
10. Illegal structures (VS owners of illegal structures)
11. Bonuses for city police officers (VS the Ministry of the Interior)
12. Uber (VS the Ministry of Economic Affairs)
Ko is really making things move, making things go. The Hau Administration and Ma Administrations could have done this, but the KMT is closely aligned with the construction-industrial state. Think Chu could carry out a program like this? Don't make me laugh....

I did some riding today with an oldtimer and talked about this. Both of us are concerned. We've been in Taiwan long enough to remember what things were like over the years when the construction-industrial state has been crossed. In 1996 Taoyuan County Chief and 8 associates were whacked in an obvious gangland slaying (Wiki); he was involved in so many deals guessing which one got him killed was impossible. In 2000 the Kuangsan Sogo was shot up over debts, killing the unborn child of a pregnant woman (story). In 2007 PFP city councilor Wu Shan-jeou was executed in his office by a professional, presumably over illegal gravel operations he had threatened. One could list many others, most recently the strange death of Chang Sen-wen. Ko himself is obviously not involved with organized crime and bad debts like the others. But I worry about him still...
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!


Mike Fagan said...

Why is Ko against Uber, and why does his being against it bring him into conflict with the Ministry of Economic Affairs?

Michael Turton said...

I wondered about that too. I thought both MinEcon and MinTrans were out to stop it. That's what WSJ says:

WSJ story


Anonymous said...

Your and oldtimer's concern seems entirely valid. On reading that list my immediate thought was that Ko was being hopelessly quixotic in his intentions. Unless, of course, he has his own array of powerful interests backing him. Your own suggestions are probably more to the point. Good luck Professor Ko.

Char Aznable said...

Uber just seems to be having trouble everywhere internationally. South Korea charged the CEO with operating an illegal taxi service. Uber has become a focal point of yet another high profile rape case in India. Germany is bucking it as well. Banning/heavily regulating Uber seems to be the international norm.

Mike Fagan said...

The obvious people who would be against Uber are the existing taxi companies. A quick search says it's something to do with "registration requirements".

les said...

I have another idea for Ko P, one that he could copy from Switzerland. Make every email the city govt. sends or receives open to the public. Simple search form to pull copies of mail off the server, by sender, subject or content. It makes people a lot more willing to pay tax when they feel they can figure out where the money is going, and by what processes. Better still, it makes the employees themselves a lot more responsible when they know anything they write is exposed, and any failure to answer any incoming mail too is public.

Raj said...

The problem with Uber is that it just appears to be a means of people offering their services as taxi drivers. But taxi drivers can have a huge amount of power over their passengers, especially if it's dark and the passenger is a woman. You can't do this thing without proper background checks, which I question if Uber is going to do (an online/app service is going to want to keep overheads down).

I'm not against Uber in principle, but it needs to spend sufficient resources in checking who is trying to sign up to use the service. Otherwise it's going to face increased restrictions on its use from governments who don't want to bad press of more women being raped. At the moment I'm not sure I'd recommend Uber to a female relative or friend - it doesn't seem a lot better than using unlicensed minicab drivers.

Anonymous said...

The Uber dispute isn't about whether to have it or not; it's that the MOEA has been waffling about how to classify the business and whether the central or the local government is the one with ultimate legal authority for shutting it down. He's told the MOEA to be clearer. Chinese report:

Anonymous said...

@Les, that idea won't work because Taiwanese rarely use email.

Its a joke trying to get a hold of anyone in .gov via email or, for that matter to contact a Taiwanese business via email.

Mike Fagan said...

"...whether the central or the local government is the one with ultimate legal authority for shutting it down..."

I saw that story earlier - but shutting the company down for what? For fun?


The real problem is that Uber demonstrates that people can solve problems without government and without licensing rackets.

So far as I can tell there is no evidence whatsoever that women are more (or less) likely to be raped when using an Uber taxi or a regular, government-licensed taxi. There appears to be nothing more than a single case - a single case (and in India mind you, where rape is more common than in developed countries). Yet there have been god-knows how many such cases of women being raped by government licensed taxi drivers - both in Taiwan and elsewhere. Where were the up-in-arms calls to have taxis banned after those rape stories broke? Well obviously there weren't any, because the media/government are just out to keep this particular licensing racket intact.

And, by the way, apparently Uber did not do their own background checks on drivers in India because... they relied on the Delhi city government's own system of background checks! Which rather goes straight to the point that if you want something done well it's probably not a good thing if your first and only idea is to outsource it to the least accountable organization we have... government.

les said...

Eh, I remember when even government statistics stated something like 80% of taxi drivers were ex-convicts and something 80% of that number had been jailed for violent crimes. Admittedly the cabbie demographics have shifted, but how much worse could deregulation make things?

les said...

@anon. Not only are all interactions with the public open to the search engine, but all interactions between govt. employees and outside agencies and contractors too. I'm not sure this is the case in all cantons but it certainly is in Bern.

Anonymous said...

Not true about government being unresponsive to email. Hundreds of metres of removed nets and traps from Fuxing Shiang in Taoyuan say otherwise. Write and they will respond!

Anonymous said...


Taxi drivers in Taiwan already rape passengers. So, the current regulations aren't working too well, are they.

Meanwhile, UBER has GPS records and feedback from users. If too many customers give bad reviews, the driver is fired. Much better way to regulate driver quality.

The insurance issue has already been addressed as well.

Opposition to Uber comes from entrenched interests. And in Taiwan, I would guess a lot of it is nationalist - they don't like the idea of Americans making money off Taiwanese taxis. Just like they didn't want American banks to have many branches or American cable companies to compete (Time Warner wanted to invest in cable in Taiwan back in the 90's.)