The Miaoli county government, long a KMT redoubt, isn't going to get a bailout from the central government:
The Finance Ministry (財政部) yesterday denied the Miaoli County Government's appeal for help with a NT$64.8 billion debt"...partly due..." That claim is correct -- we in central and southern Taiwan subsidize the lavish lifestyle of Taipei. A Miaoli resident remarked on Facebook that the government plans to eliminate many contract workers and reduce outlays for worker perks. Previous reports said that work on many larger projects may stop or slow. You'd think the KMT administration would be going all-out to save one of the few places where it still has strong control of the local government...
Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) has appealed to the Ministry of Finance for financial support, saying his administration is in dire financial straits partly due to the central government's unfair allocation of tax revenues.
The public debt stands at approximately NT$64.8 billion and the county is behind on payments to government personnel and project contractors, Hsu said..
Solidarity.tw translated an Apple Daily piece on the previous KMT county chief:
Wu criticized former county magistrate Liu Cheng-hung 劉政鴻 (KMT) for squandering NT$1.2 billion (US$38m) at the very beginning of his term to renovate the county government building, planning a special High Speed Rail zone, and expropriating land for new development in large quantities. During Liu’s 8 years, it spent NT$218 million (US$7.0m) on fireworks and concerts, more than double the NT$100 million (US$3.2m) it spends annually on nutritious school lunches. Liu tripled the county’s debt while paying off NT$70 million (US$2.2m). He created wealth for himself while leaving debt for Miaoli’s future generations.Don't miss the Liberty Times piece on Liu's debts that Solidarity translated below. Miraculously, he paid off his massive debts in just a couple of years.
DPP Miaoli County Chapter Chairman Lee Kui-fu 李貴富 stated that when current magistrate Hsu Yao-chang 徐耀昌 (KMT) took office, he said he would lay off 443 staff from city hall, but to date he has only laid off 3. From January to April, the government has put out NT$850 million (US$27.2m) in new contractors, including NT$50 million (US$1.6m) for media buys and road greening and beautification. Lee said that changing potted plants every month for greening and beautification is an unnecessary waste and a case of Liu setting the example and Hsu following it.
This will negatively impact the KMT's fortunes in Miaoli. Note also that Miaoli has many Hakkas, long a strongly pro-KMT group, driven by the KMT's ethnic politics ("OMG, if you don't vote KMT, the Hoklos will persecute you!"). Hakka problems in Miaoli may well reverberate beyond Miaoli.
The media announced that a meet up between KMT Chairman Eric Chu and Beijing President Xi Jin-ping was set for May 4, a claim that Chu tartly denied. Chu is off to perform the ritual KMT kowtow in early May, as AP and WSJ report. The AP report, from Beijing gives an outsider's view but it is quite good -- while importantly, the WSJ article reports the DPP position (kudos for that):
The DPP’s presidential nominee, Tsai Ing-wen, has criticized the annual cross-party forum, saying cross-Strait affairs should be handled on a government-to-government, not a party-to-party, level.Tsai's position that this KMT-CCP reconciliation (not Taiwan-China) is a kind of cronyism is important information, for while the outside world sees "growing reconciliation" or some such tripe, the locals don't have a positive view and correctly perceive it as an end-run around the legal and diplomatic framework. It is also indicative of how the KMT continues to view Taiwan as something it can dispose of at will, a bargaining chip for negotiations with the CCP. and how it views the government as an appendage of the KMT. The party-state mentality is not dead, sadly.
Mega-Kudos to AP for including this:
Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary, although it ruled the island for just four of the past 110 years.What's the support level for Chu? TVBS, the pro-Blue station, has a poll which Solidarity.tw posted:
1. Do you support KMT Chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 leading a delegation to Shanghai to participate in a KMT-CPC cross-strait economic and trade forum there?Support for Chu's move is lukewarm at best, as Solidarity points out. If there is a Chu-Xi meet up in public, gleeful netizens will photoshop the heck out of it and in the end, it will be a negative for a Chu run for president.
Yes: 38% (12% Strongly, 26% Somewhat)
No: 19% (10% Somewhat, 9% Strongly)
No Opinion: 42%
2. If he had the opportunity, would you support KMT Chair Eric Chu meeting with mainland Chinese national chairman Xi Jinping 習近平?
Yes: 50% (17% Strongly, 33% Somewhat)
No: 27% (15% Somewhat, 12% Strongly)
No Opinion: 24%
Meanwhile, for President Ma, it's business as usual. Ma is nominating four justices to be grand justices, including one who found him innocent on corruption charges....
“Due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) boycott of the four nominees made by the previous president, Ma was able to nominate 11 grand justices in 2008,” Cheng said. “If he nominates four more, all 15 of them would be Ma’s nominees.”Ma has been under attack for corruption in recent months, though nothing seems to have stuck. But if he is tried for any of several potential crimes, including abuse of power in the Wang case, he'll have a friendly court of grand justices.
Citizens’ Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) urged legislators to reject the four nominees: lawyer Huang Horng-shya (黃虹霞), Deputy Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶), National Taiwan University law professor Tsai Ming-cheng (蔡明誠) and Shilin District Court President Lin Jyun-yi (林俊益).
Aside from the constitutional issue, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) questioned Ma’s choice of Lin, a former Supreme Court judge who acquitted Ma of corruption charges in connection with the use of his special allowance during his stint as Taipei mayor.
“It is obvious that Ma is trying to pay Lin back by nominating him as a grand justice,” Huang said.
More importantly, a totally pro-KMT court will also act as a final redoubt of pro-China power if the KMT loses the legislature and the DPP puts forward a pro-Taiwan policy program. If any of Tsai Ing-wen's policies come up for review of the court...
- With all the stuff floating out there on the housing bubble in Taipei, CNN urked up just another bog-standard apologetic for the wealthy. Once again, with so many knowledgeable freelancers in Taipei who have written on this, like Jens Kastner or Timothy Ferry, why did CNN source an article from a freelancer who lives in Hong Kong and obviously doesn't have a clue?
- J Michael in The National Interest on Hugh White's silliness
- Vox.com: Why the TPP is so controversial. This relates to a strong New Bloom piece on fractures in the Taiwan Independence movement.
- K-town seeing water rationing
- Project 2049: Taiwan defense strategy in the age of the precision strike
- J Michael on Taiwan's All Volunteer military.
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