Friday, August 07, 2015

Typhoon Short Shorts

Staying dry here... tiny gusts of wind and blowing rain, but nothing serious. Typhoons just nod at Taichung. We feel a terrible sympathy for the people in the mountains, however. Tim maddog passed around this map from Weather Underground for the typhoon.

Before we get started, New Bloom made a handy graphic guide for the revisions to the history curriculum, both what they are, and understanding why they were made. The modern history graphic is here, the pre-modern one is here.

Two things to keep in mind: (1) the pro-China revisions are only half the problem. The other half of the problem was (2) the Ministry of Education's violations of process. Democracy is commitment to democratic processes. The students understand that -- the Ministry of Education? Not so much... to compare, Tu Sheng-cheng, the Minister of Education in the Chen Administration, compares the two revision processes in an interview.

The students wound up their protest, the typhoon giving them an excuse to leave. They claimed success, having forced the government to send the curriculum back to a "review committee" which will no doubt return it unchanged. New Bloom, which has been writing lyrically on the Occuption, observed:
Though this, of course, marks the end of the occupation itself, certainly, the movement is far from finished. However, what we might beware of at this time is that charges may be filed against student occupiers for defacing the courtyard of the Ministry of Education and for property damage, much as charges were filed against Sunflower Movement occupiers last year for damages caused to the Legislative Yuan. And what remains to be seen is what the next step of the movement will be.
The movement needs to spread to every school with walkouts, sit-ins, and teach-ins. It ain't over yet....

One thing that people have not been commenting on is that the revisions, by making the history of Taiwan totally Han-centric, eliminate the aborigines. The Taipei Times had some reporting on that. Let's hope the aboriginal communities stop voting for the KMT, which so obviously despises them...

The best moment this week was the comical affair of alleged gangsters dressing up in Imperial Japanese Army uniforms and marching to DPP HQ to protest the DPP being brainwashed by Japan. No seriously:
“We want to thank the DPP for educating the children in Taiwan to love our Empire of Japan. This is something that our own Japanese kids would not do, and something we could not force the Taiwanese to do in our 50 years of Japanizing education,” a man dressed up as a Japanese Imperial Army commander said through a loudspeaker, with a Japanese accent. “Therefore, we are here to present our certificate of gratitude to the DPP today.”
The journalist J Michael Cole has some excellent pics, here's one from Twitter. This comedy combined two great loves of locals, gangsters and skits. But recall that Chang An-le, the famed gangster known as White Wolf, spent many years in China. This may cause gales of laughter in Taiwan, but it might play better across the Strait, which may have been where it was really aimed. It does give us a glimpse of the bubble world in which these people live...

Speaking of pics, Frozen Garlic got out to take a few pics at the protests.

James Soong video ad: reclaim Taiwan pride. Soong's ad of himself covered with mud, symbolizing that he has been reborn from his sins, is brilliant, but appears lifted from a local artist's work. Unfortunately, he then  made a joke about having people shot as in the good old martial law days. This resulted in many vocal complaints about his joking. The arrogance of the mainlander ruling class at work... and note, though "restitution" has been made to families of the victims, no one has ever been punished.

Feeling the creeping ghost of irrelevancy, KMTers panned Soong's entry into the race, claiming he had wandered from the Holy Principles of Sun Yat-sen and (more importantly) Chiang Ching-kuo. They called for Pan-Blue unity.

Like Hung, Soong has a heavily documented past. Maddog has been reminding us of this video of Soong saying that he would lead a mob to attack and kill Chen Shui-bian if the then-president didn't respond to the demands of the nationalist protest against him. If you read Chinese, this PPT post on Soong is popular at the moment.

Love this FocusTaiwan (gov't website!) headline: Latest Poll Puts James Soong Ahead of KMT Candidate. What? They couldn't remember her name?
The latest poll gives Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party, the lead at 36 percent in a three-way race, compared with Soong's 24 percent and Hung's 17 percent.
Taiwan Today spun that one really hard: Taiwan Readies for Tight Presidential Race. How tight? The government rag reported:
Hung, who garnered 17 percent support in the poll, is led by Soong at 24 percent and Tsai at 36 percent. A total of 23 percent remain undecided. Regarding the eventual winner, Hung was picked by 7 percent, Soong 8 percent and Tsai 59 percent. A total of 26 percent stated that they did not know.
Why does that paragraph strike you as awkward? Because logic dictates the leading figure goes first. Unless you have KMT logic guiding you: across the entire article, every time the candidates are mentioned, Hung's name is mentioned first. Note also that the article talks about Hung a lot, Soong a bit, and Tsai... not at all. The pettiness of KMT supporters knows no limits. It's easy to see why no one takes that magazine seriously.

Liberty Times has Tsai at 35, Soong at 24, and Hung at 29. It's going to be a long election.

Hey, whatever happened to all those "whatever happens, a woman will be president" articles in the media?

The Economist logged a piece on the curriculum protests:
Above all, the new guidelines recast Japan’s colonial rule from 1895-1945. Unlike many who came to Taiwan with the KMT, Taiwanese with deeper roots on the island often emphasise the Japanese contribution to Taiwan’s modernisation. And even when they acknowledge Japanese colonial cruelty, the violence of Chiang’s regime after Japan’s surrender often overshadows it. The new guidelines insist that what was known as “Japanese rule” be referred to as “Japanese colonial rule”; Taiwanese women forced to serve in military brothels should be properly acknowledged. That is only right. But what sticks in the craw of native Taiwanese, given the brutality of Chiang’s dictatorship, is that the KMT’s occupation of Taiwan should be described as a “glorious retrocession”.
This article is more sympathetic to the pro-Taiwan side than I had thought when I first read it; the Economist has been drearily pro-KMT in recent years. But note that although it focuses on the curriculum revisions, it omits, as Ben at Letters from Taiwan pointed out on Twitter, any mention of the other half of the problem: the black box process by which the revisions were made.

Alas, I must refer to Dennis Hickey's crazed piece in The Diplomat. Hickey writes:
Many predict that Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will return to power in 2016. The party has sought to “rebrand” itself as a “responsible” alternative to the ruling Kuomintang (KMT). But U.S. defense planners cannot help but wonder if the DPP will seek to entrap the U.S. in a cross-strait crisis in an effort to achieve its dreams of independence from China. Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP presidential candidate, has done little to assuage such fears. The candidate’s positions on many of the most important issues of the day remain opaque and unclear, especially her plans for handling relations with Beijing. And despite its lead in the polls, there are concerns that the DPP has given up on democracy. For example, it is reportedly embracing a Middle Eastern practice known as “rent a mob” and subsidizing extremists who attack Taiwan’s government ministries. This makes it increasingly difficult for Americans to sensibly argue that Taiwan is a “model of democracy.”
 Note that Hickey's citation for support of Tsai's weaknesses are two articles in the Diplomat by the KMT international spokesman Eric Huang. Hardly a neutral assessment.

But the latter half of the paragraph, in brown?

Sadly, I've lost all respect for Hickey as a commentator, analyst, and above all, human being.
Daily Links:
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...

"Every year some yammerhead out to play at the beach during the typhoon gets killed. This time children too."

It's so Taiwanese. Go swimming in the ocean on a perfectly calm, sunny day? Of course not; too dangerous. Go walking along the shoreline as a typhoon approaches though? Well yes; what could possibly go wrong?

d said...

Thanks for calling attention to that Diplomat piece. Not sure if the The Diplomat will approve my comment on Hickey (reproduced below), but I was really POed about citing propaganda and not so subtly calling the students Islamic terrorists, so I also wrote to his faculty chair, department address, and the student newspaper (also below).

- Diplomat comment:

I don't know if it would be possible to pack more lies and misdirection into this article, but I'm sure the author tried mightily.

Here are the most egregious instances:

1) Taiwan-China relationship improved since 2008 because /China/ chose to stop being quite as belligerent; note that the actual net improvement as of today is not that substantive (ADIZ, Shanghai-Taipei mayor summit on the rocks, AIIB "confusion").

2) Tsai Ing-Wen has in fact done more to clarify her positions /and/ get US endorsement of said position, than both Hung "how many interpretations today" Hsiu-Chu and Tsai herself ca. 2012.

3) The ad hominem reference to "rent a mob" (and bizarre and racist implication of Islamist tendencies) is contemptible, not just because it is not only unsubstantiated, but refuted by the fact and first-hand evidence. The /global/ protests over the last 18 months are a popular reaction to misrule and government abuse, and have incurred frankly despite any organizing effort by the DPP.

I'm disappointed in The Diplomat, not at all for publishing an opinion I happen to disagree with, but for giving column inches to such unprincipled, poorly researched, and frankly offensive drivel.

- letter to the editor (likely to be ignored, but felt good to call it out):

To the editor:

I wish to draw attention to the article published by Prof. Dennis Hickey in the online publication, The Diplomat, titled “Time to Review US Policy on Taiwan?”. (

Dr. Hickey presents a viewpoint on an international situation around Taiwan, which is certainly fair game and a rich topic for discussion. But in doing so he violates basic tenets of academic discourse and objectivity. Two errors in particular should give pause to the university: he cites only political propaganda as his sources, and he makes an ad hominem reference equating student demonstrators with Islamic extremists.

Given the serious departure from the norms of the academy and the sensitivities around this particular political situation, I suggest the university review Dr. Hickey’s publication history and any recent trips, research funding grants, and other engagements with political forces in the Taiwan/China sphere.


Anonymous said...

How's that "nodding" working out for you?

channing said...

Long time no comment. Just returned from a hurried but nevertheless lovely visit to Taichung.

With the apparent credibility of Hung (from watching her speak, she appears to be the female version of Ma as you hinted--lacking in originality, vision and an air of leadership), this is starting to look like a landslide for Tsai due to lack of credible opposition. She is worlds away from the DPP culture of ten years ago and stands out from the rest of her party as a relatively mainstream person.

I am honestly surprised that Soong even registers on the appeal scale.

Anonymous said...

Hickey touched a sensitive nerve. Even if the students are not incited by the DPP, they have a lot to learn about democracy and rule of law. Mobcracy is anti-democratic. This is how communists came to power. How ironic. Occupy movements get dismantled in the West by the courts and forceful expulsion by law enforcers (police). Imagine protesters occupying the Pentagon to protest the Iraq War? Would that have been tolerated? Totally unimaginable. Taiwan has a lot to learn from Singapore/the West about the rule of law and civil conduct and discourse.

Michael Turton said...

. Taiwan has a lot to learn from Singapore/the West about the rule of law and civil conduct and discourse.

Singapore is an authoritarian state. Taiwan has nothing to learn from it.

Mobcracy is anti-democratic. This is how communists came to power.

I feel sad for people who confuse a peaceful limited occupation to protest anti-democratic, false curriculum revisions with Communists taking over China at gunpoint.