Sunday, July 03, 2005

ESWN: Poor Taiwan, Ruled by Chen Shui-bian

ESWN, which often appears jealous of Taiwan's freedom and prosperity, and does not appear to like Taiwan very much at all, published an appalling attack on our cozy little island today, in the form of a commentary and article from a local journal. The article ESWN liked so much appeared in Chinese in The Journalist, a local business journal.

In its haste to say anything bad it possibly can about Taiwan, ESWN overlooked critical background that may help readers understand who and what are talking. The Journalist has quite a rep around Taiwan for printing any old scurrilous rumor. For example, it was that rag that circulated a rumor saying that Annette Lu, the Veep, was telling everyone Chen Shui-bian was having an affair with another DPP legislator. The Journalist has long thrived on an anti-government stance, opposing whoever is in power. One should not confuse being anti-government with being right.

Nan Fang-shuo (南方朔) has recently been yak-yakking about how detestable Chen Shui-bian is. Like many conservatives, he is apparently unsettled by the fact that authoritarianism is slowly losing its grip on Taiwan society, and feels the need to blame Chen Shui-bian for what is in fact a social process that became almost inevitable when the mainlanders decided to murder 50-100,000 Taiwanese and impose 50 years of martial law on Taiwan. I suppose it is a tad unfair to mention that A-bian, unlike his opponents, does not murder those who oppose him, or shut down their newspapers, suppress, their language, and send their leaders into exile. If that makes him a person who "rules with his mouth," well, my attitude is, that beats ruling with the fist any day of the week.

Let's now turn to an all points fisking of ESWN's commentary on a vicious article.

ESWN: Of course, Chen Shui-bian is entitled to his personal opinion. Nevertheless, it is annoying when these comments are coming from a person who perhaps needs to look much deeper inside his own soul about himself and his state.

It is difficult to understand why ESWN writes nonsense like this. I suppose if A-bian had his opponents locked in gulags, ESWN would cheer.

ESWN: Now here is the strange thing -- there is nothing suitable in English that I can link to about the state of politics in Taiwan.

Well, it is true that if you are looking for attacks on Chen Shui-bian in English you will search far and wide. It appears not to have occurred to ESWN that the reason he can't find anything "suitable" is that by and large the English speaking Taiwan world does not share his unmitigated contempt for Chen or Taiwan. But if he wants, I will be happy to hunt down some pro-KMT propaganda for him by one of the paid western servants of the old KMT authoritarian state. But most of those guys have died off or for some bizarre reason seem to support democracy in Taiwan. Oh, the horror!

ESWN: This causes one to ask, Why? This is once again a question of market supply-demand. If there is no demand, the supply dries up. Where is the market demand these days? More stories and analyses about how bad things are in China and how it will fall apart before long. By contrast, English-language stories and analyses about how bad things are in Taiwan and how it will fall apart before long have no demand. Does that mean everything is going great in Taiwan? Well, you wouldn't have that impression at all if you can read the Chinese-language media in Taiwan.

Actually, there is lots of trenchant analysis of Taiwan's politics supplied by academics from the right and left and everywhere in between. The reason there is nothing suitable in English for ESWN is that most academics who write in English on Taiwan are not conservatives and authoritarians bemoaning their loss of power and influence under the new regime. Although if he wants, he can try Chalmers Johnson's stuff, which is to the right of Xinhua when it comes to analyzing Taiwan.

ESWN: For a dose of reality to counter the English-language kool-aid that has been freely distributed about Taiwan, here is a translation of an article by media commentator Nan Fang-shuo (南方朔) published in The Journalist. The problems that are enumerated in this article are well known, and the biggest problem is that Chen Shui-bian is institutionally incapable of talking about them.

ROFL. For a "dose of reality", ESWN turns to a clueless novelist-turned-political commentator whose understanding of Taiwan's political economy is grade-school.

NFS:The greatest tragedy of a country is "to have officials without a government." Today, the people of Taiwan are witnessing the chaos of not having a government. Never mind not having any hopes, but they should be thanking the Great Mother of Heaven to still have a job, to step out of their homes without being robbed, to eat something without getting poisoned and not to drown when it rains.
Nan's presentation begins with a hyperbolic bit of nonsense that fails to provide any background for the reader. Taiwan's problems with the police, oversight, and crime began with the KMT, who ruled in conjunction with local organized crime, and turned a blind eye to environmental and safety violations. This entrenched culture of indifference and lack of civil society is a result, not of Chen Shui-bian's 5 years of rule, but of the KMT's fifty years of incompetence.

NFS: We can start off with the person on the top. He has no ability and he has no vision. But he is unmatched in his ability to talk incoherently and change his mind from one day to the next. If you can get away with pure talk, what is the point of worrying about anything or getting concerned about people? If you can ascend to the top with your mouth, why waste an ounce of thought? Recently, this person has declared that the "notion of being Chinese is only an abstract dogma," and immediately we recognize that there must be an upcoming election. This kind of talk is always invoked when an election comes up; after the election, this gets shut down. In any country in which the leader has no special qualities beyond talking through the mouth, the fate of the people becomes obvious.
Note that this entire paragraph consists of insults and attacks, and contains not a single concrete fact or conclusion based on reason and evidence. ESWN likes it though, a fact which says more about ESWN than Chen Shui-bian. This article is actually quite illuminating -- it is a good demonstration of how the political class of authoritarians talks about Chen Shui-bian -- a steady stream of personal attacks, devoid of sense, facticity, or civil restraint. Had someone published a similar attack on the Chiangs during the martial law period, the fate of that person would be obvious.

NFS: We have the officials, but what about our government? It has disappeared. Recently, the fishermen of Taiwan wanted to fish, but they were harassed by foreign police and even detained. They look to their government for help, but somehow the government has gone into hiding. When there is mad cow disease in Taiwan, the government officials began to talk like salespeople for American beef instead of officials who are supposed to look after the well-being and health of the people of Taiwan.

This paragraph is a little better. At least there is one correct assertion, the last one. One might note -- this is the system put in place by mainlanders under the KMT. Since Nan's essay is simply an exercise in meaningless drivel, he gives no background to his comments on fisherman. The reference is (I believe) a reference to the recent flap over fishing in the Daioyutai Islands, claimed by Japan, Taiwan, and China. It is not a simple case of "fisherman wanted to fish" but a complex international incident of Taiwanese fisherman operating in disputed waters.

NFS: The disappearance of our government is more than just that. There was a heavy rainfall, and more than one hundred rivers became hazard areas for mud and rock slides. Which officials cared? Since nothing happened this time, everybody forgets. More recently, there are many incidents in which thugs and gangsters assaulted people in the street and the police simply cowered in the background, acting as if they saw nothing. The reason is simple: they worry about their lives whereas public safety is somebody else's problem, and so why risk their own lives for someone else's safety? Their reasoning is the same as our war ministers who reasoned that "we can't beat the Japanese" and therefore they keep their mouths shut on the Diaoyutai issue.
I have discussed the problems of the central government's failed water policy elsewhere. It is quite true that the police often failed to act on behalf of local citizens -- a habit, Nan fails to point out, they learned under the KMT. Every problem that Nan has identified is the result of policies and customs created and implemented under the mainlander government. Moreover, the current impasse in government is due entirely to the KMT majority legislature, which refuses to cooperate with Chen to make Taiwan go. If Nan wants to assign blame, let him look among the authoritarians he appears to approve of.

NFS: Recently, the food hygiene and safety issue in Taiwan has reached unimaginable proportions. Industrial sugar and bad quality sugar have entered into the domestic supply; bad quality product enhancers, low-quality beef, poisoned peanuts, rotten sugar products and rejected beef products are introduced; food poisoning cases occur every day. Who is in charge here? The people will just have to offer a few prayers and hope the gods will bless them!

Again, same problem. The poor regulation of food in Taiwan stems from the bad old days of the KMT. These are all old problems that recur cyclically. They cannot be cleaned up because local officials collude with local gangsters and local businessmen to prevent clean-ups. Of course, this system did not suddenly appear in the last five years, but dates from the time of the KMT government.

In other words, Nan's presentation is utter bullshit devoid of any historical background. That is the reason why ESWN cannot find anything like it in English. Unlike the Chinese-language press, English language writing has to have a modicum of facticity, present at least some background, and present itself in a civil and evenhanded manner. Had Nan done that, he could not have written this screed.

But let's move on:

NFS: Thus, today's Taiwan is a situation of "having many officials without a government." This is a structural problem that permeates downwards. This peril has caused the national government apparatus to become impotent and paralyzed. It cannot generate any 'good' and it cannot eliminate anything 'bad.' Instead, the ruling parties can use sheer talk to mislead the masses and to avoid any responsibility. When the people on the top lead by example, everybody else follow and all ideas about trying one's best goes out of the window. Today, everyone realizes that as long as you can talk your way out or use any other improper means to reach your goals, it is alright. Their successes are in fact the failure of Taiwan. Their message to the people of Taiwan is this: as long as you aren't caught, anything goes.
No kidding. And when did this all begin? Under the KMT. Under the KMT, laws were not enforced, anything went if you had connections, etc. I could also go off into the result of a millenium of authoritarianism in Chinese political culture and its inevitable result on law enforcement and civil society, but that would be too easy. To imagine that any of this is due to five years of Chen government is to live in a fantasy world in which Taiwan has no past.

NFS: Is not the mess in Taiwan today due to everybody doing whatever that they can get away with, but without being caught in the process? Beyond the infinite number of troubles caused by getting away with pure talk, the contemporary politicians also will not confront the real problems. When they come up to a problem, they will try to talk their way out; when that does not work, they will throw money at it to please the people. This causes a serious erosion of the governance as well as damaging the quality of politics and the attitudes of people. This is how the gradual degradation of public policy decisions in Taiwan, the erosion of the public sphere and the detioration of public finance.
Note the complete lack of concreteness here. Not a single fact, policy, event, or idea is evidenced....just pure screed. I tell my students that good writing is concrete writing, and Nan's essay is an excellent example of why I take that stance. This is simply a third-grade appeal to emotional solidarity with the writer.

NFS: Some time ago, the "new five-year ten great projects" costing 500 NT$ billion was introduced during the election cycle. More recently, the Education Department proposed the 50 NT$ billion five-year plan to build "first-class university and elite research centers." These are nice-sounding slogans to mislead the people, because they are just political payoffs. When public spending becomes chips in political payoffs, it was time to have more public projects which becomes less and less meaningful; and these so-called "first-class universities" are obviously more likely to be "second-class" or "third-class."

More recently, after some evaluation, some parts of the "new ten great projects" such as the Taiwan Exhibition Convention have been shelved and only about 50 NT$ billion remained. At this time, one must compare the "old ten great projects" with these "new ten great projects":

The "old ten great projects" included items such as the CKS airport. At the time, each project was subjected to long-term, detailed professional study, evaluation and financial planning; each step was subject to detailed control. The "old ten great projects" can be said to be classical case studies for any developing country, and nobody got any special profits from those projects.

What about the "new ten great projects"? All the considerations were based upon short-term political considerations. From conception to proposal took about two to three months; some of them only had the first half, and there was no second half. What kind of planning quality is that? What kind of human quality is assumed to be concealed behind the planning quality?

The "old ten great projects" represented the uplifting of Taiwan. The "new ten great projects" represents the downfall of Taiwan. The five-year 50 NT$ billion "first-class university and elite research centers" plan was like the "exception plan" and the earlier reforms. They offer a lot of nice-sounding slogans such as "reform", "exceptional", "first-class" and "elite" and they invest a lot of money, but did anyone ever figure out where the money went? Did it really make Taiwan become exceptional and first-class? I am afraid the answers must be in the negative. After spending 50 NT$ billion in five years, the entire Taiwan university system will still be a mess. Now that is truly "first-class" and "elite"!
Finally, we get a mention of a concrete policy. The government's view is that more infrastructure spending is necessary. Most of this spending is pure pork-barrel, as it is in every country. Even in analyzing this Nan is still stuck in the fantasy framwork:

NFS: The "old ten great projects" included items such as the CKS airport. At the time, each project was subjected to long-term, detailed professional study, evaluation and financial planning; each step was subject to detailed control. The "old ten great projects" can be said to be classical case studies for any developing country, and nobody got any special profits from those projects.

The "old ten great projects" represented the uplifting of Taiwan.
Part of this is simply an appeal to the old Chinese belief that the present is a corrupt time fallen from a pure past. The reality is that the old Ten Great Projects ran on cement, which not by coincidence, was all owned by the KMT and its cronies. Governments come and go, but pork is eternal. Nan leaves out inconvenient facts like the fact that the KMT's spending on infrastructure was so stingy that by the end of the 1960s international shipping firms were threatening to boycott Taiwan unles there was major improvement. It was only under this threat that the government finally got going on rebuilding and extending the infrastructure that was largely Japanese in origin (the KMT, seeing itself as temporary, did very little for Taiwan in terms of permanent infrastructure to that point).

It is interesting that Nan mentions the CKS airport. Perhaps he is unaware of the massive corruption problems associated with the construction of the second terminal there under the KMT government in the 1990s. Another inconvenient fact that somehow dropped out of his fantasy construction of the past.

NFS: In today's Taiwan, some people continue to serve as officials. Taiwan still has some money left for these people to squander. But overall, Taiwan as a whole no longer has a government that acts as the leader of the country.

In the absence of a government, Taiwan becomes a battlefield in which everyone fights for themselves. The social values of Taiwan as well as business domains are dissolving. The governing rulers only know how to pay people off, to stir up trouble among people and to tell lies in order to continue its existence. A town-level party cadre can be exposed for gross sexual abuse and yet the big shots will pronounce that this was an "isolated case" even as the diehards attack people for fomenting a conspiracy to magnify the incident. When politics has reached this stage, why do we bother to have any political party or government?

The "absence of government" is of course a KMT habit that Chen is trying to overcome. It's hard, though, since authporitarians like Nan lose their power and oppose everything that Chen does, reflexively. The idea that the social values of Taiwan are dissolving is simply laughable; Taiwan has a far more developed and blooming civic society than at any time under the KMT and volunteerism is sprouting up everywhere. There are real opposition parties. The press is free -- insane, true, but free, free to print even fact-free screed, as we have seen. Gangsterism and cronyism are on the decline -- they were so entrenched under the KMT that it is hard to see the progress, but it exists.

NFS: In the past, these people in Taiwan are beyond criticism. Those who make criticisms are said to "denigrate Taiwan." In order to "love Taiwan," the media in Taiwan had to keep silent, or even be forced or willingly to praise the leaders. In this silence, Taiwan has the reached the end of the road where Taiwan had managed to denigrate itself. Today, the trust in the leadership, the governability, the economic future and even social attitudes are rapidly disintegrating. When the day comes that the people of Taiwan finally wakes up, Taiwan may have already reached a stage where it no longer matters what people have to say about it.

Again, no evidence is given for any of these charges (so there is nothing to rebut). Nan simply vomits up accusations in the reckless, random fashion of a man who has had too many whiskies accusing his wife of cheating on him. The reality is that Nan's own piece completely disproves his accusation that the media are muzzled.

NFS: Thus, in Taiwan today, we are afraid that we have reached a moment when we must seriously confront the problem of "rottenness." The rotting of a country and society could not have happened suddenly, for it must have been a gradual process. The key elements have to be the loss of morality in the political figures, the loss of the sense of right versus wrong, the perversion of the justice system, the existence of double or even multiple standards as well as the terminal financial deterioration. The rottenness also reflects the chaos of anarchy and nihilism among the people, which eroded the complete society. Social accidents and disasters become magnified, small-time thieves become big-time robbers, homicides become major crimes, trains get derailed and airplanes fall down from the sky. Some day, people will find that they want to stay above the fray but that is an impossible dream. From this moment, the road that Taiwan is taking is the path towards "rottenness."

Of course, anyone who actually lives in Taiwan can see that this paragraph has everything upside down. That is why ESWN can't find anything like it in English. The reality is that under the KMT the justice system was perverted and morality was lost (remember when the police used to staff military brothels by arresting prostitutes and then offering them the choice of either jail or service on one of the offshore islands in a military brothel?) The reality is that under the KMT, small-time thugs rose to prominence, and anarchy and nihilism ruled. Airplanes falling from the sky? That only occurs on China Airlines, a company run by the government under the KMT and staffed largely by mainlanders. Taiwan is not moving toward rottenness, but moving away from authoritarianism. For some people, that loss of control is simply intolerable. In Chinese culture, the opposite of control is anarchy. Hence, if control is slipping, it must mean that anarchy is increasing. Nan apparently cannot imagine a world where autonomy is the order of the day, and he has no right to tell everyone how they must behave. He should emigrate to the US, where he could easily find employment as an evangelical preacher....

NFS: There are officials, but no government; there is a society, but no rules; there are media, but no sense of right or wrong. Taiwan is rotting down this path, and is there any other way out other than continuing?

Since Nan has run out of facts he can now only repeat himself, the drunk accusing his wife of adultery, and now slowly falling asleep. ESWN adds the nasty postscript:

ESWN: The standard immediate response is that it is great that such an article can be freely published in Taiwan. That would be missing the point, because the author made it quite clear that it would not make a wee bit of difference to the political questions.

Actually, the author did not make that clear at all. He simply asserted it, over and over, as an article of faith to be believed without evidence. Naturally, because if he presented the evidence, it would destroy his case. Nan's article is the kind of screed only a believer could buy. Those of us who interact daily with Taiwan, and have watched it improve mightily in almost every aspect of its existence, can only be thankful that controlling, intemperate, uneducated, shallow, authoritarian rogues like Nan are no longer calling the shots on the Beautiful Isle. Still, we will be many more years cleaning up the mess they created.

ESWN: Against this, the reality was the Taiwan citizen had these two options during the last presidential campaign: a serial liar (Chen Shui-bian) or a perennial loser (Lien Chan). Of course, they can also stay home or cast a blank ballot (which 330,000 did). None of these choices would make a wee bit of difference to the political questions.

I won't dignify that absurd attack on Chen. But it is indicative of ESWN's ignorance of things Taiwanese that he has presented the 330,000 invalid ballots as "blank ballots". Actually, many of the ballots had votes -- most for Chen, as analysis showed. But they were invalid because the election board had tightened the rules on valid votes for the 2004 election, and the result was that many ballots that were clearly intended for Chen were ruled invalid because they had been stamped in the wrong place. Additionally, a group called for locals to invalidate a million votes to protest against the candidates by voting for neither. If anything, the 337,000 invalid ballots in the 2004 under the Chen government shows how far the government has come since the bad old days when elections were rigged by the KMT (another inconvenient fact neglected by both ESWN and Nan). In other words, they represent the latest improvement in a long line since Taiwan began democratizing in the early 1990s: election procedures are tight, and locals are free to defer from voting as a form of protest. But don't let that, or millions of other concrete improvements fool you. Just take Nan's fact-free word for it: Taiwan is rotten.

UPDATE July 4. ESWN has now added some pretty fair comments addressing my fisking of the piece, and links to this.

UPDATE July 4: David over at the always-insightful One whole jujuflop situation has additional comments in his usual perceptive manner. We missed you while you were on vacation!

UPDATE: Found out in 2006 Nan is not a mainlander, adjusted the piece accordinly.


Tim Maddog said...


Why do you love Taiwan?! ;-)

You did a real job on the ESWN piece which elucidates how I often feel about the blogger there (who doesn't even seem to use a pseudonym). It's when he writes about himself and his feelings toward Taiwan that he's at his most revealing. In another recent post, he gives us more reasons not to blindly trust him or his translations.

Because you and I have direct knowledge of many of the things that were written about in the Journalist (a magazine I've previously written about), ESWN comes across looking not only a bit dishonest here, but bitter, as well.

How can he behave so jealously at a time when Chen Shui-bian just criticized the big, bad bullies in Beijing for "interfering in Hong Kong's affairs"?

Anonymous said...

China and Taiwan
> and

Anonymous said...

Nice rebuttal. I've added some of my thoughts here.

Tim Maddog said...

"The blogger" at ESWN is still being insincere. Here are some quotes from his original post to show that he does pretend to know all about Taiwan:

Of course, Chen Shui-bian is entitled to his personal opinion. Nevertheless, it is annoying when these comments are coming from a person who perhaps needs to look much deeper inside his own soul about himself and his state. When asked whether Chinese leader Hu Jintao should meet with Chen Shui-bian about cross-straits relationship, a typical answer might be something like, "No! Not with Chen Shui-bian, because it is pointless. This person is incapable of being honest. He can say one thing in the morning, but he may say the complete opposite in the afternoon. You can't sign anything with him, because it is meaningless. Just wait and deal with his successor."

That's a pretty bold comment for someone who, in his postscript, says he "does not pretend to have any real expertise in Taiwan beyond reading some online newspapers or magazines."

Then there's this:
The problems that are enumerated in this article are well known, and the biggest obstacle is that Chen Shui-bian is institutionally incapable of talking about them since he is part of the cause.

Sounds like he has drunk the "kool-aid" of the pan-blue media to me.

Following the translation, "the blogger" adds this:

Taiwan citizens had these two options during the last presidential campaign: a serial liar (Chen Shui-bian) or a perennial loser (Lien Chan). Both persons were parts of the causes of the problems. Of course, the citizens can also stay home or cast a blank ballot (which 330,000 did). None of these choices would make a wee bit of difference to the political questions.

Read what I've written about "Bulletgate" on my own blog to see who the "liar" in the first sentence is. (Compare "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" to [W]e gave [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in," for example. Lien Chan is the "liar." Chen Shui-bian is a "perennial beater of odds." Try that on for size, ESWN.

How about those "330,000" people. Did they stay home? No. Voter turnout in that election was over 80%. There was a movement to cast one million invalid ballots, but it failed miserably.

When "the blogger" (ESWN) says in his postscript, "The blogger does not endorse the viewpoints therein," that's kind of like "say[ing] one thing in the morning, [and] say[ing] the complete opposite in the afternoon" -- exactly what he accused Chen Shui-bian of in his second paragraph!

Did Chen Shui-bian "lash[] out at Hong Kong" as the first blockquote in the ESWN post says? No, he lashed out at Beijing. But someone who constantly reads the South China Morning Post and the Apple Daily might miss these kind of simple things.

Anonymous said...

I hope that after 2008, we don't look back at 1988-2008 as the good old days of progressive governments (or at least leaders). I agree with you, Michael, the people in charge now are trying to make a difference for all of us-- not just march us in the directions demanded by the global system to insure their personal fortunes. The rule of fear and intimidation, however, is pretty deeply rooted. You know this well. Taiwan really can be a premier place. I hope people can see this possibility.


Anonymous said...

Scott Sommers wrote
Michael, as you know I am a strong supporter of the DPP and were I eligible to vote, I would still vote for them. But even though your critique of the ESWN article is correct, it's essence appears true. The DPP are increasingly allowing segments of Taiwan society to become privatized and unregulated. The King Car rural English programs are just one sign of this. Is it a coincidence that the current administration has allowed King Car to take over aspects of schooling (recruiting, hiring, curriculum design, etc) in Kinmen and Nantou? Is Kinmen more educationally deprived than say Tainan County or Pintung County? Or is it just that 99% of Kinmen residents vote KMT? Sure, the DPP has trouble ruling the country through the Legislative Yuan and subsequently has had to invent other methods of governance. But the reality of the methods they are adopting is that they truly are leaving parts of Taiwanese society ungoverned.

Anonymous said...

Angry, bitter, and uninformed are best to describe the article.
ESWN seems to take a peculiar biased toward Taiwan. In addition to the above article, there is another piece a few days ago about US State Department’s website map presenting Taiwan as part of China. The writer takes a gleeful view that Taiwan dare not challenge the apparent “mistake” by US government. It ignores the complicated diplomatic maneuvering in Taiwan-China issues and childishly points finger at Taiwan saying “ha ha, you are scared of US!” I have read some very intelligent pieces on ESWN, but on the topic of Taiwan, these two articles were definitely disappointing. The MIA writer laments about a lack of negative press in English. I know ESWN has good command of Chinese. Many papers in Taiwan, Apple Daily for example, will give you daily diet of news criticizing the government and the establishment. They are full of big-bad-corrupt-government vs. hepless-absued-underclass-average-citizen, if sensationalism and cartoon-ish journalism is your thing.
Given all its imperfection, Taiwan is bravely marching toward a multi-party system and a pluralistic society. Michael has already done an excellent job in rebuttal. What Nan’s article reflects is the conservative blue’s arrogance toward current regime and nostalgia for the orderly good old days. Now, democracy by nature is and always will be noisy. Today, nobody in Chen’s administration would even think about censorship. If the price we have to pay is to listen to ridiculous rants like Nan’s, I say it’s still worth it.

Anonymous said...

Just found an easier link of EastSouthWestNorth:

I agree with Michael in terms of how Roland is biased at times. However, I think it's extremely valuable to hear both Michael and Roland's opinions and both contribute immensely to our understanding of the region. Thank you both :-)