Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday, September 16, Blog Round-up

Rounding up the blogs again. A strange week in Taiwan, with the KMT preventing the premier from speaking before the legislature because he will not apologize for mismanaging the Kaohsiung MRT construction (speaking of apologies, guys, how about one for 50 years of martial law?). As always, Taiwan's image suffered thanks to fisticuffs in the legislature. But there were some absolutely wonderful blogposts this week.....

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Rank heads off the parade with a priceless post on the nude portrait of Ma Ying-jeou at KMT headquarters.

A painting of KMT Chaiman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou now hanging in an art gallery on the fifth floor of KMT headquarters in Taipei. The caption in the China Times explains that this photo has been popular with female visitors (I guess only straight people go to KMT headquarters?).

Rank promises he'll get the skinny in person when he visits KMT HQ next week. Definitely need a clearer picture of that one. And find out whether the mayor posed for it in person!

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Scott Sommers explores DPP education policy:

While I agree with Michael that Dr. Chih's piece on education may not have a strong thesis, his political message is much clearer when taken together with other writings he has done. In addition to his scientific writing, a number of his opinion pieces have appeared translated in the pro-Green newspaper, Taipei Times. One of these appeared shortly after the DPP's first election in 2000, supported the halt in construction on the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant proposed by the government. Another article contained this 2002 criticism of the Pan-Blue bid for Taipei and Kaohsiung mayor. In this aricle, he is quoted commenting on VCDs released during the last presidential election that lampoon Pan-Blue candidates. A more recent article echoes the positions of Dr. Lin Yi-ti that schooling and examination should reflect the 'common sense' position that Taiwan is not China. While Dr. Chiu's writing is conspicuously void of Pan-Green jingoism, perhaps because it reflects my own political beliefs about Taiwan, it is clear to me that he supports the pro-Taiwan/anti-China factions of the Taiwan identity argument. And it is this he is almost certainly referring to when he says that the DPP have no education policy.
I cannot tell whether Scott's analysis of Chiu is correct, but to add to his comments on the expansion of the university system....in addition to using it to secure votes -- and laudably, as a way to educate the populace (let's not forget that) -- Taiwan is run in many ways as a "construction-industrial complex" state, much like Japan, where the answer to all political problems is to cover them with more concrete. Construction firms have a close relationship to the KMT, and typically their owners, regardless of ethnic background, support the former ruling party. The flow of funds from the central government to the construction industry, however, has changed as the DPP's localization policies take things out of the ruling party's hands and transfer them to local governments. This strategy is the result of a praiseworthy emphasis on the local in DPP thinking, as well as the desire to starve KMT supporters of their flow of loot, and divide supporters of the old ruling party, and perhaps bring some over to the new ruling party.

However, education remains in central government control. The flow of subsidies thus represents a useful way to put the network of construction firms that supported the KMT party-state on the DPP payroll instead. Many of the new universities in Taiwan are own by construction companies who use them as investments to farm government subsidies. Should the DPP retain power for another Presidency or two, they may well be a large-scale shift in the loyalties of construction firms, who, after all, need government contracts to survive.

Kerim of Keywords has some perceptive comments on Scott's post:

It may be the case that the KMT are blocking the DPP's ability to fund these programs, but I think that something else is going on here. I think they want to devolve educational power to the local level in order to ensure that if the KMT come back to power they can't reverse these directions. Cutting the financial tether to the central government is one way of doing this. A tremendous amount of authority over curriculum design now resides with the schools themselves.

But there is a disconnect in that the the old standards and testing mechanisms have not yet been abolished. This puts schools in a bind. The protest earlier this year over the number of adjunct teachers who have not been allowed to test for fulltime status is just one example of the financial problems now faced by schools.


I've blogged on this before. The localization program, as Kerim notes, has not been followed up with an abolition/localization of the testing system. I am doubtful that such a move is possible, or even desirable. One thing I am not certain of is how local govenment debt has increased under the DPP. It seems that neither party is willing tackle Taiwan's deficit problem. In fact, one wonders if in the end they will agree to annex the island to China in the hope that its debts will then magically disappear.

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David at jujuflop analyzes the flap over the Assassination of Mayor Ma:

Two months ago, Ma Ying-jeou beat Wang Jin-pyng to become the new chairman of the KMT. This weekend there’s an interesting contrast of news articles on the two men involved in that race. On Friday evening, Yahoo! Taiwan released a story on their website that (election winner) Ma Ying-jeou had been assassinated - which came as a bit of a surprise to the man himself....


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Taiwan's Other Side blogs on the Arms Deal:

The DPP is promoting this deal because it doesn't want to change the status quo; it doesn't have any better ideas for a more flexible and realistic defense policy. That's surprising for a party that was supposed to change everything, and even more surprising that the line in the sand for change comes from the supposedly washed up, pro-China party, the KMT.


One should note that (1) the KMT has not put forward any alternative arms proposal and (2) it hardly matters what arms proposal the DPP should put forward, as the pan-Blues, serving the interests of Beijing in this matter, will oppose them all. Although I do agree that the KMT is a washed up, pro-China party.

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ESWN blogs on the criticism of F4 by Taiwan's First Lady. What is F4? those of us who spend our time reading about things like water policy, defense policy, budgetary concerns, and nude pictures of Mayor Ma, might ask....read on and be, well, if not enlightened, at least informed....

At a press conference, Taiwan's First Lady Wu Shu-chen said: "Here, I would once again call on our friends in the media to make more positive reports handicapped people and fewer negative ones. The media should not stay on F4 all day. I feel that is really the source of chaos in society." Who is F4? Why are they even more powerful and insiduous than corrupt officials, gangsters or communist spies in fementing chaos?

F4 is a quartet of entertainers. The 'F' in the title refers to their bra size. Will four girls in their early twenties cause the republic to topple? That might be an exaggeration.

Isn't it about time politicians gave up cheap moralizing and left it to the blogsphere, where it belongs? As for causing chaos in Taiwan society, I only have one reply, and here she is:



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Ni Howdy explains why so many from Canada come to The Beautiful Island, providing support for a favorite theme of Taiwan blogger Scott Sommers, that foreign teachers here are economic migrants.

Just like the the Irish potato famine forced millions of Fenian scum to emigrate to America, economic doom in the Maritimes is driving hordes of Canadianers to Taiwan to escape their plight.

Clinging to the gunwales of Evergreen container ships loaded full of the manufactured homes repossessed from their kinfolk, these poor souls arrive in the promised land of Taiwan only to once again be exploited by unscrupulous bushiban owners like the hermaphrodite Tony Chen.
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Jerome Keating offers an article entitled "Taiwan Commemorates POW Evacuation at Keelung Harbor"

However, a different ceremony and 60th anniversary commemoration was held at Keelung Harbor, Wharf No.2 on Sunday September 4 of this year by the Taiwan Prisoner of War (POW) Camps Society. This dockside ceremony commemorated the evacuation of the Allied Prisoners of War from September 5-9, 1945.

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Wandering to Tamshui, which always has great stuff on Taiwan's culture, points us to a site that provides popular local sayings....
You just can't beat that kind of imagery. Check out the site here.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to 蹺腳 撚 嘴鬚 (Kiau ka ren tsui chiu), "Raise my feet and play with my facial hair."

Hmmm....."soft mud gets dug deeper"= 軟塗 深掘 -- which is basically the story of my life.

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Freedom Slopes blogs on Canada, oil sands, China, and the US:

With the huge increase in the price of oil oilsand projects have huge margins for profit. Canada, as the article states, has the second largest proven oil reserves in the world at 175 billion barrells. This will certainly helps the soft power that Canada weilds become that much stronger. This can certainly be leveraged against the US if need be (soft wood lumber?! US get off our back if you want some oil action) and can also provide Canada with a carrot to weild in negotiations with China on everything from trade to human rights.


Naw. I think some people are going to be very shocked at (a) how little real power that will give Canada and (b) how little of the money from those sands will accrue to Canadians. But then I am a professional cynic.

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Radio Free Taiwan blogs on the mess in the legislature, along with several other bloggers.

we go again. The elected officials are busy squaring off again in the legislature. The "blues" are STILL whining about the current government being unfair somehow, but they won't put their money where their mouths are and call a non-confidence vote. I think the "greens" (who hold the presidency but don't control the legislature) would love to see a full election happen again to fix the impasse. I think the childish blues would lose big time.


I am not as sanguine about the DPP's chances -- its performance at the local level has been poor, lacking the kind of party machine and longtime links to local factions that the KMT enjoys. Freedom Slopes puts his finger on why the impasse continues:

the KMT is also blocking a bill that is aimed at flood control measures. This year many areas suffered from flooding and the government is trying to make the needed changes for the future but the KMT complains what is offered is poorly written. I do not recall seeing any counter proposals or negotiations from the KMT.

Yes, that last is the clue -- the KMT is simply serving Beijing. If they really felt something was wrong, nothing is stopping them from coming up with their own bill. But the deadlock demonstrates where the KMT's real loyalty lies. Formosa Online also blogged on the legislature:

The opposition are mostly comprised of the so-called 'Pan-blue' parties, lead by the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT). Ever since the Chinese Nationalist regime lost power after a period of more than half a century of authoritarinism, they have been opposing almost every measure of the 'Pan-green' parties, most significant of which is the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) in power at the moment. On TV, in the printed media, daily abuses and scandals of one another are revealed and thrown at one another. Politics here is thus a show, a reality soap of good actors, actrices, who use eloquent and sometimes vulgar language to sting at their opponents or hug their allies...a dramatic stage of infighting, of tears, envy, blackmail, of victories and sweats, of life and of squanders. And the hordes of reporters, journalists, paparazzis, 'analysts' add to the special effects, to give the audience the dazzle, the glitz, the shock and despair of their lifetimes. A colourful zoo, of elected representatives, channeled to our very homes and work places, to our bedrooms, eyes and ears.

Yes, that's right. It is a damned shame.

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Ryan at the Lost Spaceman sketches some local history in a post on a famous local landmark. I love this kind of stuff:

Sitting atop Mei Luen Mountain, the eccentric Pinetum Hostel (26 Shueiyuan St.) is one of Hualien’s most enigmatic historical sites. Built in 1943, it was built among the pinewoods alongside several important broadcasting towers. During the Japanese occupation, it served as a naval administration center and strategic lookout for the occupiers.But it was its other function that has drawn visitors year after year.

Ryan is putting out a local newspaper too, in addition to having an actual life, which is more than I can say.

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The New Hampshire Bushman continued his tea travels....

Hui-Chen, I and our guest when to Sanyi last night to look in the multitude of woodworking shops for a nice tea service. Also called a tea tray, these services are not only functional, but extremely beautiful works of art. We do not really have a place in our apartment for it yet, so for the time being its sitting on a low bookshelf. These are some quick shots I took so you could get an idea of the size and shape. I will do some followup shots once its properly situated.

Tea is not really my thing, but I respect people who have arcane knowledge of any kind.

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Suitcasing muses on not having a job in Asia...

I think in the West we are not naive, but we are tremendously sentimental. We like to believe that the world runs according to our ideals, and when we see that it doesn't, we either pretend that it does or fume about why it should. I don't think sentimentality is really worth bringing with you if you are travelling to a place where life is harder and more uncertain and democracy is less than a generation old and corruption is so prevalent.

Many times in Taiwan, and in other places in Asia, it seems there is this willingness to look at the rough face of reality; to ask not, "Should I pay you?" but "What do I lose if I don't pay you"?

The difference between "high-trust" and "low-trust" societies.....

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Tea Masters tells of a tasting:

Teaparker recently had a tasting of 50 years old tea of its own. You missed it and have not tried my old baozhong either. Not a problem (if you live Taipei)! You'll have another opportunity to get a presentation and tasting (I guess!) of such teas at the red play house, in the youthful Shimending area, on September 25th from 2 to 4 PM.

*sigh* It would just be wasted on one such as I. And there's a protest that day, TM! Shouldn't be very well-attended, I think, so your tea tasting should prosper.

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Me from T@iwan blogs on blogging in Taiwan:

In addition to Blogger.com, there are a few places the locals here may use for blogging. Let me start with the MOST FAMOUS ONE, "Wretch" or in Chinese it's 無名小站, meaning a small site with no fame. The founder of Wretch, who was just a college student when founding the site, never thought it would become prosperous. Interestingly, its fame is completely contradictory to its name.
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SHORTS: Don't miss Keywords on Garrison Keillor. Reminds me of critic Russell Lyne's description of EB White as "the Eagle Scout of American letters" ...'Mr. White has won all the merit badges, his heart is pure, he can tie and untie complicated knots, and he knows the names and habits of beast and fowl and sprout and loves them all.' The Gentle Rant provides some humor about Barbara Bush. Some podcasting from Getting a Leg Up on tap. 35togo muses on gas meters and life without aircon (we haven't had it in years). a better tomorrow blogs on bowels. andres is packed with gorgeous pics, as always. Mesheel alerts us to a petition on the EU's drive to arm Taiwan. Iris at PiscesTiff offers somes photos of photogenic Hualien. Todd and Brook go paragliding in Wan Li. Peter, I'll be looking forward to your list of top ten photoblogs in Taiwan -- and you, Feli, to more blogging!


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10 comments:

Big Ell said...

Incredible! You know you have been in Taiwan a long time when you have witnesed the rise of not one but two groups called F4. Mind you the F4 girls appear to have much more talent than the now disbanded F4 boy band.

Michael Turton said...

LOL.

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