Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Referendums in the news

Happy New Year to all! Use the day off to peruse the newly uploaded back issues of Taiwan Communique from 1982 and 1983, or stand outside in this polar weather (current death toll: 22) to watch the Quandrantid meteor shower this week, peaking on Friday, but good viewing pre-dawn on 4th or 5th. Or you can watch Taiwan's favorite spectator sport, referendum flogging....

...this week the KMT said it would boycott the Jan 12 referendum on party assets.

"Referendums, as a sacred [democratic tool], have been twisted and kidnapped [by the DPP] and have become a tool to provoke conflict. Therefore, we sadly decided today to urge voters to boycott the [two] referendums [on Jan. 12]," KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) told a press conference.

"This is a very painful decision for us," he said.

Wu said the party did not rule out the possibility of boycotting the two UN-membership referendums -- one by the DPP to join the UN using the name "Taiwan" and the other by the KMT to "return" to the UN using the nation's official title "Republic of China" -- scheduled to be held with the presidential election on March 22.


It's always ironic to read the pious remarks of KMT bigwigs on democracy, since so many of them got to high places due to the KMT's own longtime opposition to it. In fact Wu Po-hsiung's uncle was murdered by the KMT, as I recall.

The March 22 referendum on UN entry, which the KMT is also considering boycotting, has been under a steady barrage of fire in the world media and from foreign governments, the latest pronunciamento coming from Japan. Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here produced a corrected version of the Japanese statement:

Japan has recently explained that it "does not oppose" the plan to hold a referendum on its bid for a seat in the UN under the name Taiwan, but hopes the referendum will not raise tension in the Taiwan Strait, a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Japan told the ministry that it will not support the planned referendum "if it leads [Taiwan] to take unilateral action to change the `status quo,'" said Huang Ju-hou (黃諸侯), chief executive officer of the MOFA Committee on Japanese Affairs.

Huang made the remarks in an interview in response to questions about Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's comment on the UN-bid referendum during a visit he made to China last week.

The comment drew international attention and speculation, with Fukuda reported to be opposed to the holding of the referendum along with the March 22 presidential election.


In addition to the use of referendums and boycotts, more and more this election is picking up themes from previous elections -- like allegations of corruption against leading candidates. In his article on the Ma decision, Max Hirsch of Kyodo had this set of misleading set of statements from Shelly Rigger, often quoted in the international media, on the Ma exoneration:

''Part of Ma's appeal has always been the widespread belief that he is personally clean, no matter what the rest of his party is doing,'' said Shelley Rigger, a Taiwan expert at North Carolina's Davidson College.

''A lot of his fans are saying, 'We told you he was innocent, and now the courts say so, too,''' Rigger said.

Although Hsieh ''has dodged a bullet with the special allowances indictments,'' numerous other cases continue to ''swirl around him,'' while Ma appears to be in the clear, she said. Prosecutors continue to investigate Hsieh's campaign finances and other graft allegations, according to local media.

A last-minute indictment of the DPP frontrunner could torpedo his campaign in light of Ma's legal victory, all but ensuring a Nationalist Party victory at the presidential polls next year.

''Overall, the lesson...is, using the judiciary to rough up your political opponents is risky, risky, risky,'' Rigger added.

Rigger apparently is unaware that corruption cases also swirl around Ma, with more still to come. But they are unnecessary. What we're doing here is flashing back to 2000, when Lee Teng-hui released the news that then frontrunner James Soong had allegedly skimmed millions and transferred them to the US. Soong would not be convicted -- no one is ever convicted -- but his image took a hit, and he eventually lost the election by 3% of the vote. Similarly, only the totally uninformed ever thought Ma would be convicted, and now only True Believers can imagine that Ma is not corrupt, for crucially, he admitted downloading the funds and using them for private use. Rigger appears to have missed the political import of that.

Further, Rigger's claim that using the judiciary to rough up your opponents is "risky" must be laughed at -- it cost the KMT nothing to hack on Soong in 2000, the attacks on Chen Shui-bian and his family over the last two years were very successful in damaging the administration and cost the pan-Blues nothing, and now, at no cost to the DPP, Ma has been shown to be just like everyone else (that was indeed his defense: everyone does it) and it is now a matter of public record. One also remembers more minor victims of apparent prosecutorial put up jobs, like Dr. Hsieh of the Tainan Science park sound damping system case. That too cost the pan-Blues nothing.....it is pure pro-KMT spin to see the Ma Exoneration as a DPP defeat.

Corruption revelations... boycotts of the referendum... referendums to bring out the voters... more formula from previous campaigns still to come.

9 comments:

Adam said...

Does it matter to local media that the KMT is boycotting the referendum they proposed themselves? Isn't that making a mockery of the whole process? What does it say to the people who went through the process of collecting all the signatures to put the referendum on the ballot to begin with?

STOP Ma said...

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Wu said the party did not rule out the possibility of boycotting the two UN-membership referendums

Surprise...surprise.

And if I heard correctly, the Election commission will, astonishingly, have 2 separate ballot boxes as they did in 2004.

So, it that is correct, the KMT will have the ability to effectively boycott these referenda by having this loss of anonymity with respect to whether people boycott the referenda or not. (we'll be watching you!)

This 2 ballot box process was heavily criticized by international democracy organizations in 2004. So why, oh why, are they doing this again?!!

Please tell me that I've misread what I've heard in the news recently, Michael.

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Anonymous said...

How much money do they each typicall skim from their Government accounts?

How much did Ma steal?

It would seem that all of the candidates, including the Pres. Chen Shue-bian, are crooked as hell.

marc anthony said...

Hear! Hear! Well said, Adam.

Some of my friends mentioned to me how outraged they are by the KMT telling people how to vote.

This could backfire on them, I think

Tim Maddog said...

Not only did the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) propose their own referendum (as Adam mentioned above) -- the referendum law itself is of their own creation:
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Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday said the newly passed Referendum Law (公民投票法) puts the power of the legislature above the people, infringing on democratic principles.

"The Referendum Law was passed by force by the old power [the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP)], pressuring and ignoring public opinion," Lee said at a reunion for former students of the Lee Teng-hui School, a political academy he founded.

"How could the legislature stand on top of the people? This is against the principle of the power of the people. This is an unacceptable law," he said.

Lee compared the law to the indirect elections that the KMT used to insist on using for presidential elections instead of direct elections.

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What a big change has come over that guy recently, BTW.

I know s/he will come up with another strawman, but to answer the anonymous commenter, the amount Ma admittedly pocketed is NT$11,000,000. Here's one back at you (borrowed from Michael): Can I steal your car if I donate US$20K to WorldVision?

Boycott the boycott! Watch the watchers! Pull back the curtain on the KMT's very undemocratic games!

Tim Maddog

Taiwan Echo said...

Michael:"In fact Wu Po-hsiung's uncle was murdered by the KMT, as I recall."

Yup.

Not only Wu Po-hsiung, the other helping hand of Ma, Wu Dun-Yi (吳敦義), his father was a victim of KMT barbarian regime too.

Both are Taiwanese, and are victims of KMT, yet both turned themselves into snitch to help those who persecuted their own family.

Wu Dun-Yi even even said that, since no murderer of the triple murder of 林義雄's family was found under the DPP government's investigation, the murder must be carried out by DPP's own people.

Taiwan Echo said...

stop ma: "This 2 ballot box process was heavily criticized by international democracy organizations in 2004. So why, oh why, are they doing this again?!!

Please tell me that I've misread what I've heard in the news recently, Michael."

The main purpose of KMT is to prevent Taiwanese from having the hobby of "direct democracy by the way of referendum".

By having two ballot boxes separating far from each other, KMT has the chance to interfere and discourage people from voting in referendum when they walk from the first ballot box to the next.

According to the referendum law passed by pan-blue's legislators, both those people who don't vote, and those who vote but cast a waste ballot, which we all know shouldn't be considered as either "for" or "against" the subject of the referendum, are all hijacked into "against the subject".

Therefore, more people they block from voting, more "against the topic" vote they will get.

KMT just can't stand to see Taiwanese enjoy democracy.

Taiwan Echo said...

adam:"What does it say to the people who went through the process of collecting all the signatures to put the referendum on the ballot to begin with?"

adam, ever doubt that those signatures are real ?

Since not much noise coming from the blue camp after KMT raped the endorsement of the referendum supporting by KMT itself, it seems to me that the signatures are most probably fake.

STOP Ma said...

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Taiwan Echo:

Exactly. I can't understand why there's not more of a stink over this. After the first referendum being hijacked in 2004, you'd think people would sort of wake-up.

Contrary to the words of the worst president of the United States of America:

"Fool me once -- shame on you. Fool me twice -- you can't get fooled again."

Apparently, they DID get fooled again.
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