Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Odds and Ends

How about that smoking ban? Draconian, and citizens can turn each other in for a few extra bucks! I'd like to thank the government for saving us from indoor smoke, the last health threat since illegal trash burning, factory toxic emissions, oversized automotive engines, and coal-fired electric plants have all been eliminated here.

Speaking of the environment, the EPA is insisting that people take seriously its proposed rule that scooters turn off their engines at stop lights, then start them up again when the light turns green. This brilliant idea is actually up for expert review, despite overwhelming objections to it.

Fun fun fun as once again, our longtime anti-democracy President Ma Ying-jeou and mass murdering authoritarian Chinese President Hu Jintao are linked to a Nobel Peace Prize. The idea is parodic, but Taiwan News points to the hollowness at the core of the claim to cross-strait "peace" in the making:

Where a genuinely cross-strait peace process would end could be an open question, but any process that would have legitimacy in today's democratic Taiwan must begin with recognition that the majority of the Taiwan people still want peace with assent and without coercion, with democracy and without repression and with creativity and without preconditions or predetermined conclusions.

Indeed, any "peace" arranged by the KMT and CCP behind the backs of the 23 million Taiwan people will not "end hostilities" but is likely to trigger considerable domestic unrest within Taiwan and could even pave the way for genuine and drawn-out conflict throughout East Asia in the future.

Such a "peace" will not be "honorable" and Hu and Ma will be no more deserving of Nobel Peace Prizes than would have been Hitler or Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Premier Edouard Daladier, whom as leaders of "democratic" nations, reached agreement with the "rising" Germany's dictator over the heads of the democratic Czechoslovakian government and its president Eduard Benes to expedite annexation disguised as "peace with honor."

In our view, if Hu truly wishes to be known as a "peacemaker," he should first dismantle the 1,400 missiles and other offensive weaponry deployed across from Taiwan, revoke the belligerent Anti-Secession Law, cease opposing Taiwan's membership in all international organizations and drop the "one China principle" as the precondition to talks.

For his part, Ma should consult with opposition parties and civil society representatives to formulate a domestic consensus strategy for formal talks with the PRC, affirm that the result of any talks must be ratified by national citizen referendum in Taiwan and reaffirm his opposition to the coercive Anti-Secession Law, cease the illegal KMT-CCP "dialogue" and halt unilateral "deregulation" measures that would lock Taiwan into the PRC economy and hollow out the Taiwan people's right of free choice.

Submission is not "peace." When they gave away the Czechs to Hitler in '39, they engendered there broken treaties, burning cities, and 50 million dead -- all the result of "peace with honor" -- and China has territorial claims on all the nations around it, some relatively legit, some completely fanciful. But today's fancies are tomorrow's headlines....

On Jan 9 last week, FAPA sent this around:
"...during the first week of the new 111th Congress, long-time Taiwan supporter Rep. John Linder (R-GA) introduced a resolution urging the Administration to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Similar resolutions were introduced in 2005 and 2007 by then Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who has since retired from Congress. Additionally, the resolution calls for end to the U.S. One China Policy and Taiwan's full membership in international organizations.
Ah, we can dream. But as a dream it makes a nice antidote to the unreality that has pervaded the Bush Administration's self-congratulatory horse manure on the Loch Ness Monster Bigfoot Status Quo.

Two legislative moves: first, the Taipei Times headline said today that our legislature stirred from its lethargy long enough to pass a bill legalizing gambling in the offshore islands.
The amendment stipulated that local governments must hold a referendum before building casinos.

The referendums would only need to win support from more than half of the voters participating in the referendum.

The bill stipulated that casinos be located within international resorts that include an international hotel, tourism facilities, international conference halls and shopping malls.
It also called for the government to create a US$900 million fund for island development (read: spraying concrete across precious natural resources while supplying central government funds to local patronage networks). The usual suspects protested, including the Catholic Church, busy protesting against other people's gambling while operating Bingo halls. Gambling in the Penghu is just more of the Cargo Cult dream that uncountable hordes of Chinese are simply standing there in Fukien in long lines from the coast, holding wads of cash just waiting to invest here and "save Taiwan." The legislature also approved the free trade zone at the airport. The new law allows foreign labor but prohibits Chinese labor, something that many feared it might permit. Aborigines, staunch supporters of the KMT, took it on the chin, of course. UPDATE: Penghu, longtime KMT country, has already scheduled a referendum for mid-year.

Two links you should be looking at. First, the redoubtable and always excellent Brian Kennedy has a long piece in this month's AmCham Topics mag on the prosecutors. It appears to be a direct response to the recent letters that scholars have published condemning the apparent politicization of the prosecutors here. It is useful and informative, but does not directly grapple with the issue of politicization of the prosecutorial function in a substantive way. For example, anyone remember the press conference called by eight prosecutors to claim that they would follow the Chen case to the end, as good as a promise to prosecute Chen Shui-bian no matter what the evidence? UPDATE: Speaking of politicizing the prosecutors -- this is unbelievable -- for the 63rd annual law day, the prosecutors' office staged a skit that looks an awful lot like it was slyly aimed at Chen Shui-bian, with prosecutors playing the parts. My man Taiwan Echo has a description and vids on his blog. Words fail me. UPDATE 2: News report is here (Chinese) UPDATE 3: Taipei Times article.

Also, in case you haven't heard of it, the Reed Institute at the U of Oregon has a fantastic collection of 19th C Taiwan imagery and writing.

Finally, the Taipei Times had a piece on the revival here of Democrats Abroad. If you are not yet a member, sign up for the Taiwan Group at Dems Abroad and come to the organizational meeting on Jan 17 at Larry's Pizza (2 pm). Only registered members at Dems Abroad will be allowed to vote in the organizational elections. We have a fantastic slate of candidates for supervisory positions, although I may be biased, since I am one of them. Once you register at the website and log-in, you can get info on all the candidates.


Anonymous said...

"How about that smoking ban? Draconian, and citizens can turn each other in for a few extra bucks! I'd like to thank the government for saving us from indoor smoke, the last health threat since illegal trash burning, factory toxic emissions, oversized automotive engines, and coal-fired electric plants have all been eliminated here."

Amen, brother, coming from someone that doesn't smoke, the ban is ridiculous in its scope, in the fines...

Look, I'm all for people paying for healthcare caused by purposeful damage to themselves, but come on...

"Speaking of the environment, the EPA is insisting that people take seriously its proposed rule that scooters turn off their engines at stop lights, then start them up again when the light turns green."

The problem with high level gov't officials (well actually from mid-level up) is that they don't fucking drive themselves. They all have drivers and a gov't car. They have no fucking clue what it's like to take public trans or ride a scooter.

The amount of pollution and energy waste that's going to be caused by scooter accidents from people turning off engines at stop lights and the engine not starting up right away again (and getting hit from behind) is much greater than anything you'd save from turning off at stoplights. Idiots...

I am hopping mad.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you ever tried what you are so eagerly critisizing - scooters engines. I have been doing it with my bike for some time and decreased the gasoline usage a lot.
as far as I know, the Swiss have been doing this since the 80s (based on government research and suggestions)with their cars etc.

Anonymous said...

Dear Taiwan bloggers,

Thank you for your correspondence about your
criticism of GlobalPost.com news site over our decision to present coverage of Taiwan in a
section called "China and its neighbors." Without giving Taiwan its own country link. As we did for Japan and South Korea.

In our effort to explain a complex
world to our audience, we have grouped some countries together where it is
practical to look at certain areas across national borders. As you will see
on our site, GlobalPost.com, we are also packaging coverage of "Russia and
its neighbors" and "Israel and the Palestinian territories." There is no
political meaning behind these decisions, but a sincere attempt to try to
cover the region. Most news organizations have no correspondent in Taiwan,
but we have a very talented one, Jonathan Adams, and are dedicating
ourselves to thoughtful coverage from Taiwan. Jonathan Adams is a highly
credentialed journalist and has covered China and Taiwan since 2002. He has
served as Newsweek's Taiwan correspondent and has also contributed to The
New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Far
Eastern Economic Review, Newsweek Japan, Asia Times, the South China Morning
Post and others. He's covered two Taiwan elections and filed on topics
including the cross-strait military balance and China's nuclear weapons
buildup. We encourage you to visit our site often, check out our coverage
of Taiwan and weigh in. We welcome all points of view, but We do ask that
you refrain from using profanity when posting comments.


Rick Byrne
Director of Communications & Marketing

Michael Turton said...


I didn't write you! But thanks for the comment.

I think the problem was that your site has no mention of Taiwan as a separate entity even inside the China region.

Rick, as far as coverage, all the major news orgs have a person here. AP has three, Reuters two, Kyodo one, BBC has a couple, etc. Adams is a first-rate reporter and you are fortunate to have him working for you.




Sorry, that anony-mouse post last night was not from Rick, it was from *me here, dannyville, just wanted to let u know what the GlobalPost was telling me in their response to my letter. I called them up by phone last night and left 3 voice messages becauyse he was out of office, probablly eating nice lobster dinner in Boston.....

Upshot so far is this: they have decided to keep Taiwan as part of this new country called "CHINA AND ITS NEIGHBORS"....and will not change their mind unless they get gobs of emails from Taiwanese locals in either English or Chinese. As you and everyone else knows, these map gaffes happen all the time and will always happen, and as soon as one map is corrected, another faux map appears, so it is never ending. But in the meantime APPLE DAULY and LIBERTY TIMES are on to this story now and i gave them your name for a quote or two, of they call or email. It's not a story for Rueters or AP because nothing really happened yet...IF the paper in Boston decides later to cahnge its ploocu and give Taiwan is own place on its guide, then it might be a Reuters story, but for now it;s just local news, let's see what APPLE DAILY and LIB TIMES do with it. But of course, agian, as you have told me many times, this stuff is old hat, it never changes, but it doesn't hurt to lodge quiet protests and see if the bloogpshere can change their minds in Boston, cradle of liberty that it is....or was....



PS: Jonathan Adams is their Taiwan stringer here, and he is an excellent reporter so he will file good reports of course. The problem is not the content, but the way the website is designed to keep Taiwan in China's fold under this silly name of "China and its neighbors", which means HK Macoa and Taiwan....but Japan and Korea get a free ride....SMILE.....

see the listing here:


****China and its neighbors
South Korea

Anonymous said...


Um, I don't know what kind of scooter you drive. My guess is you only have experience with one scooter, and it's relatively new. If it's not, and you're doing that in Taipei you're nuts. Just because you're endangering your safety doesn't mean that everyone else should to. What happens if you don't start? In fact, you endangering your own safety also imposes a burden on everyone else of trying to see if you've stalled in the middle of an intersection.

I'd only consider doing it if I were driving a newer engine with an electronic fuel injection. If not, especially in this cold weather, you are just nuts. How much gas do you think you'll save if you damage your scooter and the cost to whoever hits you or plus possible medical bills, etc.? What's the carbon cost of that?

The key to reducing scooter pollution is to get rid of all the old 50cc engines and to replace older scooters with EFI scooters. The amount of pollution released by them is like amazingly high (something like 10-100 times worse than a clean engine). Remember that 50cc scooters simply burn away their motor oil in mix with the gasoline; it's not changed!

The question then is who should pay-- my answer is the government, since almost anyone driving a 50 is not well off economically. Another approach, the kind that Ma Ying-jeou's government apparently favors, is to ban it outright and fine the crap out of people. Either way, it would seem to be a much more direct and safer way of reducing pollution than some idiotic penny-pinching scheme to turn off engines at red lights.

Anonymous said...

Brad Setser has a new post up comparing Taiwan and Korean exports (Jan11): This really doesn't look good ~ maybe worth a look.

Anonymous said...

i do have a new heavy motorbike, indeed.
i am certainly not nuts (even it were an older one)

Anonymous said...

Damn the smoking ban. What's next? Closing time for the bars? Just what will the government do next to take away our rights to relax?! Smoking is the national pastime so there had better be some laws for the stinking betelnut chewers and their associated jizzle and nut debris that they eject at will.

Regarding the scooter law, why not just enforce better emissions on scoots, cars, trucks, buses, and factories and do the legwork to make "smart" traffic lights and use GIS to coordinate the lights together?

I used to have a scooter that would die at lights unless I gave it gas. I was embarrassed then but now I realize I was a trend setter.

Anonymous said...

richard: not to beat a dead horse, but again, you are endangering other drivers around you, and if you have any sort of consideration for those around you, i urge you to reconsider. you could cause a serious accident if you stall.