Thursday, August 06, 2009

KMT Primary in Hualien: Local vs Central

Button up! Typhoon Marakot is slamming us this weekend. Offices in Taipei will be getting a typhoon day tomorrow. Which means my cruel and unusual deprivation of biking is being extended two more days. How will I survive this?

I'll tell you how: on the entertainment provided by local faction politics. The Taipei Times reported today that a local Hualien politician, KMT Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁), had been disqualified by the KMT's national organization from running for County Chief...
The KMT Organization and Development Committee yesterday contacted the local branch and said Fu, who has been found guilty in two different cases, is unqualified to represent the party in the Hualien County commissioner election.

The committee’s decision contradicted the branch integrity committee’s decision on Tuesday when it approved Fu’s qualification to join the primary.
What is it that Legislator Fu had done?
Fu was indicted on Feb. 2, 2000, for illegally speculating in Taiwan Pineapple Group stock in 1998.

In 2003, the Taipei District Court sentenced Fu to six years in jail, fined him NT$150 million (US$4.5 million) and deprived him of his civil rights for four years. Fu filed an appeal with the Taiwan High Court and on June 11 the high court sentenced Fu to four years in jail and a fine of NT$20 million. Fu appealed again.
I wonder why Fu is not in detention, seeing as how he owes big bucks and all. Oh never mind, stupid question.

KNN sheds light on this decision: why did the local chapter clear him to run?
The Hualian County Chapter ruled that Fu was eligible to run in the KMT Hualian County Chief Executive primary election because the crime Fu allegedly committed in his insider-trading case had not been listed in the KMT Clean-Government Regulations.
Thus, according to the KNN report, Sec-Gen Wu Den-yih said that Fu had violated the spirit of the "Black Gold" clause that is supposed to prevent the corrupt from running for office under the KMT banner. The Taipei Times notes that KMT regs also give the party the power to prevent someone from running if they feel the candidate might damage the party's reputation.

Just by coincidence, the central party organization, of a party now run by Chairman Ma, prevented local favorite Fu from running, just as Chairman Ma's good friend Minister Yeh stepped down to run for County Chief of Hualien. Where Fu is from.

It will be interesting to see whether Fu decides to leave the KMT and run as an independent, a common pattern in cases where the KMT has made the "Black Gold" clause stick.
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Anonymous said...

Did you see where Yeh said that he wanted to run to keep dirty politicians and DPP candidates from winning? After seeing the video of him and his crazy antics at the World Health Assembly, I knew there was something not quite right going on there. He is filled with hate and has no political sense; so one of Ma's top dogs openly admitting to the KMT being dirty, haha, about time. But it will bring Ma and him big problems.

The real crazy political news lately is Ma has come out as a completely incompetent executive.

First, the Maokong Gondola, built basically on a bare mountainside that gets heavy rains, is forced to shutdown. The reason it could be built at all is because Ma Ying-jeou decides he doesn't want to do an environmental assessment study to tell him what should've been obvious anyways--heavy loadbearing pylons on bare mountainsides in typhoon prone Taiwan are a bad, bad idea.

Second, the newly completed Neihu line has had so many problems. Why? Because instead of building a high capacity underground subway built according to international standards (compatibility between different companies), they built one of those proprietary airport automatic shuttle type deals. It was a completely improbable construction task: 1) the old Muzha line (proprietary system A) had to be linked up to the new Neihu line (proprietary system B), which had incompatible electrical systems. 2) the line is twice as long as the next longest 3) the trains use a wireless communications sytem that has never been tried anywhere else in the world before! 4) the whole line is supposed to be computer controlled (no drivers).

So despite the high risk of something going wrong, they went with an automatic computer system instead of conductors, who could fix problems as they are encountered.

And this was all completely wasteful as if you analyze light capacity subway lines, the return on investment makes them just completely unworth it. (Buses or your regular subway both get good returns, as long as they get the traffic they were designed for).

Take a deep breath and try to understand how crazy a feat Taipei City was trying to accomplish. And now, the main course, the motivation--because a proprietary light capacity rail system could be completed within Ma's term and a heavy capacity standards-based subway system could not.

Note that this is a decision that will cost Taipei in the future BILLIONS of dollars. No joke. This is really really bad and almost impossible to fix...

Third, the Xinsheng elevated expressway has been found to likely have been using the same glue that caused metal panels to fall from a tunnel in the Big Dig in Boston, even after the incident and the glue was already recalled. It's not 100% confirmed, but the construction company refuses to reveal the glue used.

Last, we don't even need to talk about the nightmarkets Ma destroyed by trying to enclose them in poorly designed buildings or underground. Ma's incompetence was known before he was elected president, but even the deep Blues now are going to have a hard time squaring away this image of an intelligent, learned Ma Harvard Ph.D. and the reality of a totally incompetent executive that takes dumb shortcuts for political expediency. This guy is a total scumbag. Billions of dollars down the drain so that he could proclaim Neihu as his political accomplishment. He didn't even get it done in time and now all the problems are popping out under Hau Longbin's term. Unbelievable this guy, just unbelievable...

Michael Turton said...

Awesome comment...

...for some time I've wanted to add all this stuff up, thanks man!

Anonymous said...

All of Ma's lifetime accomplishments have been nothing more that vapor. They are as real and concrete as his oft repeated and never corrected title as "lawyer".

SY said...

Anon (10:04 PM),

Good summary! Appreciate the clear and helpful overview.

Taipei City will be in deep doo-doo for a long time; i.e. for as long as the KMT is ruling it. Like their twin in China, the KMT is about connections and how-to-make-most-money-from-the-trésor-public-while-you-can.

It will take a competent Taiwanese politician to clean it up. Frank Hsieh turned Kaohsiung's stinking mess (from the previous long term KMT rule) into a biker-friendly city full of greenery and culture.

Yet, it will take a long time for the Taipei citizens to be willing to hand their city to a Taiwanese. The Taipei residents are too "high-class" to do it soon.

Anonymous said...

Note that this is a decision that will cost Taipei in the future BILLIONS of dollars. No joke. This is really really bad and almost impossible to fix..

It'll actually cost Bombardier billions. If they don't get it running at 98% efficiency within one year, they don't get paid. Taipei city might actually make money.

Carlos said...

As a practicing structural engineer (but not licensed – I’m taking the exam in a couple of months), I’m going to step in and say that the Xinsheng elevated freeway controversy might be way overblown.

First of all, it’s not a big deal when a small batch of a certain product is recalled. No one stops using that product entirely, that would be silly. Furthermore, Sika (the company in question - a good one in my experience) probably wouldn’t contact the city directly nor should they be expected to.

The city isn’t their client… if I were designing a project for a city, I couldn’t tell a contractor, “Thou shalt buy Sika epoxy adhesive!” That would be single-sourcing. No, I write in my specifications that they have to use an adhesive which meets so and so requirements, and I can even suggest that they use the Sika. Then the contractor chooses any product that meets the specs, runs it by me for approval, and buys it. Sika wouldn’t know that the city was using their product, so they’re not responsible for telling the city about recalls. They’re only obligated to tell their direct clients (retailers), who have to tell their clients (contractors). The next line of defense is for the city’s engineers to hear about the recall before approving the contractor’s choice of products, but engineers don’t spend time researching that sort of thing.

Second, the epoxy adhesive in the Xinsheng case is a good product if you’re not using it to hang things upside down. That was the problem at the Big Dig - the designers made a mistake in specifying that particular product for that application, and the contractor didn’t install them all that well either. Ever since the Big Dig accident, we don’t use any epoxy adhesives for sustained tension loads, even though certain adhesive formulations are probably okay for it.

But for earthquakes and typhoons (intense, short-term loads), epoxy adhesive is excellent. According to the China Post article, it was used to widen bridge cap beams and prevent them from shifting horizontally. In those situations, epoxy dowels (rebar in epoxy adhesive) are not only normal – they’re the default option. And even if it turns out the adhesive was part of the recalled bad batch, the calls to demolish the whole thing are ridiculous. You can leave them in and just install new ones.

Dixteel said...

Wow, very nice summary, anon.

"Unbelievable this guy, just unbelievable..."

What is more unbelievalbe is that this guy got elected as the mayor of Taipei city not once, but twice. What is even more shocking is that he got elected President of Taiwan...with what...70% of the vote? HOLY SMOKE.

Now there are a lot of evidences that Ma and KMT recieved huge donations from the construction company that did the Neihu MRT line and Xinsheng elevated expressway, which could be part of the cause of all these problematic construction.

Truely a miracle.

Anonymous said...

@Carlos: Appreciate that, that was informative. I don't know about what adhesive should have been used and what the problems would be if they used it, but if it's okay, then I still have a really hard time understanding why they don't come out and give an explanation about it instead of trying to hide the cans and refusing to reveal if it was really used or not.

On why there are calls to tear it down--that is because the entire project was controversial even before it was started. There is, even now, a covered dyke underneath most of Sinsheng South Road. There were calls to restore the river and reroute traffic instead of building the elevated roadway. This is supported by almost all of the local chiefs along Sinsheng South Road.


Better check those numbers. The president was elected with about 58% of the vote, no where near 70%, though still high.

Anonymous said...

Not only does it rain inside of the Neihu subway cars, even the platforms get rain. Sound a lot like how the Maokong Gondola, a system designed for the mountains of Europe, contained no air conditioning and only later were retro-fitted with fans.

Other Anon: It'll actually cost Bombardier billions. If they don't get it running at 98% efficiency within one year, they don't get paid. Taipei city might actually make money.

98% efficiency? Hau said 99%, but do you have any idea how low 99% efficiency is? Other than that mishap day before yesterday, one mishap a day and they are already at 99%. Also, there was supposedly a 6 month test period in the contract that Taipei City chose to ignore. Hearing this stuff makes you want to pull your hair out, their incompetence is just so hard to believe.