Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gangsters in the news

Apropo to the post below this one, ESWN, the popular Sinospheric tabloid, had a double whammy today, sex & nudity on a blog, and a massive gang funeral. Guaranteed to titillate the most jaded news palate (just me being jealous -- imagine what my university would do if that much T&A showed up here....). The funeral naturally took place in my homeland of Taichung, a place well known for gangsters sun cookies, gangsters sporting goods manufacturing, gangsters and the island's best weather gangsters gangsters gangsters. As reported by AFP, it was attended by all the best people:
The funeral of a leading Taiwan crime figure is expected to attract more than 20,000 people, including senior politicians and members of Japan's mafia, organizers say.

Lee Chao-hsiung, who died of liver cancer last month at the age of 73, will be laid to rest on April 26 in Taichung in the biggest funeral in years for a member of Taiwan's underworld.

The mayor of Taichung, Jason Hu, who is a former foreign minister, will also be at the funeral.

An assistant to legislator Yen Ching-piao [see post below this one! -- MT], a member of the funeral organizing committee, said at least 20,000 were expected to attend the ceremony.


Parliamentary speaker Wang Jin- pyng and Liao Liao-yi, chief secretary to President Ma Ying-jeou, are both listed as members of the same organizing committee, the China Times said.
Funerals of major crime lords attended by major politicians -- that's normal. Presidents have attended gang funerals here. And who can forget Wang, Soong, and Ma Ying-jeou His Ownself showing up at the wedding of Yen Ching-piao's son in 2006?

ESWN quotes a piece on the seating arrangements -- not enough room, so each gang sent 300 of their most imposing members, all neatly dressed.

After I wrote yesterday's piece a friend flipped me this CNA report on an enterprising gang in Tainan that also mixed religion, politics, and organized crime. A member of the Bamboo Union gang, it appears, set up a Buddhist Temple in Tainan, and made another gang member the temple director. The deputy speaker of the city council was honorary head of the organization he set up. The organization used the establishment as their base for debt collection, engaging in violence and other illegal actions. Eventually the police busted up the operation.

Someday I am going to be able to write a post on Chinese culture as a "two worlds" society, where nearly every formal system (schools, lottery, banks, firms, politicians) is mirrored by a corresponding gray one (cram schools, Mark 6,underground banks, organized crime gangs, crimelords).
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D said...

"Two worlds" is a brilliant idea. Would make a great t.v. show, too.

At the top of the ESWN link you provided there's a story about a fracas in the legislature over taking mainland students in Taiwan. Have you or anyone else written about this? Is the objection to mainland students coming to study per se, or is it just regarded as being an incremental step towards bringing China and Taiwan closer, and therefore to be resisted? I don't quite understand the issue.

Michael Turton said...

I noticed the Chinese student thing just now. The bill is part of a long-term KMT/CCP strategy to flood the island with Chinese, but also dovetails with university needs, since 1/3 of the universities are expected to close due to a lack of Taiwanese students. The DPP objects to it because it is part of the annexation strategy, because the students will remain here and take jobs away from locals, and so on. Further, many of the Chinese students will receive government subsidies. Ad the universitie really need to close. There are way too many.

I think everyone is going to be surprised when the numbers disappoint, and Beijing will probably have to intervene to provide incentives to get the warm bodies here. Chinese unviersities on the whole are better than local universities, and the Chinese know that. And if you are Chinese and have money to study overseas, why would you pick Taiwan?


D said...

"The bill is part of a long-term KMT/CCP strategy to flood the island with Chinese..."

That's a dark, dark view. The bright one: mainland students (you're probably right about there not being very many) will come here, experience a society in which political freedoms are guaranteed, and see for themselves that Taiwan is not China, or at least that many/most Taiwanese do not see themselves as part of China (and especially not part of the PRC). At least some of them will get the point. They will go back to China expecting to acquire for themselves the political freedoms they saw here, and some actual first-hand experience of Taiwan will start to circulate in place of CCP-directed media.

Maybe not. But promoting "mutual understanding" across the Straits is a legitimate cause, not just a KMT strategy (even if they co-opt it as their strategy), and limited educational exchange seems like a reasonable way of pursuing it.

Anyway, I was just a bit shocked by that video in the ESWN report. I thought the Tea Partiers were bad...

Carlos said...

Yeah, I don’t see the big deal either. In fact I think Chinese students SHOULD be invited to Taiwan. You know the CPC will only allow the most loyal to go… i.e. the kind most likely to get belligerent about Taiwan’s status in front of Taiwanese students. I can’t think of a better way to convince young Taiwanese people that the threat is real.

Or if the Chinese students are reasonable ones, then maybe they’ll take something positive back to China. Either way, I don’t see anything to be scared of. The bill/treaty could include a numerical limit if necessary.

The DPP is still good at making themselves look bad every once in a while. It’s not as often as before, but they need to be more careful.

Anonymous said...

Why so gloomy?
Of course Chinese students will come here if the market is opened. To study in Taiwan, you don't need any English ability, you don't need as much money as other countries, and there are many excellent courses available. With the internationalization of higher education, you will also see students spending periods in both Taiwan and the West. It is not uncommon now to see students with an undergrad, masters, and PhD degree all from different countries Sure, the numbers won't be as big as Western countries, but then the market is so huge there is plenty of space for Taiwan to carve out a niche.
And I agree with the poster above that giving Chinese students a first hand view of Taiwan's democracy can only be a good thing.
One thing to remember. Over the last 20 years, contact between both sides of the Strait has increased exponentially. The same period witnessed a rapid growth in Taiwanese identity. The two trends are not unrelated. The DPP needs to grasp the opportunities available in China, instead of just seeing the threat.

Anonymous said...

Anon said: The DPP needs to grasp the opportunities available in China, instead of just seeing the threat.

Wrong, anon. The DPP in fact is quite aware of both the opportunity and the threat. They are far better negotiators than the KMT and their ilk in these matters, because they're making sure that they don't let the wolf in among the flock.

Also bear in mind that Chinese students won't OPT to come to Taiwan, but will be allowed to by their dictators in carefully doled-out quantities, similar to the tourists.

les said...

In the larger scheme of things, a few thousand Chinese kids getting the idea that democracy is preferable to a one-party state will make no difference to the outcome of this game. OTOH, tens of thousands of Chinese kids grabbing the jobs that are already hard fought for simply because they will work for less does nothing to improve living standards for Taiwanese. We know very well that these students will not leave after they graduate because the statistics in other countries that host them show the same trend.
They will come here rather than a Western country because the unis here will tolerate plagiarism instead of busting them, so they can carry on with the style to which they've become accustomed to.

FOARP said...

"Someday I am going to be able to write a post on Chinese culture as a "two worlds" society, where nearly every formal system (schools, lottery, banks, firms, politicians) is mirrored by a corresponding gray one (cram schools, Mark 6,underground banks, organized crime gangs, crimelords)"

Weird how it's "Chinese culture" when we're talking about local mafia shenanigans and "Taiwanese culture" when we're talking about local artists/musicians. You've got to admit that groups like the Bamboo union, although they're of mainland origin and are making major moves right now to expand on the mainland, have become very Taiwanese in character during their time on the island, part of Taiwanese life in a way that organized crime in most other places is not. One Taiwanese person put it to me like this:

在大陸警察就是黑社會, 在台灣黑社會就是警察!