Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The news this week.....

Several of my friends sent me this Reuters piece hosted by The South China Morning Post today, with the most charitable descriptor being "laughable". It said:
About 47 per cent of Taiwan's public supports Ma's performance and 68 per cent back his efforts to improve relations with the mainland, the autonomous but government-backed Research, Development and Evaluation Commission found in a survey this month. Surveys earlier in the year by a range of institutions had put his overall approval rating at between 20 and 30 per cent.
The RDEC.... is not an "autonomous but government backed" organization. It's a government department, a cabinet level agency of the Executive Yuan of the ROC, and it is one of the most important government agencies you have never heard of. Its head is titled "Minister" and it is a key developer of Taiwan government policy related to governance. The intro page is here. It says:
The Research, Development and Evaluation Commission was established in 1969. It serves as a staff organization for policy coordination and integration for the Executive Yuan. Specifically, RDEC is responsible for policy research and development, policy planning, policy supervision and evaluation, government’s IT management, circulation of government publications, archives and other tasks assigned by the prime minister.
RDECs are found at most of the higher government levels. For example, here is the Taipei city government RDEC. They are quietly influential -- in fact, one of President Ma's former posts during his grooming for the presidency was RDEC head. I'd write Reuters, but I have found from experience that it is pointless to communicate with Reuters' editors about this error since clearly, by virtue of being appointed editors someplace distant from Taiwan, they know far far more about Taiwan than Cheeto-fueled, troglyditic, pajama-clad bloggers who have lived here for the better part of two decades and have access to Google. So I'm not going to bother. Did I mention that I have worked on several occasions for the RDEC?

More interesting is Reuters' use of this poll, which appears to be rather high -- it has Ma's satisfaction rating essentially doubling. At least the article attempts to contain some balancing information that alludes to political pressure on the RDEC. Curiously, the RDEC seldom conducts polls on Ma's satisfaction ratings -- the last one was in June of 2009, as far as I can tell, and was at 52% much higher than the Global Views survey conducted at the same time (40%). Note that June of 2009 was a dead cat bounce for Ma; the slump continued before and after that month. Further, their May 2010 survey found 38% giving 6 or above on a 1-10 scale to cross-strait policy. Probably those poor ratings were given just because the government was too slow in signing ECFA, eh?

Also on tap today was Joshua Keating's sorry excuse of a piece on corruption in the world's democracies. It not only takes seriously the KMT fantasy that Chen Shui-bian attempted an assassination on himself (no qualifying information there) but also has Chen on that list without any qualifying information about the politics involved. At least Keating mentioned Ma's case -- but even that was silly -- relative to an island of institutionalized construction-industrial state corruption, neither man's alleged crimes are very great. Keating also writes on several other leaders of nations where institutionalized corruption is rampant but somehow manages to avoid the construction-industrial states of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The sad part was that I knew when I clicked on it that I'd (1) I'd find Chen there but (2) no mention of Taiwan's extensive institutionalized corruption. Pieces like this pick Chen or Sarkozy because they are easy targets. Sad.

Argh. You can write a piece like this when the very first nation on the list is the US, where the last two Administrations have protected Wall Street. Whatever Chen Shui-bian or Sarkozy or Berlusconi did, they didn't blow up the world economy and send millions into joblessness, bankruptcy, and an early death -- and then get paid for it. But that's not corruption. That's just business as usual.

Ma appeared at a funeral today and sent gales of laughter through Taiwan's society by announcing that today was his 60th birthday, and he was gratified to be there with all the mourners to mourn for Taiwan's music master Huang Yo-Lee. No comment necessary.

Finally, Taiwan News had another ripping editorial that properly lambasted the DPP for its ridiculous behavior in launching another brawl in the legislature:
Far more effective would have been alternatives of non-violent direct action, such as a silent legislative "sit-in" or a more active "speak-in."

The absurd scene of KMT legislators surrounding the Speaker's podium to defend Wang, especially if an assault never occurred, would have far more clearly exposed the KMT's arrogant and undemocratic handling of the ECFA review, while an organized "speak in" could have provided news reporters and citizens with the DPP's views on what is wrong with the ECFA and its underlying strategy and what the DPP's alternatives are.

Such non-violent direct action options would have sent a far louder message to Taiwan's citizens and restored DPP's image as a party that was both resolved to defend democracy and the interests of the majority of Taiwan's people and intent on the principle of non-violence.

Indeed, by doing what the KMT wanted it to do instead adopting its own positive action, the DPP showed that it had failed to appreciate the needs of the most important audience, namely the Taiwan electorate and especially citizens who are as yet undecided in their verdict on ECFA or have yet to decide how they will vote in the critical Nov. 27 municipal mayoral elections.
Speak it, bro!
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Tommy said...

Another good idea: Hold a solemn event, attended by the press, where every DPP legislator says two or three sentences about how the ECFA negotiation and approval process will harm Taiwan or expressing their love for Taiwan. A candlelight vigil would be even better. They are not common in Taiwan. A vigil attended by only a few thousand people would probably be a great photo-taking opportunity for the local media.

Klaus said...

In April, after another brawl in parliament, I asked Tsai Ing-Wen if obstructing parliament’s work really is the kind of image for Taiwan’s opposition she would like to project abroad.

Her answer was quite long and can be read here:

Anonymous said...

What makes you think the top-brass of DPP is really against ECFA?