Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vote Buying Mars Election

The Diplomat notes that Taiwan is one of the safest places in Asia Pacific -- I guess if you're not driving -- but for vote buyers, it is sheer heaven. Taiwan Today notes:
Prosecutorial agencies around Taiwan have accepted a total of 3,042 cases related to the special municipality elections held Nov. 27, the Ministry of Justice said in a news release Nov. 29.

A total of 183 people have been detained for suspected vote-buying and other irregularities so far. This compares with a figure of 198 prior to last year’s three-in-one elections, the MOJ said.

In addition, 12 indictments involving 36 suspects have already been handed down to date, according to the ministry.

The prosecutorial agencies have uncovered suspected vote-buying involving more than NT$39.24 million (US$1.27 million) in cash. The figure is more than three times the amount for the three-in-one elections and marks a record high in recent years, the MOJ said.

Obviously this only scratches the surface. Remember this:
KMT legislator Hsu Shu-po expressed a similar view, saying that there are only two kinds of votes that could affect election results overnight -- bought votes and sympathy votes.
The shooting of Sean Lien was quite useful.

Of course, anyone who wants to consider the election numbers must also factor in which party got what votes -- and which party engages in the most vote buying. But of course the KMT won the election, and the voters gave Ma a mandate for his China policy. In other news, Dewey trounced Truman....
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

More Election Commentary round up

It's quite wrenching to read the disjunct between what is being said around Asia about the election and what is being said in a tiny handful of western media outlets. VOA became the latest to promulgate the idea that the election results provide support for Ma's China policy:
Local election victories appear to have given Taiwan's pro-China Nationalist Party a head start in holding onto the presidency in 2012.

The Nationalist Party's victory in mayoral seats in three Taiwan cities gives it exposure that could be crucial to the presidential campaign in 2012.

Political analysts here say Saturday's election results indicate voters approve of the party's new economic links with China, despite political hostilities between Taipei and Beijing.


However, there are plenty of voters in Taiwan who worry the Nationalists will bring the island too close to Beijing. That was evident in the vote tallies: the Democratic Progressive Party overall won nearly the same number of votes in the five races as the Nationalists did.
It's fascinating to watch reconstructive surgery being performed on reality right before your eyes. The DPP won more votes overall than the KMT, not "nearly the same number.". [UPDATED: VOA has now fixed this particular error]. The vote results were, as Aussie scholar Bruce Jacobs noted in his recent interview (Jacobs also in Taipei Times today), disappointing to both parties, and far from giving the KMT a head start on 2012, appeared to damage its chances. Commentators on the island and around Asia regard it is a warning to the KMT. As the pro-KMT China Post noted in a discussion today:
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secured 400,000 more ballots in terms of overall vote-share than the KMT. Many pundits, and even KMT politicians, are viewing the results as a red flag for the party's China stance, because this is the second election after the 2009 local government race that puts the DPP's popularity ahead of that of the KMT.


In Hong Kong, several newspaper editorials dubbed the KMT triumph a “catastrophic victory” and urged the party to thoroughly examine the campaign and its overall performance.
Finally, unlike many commentators here and in China, VOA says that the results show that the public approves Ma's China policies. I don't understand how in a nation where no credible poll has shown majority support for those policies, and in an election where the opposition outpolls Ma's party by a 5% margin, these results can be read as supporting Ma's China policies. Heck, ECFA hasn't even kicked in yet. Again the pro-KMT China Post:
Many pundits, and even KMT politicians, are viewing the results as a red flag for the party's China stance, because this is the second election after the 2009 local government race that puts the DPP's popularity ahead of that of the KMT.
To understand how the election is being seen outside that tiny western media bubble, the Straits Times of Singapore, which is hardly a pro-Taiwan paper, had an extensive and somewhat glum discussion of the election.
Taiwan's ruling party Kuomintang (KMT) may have retained three of five seats in Saturday's municipal elections. But in terms of overall vote share, it lost to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) -- a sign for both the China-friendly KMT and Beijing to take heed.

In winning the three seats by slim margins and losing two by larger margins, the ruling party garnered only 45 per cent of all the votes -- lower than the DPP's 50 per cent.

It would seem that the goodwill displayed by Beijing and 'rang li', or 'granting of benefits', allowing an early harvest of cross-strait trade liberalisation efforts, have not translated into votes for the KMT and the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou .

The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ecfa) is due to kick in only in January, but liberalisation of some aspects of trade, including allowing mainland Chinese tour groups into Taiwan, has helped the Taiwanese economy to recover quickly from the global financial crisis.
The tourists from China have had a relatively small economic effect, and ECFA hasn't kicked in yet. The reason Taiwanese haven't felt any benefit from ECFA is because none has arrived; the current export boom to China is largely the result of policies put in place under the DPP. But never mind that. Clearly the Straits Times reporters didn't get the memo that the election ratified Ma's China policies. Quite the opposite, they see it as a notification that those policies are not working for ordinary people. Imagine that!

Meanwhile the "wisdom" of the DPP "elders" was on display this week as a few heavyweights within the DPP called on Tsai Ing-wen to resign. Although the DPP performance was disappointing in that it didn't get that third seat, there were many positive aspects, not the least of which was the powerful recovery the party has made and the big gains at the local level. The Taipei Times reported:

Despite the setbacks, most DPP lawmakers said they would continue to support Tsai, pointing to fairly substantial gains in the popular vote nationwide. The DPP caucus officially said it would speak against any proposals to remove Tsai from power.

“I don’t see the reason why Tsai should have to resign. There’s no reason at all and we all oppose it,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said. “If she were to resign, it would probably make President Ma very happy.”

Deputy caucus whip Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that if any member of the Central Standing Committee were to raise a proposal calling on Tsai to step down, the entire caucus would unanimously oppose the motion.

The DPP is in the midst of a generational transition, away from the activists of the glory days. Annette Lu, despite her pontificating at the beginning of the article, will never be let near a serious candidacy. Lin Yi-hsiung is out of politics. Hsu Hsin-liang and Shih Ming-te turned traitor. Chen Shui-bian is in detention and likely to stay, silenced. Of them only Chen Chu is still in office, having found her niche in K-town. Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-Chang are still around, but you have to wonder whether Su will take the high road and retire to the position of revered elder to help groom the next generation. He's relatively young, however, though the poor showing Taipei seems to have given his presidential potential a huge hit. Hsieh seems unlike to contend for any major position any time soon. Hopefully these calls to resign are simply echoes of this intergenerational and factional discomfort with handing the reins over to Tsai. Despite the breathless headline, the article actually indicates widespread support for Tsai.

I really respect the work Tsai has done for the DPP. The DPP needs her to stay where she is and continue to build the party toward 2012. This election, despite its disappointments, has boosted her credibility as a 2012 presidential candidate. At this point, a ticket with Tsai at the head and either Su Tseng-chang or the surprising Su Chia-chuan as Veep seems like a powerful ticket.

UPDATE: Don't miss J Michael Cole in The Diplomat's excellent take on the elections.
UPDATE II: David on Formosa comments.
Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Sean Lien and the Gang

After seeing my comment on the headline that Sean Lien, son of former Veep and KMT power Lien Chan, now claims the shooter said his name....

Lien's statement overthrew a previous claim made by the alleged gunman Lin Cheng-wei who said that it was a case of misidentification and that his intended target was Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Chen Hung-yuan, a candidate that Lien was stumping for.

“Lien said he clearly heard the gunman calling his name and swearing at him before being shot by the gunman,” said Hsu to reporters yesterday after he talked with Lien in the hospital.

Hsu added that Lien said, however, he could not recall what happened next, maybe due to his head injury. Hsu himself also confirmed Lien's statement, saying that he was also a witness of the shooting and had heard the alleged gunman calling Lien's name.

...my good friend Feiren, a sometime newspaper commentator and longtime resident, left the following comment on the post below....
Yes. And the plot thickens.

Lien told a high ranking KMT official that the shooter Lin Zheng-wei said 'Lien Sheng-wen, you are dead!' before pulling the trigger. Six other witnesses who were on the stage including cops supposedly have told police that Lin said 'Lien Sheng-wen, gan li niang' before shooting.

One of the witnesses, who seen grabbing Lin and preventing further shots, is now being identified as one Liu Zhen-nan (劉振南), now a 'businessman' in the Zhonghe/Yonghe area and the former head of the Bamboo Union's Ai Hall. He just happened to be on stage because he is good friends with the candidate Chen Hong-yuan. Chen and his father run a family construction business [gangster alert!] and the elder Chen used to be the deputy speaker of the Taipei County Council [gangster alert!]. As it happens, the Chen family is trying to develop the Guting market but not all the residents have signed up yet [gangster alert!].

So a known gangbanger shoots the son of a former KMT Chairman who is on stage to endorse a local candidate with links to organized crime. Then a known 'made man' in one of Taiwan's largest criminal organizations just happens to be on stage as well to stop the hit from being successful.

Even by KMT standards, this is pretty good stuff.
To which it should be added, the KMT politicians present instantly recognized the shooter and tweeted his name around. The KMT then went on to exploit this incident for its own political gain, as the Taipei Times observed. I don't think this is some kind of conspiracy. If the KMT had wanted to bump off Sean Lien to gain sympathy votes, they wouldn't have used a shooter whom everyone present would instantly recognize, and they wouldn't have done it in a place that would have called attention to the fact that many people on the platform with the son of a former KMT vice president were local gang members and connected people, at an obscure local rally out in what had been Taipei county.

I think what's really going on here is a diversion. The KMT wants this incident to focus on Lien, not to focus on the embarrassing fact that many local KMT party candidates are local gangsters or gang-affiliated individuals, from temple association members to connected businessmen to the gangster's wives, who run in their place. By making it about Sean Lien, the party draws attention away from its hideously unclean local connections.

It's good to know that President Ma is going to clean up corruption.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Photos from a busy week

On Wednesday night last week I went over to Legacy at Huashan Culture Park to see Chairman, the famous Taiwan band that was "basically Su Tseng-chang's house band" as my friend put it, during the recent election in Taipei. Here is a singer from one of the warm up bands.

Walking home.

The Linkou station on the new metro line that runs out of Taipei toward the airport.

My neighbor runs into me in the local market.

If there is a true miracle food, the humble potato is it.

Went hiking on trail 8 in Ta-ken the other day.

A local candidate greets people entering the market.

A lean-to where a local farmer rests.

My daughter and her teacher work on my daughter's latest masterpiece.

I know you've been pining away for spider pics.

My daughter's fellow students.

Taiwan may be the kingdom of the butterflies, but we have a lot of moths as well.

Lead guitar and lead singer of Chairman. ADDED: A commenter pointed out I didn't have any link to their stuff. Here's a vid on Youtube.

My son also enjoys painting.

Hard to believe we breathe this stuff.

A shrine on the trail.

You can get anything you want here. And if he doesn't have it, he'll run and get it for you.

Rockin' out the house on Wed.

Dongshih against the central mountain range.

Street cleaning.

A train pulls out of Fengyuan station.

Walking home.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen Press Statement on the election

DPP Chairman Tsai Ying-wen's statement on the elections:


“On behalf of the DPP, I would like to thank all the participants and our supporters in this election, as well as thank all the rest of the DPP party members. The results of this election were not as we hoped, but we humbly accept them.

“I would like to congratulate Mayor Chen Chu, Mayor Lai Ching-teh and all the winning city councilors, exhorting them to exert all their efforts in uplifting city governance and bringing a better livelihood for the city residents. I would also like to express our deepest gratitude to candidates Su Tseng-chang and Su Chia-chuan for bravely shouldering responsibility, achieving better overall DPP voter support and seats for our city councilors and strengthening our basic power during this the hardest period for the DPP. During their election process, they showed true democratic style and values, and it can be said to be a glorious defeat.

“I would also like to appeal to our supporters to accept the results in this election. We can understand everyone’s disappointment, but we can’t afford to be discouraged. We must see this result as a challenge and once again a test for the DPP. In this election, the DPP received more than 50% of the votes cast. Adding the results of this just concluded 3-in-1 election, the amount of votes received throughout the election areas ofTaiwan is comparable with the KMT. Additionally, the DPP received a great increase in the number of city councilors. This result is an achievement of our collective efforts. Therefore, do not believe that this is the end and everyone should not lose faith. The DPP will continue to fight on.

“The DPP this time remained rational and pragmatic in developing public policy for the livelihood of the people and the disadvantaged. This showed a different image of the party and political culture in Taiwan. For this reason, we feel extremely at ease. We definitely believe that this is a right choice, and we will continue to persist in our ideals until the DPP gains sufficient trust from the public.

“In the past two years, the DPP and its party members have walked through a tumultuous period of growth and setbacks. I know that in the near future, we will face an even tougher battle, but with the same faith and courage, I will continue to lead the DPP, firmly marching forward. Thank you!”

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Daily Links, Nov 29th, 2010

Medicine for those post-election blues.

Lots of commentary on the election out there.....

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

KMT takes 3 of 5, DPP gets more votes

It's hard to know where to begin with this election.

First, with the exception of Su Tseng-chang's defeat in Taipei, things went pretty much as I expected. Su Chia-chuan did extremely well in Taichung, but then DPP internals had him close. I did, however, expect things to be a lot closer in Taipei. Su's loss was a disappointment, but its magnitude was a defeat.

The local commentary on this election is excellent.....

Turning first to some of the analysis, Nathan Batto from Frozen Garlic had powerful and insightful review of events in, of all places, the rabidly pro-China WantChinaTimes. I quote:
The KMT won a majority of the mayoral seats, but it did not win a majority of the votes. In fact, the DPP nearly won a majority of votes, and its 49.9% outpaced the KMT by over 5%. To put this into context, the KMT won these same areas by a margin of 57-43% in the 2008 presidential election. The only time the DPP has gotten a higher percentage of votes in these five cities was in 2004 when the DPP got 51% and won the presidential election.

This year's elections covered areas with roughly 60% of all voters in the country. In last year's local elections, which covered all the other areas, the KMT won a narrow majority of the votes, 48%-45%.

Putting the two elections together, DPP candidates actually won more votes than KMT candidates. This is an enormous swing from the KMT's 58%-42% landslide in the 2008 presidential election. Granted, many of the votes that went to independent candidates in the 2009 and 2010 elections were drawn from the blue camp's pool of votes, but this is still a frightening result for the KMT.
The China Post, the pro-KMT English paper, made the same point:
Granted that large portions of swing votes were swung towards the KMT by the injuries former Vice President Lien Chan's son suffered in a Friday assassination attempt, it means the DPP could have even bigger potential in future elections.

Despite the defeat in Xinbei and Taichung, the DPP's strong performance in the two cities have actually come as a strong boost not only to the main opposition party, but also to its chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen personally.

Tsai, who lost to KMT candidate Eric Chu in Xinbei by only about 110,000 votes, has further established her leadership firmly in the party and will now have strong claims to the DPP's candidacy in the 2012 presidential race.

Since taking over the helm of a party that slumped to the nadir in the 2008 presidential race, Tsai has since managed to guide it to victory in several local and national elections.

She has also steered the party towards a more centrist platform that avoids political ideologies — particularly those thorny issues centering around the possibility and necessity of Taiwan's independence. The shift has apparently convinced many neutral voters.
The entire piece is basically a warning about the rising power of the DPP. Just as important as the DPP's lead in the overall vote count was the striking decline of the KMT in the city councils. Batto points out that in the previous city council election the KMT took 183 seats; this time around it took just 130. The DPP rose from 118 to 130, continuing its steady chipping away at KMT dominance in these areas that has been taking place over the last few election cycles. The Taipei Times reports:
Elections yesterday to select a total of 314 city councilors in Taipei, Sinbei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung ended in a tie between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), with each winning 130 seats.

Non-partisan or independent candidates garnered 45 seats in the five city councils, while the pro-unification New Party won three seats — all in Taipei City — the People First Party (PFP), another pan-blue party, won four. The pan-green, pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) took two seats.

Overall, 2,642,846 ballots (35.34 percent) were cast for the DPP, while 2,889,210 (38.63 percent) were cast for the KMT.
However, despite the "tie" in total numbers, excepting Tainan, the city councils remain controlled by the KMT and its allies. These councils, especially the Speaker position, are fonts of patronage funds to local factions allied to the major political parties, and control of them is essential in maintaining control of local political bases. Still, this augurs well for the future.

A couple of points. First, the amazing performance of Su Chia-chuan in Taichung. Su began light-years behind popular incumbent Mayor Jason Hu, and it is clear that if the election had been in two more weeks Su would have won. Su was parachuted into Taichung from down south and did not have local faction connections. He ran a low key, positive campaign that patiently chipped away at Hu's massive initial lead. Fantastic work!

That said, I am not as certain as everyone else that this represents a permanent gain for the DPP in Taichung. Recall that the Taichung municipality is being formed from a blending of Taichung county and Taichung city. Su's gains in Taichung stemmed in part from several not-to-be repeated factors. First, Hu ran a terrible campaign out in the county, partly because as the incumbent he simply didn't have the time. Will that really happen in the next election? Second, the outgoing county chief, a KMT politician, was accused of basically going AWOL from his job since his position was disappearing, hurting the KMT in the county. Third, some of the local factions out in the county and Hu had a falling out. With Hu now in charge of the flow of resources for local patronage jobs, expect relations to be patched up in many areas. Fourth, Su Chia-chuan ran a great campaign. Will the next candidate do that? How many times has even the same candidate had two excellent campaigns in successive runs for the same office? As always, we'll have to wait for the next election to see how stable all this is.

Here are some things to take away. Despite not winning major seats the excellent performance of the main DPP candidates had an across the board boost for the DPP at the local level. For example, the number of city councilmen wearing DPP colors rose from 16 to 28 in Taipei County/Xinbei as the DPP turnout was large (the KMT turnout was even larger) as a result of Tsai's excellent campaign (overall turnout was just over 70%). The million votes that Tsai got in Xinbei actually exceeded the number of votes Chen Shui-bian received in that same area in 2004.

And the shooting incident? KMT legislators are claiming that it gave the KMT a big boost. The CNA says:
Commenting on the election-eve shooting of Lien Sheng-wen, KMT Legislator Sun Da-chien said it certainly shifted the course of the elections and contributed to his party's narrow win.

Many KMT supporters who may have been reluctant to vote were shocked by the incident and empathized with Lien Chan's visible pain and agony after his son was shot, Sun said.

"We would not have secured the win without Lien Chan, " Sun said, adding that at least 3 percent of the KMT votes resulted directly from the shooting.

He however did not explain how he had arrived at that estimate.

KMT legislator Hsu Shu-po expressed a similar view, saying that there are only two kinds of votes that could affect election results overnight -- bought votes and sympathy votes.

"Taiwanese people are extremely nice, and it's very easy to get them to vote for the candidates by creating sympathy for them, " he said.

He said the media coverage of Lien Sheng-wen's shooting Friday helped bring unity to the KMT. Lien is not just anybody -- his father is a man who has a lot of connections and political influence, Hsu said.

Hung Yu-hung, a political commentator, said the shooting incident had a major impact on Saturday's elections, especially among undecided voters in Taipei who want greater stability.
To their credit, publicly DPP heavyweights have not blamed the shooting incident in public. I suspect its effect was not very great.

How you read the effect of the shooting incident may influence your analysis of Su Tseng-cheng's presidential hopes, which everyone says took a big hit as a result of the extent of his defeat. Tsai is clearly now a dominant figure, not merely the chairman, she has proved she can run an excellent campaign and get out the vote, as well as sweep DPPers into office on her coattails. Su Chia-chuan has also been catapulted into prominence. But the Presidential election is two years away, and anything can happen. Frank Hsieh is still out there, and the gods alone know what effect Chen Shui-bian will have on things if he is ever released. Once again, my heartfelt thanks go out to the KMT for muzzling him and making sure he could not disturb the focus on the DPP's future.

Finally, as I've noted before, the new municipalities are going to cause new factional and local party re-alignments as new resources pour into these communities and are distributed through the patronage networks. The KMT is utterly dependent on its relationships with local factions for its power base, but the DPP is also involved with them. Moreover, these new regional amalgamations will formally bring together local factions in regional political systems, local factions that KMT policy for many years kept apart -- KMT policy in the glory days was never to permit local factions to form large-scale regional and national relationships.

Antonio Chiang, the editor of Apple Daily, speculated in his paper that the new municipalities will lead to the development of new fiefdoms and new power bases. The new mayoralities are powerful positions -- recall that in the ROC administrative system, the municipalities are equal to provinces in their clout and their mayors are like governors of provinces. Chen Chu has already lead the way with independent diplomacy in her visit to China. Who will follow, and how?

ADDED: The rabidly pro-China WantChinaTimes says scholars in China are unimpressed by KMT performance:

Chinese scholars see the overall result of Taiwan's municipal elections as a victory for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) although the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) won three seats out of the total of five.

"Because the DPP won more popular votes than KMT (approximately 3.42 million vs. 3.09 million), the KMT lost in the end," commented Wang Jian-min, research fellow with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, arguing that the election result might lead to a slight revision in cross-strait policies to be more conservative.

Maybe Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou has moved too fast in terms of his cross-strait policies, Wang said, suggesting that Ma's more liberal acts toward China such as the signing of ECFA could be the main reason for the failure.

Wait...people in China see the election as signaling a lack of support for Ma's China policies. What about the western media?

Luckily for those of us needing amusement after the disappointing election results, the international media is still reporting from its bubble where (1) not even a single sparrow can fall in Taiwan without it being a portent for the cross-strait relationship and (2) all events, irrespective of their nature, confirm that Taiwanese really really love Ma Ying-jeou's cross strait policies. Let us consider the BBC, which states that the election results "are seen as an endorsement of the KMT's push for warmer relations with China." The Beeb, whose reporting "many see" as pro-China, notes:

The BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei says President Ma's pro-China policies have been controversial, but many see closer ties with China as necessary for the island's economic survival.[MT: Ma's ECFA agreement has never commanded majority support, as Cindy Sui noted in another BBC report, it is typically 40s-30s-30s for/against/no opinion.]

When the opposition DPP was in power, she says, tension between Taiwan and China ran high because the party favoured Taiwan's formal independence from China.[MT: China, of course, never causes tension. It has no agency nor ability to act on its own. Taiwan is the cause of all problems in the China-Taiwan relationship. Poor China, so put-upon by Taiwan's democracy. Also, the DPP does not favor formal independence "from China." The DPP favors independence, period and does not consider Taiwan part of China at present. In fact, it is the DPP's position that.... oh, never mind. I used to write the Beeb but soon found there was no point in it.]


The DPP did improve its share of the vote compared to the presidential election results in the same constituencies in 2008 and analysts say the performance of party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen in losing in Xinbei may give her some momentum for a 2012 presidential nomination.[MT: "improve its share" I'll be charitable and assume the Beeb report came before all the numbers were in. Yet it is hard to see how the Beeb could know the DPP share grew without knowing it exceeded the KMT's.]

This should be highlighted: since Ma's ECFA agreement has never commanded majority support in Taiwan, how can this election in which the opposition got more votes overall be read as supporting Ma's China policies? Apparently, if you write for the international media, it's not a problem. [ADDED: Bloomberg made same claim: the results in which most voters preferred the opposition supports Ma's policies. And also VOA! What earth are they living on?]. AP turned in a much better report.... the two opening paragraphs:

Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party won three out of five mayoral races Saturday, providing a boost for President Ma Ying-jeou's policy of improving relations with China ahead of the island's 2012 presidential poll.

But the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which wants to slow the process of reconciliation with the mainland, won about 50 percent of the overall mayoral vote, signaling that it will provide strong opposition to Ma's expected re-election bid — stronger by far than seemed possible only six months ago.

The slant is present -- what's going on is "reconciliation", China is "the mainland", Taiwan and China split in 1949 in AP's alternate universe. And of course, the election victories signal support for Ma's policies. That almost goes without saying. If the entire populace of Taiwan rose as one, drove to Taipei, had Ma drawn and quartered, burnt the ECFA agreement, and deported every Chinese citizen in Taiwan, somehow the international media would say that this showed support for Ma's China policies (I can see the headline now: "Taiwanese Express Anger at the Slow Pace of Mainland Reconciliation"). Nevertheless, despite the Establishment slant there is some excellent reporting in the AP piece. For example:
Acts of violence are uncommon in election campaigns in Taiwan, which began a gradual transition from a one-party dictatorship to vibrant democracy in the late 1980s. Violence by Taiwan's gangs is also limited, though they exercise considerable political influence, particularly on county governments.
How many international media pieces would include mention of the gangsterism at the local level? Kudos to AP. AP also took care to balance the "Harvard-educated Ma" with the "American and British-educated Tsai". Good work there too. The AP has a good focus on the emergence of Tsai and the DPP's growing strength for 2012, along with details on the DPP vote count:
The commission said the DPP's overall share of the mayoral vote stood at 49.9 percent, against 44.2 for the Nationalists and 5.9 percent for independents, compared to the 43 percent the DPP candidate garnered in the five constituencies in the 2008 presidential poll. Much credit for the comeback goes to party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who while losing in Xinbei — by about five percentage points — now emerges as a credible candidate for the party's presidential nomination in 2012.
Overall, it is has a commendable conservative tone and gives many important details. One outrage in the AP piece lies here:
In contrast, the DPP wants to slow the pace of economic convergence across the 100-mile (160-kilometer) -wide Taiwan Strait and would likely close the door on political dialogue with China's Communist government.
The DPP has never closed the door on political dialogue with China's Communist government; it is always interested in dialogue with Beijing. This kind of dramatic statement is simplistic and misleading.

One unusual report was from the DPA. Note its summary in the lead:
Taiwan's China-friendly Nationalist Party KMT won local elections Saturday, but analysts said the narrow margin of victory should be a warning to it.
That short article contains no mention of the effect of the election on the KMT's China policies. Clearly these guys have no future in international reporting.

The irony is that the election, as far as the KMT's China policies are concerned, is absolutely meaningless -- Ma will carry them out, as he has repeatedly demonstrated, whether or not they have public support. No doubt he can spin the 3-2 victory as a boost for KMT policies, at least to outsiders, so to that extent the international media reporting is right. But the reality is that Ma's unpopular China policies are one of the major drivers of the DPP's rebound.

It's been a long, long election campaign. I've become mentally exhausted just following it, can't even imagine what it must be like to have been involved in the campaign. There are plenty of positives -- the DPP is back and in fighting trim. It has a number of strong politicians and is clearly able to run savvy, successful campaigns despite its lack of resources. The party is looking strong for 2012. Good luck to them.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Election Day is here

Election day is here at last. Lovely weather today; I'll head out for a ride shortly. Visited some stations around here; as usual, the local brothers are out exhorting locals to vote for the candidate of their choice.

It doesn't seem very likely that the shooting last night will have any effect on the election. The 2004 assassination attempt on Chen Shui-bian by a disgruntled Blue supporter had no discernible effect on that election, despite claims by the KMT.

The gangland killing attempt on a local KMT candidate by the gangster supporter of a rival KMT candidate really ought to be a reminder to voters of which party is in thick with gangsters, but then that presupposes a whole range of assumptions about voter behavior which two decades of electing corrupt, gangster-backed and openly gangster candidates to public office really should have dispelled by now.

What it is a reminder of, however, is how easy it would be to knock off a politician who actually attempted to meaningfully interdict gangster influence over Taiwan society by locking up gangsters and shutting down their operations. One crazy guy with a gun could easily take care of the problem. Or professionals from China could be brought in, as they likely were when Taoyuan County Chief Liu pang-yu and several others were killed in a gangland-style massacre over a decade ago and in the case of the Taipei city councilman from the PFP, Wu Shan-chiu, in 2007. It is also a reminder that one of the most important beneficiaries of the ECFA sell-out deal is going to be the cross-strait gangster nexus. You won't see that in the international media, though.

Speaking of China, let me remind my readers that the CCP Empire's first aircraft carrier is the Shi Lang.
For eight years now, China has been tinkering with a half finished Russian aircraft carrier. Two years ago, this ex-Russian aircraft carrier, Varyag, was renamed the Shi Lang (after the Chinese general who took possession of Taiwan in 1681, the first time China ever paid any attention to the island) and given the pennant number 83.
But don't worry, everyone knows that "tensions" have been reduced. After all, the media says so, which means it must be true.

Go DPP! Make us a Christmas present of all five municipalities today.
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Sean Lien Shot

The shooting of former Vice President Lien Chan's son Sean Lien appears to be a local gangland hit in which Sean Lien was mistaken for the candidate. The Taipei Times reports:
Sean Lien (連勝文), one of former vice president Lien Chan’s (連戰) sons, was shot last night as he was campaigning for a Sinbei councilor candidate in Yonghe (永和), Taipei County. He was hit in the face and was rushed to National Taiwan University Hospital.

Yonghe police precinct said a 29-year-old man was also shot at the rally, but died on the way to a hospital.

In a press briefing at 10:05pm, the hospital said Sean Lien, was still undergoing surgery, but was not in a life-threatening situation. He was conscious when he arrived at the hospital, officials said.

Witnesses said a man burst onto the stage at Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilor candidate Chen Hung-yuan’s (陳鴻源) rally and fired a shot at Sean Lien shortly after he took the stage and as he was about to address the crowd. The bullet hit the left side of his face, eyewitnesses said.
For many, this reeked of the 2004 incident in which a KMT supporter took a shot at Chen Shui-bian. However this incident appears entirely local in nature. The gangster apparently mistook Sean Lien for his target -- they look somewhat similar.
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Pirates Put Taiwan Fishing Fleet in Mothballs

A New Zealand paper reports that Taiwan's fishing boats are idle due to Somali pirates:

Sixty-six of 141 vessels equipped to fish bigeye tuna "have ceased their operations due to the escalating situation," noted a document submitted by Taiwan to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT).

"The escalation of piracy ... has severely undermined the livelihood of the fishermen concerned and affected the legitimate operation of the industry," it said.

Since 2009, three Taiwan-flagged vessels and their crews have been hijacked by pirates from Somalia.

One, the Wen Fa No 161, was detained for more than 10 months and was released in February 2010 "only after paying a huge ransom," the document said.

Two other vessels, the Jih Chun Tsai No. 68 and the Tai Yuan No. 227, along with their crews, "are still held by pirates," it said.

To compensate for the lost business, Taiwan is seeking permission to "transfer" 15 of the mothballed fishing vessels from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.
The transfer would only take effect for 2010 and 2011. Back in March the US proposed a ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing -- the animal is on the brink of extinction -- but the Japanese led a successful UN rejection of such a policy. The devastation of the Bluefin Tuna is laid out in numbers here. It is apparent that they are going to be fished into extinction.
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Friday, November 26, 2010


Lien Chan's son Sean Lien shot in Taipei on the eve of elections. CNA REPORT:

Sean Lien, a son of former Vice President Lien Chan, was reportedly shot in the head when campaigning for a ruling Kuomintang(KMT) candidate in Taipei County Friday on the eve of Taiwan's crucial mayoral and council elections.

Lien, 40, was rushed to National Taiwan University Hospital for emergency treatment. His condition is not immediately known.

KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu told reporters that a gunman shot Lien at close range when he was preparing to speak in a rally in Yonghe,just outside Taipei City.

Lien was elected a member of the KMT's decision-making standing committee in 2005.

Lien is expected to survive. One person behind him was killed. UPDATED II: Now news is reporting he died of heart attack. UPDATED IV: Nope, was shot.

UPDATE: Several media organs now saying killer was hunting a local election candidate and didn't realize Sean Lien would step up there. This looks like local gangland stuff.

UPDATE III: Police now saying shooter confessed he supported another KMT candidate. Seems purely local and only an accident Sean Lien happened to cross paths with bullet. I sincerely hope this is purely local and not vast conspiracy madness. Now at last I can sleep....

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Local Elections Soon!

The futures market at NCCU has Su up 50.9 to 49.8 over Hau in Taipei, Chu and Hu with comfortable leads in Xinbei and Taichung, respectively, and the DPP winning in blowouts in Kaohsiung and Tainan. That's as of Nov 15. Note that this is a betting market -- people are wagering on who will win, not who they will vote for.

If the DPP takes three it will have done well. This was the message the DPP sent out in today's Taipei Times article:

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) yesterday suggested he was “reasonably confident” that his party would pick up at least three mayoral seats on Saturday.

“We can’t be so unlucky as to lose all three closely fought seats,” Wu said, referring to Taipei and Sinbei cities and Greater Taichung as he commented on the eleventh-hour prospects of his party’s candidates at the polls. “If I were to bet, I’d say that we will pick up at least three seats … including at least one in northern Taiwan.”

With the legal ban on publicly discussing opinion polls in place 10 days before the elections, Wu refused to discuss the latest internal polls conducted by the party, but said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) “cannot say for sure that they will win for sure in any city.”

It really seems like he is announcing: We'll get three, be happy. I think Tsai and Su Chia-chuan are going to come up short in Xinbei and Taichung, respectively, but do very well. Might make a nice pairing for a presidential run in 2012.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Reply to Tkacik from Cohen/Van Dyke

Location of the Senkakus.

Jerome Cohen and Jon M. Van Dyke have written a response to John Tkacik's response to their claims. The U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU has graciously permitted me to host it, so here it is in its entirety. Cohen and Van Dyke are making the case that the Senkakus belong to China. The original is online at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU.


The Diaoyu/Senkaku Islets Should Be Ignored in the Maritime Delimitation of the East China Sea

By Jerome A. Cohen and Jon M. Van Dyke

Two separate approaches lead to the conclusion that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islets should not be a factor in delimiting the maritime boundary of the East China Sea. First, these five small volcanic features northeast of Taiwan (measuring seven square kilometers altogether) must be viewed as “rocks” under Article 121(3) of the Law of the Sea Convention, because they “cannot sustain human habitation” and have no “economic life of their own.” Second, even if it could be concluded otherwise, these features would still be ignored in a maritime delimitation, because every recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and other international tribunals has ignored small isolated islets in awkward locations to avoid reaching an inequitable delimitation result.

Paragraph 3 of Article 121 (“Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”) was added to the Convention text at the insistence of countries who worried that if such isolated features were allowed to generate extended maritime zones, little would be left for the shared common heritage, which was meant to provide resources that would benefit the developing world. Budislav Vukas of Croatia wrote, when he was a judge on the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, that:

“The reason for giving exclusive rights to the coastal states was to protect the economic interests of the coastal communities that depended on the resources of the sea, and thus to promote their economic development and enable them to feed themselves. This rationale does not apply to uninhabited islands, because they have no coastal fishing communities that need such assistance.” (Volga Case, Russia v. Australia, Separate Opinion, 2002; emphasis added)

Examples of “state practice” recognizing that small features should be viewed as “rocks” and should not be able to generate exclusive economic zones and continental shelves include the United Kingdom’s decision to forego such a claim around Rockall (a towering granite feature measuring about 61 meters in circumference and about 21 meters in height, located about 300 kilometers from the British territory of St. Kilda off the Outer Hebrides of Scotland); the agreement between China and Vietnam that Vietnam’s Nightingale Island (Bach Long Vi) in the Gulf of Tonkin should be ignored in their maritime delimitation; the agreement between Honduras and Nicaragua in its submission to the ICJ that four disputed cays off their coasts should not generate anything more than a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea (Maritime Delimitation Between Nicaragua and Honduras (ICJ 2007)); and the sharp protests issued by China and Korea in 2009 against Japan’s claim for a continental shelf extending from the Okinotorishima reef system in the western Pacific.

In the early 1900s, a Japanese national sought to develop economic activities on Diaoyu Dao/Uotsuri Jima, the largest of the small features in this chain, exporting albatross feathers, dried bonito, stuffed seabirds, and guano, and at its peak nearly 200 fishers and taxidermists were living there, but this effort was abandoned in 1940, and no further attempts to develop economic activities have been made, providing strong evidence that the islet is “uninhabitable” and is without an economic life of its own. Since then, this islet has been denuded by overgrazing, and the others in the chain are even more completely barren. Some insular features must qualify to be uninhabitable “rocks” and those in the Diaoyu/Senkaku group certainly seem to fit that description.

But a tribunal determining the maritime delimitation in the East China Sea might not issue an express ruling whether the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islets are “rocks” or not, because it could simply follow longstanding precedent ignoring such tiny features when dividing maritime space. The most recent such example occurred in the 2009 ICJ adjudication of the maritime boundary between Romania and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Ukraine argued strenuously that its Serpents’ Island (0.17 square kilometers, 35 kilometers east of the Danube Delta, and without any fresh water sources) should be considered in the delimitation, but the Court ruled otherwise, drawing the dividing line without regard to the existence of the islet. Oxford Professor Vaughan Lowe, representing Romania, argued that Serpents’ Island should be considered to be a “rock,” because those humans visiting the feature were “totally dependent” on the outside “for food, water, and every other human need” and therefore because the feature was “indistinguishable from a steel platform.” In response to Ukraine’s argument that scientists and others could be found on the islet, Professor Lowe said that to qualify as “human habitation” human presence must be “stable” and “sustained,” and that it is not “human habitation” if individuals are “ordered” to go to the islet by their government as soldiers or scientists. Although the Court did not explicitly adopt this approach, its unanimous ruling ignoring Serpents’ Island must be viewed as a tacit acceptance of Professor Lowe’s analysis.

Other recent delimitation decisions have similarly given small islands no effect. In the 1999Eritrea-Yemen Arbitration, the tribunal gave no effect whatsoever to the uninhabited Yemeni island of Jabal al-Tayr and to the uninhabited Yemeni islands in the al-Zubayr group (which are on the “wrong side” of the equidistance line between the two countries in the Red Sea), stating simply that their “barren and inhospitable nature and their position well out to sea…mean that they should not be taken into consideration in computing the boundary line.” Similarly, in the 2001 Qatar-Bahrain Case, the ICJ ignored completely the small, uninhabited, and barren Bahraini islet of Qit’at Jaradah, situated midway between the two countries, explaining that it would be inappropriate to allow such an insignificant maritime feature to have a disproportionate effect on a maritime delimitation line. The Court also ignored completely the “sizeable maritime feature” of Fasht al Jarim, of which “at most a minute part is above water at high tide.”

Other decisions where small islets have been ignored include the 1985 Libya-Malta decision (ignoring Malta’s Filfla Island); the 1978 France-UK Arbitration (ignoring the UK islands of Jersey and Guernsey, despite their substantial population in drawing the boundary in the English Channel); and the 2002 maritime delimitation between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (ignoring Nova Scotia’s Sable Island).

Shanghai scholar Ji Guoxing has written that “China holds that the Diaoyudao Islands are small, uninhabited, and cannot sustain economic life of their own, and that they are not entitled to have a continental shelf.” That conclusion is supported by the text of Article 121(3), by the underlying purpose of this provision, and by repeated rulings of the ICJ and other international tribunals.

[Further details on the cases discussed can be found, e.g., in Jon M. Van Dyke, The Romania v. Ukraine Decision and Its Effect on East Asian Maritime Delimitations, 15 Ocean & Coastal Law Journal 261-83 (2010).]

I'll add some comments later today.

ADDED: Japanese Communist Party says Senkakus belong to Japan

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DPP ad footage: the future is in your hands

"The future -- is in your hands". Tugs at all the heartstrings. At the beginning it uses audio and video footage of Chinese claiming Taiwan is Chinese in some way, culminating in that shrill attack by Annexation Barbie at the film festival in Japan, with the claim 'I am Taiwanese!' in response, then it becomes an ad showing the DPP candidates. Pretty damn good. Nice ending with the double meaning: the future is in the hands of the 5 DPP candidates -- and in the hands of you, the voter.
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N Korea shells S Korea, China/Japan standoff

North Korea shells South Korean island:
A South Korean soldier was killed and 13 others injured after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island setting more than 60 houses ablaze and sending civilians fleeing in terror.
This will certainly win hearts and minds. More details:
Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young said the South fired 80 shots in response to the North's shelling.

"We were carrying out naval, air force and army training exercises and they (the North) seem to have opened fire in objection," a military official was quoted as saying by YTN.

The incident comes amid high cross-border tensions over the North's nuclear programme and the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship near the border in March.

The South blames a North Korean torpedo attack while the North denies responsibility.

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by United Nations forces after the war, but north of the sea border declared by North Korea.

In other news, AFP, which is basically redundant to Xinhua, reports that Chinese and Japanese patrol boats had a stand-off in the Senkakus:
Chinese and Japanese patrol boats were involved in a brief weekend stand-off near disputed islands, China's state media has reported, accusing the Japanese side of "unreasonable interference".

Two Chinese fishery patrol vessels were cruising near the islands in the East China Sea on Saturday when they were approached by up to seven Japanese patrol boats and two reconnaissance aircraft that circled above, the Nanfang Daily newspaper reported.

The Japanese side asked the Chinese boats when they planned to leave, said the report issued Monday.

The Chinese boats responded by saying the disputed waters were "China's sacred territory" and they vowed to continue carrying out patrols in future.

My favorite part of this little piece is AFP's description of Japan's sovereignty over the Senkakus:

Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the potentially resource-rich islets, known as the Diaoyu islands in China and the Senkaku in Japan, along with their surrounding waters.

However, Japan has traditionally had more of a presence in the area.

"traditionally more of a presence." You mean like, ownership, right?

Al Jazeera has more live coverage of the Korean situation.
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Chosun Ilbo: Why are Taiwanese giving Teh Hate to Korea?

The Chuson Ilbo asks a sensible question: Why are Taiwanese Angry at Korea? To wit:
Various rumors spread on the Internet say Korea and China conspired to strip Taiwan of a gold medal or that Korea was behind her disqualification. Taiwanese netizens left scores of messages on the Cheong Wa Dae website on Saturday spouting profanities and disabling the site for hours.
The article points out that both President Ma and the foreign ministry have sensibly pointed out that the disqualification has nothing to do with Korea. It goes on....
Officials and athletes at the Asian Games say there are no grounds to blame Korea for the disqualification. Yang's equipment went through a preliminary inspection 10 minutes before the game began. During that detailed scan, officials ruled that she had no sensors on her equipment other than those placed on her sole and instep to signal blows to the electronic body armor. Yang passed a second inspection by a referee at the match venue.

But Edward Lee, a Korean official in charge of the computerized match system, discovered the extra sensors in her footwear just before the match began and apparently told chief referee Stephen Fernandez of the Philippines. Korean taekwondo coach Lee Dong-joo said, "The extra sensors in Yang Shuchun's footwear may not have been discovered in the second inspection because it's conducted primarily on the upper body and electronic body armor."

Taekwondo officials at the Asian Games decided that, either advertently or inadvertently, Yang had placed the extra sensors on her footwear in violation of regulations during the 10 minutes before the match. The World Taekwondo Federation in an official ruling declared Yang's disqualification legitimate.

No Korean athlete was involved in the match, and none of the referees were Korean either. The chief official was Chinese and the head of the referee board was Singaporean. "Korea had no reason to strip Taiwan of a gold medal or to conspire with China to disqualify a Taiwanese athlete," one taekwondo official said.
The article gives a couple of reasons for the bizarre Taiwanese reaction, including the decision by South Korea twenty years ago to shift recognition from Taipei to Beijing. My friend Drew remarked that another reason is the racial classifications promulgated under the ROC that still echo across the discourses of race and ethnicity, under which the Koreans were considered an inferior race. The Taipei Times also accuses "opportunistic politicians" of being behind the bigotry that underlies the Taiwanese response to Korea...
It is understandable why some opportunistic politicians would seek to deflect anger away from China and capitalize on emotional outbursts for domestic electoral gain, which the appropriation of the Yang controversy for a rally in support of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) in Taipei on Sunday undoubtedly was. However, for ordinary Taiwanese, the fact that the head of the World Taekwondo Federation is South Korean, or that one of the judges had Korean ancestry, should be of no consequence. The controversy itself, though unfair to Yang and a sad turn of events, is of little import in terms of its impact on the lives of Taiwanese.
Actually, not only is the ref a Filipino, but WTF Sec-Gen Yang Jin-suk, who is usually reported as a South Korean (as in the TT editorial) is a US citizen. Accusing them of being in some conspiracy to defraud Taiwan of a gold medal -- and Taiwan has won a number of them at this year's Asian games -- is like saying I must be mafia because my grandparents are from southern Italy. It's an argument of "blood will tell" that is totally racist. It must stop.

The Taipei Times is dead on too when it points out that Taiwanese should really be angry at China, the one nation that does treat them badly. I heartily agree -- Korea enjoys excellent relations with Taiwan and we receive large numbers of tourists from that nation every year. Taiwanese need to stop crapping on their friends like Japan and Korea and direct their feelings at the nation that most needs to change.

ADDED: Good comments below. Marc sagely notes:
It occurred to me that another matter that has been overlooked in this Yang controversy is how little attention and praise Taiwan's sports champions actually receive from the government (and hence, media).

The news today trumpeted Yang's heroic return to Taiwan. Where are the hero's welcomes for Taiwan's non-controversial championS?
Daily Links:
  • Fact-checking the weird claims of politicians
  • Ben Bernanke, the well known humorist, says the problem is currency controls in China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Yep, it has nothing to do with the Fed's total blindness to Wall Street, the banking industry's ownership of the Obama Administration, the complete failure of US oversight of its own mortgage markets, our spreading, stupid wars against Islam, the Fed's inflating of the US dollar, etc etc etc. Wouldn't it be great if US officials got to work fixing the US instead of blaming everyone else? Seeking Alpha says Bernanke is right.
  • Sex ratio imbalance in Taiwan is 110 boys:100 girls for 2010. Women of Vietnam, an opportunity awaits!
  • Unemployment rate falls below 4.92%. Good news for Taiwan, if it holds.
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Ma Satisfaction Rating Falls

Global Views published its latest Ma approval poll. The KMT news org gave the table above, GV's original file is here (PDF). The legislature remains at 53% disapproval. No doubt all of them will be re-elected.

I have no explanation for the sudden drop in Ma's satisfaction rating, except to say that there does not seem to be any reason for the sudden 8 point jump in the October poll. The notorious disqualification of Taekwondo star Yang Shu-chun took place after the poll data was collected, so the numbers aren't being impacted by public complaints that the Ma Administration was looking weak.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Daily Links, Nov 23, 2010

The Old Man and the 溪

The mythopoetics of Taiwanese mob behavior: I wrote a while back on Chen Shui-bian's role as communal scapegoat. Disqualified Taekwondo athelete Yang Shu-chun, young, female, virginal, has been cast in a similar play, but her role is the opposite of Chen's. She's the Sinless One, the Virtuous Accused, who by her sacrifice of innocence takes onto herself all the manifold instances of Taiwanese sports cheating, and washes that stain away.

What's being judged on the blogs this week?

  • Work with data? Need easy to use mapping tool? Try OpenHeatMap
  • Methane is the hidden time bomb that will kill virtually all life on earth if we don't get down to zero carbon right away.
  • An excellent piece on The Aging Boom sweeping the world: "But with its stringent one-child policy and exceptionally low birth rate, China is rapidly evolving into what demographers call a "4-2-1" society, in which one child becomes responsible for supporting two parents and four grandparents."
Charity Paintball Tournament in Taichung for Taichung Animal Protection Association
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