Friday, June 07, 2013

Friday Night Lites

A night market in Wanhua.

Apologies for the light blogging, but the end of the semester here has been brutal. Waay overloaded with work.

Another reason I haven't blogged much is because I'm waiting for the release of the video of the Philippines Coast Guard vessel shooting at the Taiwanese fishing craft. There doesn't seem to be much more to say, since the Taiwan government hasn't moved off its ridiculously intransigent position, still taking the absurd position that Philippines should accept responsibility before the investigation terminates.... for example, from Ma Ying-jeou himself:
“This is the first incident which has taken place since the Taiwan-Philippine Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Judicial Matters was concluded in April,” stated Ma, adding that if the case could be brought to an end with an impartial conclusion so as to render justice to the victim, the ROC government would lift the eleven sanctions leveled against the Philippines. By doing so, Ma stated, he believed that Taiwan-Philippine relations would become even stronger.
As I chuckled sourly before, for the Taiwan government, an "impartial" investigation is one in which Manila accepts fault. The KMT government takes essentially the same position in the brochure in the post below this one. Sad. This is also the position taken by Dennis Halpin two weeks ago in a very strange piece in The Diplomat which was basically an empty rehash of the KMT government line with some significant reshaping of events. As commenters below the piece noted, it was highly misleading. Consider this passage:
On May 11 the public outcry in Taiwan was already high. Understandably, Taipei was very concerned with Manila’s evasive attitude in handling this crisis. As the aggrieved party, Taipei urged Manila on May 11 to agree within seventy-two hours to conduct a joint investigation, in addition to asking for a formal apology. Taipei also requested Manila to start negotiations of a bilateral fishery agreement to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again in the future.

During this seventy-two hour period from May 11 to May 14, there was only silence between Taipei and Manila. If, at this critical moment Manila had taken immediate, consistent and concrete steps to build mutual trust with Taipei, the standoff would have been largely resolved. Taipei needed to be reassured but, regrettably, Manila kept sending the wrong signals.
Haha. The "72 hour period" is actually the period when Taipei issued an ultimatum to Manila to kowtow or face sanctions. Note the verbs: "Taipei urged" and "Taipei also requested". Taipei neither urged nor requested. It set out threats and conditions. These two paragraphs are a total travesty in which the terms ultimatum and sanctions are omitted, completely misleading the reader as to the reality of the situation. Further down, finally, the term sanctions is introduced.


Meanwhile, back at the farm, the KMT was protecting its real constituents, the 1%. Commonwealth Magazine had another excellent piece on Taiwan's doleful tax problems and its obedience to the stupidity of trickle down economics.
May 3 was a normal Friday, seemingly just like any other. But away from the glare of Taiwan's pervasive media, without any debate, conglomerates, Taiwanese businesses operating overseas and majority Kuomintang legislators teamed up to block an amendment to Taiwan's Income Tax Act that would prevent companies from avoiding taxes by booking and keeping their profits overseas.

The revision, which had already cleared its first reading in the Legislative Yuan (a bill has to clear three readings to become law), was removed from the body's agenda and sent for consultations between majority and minority lawmakers, to take place out of the public eye.
Read the whole article, it's excellent. This happened quietly, but the furor over the amendments to the Accounting Act has forced both President Ma and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang, to apologize for one of the more despicable moments in bipartisan screwing of the public by the two parties. Ben Goren has an excellent round-up:
Taipei Times cartoon critiquing the midnight Friday amendment of the Accounting Act (會計法) by the Legislative Yuan which appears to have been designed to exonerate and clear of wrong doing a large number of public servants, including currently jailed gangster politician and former independent legislator and Taichung County Council speaker Yen Ching-piao (顏清標). The DPP are divided on this as apparently some of their members aided the passage of the amendment without first getting consensus within the caucus.

According to the report, the DPP wanted the amendment to clear hundreds of professors facing possible indictment but the KMT wanted it to cover city councillors as well so they made a deal and pushed it through. In a blatant piece of convenient hypocrisy and double standards, the KMT surprised no one in refusing to also include decriminalizing the misuse presidential state funds, something that might have benefitted former President Chen. On hearing this news of law being made to retrospectively figuratively relocate people back across the line from criminality to innocence, Chen allegedly tried to hang himself in prison.
The Taipei Times put it succinctly today:
The amendment, passed at the last minute in closed-door cross-party negotiations on Friday last week before the legislature went into recess, was supposed to exempt research grants given by the government to professors and elected officials’ special allowances from being audited.

However, the word “teaching [faculty]” was missing from the amended act’s Article 99-1, which means professors may still face prosecution.

Meanwhile, convicted officials, such as former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who has been in jail since Feb. 19 after he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for using nearly NT$20 million (US$668,500) in taxpayer money to visit hostess bars, will be released once the amendment is promulgated.
Yen Ching-piao, you may recall, runs his central Taiwan legislative district as his personal fief and is widely reputed to be one of the island's wealthiest and most

The Executive Yuan isn't going to veto the bill, says the article, because the error was typographical, according to the Premier, and because the preamble to the bill clearly says it includes professors. The bill exempts Special Funds, slush funds provided to most major political positions which appointees may basically use as they please. President Ma was indicted and tried for downloading them into his personal accounts, a fact which no one disputed. Ma's defense was that they were intended by the KMT government for just that purpose. Chen Shui-bian was tried for doing that as well and cleared in the original trial and on two appeals. Last I recall, another court had sent the charge back down for retrial.

If the bill doesn't include professors, well -- auditing pesky professors might become just the antidote to suing them. Let's hope the law is read as the Premier says.

As for our economy..... a few posts down I took a quick look at the "stimulus" the government is touting, a worthless number too low to have any effect. The KMT government undercut its "stimulus" by quietly asking all government departments to implement an across the board 8% cut in 2014 budgets. There is no stimulus.
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Anonymous said...

This is OLD but yeah

Taiwan should REMEMBER that is was asking the Philippines to put its sovereignty and security in danger for the sake of Taiwan!

Philippine airspace for AGING fighters and wrath from China? Taiwan is a BAD neighbor

Anonymous said...

If you're going to describe the KMT as the party of the 1%, to be accurate you should also describe them as the party of progressives, seeing as teachers, reporters, professors, those with an international outlook, intellectuals, the highly educated etc, all usually considered liberal, are firmly in the KMT camp.

Michael Turton said...

I'm describing who the KMT serves, not who its membership is.


Derelict said...

I may be mistaken but wasn't it during the martial law area that you had to be a party member in order to hold a government job? I'm sure there are many people still in the workforce as a result of this policy. And the way Taiwanese think, I think many would be loyal to the hand that is feeding them with above private sector pay and benefits. Paying for votes if you will.

Anonymous said...

Latest news from Manila Bulletin: "Video on Balintang shooting likely tampered – NBI source"

Sources from the NBI said that results from the bureau’s Cybercrime Division showed indications that some of the scenes in the PCG video had already been spliced before it was sent to the bureau at the start of the investigation.

One of the sources quickly noticed that there were some small “cuts” in the two-hour video, a sign that there were scenes in the PCG video that had already been deleted even before the NBI commenced its probe on the Balintang shooting.

Two other sources, who had seen the video, confirmed the statements of the first source.


Anyone wonders why PCG edited the video and cut some of the scenes? (1) PCG is afraid the investigators fall in sleep when watching the video so they cut some scenes, (2) PCG wants to edit the video to make it Life of Pi 2, or (3) PCG doesn't want the investigators to see some of the scenes.

Since people here always implies PCG's story is the truth and PCG can't do anything wrong, I guess the answer is (2) here.

Anonymous said...

Every major political party in the world serves the big end of town. KMT, DPP, Democrat, republican, doesn't matter. They all look out for the interests of those at the top first.

Anonymous said...

RE: Latest news from Manila Bulletin: "Video on Balintang shooting likely tampered – NBI source"

Filipino here. If these cuts are within the incident then the PCG should be charged of obstruction of justice. We must consider the SD card is limited in capacity, let us say 2GB, ordinary people would cut extra scenes on the fly for more important scenes to be saved.

In this case the most important part is when they used their guns. Expect sanctions will be given by the Aquino III administration for cuts that will affect the result of the investigation.

Michael Turton said...

Like I say, we;ll just hvae to wait til the videos become public. Its kind of surprising that they haven't leaked yet.

Anonymous said...

You mean the video before it's edited and cut by PCG? or after?