Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just to get the flavor of central Taiwan; Courtney Donovan Smith's Roundup of our news

Kenting, four years ago.

BREAKING: Fuxing Air plane crashed in Penghu. Reports still in, but apparently of the 54 on board, 6 were sent to the hospital. 48 didn't make it.


Courtney Donovan Smith of ICRT posted to Facebook:

My report this morning on ICRT was a laundry list of nepotism, corruption and criminal behaviour by politicians...and I only cover Taichung, Changhua and Nantou.

Son of Nantou County Assembly Speaker arrested
The son of the Nantou County’s legislative speaker has been arrested along with 8 subordinates. The 39-year-old reportedly had been running a violent racket targeting wealthy businesspeople and more frequently their rich offspring. Using his father’s name he would offer invitations, the kind you can’t refuse, for these princelings to gamble at his underground casino. The casino was rigged so the victims would always lose, which would lead to beatings, violent extortion from the rich parent--or frequently both--if the victim couldn’t pay. His father, KMT lawmaker and speaker of the Nantou County Assembly He Sheng-feng (何勝豐) distanced himself from his son, saying they were not frequently in contact. The lawmaker himself, who is currently out on bail on charges of shooting a man who was beating him up in a KTV, is suspected of also having run a violent extortion and gambling racket in the past.

Sticking with Nantou, Lee Chao-ching’s wife ends political speculation
Impeached Nantou County Commissioner Lee Chao-ching’s wife has ended speculation she would run in a legislative by-election, and launched her first campaign billboard in her run for county commissioner. The ad, prominently and somewhat oddly features the slogan ‘a new choice’. When her campaign was announced, her husband--currently out on bail pending corruption charges-- openly made clear she was running on his behalf, announcing his wife was going to carry out plans he conceived while he had had time to rest in jail. Failing to register in time to run in the KMT primary, she is running as an independent. In other similar news, the daughter of impeached lawmaker Yen Ching-piao, jailed previously on gun and corruption charges, is running for Taichung city council. Her brother is the current legislator for the area, having won his father’s seat. Like her father, she is running as an independent. She says her father has only given her one piece of advice: to lose 30 kg.

As if that weren’t enough
The cousin of the Changhua County Commissioner and a lawyer friend of his were sentenced to 1 year 8 months and 2 years respectively. The cousin was approached by the brother of the county commissioner in 2010 to use his name to purchase a property in Taipei. The cousin instead introduced him to a friend of his, a lawyer. Using money borrowed from the family and govt contractors, the property was purchased. The brother ran into a series of difficulties, including corruption allegations and receiving a nine-year sentence for stealing campaign funds from the 2012 Ma Ying-jeou presidential run. The lawyer then refused to return the property, keeping it for himself. By refusing to return it, he and the cousin received sentences for breach of trust. The county commissioner himself was not involved in the case.

Pan-green trouble in Changhua
Refusing to bow to ever-increasing pressure from the DPP and TSU, including a visit from Tsai Ying-wen and losing her TSU party membership, ex-TSU lawmaker Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) has reiterated her determination to see the race for Changhua County Commissioner through to the end. Though running as an independent, she is expected to take away votes from the DPP, and a recent opinion poll had her support and the DPP’s Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) support combined roughly even with that of the KMT’s Lin Cang-min (林滄敏). However, the pan-blues may have trouble of their own, with the camp of KMT primary loser Ke Cheng-fang (柯呈枋) refusing to rule out running in the race as an independent. Ke vehemently accused Lin of cheating in the primary.

Taichung transportation milestones
Last week saw the trial launch of Taichung’s iBike bicycle rental system. Though initially only 3 stations with 100 bikes, it is expected to hit 60 stations and over 1500 bikes within 2 years. It was also announced that Taichung’s iBike system will be mutually compatible with Changhua’s Youbike system. In related news the Bus Rapid Transit Blue Line is scheduled to begin semi-normal operations at completed stations starting this Sunday at noon. How many stations will be complete by Sunday is uncertain, but construction does appear to be accelerating. The bulk of the buses running along Taiwan Blvd are scheduled to be effectively turned into shuttle buses to the BRT, freeing up the slow lanes.

Bamboo Union shooting
A top Bamboo Union leader, by some reports the head of the triad in New Taipei City, was gunned down at close range on Monday. The so-called temple-master was attending a banquet at a temple in Changhua’s Erlin Township when he was shot seven times at close range, killing him instantly. The baseball-capped shooter then escaped in a waiting car. Police suspect the assassins followed the gangster’s car from the north, possibly for the entire trip.

Daily Links:
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Anonymous said...

Oh the BRT…

The general consensus among Taichungers is that the BRT is Jason Hu's election year folly. People are pissed off with the construction and see little impact on their daily lives, aside from one less lane to use (which they will probably use anyway).

To make the system work, it will take rigorous enforcement of the lanes and better feed routes to the mainline.

Taxi drivers and anxious drivers are already using the lanes at their discretion.

les said...

I'm pissed off to find the BRT stations cost a whopping NT$8m each. I have friends in the construction industry building luxury houses for far less than that!

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael, I was trying to find your article Understanding the Mess in Taiwan that you posted to the DailyKos way back when. If you still have a copy, perhaps you can resuscitate it somewhere for us?


Michael Turton said...

How strange, I was just reading it the other day when I stumbled across it.

Anonymous said...

Did weather play a role?
i the penghua crasH? the wash psot asks? OF COURSE it did. the resort island where this tragic crash happened and all yesterday afternoon there was a massive hurricane/typhoon blowing up the entire region. It was massive circular tyhpoon wind and rains from my rooftop in Taichubng could see the grey clouds swirling by, pouring buckets of rain and this plane NEVER should have taken off! It was a suicide plane! Really, 47 dead and 11 injured and for what? THAT PLANE never should have been in the air on that day at that time. The plane could have told the passengers we have a delay due to the taifoon and we will try again tomorrow TOMORROW when the weather clears. TIME is not that important. Would it have hurt for the passnegers, most of them Taiwanese locals to STAY overnight in Kaohsiung departure airport and then try again the next day? was this a money decision by the pilots and the CEo of the firm? TIME is money? what a sad sad useless way for people to die, THis plane was on a suicide flight and NEVER NEVER shoild ahve been cleared to TAKE OFF let alone to land! Dumb stupid airline officials who value money over human life. of course it was a weather thing! More than weather, this was HUGE CATEGORY typhoon. THE CEO of the airplane shoidl go to jail for LIFE for killing those passenmgers. What in the world let the airport officals allwo that small plane to take off INTO A SUICIDE MISSION? SIgh. RIP,. there is no afterlife, there is no second cahnces, those peeps are not in a better place they are dead as doornails and so tragic. DO NOT FLY INTO TYPHOONS ever ever. no?
- signed Taichung Tommycake