Saturday, April 25, 2015

KMT round up

The entrance to the Baonon bikeway. This is the old Japanese coastal highway. As I recall, there's no information anywhere along this road that gives this fact. One of the key effects, and probably, key functions, of the new tourism infrastructure in Taiwan is eliminating history by turning it into homogenized and identical leisure facilities with no location in time and no relation to the past. That is just as true of the so-called Old Streets. 

The Miaoli county government, long a KMT redoubt, isn't going to get a bailout from the central government:
The Finance Ministry (財政部) yesterday denied the Miaoli County Government's appeal for help with a NT$64.8 billion debt

Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) has appealed to the Ministry of Finance for financial support, saying his administration is in dire financial straits partly due to the central government's unfair allocation of tax revenues.

The public debt stands at approximately NT$64.8 billion and the county is behind on payments to government personnel and project contractors, Hsu said.
"...partly due..." That claim is correct -- we in central and southern Taiwan subsidize the lavish lifestyle of Taipei. A Miaoli resident remarked on Facebook that the government plans to eliminate many contract workers and reduce outlays for worker perks. Previous reports said that work on many larger projects may stop or slow. You'd think the KMT administration would be going all-out to save one of the few places where it still has strong control of the local government... translated an Apple Daily piece on the previous KMT county chief:
Wu criticized former county magistrate Liu Cheng-hung 劉政鴻 (KMT) for squandering NT$1.2 billion (US$38m) at the very beginning of his term to renovate the county government building, planning a special High Speed Rail zone, and expropriating land for new development in large quantities. During Liu’s 8 years, it spent NT$218 million (US$7.0m) on fireworks and concerts, more than double the NT$100 million (US$3.2m) it spends annually on nutritious school lunches. Liu tripled the county’s debt while paying off NT$70 million (US$2.2m). He created wealth for himself while leaving debt for Miaoli’s future generations.

DPP Miaoli County Chapter Chairman Lee Kui-fu 李貴富 stated that when current magistrate Hsu Yao-chang 徐耀昌 (KMT) took office, he said he would lay off 443 staff from city hall, but to date he has only laid off 3. From January to April, the government has put out NT$850 million (US$27.2m) in new contractors, including NT$50 million (US$1.6m) for media buys and road greening and beautification. Lee said that changing potted plants every month for greening and beautification is an unnecessary waste and a case of Liu setting the example and Hsu following it.
Don't miss the Liberty Times piece on Liu's debts that Solidarity translated below. Miraculously, he paid off his massive debts in just a couple of years.

This will negatively impact the KMT's fortunes in Miaoli. Note also that Miaoli has many Hakkas, long a strongly pro-KMT group, driven by the KMT's ethnic politics ("OMG, if you don't vote KMT, the Hoklos will persecute you!"). Hakka problems in Miaoli may well reverberate beyond Miaoli.

The media announced that a meet up between KMT Chairman Eric Chu and Beijing President Xi Jin-ping was set for May 4, a claim that Chu tartly denied. Chu is off to perform the ritual KMT kowtow in early May, as AP and WSJ report.  The AP report, from Beijing gives an outsider's view but it is quite good -- while importantly, the WSJ article reports the DPP position (kudos for that):
The DPP’s presidential nominee, Tsai Ing-wen, has criticized the annual cross-party forum, saying cross-Strait affairs should be handled on a government-to-government, not a party-to-party, level.
Tsai's position that this KMT-CCP reconciliation (not Taiwan-China) is a kind of cronyism is important information, for while the outside world sees "growing reconciliation" or some such tripe, the locals don't have a positive view and correctly perceive it as an end-run around the legal and diplomatic framework. It is also indicative of how the KMT continues to view Taiwan as something it can dispose of at will, a bargaining chip for negotiations with the CCP. and how it views the government as an appendage of the KMT. The party-state mentality is not dead, sadly.

Mega-Kudos to AP for including this:
Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary, although it ruled the island for just four of the past 110 years.
What's the support level for Chu? TVBS, the pro-Blue station, has a poll which posted:
1. Do you support KMT Chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 leading a delegation to Shanghai to participate in a KMT-CPC cross-strait economic and trade forum there?
Yes: 38% (12% Strongly, 26% Somewhat)
No: 19% (10% Somewhat, 9% Strongly)
No Opinion: 42%

2. If he had the opportunity, would you support KMT Chair Eric Chu meeting with mainland Chinese national chairman Xi Jinping 習近平?
Yes: 50% (17% Strongly, 33% Somewhat)
No: 27% (15% Somewhat, 12% Strongly)
No Opinion: 24%
Support for Chu's move is lukewarm at best, as Solidarity points out. If there is a Chu-Xi meet up in public, gleeful netizens will photoshop the heck out of it and in the end, it will be a negative for a Chu run for president.

Meanwhile, for President Ma, it's business as usual. Ma is nominating four justices to be grand justices, including one who found him innocent on corruption charges....
“Due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) boycott of the four nominees made by the previous president, Ma was able to nominate 11 grand justices in 2008,” Cheng said. “If he nominates four more, all 15 of them would be Ma’s nominees.”


Citizens’ Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) urged legislators to reject the four nominees: lawyer Huang Horng-shya (黃虹霞), Deputy Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶), National Taiwan University law professor Tsai Ming-cheng (蔡明誠) and Shilin District Court President Lin Jyun-yi (林俊益).

Aside from the constitutional issue, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) questioned Ma’s choice of Lin, a former Supreme Court judge who acquitted Ma of corruption charges in connection with the use of his special allowance during his stint as Taipei mayor.

“It is obvious that Ma is trying to pay Lin back by nominating him as a grand justice,” Huang said.
Ma has been under attack for corruption in recent months, though nothing seems to have stuck. But if he is tried for any of several potential crimes, including abuse of power in the Wang case, he'll have a friendly court of grand justices.

More importantly, a totally pro-KMT court will also act as a final redoubt of pro-China power if the KMT loses the legislature and the DPP puts forward a pro-Taiwan policy program. If any of Tsai Ing-wen's policies come up for review of the court...
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an angry taiwanese said...

If when the Chinese suddenly find Turkey a disputable land, they can put a ship of Yellow Emperor in Mount Ararat dating it before Noah.

Mike Fagan said...

"As I recall, there's no information anywhere along this road that gives this fact. One of the key effects, and probably, key functions, of the new tourism infrastructure in Taiwan is eliminating history by turning it into homogenized and identical leisure facilities with no location in time and no relation to the past. That is just as true of the so-called Old Streets."

I'll give you a better example: Agongdian reservoir in Kaohsiung County's* Yanchao township. None of the interpretive panels placed along the dam and elsewhere along the bike path around the reservoir give any information about the engineers who built the dam and the conscripted soldiers (Chinese) who actually laboured for its' construction (and many of whom are likely to have died whilst so employed). Although the information on some of the panels is worthwhile, much of it is not - for instance, I remember one panel informs the viewer that there are a couple of temples on the other side of the reservoir. The temples are not particularly special or important (as a select few are), they are just temples and the impression is easily given that whoever was tasked with writing these panels was either not permitted to write about certain aspects of the reservoir's history (e.g. its' construction), or had basically just ran out of things to say due to ignorance.

*I still draw the city/county distinction for all of the so-called "special municipalities" as it is geographically meaningful whereas the new "Greater Kaohsiung", "Greater Tainan" etc... designations are not, and nor are they helpful in everyday conversation where the typical object is to locate a certain place.

Unknown said...

Mega-Kudos to AP for including this

I can only give them Kilo-Kudos because they're a decade out-of-date. In 2005 Beijing had only ruled Taiwan for 4 of the last 110 years. In 2015 it should say 4 of the last 120 years.