Monday, August 31, 2015

Election, Polls, Links

We'll be back...

And so, after all the noise and complaints, KMT heavyweight Lien Chan went off to China for the 70th anniversary of WWII festivities there. Taipei Times reported:
Regarding President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) warning that Lien’s participation in Beijing’s military parade would not be “appropriate,” Chang said they could arrive at the same end by different means and that historical interpretations should be open to exchanges of opinions and reconciliation.

Despite Chang’s sugarcoating of Lien’s widely criticized China visit, a group of young Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) members and a number of pro-independence advocates staged a protest at the airport, accusing Lien of humiliating and selling out Taiwan.
The Lien clan has its business interests to look after, so grandpa Lien is heading off to Beijing. Solidarity translated some Storm media pieces on Ma's anger.

The Journalist published a piece saying that Ma had blocked Wang Jin-pyng from the Presidential candidacy and wrested the KMT from current Chairman Eric Chu, forcing ideologue Hung Hsiu-chu on the KMT as his candidate, as many of us had deduced. Solidarity translated:
But Chu’s envisioned KMT was completely at odds with the party-state framework established by Ma Ying-jeou, where the party is an auxiliary organ of the government. Because Chu’s party and Ma’s government were at odds, Chu never had the last word. The true power was still behind the scenes, in the hands of “the party member with the greatest political authority,” President Ma. Policy was still decided by the Presidential Office and Executive Yuan, so it was unsynchronized with Chu’s party’s proposals. Although Chu was the chairman, he did not have the slightest influence over policymaking. It was just too difficult for the KMT to turn over a new leaf. There was no chance for “Chu’s path” to be taken.
That's good news, because with Ma running things the KMT will fade that much faster...

Speaking of fading, Solidarity also had some poll numbers out of TISR. Recall that TISR was originally the Global Views polling center, which allegedly the KMT forced to shut down when its polls found that Tsai Ing-wen was leading Ma in the fall of 2011 in the run-up to the 2012 election. TISR, which is not a pro-Green organization, has the KMT's Hung Hsiu-chu with a mere 12.7% support among voters, with Tsai at 37% and Soong at 19%. This is in line with other polls. For example, a KMT internal poll had her at 18%, while the Liberty Times had Hung at 12.7%, with Tsai at 45%.

Hung's fade into irrelevance is leading to constant rumors that the KMT is going to replace her. But with Ma in charge, that isn't going to happen. FTV English News reports on this (video). Hung responded to the rumors of her imminent political demise with her trademarked China-flavored ideological bombast:
“Do you know how many times Sun launched insurrections against the Qing Dynasty before he finally succeeded? How could the ROC have been established if he had given up after just a single failure?” she said.
Solidarity also highlighted that the TISR poll said 50% of the people want independence "no matter what." Note also that only 17.6% support annexing Taiwan to China -- just 3.8% strongly support. That's Hung's diehard base: 3.8% of the population.

A candidate can be changed and registered in time for the election until the last week in November.

More telling is the data breakout, where Tsai is actually up 3% among independent voters, while Soong fell and Hung barely has any independent support. Soong also fell among Green voters, meaning that his ability to draw centrist voters is collapsing as everyone is reminded who he really is (note the slide from 24% support in June to below 20% now). I expect that his support will continue to gently glide downward. Again, Soong polled as high as 10% in the 2012 election before crashing at below 3%. In the party favorability index the DPP is also trending slightly upward. Back in June the NCCU election studies center was showing falling KMT party identification coupled with rising DPP. Can't wait to see their Sept numbers.

All signs are green at the moment...
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Lanyu: Days of Steel, Days of Sun

Another August, another trip to Lanyu (Orchid Island) off Taitung, Taiwan. This time I brought my daughter, Sheridan, who took everything in with wide-eyed appreciation and good humor. A rewarding trip for both of us. Click on READ MORE if you can stand another dose of Lanyu pics (slogan: "A goat with every picture").

History and the Economist *sigh* Banyan can't get anything right

Another trip to Lanyu last week, which is why I've not been blogging....

Banyan at The Economist wrote on former President Lee Teng-hui's epic trolling of the KMT the last couple of weeks... let's take a look....
A 92-YEAR-OLD politician may be inured to insults, however outrageous his alleged transgression. Even so Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan’s president from 1988 to 2000, may have been taken aback by the hostility to comments he made to a Japanese magazine this month. [A total misreading -- Lee was trolling and well aware of how the KMT would react: in a way that put them outside Taiwan's mainstream.] He criticised efforts by Taiwan’s present government to mark the 70th anniversary this year of Japan’s second-world-war surrender as meant to “harass Japan and curry favour with China”. Taiwan, he argued [Lee "argues" but Lee was not arguing, he was stating historical fact], had been part of Japan: its young men had fought not against the Japanese empire, but for it (the “motherland”, he called it). Ma Ying-jeou, the current president, led a chorus of outrage in Taiwan. [Note the pro-KMT construction: Ma did not lead a chorus of outrage in Taiwan -- he led a chorus of outrage from the KMT] In China the press heaped scorn on his “absurd remarks”. The angry derision was perhaps all the more intense because, historically, Mr Lee had a point.[Note that no one from the pro-Taiwan side or a historian is permitted to speak on this issue, excepting Lee. Note also how cleverly the article fails to concretely state that the historical fact tens of thousands of Taiwanese loyally and willingly served the Japanese war effort. Instead, Banyan merely says Lee "had a point" as if there was something arguable about Lee's statements. What was that point again? Say it, Banyan.]

Although China insists Taiwan has always been an “inalienable” part of China, it has not been governed from the mainland since 1895, when it was ceded to Japan.[
That is almost correct, technically, since from 1945-1949 Taiwan was administrated by the KMT under the Allied occupation of what was still Japanese sovereign territory until 1952. It's astonishing to read this in the Economist, let alone in a piece by Banyan. Kudos!] When Taiwan returned to China in 1945,[Taiwan was never "returned to China." This is shameful.] it became the last redoubt of the Nationalist or Kuomintang party, the KMT, as it lost mainland China in its civil war with the Chinese Communist Party. Mr Lee was later the KMT’s leader. But after he left the presidency, the party expelled him for his support of Taiwan’s formal independence from China.[Note the misleading "from China" which implies incorrectly that Taiwan is part of China. Independence supporters want independence, period.] Since then the KMT has tended to regard him as an embarrassment—like a gaga elderly relation given to relieving himself in public [What a vile and unnecessary comment.]. Mr Lee’s fondness for Japan is well-known. His elder brother is among those honoured at Yasukuni, a controversial shrine in Tokyo for Japan’s war dead, including some convicted of war crimes. Mr Lee’s views, however, though baldly expressed, are not uncommon in Taiwan. Nor, across Asia, is Mr Lee so unusual in his ambivalent feelings about Japan’s colonial past.
As everyone knows, Taiwanese love Japan, and many in Lee's generation still identify as Japanese in some way, speaking and reading Japanese amongst themselves. Several old men I know can still sing the Japanese national anthem and explain what the words mean. Lee correctly noted that while a few locals headed over to China to oppose Japan (though many more immigrated here during the interwar period, and many who headed to China were looking for work opportunities in the Empire or in China), tens of thousands of Taiwanese troops served in the Imperial Japanese Army as soldiers, laborers, prison guards, or in other capacities. For example, there was a corps of Taiwanese "military farmers" sent to central China to engage in farming in devastated areas under Japanese control, while others were sent as instructors to south China. Still other Taiwanese served as semi-skilled workers in government. For males, the pay was several times what they could make in Taiwan. The enslaving of women for sex began in Taiwan in 1938, and some Taiwanese girls were conscripted as nurses. The draw was so great that labor shortages began occurring in Taiwan after 1941 (for more, see this book).

The erasure of these veterans -- their absence from public discourse, their lack of public notice on the ubiquitous and vile "Martyrs' Shrines" and other memorials, is deliberate, of course, part of the KMT's overall goal of erasing Japan from Taiwan's historical memory. The KMT wishes Japan exists only as a caricature of evil, the "wretched colony" of current presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu's fantasies, and like any colonizer, to substitute its own identities for existing identities.

Another key function of this public denial of their existence was that there was no formal recognized body of Taiwanese veterans with a distinct identity who might take political action against the Chinese colonizers in the formative period of KMT rule. Recall that in the 1947 uprising Tang Shouren of the Tsou people led 100 former Japanese soldiers in an assault on Chiayi, which participants reported, decades later in recounting this incident for oral histories, was apparently part of a larger vision of uniting with local Han to drive out the incoming Chinese. During the 1947 Han people across Taiwan put on Japanese clothing and uniforms and sang Japanese songs -- to this day this Japanese identity is often asserted against the faux Chinese identity of the KMT. The KMT feared Taiwanese uprisings and expended much effort in the early 1950s to eliminate weapons caches, especially in the mountains, where the aborigines made superb soldiers, and where some had even been trained as pilots. It was still executing 1947 leaders well into the 1950s -- Tang Shouren was finally arrested and murdered in 1954.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015 annexes us to China

Good News! You can now buy Kindle eBooks directly from

Searching for books on from my desk in Taichung, Taiwan, when I got this crap. Bottom pick shows HELP with a help line in China, in simplified characters.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kongo and Taiwan

The battlecruiser Kongo in her WWI configuration, as she would have appeared in 1923. Some of my South African readers might recognize the port.

I've been a battleship nut since I was a kid, and as an adult, a Pacific War buff. Yamato may have been the mightiest of Japan's battleships, but to my mind there's no question that the greatest of them was the battleship Kongo (金剛). Kongo participated in perhaps the most effective Japanese battleship action of the war, the night bombardment of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on Oct 13, 1942. Kongo also sank the legendary Samuel B. Roberts in the desperate Battle off Samar in Oct of 1944 and put the hurt on US carriers in that battle. And Kongo also had a long association with Taiwan.

Kongo was originally built in the UK as a battlecruiser, ordered by the Japanese navy. In 1923 Hirohito, then Crown Prince and Regent since the Emperor was incapacitated, decided to tour Taiwan. In April of 1923 he embarked aboard Kongo from Yokusaka and arrived in Keelung on April 16, 1923. The Takao Club, a fantastic website, has a detailed essay on his journey in Taiwan, with numerous photos. After a week, Hirohito boarded Kongo again, from Takao (Kaohsiung) to make an inspection tour of the naval base at Makung in Penghu. Hirohito left Keelung on the 26th and returned aboard Kongo on the 26th.

In 1929 and again in 1935 Kongo received an extensive upgrade (image), and was reclassified as a fast battleship. In 1927 Kongo stopped at Makung. In 1933 she visited Taiwan and Penghu, and again in 1938 on her way to and from operations in China, stopped at Keelung and Makung.

Makung (Mako in Japanese),was upgraded to Guard District status in November of 1941. When the war began, three minesweeper divisions, three patrol vessels, three D1A aircraft, and the cargo ship Kure Maru No. 5 were based there. The port was decommissioned in 1943 and the military district moved to Takao (Kaohsiung), though it was used as a port and attacked by US planes in 1944 and '45.

On Dec 2, 1941, Kongo was at Makung in Penghu when her fleet commander received the fateful order "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" which notified the fleet that hostilities against the US would begin on Dec 8. Mt Niitaka is of course Yushan, then the highest peak in the Japanese Empire. Kongo then moved off to the South China Sea to support the offensive against the British Empire.

In January of 1942 Kongo stopped by Makung again on her way from Camranh Bay in Vietnam to Palau to support the Japanese offensive against the United States. In 1942 she participated in the terrible fighting in the Solomons, but though she sortied several times in 1943, she did no fighting.

After the catastrophic defeat at Leyte Gulf in October of 1944, Kongo returned to Brunei. In November of 1944 she was at port in Brunei after a pointless sortie around Pratas Island (now Dongsha and controlled by the ROC). After being attacked in port by US aircraft, Kongo, undamaged, left Brunei for Kure on November 16 in the company of several other ships, including the battleship Nagato.

On the night of November 20th the division of ships entered the Formosa Strait, and for some reason, ceased zig-zagging, a regular practice of ships in formation in waters where submarines may be encountered. In the wee hours of November 21 the convoy was sighted by the US submarine Sealion. At 2:56 am Sealion fired a spread of six torpedoes, two of which apparently hit Kongo. Her boiler rooms flooded, but she was still able to make 16 knots. The flooding, however, gradually became uncontrollable. At 4:50 the group was split into two formations, with Kongo sent to Keelung along with two destroyers. The ship continued to fill with water. Within 20 minutes she had a 45 degree list and at 5:18 she lost all power. The order was given to abandon ship. Sadly, at 5:24 the ammunition in the forward 14 inch gun magazine detonated, destroying the ship and killing nearly everyone on board. Over 1200 lives were lost, and only 237 men were rescued.

Today Kongo rests in 115 meters of water just 100 kms northeast of Keelung, the port to which she once ferried a Crown Prince.

ADDED: The Sealion's attack on Kongo was actually recorded, one of a tiny handful of audio recordings of attacks by submarines during WWII.
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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Things to read

I have to admit, the election has grown boring. I don't even feel like bothering to mention all the silly things KMT candidate Hung Hsiu-chu has been saying, because no poll has her above 20% at the moment. PFP candidate Soong, who must get faction politicians to switch to him from the KMT, hasn't gotten many. And Wang Jin-pyng, the heavyweight KMTer and informal leader of the KMT Taiwanese factions, is remaining... silent. Tsai Ing-wen isn't saying much because she doesn't need to. Kinda a lull at the moment... before things start to heat up.

So read Cole at China Policy Institute on China's propaganda campaign against the DPP in the United States. Thim at Thinking Taiwan on what the candidates should say about defense. New Bloom with an interview with a third party leader.
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Friday, August 21, 2015

On Abortion and Sex selection

River valley in eastern Taiwan.

Was trolling Google scholar and this caught my eye: from this 2008 paper on using abortion as a sex selection device after the laws were relaxed in 1985-6 period:
Using an individual level dataset constructed from birth and death registries for all individuals born in Taiwan during 1982-89, we find that the legalization of abortion significantly increased the fraction of males born. The effect comes entirely from third and higher-parity births and children born to mothers over the age of 28. For those groups, abortion increased the fraction of males born by 0.7 percentage-points for post-reform cohorts on average (from 51.5 percentage-points in 1982-84 to 53.5 percentage-points by 1989), accounting for nearly 100% of the observed increase in sex imbalance during this period. The results on sex-differential mortality show that legalizing abortion decreased EFM by 25%. Our results suggest that approximately 15% of parents selecting post-natally before the reform would have substituted to abortion as a method of sex-selection. Taken literally, this suggests that for every 100 abortion of female fetuses, 15 lives of girls born are saved.
What they mean by the last is this: when sex-selection abortion is forbidden, the sex ratio at birth moves back toward the natural norm. But then a large number of unwanted female children are born. What happens to them? One way or another, all over the world, a portion are killed via stealthy or open infanticide. Because fewer females are born in Taiwan, there is less infanticide of female children...
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DOD #TaiwanFail

According to the US DoD, Taiwan has no navy. This chart from this report being passed around Twitter as a "good" chart. Nope.
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bits n Bites

Work crews out last week after the typhoon.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je went to the Shanghai Forum this week and announced...
“This is an ever-changing world. Seven years ago, who would have thought that the iPhone would change the world? A year ago, who would have thought that I would become the mayor of Taipei? Just a month ago, who would have thought that I would be standing here in front of you today?” he said. “However, one thing remains unchanged, and that is the long-lasting friendship that Taipei and Shanghai have established.”

Ko said that his stance on cross-strait relations and the forum can be summarized as “one family across the Strait” and four “reciprocal” actions: to know each other, to understand each other, to respect each other and to work with each other.
Ko said: “兩岸一家親” whose "family" meaning is a bit broader, more like "we're all relatives together". Ko did not say "兩岸一家" the straight up "(one household) family" that Beijing always uses. Ko reminds me of Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, who understood the importance of discourse and were always seeking ways to push it and rework it in a pro-Taiwan way. Now Ko has added a new and weaker form of "family" to the range acceptable discourse, widening it in baby steps. Ko is pro-independence, so it's not like we have anything to worry about anyway...

Lowy Interpreter on Wargaming Conflict in the South China Sea... whole thing is interesting, but the players are way too rational.
A new Pacific war would look an awful lot like...the last Pacific war? In nearly all simulations the front becomes the first island chain. Taiwan is 'the cork in the bottle', but only for as long as it resists reunification. The Philippines is prime real estate. Although a small economy, it's a vast archipelagic space of 100 million people, thousands of islands, and airports and harbours galore.
Taiwan is resisting annexation, not "reunification" -- one China's most important forms of soft power is this kind of lazy vocabulary choice. But the analysis of Philippines is quite interesting...
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LOLz: Taiwan Hunts Terrorist Bomber

...and you thought all those stories about Taiwan/Thailand confusion were apocryphal... from San Jose Mercury News...
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mid-week links

Ponies for bringing in the crowds on weekends.They park them in front of a local restaurant/cafe.

Too lazy to blog, too rainy to ride. I think I'll just go sink some battleships in World of Warships. Meanwhile, enjoy some links...
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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Once and Future Soong

Wherever you are, there are wedding photos.

The latest Taiwan Indicators Survey Research (TISR) poll shows that Hung is now at 13.9% support, consistent with other polls. With Hung fading and unlikely to recover, the race is shaping up to be a two-way contest between Tsai Ing-wen and James Soong, a mainlander and KMT heavyweight who left the KMT to found the PFP and run on his own in the 2000 election, which he nearly won. How well Soong does will depend on his ability to attract faction politicians out of the KMT and into his party. To do that, he is remaking himself once again...

Frozen Garlic describes how Soong, who had until his appointment as Provincial Governor been little more than a standard KMT party insider, changed himself into a real politician....
However, as governor, Soong completely reinvented himself. He claims that he followed the example of his mentor, CCK, by getting out of his office and meeting with ordinary people. In fact, Soong did travel all over the island, meeting with regular people. Less obviously but more critically, he also met with lots of local politicians. In fact, this was the key to Soong’s governance model. Instead of sitting in an office, letting other people make financial decisions, and approving the paperwork, Soong went to township mayors, asked them what they wanted, and personally approved the funds. In doing so, he created an image of a compassionate leader who would do whatever was needed to solve problems. He also created a group of local politicians who were politically in debt to him personally. Township mayors are nothing to sneeze at. They control the local mobilization networks and distribute quite a bit of patronage. Back in those days, people who had descended from the central bureaucracy simply didn’t engage local people as an equal, but Soong actually wanted to listen to their problems and work with them to get things done.
Better than any other mainlander politician, Soong understands that the colonial rule of the KMT depends on its ability to manage and placate its Taiwanese support networks, and he is a master at positioning himself as a speaker for the Taiwanese KMT. Like Chiang Ching-Kuo, he cultivates a Taiwanese power base as an alternative power base to the cliques among the high-ranking mainlander politicians.

 In 1994 the Provincial Governor position became elected, says Frozen, and Soong again showed masterful political skills. Attacked by the DPP for not speaking Taiwanese, Soong learned it, then picked up a little Hakka and some phrases in aboriginal tongues. He won the election handily. His recovery was amazing -- he'd resigned in 1992 as KMT Sec-Gen to take responsibility for the KMT's poor showing in the Legislative Elections that year and initially no one thought Soong would win. The Provincial Governorship transformed his political career.

When Lee Teng-hui became president, Soong was one of the men who'd supported him against the KMT bitter-end authoritarians led by Hau Pei-tsun, the "non-mainstream" faction. But as the 1990s drew to a close, Lee turned against Soong and began to promote Lien Chan. To me the reason for this is clear: Lee knew that the popular Soong could lead a resurgent KMT to victory and maintain that party's grip on power, a grip Lee was committed to destroying. So he promoted the ungainly, unpopular Lien Chan over Soong to ensure the KMT's defeat. That is a common conspiracy theory among KMTers, and I see no reason to doubt it.

Although initially, as Froze recounts, Soong was more popular than the DPP's Chen Shui-bian or the KMT's Lien Chan, the Chunghsing Bills Scandal hurt him, and Chen squeaked through with a 3% victory in 2000, with the KMT candidates collecting 60% of the vote in total. Lien and Soong eventually mailed in their campaign in 2004 and blew that collective 20%  advantage. How has Taiwan's electorate shifted? Together the two mainlander candidates at the moment are polling at 35% of the electorate.

The 2000 election also featured Soong attempting to remake himself. This classic 1999 interview in the Washington Post with "democratic reformer" Soong is another milestone in the awfulness of Beijing reporters working on Taiwan:
At the center of a preelection brawl is James Soong, a 57-year-old powerhouse in the ruling Nationalist Party, whose businesses have made it the world's richest. He is also an architect of Taiwan's democratic reforms.
Frozen notes that Soong was a hardline unification supporter in the Chen era. He was always that way. In the WaPo interview Soong shows a deep understanding of the usefulness of democracy, and also says that Taiwan should have a plebiscite on any agreements with China (note how many of his positions were DPP policies). Unlike most mainlander politicians, Soong has mastered the knack of invoking democracy without sounding insincere; indeed, his ability to project sincerity and interest in others is one of his greatest political strengths. In 2000 Soong also positioned himself as a champion of Taiwanese:
Despite the fact that both the KMT's Lien Chan (連戰) and the DPP's Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) have expressed their willingness to visit China if elected, Soong voiced a decidedly conservative opinion.

"If China refuses to respect the dignity of the Taiwanese, I would not visit China if I am elected. If Taiwan's people fail to iron out their differences, what subject can we talk to the Chinese about?" he said.
Recall his 50 year peace proposal? He said that it should be signed as the "Republic of China", a position similar to that of Hung Hsiu-chu's peace treaty today. It was similarly panned by critics.

Soong has always made democratic noises, but a wonderful piece at Thinking Taiwan by the always awesome Anonymous observes....
As professor Jim Lee (李筱峰) has written in 1994 and 2003 essays (which have recently gone viral on the PTT board and make up the source material for this article), Soong played a major role in suppressing freedom of the press and freedom to use the Taiwanese language during his five-year-and-seven-month tenure as director-general of the Government Information Office (GIO) from 1979-1984. At the GIO, Soong played a major role in suppressing democratic publications and free journalism in an era that included the Formosa Incident, pressure on emerging dangwai (黨外, “outside the KMT”) and democratic movements, and apparent secret police murders of “enemies of the state” like Professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) and the family of Lin I-hsiung (林義雄). He also helped implement the elimination of the Taiwanese language from broadcast media.
Until his election to the Provincial Governorship, Soong had always been a loyal servant of the KMT ruling class. Indeed, he was one of 60 individuals selected by Lee Huan at the direction of Chiang Ching-kuo in 1976 for the high level training course at the elite party school, an indication that quite early he was seen as being ideologically sound enough to be groomed for higher things. That class also included Lien Chan and Wu Po-hsiung.

In 1999 I was teaching at a private university in a small southern town. The university was owned by a deeply pro-Soong family, and the staff was also strongly pro-Soong. "Why do you support him?" I asked a group of them once. "Because he is a gentleman." I read that as "he is of the class we perceive as being proper to rule over us." Things are different today. The Taipei Times noted:
In addition to post-Sunflower movement (and possibly post-anti-curriculum movement) younger people more willing and eager than ever to learn about the nation’s intentionally buried history, along with the fact that the PFP and its leader are more likely than ever to crowd out the KMT’s support in the coming elections, it is not surprising that the questioning is more vociferous.
The internet has made Soong's long history of repression and ardent pro-unification positions easy for anyone to access. And you know they will.

It's probably too late for Soong to win the presidency, but it will certainly be fun to watch whether and how faction politicians realign themselves between the KMT, the PFP, and independent runs as Hung's support continues to slowly dwindle to the Deep Blue core. Break out your popcorn! The fall election seasons promises to be full of KMT rancor and desperate attempts to replace Hung, along with the sincerity and laughter of the once and future James Soong.

REF: Don't miss this fine article on Soong from longtime Taiwan observer Bo Tedards. 15 years old, but still great.
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Friday, August 14, 2015

1950s 1 min film from missionary group on aborigines

1950s Missionary film on bring Christianity to the aborigines
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LOLs and Polls

Pigeon coop in Miaoli

Solidarity on Twitter:
ジェームス ‏@jmstwn: Hung's pro-unification views a problem for central and southern legislators, while her support of 4th nuke plant a headache for northerners
A few polls out this week. First, the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum, which is a laughably pro-KMT organization, commissioned a poll showing what everyone knows, that Soong's presence in the race hurts the KMT (FocusTaiwan). The poll had Tsai over Hung 36 to 26 to Soong's 15. Note that it is an outlier, most polls are finding Soong ahead of Hung, as the Taipei Times observed. The poll head observed:
When asked about Soong's impact on the race, 73.1 percent of respondents said Hung's support base will be eroded while 8.5 percent said he will draw votes away from Tsai's support base.


An overwhelming majority of respondents (96.6 percent) said Soong's participation would make a Tsai victory more likely, compared with only 1.9 percent who felt his entry into the race made it more likely that Hung will win.

TVBS polls were in the news this week. @FormosaNation sent the above images around Twitter. The upper image shows Tsai ahead of Soong and Hung 38-20-17 (compare to the TCF poll above), but more importantly, Tsai is ahead in all important geographic areas of Taiwan. The poll also had Hung's support falling in crucial over-40 age brackets. It's becoming a two-way race between Tsai and Soong at the moment, with Hung threatening not merely to lose, but to become irrelevant. But it's early, and Soong still needs the support of the local factions if he is going to mount a serious campaign. Otherwise both Soong and Hung could fade into irrelevance.

Another flap this week was the nuclear flap, in which KMT Chairman Eric Chu said that the goal is a nuke free nation, while KMT Candidate Hung calls for nuclear power plants (Taipei Times). Not surprisingly, Chu is mayor of new Taipei city, where three of the nation's four nuclear generating stations are located.

Hickey Flap
Dennis Hickey, the longtime pro-KMT commentator, contributed some dreck to The Diplomat on how the students protesting the curriculum were a Middle Eastern rent-a-mob (several people attempted to reach out to Hickey about this) and quoting the KMT's international spokesman as if he were asserting facts. The KMT then attempted to use the article to show that the US government didn't like DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (DPP response)(J Michael Cole at Thinking Taiwan) in the best "foreigners validate" style. It seems obvious that the KMT fed Hickey that information and then used it against Tsai, a tight little loop of faux validation. Not the first time...

Tainan and Prosecutor Transfers
Three prosecutors on the bribery case against Speaker Lee of the Tainan City council have been promoted. Some pan-Greens contended it was the usual transfer of people who find against the KMT, but the Taiwan Law Blog observed that evidence for that is  not strong. Yet, Tim maddog reminded me that such transfers/promotions occurred when judges found against the KMT in the Ma and Chen cases...

J Michael Cole wrote on the Control Yuan's impeachment of William Lai, the popular mayor of Tainan. Lai appears to have set himself up thanks to his stubbornness, but he does have a strong point. Note that Speaker Lee, who allegedly committed bribery to win the speaker's seat, was arrested while attempting to flee to China -- yet makes bail even though he is an obvious flight risk, a common pattern among alleged KMT lawbreakers. Speaker seats are much sought after since they determine the agenda, which is going to include lots of public construction contracts that are perfect for cronies. Because of the way Taiwan institutions are set up, where people on committees defer to the wishes of committee heads as if they were dictators, the speaker probably has even more power than it appears on paper. Frozen Garlic ripped the Control Yuan on this a couple of weeks ago.

Candidate Tsai Ing-wen announced that the popular mayor of Kaohsiung, Chen Chu, would be her campaign manager. Chen Chu is widely said to be a candidate for the Veep slot, or more likely, for the Premiership once Tsai is elected. The reason I haven't been blogging much on the DPP is that party strategy for the moment is to let Hung Hsiu-chu talk herself into irrelevance.

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Japan-era Airplane ID chart

Issued in Taiwan by Japan during the war, an airplane ID chart.
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Post Typhoon shorts and links sent around this pic of cosplayers using the downed trees left by Soudelor as props... it could have been worse. There's plenty of damageporn around the net, easy to find. I'm not linking to any. Except for a few mountain communities that were pretty hard hit, especially scenic Wulai, it was a pretty moderate typhoon, blowing things around and raining hard. I drove home on the motorcycle, was nearly blown down a couple of times.

Lots happening. China's economy is slowing, even as Taiwan's exports are falling. That's bad news for locals. Until the US restores its middle class with a high minimum wage and universal health insurance and Europe gives up its austerity madness, the world economy will continue to slide. This will not be good for political stability in Asia. At home Taiwan's economy still suffers from the problems we've seen for the last two decades, says the National Audit Office:
Taiwan's economic growth was in line with government predictions, the NAO said, referring to results from the 2014 government general report, yet the labor market still sees low pay and overworking. Both factors result in an unfavorable environment for retaining or attracting talent, said the NAO.
Everyone in Taiwan with skills knows that they can go elsewhere and find work that stops at 5 o'clock and wages that enable them to raise a family. The Ma government, despite controlling both the legislature and the executive, has done nothing about wages, cost of living, etc. Why do you think everyone views the KMT with disgust?

James Soong, just entered the race on Thursday, wants Ko Wen-je, the current Taipei mayor, to be his Veep candidate. Ko has said no several times already. Lots of people are speculating about what will happen, but fundamentally, it's not that difficult. (1) A bunch of legislators will leave the KMT and join Soong. The PFP will swell, the KMT will shrink. (2) Wang Jin-pyng will lead a group of Taiwanese legislators out -- lovin' the way that Soong's attacks on the KMT for holding Taiwanese in contempt reveal the way things are among the mainlander ruling class -- and the PFP will do well and the KMT will take a huge blow. (3) No one leave the KMT.

No matter how you slice it, it's temporary. Eventually, if the KMT doesn't get lost in its ideological wilderness, it can recover some of those factions, if not the legislators themselves. Cold hard fact: Soong can't win, which means that, unless (1) or (2) happens in abundance, his campaign will gradually become irrelevant and Hung will pick up steam as pan-Blues reluctantly decide she is their only choice (a huge block of Blues will stay home, in that case -- recall the 2004 legislative election when 600,000 Blues stayed home). Another one: Soong is 73. As soon as he dies, the PFP withers to a Taiwanese faction alliance, and then to nothing. Every Taiwanese legislator can see these facts and unlike the KMT ruling clique, they are politicians without ideological crosses to sacrifice themselves on. My bet: most will stay in the KMT, as will Wang Jin-pyng.

In Taiwan politics since 1950 the KMT has struggled to suppress cross-regional alliances of local factions from forming -- since, in one sense, that's what the KMT is, so any alliances of Taiwanese threaten its power and, at the same time, its power base. Perhaps out of this wreckage something like that might emerge, or the PFP might grow into that in a decade, but I rather expect it will shrivel to meaninglessness like the New Party. At the moment the best positioned party for the long-term is the DPP...

The pan-Blue camp, distressed at the splits among the Blues, keeps generating rumors that Chairman Eric Chu will somehow replace their hopeless candidate Hung Hsiu-chu, who seems to relish her "death before dishonor!" role of losing KMT candidate. The KMT news organ reports that she maintains she will never be replaced. Happy to hear that. The Taipei Times had a more thorough report on the same topic, with comments from KMT legislators worried about Soong. Solidarity on a KMT legislator who dropped out to find meaning of life.

Key news: the government is running scared. Although university and high school teachers remain a politically cowed group as a whole, though there are wonderful exceptions, it's not enough: the government is proposing "politically neutral" education.
Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) last week suggested the possibility of drafting a political neutrality in education act, and said he hoped that, with the establishment of a transparent and credible mechanism, the educational environment would not be dominated by a single ideology.

Referring to a dispute over controversial changes to high-school social studies curriculum guidelines, which critics say reflect a “China-centric” view, Mao suggested at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday that by adopting such an act, political neutrality in education would have a legal basis, and educational content would not be dominated by a single specific value.
By "politically neutral" the premier means "pro-KMT." When my son took his Taiwan history class in college, the teacher opened the class by saying that Taiwan had experienced four waves of colonization: Dutch, Qing, Japanese, and KMT. The KMT would like to rule out statements like that, and laws like this are aimed at it. They would also like to repress activist teachers, like this guy who actually won NT$300,000 from the city of Taipei for being beaten by police during the Sunflower Occupation last year (progress!). The KMT would also like to fence in the DPP's ability to change the curriculum, and a law like this is just the ticket. Scary, eh?

That's why the DPP must win the legislature.
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Friday, August 07, 2015

Taiwan and Cocaine in the Japanese era

Fill er up.

There's a blurb in George Kerr's immortal Formosa Betrayed where he discusses the tons of coca leaf that vanished when the KMT took over Taiwan in 1945. That little remark is a clue to vast network of coca growing and processing that helped fund the Japanese colony in Taiwan, but was also part of a larger worldwide explosion of coca growing in the colonies of imperial powers of Europe as well. Consider:
The rapid rise of the Dutch to prominence in the world coca and cocaine trades took interested parties by surprise, especially the Peruvians, who until 1900 felt they enjoyed a natural birthright to the world coca market. In 1904 the Dutch island of Java (now part of Indonesia) exported only 26 tons of coca leaf; this figure soared to 800 tons in 1912 and 1,700 tons in 1920, glutting the world the world market. The Dutch built an especially productive and integrated industrial cocaine regime, but it was dismantled by decree almost as quickly as it arose.(p332)
The British also took an interest in coca production in India, but German chemists produced the cheapest cocaine out of Peru, driving most other nations out of the business at the turn of the century, and making the nation the world center of coca leaf and cocaine production. Even the Japanese bought land in Peru, and a thriving expat community helped run the cocaine business in that country.

According to the Gootenberg book cited above, Japan's interest in cocaine grew out of the State's involvement in the production of drugs. A Japanese chemist who had worked for Parke-Davis during heyday of its production of cocaine (as an anesthetic) returned to Japan and brought his expertise in cocaine manufacture with him. By the 1910s Japan's big sugar interests in Formosa had begun to invest in coca production. By the 1930s Japan was one of the largest makers and sellers of cocaine in Asia. Gootenberg observes that you can view Japan's production of cocaine as part of the larger Japanese policy of economic self-sufficiency and state-capital marriage (recall that Japan didn't define some drugs as legal and others as illegal like the US; it had no "drug problem"), or you can see it as something increasingly sinister and illicit. The latter view predominated in the US and among nations interested in stamping out the trade after 1930.

Gootenberg writes in another paper:
By 1920, Japan itself produced more than 4,000 lbs. of cocaine, which then doubled to 8,000 by 1922 (see TABLE 4). Official figures for the 1930s shrunk to just under 2,000 lbs., if considered by some historians and contemporary League officials as doctored for international consumption. (This is a hard charge to prove, though Karch has tried by putative estimates of coca-alkaloid capacity.) Exports across Asia officially dropped to negligible levels, though complaints registered about Japanese firms and reporting, as well as cases of deliberate smuggling (such as the “Fujitsuru” and “Taiwan Governor” brand vials in India). Other specialists have noted growing diplomatic cooperation between Japan and international drug officials, at least until the invasions of Manchuria and China, when opiates became a major issue. The firms making cocaine and morphine were among Japan’s largest: Hoshi, Sankyo, Koto and Shiongo Pharmaceuticals, and enjoyed growing links to major trading trusts (such as Mitsui and Mitsubishi) and to interlocking governmental, colonial and military officials. In 1934, we know that Taiwan’s [Chiayi] district kept 694 acres under intensive coca cultivation (by Taiwan Shoyaku and Hoshi); earlier plots on Iowa Jima and Okinawa fall off the record. About 300,000 pounds of Formosan leaf were harvested annually in the late 1930s.
In yet another work, Gootenberg says that by the late 1920s Taiwan was producing 3 tons of cocaine per year (Columbia produced 350 tons in 2010 according to the UN), a figure he questions in one of his books (below). The major producers were Sankyo and Hoshi Pharmaceuticals, which combined had 684 acres under cultivation in Chiayi.  Jennings' book on Japan's opium policies in Korea says in a footnote...
By the mid-1920s, Hoshi's Taiwan plantation was producing an average of 40-50,000 pounds of dried coca leaves per year, while his Peru operation average 20-25,000 pounds a year. The raw coca was shipped to Japan for processing, and most of the cocaine probably wound up in the illicit traffic in China.
Hoshi was thick with the Opium Monopoly in Taiwan and knew Goto Shinpei. In Taiwan he bought semi-refined morphine from the Opium Monopoly, shipped it back to Japan, and processed it into heroin, perfectly legal in those days. Having vanquished the opium laws, Hoshi then branched into cocaine. Gootenberg says that Formosan coca leaf had three great advantages: the Foreign Office handed out permits for it like candy, it was much cheaper to ship it to Asia than Peruvian cocaine, and it had more alkaloids than Peruvian leaf (in fact yielded twice as much cocaine as Andean coca). Gootenberg writes:
Once the refined cocaine was produced in Tokyo, Japanese law made disposing of the cocaine an easy matter. Smugglers did not even bother to repackage the standard 700-gram packages they bought from wholesalers. As a result, the brand names of the Japanese manufacturers such as Hoshi Pharmacueticals, Dai Nippon, and Sankyo Pharmaceuticals, were as well known in Calcutta as they were in Tokyo, even though medicinal cocaine exports to India were nil. 
Hoshi would also be involved in attempting to set up cinchona production for quinine in Taiwan's mountains, cultivating the first cinchona trees in 1922 and producing the first quinine in 1934 (link).

For a period in the late 1920s and early 1930s, according to Gootenberg, the Taiwan military government took over production of cocaine at one of the local firms, supplying its own label for the packaging which said "Taiwan Governor General, Central Factory." That label eventually supplanted the other leading Japanese label in India, and the British Governor-General there complained loudly about it. The Imperial Military was deeply involved in the drug trade, as papers unearthed by the US Occupation showed, escorting tramp steamers laden with opium and apparently, carrying cocaine from Taiwan to China after the war began.

Gootenberg also presents some simple calculations based on South American and Javanese examples that the Japanese were vastly underreporting their cocaine production in Taiwan, which he contends should have been nearly 7 tons annually. The Japanese "cooked their books" as the US Occupation showed; during the 1920s Japan was importing a million pounds of coca leaf from Java alone, and Japanese also operated coca plantations on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In fact after the 1920s Japan's problem was disposing of all this production, since cocaine became little used in medicine.

The war ended this "autonomous" Japanese sphere of cocaine production; the fact that Japan's production was beyond western ability to control was likely the real driver of US complaints about Japan's cocaine trade. The British also feared competition with opium from cocaine, while the US, the moral crusader on drug use, coincidentally had no colonies which produced cocaine.

Coca plants will grow most anywhere; it is something of a historical accident that today South America and not Taiwan or Java is the world center of the trade, a result of the US victory in WWII and Japan's destruction of the coca plantations in Java. Imagine the alternate universe where I am posting pictures of coca plants on farms in Chiayi during my rides there...
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Economic downers

No matter how deep you are in the mountains, there's always some McDonald's trash around.

The latest economic news is in and most of it is not good. ECFA has once again boosted Taiwan's exports to new heights failed to drive growth...

Taiwan's exports have fallen for the sixth straight month:
Taiwan's exports suffered a 11.9 percent year-on-year decline in July, the sixth consecutive month in which they registered a drop, according to customs statistics released Friday by the Ministry of Finance.

July exports amounted to US$23.55 billion, while imports in that month fell 17.4 percent year-on-year to US$19.93 billion, the tallies show. The trade balance for the month was favorable, reaching US$3.62 billion, the ministry said.
This came on the heels of news that economic growth is in a long term slump, with second quarter growth the worst in three years:
Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of this year rose 0.64 percent from a year earlier, compared with an earlier forecast of a 3.05 percent increase, according to an advance estimate released by the government Friday.
Bloomberg reported:
Taiwan’s exports have fallen in five of six months this year as demand waned in the top destinations of China and the U.S. The island’s manufacturers are also battling with mainland firms upgrading their supply chains, while local consumption has been hurt by a fall in property and share prices.

“With its heavy concentration in the electronics sector, second-quarter GDP was hurt by the unusually low level of activity in the electronics supply chain,” said Wai Ho Leong, a Singapore-based regional economist at Barclays Plc. “This was then compounded” by the stock slide, he said.
At least our Forex holdings are at record levels.

To the extent that people vote their pocketbooks, this is good news for Tsai Ing-wen. it will undermine both the KMT's claim to economic management prowess, and any promises that KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu will make about the economy. Unlikely though it might be, it may help James Soong, if he can somehow evoke the spirit of the miracle years and Chiang Ching-kuo....

But it's very bad news for the people of Taiwan...
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Typhoon Short Shorts

Staying dry here... tiny gusts of wind and blowing rain, but nothing serious. Typhoons just nod at Taichung. We feel a terrible sympathy for the people in the mountains, however. Tim maddog passed around this map from Weather Underground for the typhoon.

Before we get started, New Bloom made a handy graphic guide for the revisions to the history curriculum, both what they are, and understanding why they were made. The modern history graphic is here, the pre-modern one is here.

Two things to keep in mind: (1) the pro-China revisions are only half the problem. The other half of the problem was (2) the Ministry of Education's violations of process. Democracy is commitment to democratic processes. The students understand that -- the Ministry of Education? Not so much... to compare, Tu Sheng-cheng, the Minister of Education in the Chen Administration, compares the two revision processes in an interview.

The students wound up their protest, the typhoon giving them an excuse to leave. They claimed success, having forced the government to send the curriculum back to a "review committee" which will no doubt return it unchanged. New Bloom, which has been writing lyrically on the Occuption, observed:
Though this, of course, marks the end of the occupation itself, certainly, the movement is far from finished. However, what we might beware of at this time is that charges may be filed against student occupiers for defacing the courtyard of the Ministry of Education and for property damage, much as charges were filed against Sunflower Movement occupiers last year for damages caused to the Legislative Yuan. And what remains to be seen is what the next step of the movement will be.
The movement needs to spread to every school with walkouts, sit-ins, and teach-ins. It ain't over yet....

One thing that people have not been commenting on is that the revisions, by making the history of Taiwan totally Han-centric, eliminate the aborigines. The Taipei Times had some reporting on that. Let's hope the aboriginal communities stop voting for the KMT, which so obviously despises them...

The best moment this week was the comical affair of alleged gangsters dressing up in Imperial Japanese Army uniforms and marching to DPP HQ to protest the DPP being brainwashed by Japan. No seriously:
“We want to thank the DPP for educating the children in Taiwan to love our Empire of Japan. This is something that our own Japanese kids would not do, and something we could not force the Taiwanese to do in our 50 years of Japanizing education,” a man dressed up as a Japanese Imperial Army commander said through a loudspeaker, with a Japanese accent. “Therefore, we are here to present our certificate of gratitude to the DPP today.”
The journalist J Michael Cole has some excellent pics, here's one from Twitter. This comedy combined two great loves of locals, gangsters and skits. But recall that Chang An-le, the famed gangster known as White Wolf, spent many years in China. This may cause gales of laughter in Taiwan, but it might play better across the Strait, which may have been where it was really aimed. It does give us a glimpse of the bubble world in which these people live...

Speaking of pics, Frozen Garlic got out to take a few pics at the protests.

James Soong video ad: reclaim Taiwan pride. Soong's ad of himself covered with mud, symbolizing that he has been reborn from his sins, is brilliant, but appears lifted from a local artist's work. Unfortunately, he then  made a joke about having people shot as in the good old martial law days. This resulted in many vocal complaints about his joking. The arrogance of the mainlander ruling class at work... and note, though "restitution" has been made to families of the victims, no one has ever been punished.

Feeling the creeping ghost of irrelevancy, KMTers panned Soong's entry into the race, claiming he had wandered from the Holy Principles of Sun Yat-sen and (more importantly) Chiang Ching-kuo. They called for Pan-Blue unity.

Like Hung, Soong has a heavily documented past. Maddog has been reminding us of this video of Soong saying that he would lead a mob to attack and kill Chen Shui-bian if the then-president didn't respond to the demands of the nationalist protest against him. If you read Chinese, this PPT post on Soong is popular at the moment.

Love this FocusTaiwan (gov't website!) headline: Latest Poll Puts James Soong Ahead of KMT Candidate. What? They couldn't remember her name?
The latest poll gives Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party, the lead at 36 percent in a three-way race, compared with Soong's 24 percent and Hung's 17 percent.
Taiwan Today spun that one really hard: Taiwan Readies for Tight Presidential Race. How tight? The government rag reported:
Hung, who garnered 17 percent support in the poll, is led by Soong at 24 percent and Tsai at 36 percent. A total of 23 percent remain undecided. Regarding the eventual winner, Hung was picked by 7 percent, Soong 8 percent and Tsai 59 percent. A total of 26 percent stated that they did not know.
Why does that paragraph strike you as awkward? Because logic dictates the leading figure goes first. Unless you have KMT logic guiding you: across the entire article, every time the candidates are mentioned, Hung's name is mentioned first. Note also that the article talks about Hung a lot, Soong a bit, and Tsai... not at all. The pettiness of KMT supporters knows no limits. It's easy to see why no one takes that magazine seriously.

Liberty Times has Tsai at 35, Soong at 24, and Hung at 29. It's going to be a long election.

Hey, whatever happened to all those "whatever happens, a woman will be president" articles in the media?

The Economist logged a piece on the curriculum protests:
Above all, the new guidelines recast Japan’s colonial rule from 1895-1945. Unlike many who came to Taiwan with the KMT, Taiwanese with deeper roots on the island often emphasise the Japanese contribution to Taiwan’s modernisation. And even when they acknowledge Japanese colonial cruelty, the violence of Chiang’s regime after Japan’s surrender often overshadows it. The new guidelines insist that what was known as “Japanese rule” be referred to as “Japanese colonial rule”; Taiwanese women forced to serve in military brothels should be properly acknowledged. That is only right. But what sticks in the craw of native Taiwanese, given the brutality of Chiang’s dictatorship, is that the KMT’s occupation of Taiwan should be described as a “glorious retrocession”.
This article is more sympathetic to the pro-Taiwan side than I had thought when I first read it; the Economist has been drearily pro-KMT in recent years. But note that although it focuses on the curriculum revisions, it omits, as Ben at Letters from Taiwan pointed out on Twitter, any mention of the other half of the problem: the black box process by which the revisions were made.

Alas, I must refer to Dennis Hickey's crazed piece in The Diplomat. Hickey writes:
Many predict that Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will return to power in 2016. The party has sought to “rebrand” itself as a “responsible” alternative to the ruling Kuomintang (KMT). But U.S. defense planners cannot help but wonder if the DPP will seek to entrap the U.S. in a cross-strait crisis in an effort to achieve its dreams of independence from China. Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP presidential candidate, has done little to assuage such fears. The candidate’s positions on many of the most important issues of the day remain opaque and unclear, especially her plans for handling relations with Beijing. And despite its lead in the polls, there are concerns that the DPP has given up on democracy. For example, it is reportedly embracing a Middle Eastern practice known as “rent a mob” and subsidizing extremists who attack Taiwan’s government ministries. This makes it increasingly difficult for Americans to sensibly argue that Taiwan is a “model of democracy.”
 Note that Hickey's citation for support of Tsai's weaknesses are two articles in the Diplomat by the KMT international spokesman Eric Huang. Hardly a neutral assessment.

But the latter half of the paragraph, in brown?

Sadly, I've lost all respect for Hickey as a commentator, analyst, and above all, human being.
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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Soong: He's In!

Stalls await owners in front of a major temple in Changhua.

Months of exciting speculation are now over -- with more months of exciting speculation ahead!

Yes, James Soong, former KMT heavyweight, leader of the People First Party (PFP), a sort of KMT-lite, has officially declared his candidacy. FocusTaiwan reports:
James Soong (宋楚瑜), chairman of Taiwan's minority People First Party (PFP), announced Thursday that he will run in the presidential election to be held next January to help the country rise above political confrontations and to "find a roadmap for Taiwan's future."

Soong, 73, made the announcement as Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), appears to enjoy a healthy lead over the ruling Kuomintang's (KMT's) Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) in the race to succeed President Ma Ying-jeou, who will step down next May after two four-year terms.

Reading from a statement, Soong promised that if he wins the election, he will strive to forge a consensus among political parties in order to resolve the thorny issues that have dogged Taiwan for years.
Let's not forget what Soong is: a mainlander and supporter of "unification". He is also a canny politician and popular with the over-50 crowd. It's going to be a long campaign, but over time people will start to remember that he served the KMT security state and its dictators his whole career and that he worked to suppress Taiwanese culture and Taiwanese democracy. Stories of his alleged corruption from his time as provincial governor are going to ricochet around the media and wherever people gather to talk politics.

Polls have him splitting the Blue vote with Hung, plus perhaps picking up a few independents, leaving Tsai with a comfortable plurality of the vote. At the moment, many are saying they will vote for Soong, so he will poll well. A couple of KMT lawmakers have already gone over to him (Story of one). But remember that in 2012 he consistently polled between 6 and 10% -- then got 2.7% of the vote in the actual election.

Much will depend on how many and which politicians will follow him out of the KMT, and also what deals he can make with the DPP. The coming weeks will see intense speculation about Wang Jin-pyng, the KMT Speaker of the Legislature and Taiwanese heavyweight, as a possible Vice President or as the leader of a group of Taiwanese faction politicians who have left the KMT for the PFP. But remind your friends who say they will vote for him that the PFP is simply the KMT spelled differently -- a group of local faction politicians making a living on government patronage funding, led by a member of the mainlander ruling core.

Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, back in KMT Classic© land, Eric Chu -- remember him? He's the Chairman of the Party, although he's been eclipsed by Ma Ying-jeou, who has handed him Ma v2.0 in the form of ideological twin Hung Hsiu-chu, the Party's current presidential candidate. Today the KMT announced that Chu is Hung's "campaign chairman". I kid you not:
Yesterday evening, Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) , Deputy Speaker of Legislative Yuan and KMT Presidential candidate, said that she had requested Chu to assist her and Chu promised to join hands in her campaign. Therefore, according to Hung, her campaign office would not look for another campaign chairman; however, a campaign manager would play the role of a bridge between the KMT and Hung’s aides. Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘), a former Economics Minister and president of the National Policy Foundation, the KMT think tank, has been appointed Hung’s campaign manager.
Yes, Chu will be a "bridge" between the campaign and the KMT even though Hung's campaign manager is already head of the Party think tank -- the campaign is totally integrated into the Party. The Hung campaign basically handed him a title and told him to go in a corner and sit facing the wall til the campaign was over. As David on Formosa remarked on Twitter today, no one has squandered so much political capital so quickly.

Think the Economist will write again about the charismatic Chu? Bwahahahaha.
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