"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taiwan's DPP wins big in latest legislative by-elections

Three out of four ain't bad

Today in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Chiayi, and Hualien, Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won three of the four elections which were held to replace legislators elected to other positions in last December's 3-in-1 election.

Huang Jen-chu (黃仁杼) beat Apollo Chen (陳學聖) and two "independent" candidates in Taoyuan, Peng Shao-chin (彭紹瑾) beat Cheng Yung-tang (鄭永堂) in Hsinchu, and Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) summarily kicked Lin Te-jui's (林德瑞) ass and handed it to him on a plate (57,451 to 27,138) in Chiayi.

In Hualien, which is known as a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) stronghold, DPP candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) came in second place, but she got an impressiive 40.8% of the votes running against the winner, KMT candidate Wang Ting-sheng (王廷升), and "independent" Shih Sheng-lang (施勝郎).

Here are unofficial numbers given by various TV stations after either victories had been declared or losses conceded in all districts.
5.35 PM results via ETTV
5:35 PM results via ETTV
(Click to enlarge)
5.37 PM results via CTiTV
5:37 PM results via CTiTV
(Click to enlarge)
5.37 PM results via FTV
5:37 PM results via FTV
(Click to enlarge)
5.37 PM results via BS-TV
5:37 PM results via TVBS
(Click to enlarge)
5.39 PM results via SETN
5:39 PM results via SETN
(Click to enlarge)
So far, there have been no reports of losing KMT candidates trying to shoot anybody.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next elections in December 2010 so Taiwan's voters can clean things up some more.

Further reading:
* Here are the vote counts for all candidates via the Liberty Times.

* Download MS Excel spreadsheets (Hanzi) of official results from the Central Election Commission (CEC) web site.

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Open Letter from the producer of Formosa Betrayed

Putting Taiwan in the spotlight

Will Tiao, the producer of the film "Formosa Betrayed" (被出賣的台灣), which is being released across the United States today, sent this around [emphasis mine]:
Dear Friends,

This weekend, February 26-28, a new movie about Taiwan will be coming to theaters. Formosa Betrayed is the first American film to ever deal with US-Taiwan relations and explore the issues of democracy, identity, and justice during the White Terror period in Taiwan. The movie was largely funded by Taiwanese all over the United States and Canada, who invested over $6 million into the film. This makes Formosa Betrayed one of the largest pro-Taiwan projects ever funded by the overseas Taiwanese community. Most of these investors are not wealthy -- they are hard working individuals who came to America to provide a better life for their children.

I am one of those children.

My parents are from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. While growing up, they taught me to call myself "Taiwanese," not "Chinese." This caused them much hardship, which included being put on a blacklist. Some of their friends had worse things happen to them. In some cases, people were killed.

The Taiwanese people have suffered at the hands of many over the last century, but these stories have rarely been told or heard. As a second generation Taiwanese American, I feel it is my duty to educate my generation, as well as the world, about the struggles and suffering of the Taiwanese. We cannot allow Taiwan's history and its people's hardships to be forgotten. Once that happens, it only becomes a matter of time before these atrocities are repeated. This is precisely why I dedicated the last five years of my life to bringing the story of Formosa Betrayed to the world.

As the turbulent reaction to President Obama's recent arms sale to Taiwan shows, US-China-Taiwan relations is still a touchy subject that is greeted by fleeting interest, faint support, or --perhaps worst of all-- indifference by the American media. I am hoping the release of Formosa Betrayed will help spur greater awareness and wider discussion about these important matters in the United States and abroad. This is why I am urging you to see Formosa Betrayed this weekend with your friends and family -- to enlighten them about Taiwan's embattled legacy and its struggle for democracy.

Thank you for your time and interest.

All the best,

Will Tiao
President, Formosa Films
Producer, Formosa Betrayed
Remember that this film is based upon important real events in Taiwan's history, and do everything within your power to see it.

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lunar New Year in Taiwan: 2010

A twofer holiday!

In addition to being Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010 (Sunday) is New Year's Day as celebrated in several Asian countries. Many people use the term "Chinese New Year" to describe the holiday, despite the fact that the direct back-translation "中國新年" is rarely used; furthermore, it doesn't just belong to the Chinese.

Here's something from a couple of earlier posts related to why many people prefer to call this holiday "Lunar New Year" (Taiwanese: Lông li̍k sin nî; Hanzi: 農曆新年; Hanyu pinyin: Nónglì​xīnnián):
It doesn't just belong to the Chinese

Nor is it just "politically correct." Read about it in English and/or Chinese.

Happy Lunar New Year! 萬事如意! [=van.su_ru.yi! / wàn shì rú yì!]

UPDATE:Being in a bit of a rush to begin my vacation, I missed these links (all are presented in both English and Mandarin):* How the people of Vietnam celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of South Korea celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of Singapore celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of Malaysia celebrate Lunar New Year
And here's an update on the Taiwanese romanization which I derived by using an online dictionary on the Ministry of Education (MOE) web site:
袂記得 [bē-kì-tit/buē-kì-tit]: Every time you say "Lunar New Year," a Chinese KMT'er cries. Lông li̍k sin nî khuài lo̍k (農曆新年快樂!) Bān sū jû ì! (萬事如意!)
And as some people also say, Happy Taiwanese New Year!

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Debate on erosion of justice in Taiwan continues


Michael Danielsen, chairman of Denmark's Taiwan Corner and one of the signatories of the Open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou last November, rebuts Government Information Office Minister Su Jun-pin's (蘇俊賓) response to Richard Kagan last month with a piece in today's Taipei Times titled "Democratic liberty is fundamental."

Here are some excerpts from Danielsen's piece:
[Su] states that the government will give "due attention to possible flaws in our judicial system" and continued by stating that it will "keep pushing forward on these fronts."

I look forward to actual steps that go beyond mere words. [...]


In its report, Freedom House refers to violations of the rights of defendants in criminal cases and other new restrictions on freedom of expression and news freedom. In addition, Jerome Cohen [Maddog note: Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) Harvard professor] and Chen Yu-jie (陳玉潔) stated in the South China Morning Post on Jan. 20 that now "it [the government] is trying to introduce legislation to punish 'obstructions of justice' that will inevitably restrict defense lawyers' activities." [Maddog note: Cohen and Chen's unedited original letter; The edited version which appeared in the SCMP (PDF); Hanzi version which appeared in the Taiwan-based China Times (中國時報)]

Thus, using history over the last two decades to showcase Taiwan's democratic development is deceptive.

Su seems to have a different understanding of democratic involvement than others. Based on his words, cross-strait relations are only important to the legislature if they are related to law, and the public should only have involvement between elections via the media. However, the agreements involving China and Taiwan deal with the key issue of Taiwan's future and its existence as a free and democratic nation, and for that reason the agreements are always important to the legislature and the public because of tensions with China and that country's obvious threats to Taiwan.
Notice how Su doesn't admit to any "actual" flaws -- only "possible" ones -- and that his use of the phrase "keep pushing forward" implies that his government is already making improvements on the judicial system in Taiwan. Anyone who has paid any amount of attention to this administration will know that it is not so. Danielsen implies as much by saying that he'd like to see "actual steps" as opposed to "mere words." As usual, the retorts make much more sense than the responses from the Ma government have. Look at the reality, test the logic, and you'll see.

UPDATE: Taipei Times editor J. Michael Cole writes on his blog how the Presidential Office snubbed the foreign media on ECFA briefings -- not a good indication of anything "improving" under Ma Ying-jeou:
The Taiwan Foreign Correspondent's Club (TFCC) yesterday lodged a protest with the Presidential Office after being informed that foreign reporters would not be allowed to attend Ma's briefing. The directive is expected to apply to all subsequent monthly briefings. The TFCC was told that foreign correspondents would be able to watch in real time from the Presidential Office press room.


I communicated this with Reporters Without Borders Asia, which responded by calling it a "disturbing development."
How "transparent" is that? [/update]

The prequels
Here are the 12 previous episodes of this long-running series, listed below in chronological order:
* November 6, 2008: Scholars and writers from around the world publish an "Open letter on erosion of justice in Taiwan." The same letter -- as an online petition -- has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

* November 25, 2008: Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) calls the open letter "inaccurate."

* December 2, 2008: "Eroding justice: Open letter No. 2" counters Wang Ching-feng's claims.

* January 8, 2009: Over a month later, Wang Ching-feng comes up with "clarif[ications]" regarding the open-letter writers' so-called "misunderstandings."

* January 21, 2009: "Eroding justice: Open letter No. 3" is addressed to President Ma Ying-jeou.

* January 24, 2009: Two more "US-based Taiwan experts add [their] names to open letter [No. 3]."

* January 25, 2009: President Ma claims the public had gained confidence in the judiciary in 2008 -- the exact opposite of what this Taiwan News article tells us they actually felt:
According to recent surveys conducted by Academia Sinica and the Web site Yahoo! Kimo, over 50 percent of the people do not believe in Taiwan's judicial system and over 75 percent have no confidence that the Judicial Yuan will undertake judicial reform [...]
* May 22, 2009: An estimable group of scholars and writers -- 26 in all, and each one with a deep understanding of Taiwan and the surrounding facts -- has composed an open letter addressed directly to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). The letter addresses the ever-increasing problems with judicial fairness, press freedom, the lack of transparency in the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) rapprochement with China, the loss of Taiwan's sovereignty, and the loss of human rights. The argument the letter makes is rock solid. It is based on demonstrable facts.

* November 9, 2009: Then there were 31. The Taiwan News publishes an "Open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou by 30 international scholars" which reminds us that "a decrease of tension across the Taiwan Strait would indeed be welcome, but [...] that this should not be done at the expense of the hard-won democracy" and that "Taiwan should be more fully accepted by the international community as a full and equal partner." (Here's a version with 31 names on the web site of one of the signatories, Jerome F. Keating, Ph.D.)

* December 13, 2009: Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) submits the "GIO response to Nov. [9] open letter" to the Taipei Times.

* December 25, 2009: Richard Kagan, professor emeritus at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota and one of the signatories of the November 2009 letter, replies to Su Jun-pin's silliness in "GIO's response misses the point"

* January 8, 2009: Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) churns out A GIO response to Richard Kagan (one of the signatories of the November 9, 2009 "Open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou by 30 international scholars") in which Su compares apples and oranges by imagining that other people don't know that China wants to annex Taiwan while the Taiwanese people don't want to be part of China, ignores what has happened to Hong Kong in the past 12 and a half years, talks about the "double-taxation" issue as if China won't still get those taxes from Taiwanese businesses, pretends to forget that Taiwan's Straits [sic] Exchange Foundation (海峽交流基金會) chairman and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice-chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) referred to himself as a "rubber stamp," complains that his government has no control over anything, ignores the KMT's continued attempts to take over Taiwan's Public TV (PTS, 公共電視), confuses gains in local elections with a balanced legislature and a president who listens to majority opinion without oppressing minorities or stupidly saying out loud that he "sees them as humans," and completely omits the fact that the talks regarding an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) -- which Chinese officials say "will certainly bring about complete unification of the motherland [sic] -- have been anything but transparent and have not been subject to legislative oversight. These things, Mr. Su, are clear signs of an erosion of both justice and democracy.
How long will this go on? Until the people of Taiwan kick the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) out for good -- that's how long!

Cast of characters: , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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