Taiwan Votes 2008!

Taiwan has voted for a new legislative, and the KMT has secured a big majority. Congratulations to the new legislators.

The incumbant DPP administration has been hammered and in many ways rightly so. It is still obsessed with droning on about what the KMT did many years ago, Taiwanese identity, etc. Whilst they all have their places in campaigning, they can’t put food on the table or give someone a job. In contrast the KMT generally focused on domestic issues like the economy. Sure it isn’t that bad, but Opposition parties never admint that in an election – in every country they exaggerate the problems and failures, whilst ignoring the successes. Why help your opponents?

I believe that the KMT are now in a very strong position to win the Presidential election in March. The legislative election reminds me of John Major’s (Conservative Party) defeat in the 1997 UK general election. Things were not really that bad in the UK, but Labour came in with a “time for a change” campaign. This often happens in democracies – people get tired of the incumbants and look for another party to mix things up a bit. That the legislative has been controlled by the KMT and its allies hurt the DPP’s legislative programme, but voters normally blame the executive for lack of initiatives – that’s the price of living in a democracy (people can be unreasonable).

Yes, the KMT ruled Taiwan for decades in a repressive manner, but the Labour Party used to campaign for CND, making the unions powerful and high taxes – that didn’t stop them in 1997 presenting a new image. Similarly the KMT has reinvented itself in Taiwan. The DPP’s problem was that it refused to accept the KMT could change and wouldn’t adapt to fight them in the present day. They seem to act as if we were still in the 1980s. “Fear the past” campaigns rarely help keep incumbants in. It failed in 1997 for John Major and will probably fail for Gordon Brown (Labour Party) when he fights David Cameron (Conservative Party) at the next general election.

It would probably be a disaster if the DPP won the presidency, not because of the candidate (I think Frank Hsieh would be a good leader), but because the legislative would fight with the executive again. If the KMT had only won a small majority, it might have had its expectations quashed. But now it will want the presidency back – failure to win it will result in another four years of bitter confrontation. The idea that the KMT would split after another presidential defeat is probably wishful thinking, especially now that it has such a large majority – it could easily survive a modest split. Furthermore the KMT will have the ability to initiate the recall of the president as it has more than a 2/3 majority. I’m sure they would play that card at some point, further causing trouble.

A unified legislative and presidency would allow Taiwan to actually do what it has to do. The legislative would stop playing around with the budget and spending to spite the DPP – the military would be able to get new weapons more quickly (the KMT does want to order new equipment but blocked orders for years out of spite towards the DPP). I’m not suggesting a legislative and presidency should always be controlled by one party, but in Taiwan’s special position (i.e. threatened by China and diplomatically isolated) unified political leadership can be helpful.

Yes, the KMT will push for better ties with China – that’s good. There will be no “surrender” because the KMT does not trust the CCP and never will. On the other hand, China will have no excuses. There will be no alternative administration it could hope to negotiate with. It will be the KMT or no one. Further troublemaking on its part will finally demonstrate that China, not Taiwan, is the problem. If on the other hand Beijing and Taipei reconcile it would be good for both sides.

So what about the DPP? Well it has taken a small but necessary first step – Chen’s resignation as party chairman. He was a disaster in leading them through the election, not fighting on issues people really care about. After he finishes his term in office, he needs to disappear from politics and let those with new ideas rebuild. Because the DPP does need to change. It needs to fight on issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis. China and the KMT’s past aren’t relevant until you’ve got the core issues wrapped up with a good manifesto. After March the DPP will need to focus on the first rounds of local elections to rebuild support at that level.

Taiwan isn’t heading back to a one party autocracy because the democratic system is too firm – the public wouldn’t allow the KMT to go back to their old ways. Furthermore, if the KMT take the presidency they will have no excuses – they will have the ability to do whatever they want, so failure will be down to them. Eventually the electorate will want to give the DPP another go provided it shapes up. If the KMT turn into the Taiwanese equivalent of the LDP in Japan, it will be because of the DPP’s inability to make itself electable.

On a side-note, if anyone complains the system isn’t fair – well it isn’t. But that’s because the DPP didn’t want a fair system where seats were allocated pretty much in line with the votes obtained nationally, they wanted a system where they could get a majority of seats without a majority of votes (like we have in the UK). That’s why they and the KMT voted for it, whilst the smaller parties objected. The DPP paid the price for being greedy.

Raj

The Discussion: 68 Comments

I don’ think Michael Turton would say the same thing as you, Raj. He thinks that the KMT won SOLELY through vote-buying, without attributing it to the DPP’s own incompetency in running the island. Sometime ago, he has been pontificating about how the KMT was put on the defensive through DPP’s historical revisionism and playing of the “independence” card. In the end, Michael got it all wrong. However, Michael being Michael, the ever die-hard pan-Green ideologue, he would called it disaster or whatever. The thing interesting about people like Michael Turton is, whenever the party he supports wins, he would call it a clear victory and triumph for the people of Taiwan. But when it loses, he would swiftly become a doom-sayer and declare that the DPP’s defeat has got to do with everything except for the DPP’s own inept leadership.

Long Live the Republic of China!

January 13, 2008 @ 12:59 am | Comment

Oh and one more thing, when Chen Shui-Bian tried to scare voters by saying that electing a KMT-controlled Legislative Yuan would turn Taiwan into a SAR of the PRC like Hong Kong and Macau, it reminds me of how Michael argued that if the KMT ever regain the presidency, it would sell out Taiwan eventually, only a matter of time.

Michael does seem to be in sync with Chen’s frivolous political stances.

January 13, 2008 @ 1:05 am | Comment

sp, I agree that Michael exaggerates sometimes – a KMT win does not automatically spell disaster for Taiwan. If they get elected, they get elected.

DPP supporters need to accept a KMT presidency if it does arrive – otherwise they’ll be no better than the KMT in 2004.

January 13, 2008 @ 1:16 am | Comment

Raj,
Kudos for writing a very perceptive post.

I voted Green Party today. Even though I was more sympathetic to the DPP upon my return to Taiwan a few years ago, I can’t help but notice recently that all the major-league idiots are on the green side. Hello, Department of Education…and my hatred of Chen truly peaked when I found out his new house is number 228.

The DDP has been repudiated, and that’s well and good. Time for them to go to the corner and think about what they’ve done.

January 13, 2008 @ 2:12 am | Comment

Corrupt and inept (still far better than their counterparts in China) as it is, DDP has done a good job in helping build a true democracy in Taiwan.

January 13, 2008 @ 5:54 am | Comment

DDP has done a good job in helping build a true democracy in Taiwan.

Credit where credit is due, that is correct. However, that isn’t enough to win elections – if only the DPP had realised that.

I think another problem was that many in the party felt they had a “right” to be in charge because they were the activists, and the KMT had been the establishment they were fighting against.

January 13, 2008 @ 7:27 am | Comment

Rather a different reaction here than at some of the pan-Green blogs. The general consensus there seems to lean towards the idea that Taiwan is now doomed, the KMT will sabotage Taiwan’s democracy so that they never lose again, and sooner or later their leadership will cold-bloodedly sell the island out to China. Abandon all hope, ye Taiwanese independence seekers!

Or not. Regardless, that’s democracy for you. Hopefully it will stay that way.

January 13, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Comment

DDP has done a good job in helping build a true democracy in Taiwan.

Credit where credit is due, that is correct. However, that isn’t enough to win elections – if only the DPP had realised that.

Well, KMT has peacefully transfered the power to DPP. However, not until Ma wins and DPP is willing to transfer the power, by then I will give the credit to DPP.

Also, the new congress can impeach Abien easily after Fed. 2. Do you think they will do it? Just because an impeached president loses all retired benefits after stepping down.

January 13, 2008 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

I think that this post doesn’t show much real knowledge or understanding of what actually happened here. I’ll be commenting at length in the next couple of days, once my finals are past here.

Michael

January 13, 2008 @ 4:08 pm | Comment

The incumbant DPP administration has been hammered and in many ways rightly so. It is still obsessed with droning on about what the KMT did many years ago, Taiwanese identity, etc. Whilst they all have their places in campaigning, they can’t put food on the table or give someone a job. In contrast the KMT generally focused on domestic issues like the economy.

Crap like this, for example. It’s important to sort out perceptions from reality. The economy is banging along here, with exports and inward FDI at record levels and economic growth at 5.4%. We are now the number 2 exporter to China. The idea that people “can’t put food on the table” (statistics please) is wildly overdrawn. Stagnant incomes are a severe problem that neither party is talking very seriously about, though as a commentator pointed out on my blog, the DPP’s regional development plans might help address this, though the legislature will never permit it, and the pan-Blue media will never discuss them. The KMT is able to obstruct the legislature and blame the DPP for incompetence only because the media is pro-Blue — if the national media were halfway competent, the KMT would have been killed. Essentially, the party that has prevented the government from functioning for the last eight years got rewarded with an overwhelming majority. Go figure. Pat conventional wisdom explanations aren’t going to work.

The interesting thing is the numbers, which in some ways are more and more puzzling the more you view them. The number of DPP voters showed a modest increase over the ’04 LY elections, of about 140,000, to 3.61 million. If people were pissed at the DPP, why didn’t the DPP vote fall? Similarly, the KMT managed to return to its 1998 and 2001 levels. More and more, 2004 looks like an anomaly, when 600,000 KMT voters stayed home. Had the KMT reached its normal mobilization levels, the DPP would have been killed in 2004 as well. Bottom line: the KMT successfully mobilized its people, while the DPP still hasn’t solved the problem of getting its people out for LY elections. The smaller parties do not appear to have been a factor.

Bottom line: clearing away the cobwebs of conventional explanation like the DPP living in the past and the economy sucking and all the talking points that clang through the media and blogosphere, and looking at the numbers, this was actually a very typical Taiwan LY election — it is just that with the winner take all districts, the results were disproportionately pro-KMT, as intended when the districts were gerrymandered into existence. The DPP got 40% of the vote but just 20% of the districts.

One more point: Hsieh is basically screwed. With the LY in KMT hands, even if elected, he’ll be recalled at the first opportunity, just as Chen was in 2001, and earlier, as Taipei mayor. Moreover, with the supermajority in the LY to provide cover, local level election shenanigans, like we saw with the referendum, are going to rise. These will be pro-KMT. I expect one of the first moves of the new LY will be to eviscerate the Central Election Commission.

Michael

January 13, 2008 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

Also, the new congress can impeach Abien easily after Fed. 2. Do you think they will do it? Just because an impeached president loses all retired benefits after stepping down.

Yes, I think they will. Nice touch, that bit about benefits.

Michael

January 13, 2008 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

DPP supporters need to accept a KMT presidency if it does arrive – otherwise they’ll be no better than the KMT in 2004.

Yes, that’s right raj. I was just looking for a truck I could drive into a government building, when I found to my chagrin that I didn’t own one.

Michael

January 13, 2008 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

Arty —

If the president is recalled, can’t he dismiss the legislature? What will happen then? If you were the KMT, would you want to risk all that right now? Because the DPP would have almost nothing to lose from dismissing the legislature. It could hardly do worse.

raj is soooooo right about one thing — the winner take all districts were stupid, and coupled with the gerrymandered districts, meant inevitable KMT dominance.

Michael

January 13, 2008 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

The sooner Chen Shui-Bien leave DPP alone the sooner DPP can recover.

I don’t think Hseih’s presidential bid is doomed. He just need to rely much more on his personal appeal and differentiating himself from Chen. He need to trash all the old DPP platform and come up with new message.

On other hand, I think Chen has more things to worry about, such as packing his bag and run out of the country before his presidential immunity runs out. Won’t be very long time before the police come knocking down his doors and arrest his whole family for corruption charges.

January 13, 2008 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

Yes, that’s right raj. I was just looking for a truck I could drive into a government building, when I found to my chagrin that I didn’t own one.

Michael, don’t be sour. I never suggested DPP supporters would riot. I’m talking about accepting it in their heart of hearts.

Hsieh is basically screwed. With the LY in KMT hands, even if elected, he’ll be recalled at the first opportunity

The legislative can only initiate the recall – it’s up to the public to decide. If there was no real reason to recall him then the KMT would be punished by the public.

the winner take all districts were stupid, and coupled with the gerrymandered districts, meant inevitable KMT dominance

The DPP accepted the first-past-the-post system because they were greedy – they have only themselves to blame on that front. As for the district boundaries, the CEC and Pan-Greens agreed with most of them by consensus with the Pan-Blues. There were few places where the Pan-Blues won over objections – and in some cases the Pan-Greens option won.

Also, the new congress can impeach Abien easily after Fed. 2. Do you think they will do it?

Arty, I don’t think that they will at least until after the presidential election – they may not after. If they do it might push the public to elect Hsieh as a counterweight. They promised not to only last night, so it would be very risky doing so now.

January 13, 2008 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

As usual, typical ranting that is no less ideological from Michael.

1) Michael touched upon the issue of a so-called “pro-KMT” media. Come on, Taiwan is in its post martial era. While there will be some who would be pro-Blue, there will also be some who would be pro-Green. Its not as if the KMT managed to totally shut off the DPP from media attention and coverage. After all, you have Liberty Times, Taipei Times and tonnes of underground radio station in the pan-Green camp too. And you have the Government Information Office in the hands of the DPP.

2) And the notion at looking just at the absolute number voted for the DPP and hence concluding that people were not pissed with them is being too simplistic. Why not ask why the DPP has performed so badly in its stronghold in Southern Taiwan especially in Kaohsiung? Even in Tainan City’s Constituency No 1, the DPP won by a razor thin margin of 900 odd votes. Such mediocre performance even in your geographical fiefdom would have told you that there is something seriously wrong about the DPP. And Raj summed it up very clearly that the DPP too was greedy and had agree to the new electoral changes because such changes are perceived to be beneficial to large parties like itself.

3) The entire world, including Taiwan, has been facing economic challenges of globalization. Places such as Hong Kong and Singapore have at least put in place measures to brace themselves for it. As for Taiwan, when aggregate macro-economic figures are healthy, it does not mean that the ordinary Taiwanese people are not facing economic difficulties on the ground for instance increasing living costs and economic restructuring. In Taiwan, Chen’s Administration, rightly or wrongly, has been perceived as solely obsessed with the unification-independence issue, historical revisionism and name rectification, getting into the UN etc etc. What about the economics? The people don’t see Chen doing anything. Well of course you can blame it on your bogeyman, the KMT-inclined media etc etc. But let me ask you, did the DPP have a comprehensive economic manifesto for the election? The electorate has simply no idea what plans the DPP has for the economy. On the other hand, the KMT at least has pledged opening up the Three Links and allow more mainland tourists to come to Taiwan. Chen, apparently as stubborn as a mule, left Taiwan for Guatemala, choosing to focus on national identity issues instead of thinking about the domestic issues that cost the DPP its legislative race.

Raj, I have told you that when it comes to the DPP’s stunning defeat, Michael would definitely go into the “everything else is to blame except for the DPP’s own fault” mode. See what i mean?

January 13, 2008 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

sp, please remember that this blog works best when people discuss things politely between each other – I take a very dim view of anyone who tries to antagonise another/create tension.

Michael is sometimes very astute with his commentary. It is true that at the moment the Taiwanese media can be considered more pro-KMT than pro-DPP. It isn’t about the DPP not having a way to get their message across, it’s how most people receive it. They don’t read every newspaper out there, or listen to every radio and TV station. They’ll focus on a couple. So if the KMT is getting its position out through a large enough number of media outlets, most people will hear what it wants to say.

In the UK, for many years after the Labour victory in 1997 the Conservative Party was unable to get fair coverage on the media. In 2001 election they were asked by many commentators why they were focusing on the issue of the Euro. The response was “but we spent an entire day talking about the NHS yesterday”. The media gave scant coverage to most of their policies and just focused on one or two. So media bias can really work against a party.

However, Michael can also exaggerate the DPP’s challenges. I don’t believe the DPP had a good, balanced manifesto at all. Even media bias cannot account for a part of the defeat. The Conservative’s Party lack of revival in 2001 was because they allowed their campaign to get side-tracked onto the Euro. Similarly the DPP panicked and defaulted to a few things that people respond better on – China and KMT history. But that doesn’t win elections.

The voters weren’t interested in the same old, so only the core came out as usual for the DPP. Whereas the KMT were able to pick up light blue “stay-at-homes” and some floaters with a campaign that promised “change”, which is currently what they seem to want after Chen. Hsieh might benefit from that now he’s gone, but the electorate may also want a unified legislature and presidency.

January 13, 2008 @ 9:54 pm | Comment

I don’t know why Raj thinks Frankie Hsieh wil be a good leader, but I can tell you this:

First, I don’t want some superstitious crackhead who worships some dude supposedly equipped with supernatural powers (does Song Chi-Li sound familiar) to lead my country.

Second, I couldn’t care less for his smarty-pants manners and bickering style of political discourse.

Lastly, I haven’t heard any concrete political agenda from Frankie, other than the airy, or silly, “felicity economy”. While the KMT has campaigned around the theme of improving the economy, our Frankie has scoffed at it as a concern for farm animals.

If these facts about Frankie have eluded you, I can only say this: learn to read Chinese. Only then will you really know what’s going on.

January 13, 2008 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

I can’t understand the apologetic tone of people who don’t have deep ties in Taiwan towards the DPP. Michael, iirc you’ve been in Taiwan for several years and married into a DPP family, correct?

5.4% growth can still happen with an incompetent executive, I don’t even know if the CCP uses China’s growth rates to cover for its other failtures. 5.4% is also not good enough for a country that was so well positioned to benefit from China’s economic growth.

January 14, 2008 @ 5:03 am | Comment

If these facts about Frankie have eluded you, I can only say this: learn to read Chinese.

For sure. It’s refreshing to see people who don’t live in Taiwan, don’t have deep ties in Taiwan, and who can’t read/understand Chinese talk about how politics there. Some really interesting perspectives, that’s for sure.

January 14, 2008 @ 5:05 am | Comment

Rob

I don’t want some superstitious crackhead

You have evidence that Hsieh does crack? Then how come the KMT, quick to dish the dirt on any opponent, doesn’t know this?

worships some dude supposedly equipped with supernatural powers

Sounds like most organised religion to me.

I couldn’t care less for his smarty-pants manners and bickering style of political discourse

Yeah, because the KMT don’t bicker either!

While the KMT has campaigned around the theme of improving the economy

Improve it as Siew suggested when he demanded Taiwan be turned into a “free trade zone” within three years? That would cause huge amounts of trouble, as countries couldn’t return the favour just for Taiwan – they’d have to do it for everyone. So realistically Taiwan would be left without any means of protecting its domestic business whilst not receiving any benefit in exports.

Even if he wasn’t mentioning policy, if that’s the sort of economic thinking that’s coming out of the KMT then everyone should be worried.

learn to read Chinese

Or you could remove the beam from your eye.

ferin

5.4% is also not good enough for a country that was so well positioned to benefit from China’s economic growth.

How do you figure? Taiwan already has a big trade surplus. It could increase, but simply being near to China doesn’t equate to more growth.

Taiwan is fast becoming a developed country. A developed country with over 5% growth would be driving up interest rates to slow it down.

It’s refreshing to see people who don’t live in Taiwan, don’t have deep ties in Taiwan, and who can’t read/understand Chinese talk about how politics there. Some really interesting perspectives, that’s for sure.

I would say that living in Taiwan, reading Chinese and being married to a Taiwanese woman means that Michael does quite well.

Whereas I don’t think you or rob live in Taiwan, so I guess that would also prescribe you two from having a Taiwanese partner. But, hey, I guess if you read Chinese you know everything. It’s not as if the Chinese-language media never lies or distorts the facts.

January 14, 2008 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Taiwan is fast becoming a developed country. A developed country with over 5% growth would be driving up interest rates to slow it down.

Taiwan is a developed nation since the mid-90s. My economics professor correct me on that when I ask him if he is sure about it.

Personally, I still think Taiwan’s GDP data is weird because how could you have 5% plus growth while your deflater and CPI are negative….???

Actually, since the US economy looks like is about to take a serious dive, DPP should glad that they lost so badly because KMT might have a handful once they took over.

January 14, 2008 @ 5:44 am | Comment

I would say that living in Taiwan, reading Chinese and being married to a Taiwanese woman means that Michael does quite well.

Rather I read Chinese, have family (that have been there for 500 years) in Taiwan and I’ve spent several years there.

Don’t think the “Taiwanese wife” thing really helps, especially if she’s some DPP stooge.

January 14, 2008 @ 7:19 am | Comment

I should add that the KMT has been good and lucky at the populist politics of economics this time. KMT’s legacy and resources, let us not forget, are far greater and longer than many here remember. Also, the economic “woe” of Taiwan is NOT some DPP problem to blame (haha, and by Western European standard, Taiwan’s economy is not too bad! People are just not adjusting to the sudden shift from the go=go years and foamy dreams of yesteryears) but a tremendous change of the geopolitical and economic shift (aka China’s rise).

January 14, 2008 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

[I]Rather I read Chinese, have family (that have been there for 500 years) in Taiwan and I’ve spent several years there.[/I]

So far as I know, Michael lives in Taiwan, has lived in Taiwan for a decade or more (not sure how long, but a long time), has seemingly no intention of leaving, studies the politics and society of the island a WHOLE lot more than your average born-and-bred Taiwanese, speaks the language, reads the language….

….but nope, his great great grandparents didn’t live there, so no ‘deep ties.’

If only he could have had ancestors who lived on the island since before Koxinga! Then he would have something to say! Then we could take him seriously! Pity.

Regardless, I guess we can safely ignore him. Let’s go ask a ‘deeply-rooted’ Taiwanese high school drop-out with no interest in politics for his perspective instead.

January 14, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | Comment

Incidentally, this particular card (‘It’s a black/Chinese/Taiwanese/French/Azerbaijani/Eskimo thing, you wouldn’t understand/can’t comment’) is painfully overplayed in Asia. I’ve seen Koreans use it, Chinese use it, Japanese use it.

The one I always remember was a Korean undergraduate telling an American Korean studies PhD who had lived in Korea since the late 1980s, spoke Korean, wrote Korean, regularly translated Korean, authored essays on Korean history, etc. there were just some things ‘only Koreans’ could understand, and therefore he shouldn’t comment. Uh huh.

Needless to say, while I might sneer a bit at someone fresh off the plane suddenly throwing themselves with gusto into fighting for the DPP or KMT, Michael has more than put in enough time living in and studying in Taiwan to say whatever he pleases and be taken seriously.

January 14, 2008 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

Raj,

Obviously you have no idea who Song Chi-Li is. Anywhere else in the world, Frankie’s religion would be called a cult. Does David Koresh ring a bell? How would you like YOUR country to be led by a cult follower?

By the way, I do live in Taiwan. Born and raised there. What makes you think otherwise?

Since Frankie hasn’t mentioned any policies, just exactly what makes you think he’ll be a good leader?

“Yeah, because the KMT don’t bicker either!”
Now that’s a dead giveaway that you either can’t or don’t bother to read Chinese-language sources.

“It’s not as if the Chinese-language media never lies or distorts the facts.”

True, but then that can be said of any media. Still, you need to read Chinese-language sources to get to know these people, what they say, and how they say it. That will tell you a lot about their characters.

ferin,

“I can’t understand the apologetic tone of people who don’t have deep ties in Taiwan towards the DPP”

Here my suspicion. These foreigners’ support for the DPP is not so much rooted in their love for Taiwan as it is in their hatred for China. The DPP (very cleverly, or just taking their cue from Dubya) waves the freedom banner and shouts democracy with every other breath they take through their gills. There are always some gullible foreigners who will fall for this kind of knavery. In their minds, the DPP is the party of freedom fighters dead set against the big bad China. China is evil. Therefore the DPP is good. Simple as that. The pan-green camp is for independence (just like William Wallace in Braveheart, eh), while the pan-blue camp is “pro-China”, and that’s VERY bad indeed.

January 14, 2008 @ 1:44 pm | Comment

I do live in Taiwan. Born and raised there. What makes you think otherwise?

Your IP address says you’re in the UK. Of course, you could be vacationing…

January 14, 2008 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

These foreigners’ support for the DPP is not so much rooted in their love for Taiwan as it is in their hatred for China.

Exactly. They want to literally toss Taiwan into Chinas’ maw, hoping to cause a military conflict that would destroy China’s economy and cause political upheaval. The human cost isn’t anything to far right Americans and Blue Team psychopaths. They don’t even care about their own citizens. They also constantly provoke warhawks and Maoists in the CCP, ignoring the impact on Taiwanese and other neighboring Asian states.

I’ve seen Koreans use it, Chinese use it, Japanese use it.

It’s because you REALLY don’t understand it. It’s not ethnocentrism. God knows how some simple things are so poorly understood, but wow. It’s more about society as a whole rather than just politics. If you know a lot of people you get a better feel of how things are.

I don’t want to get too much into detail, but half of my family is DPP (a lot of them have lost faith in the party) and another half is KMT. But I’ve come to witness DPP thuggery and reckless social engineering firsthand and it lowers my opinion of a significant element within their current electorate as well as their candidates.

From what I see, Taiwan is doing alright, no thanks to the President, (the assertion that ties with China are harming Taiwan’s economy are idiotic) but it could do better.

The reason why I said Taiwan is well-positioned to take advantage of China’s growth is not proximity but understanding of the language, culture, and especially ties in China. But it’s important to avoid empowering ultranationalists in Beijing and to take a humanitarian perspective on China.

January 14, 2008 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

‘It’s because you REALLY don’t understand it. It’s not ethnocentrism.’

Oh? How many more years would Michael have to live in Taiwan before he becomes eligible to comment on Taiwanese politics, in your view? 10? 20? Or is it just something that his non-Taiwanese mind will never, ever grasp? The argument essentially amounts to, ‘I’m right because I was born here.’ If that isn’t ethnocentrism, what is?

I am an American. If I were to tell a Chinese-born person who speaks perfect English, has lived in the United States since the 1980s or 70s, has American citizenship, studies American history, studies American politics, has tons of American friends, etc. that he ‘can’t know’ something about America or ‘can’t comment’ on American politics just because there are some things only ‘we Americans’ can understand, I’d expect him to react with complete disgust. And rightfully so. It’s both bigoted and pathetically stupid.

If you disagree with the man’s point, argue with him, but don’t sneer at him for being born overseas. That’s a cowardly, lazy tactic. I recently met an American who lived in Taiwan literally from the very beginning of the KMT era until just a few years ago. I assure you, with or without his white skin, he has every right to say whatever he pleases about Taiwan.

January 14, 2008 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

Very interesting…

I am not too familiar with the qualification for “Native Taiwanese” and “In-Province” that DPP has set for their ideology. Can some DPP advocate enlighten us on that?

Personally I can trace my family lineage in Taiwan to my great grandfather’s generation, but my grand mother came to Taiwan from China before World War 2. I can speak Taiwanese at a very rudimentary level. So I have about 1/8 non-pure “non-Native” blood. Do I qualify to be “Native Taiwanese”? Or am I still a “Out-of-Province” person that is the ethnic enemy of the Native Taiwanese?

In any case, Michael doesn’t qualify though according to DPP.

January 14, 2008 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Qin Shi Huang

Drop the moral grandstanding and pull the race card less. I didn’t specifically criticize Michael; I was primarily referring to Raj, who I think has dubious credentials.

That, and 10 years in Taiwan doesn’t matter if, for 80% of your entire life, you were raised with an American perspective.

I get the feeling that while he does a read a lot of information, he is heavily biased in favor of the DPP.

But go ahead and think what you want, the 1.5 billion people in China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea are wrong and you’re right.

January 14, 2008 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

with or without his white skin, he has every right

I assure you, I’m an active supporter of the rights of the disenfranchised White People all around the world.

January 14, 2008 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

“Your IP address says you’re in the UK”

Not quite. Actually, I am currently in the Netherlands ๐Ÿ™‚

January 15, 2008 @ 12:35 am | Comment

Is it really that necessary to be impartial to make good comments?

And what about the old saying in Chinese “the spectators see more of the game than the players”?

January 15, 2008 @ 12:38 am | Comment

‘And what about the old saying in Chinese “the spectators see more of the game than the players”?’

That doesn’t apply if the spectator choses to see only half of the game, or isn’t familiar with the rules of the game, which is what’s happening here.

Unlike China, Taiwan doesn’t get a lot of international news coverage. So if you can’t read Chinese, you are bound to miss a lot of information.

January 15, 2008 @ 12:54 am | Comment

“Unlike China, Taiwan doesn’t get a lot of international news coverage. So if you can’t read Chinese, you are bound to miss a lot of information.”

You don’t have to know all the details to be qualified to make comments, do you?

A westerner who knows a lot of Taiwan and one who knows little but the fact that it has been an actual independent country for more than 50 years, would quite likely draw the same conclusion that it should have its independence.

So what’s the difference here?

And the complexity of those issues means, as I understand, having more information doesn’t automatically guarantee you make a good judgment. It’s likely again that with more information you might come to a wrong conclusion, while the person with less information a right one.

January 15, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Comment

This type of election defeat is long overdue for DDP. By the way, Raj, the election result shows it is necessary for you to modify your view points on Taiwan and China a little bit.

January 15, 2008 @ 1:25 am | Comment

Skin color does not determine how much a person knows but it certainly can influence that person’s place in any society and thus their perspectives of that society.

A banana in America may not know less about “America” but I reckon there is still some small but still arguably significant aspect of “American society” that he can never truly understand that a white person might. Likewise, he won’t truly be able to fully understand and see things as a black person might or a Hispanic person. It is the same as saying a white American will arguably never understand America quite the same way as a Chinese-American.

I’m new to commenting here so I’ll go on to say that I’m assuming Michael is white. Be that it may that he lives in Taiwan, studies Taiwanese politics, is married to Taiwanese, or whatever, I do think we’re going to have to be realistic and admit that, yes, his skin color just MIGHT play a role in how he perceives and understands Taiwanese/Chinese society and politics. And that’s not even talking about ideas and notions socialized into him from his formative years.

Is he wrong? Not necessarily, but I do think it is intellectually dishonest to insist that the world doesn’t suck. We can easily say the white American who lived in Korea all his life probably knows more than some nationalistic Korean half-twit in high school but maybe, just maybe, there really ARE some things one can’t understand without actually being Korean (by skin and genetics).

January 15, 2008 @ 1:48 am | Comment

Oh? How many more years would Michael have to live in Taiwan before he becomes eligible to comment on Taiwanese politics, in your view? 10? 20? Or is it just something that his non-Taiwanese mind will never, ever grasp? The argument essentially amounts to, ‘I’m right because I was born here.’ If that isn’t ethnocentrism, what is?

Michael can say whatever he wants. However, I think it will hold more weight if he and his kids naturalized as Taiwanese citizen and renounce the US ones. Personally, I want the pro-green to listen to him because nothing beats a bad advise from your oppositions bad advisers :).

I am an American. If I were to tell a Chinese-born person who speaks perfect English, has lived in the United States since the 1980s or 70s, has American citizenship, studies American history, studies American politics, has tons of American friends, etc. that he ‘can’t know’ something about America or ‘can’t comment’ on American politics just because there are some things only ‘we Americans’ can understand, I’d expect him to react with complete disgust. And rightfully so. It’s both bigoted and pathetically stupid.

The key is citizenship. We are still very unforgivable on any foreigners talking about our politics because we usually tell them to leave if they are not happy here. That’s why you don’t see expats in America blogging about US politic at all. Btw, where I worked right now at least 60% holds H1b Visa. They do not get involved in US politics.

Oh, I only have US citizenship, but I am blogging because I bet my family holds more lands and properties than Michael in Taiwan. And I have repeating saying that I am presenting my own interests and American interests (or at least I think that way).

January 15, 2008 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Rob

Obviously you have no idea who Song Chi-Li is.

I know who he is. I’m not interested whether people believe in “cults” or whatever. There are plenty of good people who do and plenty of bad people who don’t. What you believe in doesn’t demonstrate whether he/she is a good leader.

By the way, I do live in Taiwan. Born and raised there. What makes you think otherwise?

Because I can’t find a single post you’ve made on this forum that has been from Taiwan. Do you only use the internet when you’re abroad?

Now that’s a dead giveaway that you either can’t or don’t bother to read Chinese-language sources.

Ok, your credibility has just dropped to zero if you’re really insisting the KMT does not bicker.

Still, you need to read Chinese-language sources to get to know these people, what they say, and how they say it.

First of all I read a lot of translated material. Second these days the English-language media carries most of the relevant news.

It’s much more important to be able to draw the right conclusions from news than be able to access every tiny bit. Clearly you can’t do the former, else you would admit the KMT does bicker too.

January 15, 2008 @ 2:32 am | Comment

A westerner who knows a lot of Taiwan and one who knows little but the fact that it has been an actual independent country for more than 50 years, would quite likely draw the same conclusion that it should have its independence.

Yeah but what they can’t understand is that China won’t allow them to have it unless they fine tune their policy.

Beating your chest, screaming blood and soil identity politics, picking fights, and resorting to subhuman behavior does not win you independence.

Only an ivory tower twit who has spent all his life in a developed nation, whose knowledge of independence movements and geopolitics is restricted to 5th grade U.S history, is not quite wise in suggesting the DPP set Taiwan down the path to collective suicide.

Mind you I am not directing that last harsh section to any posters specifically, just the general idea that Taiwan is 1776 America; and the tone it’s sometimes conveyed in.

I’m just skeptical of the ape-like, insular worldview hardcore DPP have.

January 15, 2008 @ 2:54 am | Comment

The Taiwanese are not at all interested in war with China. All that they want is their hard-earned freedom and independence. That is not ape-like. It is ape-like to insist upon a false “reunification” under a dictatorial government with the support of a nuclear arsenal.

January 15, 2008 @ 3:05 am | Comment

The Taiwanese are not at all interested in war with China. All that they want is their hard-earned freedom and independence. That is not ape-like. It is ape-like to insist upon a false “reunification” under a dictatorial government with the support of a nuclear arsenal.

What is apelike is foreigners parroting mindless anti-China garbage and using straw man. Even fewer people suggest reunification.

Taiwan is already independent. Just don’t say it to China. As for the PRC stepping on Taiwan’s toes when it comes to international organizations.. well, what can you do?

I have my beliefs on what the ROC can use to leverage itself against China, but it doesn’t include involve a retard president ruin the place.

January 15, 2008 @ 3:34 am | Comment

err

but it doesn’t involve a retard president ruining the place.

January 15, 2008 @ 3:35 am | Comment

resorting to subhuman behavior

Like a certain political party did in 2004 by attempting to storm the election commission HQ by crashing a truck into the building?

January 15, 2008 @ 5:12 am | Comment

Like a certain political party did in 2004 by attempting to storm the election commission HQ by crashing a truck into the building?

Like a certain political party tossing sewage into buildings? Or certain political parties punching women in the skull so hard she gets brain damage?

You’re welcome to impress me with statistics rather than anecdotes.

January 15, 2008 @ 5:21 am | Comment

I hate to admit it, but Dingo at January 15, 2008 01:48 AM ans Arty are RIGHT! Indeed Anglo Americans will arguably never understand America the same way as Asian-Americans. Most Brits don’t get Americanism and vice versa. Sure, an ABC, BBC may know as much about American history and culture but there is still arguably a significant aspect of white American society that he can never fully grasp or see things as a black or a Hispanic person might. We are all spiritual beings and perhaps this is our spiritual distinction that make us all special.
Of course Anybody can say whatever they want about another culture, but there’ll always be the matter of innate metaphysical differences, therefore resistance will be inevitable UNTIL a spiritual bond is established. Anyway, that’s how rumor has it.

January 15, 2008 @ 7:41 am | Comment

Bing,

It’s interesting that you get so hung up on some old Chinese saying.

Next time you get ill, don’t go see a doctor. Come to me. I ain’t no doctor, but I do know where some key anatomical parts are. Sure, I might have less medical information, but I’ll fix you jobby.

Raj,

While I do agree there’s bickering by both camps, they do it to different degrees. But because you can’t read Chinese, you are totally oblivious to that.

Yet that’s a digression. My original remark was about Frankie. As an admirer of his, you presumably are well versed in the words of wisdom that have come out of his mouth, no? Of course, those words were all Chinese, but I suppose you’ve read the English translation.

January 15, 2008 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

Anyway Raj, the DPP including Hsieh still don’t get it just like Chen Shui-bian. Chen thought that removing Chiang Kai-shek’s statues and massive “de-Chiangisation” would win elections for the pan-Green. Up till now, what i have heard from Hsieh was still the same old line: Don’t vote for the Ma Ying-jeou because he would take Taiwan back to martial law. Hsieh has yet to show what he would do if he is elected. Instead, like Chen, he wanted the electorate to fix their eyes on history. True, the DPP may win the history argument but they may lose the future with their obsession with history.

January 15, 2008 @ 6:20 pm | Comment

“Next time you get ill, don’t go see a doctor. Come to me. I ain’t no doctor, but I do know where some key anatomical parts are. Sure, I might have less medical information, but I’ll fix you jobby.”

Rob, a doctor will much likely make a better diagnosis than you do no matter how much more “raw information” you have.

Would reading the whole library to a cow make it a scientist?

January 15, 2008 @ 6:27 pm | Comment

I wasn’t trying to say that information isn’t important. It is. Just don’t assume that you are more entitled to comment on something only because you are better informed for whatever reason, and vice versa.

January 15, 2008 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

I’m entitled to criticize a specific view or an entire worldview.

January 15, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

The DPP is a party with an opposition mindset it can’t overcome. It’s highpoint was in the days when it was in the opposition to the KMT and that’s all it can provide to its base supporter. This election shows it can’t overcome that mindset and run as a majority party running on issues that mean something to the majority of the people. Who knows, maybe they’ll thrive again as the opposition.

January 15, 2008 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

Bing,

I am not trying to rob (no pun intended) any one of his entitlement to his opinions.

I AM saying that some people are ill-equipped to understand the situation “in the field”. That’s my opinion, and some disagree with it. Simple as that. (Why do I have to explain this elementary concept to begin with??)

By the way, here’s a glimpse of Frankie’s view of improving relationship with China. I suppose Raj already knows this:

大陸妹來 謝長廷:搶咱的尪

【聯合報╱記者曾增勳/桃園縣報導】 2008.01.09 03:07 am

民進黨總統參選人謝長廷,昨天在桃園縣虎頭山明倫三聖宮前拜票時,批評國民黨這幾年擋預算,造成經濟成長減掉百分之一。立委選舉如果國民黨拿下75席,「中國大陸妹進來,咱的尪就被搶了了」。

Feel free to check the accuracy of the report if you doubt the authenticity. Has this been reported in any English-language media? Can any one here imagine a US presidential candidate saying things like this and not be flayed by the whole country? Is this guy really good enough for us Taiwanese?

January 16, 2008 @ 1:01 am | Comment

wow, after trolling Michael’s site for the past few months, your site is a breath of much needed fresh air. well done!

January 16, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Comment

KMT’s past is every bit relevant in this election. It was the entrenched KMT infrastructure (on many levels) helped KMT to win the landslide – aided by the new election law of course. It is like the best case of “the empire strikes back”. For Taiwan’s sake, I do hope that KMT reinvents itself. It certainly has done so in campaign slogan, propaganda but not in substance. Many reform bills promised by KMT have consistently been butchered by KMT in LY. KMT even boycotted its own referendum measure. I am not too optimistic. May God (Buddha will be fine too) bless Taiwan, we desperately need it.

January 16, 2008 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

It was the entrenched KMT infrastructure

Not really.

January 18, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Comment

ferin(s) said:
“Beating your chest, screaming blood and soil identity politics, picking fights, and resorting to subhuman behavior does not win you independence.”

Does that mean that the People’s Republic of China should not be independent? Cause you accurately described the CCP’s attitude towards Taiwan.
By the way, are you aware of the fact, that with the word “subhuman” you are using Nazi terminology?

January 19, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Comment

Cause you accurately described the CCP’s attitude towards Taiwan.

No, I didn’t. Learn how to read. While they are being pretty aggressive, given that they’re the larger and more powerful entity butting heads is not a good idea for Taiwan. Why bring up the PRC, anyway? Stop derailing topics with idiotic comments.

By the way, are you aware of the fact, that with the word “subhuman” you are using Nazi terminology?

Nice try. I’m fairly certain the concept of “subhuman” has been circulating for quite a while before then.

January 20, 2008 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Yes, you did. Being “the larger and more powerful entity” doesn’t make it right to point missiles at Taiwan. But you don’t have to worry about that, because you are living in the USA anyway.
Of course, anybody who doesn’t agree with you is an idiot (or worse and we both know what kind of language you like to use).
“Subhuman” or “Untermensch” is a term that the Nazi used for people they didn’t really consider human, that way justifying what they did to Jewish people, gypsies and other human beings they considered “inferior”. Don’t tell me you are not aware of the fact that the use of this term shows a profound contempt for human beings in general.
Just grow up and learn how to disagree in a civilized way!

January 20, 2008 @ 7:13 am | Comment

doesn’t make it right

Who said it was right? Like I said, Taiwan’s survival relies on understanding geopolitics, not hippie feelgoodism like declaring independence or exhorting to some concept of “moral conduct” between nations.

Once again you come in and attack me assuming I’m on China’s side, because you can’t seem to understand that being anti-DPP and critical of “the West” does not translate into being pro-CCP.

Subhuman” or “Untermensch” is a term that the Nazi

No, the word’s etymology predates Nazi Germany.

January 20, 2008 @ 10:42 am | Comment

Yes, you did. Being “the larger and more powerful entity” doesn’t make it right to point missiles at Taiwan.

Personally, I don’t think is right. However, we (USA) point missiles at Russia, and Russia points their missiles at us. Don’t be so upset, it is how things done internationally. I guess a lot of people in Taiwan haven’t figure out why Brazil stop issuing them Visa. Let me give you guys a hint. Did you remember what Taiwan do to Brazil when one of the tour group got robbed in Brazil early last year? Think about it and make some connections. I still don’t get why Taiwan’s foreign officials don’t even know the basic rules of engagement in diplomacy. For example, do you know a country’s President should never go out to the airport to greet visitors?

“Subhuman” or “Untermensch” is a term that the Nazi used for people they didn’t really consider human.

Nazi had used that word but it did not originate from Nazi. Christian-antisemitism has long been associated with labeling Jew sub-human. There is a reason why that they were allowed to be bankers during the medieval and the Renaissance while all Christians were forbidden to do so. It is similar to today’s Islamic banking system if you are wondering why. A good Christian can’t use money to make money in the old time.

Also talk about labeling groups of people none human, ever heard of Dred Scott case:

You are a private property and you don’t deserve equal rights.

Here is a link:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933.html

Don’t tell me you are not aware of the fact that the use of this term shows a profound contempt for human beings in general.
Just grow up and learn how to disagree in a civilized way!

Personally, I don’t know using “sub-human” is a big deal like using the N word or the C word. At least in the US, I don’t even think people will use “sub-human.” It is just not a phrase that even register that much in usage. Racial words like N and C are usually the first to come out. I guess Ferin can use something like stop crying like a little baby and grow up etc. which is what the most DPPs are doing now day…crying like little kids. Wait did one of the DPP officials used this phrase and got owned by himself? Now the media in Taiwan is jokingly saying he should stop crying like a little kid and goes back to his Ala Mater (actually where he used to teach).

January 20, 2008 @ 11:25 am | Comment

@ferin(s)

Go to the thread entitled “Re-evaluation trebles number of Chinese on $1 a day or less” and look at the last few comments! Look at what you yourself wrote less than a month ago! You accuse me of attacking you? You gotta be kidding.
So, if a country that already has been de facto independent for about half a century, also wants to be officially independent, that’s “hippie feelgoodism” to you? Enough said!

Subhuman” or “Untermensch” is a term that the Nazi

“No, the word’s etymology predates Nazi Germany.”

If you quote me, could you please quote me in whole sentences?
The word’s etymology predating Nazi Germany (I do know about Nietzsche and all that) doesn’t change the fact that during the Third Reich the word “Untermensch” became a term for certain groups of people who were considered worth less than other human beings, by which the Nazis tried to justify their crimes against humanity.

January 20, 2008 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

@Arty

“Don’t be so upset, it is how things done internationally.”

I’m not upset. Tearing ferin’s silly arguments apart is one of my hobbies.

“Nazi had used that word but it did not originate from Nazi.”

Just read my answer to ferin(s)!

January 20, 2008 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

also wants to be officially independent, that’s “hippie feelgoodism” to you? Enough said!

Yes, it is. Use common sense if you can. Lets say a fat, greasy criminal that’s double your weight assaults you in a dark alley with a knife and tells you not to say “peanutbutter”.

What do you do? Say the magic word and die because you’re an obstinate ass or do the intelligent thing, value your de facto independence and choose to play the game differently?

January 22, 2008 @ 5:15 am | Comment

PEANUT BUTTER! Bad analogy. First of all it all takes place in the public square where the fattest greasy criminal is Uncle Sam. Funny, it is always the ones with the least common sense who’d accuse others for lacking it.

January 22, 2008 @ 7:41 am | Comment

@rumour

You are right, it’s a bad analogy, because it would mean the whole world is watching a person getting assaulted by some thug.
I like how ferin(s) calls the CCP a “fat, greasy criminal”. I can’t help repeating myself, ferin(s) is really good at describing CCP politics.

January 22, 2008 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

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