2008 - 2nd Quarter Writings

Book Review by Richard Kagan Ph.D. of "Taiwan, the Search for Identity"

Friday June 27

The title of this book, "Taiwan: the Search for Identity," shares its name in whole and/or in part with over 220,000 published works in the Google.com list. If one were to just search for the sub-title, there would be another 4,736 identified publications. The topic of Taiwan's identity is one of the compelling issues of our time. I cannot overstate the fact that the issue of a nation's, culture's or individual's identity IS a global issue. It is much too parochial and narrow-minded to believe that it will be easily resolved or mediated by a simple resolution or formula. ...

The KMT Revives Memories of its Blacklist

Thursday June 26

Those who know Taiwan history, know well of the infamous blacklist created by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during the period of White Terror. This list was used to suppress any form of dissent or challenges to the KMT's monopolistic rule and image. Its main purpose was intimidation and the victims were not only Taiwanese but even foreigners. Anyone who expressed a dissident view or took a dissident position was put on the list and banned from entering the country. Some were even listed because they checked out library books overseas that the KMT did not think proper. What many do not realize however, is that although martial law ended in 1987, the KMT continued to keep and update this blacklist for another five years until 1992. So now that democracy is finally here in Taiwan is all this past? Not on your life. ...

Are Ma and the KMT Betraying Taiwan?

Saturday June 21

Recently the Pan-blue press has been trying to make a mountain out of a molehill in the Diaoyutai islands. There have been suggestions of war accompanied by jingoistic saber-rattling. In reality what may be involved is that Taiwan's President wants to distract the public from how much he has been kowtowing to China to hopefully gain some tourist dollars. In the Diaoyutai Affair, members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) seem more interested in trying to stake a weak claim at sovereignty over these rocks than protecting the sovereignty of their country. The extent to which these islands provide a platform for political posturing and distraction has been accented by the recent revelation that as far back as December, Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT had urged the United States to not provide Taiwan with the necessary arms to defend itself. They wanted to postpone arms sales indefinitely. Why? They were worried about offending the bully across the Strait and afraid China might keep them from fulfilling a campaign promise of Ma to bring in some China dollars. Such a principled president. ...

The Diaoyutais Incident: Ma Ying-jeou Fails the Action Test Once More

Friday June 13

The Diaoyutais Islands are just a bunch of rocks and as such they would not be worth fighting over. What makes them valuable of course is the possibility that there may be oil below them; that plus the fact ownership would allow Taiwan, Japan or China (three claimants to the islands) to extend their territorial waters. So the collision on Tuesday of a Taiwanese fishing boat with a Japanese patrol vessel at that location has all the makings of an international incident. Now it is Friday, three days later and we still have yet to hear from Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou. Do we have a president? His silence is deafening. ...

Tiananmen, China, and What They Call Progress

Sunday June 08

The 19th anniversary of Tiananmen Square has come and gone. Over one hundred of those who led and participated in the demonstrations and were not killed are still prisoners languishing in jail. Wang Dan, an exiled leader clearly advocates that what was sought by the demonstration were greater rights for the people of China. He bemoans the fact that little has since been done to advance those rights. What is more, a surprising majority of the observers around the world have remained silent on these facts as they profited from China's cheap goods. Nineteen years later and nothing to show regarding this; this is unfortunate but true. Even more surprising, however is the fact that some have had the gall to write articles or express their opinion that China has made progress in recent years. Ma Ying-jeou, the president of Taiwan, a man with a platitude for every occasion is one of them. The question naturally follows, what sanctimonious criteria do these China praisers use to make such a claim? ...

The KMT's Questionable Sunshine Loyalty: When Will Taiwan Wake Up?

Sunday June 08

As outsiders and losers, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) came to Taiwan; it was only by force of arms that they took colonial rule over the island. They remained and kept a one-party state resisting attempts to democratize the island for close to a half a century. When they lost in elections, they threatened to take their ball (and the stolen state assets) and see what kind of a Quisling deal they could work out with China under China's terms of re-unification. Now it is also being revealed that they had more than one escape route to benefit them and their families. What route is that? Dual citizenship and green card status in the United States. ...

Ma Ying-jeou, the Excuses Keep Coming

Sunday June 08

There is more to being president than making promises and taking pictures. Does anyone remember Ma Ying-jeou's touted "long stay" in the south; the one where he spent a brief time with the people there to supposedly show his sympathy and understanding? That was the same stay that the infamous "farmer's daughter" incident came up and Ma's spin doctors tried to create a cultic image only to have it blow up in their faces. Well the touted long stay has turned into a short, very short memory. ...

1992--The Consensus That Never Was

Sunday May 25

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." These words of Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister for Adolph Hitler come to mind each time someone mentions the 1992 Consensus, the alleged agreement between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This agreement holds that there is one China open to different interpretations; it implies that Taiwan is part of that one China. The '92 Consensus has been bandied about since Su Chi, then a KMT Straits Exchange Foundation official invented it in 2000. The most recent use of this made-up term came in the inaugural address of Taiwan's newly elected president Ma Ying-jeou. Why Ma still clings to this fabrication speaks volumes on his character, his lack of courage and leadership, and his modus operandi. ...

Ma Ying-jeou Begs China Not to Put Him on the Spot

Saturday May 24

Ma Ying-jeou has already said he won't honor his 6-3-3 campaign promise, now as KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung is preparing to lead a sixteen member delegation to China, Ma is worried. His request, ask the Chinese not to bring up the sovereignty question. Why? It is not just to keep the talks moving, Ma wants to keep the fudge factor that he depends upon so that he can speak out of both sides of his mouth. During his campaign for the presidency, Ma pledged that he would defend Taiwan's sovereignty to the end; so did Frank Hsieh. Now if a delegation from the DPP were going to China, there would be no question of where they stood on Taiwan's sovereignty. In Ma's case however, there is not. And he does want to be put on the spot of actually having to say to China that he and his party will defend Taiwan's sovereignty. Ma's solutiuon, please, don't bring the sovereignty subject up, I don't want to be forced to make a real life decision and committment. If he had to actually choose, then he could no longer keep his Mr. Nice Guy image. Sound familiar. ...

Taiwan Post Election Awards III

Saturday May 24

Prosecutor Wu Wen-chung qualified for numerous awards recently when he joked with reporters that Chen Shui-bian should be given the death sentence because the KMT accuses him of misues of his "state affairs" fund; this is all before Chen has even been questioned and before it has been decided whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial. Award givers are debating which category Prosecutor Wu best fits. Is it the "Fair Play and Justice Befitting a Prosecutor" Award? Or the man most dedicated to the "Return of the KMT Thug Mentality" Award? Or the "Another Example of the Peter Principle and a Man Promoted Far Beyond His Capabilities" Award. Perhaps Prosecutor Wu deserves all three awards. ...

Taiwan Post Election Awards II

Friday May 23

Diane Lee qualifies for the "Not Me" Award. Legislator Diane Lee states that she no longer holds US citizenship, because she became a legislator. However, US Citizenship requires that a person in such a position must write a formal letter for such. Someone needs to tell Diane that simply putting your US Passport in a drawer and using your Taiwan Passport for the duration does not qualify for giving up one's US citizenship. No formal letter has been produced. There is more however. ...

Taiwan Post Election Awards I

Friday May 23

The inauguration of Ma Ying-jeou had barely finished when everyone began to show their true colors. A series of awards are thus in order. First of all, Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min got two awards. The first was the award for claiming expertise in a field totally foreign to one's training. At a briefing of the National Defense Committee he stated that Chen Shui-bian's stomach wounds were not caused by the 3/19 shooting in 2004. How did he know, well he did not have any proof to offer, but he just knew. Since what he was talking about happened in 2004, he also qualified to share the "Get Over It" Award. ...

Ma Ying-jeou, the Drama of it All

Monday May 19

On the eve of his inauguration as President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou described his feelings as "treading on thin ice and standing on the edge of an abyss." How true. It is only natural that when you have promised everything to everyone, that sooner or later it sinks in that people will realize you cannot deliver. It is also only natural that when you have claimed to be what you are not that sooner or later more people will see through the two-faced pretense. ...

Can Ma Ying-jeou Hide the Cracks in the Facade?

Sunday May 18

Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration is near at hand; the visitors are arriving and the press will have their cameras out. To be sure his speech will be full of promises and more promises and will paint a rosy picture of the future but despite all that the cracks in the fašade are widening. First of course Ma's 6-3-3 pre-election promise (6 percent growth, 3 percent unemployment and an average income of NT$30,000 a month has already been abandoned. Almost immediately after his election the Pan-blue press began to make excuses as to why he might not fulfill this promise. Ma later confirmed these predictions. Taiwan's economic growth this past year was near 5.13 percent; it had averaged 4.1 percent between 2000 and 2003. The global average has generally been around 3.2 percent so Ma's promise to make Taiwan's growth to 6 percent was the first to fall. As for the other two promises, don't count on them either. ...

Inauguration Games

Sunday May 18

It appears that Frank Hsieh will not attend Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration; reason given is that Ma has already reneged on his campaign promises even before he has taken office. An extra unofficial reason may be that Hsieh was given the parking place with number 44--not an auspicious number. It makes me wonder who got that parking place in 2004 and in 2000? Nevertheless, our local English Pan-blue rag stated in an editorial that Hsieh's act was one of "sour grapes." Yet somehow, when Lien Chan after defeats in 2000 and 2004, boycotted the inauguration of Chen Shui-bian, Lien's acts were portrayed as noble and righteous. That's life in our political city. ...

China, Tibet, Feng-shui and More?

Saturday May 17

It may be post hoc reasoning, but with the problems of the Olympic Torch relay, the recent disasters in China, and in particular the earthquake in Sichuan Province, the Feng-shui masters and commentators in Taiwan have been having a field day on the airwaves. The first point taken focused on the bringing of the Olympic Torch to the top of Mount Everest. This upset the balance of nature and earth; Fire (the torch) should never be over water (the ice and snow on the mountain). Naturally the earth protested and hence the massive earthquake in Sichuan. Pride goeth before the fall. ...

China Says Let Bygones be Bygones, Of Course They Always Do

Thursday May 08

Am I hearing things or am I am hearing things? Hu Jintao now visiting Japan has told the Japanese that they should not dwell on history. It is important, he went on, to remember history, but people should not hold grudges. Is this the same China that continually tells Japan they must apologize and apologize over and over again for World War II because it is never enough? Is this the same China that continually sends its brain-washed citizens into the streets to protest against Japanese businesses and tourists? Is this the same China that goes ballistic whenever any Japanese person of note visits the Yasukuni Shrine? No I must be imagining things, China does not dwell on the past from the Opium Wars on to the present and this month the French and Carrefour are the target. Now Tibetans, however, that is another story ...

Going to the Olympics? Leave the Kids at Home

Tuesday May 06

The Olympics are just a few months away, and for those planning on going to the Olympics in China this year, a new wrinkle has appeared to threaten those plans. Enterovirus 71 or EV-71 is spreading across the country. Already present in two provinces, this virus is particularly deadly to children and has already claimed 26 fatalities; overall there are 6,300 total reported cases in the population. One only has to think back a few years to the spread of SARS and remember the irresponsible way it was handled by the Chinese authorities to give one cause for concern. ...

A Borrowed Voice, Taiwan Human Rights through International Networks 1960--1980

Sunday May 04

A new book, "A Borrowed Voice, Taiwan Human Rights through International Networks, 1960--1980" written and edited by Linda Gail Arrigo and Lynn A. Miles, will be coming out shortly. This book covers the tumultuous years of Taiwan's movement toward democracy and the many people that underwent persecution and paid a heavy price for Taiwan's present democracy. The Borrowed Voice is that of international organizations like Amnesty International which the Taiwanese had to borrow since their own voice was stifled by persecution, imprisonment, torture etc. of the repressive one-party state they lived under. What makes this book all the more poignant is the fact that many of the players (from James Soong to the participants of the Kaohsiung Incident to Lee Ao) in that period are still around. You will get many personal perspectives that will enlighten you ...

China Welcomes Loser Lien Chan, Their Kind of Man

Saturday May 03

Lien Chan is in China for his fourth visit and one cannot help but wonder why Hu Jintao delights in discussing cross-strait relations with a known loser in Taiwan. Lien has never really won an important election in Taiwan. Perhaps that is his appeal to someone like Hu, who is naturally not keen on democracy and elections anyway. Other questions naturally follow. Does the loser Lien want to prove that he is a player though he never had a good reputation as such in the past? Perhaps he is looking for a place where his millions acquired as Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will go a lot farther when he thinks of retirement? ...

Taiwan Vignette III, Vincent Siew and the High Cost of Humiliation

Sunday April 27

A short while ago, vice-president-elect Vincent Siew of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) returned from the Boao Forum in Hainan. Siew's trip was hailed by Taiwan's Pan-blue press as a breakthrough; the kind of thing we need to stimulate Taiwan's allegedly faltering economy, after all, we only had 5.7 % growth last year. While there at the forum, Siew had a chance to have a twenty minutes meeting with China's president Hu Jintao. At that meeting Siew brought up four requests including the resumption of a cross-strait dialogue, normalization of bilateral trade and economic ties, weekend cross-strait charter flights and opening Taiwan to Chinese tourists. Hu endorsed two of these proposals, the opening of Taiwan to more Chinese tourists and weekend charter flights. ...

Taiwan Vignettes II, the Rising High Cost of Housing in Taipei and Taiwan

Saturday April 26

Ma Ying-joke is not yet president but people are already starting to see problems behind the fašade of his simplistic cure-all systems and promises. If you remember Ma was the one who was going to open up China for investment as well as invite the Chinese to invest in Taiwan, and everyone would become rich. Well last week our first group of well-heeled investors from China came over and interestingly enough a prime target they looked at for investment was not business opportunities but Taiwan�s housing market, in particular, that of Taipei. With deep pockets, they began to sense that it would be fashionable as well as advantageous to start buying up real estate in Taipei. China is developing tycoons and while they will want alternate housing in the Americas and Europe, there is something appealing about having a place just off-shore where things are a little more free and easy and you can drop over for the weekend. ...

Taiwan, China, and the Olympics; This Is Not About Politics. Thank God!

Monday April 21

The selection of China for the Olympics was not political; it was just done to legitimize the claim that China despite Tiananmen Square and despite its dismal human rights record is on a peaceful rise. After all Tiananmen Square was ages past, and China has changed, so China deserves the Olympics because China has been begging to prove it is a legitimate world player. Certainly China wants to show it can crack heads and get away with it. That's not politics it is --- Well let's move on. As the Olympic torch has passed through various countries, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was told that it should abdicate its responsibility for sponsoring the torch run because China felt the IOC was not doing the proper job of protection. After all, who is in charge of the Olympics? We are not talking politics; it may be abdication, but well it is --- Well let's move on. Yes China has dictated that its goons and thugs should take charge of the torch relay, for China is on a peaceful rise, and only China can best express this to the world and the rest of you idiots better shape up. Tibetans you should be thankful that China is bringing in all those Chinese shopkeepers to run the businesses in your captive country; let the Han Chinese citizens trash Tibetan culture. That's not politics, that's business right? ...

Taiwan Vignette I: The High Cost of Pandas for the Alleged Depressed Economy

Thursday April 17

I have always professed that Ma Ying-jeou was a window dressing mayor and politician and that he promises more of the same as president. But now it seems that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin is also trying to get in on the act with the panda connection. All this flies in the face of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential campaign issue of the alleged poor state of Taiwan's economy under President Chen Shui-bian. Taiwan voters were sold the bill of goods that the country was suffering from its mere yearly growth of 5.7 per cent. The solution was to elect Ma Ying-jeou to boost the economy. He promised a whopping 6 per cent. ...

Taiwan Gets Support from Down Under

Thursday April 17

On Saturday April 12, two Australians addressed the Taipei Breakfast Club on salient Taiwan issues. First was 26 year old, Dr. Lily Wang, CEO of the Australian Taiwanese WHO for Taiwan Action Association. Lily, who had returned to Taiwan from Australia to vote in the presidential elections spoke of the problems that the 23 million people in democratic Taiwan and that the rest of the world face because Taiwan is denied any representation (observer or otherwise) in WHO and other world organizations. Why? The answer is simple China would rather let the world play Russian roulette with disease and epidemics so that China can maintain its unfounded claim to the island nation. Taiwan is in her words, the hole in the net of global disease defense through which any and all things can get through. Unfortunately the rest of the world allows itself to be held hostage to the blackmail efforts of China which does not protect its own citizens from its cover-ups let alone worry about the citizens of Taiwan. ...

Troubles in Tibet? It's All the Dalai Lama's Fault, Just Read the "China Daily"

Monday April 07

Have you been seeing the fictitious problems of the symbolic Olympic torch that supposedly needs a huge protective guard as it starts its journey around the world? Have you been reading about the riots and suffering in Tibet? Pure fabrication says the "China Daily." The world is much too sympathetic to the incorrectly reported plight of Tibetans. Such were the findings of my trip across the Taiwan Strait this past holiday weekend into China, the land which specializes in freedom of the press or is that freedom to oppress? There in the Middle Kingdom of Pollution, Poison and Propaganda, the media presented the real scoop, it is all the fault of the Dalai Lama. ...

Bolton Nailed It; Taiwan Needs to be Independent

Tuesday April 01

Taiwan deserves full diplomatic recognition by the USA and other nations. These nations should recognize the state that has existed for some time in Taiwan, and the state that the Taiwanese wish to preserve. That was the gist of John R. Bolton's piece in the March 29 edition of the "Los Angeles Times" which highlighted the refreshing approach that Taiwan needs to be independent, to have a healthy economy and to maintain ties with China. ...