Archive for November, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow on its Way

Winter for a Weekend, November 27, 2010

Winter for a Weekend, November 27, 2010

“Ice in November to bear a duck, rest of the winter will be slush and muck” is a much-quoted Yorkshire adage, but nothing that British meteorologists would always agree to, writes Martin Wainwright of the Guardian. Winter has arrived in Britain.

As weather rich in precipitation usually comes from the West, Northwestern Germany should be prepared for some of the same weather that Scotland and Northern England are now under. Forecasts here say that there will only be snowfall near the coast today, but we will get some on Thurday, and more on Sunday.

We had a small foretaste of it this weekend, but it was no big handicap yesterday or this morning.

Last winter was strong and lasted for months. But my own experience makes me believe in the wisdom of the Yorkshire people. An early winter (just as an early summer) tends to evaporate quickly.

Monday, November 29, 2010

JR’s Scientific Taiwan Municipal Elections Analysis

Yes, dear pan-blue reader, the KMT has won the municipal elections – because the China Post and Cindy Sui, apparently a freelance journalist based in Taipei, have said so.

And yes, dear pan-green reader, the DPP has won the municipal elections – because it got a lead of more than 5 per cent over the KMT in the popular vote, even if three out of the five municipalities that voted on Saturday will still be governed by KMT mayors.

Can we get past this discussion now? Great. Then let’s turn to something you will hardly find in the mainstream media: a scientific approach to the election results. Obviously, JR can’t be too comprehensive and has to be choosy. So the following will be Taipei and Kaohsiung City’s mayoral election results of the past twelve years. Think of it as a beginning of JR’s research which will grow gradually.

There’s a nice little data mine online, published by the Central Elections Committee (中央選舉委員會). I hope I’ve copied and calculated them correctly. You can compare it all with the original CEC stats yourselves, through the datamining link mentioned above. So here’s a bit of history…

Taipei & Kaohsiung Mayoral Elections, 1998

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 50.09%; DPP 46.88%; New Party 2.22%

The New Party, or 新黨, split away from the KMT in 1993, accusing KMT chairman and Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui (李登辉) of de-emphasizing the KMT’s “pro-unification” [with China] position. It should therefore count as a pan-blue party – probably even more so than the KMT itself at the time, in terms of leaning towards “re-unification”.

A Pan-Blue / Pan-Green count would spell 52.31% : 46.88%.

Taipei & Kaoshiung Mayoral Elections 2002

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 57.85%; DPP 41.01%

When looking at these numbers, it is hard to see how then president Chen Shui-bian (DPP) would win a second term in 2004 (as he indeed managed to do) – especially when bearing in mind that he would face one rather than two competitors in the 2004 elections. In 2000, Chen had won 39.3 per cent in the presidential elections – the traditional KMT vote had basically been split between the KMT candidate Lien Chan (23.1 %) and independent (but originally KMT) candidate James Soong (36.84%).

Now it will depend on how you want to look at municipal elections: as a rather local affair, or as something indicative for national trends. One can  safely say that Chen Shui-bian’s performance wasn’t rated too postively by the Taiwanese public, in 2002. And as David M. Lampton and Travis Tanner pointed out in a paper for the Nixon Center in 2005, the KMT had strong arguments in the presidential elections two years later:

Frequently during the election campaign, the Pan Blue candidates pointed out that during Chen’s first term in office foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan fell from $7.61 billion in 2000 to $3.58 billion in 2003, Taiwan faced record 5.17 percent unemployment in 2002, and Taiwan suffered its first ever recession in 2001.

Two years after Chen was re-elected after all, there came the 2006 municipal elections:

Taipei & Kaohsiung Mayoral Elections 2006

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 52.11%; DPP 44.08%; Taiwan Solidarity Union 0.49%; Taiwan Defense Alliance 0.09%

In Taipei, the KMT was down from 64.1 per cent in 2002, to 55.7 per cent in 2006. That however could be attributed to the fact that Hau Lung-pin (or Lung-bin) was the KMT candidate, rather than Ma Ying-jeou, who had been the party’s candidate (and highly popular incumbent mayor) in 2002. In any case, the DPP kept trailing in the mayoral elections in Taipei, and won only narrowly in its Kaohsiung stronghold (by 0.15 per cent on its own – if  TSU and Taiwan Defense Alliance votes would be added to the DPP’s share, the pan-greens in Kaohsiung would have led by a margin of 1.23 per cent over the pan-blues.

Taipei & Kaohsiung Mayoral Elections 2010

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 37.37%; DPP 48.49%; Independents or others 14.14%

Looks ugly for the KMT in Kaohsiung. Neck-on-neck with the DPP in 2006, and trailing them by 32.27 per cent now.

Things look better for the KMT in Taipei – Hau Lung-pin gains 6.38 percdentage points – but Tsai Ing-wen doesn’t fare badly either, with gains of 2.92, when counting merely the DPP votes of 2006.The DPP’s gains in percentage points are still 2.66 when comparing its 2010 performance with the share in votes of the DPP and the TSU (counts as pan-green) combined, in the 2006 elections.

Some spontaneous conclusions

Voters in the 2002 municipal elections had beef with then president Chen’s DPP because of the troubled economy, but still re-elected Chen in 2004.

The economy looks good at the moment – and the fact that the KMT lost the popular vote by more than five per cent should be a warning to the KMT. The mere fact that president Ma Ying-jeou’s party had to struggle during the campaign period should count as a warning, according to Shen Zewei of Singapore’s Morning Posta commenter who may be seen as leaning toward the KMT. Shen’s article shortly before the elections quoted a Taiwanese academic as saying that the economic data and economic agreements the government keeps publishing hadn’t been converted into the economic benefit of the public.

But his article also quoted an academic who suggested that the DPP, rather than the KMT, now stands for the status quo – the KMT appears to be to close to China, while the DPP keeps its distance.

And the status quo is what comes closest to consensus in Taiwan – or, in Bruce Jacob‘s words,

[r]epeated surveys show that the vast majority of Taiwanese agree on ideology. They value Taiwan’s democracy and they agree that Taiwan should maintain the “status quo,” which means it should remain de facto independent.

If I were Taiwanese and subscribed to this consensus, the idea of president Ma winning a second and last consecutive term in 2012 would probably make me nervous. Convincing the public that he won’t enter political talks with Beijing. Will he be convincing enough? This is probably Ma’s greatest challenge – as for the economic outlook, Beijing will probably throw him as many lifelines as he’ll need.

For the DPP, the challenge is different. On the one hand, too much emphasis on having Taiwan’s independence internationally recognized may be seen as “radical” by a crucial share of voters. On the other hand, as the above charts are showing, splits through political camps are nothing unfamiliar in the history of Taiwan’s democracy. The DPP will have to keep its core activists assured, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

News Just In

nannynewsnannynews — The JR Intelligence Unit (JIU) has learned from Wikileaks that Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) is in possession of the true Egyptian election results, and of a dossier that reveals Germany’s collective state of mind (which is decidedly risk-averse).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Loving Source Information Center Tax Inquiry

Things don’t look good in the current tax inspection on AIDS support group Beijing Loving Source Information Center (北京爱源信息咨询中心), an AIDS support group, writes Zeng Jinyan, in a blogpost of November 26.  Ms Zeng managed the group and closed its operations down earlier this month.

In the inquiry, Ms Zeng listed six major contributors to Loving Source’s work for children and families affected by AIDS: the Chinese AIDS Foundation (中华艾滋基金会),the World Children Fund (全球儿童基金会), UNICEF (through the Chinese Association of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases and AIDS), ITPC (联合基金), Oxfam, and the Tides Foundation, plus donations through the PPC Pen Pal Club (PPC笔友俱乐部). According to Ms Zeng, most of them were transit amounts which went  directly to children and families affected by AIDS, providing them with aid for costs of living, medical care, and education. The contributions fall into the categories of business taxes, income tax and several other categories. Ms Zeng writes that her organization provided information [to the tax office, apparently] that there is a system of transferring funds.

The laws restricting restablishment of NGOs were so tight they had no choice but to set up a private company, Time correspondent Simon Elegant quoted Teng Biao in July 2009. Once Teng Biao’s and Xu Zhiyong‘s Open Constitution NGO had been shut down by a huge fine, even CCP mouthpiece Global Times quoted a critic of the tax offices’ approach:

It’s not unusual for a corporation to have flaws in taxation,” said Lu Jun, chief coordinator of the Beijing Yirenping Center, a non-profit organization devoted to helping patients fight discrimination and protect their own rights.
“Considering it’s the first time the Open Constitution Initiative has been found to have such flaws, taxation officials could remind it and request it to pay the insufficient tax, rather than forcing it to the edge of bankruptcy by imposing a harsh fine of more than a million yuan.”

But then, that’s probably exactly why the law doesn’t provide NGO’s with a safe legal foundation – to have the option to knock them down at the authorities’ own discretion. The categories of tax that Beijing Loving Source Center may need to pay would suggest that this NGO, too, was established as a private company.

____________

Updates
Tweet: “taxes on 5yrs of charity”, Twitter, Nov. 26, 2010
Website for Activist’s Release, RFA, Nov. 26, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen: the Turning Point (台灣政治的新起點)

Tsai Ing-wen, Xinbei speech, November 27, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen, November 27 (click on this picture for Youtube video)


[...]

These six month of campaigning in Xinbei City have been the proudest time of my life. The citizens of Xinbei have turned me from a university professor, a member of the elite, into a politician close to the people, who could naturally interact with the people, love the people, and feel the feelings of the people. I really want to thank the citizens of Xinbei, thank you.”

參選新北市這六個月以來,我覺得這是我一輩子以來最光榮的時刻,新北市的市民把我從一個大學教授、社會菁英,轉變成一個親近群眾、可以跟群眾自然互動、熱愛群眾也感受群眾感覺的一個政治人物,真的要非感謝新北市的市民,謝謝你們。

[...]

I hope you will grow in strength, and I hope that the Democratic Progressive Party will grow in strength. We must be strong citizens, strong Taiwanese, with strong political parties, because this country is a country with great difficulties, with many challenges. Each one of us needs to be strong, each of us needs to believe in himself, in Taiwan, and in democracy.

我希望你們將來更堅強,我也希望民主進步黨將來更堅強,我們要做堅強的市民,堅強的台灣人,跟堅強的政黨,因為這個國家是一個很困難的國家,有很多的挑戰,我們每一個人都要堅強,我們每一個人都要對我們自己有信心,對台灣、對民主都有信心。

We conducted a campaign with political content. We have compelled the KMT to follow up on policies with far-reaching implications for Taiwan’s society, such as public welfare, housing, and urban redevelopment, of which Taiwanese society is in urgent need. We hope that we have expressed these amply in this campaign, we also hope that the KMT, the party now in power, will take these issues seriously, and that it will address the problems Taiwan’s society is facing.

這一場選戰,我們打了一個有政策內涵的選戰,我們也逼著國民黨跟進很多對我們台灣社會將會有很大深遠影響的政策,比如說社會福利問題、社會住宅問題、都市更新問題,這些問題其實都是台灣社會迫切需要的,我們也希望在這次選舉裡面我們充分的表達出來,也希望國民黨、現在的執政者,能夠重視這些問題,能夠面對台灣社會所面臨的問題。

I would like to tell everyone that in these elections, we have all played our part. We haven’t conducted an excited, a blue-vs-green campaign, but a campaign of political views, with a vision, and with passion, and in this campaign, we have all grown up.

我在這裡也覺得要告訴各位,在這次的選舉裡面,我們盡了本分,我們沒有打一個激情的選戰,我們也沒有打一個藍綠對抗的選戰,我們打的是政見、我們打的是願景、我們打的是一個熱情的選戰,我們在這個選戰裡面大家都成長了。

Many, many people have invested into this campaign, including small  contributions [...], and it may be the first time in the history of elections in Taiwan that so many people contributed small amounts to one campaign of one nominee. We also made thorough use of the internet to have a dialogue with young people, and there have been the efforts of many, many volunteers, helping us to start a new, fresh, unburdened way of campaigning which we want to continue with confidence. As I said, we haven’t lapsed into the pattern of a blue-green showdown, and not even been unto the shadows of ethnic antagonism. We have striven for the spirit of citizen participation, to find a consensus everyone could agree to.

在這次選戰裡面,我們很多很多人投入,包括小額捐款給我們的人已經接近一萬人,可能是台灣選舉有史以來有這麼多的小額捐款的人在一次選戰中對單一候選人有這麼多捐獻,我們也充分用網路工具和年輕人直接溝通對話,還有許多許多志工努力,讓我們開始一個新的更清新沒有包袱的一個選舉方式,我們要持續下去,對這個選舉方式大家要有信心。就像剛才講的,這次選舉我們沒有落入藍綠對決的格局、甚至也沒有族群對立的陰影,我們訴求的是市民主義的精神,找出大家可以一起認同的政策跟共識。

I believe that this is a new turning point for Taiwanese politics. I said that I wanted to create a new political culture in Taiwan. I believe we have done that in this election campaign, with our supporters. Thank you all for sticking to the campaign, for staying with us, for your efforts for our promise. It doesn’t matter that we weren’t successful this time. We will be back, and if we still wouldn’t be successful, we will be back again, and one day, we will succeed. Thank you all.

我相信這是台灣政治的新起點,我說我要創造台灣新的政治文化,我想在這次選戰,我跟我們的支持者都做到了,謝謝大家在這段時間六個月以來不離不棄,跟著我們在一起,共同為我們的一個希望來努力,這次沒有成功沒關係,下次再來,再沒有成功,我們再來一次,我們終有一天會成功,謝謝各位。

____________

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Xinbei mayoral candidate in the 2010 Municipal Elections and chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (民主進步黨, DPP), thanking her supporters in Xinbei on November 27, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photos: Taiwan Municipal Election Campaign

Taiwanese employees who are eligible to vote are entitled to a one-day holiday on Saturday, according to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Council of Labor Affairs (勞委會) reminded the public on Thursday. It could make sense for people who do work on Saturdays, and in working places  away from the ones where they are registered. That happens frequently.

Mr Tseng (this seems to be his name) may not take a day off – he’s apparently self-employed. One of his neighbors, a German journalist, hasn’t seen him without his campaign-vest in the past few weeks (see first photo of this post). But if elected, Mr Tseng will still be around in his neighborhood. After all, he’s running for borough chief.

A KMT candidate named Lee Hsin will keep (or make) the schoolyards safe. But how can kids attend school with peace of mind if there will be no more drugs? (See second photo.) Anyway, the picture suggests that it could be true that KMT candidates are currently angrier than DPP candidates.

A DPP candidate promises CHANGE. I can’t read the first promises, but “GE” stand for guts and energy (photo 3).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Taiwan Municipal Elections: Punching the Cotton

The following is an extractive account of an article which appeared in Singapore’s United Morning Post (联合早报) on Friday, asking why the outcome of Saturday’s Municipal Elections in Taiwan appears to be rather  unpredictable, despite national economic data that – one might believe – should put local candidates of president Ma Ying-jeou‘s KMT in a very favorable position.

Although the municipal elections are naturally local elections,  to be held in five municipalities – Taipei City, Xinbei City, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung -, they may provide clues for president Ma’s chances to win a second term in presidential elections in 2012 (or even just to get nominated by his party again). The electorate in the five cities make up almost 65 percent of Taiwan’s total population of 23 million.

Many of Morning News’ articles don’t seem to last on the internet. If you want to read the original article in Chinese and can’t get there through this link, drop me a line – duibudui@hotmail.de -, and I’ll mail it to you.

____________

Shen Zewei (沈泽玮), in an article for Singapore’s Morning Post, addresses a question about Taiwan’s municipal elections (to be conducted on Saturday, November 27) which probably preoccupies China’s leadership, too: Why don’t GDP growth by 9.98 per cent and an unemployment rate less than five per cent make the outcome of the elections a predictable success for Taiwan’s ruling KMT government?

Shen quotes Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), professor at the National Chengchi University as saying that a key to explaining the KMT’s current struggling is that the economic data and economic agreements the government keeps publishing hadn’t been converted into the economic benefit of the public (所有政府亮出的经济数据和经济协议都无法转换成民众感受到的经济效益). For one, much of the recent surge in GDP was due to the fact that growth had been so low one year earlier (thus making the discrepancy between growth last and this year so big), and more importantly, there was resentment at worsening disparities in income distribution. The income of the younger workforce was stagnating. What contributed to the current low unemployment rate were government programs for helping people finding employment – but only for temporary jobs. The oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had kept avoiding the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and cross-strait relations as topics during the municipal elections campaigns, and the KMT’s fists therefore only found cotton to punch into (民进党在这次选举中采取了回避ECFA和两岸议题的战略,固然让国民党的拳头都打到棉花上).

More critically however, ECFA was really only a framework so far, without substantial content – it would only become a plus for the KMT if it added more content, which in turn meant another round of complicated negotiations between Taipei and Beijing. To obtain concessions from Beijing, the Ma government would have to open up Taiwan’s markets  further to China, which would lead to dissatisfaction among the Taiwanese. Disappointment among many pan-blue supporters was, in addition, leading to problems in mobilizing them to vote.

Last but not least, Shih Chih-yu (石之瑜), a professor with the National Taiwan University’s Department of Political Science, is quoted as pointing out that the oppositional DPP was now seen as the party that would rather maintain the status quo, while the KMT was more likely to change the Taiwan’s status [into the direction of "uniting with China", rather than towards independence, of course - JR]. Voters who preferred the status quo would rather support the DPP now. The fact that economic concessions hadn’t improved Taiwanese feelings toward mainland China (大陆) but rather made them fear that the KMT was tilting towards Beijing, was certainly worth Beijing’s attention. And Tung Chen-yuan [see second paragraph] points to a growing sense of a Taiwanese identity, and growing public support for maintaining the status quo in relations with China. The Ma government therefore needed to amend or complete its strategy concerning contacts with Beijing.

No matter what the results of the elections on Saturday were going to be, the mere fact that the KMT candidates had to struggle in their campaigns were “no small warning” to the party.

____________

Related
Taiwan News Roundup: “In just Three Seconds”, October 8, 2010
Taiwan, ECFA, and the Traitorama, June 29, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nuking North Korea: from Tennessee with Love

I’m not sure what to make of the smoldering war in Korea yet, but nuclear broadsides against North Korea right away if they start anything looks somewhat hasty to me. Actually, they’ve started something already, and if Glenn Reynolds (this dignified professor from Tennessee, I believe) wants to nuke them for that, it’s now time for him to produce his little black suitcase.

Lionel Beehner and Nuno Monteiro on the other hand – academics, too – would rather sleep on it for another night.

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