Posts tagged ‘democracy’

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Panama Papers: Invested, but not Koppied

You needn’t be there yourself, but should your money? Those places are beginning to look like those parties you simply have to get an invitation to, if you want to matter: the “havens” where (many of) the rich and beautiful put their money. The Virgin Islands, for example. Or Panama. Or Luxemburg? Not sure. Ask a bank.

Reportedly, some members of Vladimir Putin‘s tight-knit inner circle do it. Reportedly, Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan (成龍) does it. So do Thais. Lots of Indians, too. And maybe many Americans, but elsewhere.

Others, also reportedly, did so in the past. One of them even says that he lost money in the game.

But not so fast. Media tend to scandalize everything, don’t they?

According to ICIJ, the documents make public the offshore accounts of 140 politicians and public officials. The documents don’t necessarily detail anything illegal, but they do shine a light on the shadowy world of offshore finances,

National Public Radio (NPR) informs its listeners.

So, let’s not jump to conclusions. The problem, either way, is that the investors’ countries’ governments can’t get a picture of what is there. And once an investor is found on a list like the “Panama Papers”, with investments or activities formerly unknown to his country’s fiscal authorities (and/or the public), he’s got something to explain.

Like Argentine president Mauricio Macri, for example.

So, it’s beautiful to have some money there.

Unless the public begins to continuously ask questions about it.

Timely Exits from Paradise

If British prime minister David Cameron is right, the money he and his wife earned from an offshore trust were taxed. His problem, then, would be the general suspicon of the business.

The Cameron couple reportedly sold their shares in question in 2010, the year he became prime minister.

“Best Effect” and “Wealth Ming” reportedly ceased operations in 2012 and/or 2013. That was when CCP secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping took his top positions. The two companies had been run in the Virgin Islands, and Deng Jiagui (邓家贵), husband to Xi’s older sister, had been the owner, Singaporean paper Zaobao reported on Tuesday.

And then, there’s Tsai Ying-yang (蔡瀛陽), one of the 16,785 Taiwanese Mossack Fonseca customers, the law firm the “Panama Papers” were leaked from. According to his lawyer, Lien Yuen-lung (連元龍), Tsay Ying-yang terminated his Koppie Limited company as soon as in 2009, the year following its establishment, so as to cut the losses – 30 percent of the investment, according to a phone interview Lien gave Reuters, as quoted by the Straits Times.

Tsai Ing-wen hasn’t commented herself, and maybe, she won’t any time soon. It doesn’t seem that too much pressure has mounted so far. But questions are asked all the same. On Wednesday, KMT legislators William Tseng (曾銘宗), Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), and Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) told a press conference that in the “many cases” where the Tsai family had encountered controversy, Tsai Ying-yangs name had emerged, and this “gave cause for doubts” (會起人疑竇).

An Emerging KMT Opposition Pattern

William Tseng may become a regular questioner, concerning the financial affairs of Tsai’s family people. One of the “controversies” he had quoted had been the issue of a press conference on March 24. There, with different KMT colleagues,  but the same kind of artwork on the wall behind the panel, showing the suspect of the day, Tseng dealt with the issue of Academica Sinica president Wong Chi-huey‘s daughter’s role as a shareholder of OBI Pharma Inc..

KMT legislators press conference artwork

KMT representations:
Mind the guys in the background

One of his fellow legislators, Alicia Wang (王育敏), raised the issue of the company’s shareholder structure (and neatly placed Tsai’s brother there, too, maybe just to make his name available for quote by Tseng on other occasions:

“President-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) brother and sister-in-law are also shareholders, and so is Wong’s daughter, Wong Yu-shioh (翁郁秀). Are others involved?”

Diplomatic Relations, but no Tax Treaty

The “Panama Papers”, as far as they concern Taiwanese customers, contain not only individuals, but companies, too: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (founding chairman Morris Chang, who served Taiwan as APEC representative in 2006), TransAsia Airways (more recently in the news for the tragic Flight 235 crash), Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation, Wei Chuan Food Corporation (in the news since 2013), and the Executive Yuan’s National Development Fund.

The Development Fund was not a taxable organization, Taiwan’s foreign broadcaster Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes finance minister Chang Sheng-ford. He used the example to make the point that to suggest that some 16,000 keyword search results for Taiwan in the “Panama Papers” did not signify 16,000 cases of tax evasion. That’s just not the way to look at it.

Chang reportedly also said that while, “if necessary”, Taiwan would establish a Panama Papers working group and start investigating the most high risk people and agencies for tax evasion, the country had no tax treaty with Panama. Also, a Taiwanese anti-tax evasion law had not yet been passed.

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Related

The Panama Papers
Achselzucken schadet, Der Freitag, Apr 7, 2016
The Panama Papers, FoarP, Apr 6, 2016

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hung Hsiu-chu elected KMT Chairwoman

Hung Hsiu-chu, the KMT’s presidential nominee until October 2015 (when she was ditched and replaced by Eric Chu), has been elected KMT chairwoman today. She replaces Eric Chu who resigned as KMT chairman in January, after suffering a heavy defeat as the KMT’s presidential candidate. According to this website, turnout was low.

A new leader will be elected in July 2017, a year and four months from now.

Will she stand for re-election then? And would she be re-elected?

Not necessarily. She hasn’t been quite the diplomat during her political career so far, and a successful KMT chairperson would need great skills to integrate the different tempers and political directions within the KMT.

Her position concerning relations with China were a factor in bringing her down as the KMT’s presidential nominee – she was deemed to close to Beijing. To become a long-term KMT chairperson, the least she would need to do is to move away from her “unification” position.

You may actually be quite “Chinese”, and still become Taiwan’s president. In a post for a University of Nottingham blog, Michael Cole describes how seemingly “pro-unification” parties may be vulnerable to movements that consider themselves Chinese on the one hand, but by no means “pro-Beijing”.

In May, Tsai Ing-wen will be sworn in as President of the Republic of China on Taiwan. And the main opposition leader will be Hung Hsiu-chu. Sounds like a fascinating constellation.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tai De’s Landlust: Guns and Beauties

OK. The lad here is having fun with a lady who (I seem to understand) supports the wrong party and the wrong contender for the Republican presidential nomination (not a democrat, and besides, a right-wing goofball named Ted Cruz.

The good news is: the fun-having lad there respects peoples’ right to bear arms. The bad news is: the lady he’s joking about, named Jamie Gilt, who “jacks up her four-year-old” for some unforgettable drills at an 0.22 was reportedly shot in (or rather through her seat, her back and her complete torso by that four-year-old, from the back seat. No, not with that 0.22, but with a 0.45. So it wasn’t exactly the gun he was meant to operate.

But the irony, you know. The little story has an irresistable moral, or so thinks the Breakfast Club:

The poor child couldn’t make a choice, they say.

Oh well, you know … when I was a four-year-old child, I was forced to eat chemical extra food, because at the time, the industry in Germany who produced it even sold it, and my chemicals-lovin mom bought that.

I think it’s perfectly OK to train a four-year-old on a cute little 0.22, as long as he wears adequate earplugs and knows how to use chopsticks. And when an accident happens, an accident happens. If an aggreessive idiot overtakes me on the country lane with 150 mph and crashes into a deer and ends up in a ditch, I will do my best to get him out of the water and to keep him from drowning.

And that would be that. No funny news, no appearance in the >>Donkey of the Day<<, provided that the police keep their mouths shut about the event, too.

Let’s sum it up: Jamie Gilt looks good, she loves guns, she loves her spoilt brat who – surprise, surprise! – was toying around with even bigger guns than she’d let him have in the back seat, and shit happens.

And she looks good. That’s even worse. A woman who smells like a tea partisan and who’s looking good. And possibly loaded. I mean, people without much money could hardly afford to be in the nutrition supplement trade, a trade that hardly supports you for one week a month. Looks more like a hobby to me.

So people don’t like her. And therefore, they make a big fuss about her.

And I’m making a nice little fuss about her, too, because I find her likeable.

If I was twenty years younger and if she had watched out four years ago, I’d propose to her.

But anyway, Ms Gilt – how about a nice holiday? We can spend ours in Venice, and little Gilt can spend his in Sandhurst. On a shooting range.


Let’s hope it isn’t THAT bad

Friday, January 22, 2016

Taiwan Election Data, the Changes, and the ROC Convergence

Wrote a bio of sorts in a German blogpost about president-elect Tsai Ing-wen last Saturday, as it seems to me that in the English-language press, there’s lots of coverage about the Taiwan elections, sometimes beyond the mere “conflict with China” issues. In most of Germany’s media, Taiwan would hardly emerge even on election days, if it wasn’t for China’s “claims” on the island.

What looks notable to me is the voter turnout in the January 16 elections: 66.27 per cent, compared with 76.04 percent in 1996, 82.7 percent in 2000, 80.28 percent in 2004, 76.33 percent in 2008, and 74.38 percent in 2012, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC), quoted by CNA. Also notable: the general trends in the pan-blue and pan-green shares in the presidential elections.

 

Taiwan's presidential elections, from 1996 to 2016

Taiwan’s presidential elections, from 1996 to 2016. The 1996 numbers for the pan-blue camp include the two independent candidates’ shares. Both of them were close to the KMT, but critical of then president Lee Teng-hui‘s China policies. Numbers taken from Wikipedia.

 

Taiwan presidential elections chart, 1996 - 2016

Usually, I’m surprised to find out how time flies. But in this case, it strikes me as odd how big change can be within “only” two decades, from 1996 to 2016. Also, no DPP candidate has ever drawn as many votes – inabsolute numbers – as Tsai Ing-wen has last Saturday. This would seem to suggest that some of the reasons for the record-low in turnout could lie in the KMT’s performance during the election campaigns. An uncertain number of people who’d normally support the KMT may have seen no sense in voting for Eric Chu, or any KMT candidate, for that matter.

Frozen Garlic, a blogger in Taiwan who has been doing a lot of number crunching during the past week, probed district-level turnout data in “blue” and “green” districts this week, and found some clues there that would support this guess.

There were, however, nearly 1.6 million voters who chose James Soong who is more China-leaning than the average KMT candidate. Soong only fared better in 2000, under what might be carefully described as exceptional circumstances.

Another notable first – in the parliamentary elections, that is – is the emergence of the “New-Power Party” – they’ve actually overtaken James Soong’s People-First Party there  (seats: 5 – 3; votes: 6.1 percent – 5.5 percent).

What does this tell about the KMT? The party remains a force to be reckoned with, for – reportedly – being one of the world’s richest political parties, and for its connections within Taiwan’s elites and civil society, big business, as well as for connections to China, and to America. But how “Chinese” can the KMT remain if it wants to remain competitive? Probably not as Chinese as incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou.

China’s accusation until December (by quoting the KMT, that is) that Tsai Ing-wen rejects the 1992 Consensus has become old news. Literally, she said in an interview with the Liberty Times on Thursday that

In 1992, the two parties [the Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits] from the two sides communicated and negotiated through an approach of mutual understanding and “seeking common ground while shelving differences,” and I understand and respect this historical fact. [The interview in English, Taipei Times]

在一九九二年,兩岸兩會秉持相互諒解、求同存異的政治思維進行溝通協商,達成了若干的共同認知與諒解,我理解和尊重這個歷史事實。[The interview in Chinese, Liberty Times]

Thinking about it, while there have been big changes during the past twenty years, there’s been a remarkable convergence toward what Taiwan and the outside world commonly refer to as the “status quo” – the KMT and the DPP used to be further apart in the past, not only in terms of public support or votes, but in terms of their respective international concepts, too.

One day after Tsai’s election, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office had announced that it would continue to use the 1992 Consensus and oppose any Taiwan independence activities in cross-strait relations, as quoted by Radio Taiwan International (RTI). And on Monday, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, during his stay in Taiwan, met with incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou, the defeated KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu, and Tsai Ing-wen, who reportedly said that [t]he U.S. anticipates seeing a successful political transition.

There is continuity in Taiwan’s foreign policy: Cindy Sui, the BBC‘s (occasional) Taiwan correspondent pointed out on election day that it was Tsai who, in 2003 and in her capacity as the Mainland Affairs Council chairperson during president Chen Shui-bian‘s presidency, made a case for further legalizing trade and communications links with China.

Tsai, as opposition leader, also took a fairly public measure on Taiwan’s (or the Republic of China’s) national day on October 10, 2011, saying that the vast majority of Taiwanese today could acknowledge that “Taiwan simply is the Republic of China”, as the two have merged, for a new life in Taiwan.

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Related Tag: Taiwan Consensus

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

President Elect: Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen has been elected president of Taiwan.

Related tag: Tsai Ing-wen

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Updates/Related

» Victory speech full text (English), CNA, Jan 16, 2016
» Personal Memories, latest results, Foarp, Jan 16, 2016
» Tsai Ing-wens Wahlkampf, 2010 – 2016, Jan 16, 2016

Friday, November 27, 2015

Stopping Terrorism by Restricting Legal Gun Ownership?

It’s an established routine: terrorists commit atrocities, and authorities are “taking action” – against civil rights, that is. It’s no different after the Paris attacks: the European Commission announced in a press release on November 18 that control of firearms would be strengthened. It’s not a new plan; it had emerged after the Paris Hebdo massacre, too, but was apparently shelved.

Yes, the terrorists, as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, launch attacks on Europe’s people and values. But Europe can take that. What European values will not survive – certainly not in the long run – are attacks on European values by its own, legal institutions. When fear rules, reason gets into hot water.

People who own arms are an easy target for misguided and misguiding policies. One good way to erode civil rights is to choose a topic where “surely, reasonable people will agree”.

You don’t need to like guns. You don’t need to like people who like guns. But this is what solidarity is about:  it’s about joining different people in defending their rights. In this particular case, the point to set out from is to realize that the terrorists who killed innocent citizens in Paris didn’t register their guns before going on their rampage. This is not about terrorism or about protection from terrorism; it’s about rights. Tomorrow, it may be your rights that are called into question. As car drivers, as bungee jumpers, as smokers, or as pacifists.

Do your bit to make sure that terrorism won’t win: protect the rights of people you may not agree with, but who are your fellow European citizens.

If you are a EU citizen, please sign here »

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Related

» Je suis Charlie, Jan 8, 2015

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Friday, November 20, 2015

CCP commemorates 100th Anniversary of Hu Yaobang’s Birthday

The complete standing committee of the CCP’s politburo attended a symposium in commemoration of former CCP secretary general Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦). The BBC‘s Mandarin service wrote today (around 11:00 UTC) that Chinese news agency Xinhua published a curt report and a photo of the symposium in the Great Hall of the People. According to the BBC, the symposium was a smaller event than what the outside world had expected. A publication of selected works by Hu Yaobang is reportedly under preparation, including 77 written pieces by Hu Yaobang from 1952 to October 1986: articles, speeches, reports, instructions, letters und Vorwörter prefaces – some of them published for the first time. Hu Yaobang was forced to “resign” as the party’s secretary general early in 1987. However, different from his successor Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) who was deposed in the wake of the 1989 students Tian An Men Square protests, Hu retained his politburo standing committee membership until his death in April 1989 – a death that actually sparked the 1989 students movement.

Hu Yaobang is frequently described as a just political leaderwith ideals, and as careful political reformer, or as a liberal of sorts, at least by the standards of a dictatorship.

According to a (more detailed) Xinhua article published at 11:49 UTC today, party secretary general Xi Jinping (习近平) praised Hu Yaobang in the glowing terms that are usual on occasions like today’s. He described practical-mindedness and pragmatism in seeking the people’s benefit as an outstanding characteristic of the former leader, and tried to harness the remembrance for his recently launched “four comprehensives” (四个全面) project.

While liberalism was certainly no issue, Xi praised Hu’s honest, self-disciplined, sublime demeanour (廉洁自律的崇高风范), or in other words, Xi made Hu an icon for “style”, rather than for content. Hu Yaobang’s image seems to be something the current leadership does not want to do without.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Helmut Schmidt, 1918 – 2015

Deutsche Geisterstunde

The show continues, on the other side of the cupboard

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