Posts tagged ‘democracy’

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen: in a State of Overall Mobilization

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) held a press conference – or a “tea reception” for reporters – at → Taipei Guest House on Saturday afternoon local time.

The following are excerpts from her introductory statement, translated into English. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: → Presidential website

I’m very glad to meet with all the friends from the press here today. Apart from being happy to speak to the reporters ahead of schedule, I would also like to take the opportunity of this tea reception to report to all our compatriots about the efforts we have made for this country since the new government came into office.
I believe that all reporters present here, and many compatriots too, will know that a few days ago, the dispute concerning the national highway toll station dispute has been resolved.

很高興能跟現場所有的記者朋友們見面。除了提早向各位說聲記者節快樂之外,藉著今天與各位見面茶敘的機會,我也要向全體國人同胞報告,新政府上任以來,我們為這個國家所做的努力。
相信在場的記者朋友,以及許多國人同胞都知道,幾天前,歷時兩年多的國道收費員爭議,已經得到解決。

Although some different views and opinions remain, concerning the solution to this dispute, I believe that, when watching on television how everyone smiled while the curtain fell on the dispute, many people, just like me, felt happy for them and their families.

儘管,有一些人對於解決這個爭議,仍然有些不同的意見與看法。不過,當大家從電視上看到他們在抗爭落幕之後所展現的笑容,我相信很多人的心中,都跟我一樣,替他們,以及他們的家庭,感到開心。

To some people, this solution only means to give in to a group of people protesting in the streets. However, I want to look at the entire issue from a different perspective. As far as we are concerned, the point is that now that the curtain has fallen on this struggle, this society and above all some families can get back to their daily lives.

對一些人而言,這個問題的解決,只是讓這個社會少掉一群人在街頭抗議。不過,我願意從另一個角度來看這整件事情。對我們來說,這個事情的意義在於,抗爭落幕之後,這個社會,又多了一些家庭,重新展開他們的人生。

This is what governments are for. Some people →say that this [approach] is called giving out sweets to those who quarrel. But as far as this government is concerned, the real issue here isn’t the noise. The issue is if the noise is justified, and if the government listens. My expectation to myself and to my team, during the past three months, has been that we are prepared to listen, to communicate, and to find a solution.

這就是政府存在的目的。有人說,這叫做會吵的人就有糖吃。不過,對一個政府而言,吵不是重點,吵得有沒有道理,政府有沒有在聽才是重點。願意傾聽,願意溝通,願意解決,這就是過去三個月來,我對自己與團隊的期許。

I know that the friends from the press are curious about what I have done since May 20 [inauguration day], on a daily basis. In fact, after becoming president, my life and work have seen changes, and although the issues now are different, they have changed in a rather simple way, as mentioned in my inaugural speech: they are about solving problems.

我知道,現場的記者朋友們,都很好奇,從520到現在,我每天都在做什麼。其實,當了總統之後,我的人生以及工作有一些變化,事情雖然變多了,但從另一個角度來看,也變得比較簡單,就是我就職演說中所提到的那四個字:解決問題。

Many problems have accumulated for a long time, and the previous government wanted to solve some of them, but wasn’t successful. There have also been some problems the past government neither wanted to solve, nor had the strength to solve.

很多的問題是長期累積的,有些問題,過去政府曾經想解決,沒有成功。也有些問題,是過去政府無心也無力去解決的。

The people who elected us want the new government to address and solve issues in a pragmatic and courageous way. The people do not want the new government to shift responsibilities altogether to the past. Therefore, I tell myself every day, and my governing team, too, that the people expects to see a different government.

人民選擇我們,是希望新政府能夠務實而勇敢地面對問題、解決問題。人民也不會希望,新政府將責任全部推給過去。所以,我每天都這樣告訴自己,我也用一樣的話告訴民進黨所有執政團隊,人民希望看到不一樣的政府。

In the decisionmaking process, I have to admit that we haven’t considered things sufficiently, and that we haven’t dealt with them sufficiently. When that happens, we will adapt, honestly face this, and that we will change. We won’t harden, we won’t weaken. During the Democratic Progressive Party government, and no half-minute incident.

在解決問題的過程中,我也承認,有些事情,我們考慮得不夠周全,做得不夠好。當這樣的情況發生時,我們會調整,會誠實面對,我們會改變。我們不會硬凹,民進黨執政期間,更不會有半分鐘事件。

For the past three months, the new government’s main four areas of attention have been as follows.

(1): Aborigines, Industrial Relations

The first one has been about solving longstanding problems in Taiwanese society. On August 1, I apologized to the aborigine nation on behalf of the government. For several hundred years, the aborigine people have suffered unfair treatment, that can’t be changed by a simple apology. But this society needs a starting point. I want to make the first step. Although the form of my apology sparked some controversy, we can take a successive approach and honestly face the problems that have accumulated during the past few hundred years.

過去這三個月來,新政府的施政大致上可以分為以下四個領域:
第一個,我們試圖解決臺灣社會長久累積的問題。八月一號,我代表政府向原住民族道歉。幾百年來原住民所遭受的不公平待遇,不會因為一句道歉而改變。不過,這個社會需要一個開始。我願意跨出第一步。儘管,道歉的形式引發了一些爭議,但是,我們會用接下來的作為,有誠意地來面對這個幾百年累積的問題。

Industrial relations disputes have long existed in Taiwanese society. In the wake of global economic change as well as economic slowdowns, weak labor rights and protection, have become more and more important issues. As for enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, there have been transformational problems, which has also led to more and more tense industrial relations.

勞資的爭議也是臺灣社會長久以來一直存在的問題。隨著全球經濟情勢的改變,以及經濟成長的趨緩,弱勢勞工的權益與保障,變得越來越重要。而企業、尤其是中小型企業,也面臨轉型的困境,這也造成勞資關係越來越緊張。

The new government has not tried to avoid the issue. We have chosen to handle the problem directly. Of course, we admit that to solve years-old disputes in a short time and to achieve social consensus in a short time is difficult. We want to communicate with society again, especially with labour organizations’ and small and medium-sized enterprises’ views, and we want to listen more carefully. This will be reflected in my future arrangements.

新政府沒有逃避,我們選擇正面去處理這個問題。當然,我們也承認,多年來的爭議很難在很短的時間內,獲得社會一致的共識。我們願意再跟社會溝通,特別是勞工團體與中小企業的意見,我們會更加仔細聆聽。這也會反映在我未來的行程安排上面。

We also need to understand that if the Taiwanese economy doesn’t speed up transformation, labor disputes, even if solved for a while, will continue to trouble labour and industry.

我們也清楚,如果臺灣經濟不加速轉型,勞資爭議縱然一時能夠解決,但仍然會持續地困擾勞工與產業。

(2): “Ill-Gotten Party Assets”, Judicial Yuan Nominations, Pension Reform

The second field of work discussed by President Tsai is recently-passed legislation on “ill-gotten party assets”, as described →here by the English-language Taipei Times in July. Tsai, in her address to the press on Saturday, referred to the process as a first step in the handling of rightening the authoritarian period in Taiwan (i. e. the decades of martial law under KMT rule). Tsai Ing-wen conjured a duty on the part of the KMT to share responsibility in the process:

I want to emphasize in particular that this is done to remind all politicians that many things that were considered natural within the authoritarian system, will not be allowed to happen again in today’s democratic society. What matters more is that, to create a more fair political environment in Taiwan, is our common responsibility.

我要特別強調,做這件事情,是為了提醒所有政治人物,過去在威權體制中,許多被視為理所當然的事,在今天的民主社會中,是不容許再發生的。更重要的是,為臺灣創造一個更公平的政治環境,是我們共同的責任。

In that “second field of work”, Tsai also mentioned a controversy concerning judicial yuan nominations – both nominees chosen by Tsai Ing-wen herself – which resulted with the nominees →bowing out:

I admit that the previous judicial yuan nomination sparked controversy in society. In the end, both nominees decided to decline with thanks, and I want to thank the two nominees for granting me a chance to think again. Of course, this was my responsibility. I will remember this experience carefully. The new government will communicate more carefully with the masses in future.

我承認,前一陣子司法院正副院長的提名人選引發了社會上的爭議。最終,造成兩位被提名人決定懇辭,我要感激這兩位被提名人給我一個重新思考的機會。當然,這裡面有我的責任。我會記取這個經驗。新政府未來會用更謹慎的態度來跟社會大眾溝通。

Another major issue addressed as part of the second field of work is pension reform.

(3): Taiwan’s New Economic Development Model

The third field of work for the new government is the new model for Taiwan’s economic development. During the past three months, our ministries and commissions in charge have actively worked on this matter. National construction programs made by think-tanks during our time in opposition have been turned into policies by the government offices. From here, the budgets of the offices in charge will be devised.

新政府施政的第三個領域是臺灣經濟發展新模式。過去三個月,我們的相關部會,積極在做一件事情。就是把以前在野時期,智庫所規劃的國家建設方案,轉變成行政部門的政策規劃。再從行政部門的政策規劃,具體轉化成行政院的預算編列。

Concerning involvement in economic construction, and the promotional economic development plan concerning the five big innovative industries and the acceleration of technological innovation etc., our budgets for the coming year will grow correspondingly. This stands for our goal to build the new economic model round innovation.

在經濟建設的投入上,對於五大創新產業與加速科技創新等促進經濟發展的計畫,我們明年度的預算都相當幅度的成長,這代表我們要建構,以創新為主導的新經濟模式。

As for a safe internet, for our social housing policies, and for the expansion of community care, raising the quality of long-term care, treatment and prevention, etc., we are also increasing the budgets.

在社會安全網上,我們的社會住宅政策,以及擴大社區照顧、提升長照品質,醫療與防疫等,我們也都增列了預算。

[…]

Involvement in overall economic development will not limit itself to government budgeting. We will also encourage publicly-owned institutions to invest in new kinds of industries, lending impetus to non-governmental enterprises, especially the upgrading transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

整體經濟發展相關的投入,不會僅限於政府預算的投入,我們也會鼓勵國公營事業來投資新型產業,共同帶動民間企業、尤其是中小企業的產業升級與轉型。

The budgeting is only the beginning, and the real test is to do things well. In fact, the cabinet is in a state of overall mobilization. During the past three months, under the → executive yuan president‘s leadership and the coordination of the government affairs committee as well as the efforts of the heads of ministries and commissions, the new government hasn’t been lax. I have lists from every governmental commission concerning their issues and their progress, and can explain each of them. I believe that these lists can also be found on the executive yuan’s website.

預算編列只是一個開始,真正的考驗是把事情做好。事實上,內閣已經是總動員。在過去的三個月,在院長的帶領,政務委員的協調,以及部會首長的努力下,新政府沒有懈怠。我手邊有一份各政委列管的事項清單以及進度,可以說明這些。我相信這些清單在行政院的網站也可以找到。

I do not hope that people will use the first one-hundred days to judge my successes and failures, and I’m not going to judge the cabinet members’ performances based on the first one-hundred days.

我不希望別人用一百天來評斷我個人執政的成敗;同樣的,我也不會只用一百天的時間來評論內閣閣員的表現。

Reform takes time. I’m not going to shrink back in the light of lacking short-term results or because of difficulties in promoting reform. When something goes wrong, it will be corrected, and what goes well, will be advanced boldly. I believe that this is what the Taiwanese people expect from government at this stage.

改革需要時間,我不會因為短期內看不到成效,或者因為推動改革很困難,就輕易退縮。錯了就改,對的事情就勇往直前,我相信,這才是現階段臺灣人民對政府的期待。

(4): Cross Strait Relations, Remembering Wang Tuoh

Fourthly, we will maintain the necessary communication with the relevant countries to maintain regional peace and stability, and to handle external relations. In particular, after the outcome of the arbitrational →decision concerning the South China Sea has been issued, we will, together with all countries, maintain the stability of the South China Sea situation. The people want the government to do more regarding sovereignty in the South China Sea, and we understand and acknowledge that.

第四,在維持區域的和平穩定,以及對外關係的處理上,我們持續與相關的國家保持必要的溝通。尤其是在南海仲裁結果出爐後,我們也跟各國共同維持南海情勢的穩定。人民希望政府在南海主權議題能多做一些,我們了解也認同。

As for the cross-strait relations [with China], I re-emphasize the importance of “maintaining the status quo”. Our goal is to build consistent, calculable and sustainable cross-strait relations under the current constitutional systems.

對於兩岸關係,我再一次強調「維持現狀」的重要性。我們的目標,就是在當前的憲政體制下,建立一個具有一致性、可預測性、可維持性的兩岸關係。

We will soon announce the staffing issues at the Strait Exchange Foundation. At the current stage, we have a choice among several candidates, and are at the final stage of consultations and assessments. Apart form the Strait Exchange Foundation, we will fill the remaining vacancies in government staff as soon as possible.

海基會的人事,我們會在近期之內公布。現階段我們有幾位人選,正在做最後的諮詢與評估。
除了海基會之外,政府部門尚未完成布局的人事,我們會儘速補上。

Some move quickly on the road of reform, and some move slowly, but as long as there is a common direction, we should support and encourage each other. There may be bumps on the government’s path in the coming days, but we will continue to make efforts forward.

改革的路上有人走得快,有人走得慢,但只要方向一致,就應該相互扶持、彼此鼓勵。也許這段日子以來,新政府走得有些顛簸,但我們一直努力在往前走。

Some say that solving the highway toll station staff issue is something “the previous government didn’t succeed to do”. As far as I am concerned, this is the greatest encouragement for our new government. To do what the previous government didn’t succeed at is what change of government is about.

有人說,解決國道收費員的問題,「這是以前政府做不到的事」。這句話,對我來說,是對我們新政府最大的鼓勵。要做以前政府做不到的事,這才是政黨輪替的意義。

There is one more thing. I want to mention a very particular man. When I took the office of Democratic Progressive Party chairpersonship in 2008, the party’s secretary general was → Mr. Wang Tuoh. Not long ago, he also left us. On his sickbed, he still showed concern for me. I will always remember how, when I wasn’t viewed favorably by the outside world, when the Democratic Progressive Party’s morale was at its lowest point, he bravely stepped forward, and together with me, he helped the Democratic Progressive Party to climb out from that lowest point.

最後,我要特別提一個人。我2008年擔任民進黨主席時的秘書長­­–王拓先生。不久前,他離開我們。在病榻上,他依然很關心我。我會永遠記得,當外界都不看好我,民進黨士氣最低落的時候,他挺身而出,跟我一起帶領民進黨從谷底爬起。

In those difficult days, he often encouraged me, and he reminded me that when the thing you are doing is right, you must stick to it. I’m really sad that he can’t be in this world to see, with us, the changes of Taiwan.

在那段困難的日子,他常常鼓勵我,也提醒我,只要是對的事情,一定要堅持下去。我很遺憾,他不能在人世間跟我一起看到臺灣的改變。

But I will always remember what he said during his last days, he said “our way of governing must be different from the past, it must be successful.” I want to use these words to wind up my address. Everyone in the government team, put up the ante.

不過,我會永遠記得他在生命的最後幾天告訴我的話,他說,「我們的執政一定要跟以前不一樣,要做得成功」。我就用這一句話,來作為今天的結尾。所有執政團隊的同仁,大家加油。

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Huanqiu Shibao: Will Turkey turn East?

Chinese media provide relatively very little opinion on the coup attempt in Turkey and its aftermath, and prefer to quote foreign media. However, the choice of information sources may indicate where Chinese media pay special attention, and the article translated here ends with a bit of expertise from Chinese academia.

The following is a translation of a press review of sorts, originally from Huanqiu Shibao, and republished by china.com, a news portal in a number of languages (including Mandarin), that is apparently operated by Global Broadcasting Media Group, which in turn is operated by China Radio International (CRI). Global Broadcasting Media Group, as CRI’s investment vehicle, is also known as “Guoguang”. The following article – or my translation of it, for that matter – may or may not reflect the quoted sources accurately.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The BBC reported on July 20 that the purge of so many people had led to concern among international observers, and that the United Nations were working on making sure that Turkey maintained the essence of the rule of law, and protected human rights. Germany, on July 20, condemned the growing purges by the Turkish government even more directly. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, “we see actions almost daily that damage the rule of law, with measures whose force exceeds the seriousness of the problems.” Some of the measures were deeply disturbing, and unconstitutional.

英国广播公司20日报道称,如此众多的人员被清洗已经引起国际观察家的关注,联合国在努力确保土耳其坚持法治精神和维护人权。德国20日则更为直接地对土耳其政府升级整肃行动表示谴责。德国政府发言人斯特芬·塞伯特说,“我们几乎每天都看到破坏法治的新举动,措施力度超出了问题的严重性”,有些措施是令人深感不安、违背宪法的做法。

Associated Press quoted EU Parliament speaker Martin Schulz as saying that Turkey was now carrying out “retaliation” against opponents and critics, and the debate about the reintroduction of the death penalty was “absolutely worrying”. The EU has warned that such a move would spell the end of EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

美联社援引欧洲议会议长舒尔茨的话说,土耳其正在对反对者和批评者实施“报复”,围绕恢复死刑展开的争论“非常令人担忧”。欧盟已经警告,这样做将意味着土耳其加入欧盟谈判的终结。

A White House statement on Tuesday said that President Barack Obama, during a telephone conversation with Erdogan, “had urged respect for the law while investigating those involved in the coup, in a way that would strengthen public trust in the democratic system.” However, the problem US-Turkish relations were facing go far beyond the protection of rule of law and of democracy.

美国白宫在周二的声明中说,总统奥巴马在与埃尔多安的电话中“敦促对参与政变者的调查应该遵守法律,并以增强公众对民主体系信心的方式进行”。但对美国来说,美土关系需要面对的问题远不止维护法治和民主。

According to a “New York Times” report, Turkish officials, including the foreign minister, demanded on July 19 that America extradite Fethullah Gülen. On that day, the White House confirmed it had received electronic documents from Turkey that was meant to serve as evidence. However, it was not clear if a formal request for extradition had already been made. “The ministry of justice will examine this material in accordance with the extradition treaty between our two countries,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. CNN said that according to the extradition treaty between America and Turkey, treason [as a reason for extradition] did not apply, but Turkey had given exactly that reason for its request. When asked if the Turkish government had any evidence for this, Turkish deputy prime minister Kurtulmus said that Turkey knew clearly that Gülen was the manipulator behind the scene, just as America knew that bin Laden had been the conspirator of “9-11”.

据美国《纽约时报》报道,包括外长在内的土耳其官员19日要求美国交出居伦。当天,白宫证实已经收到土耳其提供的作为证据的电子文档。但不清楚土方 是否已经正式提出引渡要求。“司法部和国务院将根据两国之间的引渡条约审视这些材料。”白宫发言人厄内斯特说。美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)说,根据美土 达成的引渡协议,叛国罪并不适用,但土耳其正是以此提出引渡居伦。在被问及土政府对此有何证据时,土副总理库尔图尔穆说,土耳其明确知道居伦在幕后操纵, 就像当年美国知道拉登是“9·11”主谋一样。

David Ignatius, a “Washington Post” columnist, writes that within the clamor of the coup aftermath, the US-Turkish relations, which had already been tense, could get into new difficulties, with the demand of extraditing Gülen as the most immediate test. Given the US and EU concern about the Erdogan government’s human rights record, this issue would be complicated. There were serious differences between the two sides about strategies of strikes against IS in Syria. During the past few years, the American-Turkish relations had come across as those between friends who were breaking up.

美国《华盛顿邮报》专栏作家大卫·伊格拉蒂尔斯撰文说,在政变之后的喧嚣中,华盛顿和安卡拉之间业已紧张的关系将陷入新困境,要求遣返居伦是最直接 的考验。考虑到美欧此前对埃尔多安政府人权记录的批评,此事将相当复杂。在叙利亚打击IS的战略上,双方已经分歧严重。近几年的美土关系向外界展示了一对 朋友如何一拍两散。

Could Turkey become an ally of Russia? Russia’s [online paper] Vzglyad writes in an editorial that Turkish prime minister [Yildirim] had already said, Ankara could review Turkish-US relations if America refused to extradite Gülen. Russia’s Izvestia quoted the Russian Academy of Sciences Oriental Institute’s Gadzhiev as believing that while it was premature to say that Turkey would completely turn to Russia, there could be some change. German Global News Network*) commented that a coup was now changing Turkey, and possibly the Middle East. Turkey didn’t trust America any longer, and the Middle East’s future could become more complicated.

土耳其可能因此成为俄罗斯的战略盟友吗?俄罗斯《观点报》以此为题评论说,土耳其总理已经表示,安卡拉或因美拒绝交出居伦而重新审视与美国的关系。 俄罗斯《消息报》20日援引俄东方学研究所专家加日耶夫认为,虽然说土耳其的对外政策将全面转向俄罗斯为时尚早,但会有所变化。德国全球新闻网评论说,一 场政变正在改变土耳其,也将改变中东。土耳其不再信任美国,中东的未来将更加复杂。

But Li Weijian [apparently a researcher from Shanghai International Issues Research Institute – not previously mentioned in the article] thinks that Erdogan’s intention is to broaden his presidential powers and pave the way for the implementation of domestic policies and of diplomacy, and this wouldn’t necessarily constitute fundamental regional or global change. In an interview with “Huanqiu Shibao” he said, Erdogan had always maintained [an approach of] benefitting from West and East alike, and would keep to this strategy.

但李伟建认为,埃尔多安的意图在于扩大其总统权力,为内政外交政策的实施铺平道路,这未必会对地区关系和世界格局构成彻底改变。他在接受《环球时报》记者采访时说,埃尔多安一直以来秉持在西方与中东间左右逢源,这一战略会继续。

(Huanqiu Shibao special correspondents from Turkey, Germany, Egypt – Ji Shuangcheng, Qing Mu, Wang Yunsong and Huanqiu Shibao reporter Bai Yunyi, Ren Zhong, Zhen Xiang, Liu Yupeng]

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*) Not known to me, or not under this name – JR

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Monday, May 30, 2016

From the Parallel Universe: “I don’t know, has it been reported?”

_
ReVideos are a medium that need to be taken with a grain of salt. But somehow, this one of Intercept reporter Lee Fang trying to get an answer from Hillary Clinton as to how much Lloyd Blankfein had invested in her son-in-law’s hedge fund looks to me like a symbol of Mrs. Clinton’s election campaign. It has all the makings of an icon.

The contact between the campaign trail and the real world comes across as if a space ship was struck by a sudden bit of earth. What Lee inquires about – and what others will hopefully to continue inquiring about, too – isn’t exactly news – it has even been part of the hedge fund’s marketing, according to The Intercept. But the timing of this topic could be fatal for Clinton’s campaign.

If you had to choose between Cinton and Trump, what would you do? I don’t know who I’d vote for, if I were an eligible American citizen. But I do know that I wouldn’t vote for either of the two.

search results: Hillary Clinton's emails

True danger signs

Having said this, maybe it’s me who’s living in the parallel universe. Money doesn’t bring a campaign down. Emails do.

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Updates / Related

Bigger Liabilities than Email, DW, May 27, 2016

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Is the Left right after all?

Thanks for → asking, Mr. Moore. It’s only a first step, and a late one at that, but if the left is as dumb and if conservatives are as smart as you claim, I’m sure you’ll arrive at some good conclusions. Will you continue to ask these questions after Brexit, too?

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Related

Bigoted elite, Charles Moore/Telegraph, March 4, 2016

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen’s Inagurational Address: an Economy with New Bones

The inaugural address in → Chinese and in → English, published by CNA. Prior to President Tsai’s inaugural speech, there were two songs: an indigenous one, and the national anthem of the RoC.

Language observation: I used to think that 脱胎换骨 was merely an mainland Chinese figure of speech (to be reborn with new bones, see footnote →there. This is not so. President Tsai used it too, this morning:

我們要讓台灣經濟脫胎換骨,就必須從現在起就下定決心,勇敢地走出另外一條路。這一條路,就是打造台灣經濟發展的新模式。

The CNA translation puts it less pictographic:

In order to completely transform Taiwan’s economy, from this moment on, we must bravely chart a different course – and that is to build a “New Model for Economic Development” for Taiwan.

So, chances are that Wang Meng and his generation learned that →phrase long before joining the Communist Party. It’s either “KMT”, or still older.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

DPP: a Need to Control and to Trust Tsai

Very few things can be taken for granted. Tsai Ing-wen‘s presidency will have to address issues from pension reform and social issues, to relations with China and efforts for economic-cooperation agreements with countries in the region, beyond Singapore and New Zealand.

From tomorrow, many things will be different from preceding presidencies. But one thing will not change at all: Beijing’s latent aggression against the island democracy will stay around.

Tsai will probably try to avoid anything that would, in the eyes of many Taiwanese people and especially in the eyes of Washington or Tokyo, unnecessarily anger Beijing. That in turn may anger some or many of her supporters.

But in tricky times, Tsai needs loyal supporters, who are prepared to believe that she has the best in mind for her country, and that she has the judgment and strength to make the right choices.

There will be disagreement, and there will be debate, which is essential. But underlying these, there needs to be loyalty within the Democratic Progressive Party.

Probably, there will be no loyal opposition – there are no indications, anyway, that the KMT in its current sectarian shape will constitute that kind of democratic balance.

The DPP itself, and maybe the New Power Party, too, will have to take much of that loyal-opposition role – at least until July next year.

Distinguishing between blind faith and loyalty will be a challenge for people who support the president elect. But if Tsai’s supporters expect her to perform well, they themselves will have to play their part, too, in terms of judgment, strength, and faith.

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.

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