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Thursday, September 07, 2006

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President Back from Pacific Trip

President Chen returned to Taiwan after a swing through the Taiwan's Pacific allies, a trip full of lighthearted moments:

As his chartered China Airlines Boeing 737-800 was heading toward the terminal after landing at 10:35 p.m., the president used the aircraft's loudspeaker to announce that, contrary to claims by media commentator Sissy Chen, "we did not take any gold or jewels out of the country.

"What we exported to our diplomatic allies was our country's love for them and a sincere heart," the president stated, likely referring to the successful conclusion of the First Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit in Palau.


Sisy Chen, a local media personality who was once a DPP stalwart and his since gone over to the Dark Side, had claimed that Chen was packing his gold and jewels and fleeing into exile. Chen is currently suing her. Jerome Keating narrates her decline and fall:

Sisy Chen’s most recent defining moment was forever captured on TV footage on March 19, 2004, the election eve of Taiwan’s 3rd Presidential Race. A bare eight hours after an assassination attempt was made on President Chen Shui-bian, and before any voting had taken place, in true hired gun fashion the “independent” Sisy Chen was crying foul and shooting from the hip. Surrounded by the leaders of the Pan Blue Alliance of Kuomintang (KMT) and People’s First Party (PFP) she railed against this seeming injustice and how the assassination attempt was nothing but a staged political machination.

One could see that for many of the KMT/PFP stalwarts this was their last Hurrah and hence their vehement, even vitriolic outbursts; but why was Sisy so impassioned? Then one realizes that accountability had finally caught up with her. As master strategist for the KMT campaign her skills were also under question. She was the alleged insider who had gone over to the enemy with secrets that would surely tip the scale for a KMT/PFP victory. This was her campaign more than theirs and even they were beginning to realize it.

When later blamed by KMT stalwarts, in true PR Teflon fashion Sisy would dodge the responsibility and place the blame back on them. She was only saying, “what the KMT/PFP leaders had fed her.”


On a more serious note, Taiwan's Pacific policies have recently come under fire after a flap in the Solomons this year resulted in a rebuke to the island from New Zealand's defense minister, Phil Goff:

"It is no secret there is competition between Beijing and Taipei," Mr Goff said of the two capitals which compete for diplomatic recognition by Pacific island nations. "And that competition sometimes leads to money being directed not to a proper development assistance program working in harmony with other donor countries, but going to particular individuals.

"We deplore chequebook diplomacy from any sources by anyone. We see that as negative for proper development of the Solomon Islands, negative from the viewpoint of the people."

There have been persistent allegations in a number of Pacific island countries of Taiwanese and Chinese involvement in money politics, including in Vanuatu where an election co-incided with the politicians using new $US100 bills to buy consumer goods. China has diplomatic ties with eight Pacific island countries while six recognise Taiwan.


Anytime the good Defense Minister wants to speak out in favor of Taiwan's international presence, many of us here will be quite supportive. But as long as China suppresses Taiwan and is abetted by democracies looking the other way, then the result will be unseemly affairs like the alleged bribery in the Solomons. Problems are solved by addressing root causes, not bitching about symptoms.

Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry here denied that it was Palau's sugar daddy:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed a Reuters report that Taiwan had helped Palau to fund the construction of a new capitol building. But MOFA spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) publicly denied that Taiwan's financial assistance had amounted to NT$1.2 billion as was reported by Next Magazine.

According to a Reuters report on Tuesday, sources close to the Palau government said Taiwan had lent the Pacific country US$20 million for a variety of construction projects in the city of Melekeok, which is set to be Palau's new capital starting October 1.

The same report also claimed Taiwan had put up US$3 million for a conference center in the current capital Koror and another US$2 million for a national museum.

Moreover, Taiwan has given its South Pacific ally a US$15 million loan for the expansion of the nation's airport, the report said.


How low has Taiwan sunk? The historic moment of the trip was....Chen's address to the legislature of tiny Nauru:

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday stated that his arrival in the Republic of Nauru fulfilled a dream while stressing the common Austronesian heritage between Taiwan and the Pacific Country.

In an address to the unicameral Parliament of the Republic of Nauru yesterday morning, President Chen stated that the visit "is of very great significance to me as it fulfills my dream to visit all of Taiwan's Pacific allies during my term.

"I have now fulfilled my dream and have also become the first Taiwan president to visit Nauru and to receive the highest honor of addressing the Parliament of the Republic of Nauru," Chen stated.


It's only appropriate that this new low occurred in a nation of a few thousand whose greatest export in the old days was guano.

At least the President was able to stop over in Guam on his way back. Because US rules prohibit Taiwan military craft from landing in US territory, the President chartered a China Airlines plane and flew to Guam for four hours.

Chen expressed gratitude to the U.S. government and the Guam governor for allowing his third transit stopover, and promised he would pass through Guam again next year on the way to next year's allies summit in the Marshall Islands.

In response to a statement by the Guam governor that Chen had attracted more tourists to Palau than to Guam, the Taiwan president joked that the reason his visits to Guam had not sparked a similar flow of tourists was because "I have only been able to have short stopovers and have not been able to stay even one night or engage in any snorkeling or fishing contests."


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