Taiwan Matters! The PRC flag has never flown over Taiwan, and don't you forget it!

"Taiwan is not a province of China. The PRC flag has never flown over Taiwan."

Stick that in your clipboards and paste it, you so-called "lazy journalists"!

Thanks to all those who voted for Taiwan Matters!
in the Taiwanderful Best Taiwan Blog Awards 2010!
You've got great taste in blogs!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Are Taiwanese blind followers of their leader?

Ma Ying-Jeou certainly hopes that is the case when it comes to the proposed Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which he wants the Taiwanese people to accept without questioning. [Must-read link!] I think the Taiwanese people who voted for Ma as president did so because of their willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt on his ability to govern the country. However, these people are running out of patience after a recent incident involving cartoon characters which were designed to promote the ECFA but which ended up insulting the Taiwanese instead.

Other than the above linked questioning, I also found a brief report by Peace Forum, 兩岸三通直航與台灣經濟 (translation: Cross-Strait Three Links, Direct Flights, and Taiwan's Economy), citing the results of an opinion poll drawn from a pan-blue dominated samples that should alarm the Ma administration.

And since Ma said in his recent interview with the Common Wealth Magazine (天下雜誌) that "我們不能忽視民意。其實民主政治不也就是這樣?" ("We cannot ignore public opinions. As a matter of fact, isn’t that what democracy is all about?"), I would like to quote this excerpt from the Peace Forum report:
[...] 四、兩岸三通之進程,取決於談判型式的共識,而非單純經濟考量



According to this opinion poll conducted by Taiwan Thinktank and published on January 8, 2006, even KMT supporters had doubts about Taiwan’s economic strategy if it were negotiated under the “one China principle.”

Before learning the ugly details about the characters being portrayed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), my original title to this post was:
A question for Taiwan’s pan-blues: Do you prefer the advice of comic clowns to that of economic experts?
The clowns to whom I'm referring are the MOEA's two cartoon characters, Mr. EC and Ms. FA, discussed in this article. (Don’t miss my comment there.)

I originally thought the two characters, Mr. EC and Ms. FA were merely two “cheerleaders” (which I preferred to call clowns at that time) created to promote the KMT government's plan to sign an ECFA with China.

But the next day, more news broke out about the two cartoon characters: A male character named Yi-ge (一哥) and his female counterpart Fa Sao (發嫂). (click link for image)
The comics portray Yi-ge as a 45-year old Hoklo-speaking man from Tainan City who works as a salesman in an unspecified traditional industry. According to his profile, Yi-ge is a vocational school graduate who speaks “Taiwanese Mandarin” and knows very little about the proposed ECFA. He is content being a follower in all things, but when it comes to protecting himself, he “goes all-out.”

“For example, if he were ever accidentally short-changed by a clerk at a breakfast restaurant, he would do almost anything to get the money back, even if it is just NT$5,” the description says, adding that he was the kind of person who talks tough but never takes action.

His profile also says that he lacks the sensitivity for danger, lives life in a carefree manner and never cares to improve himself because he has a steady job. He has had some conversations with his colleagues about the ECFA and even though he knows nothing about the subject, he is worried about losing his job once the pact is signed.

One of Yi-ge’s acquaintances is Fa Sao, a 40-year-old Hakka from Hsinchu who works as a supervisor at an import-export company. She is described as an active, self-motivated and highly capable married woman who is fluent in English, Mandarin, Hoklo and Japanese. She is always hungry for knowledge and eager to learn more about money-management. Her profile suggests she keeps herself well-informed and is a keen observer of market trends. Fa Sao was recently promoted to company spokesman. Her knowledge of cross-strait trade has prompted her to learn all about the ECFA.
As it turns out, the comic strip was extremely offensive and derogatory. It described those who opposed the ECFA as stupid and unaware of current events, and it stereotyped people from the southern part of Taiwan (like myself) as “lower class.”

The Taiwan News published an editorial, KMT comics for ECFA insult Taiwan people, which points out that:
The most questionable claims and rationalizations cited by the Ma government to promote the pact are presented as incontestable facts despite intensive criticism by numerous independent economists […]

For example, the MOEA comic claims the implementation of the free trade agreement between the PRC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next January will render Taiwan exports to China uncompetitive compared to ASEAN products, implies "Made in Taiwan" goods will face "5 percent to 10 percent" tariff levies across the board and that Taiwan bosses will move factories to the PRC to "stay competitive."

In fact, most of Taiwan's exports to the PRC, especially in leading informatics and telecommunications sectors, face zero or very low tariffs, while the main product areas that will be affected are petrochemicals, which will have an edge on ASEAN makers due to lower transportation costs. Besides failing to consider that economic competitiveness can be obtained by other paths besides lower tariffs […]
Since I am a “lower class” southerner who “accidentally” speaks multiple languages and feels deeply insulted by the comic strip, I think it would be a good idea to examine Ma’s allegiance from a different angle, not from his US permanent residence / citizenship status mystery, but from how he named his children.

Ma’s real thoughts on Taiwan’s future role are revealed by how he named his two daughters: Lesley Ma (Ma Wei-chung, 馬唯中) and Kelly Ma (Ma Yuan-chung, 馬元中). This information is readily available from the Wikipedia article on Ma under the section about his Personal background.

For the benefit of English-only readers, the character means ONE AND ONLY, and the character means THE FIRST as in 元首 (the first of a nation i.e., the head of a state), or THE BEGINNING as in 元旦 (the beginning of a year, i.e., New Year’s Day), or A UNIT IN COUNTING MONEY as in 一元 (one Yuan). The third character of both of their names is , which means CHINA, or CENTER (but obviously Ma meant China in this context). By the way, China 中國 literally means the "central nation" or "middle kingdom." The ancient Chinese people must have thought that their country was at the center of civilization, whereas the ancient Greeks must have thought Delphi was at the center of the universe.

Ma did not name his second daughter after the character , which would refer to TAIWAN. He named both of his daughters after the character 中 (China) to show his one hundred percent loyalty to China.

Everything in Taiwan is changing swiftly but silently, just like the renaming of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to the dead dictator’s name. Are Taiwanese blind followers of their leader? If not, don’t wait until you wake up one day that your leader announces his title has been changed to a regional governor.

Refuse Ma’s push to sign the ECFA, and support only a clearly studied and proposed future economic plan for Taiwan through many forums to be organized by experts in the field.

Related reading:
In Chinese:
Taiwan Echo’s ECFA 漫畫說帖:一個撕裂社會、製造族群對立的文宣

Taiwan Echo, again, on the fake apology from Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (但是這次,就讓我爽爽快快地幹個徹底吧!)

In English:
The View from Taiwan’s ECFA/China Investment Round Up, More on the ECFA’s Cartoons: Guest Post, and MOEA Exploits Ethnic Stereotypes to sell ECFA

The Far-Eastern Sweet Potato’s How to insult a people

Time Magazine’s Taiwan: How to Reboot the Dragon

An article in the Taipei Times mentions how MOEA minister Yiin Chii-ming's "apology" places the blame on others

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Taiwan on CNN - Chinese tourists

Taiwan Rocks is featuring this video on Chinese tourism in Taiwan:

I found the comments of the tourists quite interesting. One referred to Taiwan and China as 'fellow nations'. It's sad when a Chinese tourist can make that statement but the President of Taiwan (ROC) cannot.


Sunday, July 26, 2009


ECFA referendum faces a race against the clock

Loa Iok-sin of the Taipei Times reports the latest progress on the DPP's ECFA referendum petition:
“The CEC has confirmed that the referendum petition submitted by [DPP chairperson] Tsai Ing-wen [蔡英文] was signed by 123,462 qualified voters, and thus has reached the threshold set forth in the Referendum Act [公民投票法],” the CEC said in a press release after a meeting yesterday.
The CEC therefore decided to forward the petition to the Executive Yuan’s referendum review committee for further review,” it said....
In the second stage, a referendum proposal approved by the Cabinet referendum review committee must be endorsed by more than 5 percent of the number of voters who voted in the last presidential election — or 866,000 people in this case — to make it to the polling stations.
The Liberty Times adds an important piece of additional information -- the Executive Yuan's referendum review committee is not yet put together, but the cabinet has promised it would make it's suggested list of nominations available to Ma by the end of July.

So the DPP is facing an uphill struggle to get the referendum passed before the ECFA negotiations begin in October, especially since they're likely to be concluded before year's end:
Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) said yesterday that he and Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming (陳德銘) had agreed to initiate official cross-strait talks on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) in October....
His comments came after he met Chen and discussed the ECFA issue for the first time this week in Singapore on the sidelines of a two-day APEC forum there.
“Due to the strong willingness on both sides … The official discussion can be completed sometime before the end of this year,” he said.
The scope and time table for ECFA talks have been largely opaque up until now, with the President, Mainland Affairs Council and Economic Ministry all suggesting vague or contradictory dates at different times over the last few months. But spelling out a precise and ambitious schedule, as Yiin just has, is a fair sign we will be seeing the pact before year's end, and that the resulting petition may not gain enough signatures or jump through technical hurdles in time to make a difference -- especially if the government decides to check the validity of all the signatures in stage two.

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Friday, July 24, 2009


ECFA Cartoons - bigotry as a tool of persuasion

The Government Information Office (GIO) has been trying to reduce the fallout from it's introduction of two cartoon characters designed to inform the public about what an ECFA agreement with China is and persuade them in its favour. Why? For two excellent overviews please read:

Far-Eastern Sweet Potato - How to insult a people

D. Kerslake guest poster in The View from Taiwan - More on the ECFA cartoons.

The response of the GIO has been mealy mouthed and obfuscating, to say the least:
Government Information Office Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said government agencies should be careful in publications not to offend anyone. Su yesterday urged the public not to be offended.

“[Different government agencies] have different needs and considerations when promoting policies in different ways and for different purposes,” he said. (Translation: It's all so variable and contingent that no-one can predict what will happen so people should not be upset when one part of the Government acts in a manner utterly against the stated prinicples of another. It's just all so different)

Asked whether the Executive Yuan would instruct the MOEA to scrap the comic strip, Su said it respected the authority of the ministry.

At a separate setting yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) described the comic strip as “ridiculous.”

“[The comic strip] should help the ministry promote this policy, but instead will create ethnic division,” she said.
It should be noted that Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) is likely more upset that this blunder will affect the ECFA's popularity than the 'ethnic division' it will likely create. Hopefully, I'm wrong and she is genuinely concerned about the bigotry and condescending tone of the cartoons. I very much hope that, like the 'Chinese' calendars, these cartoon characters are taken out of commission asap.


Monday, July 20, 2009


Returning to dictatorship under the KMT

Destruction of democracy

In the days of freedom, it was known as the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall. We should have known what was coming.
Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (臺灣民主紀念館)
Photographed in December 2007 by Tim Maddog
(Click to enlarge)

Earlier today, the dictator-loving Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government under Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) removed a sign reading "臺灣民主紀念館" ("Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall") from a Taipei monument and restored its earlier name "中正紀念堂" ("Chiang Kai-shek [蔣介石/蔣中正] Memorial Hall") in commemoration of a dictator who was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Taiwanese here and millions of people in China.

Remember how Ma said he would "gauge public opinion" before changing the name and that it was "not a pressing matter"? Did you believe it then?

A closer shot of the plaque which reads ''Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall''
A closer shot of the plaque which -- until earlier
today -- read "Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall"
Photographed in December 2007 by Tim Maddog
(Click to enlarge)

This is yet another brazen display of the KMT's authoritarian nature, their unabashed love of dictators, and their hatred of democracy.

Are you awake yet? If you are, and if anyone you know is still asleep, go pour a large bucket of cold water on their heads this instant!

* Michael Turton pretty much live-blogged it: KMT restores Chiang Kai-shek Name to Memorial Hall

* See what I wrote about this on May 30, 2009: The Chinese Nationalist Party hates Taiwan's democracy

Things to remember and never forget: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009


Formosa Betrayed -- the official movie preview

The reason transitional justice is so important in Taiwan

The official trailer for the long-awaited film "Formosa Betrayed" is out. The film is based on the real-life murder of a Taiwanese writer which was carried out on American soil, and it follows the trail of evidence right to the top levels of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government:


My favorite lines from the trailer: "The Chinese say we are their brothers. But if we are brothers, why do they treat us like this?"

I don't know the official release date yet, but if this film is showing anywhere within 20,037.51 kilometers of your location, you must see it. Open your eyes.

* The official movie web site

* The story and the history behind it via the official web site

* The film's news page mentions some festivals where the film has been accepted and will probably be the place to find out the actual release date.

* Formosa Betrayed on IMDb.com

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Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Statement of support for Lee Ming-tsung

NTU Sociology Professor Lee Ming-tsung
Prof. Lee Ming-tsung
image (cc) 楊竣傑
via 生命力新聞
We, the bloggers of Taiwan Matters, stand in solidarity with National Taiwan University Professor Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁) following his indictment last month on charges of violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).

Professor Lee participated in a protest in November 2008 with a group of students which later came to be known as the "Wild StrawBerries Movement." They had three specific demands [edited here for formatting, clarity, spelling, and completeness]:
1. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) must publicly apologize to all citizens [for creating the situation which allowed the police to treat protesters the way they did during Chen Yunlin's (陳雲林) visit to Taiwan].

2. National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) and National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chao-ming (蔡朝明) must step down [to take responsibility for the police brutality that occurred as a result of the massive police presence].

3. The Legislative Yuan (行政院) must revise the Parade and Assembly Law (集會遊行法), which currently restricts the rights of the people [and which are set to become even more repressive early in 2009]. [This is basically a simple demand for "Freedom of Assembly."]
If there had been sufficient reason to charge Professor Lee, it could have been done at the time of the protest instead of seven months later.

In the interim, political persecution, threats, and violence have with increasing frequency been carried out against those who are active in their opposition to the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration's policies of moving politically closer to China and reversing the progress made during Taiwan's transition to sovereign democracy over the past twenty years.

The current administration has severely undermined the integrity of Taiwan's judicial system with its continued detention of former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) while justice officials perform skits mocking the defendant. Despite President Ma's promises that he would reform the Assembly and Parade Act, all indications are that it will become a stricter law than it was previously.

In fact, more laws infringing on free speech are being passed. One example is the Act Governing the Administrative Impartiality of Public Officials (公務人員行政中立法):
The Act prohibits academics from wearing or displaying flags or emblems of any political parties or groups at teachers' or researchers' offices. It also prohibits academics from convening demonstrations, launching signature bids and the editing, printing or distribution of political flyers or related documents using public equipment at public offices. The Examination Yuan and the Executive Yuan are also authorized to impose more bans through administrative orders.
The indictment of Professor Lee is yet another example to add to the ever-growing list of partisan indictments which strongly suggest systemized political persecution. There is no political capital to be gained by such actions, except perhaps in Beijing.

What we need in Taiwan is justice, not the "just us" mentality that is currently being demonstrated by the Ma administration.

To summarize, we stand behind Professor Lee Ming-tsung in his rational, nonviolent attempts to defend and deepen Taiwan's democracy. As long as the current government's policies continue to carry us backward toward an authoritarian past, the protests are likely to grow.

The Taiwan Matters blog team

Others who wish to "sign" this statement can do so in the comments section below or let us know by e-mail (address is in the sidebar).

Learn more about the controversial practices of the current judicial system.

* The Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights (捍衛民主人權陣線) harshly criticizes the Ma administration and shows strong support for Professor Lee as well as for National Taiwan Normal University (國立台灣師範大學) Professor Lin Chia-fan (林佳範) in the wake of his indictment on charges similar to those being pressed against Professor Lee.

* The Monday, July 13, 2009 edition of the Taipei Times has an editorial piece by Chiu Hei-yuan (瞿海源) called "The Act that silences academics."

* The Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Taipei Times reports that "More than 120 academics and human rights activists said yesterday they would turn themselves in to prosecutors for breaking the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) in a protest against the legislation." Read all about it in an article titled "Activists, academics 'surrender' to protest law."

* The full text of the new Act Governing the Administrative Impartiality of Public Officials (公務人員行政中立法) can be read in English on Brock Freeman's blog.

* Read David Reid's recent post on how the Assembly Law attacks freedom of speech.

* Taiwan Echo blogs in English and Hanzi on the illegal reasoning behind the latest extension of the detention of Chen Shui-bian: Lawless Taipei District Court extends Chen's detention based on illegal taping; 目無法紀的蔡守訓與台北地院用違法盜錄的看守所對話延長對扁的羈押

* Read a March 2009 statement from Chen Shui-bian (translated into English) which mentions interference by Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰).

* Watch Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng in August 2008 publicly discussing details of the ongoing investigation into the case against Chen Shui-bian as covered by New Taiwan Forum (新台灣論壇), FTV (民視新聞台), and Talking Show (大話新聞).

* Read Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng's denial of what you see happening in the three video clips above.

(Written by all current team members, posted by Tim Maddog.)

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Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


A bad business practice by Taiwan’s biggest bookstore chain

Have you ever seen souvenir items based on images from Adolf Hitler’s life being sold anywhere in the world to commemorate his legacy? I doubt it, because it is simply not right to promote the legacy of the mastermind behind the Holocaust.

But in Taiwan, souvenir items based on images from the lives of dead dictator Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo are being sold across Taiwan at the nation’s biggest bookstore chain (see the video at that link), Eslite Bookstore (誠品書店).

To my dismay, the legacy of Taiwan’s dead dictator, the mastermind behind Taiwan’s 228 massacre in 1947, is being revived!

The great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), Demos Chiang’s design company, the DEM INC., designed some disgusting souvenirs featuring images from the life of dead dictator Chiang and his son, the head of the secret police during Taiwan's White Terror period. The souvenir items include pens, T-shirts, notebooks, post cards, and more.

If Demos Chiang were a businessman who cared about Taiwan’s worsening human rights situation and noticed the recent erosion of justice, these products commemorating dictator Chiang’s life would not have been designed in the first place, not to mention being mass produced for sale in Taiwan’s biggest bookstore chain.

Have you seen Demos Chiang’s blog updated with any words of support for a better Taiwan like what the Wild Strawberries Student Movement has been fighting for? No! And how could he, since he was probably preoccupied by this souvenir design project?!

Identifying himself as a Taiwanese (my note: which I really doubt now), Demos Chiang, previously admitted that his family members had persecuted the Taiwanese people in the past, but it is now quite evident that such remarks were merely a tactic to promote his company and obtain contracts.

Many of Taiwan’s younger businessmen will tell you that they love Taiwan, but deep down they don’t. They love money more than anything else. All they care about is making lots of profits despite unethical business practices and despite the risk of becoming Chinese slaves in the near future. They represent a lost generation who were born to a more democratic Taiwanese society that was already there for them because of the blood shed by their predecessors.

How pathetic!

Reference sources:
From page 8 of the Tuesday, May 29, 2007 Taipei Times, read the editorial Young Chiang shows KMT the way.

For Chinese text of Demos Chiang's admission that his relatives persecuted the Taiwanese, read 蔣友柏:我家人曾迫害台灣人.

See the video which brought attention to Eslite's sales of CKS and CCK souvenirs.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009


Medical ethics and human decency disappear when it comes to Chen Shui-bian’s family

After seeing the hostility shown to Chen Shui-bian’s grand child by the elementary school he was supposed to attend this September, another incident on 9th July again showed the lack of respect and decency for Chen’s family.

On 9 July 2009, former first lady of Taiwan, Wu Shu-jen, was rushed to Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-ho Hospital because her blood pressure was dangerously low and she was feeling very unwell. While she was in the hospital, her son, Chen Chih-chung and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching went to see her. On their arrival, the press was already waiting INSIDE the hospital in the hallway and the corridor.

Chen and Huang didn’t know where to go at first and one of the female journalists told them they had gone the wrong way. It is funny how the press knew where it was supposed to be before the family. The hospital staff was nowhere to be seen at this point. As there were too many people in that corridor, some journalists warned each other to be careful. They were loud and pushing each other. In the mid of all this, one of the male journalists already started asking Chen Chih-chung questions about his mother’s conditions along with some others.

Chen Chih-chung simply quietly asked twice ‘Can you let us through, please?

Huang also said in a low voice a couple of times ‘Can you let us get inside and see [my mother in law]?

Those journalists did not give up ‘What’s going on now? Why did this happen? Did it happen suddenly? …Just say something brief…

Huang Jui-ching now appeared to be slightly irritated and said ‘Can you let us go inside and see [my mother-in-law] first, which is more important? Is it so important for you to interview us? Just let us go inside and see [her] first.

At this point, the head of PR of the hospital turned up. She used to be a journalist in China Times and her name is Wang Kuang-fu (王廣福).

She first told the journalists to stop and wait and then turned to Chen and Huang, saying ‘I’m sorry. I’m the head of PR here.

As she was talking, she was putting her right hand in front of Chen’s shoulder to stop him from walking further.

She went on to say ‘Please, Chih-chung, can you two wait for a bit?

At the same time, a woman in the crowd of journalists said ‘Just stop and talk [to us] for a little while’.

The head of PR went on ‘the journalists have been waiting for a long time and it’s not exactly convenient [to talk] inside. They may be very concerned about this situation and why don’t you talk to them now?

Chen replied ‘I haven’t even seen my mother yet. What would you like me to say…?

Huang said ‘You have to let us see my mother [in law] first.

Chen asserted ‘I would like to see my mother first.

Wang then said ‘Then you have to see whether the press are willing to wait for you. So now are you still going to go inside first?

Huang raised her voice ‘Of course!

It seemed to be another woman in the crowd (probably a journalist) that said ‘Sorry, can we let them go inside first and come back here later?

Wang finally backed off and said ‘OK’. She then turned to all the journalists and told them to wait in that area and then escorted Chen and Huang in.

Before going in, Chen said to them all ‘You have to respect the patients and put the patients first.

It’s not as if there are no regulations about the press conduct in hospital environments. They are clearly set out by Department of Health but ignore by this particular hospital when it comes to Chen Shui-bian’s family. So far, I have not seen any reports that Wu actually gave her permission for the hospital to allow journalists to ask about her conditions. Not only did Wang show no respect to Wu, she also violated other patients’ rights by allowing journalists in the hospital, blocking the hallway and making all sorts of noise.

It’s been over 24 hours since this happened and I have not been able to find any new reports about the hospital and Wang publicly apologising for what happened or Wang being reprimanded or punished for her behaviour by the hospital management in any way. Not surprisingly, no authority has condemned such violations of medical ethics. In fact, the Chinese Nationalist Party legislator, Chiu Yi, implied that this (Wu being unwell and rushed to the hospital) was just another ‘act’ of the Chen family. Luckily, the public has a sense of decency as a lot of people phoned the hospital PR office to express their disgust at Wang’s conduct after the news came out


Saturday, July 04, 2009


In Taiwan is it justifiable to be charged based on a law that is unconstitutional and being protested upon?

Let's take a closer look at the Assembly and Parade Act (APA 集會遊行法) that Prof. Lee was indicted for "violating"

The APA gives wide powers to police to disperse demonstrations and designate restricted areas, while making it compulsory for organizers to apply for permits. Human rights defenders, including students, academics and activists have strongly criticized the unconstitutionality of this law, deemed to have violated Taiwan's Constitution under Article 14, which states clearly that "The people have freedom of assembly and association".

Neither Mr. Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁) nor Lin Chia-fan (林佳範) should have to bear the personal burdens of an entire nation's concern, unless you welcome this unconstitutional law to become harsher.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) have jointly called on Taiwan to respect and protect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly by dropping the charges against these two prominent human rights defenders and amending the Parade and Assembly Law in accordance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified at the Legislative Yuan in March 2009.

Read Taiwan should drop charges against HRDs and amend parade and assembly law, Wed, 01/07/2009 - 12:00, FORUM-ASIA.

The indictment issued on May 15 by the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, stated that Lee "is well aware that assembly and parades are prohibited without submitting an application in advance," but did not do so when he led hundreds of students and civic group members to the sit-in.

Meanwhile, the members of the Wild Strawberry Student Movement slammed the indictment of National Taiwan University sociology professor Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁) for allegedly violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) during a sit-in last November.

Read the entire news story, Wild Strawberries slam indictment of NTU professor, by Flora Wang and Shelley Huang, in the Taipei Times, Friday, June 12, 2009, Page 1.

More sneaky amendments to the APA underway
The latest version of the law makes sure that protesters do not only have to ask for approval beforehand but also gives the local police authority the power to alter approved parade routes, protest sizes, or finishing times wherever and whenever they see fit. This is going to be stricter than the law that existed during the Martial Law era. Read Upcoming protests against the latest KMT amendment of Parade & Assembly Law in Taiwan, April 26, 2009 from In Claudia Jean's Eyes.

Double standards by the Taipei police authority
Did the redshirt army movement in the fall of 2006 have permission to protest? At one point, when police denied permission for their protests, then-Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou overrode their decision and told police to approve the protests. In fact, Ma himself donned the redshirts' uniform and joined the protestors on more than one occasion.

Note what's behind the second link above:
Earlier yesterday morning, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) showed up briefly at the sit-in area and helped distribute 1,200 loaves of bread and bottles of soy milk to protesters. Wearing a red shirt, Ma led the crowd in shouting "A-bian Step Down!" in Mandarin, Taiwanese and Hakka.

Ma said he had taken the opportunity to express the KMT's support for the protesters.
UPDATE: Compare that with Ma's current statements regarding "non-interference":
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has rejected a plea by his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), to lift a court order that bars Chen's daughter from leaving the country.


"However, having been a president, Chen Shui-bian should understand that although being head of the Republic of China comes with much authority, [a president] still cannot intervene in the judiciary," Ma said on Thursday. "The decision [to lift the travel ban on Chen Hsing-yu] should be decided by the prosecutors or the court, not by me."

We don't need an APA in Taiwan
What Taiwan really needs is simply a process to register demonstrations with local police authorities rather than to apply for permission from the police, so that the local police authority will be informed of the gathering but will not have to make a decision on who or where or when to grant permission.

Currently, the police authorities often grant permission to pan-blue organized demonstrations while denying permission when the applications come from the pan-green camp.

Important references:
Read Taiwanese Students Protest 'Parade and Assembly Law', from the China Digital Times.

Read Latest Parade & Assembly Law developments, from That's Impossible! Politics from Taiwan.

Read A breakthrough in human rights, by Peter Huang (黃文雄) in the Taipei Times, Wednesday, Apr 08, 2009, Page 8.

(Tim Maddog contributed to this post.)

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Is this really how children are treated in Taiwan?

From today's Taipei Times we see that some people are concerned that their children will study with Chen Shui-bian's grandson, who they fear, at age 6, will corrupt their own children:
... several users of the school’s online message board who identified themselves as teachers and parents whose children are pupils at the school voiced objections to the possibility of the boy’s enrollment.

“I have been worried that my child will make friends with bad classmates, but I feel relieved, because your school will serve as a gatekeeper,” a user with the screen name “a parent of a student” said.

“Children of corrupt convicts [sic] like Chao Yi-an should not be allowed to attend the school. I don’t want my child to go to the same school as convicts’ children,” the user said in a message posted last Thursday.

The school has issued a statement saying that it would never discriminate against students based on their sex or social, economic or political background.
Here's a google cache link to a discussion board on the topic. Now, we know in the instance of inherited debt that Taiwanese children do get burdened with the mistakes of their parents and we know of parents using credit cards in their child's names to carry out egregious activities. We also know that family name reputation is something that can both help and hinder young Taiwanese as they grow up and try to better manage their lives in the shadow of their parent's influence and control. That being said, to argue that a six year old is a 'convict's child' or to call the biy a 'bad classmate' before he has even stepped into the school is beyond contempt and despicable. Thankfully the school seem to have some sense of professionalism even if some of the teachers don't. If we were to ban the child for the crimes of his grandfather, we would have to then consider banning all the grandchildren of legislators convicted of vote buying or those of rich tycoons who have stolen shed loads of cash before fleeing the country. Otherwise, its just one rule for one and another rule for another (I guess some might say that's exactly how it works in Taiwan today).