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!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

permalink

Ma's force struck the public television three days after Typhoon Morakot hit

Former Legislator, Lin Cho-shui had an article in the Liberty Times on 23 August, explaining how pro-Ma 'experts' in Public Television Service tried to push the current PTS president out.

Lin explained that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have always tried to gain total control over the PTS since Ma took office in 2008. In October 2008, they used the fact that two board directors resigned to push for a re-election of the board of directors. This was actually against the PTS law. When their attempt failed, they increased the number of directors and filled those positions with some KMT legislators.

After this, the KMT felt that they still could not have total control over the PTS. They then tried to freeze the PTS budget. This caused an uproar and many petitioned and protested to 'Save the PTS'. This strong public reaction forced them to drop the budget freeze but they immediately used their overwhelming majority in the Parliament to change the PTS law to increase the number of board members again and require the new members to start from the beginning of August. According to Lin, this is against the PTS law because any change should come into effect from the next term rather than immediately.

On 10 August, when everyone was focusing on the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot and the government's lack of actions, pro-Ma board directors asked to re-elect the President while the current one is nowhere near the end of his current term. The term of presidency is protected by the PTS law. A re-election can only take place when the current one leaves in the middle of their term but Ma's supporters keep ignoring the law. Furthermore, Lin said that the current president and board of directors have done very well as the ratings and te quality of programmes within their term have all been great. There is no justification for a re-election of the president or the board if one looks at their competence and achievements.

As their attempt failed on the 10th, those pro-Ma directors tried again on the 17th. The board meeting is supposed to be once a month and has become once a week just because they wanted to change the president. Lin said that if Ma's government had been so keen when it came to rescue efforts, the public may have felt more satisfied about the government. Unfortunately, the blue camp has been more concerned about their political interests, interferering with the public media, rather than the people in need.

Labels:

______________________________________________________

Sunday, August 23, 2009

permalink

The President and the Premier

... or a couple of scaredy-cats?

An image from today's Liberty Times (自由時報):

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) (L) and Premier Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) (C) hold hands yesterday as they attend a ceremony for victims of Typhoon Morakot two weeks ago. -- hosted by ImageShack
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) (left) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) (middle) appear to be holding hands yesterday as they attend a ceremony for the people who died in Typhoon Morakot two weeks ago.
Photo by 黃佳琳 from the Liberty Times (自由時報)
(Click image to see the original article.)

NOTE: This has nothing to do with frequently-heard hints that Ma is gay, and I wouldn't insult gays by suggesting that either Ma or Liu are part of that community. This is about a president who tried just last Tuesday to give international media the impression that he and his cabinet are "strong leaders." Hint to Ma and Liu: You're doin' it all wrong.

Unhealthy relationships: , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , ,

______________________________________________________

Thursday, August 20, 2009

permalink

Ma Ying-jeou: Worst. President. Ever.

When pro-Ma media says so, it's even worse than that!

Ma Ying-jeou: Worst. President. Ever.
Rotten to the core
爛到極點
(Click to enlarge)

A survey released by pro-blue, 100% Chinese-funded TVBS says that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) approval rating is now at 16 percent [212 kb Hanzi PDF file] following his inept and deadly response to Typhoon Morakot which began battering Taiwan on August 7, 2009, leaving a village with approximately 500 people buried in a gargantuan mudslide, thousands stranded -- some for over a week -- and tens of thousands inundated by deep flooding.

Pro-blue TVBS survey says Ma Ying-jeou's approval is only 16 percent
When TVBS says their own guy is doing this bad, he's doing much worse.
(Click to enlarge)

Ma took office less than 15 months ago promising "no unification, no independence, and no war" (不統、不獨、不武), but later said that the first of those actually meant that he "had not ruled out unification" [read: annexation]. Only about 10 percent Less than 9 percent of Taiwan's population support unification in any form whatsoever -- whether immediately or at some time in the future (1.2 percent wanting "'unification' ASAP," 7.6 percent wanting "status quo now, 'unification' later," for a total of 8.8 percent).

The Ma administration has also run roughshod over human rights. Last November (2008), over 7,000 police were ostensibly brought out to "protect" visiting Chinese envoy Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), but instead of merely doing that, hundreds of protesters -- most of whom were peaceful -- were brutally beaten.

That same month, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) (DPP) was detained on charges which have yet to be judged in a fair court according to the evidence. A judge (Chou Chan-chun [周占春]) who ruled that Chen could be released until such judgment was made was replaced with a different judge (Tsai Shou-hsun [蔡守訓]) who toed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) line. Chen has now unjustly been in detention for over nine months. [If you haven't done so aleady, please go sign the petition to release Chen right now.]

Ma Ying-jeou doesn't care about Taiwan's Aboriginals
Remember in December 2007 when Ma told Aboriginals living in Taipei that he "sees [them] as humans" (我把你當人看)? [at the 7:25 mark in the video]. Then, when around 500 Aboriginals may have died in the mudslide which buried Siaolin Village (小林村), he blamed the victims for not evacuating. (Important point: The evacuation centers for that area were also buried by the mudslides.)

Where is the compassion? This cold-blooded administration has absolutely none. You must open your eyes, see clearly what's happening, and tell the world all about it. Above all, you must never forget how many Taiwanese have died (and continue to do so) because of the KMT.

FURTHER READING:
* While discussing Ma's actions during "the most crucial hours of Morakot," Taiwan Echo points out how everything Ma touches has ended up "a disaster." I recently dubbed this phenomenon "The 馬的斯 Touch®."

* Claudia Jean explains how the DPP tried long ago to do what the KMT is now trying to take credit for (and which the KMT repeatedly blocked, thus postponing vital action until hundreds of people were already dead).

* Michael Turton points out that "When [the pro-blue] UDN says a KMT administration is not popular -- it ain't popular."

* Over at Talk Taiwan, Άλισον wishes that Larry King would interview Ma Ying-jeou. On that show, a whole new audience would get to see Ma's incompetent and dangerous foolishness.

* Today's Taipei Times has an English-language analysis of the TVBS survey: MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Ma, Liu approval ratings plummet in Morakot's wake

UPDATE: Here are some images showing the numbers from even more recent surveys.

Ma Ying-jeou and Liu Chao-shiuan's 'satisfaction' ratings
A chart shows Ma Ying-jeou and Liu Chao-shiuan's (劉兆玄) "satisfaction" ratings.
Satisfied (L) vs. dissatisfied (R)
(Click to enlarge)

Comparison of various surveys asking if Ma should step down
Here's a comparison of various surveys asking if Ma should step down (those below the black line).
Should step down (L) vs. shouldn't (R)
It should be noted that neither CNN nor ICRT could be considered "green."
(Click to enlarge)

Talking Show's call-in survey about whether Ma should step down
Talking Show had a call-in survey about whether Ma should step down.
The final vote was: YES: 125,709 (98.214%); NO: 2,286 (1.786%)
(Click to enlarge)

[/update]

Scapegoats: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

______________________________________________________

permalink

Ma vs CNN

I found this illustrative video on Youtube. Perhaps Ma thought that no-one in Taiwan would understand if he spoke English.


Postnote: Whilst much has been made of Ma using the pronoun 'they', as if referring to all Taiwanese, he in fact used it to refer to the victims of the typhoon. Not that that makes what he said ok though. Even being kind to Ma, he has just insulted the victims and blamed them for their own predicament.

______________________________________________________

Monday, August 17, 2009

permalink

On the grapevine tonight ...

The Ma administration is not going to apply for UN membership this year to 'maintain the harmonious relationship with China' ... confirmation coming ...

Further news: An eyewitness working to help victims of the typhoon has reported that he saw KMT staffers today helping out whilst also shouting slogans such as 'get the KMT candidate elected'.

How distasteful is that? ... on a scale of 10 that has to count as an 11.

______________________________________________________

permalink

CNN can't decide whether to call Ma Ying-jeou Taiwan's "president" or its "leader"

They distort, you decide

Here are three screenshots which tell a story:

Most Popular on CNN: Taiwan leader takes typhoon blame
4:03 AM, August 17, 2009, Taiwan time
The most-viewed article at that time was listed as "Taiwan leader takes typhoon blame"
(and it's good to see that the readers are paying attention to Taiwan!),
but clicking that link took me to what you'll see in the next image.
(Click image to enlarge)

CNN headline: Taiwan's president takes blame for typhoon response
4:04 AM, August 17, 2009, Taiwan time
"Taiwan's president takes blame for typhoon response,"
but somebody behind the scenes is about to take the blame for the headline.
(Not that the link above appeared on the same page with this headline.)
Take a look below to see what happened next.
(Click image to enlarge)

CNN headline: Taiwan's president takes blame for typhoon response
8:30 AM, August 17, 2009, Taiwan time
Now it says "Taiwan's leader takes blame for typhoon response,"
and the first sentence of the article also uses the word "leader."
(Click image to enlarge)

Note the URL of the page calls Ma "president," but the most recent version changes "president" (in both the headline and the body of the article) to "leader," only using the word "president" in a direct quote from Ma farther down the page:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/16/taiwan.president.typhoon/index.html
Gee, how do you think that happened?

FURTHER READING:
* Luby in Wonderland: "CNN: Ma takes full responsibility, will punish subordinates, but will not resign"

* A post I wrote November 2006 shows how Ma "takes responsibility."

Square pegs: , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , ,

______________________________________________________

Friday, August 14, 2009

permalink

Impressions of Typhoon Morakot

Ma Ying-jeou's "Katrina"

Typhoon Morakot (莫拉克颱風) did extensive damage to large areas of Taiwan over the past weekend. Here in Taichung, it rained heavily from about Thursday night (August 6) until Tuesday afternoon (August 11).

Southern Taiwan experienced over 2,500 mm of rain from the storm resulting in widespread flooding and landslides which trapped thousands of residents of Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Taitung Counties. Several barrier lakes were also formed by landslides, creating the potential for even more devastation.

CNN's Guillermo Arduino gives details about Typhoon Morakot
CNN's Guillermo Arduino gives details about Typhoon Morakot
(screenshot from the video linked above)
(Click to enlarge)

As of Tuesday night, at least 62 people were confirmed dead As of 10 PM Thursday night (August 13), at least 116 people were confirmed dead (that number has probably risen since I found that report), and the death toll will inevitably rise for many days to come. UPDATE: "As of Saturday [August 29, 2009], confirmed fatalities from Morakot had reached 571, with 106 others listed as missing, the Central Emergency Operation Center said." [/update]

The response (or lack thereof) and who's to blame
In the 921 Earthquake of September 21, 1999 which happened under the watch of President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the first troops from the south (工兵) were dispatched within two hours to begin clearing roads, and within a day, 15,362 troops were dispatched during this crucial time period to assist with rescue efforts such as extracting survivors from collapsed buildings. Last Friday, people in Linbian Township (林邊鄉), Pingtung County (areas easily accessible to those with proper equipment -- boats, jet skis, etc.) who had called for help early in the morning were still waiting for that help to arrive 16 or 17 hours later.

Under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), emergency management had been improved to the point where, according to the Taiwan News, "emergency pumping equipment and other supplies or military manpower could be dispatched 10 minutes instead of hours after a [Central Operation Center] command." But after a little more than one year under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the power to make such decisions was rescinded by the central government. Yet Ma tried to shift the blame to local officials, especially DPP ones, for delaying the help.

Ma Ying-jeou hates Taiwanese people
But Ma went much further, even blaming the victims, just like the Bush administration and their supporters did following Hurricane Katrina:


1:56 YouTube video: "【莫拉克颱風】CNN專訪是否防颱不周 馬英九卸責:都是災民不走不撤離"
Translation: [Typhoon Morakot] CNN: Should Taiwan not have been more prepared?
Ma: It's all because the victims stayed where they were.

Defying common sense, Ma not only refused to declare a state of emergency -- he also refused assistance offered by Japan and the US (before doing an about-face while still trying to compile a "wish list" of what is needed).

In the meantime, rescue helicopters repeatedly passed over areas where people required help and continued focusing on the areas getting the most media coverage. The inevitable result was clashes between family members of the groups in these areas. Why didn't Ma use all the resources at his disposal and get the sick, the injured, the elderly, and those who need medication out of every area possible at the same time? Why was only one helicopter dispatched anywhere in Taiwan on the first day when so many bridges were out? (If the weather allowed one to go up, others could have gone up as well.) And why did it take until August 12 to get the big (tandem-rotor) helicopters (like the Chinook CH-47) out? The president is the one who must give these kinds of orders to the military. People will naturally come to the conclusion that most of this was the result of very ugly politics.

Chinese Nationalist Party-led (KMT) Taipei City was somehow allowed to round up 6,000 soldiers just to set up for the upcoming Deaflympics, but only 8,000 were assigned to national disaster relief in the days immediately following Morakot.

The media
While CNN was appropriately saying on Thursday, August 6 that Morakot may very well turn into a "super typhoon," Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau (CWB) was -- as late as Thursday -- "warn[ing] residents in the north and northeast [Maddog note: "especially the north and northeast," as opposed to the south, which took the brunt of the storm] that the storm was packing powerful winds and torrential rain."

On one hand, ETTV (very pro-blue) actually provided some help to people who called in. But at the same time, they were licking Ma's boots by repeatedly saying how well the government was performing and how fast they came to people's help. That's some heavy-duty spin at the very least.

On Tuesday, while TVBS was operating a phone bank to collect donations for the victims of the storm, Ma -- who (as then-president-elect) along with his wife staffed the phones sought donations for the victims of last year's Sichuan Earthquake in China -- was busy shifting the blame for the storm's devastating aftermath onto the CWB and DPP leaders. (While the CWB may have gotten it wrong, Ma -- you know, the president -- was twiddling his thumbs.)

A Yahoo poll conducted on August 10 and 11 asked 12,016 people their opinions about the Ma government's handling of this disaster. Only 4% (485 respondents) were "very satisfied." Another 10.4% (1,247 respondents) were "somewhat satisfied," bringing the "satisfied" total to 14.4% (1,732 respondents). 13.3% (1,597 respondents) were in the "not very satisfied" category while another 72.3% (8,687 respondents) said they were "very unsatisfied." That gives a total of 85.6% (10,284 respondents) who were "unsatisfied."

The aloofness
In Taimali, Taitung, Ma was met by a distraught man whose father had been washed away by floods there. What he told the man may shock you, but if you've been paying attention, it would be exactly what you should expect Ma to say.

Ma told the man, "I lost my father, too, so I know exactly how you feel." ("你的心情我完全了解 … 我父親也過世了 我非常了解這個感覺") (Listen closely from 0:53 - 1:01)

That should be all you need to know about Ma's ability to lead a country. "苦民所苦" ("I feel the people's pain"), my ass!

The resolution
This catastrophe is far from over. The Houfeng Bridge over the Dajia River -- a section of which collapsed in September 2008 during Typhoon Sinlaku, killing six people -- has still not been reopened to traffic, and at least 20 bridges are out after Morakot.

In addition, mountain roads, hotels, and many many homes (some along with their residents) have disappeared. Of the things that can be fixed, how long will it take, and at what cost?

Will this wake enough Taiwanese up? Or will they keep putting people like Ma in positions with far more power than people like himself can handle?

FURTHER INFO:
* Taiwan Floods on Twitter

* Taiwan Floods web site: 莫拉克災情網路中心

* In English for those who want to volunteer: DPP Typhoon Morakot Disaster Operations Center

* A blog set up by the DPP before Typhoon Morakot was even gone: 【莫拉克水災】南台灣救援行動網路支援中心

* DisasterTW.com (莫拉克颱風災情支援網)

* Dr. Billy Pan recruited help from other Taiwan Netizens to create a Google map detailing the disaster areas

* Claudia Jean kicks Ma Ying-jeou's ass for his and his administration's unconscionable behavior regarding this typhoon.

* Taipei Times, August 12, 2009: "EDITORIAL: A president far from his people"

* Taipei Times, August 13, 2009: MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Rescue workers, mudslide survivors share shock, grief

* Taipei Times, August 13, 2009: MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Ma media comments anger disaster zone survivors

* New York Times, August 13, 2009: Taiwan President Is Target of Anger After Typhoon

* Mon homme F. Varga says it's "Time To Ask Questions After Morakot," and he lists some key ones that the media and public should be asking.

* The blog of Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) (DPP) has documents from the Ministry of National Defense which reveal how slowly and inefficiently President Ma used the resources at his disposal.

* As early as August 5, scientists at NASA saw "a monster in Morakot"

* YouTube video: See how Morakot also covered villages in the Philippines with water and mud.

* According to Chinese state media CCTV on August 7, an orange alert -- the second highest level alert -- was issued in China for the storm

* Some death-defying (nearly whacked by a flying sign) raw footage shot in Hualien by TyphoonHunter (James Reynolds) as the storm made landfall

* A video I posted last year after Typhoon Kalmaegi: "Don't put your lives in the hands of the KMT"

* A playlist of the Monday August 10, 2009 edition of Talking Show (大話新聞)

(Άλισον and Claudia Jean contributed to this post.)

Unused resources: , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

______________________________________________________

permalink

China reveals its plans for Taiwan

The Taipei Times today is featuring an article that appears to lay out the Chinese position on Taiwan very clearly. Li Fei (李非), deputy director of the Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University spoke at a cross-strait forum and made the following comments:
"China’s policy of pushing cross-strait economic exchanges has three benefits.

First, it will strengthen China’s economic power and propel economic development in the region. Second, it will stabilize cross-strait relations and spur the two sides’ policy interactions. Finally, it will push forward peaceful unification through economic integration."

"Taipei’s plan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with Beijing “represents an important step toward the possibility of unification of the longtime adversaries.”

“It’s a start toward full cross-strait economic integration and a necessary condition for marching forward toward final unification,”

Li said the top priority was to develop trade relations and let market power gradually become the driving force behind economic exchanges.

As bilateral talks were resumed under the so-called “1992 consensus,” Li said future political negotiations would be based on the “one China” principle under the pretext of negotiations on issues concerning the economy or people’s livelihoods, as well as technical or administrative issues.

The development of political relations between the two sides would consist of several steps, he said. They were: engaging in political dialogue, ending cross-strait enmity, signing a peace treaty, conducting political negotiations on such issues as Taiwan’s political status and finally, undertaking negotiations on unification.

The second priority was to dole out small favors to “Taiwan compatriots,” he said, adding that “you don’t get something for nothing” and that “a man with big wisdom makes big compromises, and a man with small wisdom makes small concessions.”
It doesn't get more clearly signposted than that folks. What is the ROC Government's alleged response?
The Presidential Office later dismissed concerns that signing the economic pact would be one more step toward unification, insisting that the government would make the nation’s interests the priority when dealing with China.
Except, when the Government talks about the 'nation's interests' it actually means the Republic of China including the territory of the PRC and all Jhonghua ren therein. At least under A-Bian, there was no ambiguity about his sense of the composition and territory of the nation and people could feel proud to be Taiwanese. Now, Taiwanese are not so sure what flag they should honor, the ROC or PRC.

Ps: SET news has just presented a piece on President Ma blaming mountain dwellers for living in dangerous areas and not realising the risk and being prepared .... nice

______________________________________________________

Saturday, August 08, 2009

permalink

Invisible forces that almost ruined World Games in Taiwan

After the World Games, a DPP opinion poll found that 91.6% of the Taiwanese population consider the Games a great success, with 97.4% of green supporters and 93.5% of blue supporters holding this view. Taiwanese have not had this level of agreement on many things.

China’s suppression

Ma Ying-jeou gave the credit to China and thanked China, saying that they showed goodwill, which is completely off. Apart from their boycott of the opening and closing ceremonies, Frank Hsieh told the public that to secure the Games, he had to keep it very quiet and did not dare to celebrate until all the paperwork was signed. When it was announced that Kaohsiung won the bid, it was too late for China to influence the votes. The Chinese representatives then protested against the IWGA about this. Failing to change anything by the protest, they wrote to the International Olympics Committee (IOC), asking them to overturn IWGA’s decision. The IOC replied that they could not interfere with the voting and the decision of the IWGA. So China was forced to accept the outcome.

I heard on a TV programme where a sports journalist said that China did not use their full strength against Kaohsiung but I don’t buy this. China would not even let go of opportunities to suppress Taiwan in some very low profile and completely non-governmental organisations and events. I don’t believe they would when it came to the World Games.

The difficult birth of the stadium

Last month, I blogged about the major obstacles the former Kaohsiung Mayor, Frank Hsieh and the current Mayor, Chen Chu had to overcome to make the World Games 2009 happen in Taiwan. Today, I would like to talk a bit more about the miracle that made the building of the innovative world class main stadium possible. The stadium has received praises and a positive review from the New York Times. It is seen at least as good as, if not better than, Beijing’s Bird’s Nest while it cost less. I am going to talk about how it was nearly impossible and share this article. I am not translating word for word but would convey the main points in the article (those from the article are shown in blue).

In recent years, Taiwan has invited more great architects from other countries for major building projects. The Kaohsiung stadium was one of those projects which have gone international. However, it went through a bumpy ride. Liu Yu-tung, Professor of Architecture, pointed out the main obstacles for attracting international bidders in general. Basically, the government admin is too ill equipped for international standards and the legislations are too complicated and restrictive. In addition, a lot of consultancy companies lack the experience in working with foreign firms and some of their foreign language abilities may not be able to meet the professional demands.

As to the Kaohsiung main stadium, when Fu Tsu Construction, Takenaka Corporation, the internationally renowned architect, Toyo Ito, and Ricky Liu & Associates jointly won the bid, the team in the second place immediately called foul play and started political manoeuvring with some blue legislators questioning the selection process. Public Construction Commission of the Executive Yuan, Government Ethics and the Prosecution service immediately launched investigations.

Even worse was the budget freeze in the blue dominated Kaohsiung City Council. The reason cited for the freeze was that the budget for the stadium was in violation of the Budget Act. The acting Mayor, Yeh Chu-lan, called an emergency meeting and decided that the construction of the stadium was definitely going ahead. The then Director-General of Public Works Bureau in Kaohsiung, Lin Chin-jung, talked to the president and CEO of Fu Tsu Construction about this. Luckily, they were both very supportive and agreed to go ahead with the work without receiving any payment upfront. Fu Tsu also had Takenaka Corp. and Mr. Ito’s trust.

Journalist and political commentator, Chen Li-hung, explained on his radio programme where the problem might come from. The problem was likely that those firms traditionally associated with or known to the blue camp and anyone who ‘benefit’ from such associations were peeved that they could not get in on any of the deals and make ‘profits’ as before under the DPP Mayor. So they turned around making unfounded accusations against the DPP administration. The blue camp, blue dominated justice system and blue friendly media were of course happy to use any opportunity to slam the green camp. Hence, the investigations and media attack.

The budget was only completely through in early 2008. Director Lin and his colleagues had been under constant investigations and questioning in the Council for over a year. At the end, the investigations found nothing wrong in their conduct but their reputations were really on the line. Imagine what it does to someone’s mental health when they are wrongly accused and seen as guilty no matter what.

The ‘alliance’

The convenor of the selection panel, Lin Sheng-feng, Professor of Architecture and former Minister without Portfolio, commented that it would have been absolutely impossible for the stadium to be on time for the World Games 2009 if it wasn’t for Fu Tsu Construction. Prof. Lin pointed out the two main reasons which make high quality public construction work in Taiwan difficult. One is corruption where people’s representatives and civil servants at various government levels take bribes or kickbacks. Another is actually the law that is meant to prevent corruption. The legislations are either overly complicated or too loosely defined and both can be subject to very different interpretations and applications. Any dispute can turn into political arguments or media trials and the justice system ends up persecuting good guys who take initiatives and have done nothing wrong. This puts off civil servants and professionals from going for quality and consistency and everyone would just try to play safe. Politicians’ vision could never emerge or be realised and outstanding architects and construction companies wouldn’t touch public projects with a barge pole. As a result, progress and innovation are stifled, the quality of public construction and infrastructure suffers and the public loses out.

We have witnessed the obvious double standard of the justice system and the majority of the media in Taiwan where they let the blue camp get away with things that they would kill the green camp for. It seems that the blue politicians, the blue leaning justice system, the media and certain private firms have formed some sort of alliance. As long as someone is in this structure, they can get away with corruption or get off lightly. The media would be rather quiet about those cases. If someone else gets in their way, they’ll use this alliance to persecute and smear the other camp with unsubstantiated accusations or the unreasonably strict and rigid interpretations of law which would never be applied to one of their own. However, when those persecuted and attacked by the media got cleared by the justice system (because there is really nothing to pin on them), the media rarely report the outcomes or give the same huge coverage as the way they smeared those people. The current legal framework and narrow mindedness probably help this alliance and tend to breed firms and architects that place ‘networking with the right people’ above professional judgement and standards.

Frank Hsieh was the Kaohsiung Mayor when the plan for the renovation for the whole city, the plan for the World Games, the training of personnel and the decision to go international were made. A lot of the work was already underway, not to ignore that the Hsieh administration started preparing for the bid years before they actually won the bid. The renovation of the city was part of the package presented to IWGA to support the bid. Not to take any credit from the hard work of the current Mayor and how well she coordinated and executed the Games and the ceremonies, it is fair to say that the majority of the work was done under Hsieh, including the support he gave while he was the Premier. Without the solid foundation he laid, the World Games would not have been the same.

Hsieh had vision for Kaohsiung, a city of the ocean, and planned it around this theme, embedded in his beliefs in placing Taiwan, the culture and the environment in priority. Over the years, Kaohsiung has never received as much funding as Taipei from the central government but his administration was creative enough with the resources they had and made the most of it. His administration saw the World Games as the goal they had to reach and worked on the renovation package towards the goal. Politicians should not care too much about whether they would be there at the completion to take the credit but have the long term benefits for the people in mind. Hsieh worked very hard to bring the World Games to Kaohsiung and laid solid ground work for it, knowing there was no way that he would still be the Mayor in 2009 or use the success of the World Games in the 2008 presidential election campaign. Ma Ying-jeou, on the other hand, rushed the Maokong Gondola so that he could claim credits in the presidential election.

What makes Hsieh different is that he would observe the culture, be sensitive to people’s needs and seek out designs which would meet the needs without imposing some grand ideas which actually destroy the culture. The reservation of the old Kaohsiung Train Station was one example. He had also envisaged the needs beyond infrastructure: the personnel and the knowledge and therefore started the training programme for the personnel and volunteers as soon as Kaohsiung officially won the bid. A clear contrast was Ma Ying-jeou’s arbitrary decision on taking down the entire old Jian-cheng Circle, replacing it with a modern but poorly designed and user unfriendly building. Local people were sad to see the old circle go and business died completely. Ma’s response to people’s complaints was that he couldn’t do anything if the products they were selling were not popular. Can he be more condescending?

Ironically, Hsieh’s vision, which led to the success of Kaohsiung and the World Games and has given Taiwanese something to be proud of, was nearly killed along with his political career while Ma got elected president and continues to be protected. Hsieh and his administration were left to deal with the media attack and investigations on their own while completing the tasks they set out to accomplish. Fortunately, the World Games in Kaohsiung turned out well but what about the future?

Acknowledgement: many thanks to a good friend, Jay, who brought my attention to the article on which this post is based and shared his thoughts.

Cross posted at 'In Claudia Jean's Eyes'

______________________________________________________

Monday, August 03, 2009

permalink

Update on hospital PR officer who disregards patients' rights

I blogged about the treatment Chen Shui-bian's family received from the hospital PR officer, Wang Kuang-fu (王廣福) a few weeks ago. Since it happened, Wang and the hospital have never apologised publicly although she has apologised to Chen's son and daughter-in-law in private.

On 31 July, it was confirmed that Wang has left her position at the Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-ho Hospital due to the public outrage at her unprofessional and unethical behaviour.

______________________________________________________