Friday, September 30, 2011

Ma unveils his ‘golden 10-year’ prospects outline

REASSURING?:The DPP said the ‘four assurances’ of Ma’s administration were poverty, unemployment, budget waste and failure to implement several policies
By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter
Fri, Sep 30, 2011 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday unveiled his “golden 10-year” prospects, pledging to lead Taiwan into a peaceful and prosperous decade by revitalizing the economy and seeking peaceful cross-strait relations, if re-elected.

ANALYSIS: Tsai is changing female voters’ view of the DPP

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Fri, Sep 30, 2011 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has traditional appeared to fare poorly among female voters, but that could change with the January legislative and presidential elections.

The main reason is DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who not only became the nation’s first female presidential candidate and party chairperson, but has also steered the party from the radical end of the political spectrum to the moderate middle.

Given that the DPP has usually trailed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in support among women, the transformation is seen as critical for the party.

Businesspeople say PRC sending spies

EYE ON YOU::The Mainland Affairs Council spokesman said it would be impossible for China to send agents to monitor people here given the strict regulations in place
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Fri, Sep 30, 2011 - Page 1

A group of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople yesterday said they had received threats from the Chinese government that it would send agents to Taipei to investigate and that it would retaliate if they proceed with a planned protest against Beijing on Monday.

The demonstration in Taipei will be the third this month organized by businesspeople who say they lost their investments in China because of illegal seizure by either their Chinese partners or officials. The protests aim to highlight the Chinese and Taiwanese governments’ neglect of their plight, the group said.

Huang Hsi-tsung (黃錫聰), who returned from China’s Fujian Province after losing more than 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) in investment, said he had received a threatening phone call on Wednesday from Zhang Jiwei (張繼偉), an official of the People’s Procuratorate of the Province of Fujian.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Su to file lawsuit over farmhouse claims by Chiu

JUDICIAL TOOLS:The Tsai campaign says it fears that President Ma might use the judiciary as a sort of campaign tool by tying up DPP candidates with suits
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) is planning a defamation lawsuit against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), DPP spokesperson Kang Yu-cheng (康裕成) said yesterday in response to Chiu’s claim that Su illegally constructed a farmhouse in his native Pingtung County.

US seeks to reassure DPP on neutrality

LARGE DELEGATION:The American Institute in Taiwan sent an unprecedented five officials, including Director William Stanton, to the DPP’s 25th anniversary reception
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The US reassured the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of its neutrality in January’s presidential election with an unusual diplomatic gesture yesterday, former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) sent an unprecedented five officials, including AIT Director William Stanton, to the DPP’s 25th anniversary reception, Wu told reporters on the sidelines of the celebration at the W Hotel in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ma’s campaign defends Diaoyutai education plan

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign yesterday defended a move by the National Security Council to promote the nation’s sovereignty claims over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in schools and accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of discrediting the government’s effort to help provide the public with a better understanding of the issues surrounding the archipelago.

“The sovereignty of the Diaoyutais belongs to the Republic of China [ROC] and it is the government’s responsibility to make sure the people understand the issue. What’s wrong with that?” campaign office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said.

Lee made the remarks after a story in yesterday’s Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) said the council had bypassed curriculum review procedures and instructed the Ministry of Education to construct a curriculum for mandatory elementary and junior-high school classes on government’s efforts to defend the ROC’s sovereignty over the islands.

The council also asked the education ministry as well as the Ministry of the Interior to allocate NT$3 million (US$98,500) to subsidize civil groups to help promote the issue, the story said, quoting DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), who said the council was promoting the issue at schools as a part of Ma’s campaign for the presidential election.

The Diaoyutais, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, are a group of uninhabited islets that lie about 185km off the northeastern tip of Taiwan. The islands are also claimed by Japan and China.

Lee said the Ma administration has always defended the ROC’s authority over the island chain and the rights of Taiwanese fishermen amid numerous disputes, adding that it is the government’s responsibility to promote an understanding of the issue and allow students and the public to understand more about national sovereignty and territorial authority.

“DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had also said the Diaoyutais belong to us. Did Kuan try to dismiss Tsai’s remarks?” Lee said, dismissing attempts to make it a campaign issue.

At a separate setting yesterday, DPP spokesperson Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said the stance of the Chinese National Party (KMT) and that of the DPP on the Diaoyutais was “actually not that different.”

“However, the DPP holds the view that the controversy should be peacefully resolved through an international mechanism,” Chuang said.

The resolve of Taiwanese regarding territorial protection is indisputable, he said, but it is “highly inappropriate and ridiculous” to carry out the promotion of “protecting the Diaoyutais” by direct orders from the council, he said.

As the agency in charge of national security, the council has no authorization to instruct the education and interior ministries about curriculum, promotional materials or fund-raising, he said.

Additional reporting by Chris Wang

DPP looks for higher vote total from Aborigine areas

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said it hopes to turn the table in the January presidential and legislative elections by winning more votes from Aborigines, who have traditionally been strong supporters of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

In a joint meeting of its Aboriginal campaign headquarters, the DPP said it had for the first time established campaign offices in all of the nation’s 55 Aboriginal townships, proof of the party’s ambitious and aggressive strategy to win more Aboriginal votes on Jan 14.

While in past elections the party had essentially conceded the difficult Aboriginal districts, DPP Deputy Secretary-General Hung Yao-fu (洪耀福) said the current efforts “reaffirmed the DPP’s dedication and commitment to Aborigines.”

An analysis of previous elections show that the KMT has won the Aborigine vote by a ratio of seven to three over the DPP.

There are about 500,000 Aborigines in Taiwan, representing about 2 percent of the population.

With some opinion polls showing a neck-and-neck race between DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Aboriginal votes could be a deciding factor.

If the DPP increased its vote share among Aborigines by 10 percent, it might very well win the presidential election, Hung said.

DPP Aboriginal representatives said they had noticed a shift in the political leanings within their tribes, former Taitung County commissioner Chen Chien-nian (陳建年) said.

“The tide is turning,” he said.

Chen, who left the KMT after more than 30 years to join the DPP, said the attitude of the DPP presidential ticket toward Aborigines was very different from that of Ma.

Tsai has pledged to offer an official apology to Aborigines if she is elected, Chen said, while DPP vice presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) spent a lot of effort vying for Aboriginal support when he ran in the Greater Taichung mayoral election last year.

Despite Su’s loss by a small margin, support for the DPP in Heping (和平), a mountainous area populated predominantly by Aborigines, went from 10 percent to 40 percent, Chen said.

In contrast to Tsai and Su, Ma has failed to deliver on his campaign pledges to Aborigines, including a NT$50 billion (US$1.65 billion) development budget for Aboriginal tribes, said Yohani Isqaqavut, chief coordinator of the newly opened Aboriginal campaign headquarters.

Ma’s comment about “treating Aborigines as human beings,” which has since made him notorious among Aborigines, reflected his lack of respect for the original inhabitants of the island, Yohani said.

The DPP’s efforts coupled with Ma’s failures, Yohani said, are why the party representatives are hoping to send to the legislature Tseng Chih-yung (曾智勇) and Antonio I.C. Hong (鴻義章), who will run in districts of highland and lowland tribes respectively.

Classic texts can be inappropriate: Lee

OLD IS IN:The former president mentioned that China had abandoned preaching about communism in favor of teaching children the ‘Four Books and Five Classics’
By Chris Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporters

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday weighed in on the recent war of words between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the role of Chinese classics as an educational tool, saying that parts of the collection are inappropriate material for children if a political agenda is involved.

Saying he had read the Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經), a collection of Confucian writings dating back to 300 BC, when he was young, Lee posted in a Facebook message that while the collection’s emphasis on filial piety and trust is recommendable, it is not right to “use it on the political front” and try to control the public with ideology.

The Chinese Communist Party does not promote communism anymore, he added.

Instead, it promotes the Four Books and Five Classics and the “New Confucianism” and tries to manipulate people with Confucian ideas, such as “legitimacy, monarchy, unification and imperial hierarchy,” Lee said.

Lee’s remarks came in the wake of a TV advertisement released by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign that highlights Ma’s commitment to promoting Chinese culture.

The ad features interviews with children and parents on both sides of the Taiwan Strait talking about their experiences attending Chinese classics classes.

The classes, where teachers and volunteers teach children the Four Books and Five Classics, began at the Confucius Temple in Taipei about 12 years ago and gradually expanded nationwide, as well as to cities in China.

The DPP on Monday criticized Ma and the KMT over their intentions to promote Chinese literature rather than Taiwanese culture, and indicated that many notorious figures in China’ s history, such as Qin Kuai (秦檜), a chancellor during the Song Dynasty who is widely regarded as a traitor to the Han ethnic group, also the read Four Books and Five Classics.

Dismissing the DPP’s criticism, Ma’s campaign office yesterday accused the DPP of stigmatizing traditional Chinese culture.

“As a pioneer in promoting Chinese culture, Taiwan has enjoyed great competitiveness on the international stage, and the DPP’s blind opposition to classic works of literature and Chinese culture is a step backward that will not help the country enrich its culture,” Ma’s campaign office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said.

Regarding the DPP’s example of Qin Kuai, Lee said the accusations made by the DPP were unfair to tens of thousands of volunteers who promote and teach the classics, as well as parents and students who studied the works.

“If DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) agreed with the DPP’s stigmatizing comments, please tell those teachers and students that she is against activities that involve the reading of the classics,” Lee said.

KMT spokesperson Chen Yi-hsin (陳以信) also joined Ma’s campaign team to rebut the DPP’s criticism, saying that there are no conflicts between promoting Chinese culture and prioritizing Taiwan’s interests.

At a separate setting yesterday, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the DPP’s criticism of the advertisement on Monday was not a categorical opposition to the books.

“What the DPP is against is the ideology and political motivation hidden behind the veil of education,” Lin said. “We are also opposed to the TV advertisement’s implication that some literary and philosophical works are superior to others.”

DPP lawmaker Tsai, others sentenced

BRIBERY:The Taiwan High Court ruled Tsai Huang-liang and seven ex-lawmakers accepted money to endorse the Oral Healthcare Act. The ruling can be appealed
By Rich Chang and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) and seven former legislators across party lines were yesterday each sentenced to more than seven years in prison by the Taiwan High Court for accepting bribes from the Taiwan Dental Association in return for their endorsement of the Oral Healthcare Act (口腔健康法).

The Taipei District Court found the eight not guilty in October last year, but in yesterday’s ruling, Tsai was sentenced to eight years in prison and his civil rights were suspended for five years. Tsai’s elder brother, Tsai Chao-cheng (蔡朝正), an executive at a pharmaceutical company, was also sentenced to eight years in prison and had his civil rights suspended for five years.

Former DPP legislators Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) and Lee Ming-hsien (李明憲), former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chang Tsa-mei (張蔡美) and former People First Party (PFP) legislator Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良) were all sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison and their civil rights were suspended for three years.

Former PFP legislator Yang Fu-mei (楊富美) and former DPP legislator Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) were sentenced to seven years and two months in prison, and their civil rights were suspended for three years.

Former DPP legislator Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison, and his civil rights were suspended for three years.

The ruling said Tsai Huang-liang accepted NT$3.5 million (US$110,000) from the dental association through his brother.

Jao, Chang, Chiu and Lee Ming-hsien received NT$1 million each, while Yang, Liao and Lee Chen-nan pocketed NT$500,000 each, the rulling said.

All the defendants can appeal.

The court said the dental association proposed an oral healthcare act in 2002 that would allow dentists to receive subsidies from the Bureau of National Health Insurance.

Tsai Huang-liang in April 2002 submitted a draft bill to the legislature, but a number of legislators from across party lines opposed it.

The association then paid off key legislators in return for their endorsement of the draft, the ruling said.

The act was approved in April 2003.

The ruling said the money was given in exchange for endorsement of the bill, so it could not be seen as “sponsored funds” or “political donations.”

Tsai Huang-liang, Chao and Liao are DPP candidates in January’s legislative elections, the first two running for at-large positions.

In a statement yesterday evening, DPP Ethics Committee chairman Chang Tien-chin (張天欽) said the ruling would not affect their nominations.

The case was discussed and dismissed by the committee on Feb. 12, 2009, because it had gone beyond the five-year statute of limitations mandated by the DPP’s ethics code, Chang said.

The alleged bribery took place in 2002, but charges were only filed in 2008.

At an earlier press conference, DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the three candidates’ nominations would remain valid unless they were convicted in the final ruling.

The Taiwan High Court ruling is “unacceptable” and may have been politically motivated, Tsai Huang-liang told a separate press conference, vowing he would appeal.

The indictment was “selective and controversial,” he said, because more than 50 legislators were investigated by the prosecutors at the time.

Liao also told a press conference that he found the ruling unacceptable because no new evidence had been submitted after the first trial, adding that the money he received was a donation by the Taiwan Dental Association.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ma touts preservation of ‘Chinese culture’ in TV ad

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign office released a TV advertisement yesterday that highlighted his commitment to promoting Chinese culture, a policy that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has denounced.

The advertisement, the fourth in a series of Ma campaign commercials, features interviews with children and parents on both sides of the Taiwan Strait about their experience attending Chinese classics recital classes.

The classes, where teachers and volunteers teach children the Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經), a collection of Confucian writings dating back to 300BC, began at the Confucius Temple in Taipei about 12 years ago and gradually expanded nationwide, as well as to cities in China.

In the past decade, more than 290,000 teachers and volunteers and about 2 million children have been involved in the program, which aims to promote Chinese culture, Ma’s campaign office said.

In the advertisement, a child from the Chinese city of Changsha, Hunan Province, said that he learned from the class that “we should not attack people ... we should get along well with people.”

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) says at the end of the commercial that children and teachers “are the ones who truly understand Taiwan’s advantages, unlike the DPP.”

However, the advertisement reminds people of the days when they were forced to read about -Confucianism in high school, DPP spokesperson Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said.

“If the Four Books and Five Classics represent the best that Chinese culture has to offer ... if Chinese culture is that great ... we would not have seen so many authoritarian regimes throughout Chinese history,” he said.

The classics are good books, Liang said, but it is inappropriate to use them and “Chinese culture” as a tool to advance ideology and political ideas.

“Why can’t children read the works of Shakespeare and Plato?” he said.

“The DPP holds the view that children should connect to the world and be taught the importance of cultural diversity. It does not do children any good to force them to learn only about Chinese culture,” DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

Tsai pledges DPP will make social welfare a priority

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The government will take a leading role in social welfare policy if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins the presidential election in January, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

The DPP’s policy will highlight the government’s role and responsibilities, unlike its rival, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which stresses subsidies and market mechanisms in the social welfare and service system, Tsai, the DPP’s presidential candidate, told about 100 representatives of social welfare organizations.

While President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said a president who does not save the DRAM industry is not qualified to be a national leader, Tsai said: “I would say that a president who would not stand on the same side with the underprivileged does not deserve to be a leader.”

The central government, rather than local governments and families, should be the driving force behind the entire social welfare system, she said.

Elaborating on her policy, she said that the government could not satisfy the demand of those in need simply by granting subsidies and the poorer people “could not afford any service on the market either.”

Laying out a five-point policy, she said public childcare and a barrier-free environment should be promoted and a comprehensive local social service system should be established.

Because Taiwan is a rapidly aging society with a low birth rate, the DPP plans to resume its 10-year development plan of long-term care, which has been abandoned since Ma assumed office, she said.

Finally, her administration would do its best to narrow income disparities, which have been one of the main reasons why many people were left in need of social welfare, she said.

In general, Tsai said, while the wish of representatives of these social service organizations — promoting the agency governing social service affairs to the ministry level — could not be done since the reorganization plan of the government has been finalized, the number of social workers should be dramatically increased.

Peace accord with China ‘naive’: DPP

PLAYING WITH FIRE::The DPP said a peace treaty with Beijing would not ensure Taiwan’s security and that it was ‘unnecessary’ given that only one party — China — was hostile
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Tue, Sep 27, 2011 - Page 1

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) intention to sign a peace accord with China is “naive,” the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday, adding that such an accord would be “unnecessary.”

Ma, who is seeking re-election next year, plans to engage in political talks and seek a peace accord with China, Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) told then-AIT director Stephen Young in June 2009, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks on Aug. 30.

While the Presidential Office has denied the contents of the cable, a growing body of evidence shows that Ma plans to address the issues of “a peace treaty, a formal end to hostilities and development of bilateral military confidence mechanisms,” DPP spokesperson Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said.

Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) both mentioned signing a peace treaty with Taiwan in their major statements in 1995 and 2008, Liang said.

“However, both of them underlined that the negotiation would have to take place under the precondition of the ‘one China’ principle,” Liang said, adding that China’s insistence on the prerequisite has not changed during the past dozen years.

The DPP’s position has been clear, he said, as the party does not think there are hostilities between the two sides — rather, it is China that is hostile to Taiwan — and that no peace accord, especially with the precondition of “one China,” was necessary.

Ma has talked about signing a peace treaty, but he has “hidden the ‘one China’ principle from Taiwanese,” Liang said.

At the same time, Ma was “naive” to believe a peace accord could ensure Taiwan’s security, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

China signed a “peace treaty” with Tibet in May 1951 with a pledge to respect Tibet’s autonomy, but the People’s Liberation Army entered Lhasa five months later, Chen said.

In addition, a peace agreement only exists between countries at war or between a government army and rebel military force, Chen said.

“Relations between Taiwan and China are neither,” he said.

If Taiwan were to sign a peace agreement with China, it would have to come with assurances from a third country and the international community, Chen added.

While former US president Bill Clinton and Ken Lieberthal, who served in the US National Security Council during the Clinton administration, have both mentioned the proposal of a cross-strait peace treaty, they could not guarantee what would happen after the agreement, Chen said.

Ma has made conflicting public statements on how Taiwan would engage in cross-strait negotiations, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said.

“He said the time was not ripe and then he said he had a plan [to enter political talks in his second term]. He said the talks would be held without prerequisites and then he said it should be conducted under the precondition of the so-called ‘1992 consensus,’” Tsai said.

It was time for Ma to clearly explain his position to the public after three years in office, the DPP presidential candidate added.

Responding to Chen’s comments, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Culture and Communications Committee Director Chuang Po-chung (莊伯仲) said Ma was proceeding with cross-trait issues in a peaceful manner.

Regarding the DPP’s comments on the so-called “1992 consensus,” Chuang said the KMT has said many times that the consensus did not give up nor intend to downgrade Taiwan’s sovereignty.

What Ma means by “each side having its own interpretation” was in effect “no unification,” while “one China” was “no independence” and love for peace meant “no armed conflict,” Chuang said.

Cross-strait policies would have a heavy influence on Taiwan’s future and is an important policy for the nation, Chuang said.

As such, it needs to be continually debated so the most acceptable version can be found, he said.

Additional reporting by Jake Chung and CNA

Sunday, September 25, 2011

DPP holds 25th anniversary rally party

SMOOTHING THE EDGES:Tsai Ing-wen said her party would govern Taiwan ‘rationally’ and would change the nation’s politics with style and substance if it is elected
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter, in GREATER TAICHUNG

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is not only ready to return to power next year, but is also determined to change the nation’s politics with style and substance, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday in Greater Taichung.

Speaking in an unusually strong tone, Tsai ezuded confidence in her campaign and criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in a speech at the party congress.

“Strong criticism [of the KMT] is not enough for us to win back power,” she said, referring to the January presidential election. “The DPP will strike fear into the KMT, whose biggest fear is an opponent with better policies and that is seen as a more trustworthy party.”

If there is anything that could explain why the campaign atmosphere has been described as worrying to some supporters, that was the reason, according to Tsai.

The DPP presidential candidate is confident her party has a better vision of Taiwan’s future and is more than ready than the KMT to govern with its 10-year policy guidelines.

In addition, the modest, soft-spoken Tsai could very well represent a new style of the DPP, which has long been known for its “roughness.”

“Being rational does not mean being indifferent. Being calm does not mean you don’t hold any sentiments. The DPP is going to be rational and passionate at the same time,” she said.

Taiwanese are facing a difficult time, but they are working as hard as ever, she said.

The government’s China policy, seen by the Ma administration as its crown jewel, did not benefit Taiwanese, Tsai said.

“On top of that, the political prerequisite of the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ and ‘one China with different interpretations’ has created more internal divisions,” she added.

The pro-China Ma administration has made the distance between Taipei and Beijing closer while distancing itself from Taiwanese, Tsai said, adding that an administration that could sell out Taiwan was a great concern.

Tsai said that unlike the so-called “1992 consensus,” which has never had input from the public, her proposed “Taiwan consensus” would initiate a democratic process involving all parties that intends to consolidate Taiwan.

Tsai also made a pitch to the KMT, saying the “Taiwan consensus” could not be achieved without the participation of different political parties.

“Instead of voicing opposition, the KMT will be more than welcome to join the process of building up a Taiwan consensus so Taiwan could face a rising China after the 2012 presidential election,” she said.

Explaining her campaign slogan, “Taiwan NEXT,” Tsai said Taiwanese were able to achieve different historical missions in different periods of time, such as an “economic miracle” in the 1970s and a democratic transformation in the 1980s.

“The historical mission upon us is to achieve fairness and justice. And we will walk toward that goal with consensus and consolidation,” Tsai said.

In an evening rally, former vice premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), mayors Chen Chu (陳菊) of Greater Kaohsiung, Helen Chang (張花冠) of Chiayi County and Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) of Yunlin County endorsed Tsai, saying she would make a good president for her wisdom, moderate approach and determination.

About 10,000 supporters attended the evening rally held at Gancheng Park in Central District (中區), which took place after the party congress, to celebrate the DPP’s 25th anniversary. The rally was the first of many large-scale campaign events to follow for the Tsai campaign.

DPP marks 25 years of building democracy

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter, in GREATER TAICHUNG

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) celebrated its 25th anniversary in Greater Taichung yesterday, with the party promising to live up to its name by upholding democratic values and winning in the presidential and legislative elections next year.

The DPP, founded on Sept. 28, 1986, during the Martial Law period, is “a political party to be proud of for being the torchbearer of Taiwan’s democracy for a quarter of a century,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a keynote speech.

The pride comes from the party’s footprints in every major development of Taiwanese democracy in the past 25 years, including the Wild Lily student movement in 1990, she said.

“We stayed with the people of Taiwan every step of the way,” she told hundreds of representatives from across the nation.

Almost all the current DPP heavyweights were founding members who risked arrest because martial law was not lifted until 1987 by then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

“The day the DPP was founded is the most unforgettable day in my life,” former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.

A democratic system gives people freedom of choice and political parties opportunities to adjust and reflect, which was why the DPP has transitioned between being the ruling party and the opposition party in the past two decades, he said.

Su said the DPP has transformed itself in the past three years and it is time for the third regime change in the nation’s history.

The DPP’s founding in 1986 marked a new chapter in the nation’s political history, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said, adding that with the establishment of multiparty politics, Taiwan was able to walk out of the shadow of the White Terror period and transform itself into the vibrant democracy that people see and live in today.

It has been a “been here, done that” experience for the DPP in the past 25 years, said former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who served under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when the DPP was in power from 2000 to 2008.

“We failed before, and now we want to be successful again,” she said.

DPP vice presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), who is also the party’s secretary-general, said his political career started the same year the DPP was born, when he was 30.

It has been a special feeling to start his career along with the DPP, witness the party’s breakdown and see the party rise from the ashes to pose a challenge to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) again in three years, Su said.

“I would say that the best way to commemorate the party anniversary is to win both the presidential and legislative elections in January. And I’m sure the DPP is ready,” Su said.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DPP seeks to heat up campaign scene with three-in-one event in Taichung

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) plans to hold a three-in-one event in Greater Taichung today to mark the beginning of the second phase of its campaign for the combined presidential and legislative elections in January.

The event, which gathers party heavyweights and representatives from across the nation, combines the party’s congress, the celebration of its Sept. 28 anniversary and a rally to introduce legislative candidates.

It will be the first large rally featuring DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the party’s presidential candidate, and Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), the party’s vice presidential candidate, after Tsai unveiled her running mate on Sept. 9.

Speaking in Yilan yesterday, Tsai said the party would launch full-scale rallies during the second phase of the campaign to build up momentum.

The activity is well-timed as public opinion polls have suggested that Tsai’s 10-day US visit has boosted support for the Tsai-Su ticket. The party is hoping to heat up the campaign atmosphere, which has been described as “cool,” in the location that commentators say could be the battleground of the presidential election

The presidential and vice presidential nominees and party heavyweights, including former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), former premiers Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Yu Shyi-kun , are all scheduled to speak at the party congress — which has the theme “Achieve justice, march toward the world” (實現正義,走向世界) — to showcase party unity.

The Tsai campaign also plans to highlight the opportunity for her to become the first female president in Taiwan’s history.

“I believe that Taiwan, as a democracy, is now mature enough to accept a female president and most people would agree that a woman could develop herself into a better leader [than a man],” Tsai said.

Former vice premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), incumbent mayors Chen Chu (陳菊) of Greater Kaohsiung, Helen Chang (張花冠) of Chiayi County and Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) of Yunlin County are scheduled to address supporters at the evening rally and discuss achievements made by the DPP in women’s political participation and its emphasis on gender equality.

A “civic marketplace” is planned on the sidelines of the rally, with vendors from local -agricultural sectors, the arts industry and non-governmental organizations selling locally made products.

The marketplace, the DPP said, is to highlight the party’s efforts to revive Taiwan’s agricultural sector and to build up a robust economy — a central theme of Tsai’s economic policy — by encouraging young and local entrepreneurs to devote their energy to developing businesses with local characteristics.

The congress is to be held at Taichung Municipal Shuang Shih Junior High School. The evening rally is to be held at Gan Cheng Park.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taiwan, Japan sign protection pact

GROUNDED::The government denied reports the delay in an aviation pact with Tokyo was due to Chinese interference. Japan just said that it wasn’t ready to sign
By Jason Tan, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters
Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - Page 12

Taiwan and Japan yesterday signed an investment protection accord, signaling a breakthrough in economic cooperation that could lead to the signing of a free-trade agreement one day.

After more than a year of negotiations, Taiwan and Japan signed the “Arrangement for the Mutual Cooperation on the Liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investment (投資自由化、促進及保護協議),” which is expected to take effect by the end of the year pending legislative approval.

Taiwan and Japan already enjoy close business ties despite the lack of an investment protection accord. With the signing of the agreement yesterday, both countries will have a set of guidelines to safeguard mutual investment activities, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said.

“Japanese enterprises are conservative and prudent in investing overseas. Now that we have a government-level pact, it will entice more small and medium-sized Japanese companies to invest in Taiwan,” Hwang said.

Potential investments span petrochemicals, chemicals, machinery, biotechnology and digital content, he added.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said Taiwan has actively sought FTAs with other economies for the past three years, adding that its improved regional economic status, especially after the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China last year, had led to the signing of the bilateral investment pact with Japan.

Another factor that accelerated the pact signing was Japan has been trying to find a backup overseas production base after the devastation wrought by its March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Shih said.

Such a production base will help Japan weather supply chain disruptions if disasters were to strike again in the future.

There has been a surge of interest from Japanese firms inquiring about the investment climate in Taiwan after the disasters, Shih said.

The investment pact was signed by Taiwan’s Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Peng Run-tsu (彭榮次) and Japan Interchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi.

Ohashi hailed the pact as a milestone in Japanese and Taiwanese relations and expressed hope that it would deepen future collaborations.

Under the pact, Taiwan and Japan agreed to settle trade disputes via international arbitration agencies. Further liberation of investment sectors will be discussed by the establishment of a commission when the pact takes effect, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Despite signing the ECFA, Taiwan and China have yet to sign an investment protection accord as both parties have not failed to agree on an arbitration mechanism in the event of disputes.

After China, Japan is Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner and it is the fourth-largest foreign investor in Taiwan. Bilateral trade totaled nearly US$70 billion last year, government data showed.

Meanwhile, plans to sign an open-skies agreement as well yesterday were delayed because negotiations are still under way.

The open-skies agreement would allow Taiwanese airlines to offer flights to Japanese airports, except those in the Tokyo area because Narita Airport has an agreement with local residents to limit arrivals and departures.

If the agreement is signed, Japan will be the third country to sign an open-skies accord with Taiwan, following the US and Singapore.

Local media reported yesterday that Japan had called off the scheduled signing of the aviation pact because of political interference from China.

Su Qi-cheng (蘇啟誠), the vice secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ East Asian Relations Commission, said he had no comment on the reports, but confirmed that the delay was a last-minute change by Japan.

“We were told [by Japan] that [Tokyo] wished to reschedule the signing because it was not ready, without providing further information,” Su said by telephone.

It was a “pity” that the open-skies deal wasn’t signed together with the investment protection arrangement yesterday since both sides have completed negotiations over the text of the aviation pact, Su said.

Foreign ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the aviation pact was not signed because both parties had not finalized the text of the agreement, adding that “we haven’t heard of any pressure from any party as reported that led to the cancelation.”

Unconvinced, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers accused China of interfering with the negotiations with Japan.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the wording of “arrangement” instead of “agreement” suggested behind-the-scenes Chinese pressure.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration should not be complacent about a “simplified free trade agreement,” he said, as the would still like to push for a full-fledged FTA with Japan.

Whether the deal would have positive impact on bilateral trade and investment relations and whether it would provide protection for Taiwanese investment in Japan remains to be seen, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.

“However, Chinese intervention has been clear,” he added.

Tsai’s trip to the US a success, forum told

GOOD SHOWING::An emphasis on Taiwan’s democracy was what helped Tsai take the moral high ground and make a distinction between the DPP and KMT, academics said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - Page 3

Smooth communication with the US government and an impressive display of diplomacy made Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) recent trip to the US a success, academics told a forum yesterday.

The DPP presidential candidate’s most impressive achievement was to reassure Washington about her moderate and rational China policy — ostensibly the US government’s top concern — while promising to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty if she wins the presidential election in January, they told the forum organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust (TBT) think tank to examine the visits to the US by Tsai and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials.

“Tsai conveyed to the US that she is different to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was seen as combative, and China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as well as her plans to replace the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ with a ‘Taiwan consensus,’ and to formulate policies with consistency and stability,” said Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), a researcher at the think tank.

Tsai was able to communicate with US officials in fluent English, which is a big plus, Liu said.

Despite the fact US officials might still be doubtful about how a Taiwan consensus could be formed and executed, Tsai successfully “rebranded” the DPP during the trip, he said.

Meanwhile, a Financial Times (FT) article which quoted an anonymous senior US official as saying Tsai’s victory could raise cross-strait tensions suggested an internal power struggle and different views on cross-strait policy within the administration of US President Brack Obama which could influence Taiwan’s presidential election, Liu said.

In a follow-up article on Wednesday, the FT said the US official “broke the golden rule of not meddling in an ally’s election” by bringing out his “vote for Ma” pendant.

Liu urged the US to maintain a neutral role and stay out of Taiwanese politics.

Emphasis on Taiwan’s democracy, sovereignty and national identity was what helped Tsai take the moral high ground and make a distinction between the DPP and the KMT, which sent Ma’s campaign manager King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) to “shadow” Tsai, former foreign minister Michael Kao (高英茂) said.

“While Tsai stressed the value of democracy and peace, the KMT focused on strategy that would win the election. It never mentioned democracy and peace in the US,” Kao said.

The competition between the DPP and the KMT is like “Winston Churchill versus Henry Kissinger — a battle between values and strategy,” Kao said.

The US response showed that it recognized Tsai as a pragmatic politician with eloquence and strong negotiating skills, said David Huang (黃偉峰), a research fellow at Academia Sinica and a former deputy representative to Washington.

The US should be able to accept Tsai’s Taiwan consensus initiative, even if the principle could lead to Chinese opposition because the consensus would be built using a democratic process, he said.

“Tsai showed her respect for democratic values when she said the consensus would not rule out any possibile outcome,” Huang said.

Conversely, Ma’s “three noes” policy of no unification, no independence and no use of force is “a violation of democratic principles,” he said.

The policy “basically tells people that they can vote, but they cannot make certain choices, but a [democratic] government should leave people with as many options as possible,” Huang said

Additional Reporting By Staff Writer

Accusations traded after scuffle at Tsai rally in LA

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

An encounter between members of the Taiwanese press corps and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) volunteers in Los Angeles on Monday has prompted discussion online, with both sides accusing the other of resorting violence.

A number of Taiwanese reporters said they were assaulted by DPP volunteers at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where more than 3,000 overseas Taiwanese rallied to support DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) presidential campaign.

Chinese-language media reported that dozens of volunteers and US security guards, who were called on to protect Tsai during the rally, grabbed and dragged away reporters when they were trying to get comments from Tsai. Some claimed they had been hit during the melee that ensued, while one reporter was quoted by the Chinese-language China Times as shouting at a DPP staff member: “Is this how you treat Taiwanese? Is the DPP a party of violence?”

DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) and spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) immediately apologized to the delegation of about 20 Taiwanese reporters.

However, a blog posted by someone with the alias “TaiDuMei,” who identified herself as one of the volunteers at the event, provided a different account of the incident, saying Taiwanese television cameramen and reporters were the ones trying to force their way into the security circle.

One reporter grabbed a volunteer’s hands while others shouted at staff and demanded an apology, the blogger wrote, accusing the Taiwanese reporters of starting the confrontation.

A story published by the Los Angeles-based Chinese-language Taiwan Daily the following day described Taiwanese journalists as pampered and spoiled.

It also wrote that the incident stemmed from “different media cultures in Taiwan and the US” whereby reporters are used to getting up close and personal with politicians in Taiwan, but are usually kept at some distance from public figures in the US.

DPP western US headquarters director Jerome Cheng (鄭錫?) was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying the incident was unfortuante.

Cheng estimated that Tsai was surrounded by at least 100 people at the time, including volunteers, supporters and more than 30 reporters, making a scuffle almost inevitable as everyone tried to get close to the presidential candidate to ask her questions and take photographs.

DPP proffers Normandy landings election analogy

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday sent its best wishes to its legislative candidates in districts that are traditionally Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) strongholds, describing them as embarking upon a crusade like the “Normandy landings.”

At a campaign event, DPP vice presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said yesterday was “D-day” of the “Hope Alliance of Normandy Landings,” which is composed of five candidates.

“Hopefully, January 14, 2011, will be the ‘V-Day’ for you,” Su told the candidates.

Kao Chien-chi (高建智), Chiang Yung-chang (江永昌), Hsu Yu-ming (許又銘), former baseball star George Chao (趙士強) and Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) will run in the districts of Sindian (新店), Jhonghe (中和), Yonghe (永和), Da-an (大安) and Wenshan (文山). Past results show the DPP’s chances of winning in these districts in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市) are slim.

In response to the analogy drawn by the DPP between the elections and the Normandy landings, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) said he did not think the analogy would be a blessing.

“In history, D-Day was a day when thousands died,” Ting said. “D-day could also be interpreted as Death-day.”

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson Christopher Kavanagh, meanwhile, declined to comment on the grounds that he did not know in what context Su mentioned the Normandy landings.

DPP legislative candidates have been seeking catchphrases as a strategy to attract voters attention by forming small alliances.

Previously, five other DPP legislative candidates, who are heavy smartphone users, announced the formation of an alliance called “Congress iPhone 5” late last month and said they would make good lawmakers because of their familiarity with high-tech gadgets and new ideas.

Another eight candidates from districts across the nation named their alliance “Our Generation” and pledged to be the voice of the underprivileged.

Meanwhile, the DPP yesterday announced that Greater Taichung councilor Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) would be its replacement candidate in Greater Taichung’s seventh district after Ho defeated four other hopefuls in a public opinion poll that pitted the hopefuls against KMT candidate Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文), DPP Deputy Secretary-General Hung Yao-fu (洪耀福) said.

All five contestants defeated Cheng in the poll, but Ho finished with the largest lead of 40.8 percent to 23 percent, Hung said.

She replaces Chien Chao-tung (簡肇棟), who withdrew from the election earlier this month after his involvement in a hit-and-run car accident that killed one person.

Additional Reporting By Shih Hsiu-chuan

Government thanks US for agreeing to arms sale

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters
Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - Page 1

The government has thanked the US for agreeing to help upgrade the air force’s F-16A/B fleet, saying it was an indication of the US taking concrete action to implement the Taiwan Relations Act.

At a press conference called late on Wednesday night, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) hailed the administration of US President Barack Obama for “responding to our request proactively by taking concrete actions to approve” the upgrade.

The US government formally notified Congress on Wednesday of its intent to sell Taipei military equipment and services worth about US$5.85 billion. The package includes upgrades of Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs, along with pilot training and spare parts, but does not include new F-16C/Ds that Taipei had wanted to modernize its arsenal.

Yang said that together with a previous arms sale worth US$12.5 billion, which the US offered Taiwan less than three years into President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) presidency, the US government has provided US$18.3 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan “on an unprecedented scale and pace.”

Ma yesterday also showed his thanks and reiterated his calls for the US to sell F-16C/Ds and other defensive weapons to Taiwan.

He stressed that buying weapons from the US does not signal any intention to engage in an arms race with China, but that it is necessary to maintain Taiwan’s defensive capabilities.

Ma added that these arms procurements were much larger than any under his two predecessors, former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

“The upgrade package will make the air force of the Republic of China the first fleet in the world equipped with AESA radars, which can effectively deal with [China’s] J-20s,” according to Chu An-nan (朱安南), deputy chief of the Air Force Headquarters.

However, polarized responses emanated from governing and opposition lawmakers.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said that while the exclusion of F-16C/Ds from the package could bring to mind the phrase, “if you can’t have a fish, a shrimp can be just as good,” he said that he did not think the retrofit package was a shrimp. “It was a fish. In fact, a very big fish.”

Lin said he was “deeply moved” by the F-16A/B retrofit package because it was “far better than I had expected,” which he said showed the Obama administration “highly recognized” Ma’s efforts to pursue cross-strait peace and enhance Taiwan’s self-defense capability.

However, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ efforts to describe the US arms sale of F-16A/B upgrades as an “achievement” was regretful and contradictory.

“We don’t understand why the two ministries expressed gratitude when Taiwan came up short of its wish for F-16C/Ds procurement,” DPP spokesperson Kang Yu-cheng (康裕成) said, noting that Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) in May explained to US officials why Taiwan desperately needs the F-16C/D and yet, on Wednesday night, he said the offered package was not a bad deal and he was not disappointed at all.

DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said the defense ministry was being contradictory when it said the upgraded F-16A/Bs would be better than the F-16C/Ds, yet at the same time said that it planned to push for the F-16C/D procurement.

DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said a number of US lawmakers expressed anger at the White House’s refusal to sell new jets to Taiwan and accused Obama of bowing to Chinese pressure, and yet “the defense ministry brags” about arms procurement and “describes it as an achievement.”

In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the sale as undermining overall ties and military exchanges. Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) summoned US Ambassador Gary Locke in Beijing to complain. China’s Minister of Defense warned the US had “created severe obstacles for normal military-to-military exchanges between the two countries.”

The strong words are seen as rhetoric catering to the military and nationalistic public, who regard the US as an interloper that uses support for Taiwan as a means of restraining China’s rise, according to some observers.

Additional Reporting By CNA and AP

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ex-president says he never supported ‘1992 consensus’

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday accused People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) of failing to relay his message to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and lying to an official from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) by saying he recognized the so-called “1992 consensus.”

During his visit to China in May 2005, Soong broke a pledge to relay his four-point message of “sovereignty, democracy, peace and reciprocity” to Hu, Chen wrote in an article published yesterday.

Instead, Soong discussed his own cross-strait initiative of “two shores, one China” (兩岸一中) with the Chinese leader, Chen wrote in his latest column, dated Sept. 11, discussing US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Chen denied a cable saying that Soong told then-AIT director Douglas Paal in May 2005 that Chen recognized the existence of the “1992 consensus” and that he had described the cross-strait meeting in Hong Kong in 1992 as “inspiring and fruitful.”

The Hong Kong meeting did take place, Chen said, but no consensus was reached.

In response to a pair of AIT cables in 2005, Chen said he had no idea throughout his eight-year tenure as president that the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) New Tide faction had maintained a separate communication channel with officials from the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office since 1997 and that they had secretly visited China without notifying him.

The DPP faction, the cable reported, was led by former Straights Exchange Foundation chairman Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌), former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁).

Another cable reporting that he had tried to remove Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as premier during the Red Shirt protest in 2006 was not true, Chen said.

He was not the one who told independence supporters that he was opposed to having then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) take over as president if he stepped down, Chen wrote.

However, a number of DPP heavyweights did express their opposition to Lu taking over as president, Chen said, citing a diplomatic cable as evidence.

A cable sent by AIT in November 2006 reported that Su had told then-AIT director Stephen Young that Lu was “unpredictable” in her behavior and thinking, and that a Lu presidency “is something that most DPP members fear.”

“Su laughed and said that he would resign before Lu has a chance to dismiss him,” the cable said.

Chen is serving a 17-and-a-half-year jail sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Poll suggests US visit boosted support for Tsai

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) US visit has apparently boosted her support rate as the latest opinion poll conducted by the party showed its presidential candidate is leading President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) by 1.5 percentage points, the DPP said yesterday.

The survey, conducted on Monday, showed that 44.3 percent of respondents support the pairing of Tsai with DPP Secretary--General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), while 42.8 percent support President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, and his running mate Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義).

If People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) enters the race, Tsai would still lead Ma by 1.2 percentage points, with Soong receiving 12.4 percent support, the survey found.

The poll showed 45.3 percent of respondents agree that Tsai had a successful US visit, while 16.1 percent disagree.

The poll collected 858 samples and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

In another survey released yesterday by Global Views magazine, Ma held a small lead, receiving 39.2 percent compared with Tsai’s 38.3 percent, in a head-to-head battle.

However, Tsai edged Ma by 0.2 points — 36 percent to 35.8 percent — in a three way race, with Soong finishing last with 10 percent.

Meanwhile, DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the party would decide by public opinion poll by Saturday on a legislative candidate for Greater Taichung’s seventh district to replace Chien Chao-tung (簡肇棟), who has withdrawn from the race after his involvement in a hit-and-run car accident that killed one person.

Lin said a survey will be conducted to determine the candidate between five hopefuls: Taichung City councilors Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) and Lee Tien-shen (李天生), and former DPP legislators Lin Feng-hsi (林豐喜), Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) and Hsieh Hsin-ni (謝欣霓).

Chien’s replacement will be decided in time for the DPP’s three-in-one campaign activity to be held on Saturday in Greater Taichung.

The event will include the DPP’s party congress, the celebration of its Sept. 28 party anniversary and a rally for January’s presidential and legislative elections.

No turning back for Taiwan and China: US academic

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The dynamics of Taiwan-US relations has changed as both sides are currently not a priority on each other’s agenda, and a reversal of Taiwan’s recent engagement with China is unlikely, a US academic said yesterday.

Robert Sutter, a professor at George Washington University, made the remarks via a teleconference hosted by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

Sutter added that eroding US support was one of three sets of factors that would ultimately determine Taiwan’s future, along with China’s ever-growing strength and Taiwan’s inherent weakness.

The decline in US support, which has received little attention according to Sutter, is related to Taipei’s rapprochement with Beijing, as well as the fracturing of the Taiwanese lobby in Washington and the increasing cost of US intervention in Taiwanese contingencies.

For the US, China is currently much more important than Taiwan, he said.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region will also be pleased to see a peaceful resolution between Taiwan and China, he said.

“Internationally, Taiwan recognizes that advances for Taiwan in world affairs now require Beijing’s permission or acquiescence, even on issues as uncontroversial as trade,” he added.

In contrast with calls from the governments of South Korea, Japan, ASEAN, India and other Asia-Pacific countries for the US to play a greater role in the region, he said Taiwan has maintained a low public profile and has been very “discreet” in its engagement with Washington.

And since current political trends of closer cross-strait engagement is so strong, Sutter said, Taiwan will not be able to “go back to the old way” even if there was a regime change.

Taiwan will have to continue its constructive engagement with China and should not go back to the 1995 to 2008 period, during which former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) left Taiwan with a “negative” legacy, he said.

Several Taiwanese academics disagreed, with Liu Fu-kuo (劉復國), a professor at National Chengchi University, saying that Taiwan does not ask for Chinese permission before making decisions.

Instead, he said, Taiwan has tried to initiate a “Track Two” communication channel through academic exchanges.

Edward Chen (陳一新) of Tamkang University called for more US support, saying that the lack of US assistance has left some with the impression that the US has abandoned Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Soong chooses NTU professor as running mate

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter
Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - Page 1

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday announced that National Taiwan University (NTU) professor emeritus Lin Ruey-shiung (林瑞雄) would be his running mate in January’s presidential election, while expressing confidence he will be able to collect the 1 million signatures he vowed to collect to join the presidential race.

Amid cheers from supporters, Soong said he selected Lin, a public health expert, in an effort to cure “an epidemic of vicious confrontations between the pan-blue and pan-green camps” and vowed to go beyond party affiliation in his campaign.

“I invite professor Lin to join me in reinstating right and wrong in politics. Taiwan should maintain freedom in politics and openness in economy ... We will go beyond party lines and defend core values in the presidential election,” Soong told a press conference at the National Taiwan University Hospital’s International Conference Center.

Lin, 72, helped found the school’s public health department in 1993, and is a renowned academic whose students included former Department of Health ministers Yang Chih-liang (楊志良) and Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川).

Describing himself as a “blank page” without any political experience, Lin said he accepted Soong’s invitation because they shared similar ideals about improving the lives of the people in Taiwan.

“I’ve never participated in politics and I am here today because of Chairman Soong ... I was deeply touched by his ideals when I saw his TV interview in April. As a blank page in politics, I welcome all advice and I hope I can offer my experience in public health,” he said.

Soong, accompanied by Lin and PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄), later went to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to register to begin a presidential petition. The commission said the number of signatures required to qualify to register as a presidential candidate is 257,695, but Soong has said he will collect 1 million or not join the race.

Soong said he was confident of reaching that goal. He also said Lin, who holds US citizenship, would give up that citizenship in accordance with the laws.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said it was not giving up on the possibility of working with the PFP in the January elections.

“We should avoid a split in the pan-blue camp like in the 2000 presidential election. Hopefully, the mistake will not be repeated and Chairman Soong will not let the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] benefit from a split,” said Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲), director of the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee.

Soong’s potential candidacy has raised fears in the KMT that he could split the presidential race, especially since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) appear to be neck-and-neck.

Soong was ousted from the KMT after deciding to run as independent in the 2000 presidential election against the KMT’s nominee, then-vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Chen won.

Soong brushed aside the KMT’s call for cooperation and said pan-blue unity was not his top priority.

Meanwhile, the DPP said it respected everyone’s decision to participate in politics.

While most people think Soong’s entry into the race would symbolize a split in the pan-blue camp and benefit Tsai, the DPP is determined to win on its own, DPP spokesperson Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said.

The DPP will not get involved in Soong’s signature drive, Liang said, adding: “We call on DPP members to refrain from involvement in the petition and do not rule out taking disciplinary measures against those who violate party regulations.”

Additional Reporting by Chris Wang

WHO’s terminology like a ‘slap’: DPP

CONSENSUS CONSEQUENCES?:Party spokesmen and legislators said a letter from the WHO to a European Parliament group showed the ‘true face’ of President Ma’s policy
By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporters
Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - Page 1

The WHO’s insistence on referring to Taiwan as a part of China was a slap in the face for the so-called “1992 consensus” advocated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.

Citing a letter sent by the WHO to the European Parliament’s Taiwan Friendship Group (TFG) that said the designation of “Taiwan, China” has been the organization’s consistent practice, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the letter showed there was no such thing as “one China with different interpretations,” as Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have claimed the consensus entails.

The letter, dated July 4 and signed by Gian Luca Berci, the WHO’s legal counsel, on behalf of WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), was in response to a TFG letter of protest in June.

The TFG letter accused the organization of undermining its own credibility by referring to Taiwan as a province of China.

“The fundamental statement of WHO’s policy is found in World Health Assembly Resolution 25.1, which states that the People’s Republic of China is the ‘only legitimate representative of China to the World Health Organization,’” the letter said.

“Since that resolution was adopted, the consistent practice of WHO has been to conduct itself, with respect to Taiwan, China on the basis that it is not a separate entity but a part of China. The United Nations and other specialized agencies have adopted very similar decisions and follow the same practice,” the letter said.

Three letters of protest were sent to the WHO after its reference to “Taiwan, China,” in May, including letters from Taiwan’s government, a US senator and the TFG, Kuan said.

Taiwan’s letter was sent in mid-May, but there has not been a reply from the WHO, Kuan told a press conference in Taipei.

Ma should explain why the WHO refers to Taiwan as a province of China if the “one China with different interpretations” principle stands, Kuan said, adding: “Ma should also explain when we can interpret ‘one China’ differently, because that never happened.”

The nation’s international participation has worsened to the point where it “couldn’t even defend the name of ‘Chinese Taipei,’” DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.

The WHO’s practice was an opportunity for Taiwanese to understand the “true face of the 1992 consensus,” which never represented the “one China with different interpretations” as Ma has insisted, he said.

The DPP also questioned Ma’s pro-China position, citing a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks that quoted Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) as saying Ma had sent a special envoy to China during his 2008 presidential campaign to ask Beijing to tone down its anti-Taiwan rhetoric so his campaign would not be jeopardized.

“We suspect Ma reached a secret agreement with the Chinese, which explains why he always has to kowtow to China,” DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) said.

“I wonder if the WikiLeaks cables have told us the whole story. Were there more secret agreements [between Ma and China]?” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) told a separate press conference that the ministry knew of the WHO’s reply to the TFG before Kuan disclosed it and had lodged a protest with the WHO.

The government has repeatedly registered its “stern protest” with the WHO over the “inappropriate reference” and will continue to negotiate with the WHO on the matter, Shen said.

The government also demanded in May that the WHO correct its designation of Taiwan as a “province of China” in an internal memo, with a letter of protest delivered by Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) when he attended WHA meeting, Shen said.

Although the WHO has not yet replied to Taiwan, the government “hasn’t relaxed its efforts” to urge the WHO to address the problem, Shen said.

“In the reply [to Tannock], the WHO cited the WHA Resolution [25.1] to refer Taiwan as a part of China. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Shen said.

Shen said the UN has remained rigid about its position of the reference being used in the UN system since the Republic of China was forced out of the UN in 1971.

However, the mode adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) — the decisionmaking arm of the WHO — for Taiwan’s formal participation in three consecutive years in which minister-level officials participated under the name “Chinese Taipei” and its participation in the IHR in the capacity of a “point of contact in Taipei” have “opened a window of opportunity” for the country to be able to participate in international affairs with dignity, Shen said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

True consensus needed for Taiwan: academics

DUELING CONSENSUSES:A forum agreed that building a national consensus was crucial and that it should be done based on ideals shared by both the KMT and DPP
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Building a “consensus of the Taiwanese” is crucial for Taiwan to engage China with confidence, but Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “Taiwan consensus” is questionable for its “emptiness,” academics said yesterday.

“A consensus among Taiwanese is important so that Taiwan can negotiate with China with a ‘shared’ position. However, that would be a difficult goal given that national identity has been Taiwan’s ‘Achilles’ heel,’” Chao Chun-shan (趙春山), a political scientist at Tamkang University, told a seminar organized by the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum.

The seminar aimed to discuss the possibility of a “consensus of the Taiwanese,” which would be a combination of the so-called “1992 consensus” and the “Taiwan consensus,” the central theme of a recent war of words between the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Tsai, the DPP’s presidential candidate, has tried to replace the “1992 consensus” with the “Taiwan consensus,” which Chao described as “an empty initiative that no one understands,” adding that she has so far failed to convince people the DPP can come up with a better solution, he said.

Beijing will not accept Tsai’s initiative, which emphasizes a democratic process involving all parties within Taiwanese society, because her China policy has always been somewhere between “a special state-to-state relationship,” a phrase coined by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), and former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) “one country on each side,” said Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), a professor at National Taiwan University who advocates eventual unification based on a “one China, three constitutions” initiative.

Hwang Kwang-kuo (黃光國), a professor at the same school and a unification supporter, said while internal divisions did not serve Taiwan’s national interest, the January presidential election was bound to be “a duel between two consensuses.”

The “1992 consensus” that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been espousing would provide Taiwan with flexibility for future engagement, Hwang said.

He said the DPP would need to review its China policy if it lost the election.

There could be some adjustment for the KMT to make as well even if Ma is re-elected, said Chang Wu-yueh (張五岳) of Tamkang University.

Ma is unlikely to receive the same strong mandate as he did in 2008 and the KMT is expected to lose some seats in the legislature, which means the ruling party would not be able to dominate cross-strait engagement and would have to make concessions, he said.

“However, it is an open secret that there has been no dialogue between the two major political parties at all during the past three years,” Chang said.

The discussion of the “1992 consensus” is not meaningful as the true important matter was the “2008 consensus” reached by Ma and China after his landslide victory, Taiwan Thinktank consultant Chang Kuo-cheng (張國城) said.

The real question for the DPP is whether it accepts the “2008 consensus,” which represents the position of “anti-Taiwan independence and de facto one China,” he said.

Regardless of how difficult it would be, political parties in Taiwan should keep looking for common ideas to build a consensus, said Thomas Peng (彭錦鵬), a National Taiwan University political scientist.

“In my opinion, the common values could include the Republic of China [ROC], the ROC Constitution, a ‘Taiwan first’ mentality and ‘one China with different interpretations,’” Peng said.

Tsai solicits support on last leg of her US visit

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) called for voters’ support in Los Angeles yesterday, saying her leadership, readiness to govern and her “Taiwan consensus” initiative would pave the way for Taiwan to overcome future challenges.

The presidential candidate listed three reasons to vote for her in the January presidential election and three reasons why President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should not be re-elected in her speech to more than 3,000 supporters at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, the last of six cities on her 10-day US visit.

Beaming with confidence, Tsai said she has in the past three years successfully transformed the DPP into a mature, rational and policy-oriented political party that stresses governance and sustainability.

In addition, she said, the DPP is ready to help Taiwan make fundamental changes to meet future challenges with its ambitious 10-year policy guidelines, a set of policies that aim to improve Taiwan’s competitiveness, social welfare, environmental sustainability and robust national defense, among others.

The Taiwan consensus initiative, which emphasizes a transparent, public and democratic process to include opinions from all sides, will consolidate -Taiwanese to face the enormous challenge of a rising China, Tsai said.

Ma’s failed leadership is one of three reasons why voters should withdraw support for the Chinese National Party (KMT), Tsai said, adding that people have suffered over the past three years as the Ma administration has provided nothing but political maneuvering and exaggeration of Ma’s so-called accomplishments.

The KMT president has offered no plans or vision for Taiwan’s future and has sided with corporations in every policy decision, she said.

Ma’s “golden decade” pledge is an empty promise, which reflects his misjudgement of a turbulent decade ahead, Tsai told supporters.

She also criticized Ma’s “three noes” policy — no unification, no independence and no use of force — saying that the “no unification and no independence” part is “basically an agreement between the KMT and China,” while “no use of force” was Ma’s own invention.

“I don’t understand how Taiwan can be not independent and not unified [with China] at the same time,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

The DPP chairperson is scheduled to arrive home tonight. She leaves for a three-day trip to Japan on Oct. 3.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tsai clarifies ‘unification’ comments

BRAIN TEASER::Former DPP presidential candidate Peng Ming-min said that in a true democracy all options are on the table as long as people are free to express their views
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Mon, Sep 19, 2011 - Page 1

The war of words over the “Taiwan consensus” and the so-called “1992 consensus” continued yesterday as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) described the former as “imaginary” and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) compared the latter to an “unauthorized construction.”

The DPP also said a story published yesterday by the Chinese-language China Times, which reported that DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in the US that unification was a potential -outcome of the “Taiwan consensus” she initiated, was an “overinterpretation” of Tsai’s comment.

Asked by reporters in New York whether unification would be one of her options, Tsai, who was in the middle of her 10-day US visit, said: “When I say I do not rule out any possibility, I mean it,” adding that the DPP would engage China with an open-minded approach if Taiwanese supported such an approach.

“The DPP upholds democratic values above everything else, which is why it asserts that the ‘Taiwan consensus’ would be a process that engages all parties in society,” DPP spokesman Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) told a press conference yesterday.

“However, that does not mean unification is the DPP’s preference or its position,” he said.

The DPP has always said that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country and any change in the “status quo” would require a referendum, he said.

In a press release, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign office spokesperson Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) said that Tsai, the DPP’s presidential candidate, had so far failed to clarify her China policy and it was irresponsible to ask people to come up with solutions on her behalf.

Democracy was the driving force behind Tsai’s China policy, embracing the need for comprehensive dialogue rather than providing people with fixed answers, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

While President Ma said talk about a “Taiwan consensus” was “empty” and likened it to “pre-constructed homes” on Friday, Chen described the “1992 consensus” as “unauthorized constructions” because the so-called consensus was reached by the KMT and China without the consent of Taiwanese, and had never been subject to legislative monitoring.

“A fragile agreement like this could not withstand the multifaceted and wide-ranging cross-strait engagement that will be needed in the future,” Chen said.

At a speech on Saturday evening in San Francisco, Tsai said building a Taiwan consensus through a democratic process would involve the participation of all Taiwanese and was the right direction to take.

The DPP has its own clearly defined position on Taiwan’s national identity and engagement with China, but was willing to sit down with everyone, including the KMT, to work out a consensus, Tsai told more than 1,200 supporters at a rally in Northern California.

“That is the ‘Taiwan consensus’ I am talking about — a democratic process,” she said, adding that only those who refuse to accept “democratic reality” would say “a means to an end” was more important.

As crucial as China policy is to Taiwan’s national affairs, Ma was barking up the wrong tree in his repeated attempts to force the DPP to accept the “1992 consensus,” she said.

“At the end of the day, how Taiwan engages with China is the more important issue and Taiwanese do not ask for much. All they want is a peaceful relationship with China,” she said.

All Taiwanese are entitled to participate in the decisionmaking process on such an important issue. Citing Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) decision to withdraw from the UN in the 1970s, Tsai said it was an example of how a decision made by one man or one political party could jeopardize a country.

On the most hectic day of her 10-day visit to the US, Tsai left New York on Saturday morning for a brief stop in Houston, Texas, before arriving in San Francisco in the evening. She is scheduled to visit Los Angeles, the last of six cities on her trip, before returning to Taiwan tomorrow night.

At a luncheon fundraiser in Houston, Tsai told more than 700 supporters that the current election was the first time a DPP candidate has been neck-and-neck with a KMT rival four months before the presidential election.

The DPP chairperson also highlighted “respect for democratic values” as the fundamental difference between the DPP and the KMT.

While most people perceive the DPP as more of a ‘grassroots’ political party, she said, “when you compare the two parties, you will find that the DPP is the one that stays true to Western democratic values.”

Meanwhile, several former officials and political advocates voiced their support for the “Taiwan consensus” yesterday, saying the initiative was in line with democratic principles and that the inclusion of unification as one option was “democratic common sense.”

The most important element of the consensus is that it would be established through a series of democratic procedures, Koh Se-kai (許世楷), Taiwan’s former representative to Japan, said at a forum.

Speaking on the sideline of a book-launching ceremony, former presidential adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) said the “Taiwan consensus” was a “solid, rational and democratic” initiative because “in a democratic country, you do not exclude any option and accept the decision as long as the people are able to freely express their views.”

“Anyone with the slightest understanding of democracy would know that all major policies — particularly the direction of a country — should be decided by the people, rather than one single political party or one man,” said Jim Lee (李筱峰), a history professor and a political commentator.

“I do not support unification [with China], but if that is the people’s choice I would have to accept it. That is democracy,” Lee said.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shih Ming-teh urges relaxation of election law

‘SHACKLED’:The former DPP chairman said it was everybody’s political right to run for president, but a signature requirement was an insurmountable barrier
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), who has broken ties with the party, yesterday called for an amendment to an election law to relax the registration threshold for presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The signature requirement — an alternative way for candidates not affiliated with a party to register — should be scrapped so independent presidential aspirants could run because it is a constitutionally protected right, Shih said.

Shih said it would take at least NT$100 million (US$3.38 million) just to register as a candidate, including a NT$15 million deposit, a NT$40 million signature collection campaign and another NT$40 million for promotion and advertisements.

About 258,000 signatures — 1.5 percent of the total number of voters in the latest legislative election — are required for registration in the presidential election, according to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法).

However, a deposit of NT$15 million is a reasonable “filter” to screen out trivial aspirants, Shih said, describing the requirement as a “handcuff.”

“However, the signature rule is like shackles that limit citizens’ political rights, and that is not right,” he said.

Shih called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which enjoys a majority in the legislature, to “immediately” work on the amendment.

Responding to press queries, the 70-year-old was vague on whether he would enter the -presidential race, saying that he would not join the race today, but that “nothing is certain beyond that point.”

Shih visited the KMT and DPP caucuses as well as Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to garner support for the proposed amendment after his press conference, with Wang telling him that it might be too late to amend the law for the approaching presidential election, which will take place on Jan. 14.

KMT, DPP trade barbs over ‘Taiwan consensus’

By Mo Yan-chih and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday traded barbs over DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposed “Taiwan consensus,” with the DPP saying it would provide a strong foundation for cross-strait talks, while the KMT dismissed the idea as “mere rhetoric.”

Tsai, the DPP’s presidential candidate, during the first leg of her current US visit on Wednesday, renewed her commitment to seek a consensus among Taiwanese through a democratic process, which would be used as the basis for negotiations with China.

Accusing the KMT administration of fabricating the so-called “1992 consensus,” which she said was too fragile to serve as a foundation for China and Taiwan to build a long-term relationship, Tsai said that after a “Taiwan consensus” was formed via a democratic mechanism, a legal foundation could be built via legislation.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), seeking re-election, yesterday challenged Tsai to define the meaning of “Taiwan consensus.”

“We should at least know what it is before discussing the possibility of legalization. So far, no one knows the context of [Taiwan consensus], and I am afraid that we need to wait for an explanation before we know whether it can be legislated,” Ma said.

King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), executive director of Ma’s re-election campaign office, joined Ma in criticizing Tsai’s cross-strait platform, challenging Tsai to elaborate on how such a consensus could be formulated through a democratic process.

King, currently in the US to seek support for Ma from US-based Taiwanese voters, described Tsai’s idea of a “Taiwan consensus” as “mere rhetoric,” and said that on cross-strait relations, the public consensus is to maintain the ‘status quo,’ which is Ma’s “three-noes policy: no unification, no independence and no use of force.”

“Tsai and the DPP has been obsessed with the ‘1992 consensus’ issue, and ignored our achievements in cross-strait developments over the past years. Tsai’s ‘Taiwan consensus’ lacks solid content and political implications. It’s nothing but slogan-like rhetoric,” King said.

In response, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), the DPP’s vice presidential candidate and secretary-general, yesterday said in Taipei that transparency, democratic procedure and stability were the most important factors in the “Taiwan consensus,” which aims to facilitate a virtuous cycle for cross-strait engagement, so that cross-strait relations would be stable and consistent regardless of which political party wins the election.

A “Taiwan consensus” means that any change in Taiwan’s status should be determined by the people of Taiwan through a democratic procedure, Tsai campaign spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said.

“Ma is not qualified to be the head of state of a democracy when he tries to strip Taiwanese of their rights to determine their own future in favor of one-party rule,” Hsu said.

Hsu said that various public opinion polls showed that more than 70 percent of Taiwanese agree that “Taiwan is the Republic of China (ROC) and the ROC is Taiwan” and that Taiwan is a sovereign country and that they opposed engaging with China under the “one China” principle. Only slightly more than 10 percent of people agree with Ma’s argument of “one China equals the ROC,” she said.

Additional reporting by CNA

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DPP accuses Ma of failing nation’s farmers

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:The DPP has sought to highlight the strategic importance of agriculture in its policy formulation and legislative proposals, Su Jia-chyuan said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has failed to deliver on his pledge to improve farmers’ lives and increase the competitiveness of Taiwan’s agricultural products, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is ready to turn things around, the DPP said yesterday.

Ma did not achieve his “6-3-3” campaign pledge of 2008 — annual GDP growth of 6 percent, unemployment of less than 3 percent and a per capita income of US$30,000 — and he will fail to raise the annual income of farming households to NT$1 million (US$33,875) by next year, DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said.

The DPP’s proposal of a NT$1,000 monthly subsidy for elderly farmers was also blocked by Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the legislature, Su, who is the party’s vice presidential candidate, told a press conference on agricultural policy.

“Ma should apologize for letting down 3 million farmers and 720,000 farming households in Taiwan,” he said.

Statistics from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics showed that average annual income of farming households last year was NT$885,000, less than NT$941,000 in 2006 and NT$937,000 in 2007, when the DPP was in power.

The DPP has sought to highlight the strategic importance of agriculture in its policy formulation and legislative proposals, a glaring distinction from the KMT, Su said.

The subsidy was proposed because increased salaries for public servants and higher veterans’ subsidies have been approved and there is no reason to ignore farmers, whose average age is 64, Su said.

The DPP tried to establish Taiwanese Agricultural Standards (TAS), which highlights traceability to improve quality and competitiveness of local farm produce, but the initiative was abandoned by the Ma administration, he said.

Taiwan’s agricultural development is in dire straits in the face of global competition, said Wu Ming-ming (吳明敏), a professor at National Chung Hsing University and one of the authors of the DPP’s agricultural policy.

Taiwan’s agricultural imports increased from US$10.05 billion in 2009 to US$12.76 billion last year, while exports went up from US$3.21 billion in 2009 to US$3.97 billion last year, Wu said, adding that the numbers were cause for concern.

The DPP’s policy would be to increase farming household incomes by identifying those “strategic agricultural products” with a competitive edge, establishing the TAS, promoting organic agriculture, and improving food security and farmers’ welfare, Wu said.

“The ultimate goal is to improve the competitiveness of our products over low-priced products from China and Southeast Asian countries, and to make local products the consumer’s choice over those from New Zealand and the US,” he said.

Long transition could cause crisis: forum

CAUSE FOR CONCERN:The presidential transitional period could bring up challenging issues, such as whether there should be a resignation en masse of the Executive Yuan
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

A four-month-long transition period between the Jan. 14 presidential election next year and the president’s inauguration ceremony on May 20 could result in a constitutional crisis, academics warned yesterday at a forum in Taipei.

A victory for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) over President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, would mark a third regime change in Taiwan following the ones in 2000 and 2008.

Since there is no law regulating the presidential transition, the possibility of Tsai winning the election could cause a clash between the administrative and legislative branches of government, as well as instability in domestic and international politics, panelists said at a forum organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank.

While a draft bill on presidential and vice presidential transition has passed a second reading in the legislature, it could be dumped if lawmakers fail to approve it before the second and last session of the current legislature concludes at the end of the year, panelists said.

“We should view the presidential transition period as crisis management and we cannot take a peaceful transition of power for granted,” said Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), former deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

A caretaker government is supposed to “freeze” all personnel, foreign policy and budgetary changes before a new administration is inaugurated, Lin said.

In the past, the presidential election has been held on March 20 and the president-elect has been sworn in on May 20. However, the Ma government’s decision to combine the presidential and legislative elections prolongs the transition period to four months and five days, which could be the longest period in all the world’s democracies.

The period, which lasts a third of a year, could bring about challenging issues, such as whether there should be a resignation en masse of the Cabinet, whether the military remains neutral, who the president-elect should nominate as premier and whether the incumbent president refrains from making major policy changes during the period, Lin said.

The DPP has a good reason to be worried, since Ma expressed the same concerns before taking office to the US in 2008 that then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) could resort to radical measures, such as declaration of martial law, according to leaked US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, Taiwan Brain Trust researcher Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠) said, adding that Tsai should immediately organize a task force to tackle the issue.

Ma and the public’s respect of democratic values would contribute to a peaceful transition of power, DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) said.

China’s attitude toward the election result also factors in, he said, adding that Beijing could try to coerce Taipei with military threats if it is not pleased with the results.

For a young democracy such as Taiwan, which faces a military threat from China, it is “unbelievable” that there is no legislation on presidential transition that could help ensure a smooth transition of power, said Lin Iong-sheng (林雍昇), a Taiwan Brain Trust researcher.

“At the end of the day, the public will be the final judge. If Taiwanese respect the true value of democracy, their voice will be able to keep politicians from doing anything irrational,” Lin said.

Lawmakers spar over military crash

FINGER-POINTING::The KMT said it was not to blame for blocking the budget to upgrade the nation’s aging fleet of fighters, despite claims to the contrary from the DPP
By Rich Chang and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters
Thu, Sep 15, 2011 - Page 1

A crash of two military aircraft on Tuesday night, in which three pilots lost their lives, sparked a fresh round of accusations between legislators over the government’s failure to modernize its air force in recent years.

An F-5F jet and a RF-5 reconnaissance aircraft crashed into the mountains near the Suhua Highway along the east coast at 7:52pm on Tuesday, after taking off at 7:39pm. The two planes deviated slightly from their flight paths before the crash, but the cause of the accident remained unclear, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

Chief inspector of the air force Caleb Po (柏關忠) told a press conference that the pilots were in constant and normal communication with Hualien Air Force Base and that the control tower warned them to change their altitude — 610m at the time — but the aircraft did not comply.

“There are various factors that could have caused the accident,” Po said.

He said the aircraft were on a nighttime training mission and that weather and visibility were good at the time.

Air force commander General Yen Ming (嚴明) boarded an S-70 helicopter with other air force officials at 5am to inspect the crash site on Dongao Mountain (東澳山) in Suao Township (蘇澳), Yilan County, at an altitude of 640m.

Body parts found near the site were taken to a hospital for examination.

The air force identified the pilot of the RF-5 as Captain Hsiao Wen-min (蕭文民) and the crew of the F-5F as Lieutenant Colonel Chang Chien-kuo (常建國) and Major Wang Hung-hsiang (王鴻祥).

It confirmed that the two aircraft crashed separately and did not collide during flight, as was initially suspected.

The air force has grounded all F-5 aircraft as an investigation is being conducted.

This was the sixth mishap involving F-5s in the past seven years. The air force now has 32 F-5Fs in its fleet.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang--liang (蔡煌瑯) said the crashes were “more than just another accident” and that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration should be held accountable for its failure to upgrade military hardware.

The air force has lost 11 pilots and eight fighters to crashes since Ma took office in 2008, Tsai said.

He described the aging F5s, which are scheduled for retirement, as “flying iron coffins.”

Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have blocked the procurement budget of 66 F-16C/Ds from the US in the legislature 69 times since 2007, he said, adding that if not for their resistance, Taiwan would be able to have three squadrons of F-16C/Ds ready for operation in 2014.

The KMT’s stance on the procurement is why Taiwanese -military aircraft cannot be upgraded and replaced, Tsai said.

Tsai also questioned management at the air force, which expects 75 percent operational availability for all aircraft.

Despite this requirement, operational availability for F5-Fs is only 26 percent, while it is 66 percent for T-34C trainers, he said.

This situation was highlighted after the 2009 crash of an F5-F off Penghu, but “the Ma -administration and the ministry have not paid any attention to the matter,” Tsai said.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) denied his party was to blame for the failure to acquire F-16C/D aircraft.

“The DPP should not capitalize on the tragedy for political gain. It should instead join efforts with the KMT and the ministry in urging the US to approve the [F-16C/D] sale,” Lin said.

He said the KMT had never- -boycotted the budget earmarked for purchasing F-16C/Ds during the DPP administration, as the legislature approved a budget of NT$16 billion (US$475 million) in 2007 and NT$20 billion in 2008 for the item.

“How can the DPP come up with this allegation when the KMT, which has held a majority in the legislature, actually approved the budget?” Lin asked.

Lin questioned whether the US had guaranteed the DPP -administration that it would approve the sale when the budget was passed, a claim made by the DPP.

“There could be two reasons: Either the DPP misunderstood the US’ message or some US officials turned back on their verbal promise. Whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with the KMT,” Lin said.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and CNA

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lack of signatures and funds forced Huang to drop out of presidential race

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Ellen Huang (黃越綏), a former presidential candidate hopeful advocating Taiwanese independence, held a press conference yesterday to explain her reasons for dropping out of the race the day before.

Huang said she was unlikely to collect 260,000 signatures, the threshold mandated by the Central Election Commission to register as a presidential candidate. She had collected 101,931 signatures in 105 days of campaigning, Huang said.

The 64-year-old said she would support Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) presidential campaign if Tsai extends an invitation, because she would like to see a female president in Taiwan.

Funding was also a problem for Huang, who is known for her dedication to children’s welfare.

A deposit of NT$1 million (US$34,000) is required for an applicant recommended by way of joint signatures and another NT$15 million is required to register as a presidential candidate, according to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法).

“I might as well buy 20,000 lunchboxes for underprivileged children with the NT$1 million,” she said.

Huang said she “fought alone” during the campaign, accompanied by senior independence advocates Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) and Su Beng (史明), as well as DPP officials Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) and Kao Chien-chih (高建智).

Huang said she was disappointed she was attacked during her campaign, being described by some as taking bribes from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or being a sidekick of former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).