Wednesday, May 30, 2012

KMT tax proposal may force policy review

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Wed, May 30, 2012 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus has rejected the Cabinet’s version of a proposal to tax capital gains on securities transactions, marking the latest move that may force President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to consider overhauling its major taxation policy.

“We will review all versions to see whether they are in line with vital principles governing imposition of taxes and examine their feasibility,” Premier Sean Chen said yesterday when asked about the KMT caucus’ move.

Military unit denies overspending on Sun Moon Lake trip

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Armed Forces Reserve Command was yesterday accused of spending more than NT$1 million (US$33,750) on a luxury tour for more than 150 retired generals and their families. The agency has denied any wrongdoing.

The command, a unit under the Ministry of National Defense, organized a tour scheduled yesterday and today to various sight-seeing spots and institutions in central Taiwan for about 180 retired generals and their families.

New DPP boss rings in changes

FRESH START:Incoming DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang has plans to re-establish the DPP’s Department of China Affairs, and representative offices in the US and Japan
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is set to officially take the party’s helm today and has already laid out several major changes to improve the party’s external relations and connections.

The DPP would re-establish a representative office in the US, as well as one in Japan, if possible, Su told reporters outside his office yesterday.

Liu offers to resign over tax uproar

DISAGREEMENTS::The finance minister said she felt she had to leave because she disagreed with a new version of a capital gains tax bill proposed by KMT lawmakers
By Shih Hsiu-chuan, Amy Su and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Wed, May 30, 2012 - Page 1

Minister of Finance Christina Liu (劉憶如) offered to resign yesterday after a capital gains tax she enthusiastically proposed was rejected by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers at a meeting on Monday.

After meeting with Premier Sean Chen yesterday evening, she reiterated her intention to resign, but added that she would wait until the Executive Yuan finds a successor.

At 10:42pm, Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) told the press that Chen had not approved Liu’s resignation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parties prepare for vote on stocks tax

MAJOR SENSITIVITIES::The PFP party whip said more discussion was needed over the bill, debate of which had already caused a fall off in stock market trading volume
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Tue, May 29, 2012 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are readying for a battle next week over the proposed capital gains tax on stock transactions that has rocked the stock market in recent weeks.

The KMT caucus is under pressure to vote in favor of the controversial tax, which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said was an integral part of his tax reform, before the end of the current legislative session next month.

Trading volume on the stock market has plummeted since the Ma administration announced its plan to impose the tax as investors wait for more details about the proposed new tax regulation.

Su extends olive branch to China

UNITY NO. 1:While the DPP’s China policy will be high on the list, the top priority for Su Tseng-chang will be to smooth over tensions among factions within the party
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will take a flexible approach to China and will re-open its department of China affairs, incoming party chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has announced, following his landslide win in Sunday’s leadership vote.

Su, who garnered 50.47 percent of the total votes in the five-man race, will assume the party’s leadership from interim chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) in a ceremony tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2012

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Su eyes presidential bid as successful DPP chairman

By Chris Wang

Yesterday could mark the beginning of the most important two years in former premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) more than three-decade political career after his convincing victory in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson election.

Although the attorney-turned-politician has never discussed the subject in public, his ambition to run for the presidency in 2016 is an open secret.

Now that he has cleared the first hurdle toward that goal, the internal and external challenges ahead will be daunting.

Economy should be like Noah’s Ark: Lee Teng-hui

TWO PILLARS:Lee stressed economic independence and technologically driven growth, and criticized the outsourcing of the nation’s manufacturing to China
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s economy should be built to resemble a vessel that is safe and durable like Noah’s Ark, rather than a Titanic that stresses speed and size and ignores the fundamentals, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) wrote in a statement yesterday.

Lee used the analogy to highlight his analysis of Taiwan’s economy in a seminar, organized by Taiwan Advocates, a think tank founded by the former president, which focused on national economic development.

Su Tseng-chang wins DPP chair vote

LANDSLIDE VICTORY:Su won 50.47% of the vote, with Su Huan-chih coming in second, at just over 21%, in an election that saw a record-high turnout of 68.62%
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday became the new chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), easily beating his four opponents in a race that could have a major impact on the future direction of the party.

Su obtained 50.47 percent of the vote by 163,808 registered members, with former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) coming a distant second, with 21.02 percent.

The 64-year-old will serve as the DPP chairperson for the second time, after a brief stint between February and December 2005.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Executive Yuan’s NCC nominees ‘ridiculous’: DPP

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan was advised to select new candidates to fill the four vacancies on the National Communications Commission (NCC) because the current nominees were “highly unqualified,” the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus said yesterday.

The Executive Yuan nominated former NCC vice chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪), a professor at National Dong Hwa University, as NCC chairperson and Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成), a professor at National Chiao Tung University, as vice chairperson.

US visa waiver ‘in October’

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said Taiwan will probably be included in the US’ visa waiver program in October.

Wu made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the Taipei Tourism Exposition.

“A total of 127 countries have lifted their visa requirement for Taiwan,” Wu said. “Let me tell you this, the US should be able to start including us in its visa waiver program around October. As tourists, we will be more respected and more welcome than before when we travel.”

Race intensifies in DPP chairpersonship contest

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

With tomorrow’s election for the chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) entering its final stage, all five candidates yesterday intensified their campaigns although former premier and frontrunner Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) continued to lead the race.

Su has been running a traditional, low-key campaign, visiting local opinion leaders and making telephone calls to seek support. According to his office, the former premier is to run advertisements in newspapers today and tomorrow.

DPP takes Ma to task on German unification idea

FLIP-FLOP:President Ma Ying-jeou said the German unification model was not applicable when he served on the MAC in 1992, the DPP’s Lin Chun-Hsien said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday repeated its call for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to withdraw his “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” proposal and said Ma “had slapped himself in the face” with his “German experience” analogy.

Ma said on Thursday that he drew inspiration from the “German experience” between East and West Germany in the 1990s, a concept of “non-recognition of each other’s sovereignty and non-denial of each other’s administrative power” when he formulated the proposal.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Create ‘financial firewall’ for banks, legislators say

‘GRAY AREAS’:Lawmakers said political uncertainty in China and ambiguities in the MOU on cross-strait financial management make a Banking Act amendment necessary
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers across party lines yesterday proposed an amendment to demand financial independence for Taiwanese banks’ overseas branches, in particular those in China, amid fears of a negative impact on Taiwan’s economy in potential future crises.

Local banks are allowed to establish overseas branches in countries that have signed free-trade agreements with Taiwan, but Taiwan’s financial stability could suffer a severe impact if the branches seek compensation from their head offices after a financial crisis breaks out, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財), People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) and Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a press conference.

Lee offers up prescription for Taiwan

FLEXIBILITY::The former president said he was concerned about dependence on imported energy and the Chinese market and was critical of both Ma and the DPP
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Fri, May 25, 2012 - Page 3

Loosening currency exchange rate controls, reducing dependence on China and privatizing state companies were some of the items on former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) prescription list to help the nation’s ailing economy, which he discussed in recent interviews with the media.

In interviews with the Chinese-language Journalist and Wealth magazines, published on Wednesday and yesterday respectively, Lee shared his views on the political and economic situation in Taiwan as well as his observations on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.

DPP lawmakers say civil servant obstructing them

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday accused an official at the legislature of impeding their efforts to obtain documents on at least four controversial issues, saying it constituted “handicapping” behavior within the legislature.

Legislative Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Chester Chou (周萬來) had refused to assist the operations of four document-request panels established by various legislative committees during the current session, DPP legislators Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) told a press conference.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ma’s second term to have no ‘honeymoon period’

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has not enjoyed a “honeymoon period” after his re-inauguration, with the latest public opinion poll showing that the president’s approval rate remains a dismal 22.7 percent.

Ma’s approval rating has fallen 2.4 percent since the first Taiwan Mood Barometer Survey (TMBS) was released on May 11, according to Taiwan Indicators Research Survey, which conducts the bimonthly poll, which covers a range of economic and political issues.

Independence vote likely divided in DPP election

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Civic groups are still hoping a last-minute deal will cut the number of independence-minded candidates from three to one before the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson election on Sunday.

The call came after former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) predicted yesterday that former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) would win the election.

“With only four days left, we hope to work something out,” Taiwan Society president Wu Shu-min (吳樹民) told a press conference organized by Taiwan Nation Alliance (TNA), a coalition of pro--independence groups.

VAC belittled itself for China: DPP lawmakers

‘LOCAL TABOOS’:Two recreational farms removed references to government agencies from promotional material when they visited a travel fair in China last year
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers yesterday accused the Veterans Affairs Commission (VAC) of belittling itself with its recommendation that recreational farms remove the names of government agencies from their titles and in their promotional material to avoid “offending” Chinese tourists and the government in Beijing.

The commission said in its January report on the nation’s participation at the Chinese International Travel Mart in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China, in October last year that the wording on promotional material should not violate “local taboos,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Tsai Chih-chang (蔡其昌) and Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) told a press conference yesterday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Capital gains tax is not likely to pass this session: Wang

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Amendments to impose a capital gains tax on securities transactions are unlikely to clear the legislature before it goes into recess next month, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Democratic Progressive Party whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said yesterday.

The Chinese-language United Daily News reported yesterday that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus would try to move the legislation in the current session given President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) determination to impose the tax.

Former DPP chairman goes on a hunger strike

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) yesterday finished the first day of his hunger strike in front of the legislature after receiving no response from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to three demands he made on Sunday.

The 70-year-old Hsu said he would not back down until Ma concedes.

Taiwan a ‘bastion of hope’: US lawmakers

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

US representatives visiting Taiwan yesterday brushed off talk of the US “abandoning” Taiwan, saying that would be a betrayal of US commitments to liberty.

The abandonment of Taiwan would mean “more than losing a strategic ally” to the US and would also betray the US’ -commitment to liberty, US Representative Thaddeus McCotter said in a question-and-answer session during a forum with young people in Taipei organized by the Formosa Foundation.

Ma’s speech vague, conflicting: analysts

SELF-CONTRADICTORY:The president suggested setting up a free-trade area with China, but also said he wanted to join a free-trade group meant to contain China
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inaugural speech on Sunday was vague, conflicting and cliched, addressing neither what should be done to solve domestic economic woes nor uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty, political analysts told a forum yesterday.

Monday, May 21, 2012

MA’S RE-INAUGURATION: Nationwide anti-Ma protests continue

CHARACTER BUILDING:At Longshan Temple in Taipei and Taichung Park in Greater Taichung, protesters lay on the ground to spell out the Chinese character for ‘anger’
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Protests against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reached a climax yesterday as people across the nation came out and demonstrated, despite heavy rain, to voice their anger as Ma was inaugurated for his second four-year term. The series of nationwide protests were organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).

The day began with hundreds of protesters throwing eggs at two giant posters of Ma and demanding that he apologize and that Premier Sean Chen step down during a rally organized by the TSU at Huashan Park (華山公園) in Taipei.

MA’S RE-INAUGURATION: Hsu Hsin-liang threatens an indefinite hunger strike

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) began a one-man protest in front of the Legislative Yuan yesterday and gave President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a 24-hour deadline to respond to public grievances, threatening an indefinite hunger strike if Ma failed to answer.

Hsu, 70, asked Ma for affirmative responses on three issues — freezing fuel and electricity prices, keeping the ban on US beef imports containing ractopamine residues and a presidential pardon for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is in prison for corruption — before 3pm today.

MA’S RE-INAUGURATION: Opposition voices displeasure with president’s speech

By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters
Mon, May 21, 2012 - Page 1

Opposition parties in both camps yesterday sniped at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for an inauguration speech they said came well short of meeting people’s expectations.

Leading the attacks, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Ma’s speech turned a deaf ear to public discontent with his policies and said it would launch a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet, as well as a series of recall attempts.

DPP interim chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) told a press conference at the legislature that DPP lawmakers would launch a motion of no confidence and demand a complete reshuffle of the Cabinet after the Ma administration announced that all top Cabinet members would be retained.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

MA’S RE-INAUGURATION: Thousands take part in anti-Ma rally

JUST RUMOR::Despite suggestions that People First Party Chairman James Soong might make an appearance at the protests to highlight cross-party support, he was a no-show
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Sun, May 20, 2012 - Page 1

Tens of thousands of people called for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to apologize for his poor performance over the past four years on the eve of his re-inauguration yesterday in a mass protest in Taipei that took place amid intermittent rain.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which organized the rally, estimated that about 150,000 people took part in the protest, which marched under the banner: “Hard times: The president owes the public an explanation.”

“We do not ask much. We are only asking for a responsible president who will defend Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy and an efficient government,” former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at a rally held at the intersection of Beiping E Road and Linsen N Road to conclude the night.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lee focuses on disabled

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Chiayi County

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday concluded his second trip to southern Taiwan in as many months with a visit to a disabled girl he adopted 15 years ago.

Lee, 89, visited the Sacred Heart-Francis Home, which is now known as the Mindao Home, located in Puzih City (朴子), Chiayi County, yesterday afternoon.

The visit concluded his three-day trip to southern Taiwan, the main purpose of which was to observe agricultural development.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lee declines invitation to Ma’s inauguration

NO SHOW:The 89-year-old former president said he would rather offer his experience than resort to ‘extreme’ measures to embarrass Ma Ying-jeou
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Chiayi City

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday he had declined an invitation to attend President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration ceremony on Sunday as “a form of silent protest” about Ma’s policies.

Speaking at a press conference in Greater Tainan, the 89-year-old said he was aware that a series of massive protests would coincide with the ceremony and added that people have the right to voice their opinion.

However, as a former president, he said he would rather offer his experience to Ma than resort to “extreme ways” to embarrass the incumbent president.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lee Teng-hui visits Chiayi, Tainan

‘VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION’:The former president said that if the government did not grant subsidies, farmers should take to the streets — and he would join them
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Greater Tainan

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday began a three-day trip to agricultural areas in Chiayi and Tainan in the hope of understanding more about the sector, which used to be Taiwan’s pride, but has been facing numerous challenges in recent years.

This was the 89-year-old’s second trip to southern Taiwan, after a visit to Greater Kaohsiung and Pingtung County last month. He has been recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in November last year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Concerns over Ma’s May 20 speech abound at forum

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman and representative to the US Joseph Wu, left, and Taiwan Brain Trust chairman Wu Rong-i take part in a panel discussion in Taipei yesterday about what President Ma Ying-jeou may say when he is inaugurated for his second term on Sunday.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would be making a serious and irreversible mistake if he succumbed to Chinese pressure and included the “one country, two areas” (一國兩區) proposal in his inauguration speech for his second term on Sunday, political analysts said yesterday.

KMT lawmakers block recall proposal

MONKEY BUSINESS?A motion to impeach the president was voted off the agenda after opposition legislators withdrew from yesterday’s Procedure Committee meeting
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday blocked the opposition’s proposal to impeach President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — five days before the end of Ma’s first term. The KMT’s move drew criticism from opposition lawmakers, who argued that the vote was illegal and unconstitutional.

The legislature’s 19-member Procedure Committee voted the motion off the legislative agenda by a 9-0 vote.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Groups organize eight-day demonstration against Ma

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

More than 30 pro-independence organizations yesterday began an eight-day rally calling for the release of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and protesting against what they regard as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) poor performance.

Gathered in front of the Taipei Railway Station, the civic groups released a nine-point statement on a wide range of issues, including freezing fuel and electricity prices, keeping the ban on beef imports containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine, Chen’s release from jail, the elimination of nuclear power, amendments to the Referendum Act (公投法), reform of the electoral system, self-determination for Taiwan and ending “inappropriate” land expropriation.

Tsai says she may be an ‘option’ for 2016

ATTACK ON MA:Former Democratic Progressive party chairperson Tsai Ing-wen said in a TV interview that President Ma Ying-jeou should stop behaving as a one-man show
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) revealed her interest in running for the presidency again in 2016 for the first time since losing in January’s presidential election, saying in a television interview aired last night that she would make herself an “option.”

“As a politician, I will continue to make myself an option,” Tsai said in response to a question on whether she plans to run again in four years in an interview with Sanlih television, the first she has given since the election.

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Su’s past proves divisive

‘SPLIT VOTE’::The other four candidates for DPP chairperson may form an ‘anti-Su’ front, but they have also split the ‘anti-Su’ vote, a party official said
By Chris Wang 王思捷  /  Staff reporter
Mon, May 14, 2012 - Page 3

Everything has been proceeding as planned for former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), tipped as the favorite to win the May 27 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson election, despite what looks like the other candidates repeatedly ganging up to attack him.

While the senior politician might have disapproved of the collaborative “anti-Su” effort of the last televised debate on Saturday, he remained unruffled by a series of accusations which questioned his integrity and even his humanity — perhaps because he knows he is too strong to be defeated.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tsai’s office denies a fugitive assisted with her campaign

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The office of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) denied a media report saying that a fugitive had spent NT$50 million (US$1.7 million) to aid her campaign in the January presidential election.

The Chinese-language China Times Weekly magazine reported this week that former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) family physician Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥), who lives in California, mobilized and compensated overseas Taiwanese to return and vote for Tsai in the Jan. 14 election.

Su Tseng-chang feels the heat in DPP leadership debate

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), the hotly tipped favorite in the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) chairperson election, was on the defensive yesterday in the final televised debate ahead of the May 27 vote, after his detractors focused on a series of incidents that brought into question his integrity and humanity.

The heated discussion between the five candidates was led by former DPP chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), who was accused of turning the political contest into an “anti-Su” event.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Survey reflects Ma’s falling popularity

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 1

More than half of respondents in a survey published yesterday said that if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were a brand, his brand personality would be that of an “over-packaged product” with “exaggerated claims of effectiveness.”

The three most chosen descriptions of Ma’s brand were all negative, with 60.6 percent of participants saying Ma was “over-packaged,” 53.3 percent saying his abilities were “exaggerated” and 38.5 percent seeing him as “an expired, deteriorating product” in the survey conducted by research firm Taiwan Indicators Survey Research.

Cabinet resigns, premier hints at return

‘VERY SMALL RESHUFFLE’::The premier said at the Cabinet meeting that reform would always face opposition, so the government needed to explain and defend its policies
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 1

Embattled Premier Sean Chen yesterday hinted that he planned to continue in his post and that there could be a “very small” Cabinet reshuffle as a handful of officials return to academia, following President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration for his second term on May 20.

Chen made the remarks after he led the Cabinet in resigning en masse yesterday, a move that is in line with constitutional practice, ahead of the swearing-in of the president.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Electoral system needs to be reformed: opposition

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Reform of the electoral system to increase both space and resources for minor political parties is required for the long-term development of Taiwan’s democracy, advocates said yesterday.

“Give them [smaller political parties] more opportunities and air to breathe,” People First Party (PFP) Legislator Chang Show-foong (張曉風) told a press conference organized by opposition party representatives.

DPP urges look into Ma, Wu’s roles in musical controversy

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday called on the judiciary to step up its investigation into President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) involvement in allegations of misuse of NT$215 million (US$7.3 milion) of public funds to stage the musical Dreamers (夢想家) last year.

“We urge prosecutors, as well as the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division [SID], to investigate possible misconduct by Ma and Wu,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

DPP lawmaker demands that CPC show documents

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Having a monopoly on local liquefied natural gas (LNG) allows CPC Corp, Taiwan to reap extravagant profits and is likely a factor in electricity prices, a lawmaker said yesterday.

“CPC should disclose all the documents related to its overseas LNG purchases and domestic sales amid the hotly debated controversy over recent hikes of fuel and electricity prices,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told a press conference.

Recover stolen medal: lawmaker

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) yesterday urged the government to use the cross-strait judicial assistance agreement to recover a military decoration allegedly stolen by a Chinese tourist in Kinmen.

Chiu also demanded the Kinmen County Government apologize to the family of the late general Hu Lian (胡璉) after his Order of Blue Sky and White Sun medal was stolen on Friday from a sealed display case at an historic building in Kinmen.

Scrap computer disposal fees, subsidies: lawmaker

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The government should eliminate the practice of charging manufacturers for the recycling, clearance and disposal of desktop and laptop computers and subsidizing recycling companies, a lawmaker said yesterday.

As a measure to promote computer recycling, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been charging the fee for every computer manufactured in Taiwan and subsidizing certified recycling companies for years, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference.

Hsuehshan tunnel speed limit dropped after deaths

PUTTING THE BRAKES ON::The National Freeway Bureau has temporarily lowered the speed limit on southbound lanes due to damage to lighting in a stretch of the tunnel
By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter
Wed, May 09, 2012 - Page 1

The National Freeway Bureau yesterday temporarily lowered the speed limit on southbound lanes in the Hsuehshan Tunnel to 80kph after a collision killed two people and injured 31 on Monday, adding that it would consider a permanent reduction in the speed limit inside the tunnel.

The bureau said the accident occurred when a small truck with a blown tire caused a large bus behind it to slam on the brakes. A small passenger car then ran into the bus after it was shunted by another bus and caught fire.

Distracted or drunken motorists face new fines

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Drivers and motorcyclists using handheld mobile phones or electronic devices while on the road face fines of NT$3,000 and NT$1,000 respectively after the legislature approved a series of amendments to the Act Governing the Punishment of Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) yesterday.

The updated regulations also increased the penalties for drunk-driving offenses.

KMT caucus blocks Cabinet proposal

NO SECURITIES TAX::Despite President Ma, the Cabinet and Minister of Finance Liu pushing the tax amendment, the KMT caucus went against their wishes in delaying it
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Wed, May 09, 2012 - Page 1

The Executive Yuan yesterday suffered a setback to a major policy for a second consecutive day when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators refused to place on the legislative agenda an amendment imposing taxes on income earned from securities.

On behalf of the KMT caucus, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) proposed delaying review of the amendment at the legislature’s Procedure Committee meeting, which -determined items on the agendas of the plenary session for Friday and Tuesday next week.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lawmakers argue over little league

KNOWING THE RULES:A baseball team from New Taipei City were disqualified from a tournament as two players failed to bring ID, but only after they were allowed to play
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The controversial disqualification of a junior baseball team from a tournament has prompted protests in Greater Tainan and New Taipei City (新北市) and is now pitting two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers against one another.

The New Taipei City team was disqualified from the Hsieh Guo-cheng Cup junior baseball tournament for boys aged 11 and 12 on May 1 because two of their players forgot to bring their ID card as required, but were nevertheless allowed to stay in the tourney, and went on to defeat Greater Tainan two games in a row on Thursday and Friday to win the competition.

Taiwan Solidarity Union plans for people to egg ‘Ma’

MARCHING SEASON:The TSU protest follows a DPP protest, while more protests by the Taiwan National Alliance, Hakka groups and others are also planned
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and civic groups yesterday urged supporters to participate in various protests to be held around President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration ceremony on May 20 to voice their discontent with the administration.

At a massive protest at Huashan 1914 Creative Park, arranged by the TSU for the morning of May 20, people will be invited to throw eggs at a giant LCD screen broadcasting Ma’s inauguration ceremony, TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said.

Debt clock rises for sixth month

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

While President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) takes every opportunity to boast about his frugality, the national debt clock shows national finances deteriorating, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

As of the end of last month, the national debt clock stood at NT$5.23 trillion (US$178.37 billion), or an average debt of NT$225,000 per person, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

It also represented the sixth monthly increase in a row.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Second DPP debate more vibrant affair

ROUGH AND TUMBLE::Hsu Hsin-liang said Su Tseng-chang had never made any effort at cross-strait relations, which was why he had no policy proposals to offer
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Mon, May 07, 2012 - Page 3

Attacks on former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday over-shadowed the second debate for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson election, which was held in Greater Taichung.

In the second of three televised debates before the May 27 election, three academics posed questions to the five candidates in the question-and-answer session, which was supposed to focus on cross-strait issues and national security affairs.

However, candidates seemed to take criticism to heart after the first debate on April 30 was widely described as “lukewarm” and “dull.”

Friday, May 04, 2012

Officials propose food bank

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers are proposing an amendment to the Public Assistance Act (社會救助法) and the establishment of a national food bank to help 260,000 low-income households nationwide.

“If the legislation is passed, Taiwan will become the 22nd country with a food bank network,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told a press conference yesterday.

The proposed amendment to Article 11 of the act would provide the government with a legal basis to help those in need with resources other than a cash subsidy, Lin said.

Academics highlight threats to media freedom

‘RED HAND’:Aside from embedded Chinese advertisements in local news, Beijing-based Taiwanese reporters have also taken to practicing self-censorship, a forum says
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Academics and journalists yesterday expressed concern about the threats to Taiwanese media of an increasing concentration of ownership and Chinese influence.

Various incidents in the past year showed “it’s time the government exercised its power to deal with increasing Chinese influence, concentration of ownership and the media impunity issue,” National Taiwan University professor Flora Chang (張錦華) said at a conference hosted by the Association of Taiwan Journalists on World Press Freedom Day yesterday.

DPP march to focus on public grievances

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday announced details of a planned mass rally on May 19 to protest against what it calls President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) poor performance.

The protest, which will take place one day before Ma’s second-term inauguration, is expected to attract 100,000 people marching under the theme “Hard times, president [owes public an] explanation (日子歹過,總統踹共),” DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) and DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

The protest will press three demands: that the Ma administration freeze fuel and electricity prices, keep the ban on beef imports containing the animal feed additive ractopamine and withdraw the “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” proposal, Lin said.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

New electricity rate plan draws mixed reactions

POLICY FLIP-FLOP::While some lawmakers lauded the change, others called for a further delay in the date of implementation or completely axing the plan
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Thu, May 03, 2012 - Page 1

While President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) announcement late on Tuesday of the government’s plan of a more gradual series of electricity price increases won praise yesterday for heeding the public’s complaints, opposition politicians said the rate increase would be unnecessary if state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) underwent complete reform.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) commended Ma and Premier Sean Chen for sympathizing with people who would feel the added economic burden and for being willing to revise the planned rate increase.

Groups call for revision of NHI

ILLOGICAL SYSTEM:Not only are the planned premiums unfair, they may be unconstitutional, civic groups said yesterday at a conference that discussed the issues
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The forthcoming second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) program is unworkable and unfair, academics and civic groups said yesterday, calling for a premium based on household income when the program begins in January.

The supplementary premiums, which were added to the proposed new NHI program after the National Health Insurance Act (NHIA, 全民健康保險法) was amended, use different rates for different groups and income categories, Taiwan Women’s Link president Huang Shu-ying (黃淑英) said at a public hearing organized by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國).

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

TSU planning no confidence vote against Cabinet

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday announced that it would launch a no-confidence vote against the Cabinet, saying President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “failed policies” after his re-election are “too much to take” for the public.

TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said his party would appeal for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) support on the vote in the legislature.

Electricity hike no solution: DPP

MANY ILLS:Taipower’s poor performance and deals with independent power producers must be looked into before rates can be raised, the DPP says
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday that the government’s about-face on raising electricity rates is not the correct solution to state-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) problems and the party would submit its own proposal to remedy the company’s loss-making performance.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) appeared to have taken a step back from its original plan of a one-off electricity price increase by more than 30 percent on May 15, as it hinted at the possibility of a staggered increase to reduce the public’s financial burden and assuage public anger.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

New educational system pleases no one, the DPP says

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A project by the Ministry of Education to implement 12-year compulsory education could be doomed because it is trying to please everybody, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday.

The pioneering program, which aims to ease students’ burdens and ensure social justice, appears to be fundamentally flawed as it neither eliminates the examination-based school entry system nor the so-called “star schools,” six DPP lawmakers on the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee said at a press conference yesterday.

Lawmaker pans Cabinet amendment to food act

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan’s proposed amendment to the food safety law is “ridiculous” and may be questioned in the WTO, a lawmaker said yesterday.

The Cabinet’s proposed change to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to ease restrictions on the entry of US beef could be tantamount to the government shooting itself in the foot, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a press conference.

DPP warns Ma against concessions in speech

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should not make any concessions as a result of Chinese pressure on Taiwan’s sovereignty in his inauguration speech for his second term on May 20, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

Media reported yesterday that Beijing had pressured Ma to change his “no unification” pledge to saying that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to “one China” in his speech.

Wave of protesters demand apology from president

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilors yesterday staged a sit-in on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei, urging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to apologize for his policy on US beef imports and to re-freeze fuel and electricity prices, vowing sustained protests if he fails to take action.

“We will not leave until Ma apologizes. We will keep coming back here even if we are forced to leave,” Greater Tainan City Councilor Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said.

The sit-in marked the first of a series of protests to come before and on May 20 against Ma’s poor performance. The DPP also plans to launch petitions to recall Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators in their constituencies, Wang said.

Workers in dire straits, opposition says

STAGNANCY:Pan-green lawmakers said two workers die from overwork every 15 days, 26% have no savings and wages have increased by only NT$15 since 2008
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Workers will not be in much of a mood to celebrate Workers’ Day today because they have to endure stagnant wages and worsening working conditions, pan-green lawmakers said yesterday.

Labor statistics are alarming, with the average wages of Taiwanese workers on the same level they were in 1999 and two workers dying from overwork every 15 days on average, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.