Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DPP seeks to fix transitional justice mistakes

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang, left, and executive director of the DPP’s Policy Research Committee Joseph Wu listen during a forum on transitional justice organized by the party in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) use of transitional justice as a campaign tool to gain favor in the past cost it the public’s support over the issue, a senior DPP official said yesterday.

Lawmakers ambivalent on budget cuts

LEGAL STANDING:The Taiwan Solidarity Union said that it supported the proposal to reduce the subsidies budget for lawmakers because it was ‘unjust and unfair’
By Shih Hsiu-chuan, Chris Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporters

A proposal by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) to slash NT$200 million (US$6.83 million) from the subsidies budget for lawmakers yesterday was given the cold shoulder by most of his party comrades.

Tsai recently proposed that nine subsidy payments of NT$1.7 million per year for each lawmaker be cut, saying they were not enshrined in the law.

At a meeting called by the 64-seat caucus to discuss Tsai’s proposal yesterday, only five lawmakers out of 49 present supported the idea.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Independence advocate proposes new framework

FRESH THINKING:Koo believes his new cross-strait framework could be accepted because it promotes relations similar to the US, UK and Canada
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Senior Taiwan independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) yesterday unveiled his proposal for a “nations of brotherhood” (兄弟之邦) framework to solve cross-strait relations and establish peace and stability.

The 87-year-old former presidential adviser explained his initiative with a full-page advertisement in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) yesterday.

US election will not affect Taiwan: academics

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The result of the upcoming US presidential election is unlikely to impact triangular relations between Taiwan, China and the US, academics said yesterday, but urged Taiwan to take a proactive approach in maximizing its role in the US’ pivot to Asia.

The US’ longstanding position on maintaining the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait is not likely to change regardless of who wins the presidency next month, Joanne Chang (裘兆琳), a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of European and American Studies, told a forum on the impact of the US elections on trilateral relations.

Three ex-officers arrested for spying

SPY GAMES::The DPP and the KMT condemned the incident, saying national security had been imperiled, but defense officials played down the gravity of potential effects
By Rich Chang and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters, with Agencies
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - Page 1

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday confirmed that three retired military officers had been arrested on suspicion of spying for China, in what legislators described as one of the nation’s worst cases of espionage.

The Ministry of National Defense said that Commander Chang Chih-hsin (張祉鑫), former director of the political warfare department of Naval Meteorological & Oceanographic Office (METOC), was indicted by military prosecutors on suspicion of working as an agent for the Chinese.

Poll shows Ma’s approval rating at its lowest yet

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) credibility and approval ratings have hit new lows and very few people give Ma credit for improving Taiwan’s sluggish economy, a public opinion poll showed yesterday.

The embattled president’s popularity continues to slide, with his approval rating hitting its lowest point, 15.2 percent, since he was inaugurated for his first term in May 2008.

Ma’s disapproval rating, 76.6 percent, was also the highest recorded during the same span, a survey conducted by Taiwan Indicator Research Survey (TIRS) on Wednesday and Thursday last week found.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tsai talks economy, 2014 election during US visit

‘CHRONIC SUICIDE’:The DPP heavyweight said she had no plans to run in the seven-in-one elections and blasted the government’s ‘suicidal’ China-centric economic policies
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen said in Los Angeles on Saturday that she has no plans to run in Taipei during the seven-in-one elections in 2014.

Tsai, who arrived in the US on Saturday for a two-week visit, made the comment in response to media inquiries on the sidelines of a Los Angeles Taiwan Center fundraising dinner, local media reported.

Academics urge wartime research

LEST WE FORGET:Several academics at a forum yesterday stressed the importance of promoting World War II history so a Taiwanese perspective on the war could be formed
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Too little effort has been made in Taiwan to research the role the country played in the Pacific Theater of World War II, wasting an opportunity to establish wartime history from a Taiwanese perspective, academics said at a seminar yesterday.

“There are many relics, preserved or faded away, and stories, told or untold, in Taiwan that preserve the memory of war, but most people often talk about World War II like it happened elsewhere,” National Chengchi University historian Tai Pao-tsun (戴寶村) said at the seminar, which was focused on history in Taiwan between 1941 and 1949.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lawmakers want Orchid Island probe

FIGHTING BACK:An official said that all maintenance and inspection of nuclear waste on Orchid Island has been carried out according to the AEC’s regulations
By Chris Wang AND JAKE CHUNG  /  Staff reporter and staff writer, with CNA

Legislators yesterday demanded that the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) and state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) immediately launch investigations into alleged malpractice concerning nuclear waste repackaging on Lanyu (蘭嶼, also known as Orchid Island) and conduct health examinations on the island’s residents over fears of possible radiation leaks.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) and Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) showed a video at a press conference in Taipei that they said showed Taipower’s examination and repackaging of corroded waste drums was carried out in the open, which could lead to radiation leakage.

Tsai lays out her economic recovery vision

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday expressed serious concerns about worsening government finances and outlined her vision to revive the nation’s economy.

The government has to respond quickly and effectively to address short-term as well as medium to long-term crises, because “no one would help Taiwan but itself,” Tsai said in an article posted on the Web site of her Thinking Taiwan Foundation.

EDITORIAL: Cherish this anti-nuclear opportunity

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 8

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) recently spoke on the Diaoyutais dispute and also gave up her NT$270,000 year-end bonus in the wake of the controversy over year-end bonuses for retired government employees. Lu’s actions won praise for setting an example for civil-service retirees, and her assertions and knowledge regarding the disputed islands were clear and admirable. However, it could be her efforts on an anti-nuclear referendum in New Taipei City (新北市) that go down in history as her most important legacy.

The New Taipei City Council’s passage of the Act Governing New Taipei Referendums (新北市公民投票自治條例) on June 25, the first referendum law at the local level in Taiwan, made it possible for residents to have a say on local matters via referendums.

Ex-Cabinet secretary-general indicted

CORRUPTION::Lin Yi-shih, his mother and his wife were charged in the bribery case, but a legislator questioned why investigators had never subpoenaed Lin’s father
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters, with CNA
Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 1

Former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) was indicted yesterday on corruption-related charges, prosecutors said.

Lin was accused of demanding bribes, pocketing about NT$60 million (US$2 million) in bribes, concealing illegal gains and keeping unaccountable assets, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID) said.

Although prosecutors did not seek a specific sentence for Lin, the crime of accepting bribes alone carries a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DPP, TSU pan Ma over economy vow

FEEL BETTER?Under pressure to revive the economy, Ma said on Sept. 24 the government could achieve ‘improved well-being and a better economic situation in a month’
By Chris Wang, Chiu Yen-ling and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The deadline has passed and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has failed to deliver on his promise to give Taiwanese economic progress within 30 days, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.

Under pressure to revive the moribund economy and amid widespread discontent, Ma said on Sept. 24 that the government could achieve “improved well-being and a better economic situation in a month.”

Analysts praise Hsieh’s visit to China at forum

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Analysts at a forum yesterday gave former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) China visit positive responses and said it could be the catalyst for the transformation of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) China policy and pave the way for Beijing’s eventual recognition of the Republic of China (ROC).

“With the ‘constitutions with different interpretations (憲法各表)’ initiative, Hsieh was the first DPP politician to present an initiative on a framework for cross-strait relations,” former DPP lawmaker Julian Kuo (郭正亮) told the forum, organized by the Taiwan Development and Cultural Interchange Association and backed by Hsieh’s Taiwan Reform Foundation.

Ma touts Chen’s ‘wise’ budget proposal

BONE OF CONTENTION::While the Cabinet has promoted a scaled down year-end- bonus program, the DPP has called for it to be scrapped entirely, saying it is not legal
By Mo Yan-chih  and Chris Wang /  Staff reporters
Thu, Oct 25, 2012 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday touted Premier Sean Chen’s proposal to slash the year-end bonus budget for retired government employees as a wise and quick decision in response to mounting calls for a fairer pension mechanism for civil servants.

“Premier Chen presented the adjustment plan within a week after legislators raised the issue last week. It’s a fast and wise plan that was made to uphold the principle of caring for the disadvantaged and the loyal veterans,” said Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, when presiding over the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee meeting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Media influences judges most, not politics: experts

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

As they face public demand for judicial reform, the most pressing issue for Taiwan’s judges and prosecutors is not how to resist political interference, but how to deal with scrutiny from the public and media, judiciary employees told a forum yesterday.

Contrary to what most people think, political interference in judicial processes is “almost non-existent and impossible” in all but a few cases, a judge, a prosecutor and a former Judicial Yuan secretary-general said.

Premier to slash the budget for divisive bonuses

By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters

Premier Sean Chen yesterday said a provisional plan by the Cabinet would trim the number of retired government employees who qualify to receive a year-end bonus to two categories of people, adding that the revised plan would bring down the budget for the bonuses.

In response to the controversy over the bonuses, Chen said it would only be available to two groups of people — retirees or the family of deceased retirees who receive a monthly pension of less than NT$20,000 and retirees who were killed, injured or disabled in wars or on military exercises.

Tsai calls for talks to fix ‘inequality’ of pension programs

DISTRIBUTIVE ISSUE:The DPP heavyweight said that the government had to urgently discuss the unequal distribution of the nation’s resources
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Given the various controversies over the nation’s pension programs that have arisen recently, it is time for a thorough inter-party review on the retirement program to be held, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

“The recent controversies surrounding the Labor Pension Fund and the year-end bonus granted to retired government employees have highlighted the issue of fairness in the nation’s distribution of its national resources,” Tsai said in a statement.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Former employee accuses HTC of labor malpractice

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A man surnamed Chiu (邱) yesterday accused smartphone manufacturer HTC of illegally laying off hundreds of part-time workers in July.

Chiu was one of hundreds of part-time employees fired without warning by HTC, who never signed contracts with them, he said at a press conference organized by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君).

Opposition counts down to Ma’s pledge deadline

‘ON A CLOUD’:Ma promised last month to improve the economy within one month, which pan-green politicians say shows the administration is detached from reality
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Pan-green camp politicians yesterday began a 48-hour countdown to the date that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) promised Taiwanese economic progress, saying they were not optimistic.

Under pressure to revive the moribund economy and amid widespread discontent, Ma said on Sept. 24 that the government could achieve “improved well-being and a better economic situation in a month.”

“We feel a sense of pain, antipathy and disgust,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference in the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

DPP lawmakers slam first family perks

VIP TREATMENT:Several legislators have demanded that the president apply his past critiques about special interest rates on pensions for civil servants to himself
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) for benefiting from preferential interest rates on their pensions and urged the first family to lead by example as part of the administration’s drive to reform preferential treatment of civil servants.

“When Ma criticizes others for receiving preferential treatment, he should look at himself in the mirror,” Democratic Progressive party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference.

Ministry slammed over pension fund

SLIP OF THE TONGUE?:The Minister of Civil Service said critics of benefits granted to people on government payrolls and their retirement bonus were ‘green with envy’
By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 1

Lawmakers yesterday blasted the Ministry of Civil Service over what they said was its mismanagement of the Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF), which is NT$28.4 billion (US$972 million) in the red.

The fund has had an annual average loss of NT$7.35 billion and an investment return rate of minus-1.3 percent since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in 2008, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.

DPP supports abolishing controversial pension bonus

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said it supported reforming the controversial year-end bonus policy for retired government employees on the grounds of social justice, but hoped to minimize the reforms’ impact.

At a meeting, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), lawmakers and party officials reaffirmed the party’s support for suspending or abolishing the bonus, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said in a press release.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Poll results make grim reading for Ma

UNPOPULAR:Most respondents believed that the president bears responsibility for the widening gap between rich and poor, which may explain his plummeting ratings
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The results of an opinion poll released yesterday show widespread discontent and a lack of confidence in the ability of the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to resolve recent controversies involving the financial difficulties faced by various social insurance programs and year-end bonuses for retired government employees.

According to the survey conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank on Thursday and Friday, 68 percent of those polled supported the cancellation of the NT$20 billion (US$684 million) allocated annually for year-end bonuses for retired public servants, Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) of the think tank told a press conference.

Annette Lu offers to give up pension bonus

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday said she was giving up her year-end bonus in a move to uphold fairness and justice in the light of recent controversy about year-end pension bonuses to retired government employees and government fiscal difficulties.

Lu said in a press release that she would give up the one-and-a-half-month bonus to facilitate reforms on benefits for civil servants, military personnel and teachers.

Renaming should start locally: professor

BABY STEPS:Lo Cheng-chung said that ‘rectification’ of Chinese to Taiwanese names for localities could be undertaken in municipalities governed by the DPP
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

While large-scale renaming and constitutional changes may seem impossible, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) could initiate small-scale renaming programs in the counties and cities it governs to build Taiwanese identity, a professor told a seminar yesterday.

Addressing the limitations of renaming and Constitution-making under the framework of the Republic of China (ROC), Chungyo Institute of Technology professor Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗) said the DPP and pro-independence supporters should “take one small step at a time” due to the difficulty of going up against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-dominated legislature and the ROC system.

Friday, October 19, 2012

DPP calls for Labor Fund rescue

UNFAIR REFORM::The CLA has proposed solutions to the bankruptcy facing the fund, but legislators said these would result in higher premiums and lower pensions
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - Page 1

Uniform treatment should be adopted toward all pension fund programs to uphold the principles of justice and fairness, and the benefits of more than 9 million workers should not be sacrificed to save the Labor Pension Fund from bankruptcy, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said yesterday.

“In comparison with the policyholders in pension funds for military personnel, public servants and teachers, policyholders in the Labor Pension Fund, which reportedly faces bankruptcy in 2027, are not treated fairly,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

Tsai Ing-wen calls for support for nuclear referendum

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday called for public support for an anti-nuclear referendum proposal in New Taipei City (新北市), saying that only by applying pressure would the government feel the urgency to revise its energy policy.

“As a New Taipei City resident, I call on everyone’s support to make it a successful referendum, which would create a sense of urgency for the government to revamp its energy policy to handle Taiwan’s mid and long-term energy needs,” Tsai said.

Editorial: Ma’s policies a threat to stability

Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - Page 8

Retired civil servants’ year-end bonuses, which cost taxpayers more than NT$20 billion (US$684.7 million) annually without legislative oversight or an executive order, and which were not revealed to the public until recently, are obviously unfair to ordinary citizens. More than that, the issue poses concerns and potential threats to society. While it does not sound correct that retired civil servants receive a year-end bonus while many other full-time workers do not, the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration has insisted that the benefits be retained because they have been a “customary practice” for many years.

Meanwhile, more than 9 million workers recently found out that the Labor Pension Fund is headed for bankruptcy in 2027 and the administrative branch, which violated a legislative resolution in 2008 demanding that the government allocate budgets for hidden losses incurred through poor investments, has also rejected a Council of Labor Affairs request for a bill to legislate for a budget allocation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Legislator echoes worries of China in telecoms sector

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) yesterday cited a US congressional report on China’s Huawei Technologies (華為技術) and ZTE Inc (中興通訊) and warned that allowing Chinese investment in the telecommunication sector could pose serious threats to national security.

“Despite a US congressional panel warning on Huawei and ZTE’s security threat, Taiwan is considering opening Type I telecommunications enterprises to Chinese investment. We strongly oppose that,” Hsu told a press conference.

Cabinet ad pulled from YouTube

‘INAPPROPRIATE’::The ad was meant to promote the government’s stimulus plan, but was flagged as ‘fraudulent’ by so many users that it and its user account were deleted
By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters
Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 1

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday described an Executive Yuan advertisement as “ridiculous” after netizens reported the ad as fraudulent to the management of video-sharing Web site YouTube, leading to its removal and the termination of the Executive Yuan’s account for “serious violation of community guidelines.”

The ad promoted the “Economic Power-up Plan,” the government’s massive stimulus plan to rejuvenate the economy, but “was a waste of taxpayers’ money and probably the worst ad in history because it told people nothing while supposedly promoting government policies,” DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) told a press conference.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ma could lead to nation’s collapse: Nan Fang Shuo

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has been careless and ignorant and its lack of correct judgement could lead to Taiwan’s collapse and “elimination” from global competition, political commentator Nan Fang Shuo (南方朔) said yesterday.

The commentator had supported Ma, but has been accusing the president of performing poorly over the past year. He was again scathing of Ma at the Open Studio forum, organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the topic of political reform.

Lawmaker accuses former NPM chief of corruption

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) yesterday accused former National Palace Museum (NPM) director Chou Kung-hsin (周功鑫) of taking bribes amounting to NT$3 million (US$102,850) from an architectural firm and said she should be prevented from leaving Taiwan.

There are suspicions that “Chou’s abrupt resignation in late July was an attempt to avoid controversy over her alleged involvement in several scandals,” Yao told a press conference yesterday.

Hsieh defends his initiative on ‘constitutions’ platform

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday defended his initiative of “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) and said the ability to manage cross-strait relations would be key for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to return to power.

Hsieh said on his weekly radio talk show that he felt sad that some of his party comrades disapproved of his recent visit to China, but said that his move has been welcomed by many others, as well as the US and Japan.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DPP outlines plan to limit investment by China in Taiwan

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would establish a mechanism to screen incoming Chinese investment if it were in power, a DPP official said yesterday, as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) pledged to further relax inbound investment from across the Taiwan Strait.

“The DPP would establish an inter-agency committee to review Chinese investment in Taiwan and bar Chinese capital from certain sectors,” Policy Research Committee executive director Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said after the party’s weekly coordination meeting.

Ex-DPP chairman lauds Hsieh’s China proposal

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Chair Su Tseng-chang and American Institute in Taiwan Director Christopher Marut talk at a meeting in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Li Hsin-fang, Taipei Times / courtesy of the Democratic Progressive Party

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) yesterday applauded former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) recent visit to China as a success and said Hsieh’s initiative of “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) would be more likely to be accepted by Beijing than the Chinese Nationalist Party’s “one China, with different interpretations.”

DPP too pro-Japan on Diaoyutais: Lu

COUNTRY FIRST:Former vice president Annette Lu warned about underestimating the importance of the islands and slammed Lee Teng-hui for saying they were Japan’s
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should re-examine its “Japan-friendly” position over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) controversy and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) made a mistake in publicly saying that the islands belong to Japan, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday.

The outspoken Lu also warned that Taiwan should never underestimate the dispute and the islands’ strategic implication, saying that if Beijing took over the Diaoyutais, its next annexation target could be Taiwan.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ma jeopardizing UN bid: critics

OFFICIAL RECOGNITION:Panelists at a forum on Taiwan’s independence said that Ma’s ‘diplomatic truce’ strategy has failed to bolster the country’s sovereignty drive
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Civic groups and academics yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for disregarding the bid for UN membership under the name Taiwan and warned that Ma’s inaction on the diplomatic front would jeopardize Taiwan’s sovereignty.

DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen plans ‘long overdue’ US trip

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that she will visit the US sometime between the end of this month and early next month for a “long overdue thank-you trip” after the January presidential election.

“I will visit major US cities in the trip to express my gratitude for overseas Taiwanese people’s support in the presidential election as well as getting to know their views about Taiwan’s future,” Tsai said.

COA pledges to safeguard rights in fishing talks

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, with CNA
Mon, Oct 15, 2012 - Page 3

The Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency yesterday said that it will protect the fishing rights and traditional fishing grounds of local fishermen at talks with Japan that could be resumed next month, despite the ongoing territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

Instead of touching upon the sensitive issue of sovereignty over the disputed island chain, defining the overlapping waters between Taiwan and Japan is to be the focus of the long-stalled 17th round of talks, the agency said.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Former VP optimistic about future anti-nuclear referendum

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday said she was optimistic an anti-nuclear referendum in New Taipei City (新北市) would be held next year to stop the operation of the yet-to-be-completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Longmen (龍門).

“The Taiwan Alliance for Green 21 is ready to submit a referendum proposal after collecting more than 16,000 signatures and is now working on the next goal of 160,000 signatures, the threshold for a referendum in New Taipei City,” Lu, founder of the alliance, said during her visit to the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) seeking support.

Frank Hsieh defends constitutions initiative

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday said his visit to China was an attempt to normalize cross-strait exchanges and reiterated that advocating “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) remained the best initiative to deal with future relations with China.

Hsieh summed up his recent landmark five-day trip to China and explained in length his initiative, which was criticized by many fellow Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members, during a 90-minute meeting with the press yesterday.

NHI subsidy for foreign students not fair: DPP

FORWARD THINKING:The current 2,000 Chinese students would not be a burden on the NHI, but the number is likely to grow rapidly, a lawmaker said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said yesterday it did not oppose the National Health Insurance (NHI) coverage for Chinese students, but the government subsidy would be unfair to Taiwanese taxpayers.

“The DPP caucus supports the coverage of Chinese students on the grounds of humanitarian values, but they should pay the full premium because they do not pay taxes,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

Friday, October 12, 2012

NHI to cover Chinese students

COVERAGE::The proposal would count Chinese students like other foreigners, with a monthly premium of NT$1,249, of which 40 percent would be paid by the government
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Fri, Oct 12, 2012 - Page 1

The Cabinet yesterday approved an amendment designed to extend National Health Insurance (NHI) coverage to Chinese students studying in Taiwan and called for the legislature to back the proposal out of “humanitarian” and “human rights” concerns.

The proposal reflected that “humanitarian and human rights were highly valued by the government,” acting Cabinet spokesperson Huang Min-kung (黃敏恭) quoted Premier Sean Chen as saying during a press conference following the meeting.

Government stance on fund undecided

POSITION UNCLEAR::DPP officials have questioned KMT government decisions on various labor and pension funds, saying they have been inconsistent
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Fri, Oct 12, 2012 - Page 3

The government’s position on looming financial distress in the Labor Insurance Fund remained unclear as various Cabinet officials offered conflicting statements on the problem since it was highlighted in a report by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) on Tuesday.

Due to the rapidly aging population, the insurance fund — which provides money for retired workers’ pensions — will begin to record a deficit in 2017, three years before the original projection, the CLA report showed.

TSU to propose changes to legislators’s rights

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus will propose that legislators are empowered with the right to investigate so they can better monitor the government, TSU legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said yesterday.

Currently lawmakers have the right of document request and to establish a document request committee in the Legislative Yuan.

Chen’s hospital statement questioned

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday agreed to stay at Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) for further examination and treatment, but a confidant said Chen was forced to do so by Taipei Prison authorities.

Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption and has been in the hospital since Sept. 21 for treatment of various complications, announced his agreement in a press release issued by his office yesterday afternoon.

Editorial:Results of Hsieh visit to be seen

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 - Page 8

While more time is needed to assess the impact of former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) visit to China, that will not stop people from analyzing an event that could change the dynamics of cross-strait politics.

Hsieh assured everyone that the trip would be a non-political, private visit, but it wasn’t. Nevertheless, he seems to be the best candidate among Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians for such a visit, since he holds no public office and takes a reasonably moderate view on China.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ma should listen to the people: Su, Tsai

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Developing a strong economy for sustainable livelihoods is the unavoidable responsibility of a national leader and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should put his money where his mouth is, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday in response to Ma’s National Day speech.

“The biggest wish of Taiwanese on National Day is to enjoy a better standard of living, rather than watching a president talking,” Su said in Lioujiao Township (六腳), Chiayi County.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Group cautions on China talks

LINES IN THE SAND:A democracy organization has questioned Frank Hsieh’s recent China trip, stating that he ‘did not have a popular mandate to engage in such talks’
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

While former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) landmark visit to China is laudable, a line needs to be drawn under cross-strait exchanges so that democracy and freedom in Taiwan can be safeguarded, a democracy advocacy group said yesterday.

“Democratic and constitutional principles should be upheld in the exchanges between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群), president of Taiwan Democracy Watch, an alliance of academics, told a press conference.

Hsieh says wanted to aid cross-strait development

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday defended his landmark visit to China, saying it was an attempt by someone with no public office or party position to move forward on positive cross-strait development, adding that he welcomed all comments and criticism.

Hsieh, returned to Taipei on Monday, and held a 90-minute talk with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday morning, briefing the latter on his visit and meetings with three high-ranking Chinese officials.

Pan-greens to snub Presidential Office National Day event

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), as well as the chairman of the People First Party (PFP), have said they will not attend the National Day ceremony in front of the Presidential Office this morning.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) turned down the invitation from the Presidential Office and is scheduled to visit Chiayi County and Yunlin County for party activities.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Frank Hsieh returns to mixed reviews

NO CONSENSUS::Most within the DPP lauded Hsieh’s efforts, but critics accused him of a lack of transparency, and his cross-strait formula has yet to win over the party
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 1

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday returned to Taipei from a five-day visit to China and described the trip as fruitful, despite Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members giving the landmark trip mixed reviews.

“We’ve achieved so much more than we expected. And we safeguarded Taiwan’s values and dignity during the trip,” Hsieh told reporters at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on his return from Beijing, where he met three senior Chinese officials in charge of Taiwan affairs over the weekend.

Hsieh, who visited China in a private capacity, became the most senior member of the former DPP administration to meet with high-ranking Chinese officials.

Most support DPP-CCP exchanges to boost relations: poll

MATTER OF OPINION:A survey has shown ex-DPP head Tsai Ing-wen is most trusted to drive Taiwan’s interests, but President Ma fared far worse in the poll
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A majority of respondents in an opinion poll released yesterday said increased exchanges between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and China would be helpful in stabilizing cross-strait relations, and picked former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as their top choice to be Taiwan’s representative in cross-strait negotiations.

The release of the survey, conducted by Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR) on Thursday and Friday, coincided with former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) return from his landmark five-day visit to China yesterday.

Freeway policy draws criticism

EAST WEST::The proposal for toll fees was lauded by some lawmakers, but criticized by others, who said it would penalize the most financially vulnerable
By Shelley Shan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 3

Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday said the ministry would spend three months evaluating various options for the rates of the new freeway toll fee, adding that the ministry would decide the date of implementation once the evaluation is complete.

The current system requires freeway drivers to pay a fee whenever they drive through toll booths, yet some freeway users may never have to drive through a toll booth and hence never pay any fees. To this end, the new “pay as you go” policy would require all freeway users to pay a toll based on the distance traveled.

Monday, October 08, 2012

DPP must address overseas relations to win votes: group

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

To return to power in 2016, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must address external relations, in particular those with Beijing, and internal competition between factions, according to a report published by the US-based think tank Jamestown Foundation.

To win in 2016, the DPP “must convince voters, Beijing and Washington that a DPP-led government can maintain cross-Strait stability. Second, it must unite behind a presidential candidate after the local and municipal elections in 2014,” said the report by Cristina Garafola, titled Four More Years: The DPP Assesses its 2012 Loss and Looks Ahead to 2016 published on Friday.

Hsieh wraps up visit after meeting top CCP officials

NOT SO PRIVATE::The former premier said his trip was not political, yet media painted it as the DPP reaching out to China, a claim the party’s chairman denied
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Mon, Oct 08, 2012 - Page 1

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) met China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in Beijing yesterday in what appeared to be the climax of his landmark five-day visit to China.

Hsieh became the most senior member of the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to meet with high-ranking Chinese officials.

The 66-year-old met with Dai, who also serves as the director of the general office of foreign affairs leadership group of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee, yesterday afternoon.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Hsieh lauds China during visit

CHANGES:The former premier acknowledged the sensitivity of the visit, but said it was important that the DPP showed it could handle Taiwan’s cross-strait interests
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A market economy with socialist characteristics has liberated productivity in China, so perhaps in the future it will similarly be able to develop a democracy with socialist characteristics, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday in Xiamen, China’s in Fujian Province.

On the first day of his first visit to China in 18 years, Hsieh said the changes in China have been phenomenal and he hoped that his visit would deepen mutual trust between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Beijing.

Social security net in need of strengthening: DPP

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday warned of recent massive layoffs in the private sector and urged the government to immediately strengthen the social security net amid a worsening economic situation.

The caucus said it would propose a conditional salary cut in the legislature today for the president, vice president, premier and all members of the Cabinet because of their poor performance.

A total of 6,852 workers in the private sector have been laid off this year as of the end of last month, a 57 percent increase compared with the same period last year, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) told a press conference, citing statistics from the Council of Labor Affairs.

China must prove its good faith to maintain peace: Su

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Only by good intentions and determination to maintain peace can China win the hearts of the Taiwanese and overcome all barriers to establish peace across the Taiwan Strait, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday on Kinmen.

“The concern about military threats [from China] — not the distance — was the barrier of the cross-strait interaction,” Su said during his visit to the island, which was once a Cold War frontline island and sustained heavy bombardment during the first Taiwan Strait crisis of 1954 and 1955.

EDITORIAL: Right sense of urgency required

The actions of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration since the beginning of Ma’s second term show how much ill-will officials with a false sense of urgency can generate in only five months.

Following his re-election, Ma wasted no time in announcing fuel and electricity price hikes, saying price subsidies were wrong and could cause the closure of state-owned Taipower and CPC Corp, Taiwan, as well as jeopardizing efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

A defiant Ma decided that his reform plan was correct and ignored public calls to tackle poor management before raising prices. The results were a general rise in commodity prices and a “misery index” — the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate — of 7.82 at the end of August. This was the highest among the four Asian Tigers of South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Chen suffering delusions, sleep apnea, doctor says

By Rich Chang and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) suffers from sleep apnea — a disorder in which breathing completely stops or is intermittent for periods of about 10 to 30 seconds — and paranoid delusions of being persecuted, Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) Superintendent Lin Fang-yue (林芳郁) said yesterday.

The imprisoned former president, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, has been in the hospital since Sept. 21 for further examination.

The TVGH is a subordinate of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Lin was requested by lawmakers to present a report at a legislative Foreign and National Defense Committee meeting yesterday.

DPP dismisses new health system levy, suggests alternative

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday called for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration to suspend the implementation of the second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) premium, saying that it is flawed, and instead urged the government to amend related regulations if necessary.

The mechanism, designed to generate revenue for the financially-stricken NHI, would not achieve its NT$23.6 billion (US$805 million) goal, DPP lawmakers Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) and Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) told a press conference.

Frank Hsieh to depart on historic China trip today

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is set to embark on a symbolic yet controversial visit to China today for what has been described as an “ice breaking” trip to promote better relations between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and China.

“Hopefully, footprints I make today will become a trail for future travelers,” Hsieh said yesterday, referring to his five-day visit to Xiamen and Beijing.

Hsieh, who served as premier and DPP chairman, would be the highest-ranking DPP official to visit China, a country which has always held a hostile view toward the political party.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Firm that handles military craft may have China link

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A firm in which Chinese capital is invested is in charge of conducting maintenance work on Taiwanese military aircraft, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers said yesterday, warning that as a result, sensitive national defense information could be obtained by Beijing.

The AirAsia group won maintenance bids worth NT$230 million (US$7.85 million) for the air force’s fleet of B-1900 and FK-50 aircraft as well as the army’s CH47, OH-58 and TH67 helicopters last year, TSU Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) told a press conference.

Tsai Ing-wen wishes Hsieh best, urges ties with India

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday gave her best wishes to former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who is to depart for China tomorrow on a five-day visit.

Hsieh’s visit has garnered a lot of attention because of his seniority in the DPP, Tsai said in a press release.

“Hopefully, his visit will help consolidate cross-strait relations and move them in a positive direction,” the statement said

Taiwan must tackle China human rights deficit: Wang Dan

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan should pay more attention to human rights developments in China because it serves Taiwan’s interests and it is an issue that crosses party lines, Chinese dissident Wang Dan (王丹) told a forum in Taipei yesterday.

Wang, one of the best-known student leaders of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 and who is now a visiting professor at National Tsing Hua University, said he has high hopes for Taiwan’s role in China’s struggle for democratization at a forum yesterday organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Lawmakers slam gas prices, hikes

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC) should freeze the price of natural gas and liquefied gas until the state-owned company is completely reformed, the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) legislative caucus demanded yesterday.

The caucus urged CPC to ensure liquid petroleum gas (LPG) prices remain unchanged.

“We wonder why, when crude and natural gas prices in the global market are falling, for example natural gas in New York trading markets have fallen by 12.61 percent, gas prices in Taiwan are going up,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.

Frank Hsieh confirms visit to China

BARROOM DIPLOMACY::The former premier will attend a bartending event in Beijing in a private capacity and promised he would refrain from public political events
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Tue, Oct 02, 2012 - Page 1

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced yesterday he would visit China from Thursday until Monday, adding that he hoped the visit would serve as a catalyst for the DPP’s closer engagement with Beijing.

The five-day trip that will take him and his delegation to Xiamen and Beijing will make Hsieh the highest-ranking former DPP official to visit China. Hsieh has served as premier and DPP chairman

Monday, October 01, 2012

DPP split over benefits of Hsieh’s Beijing trip

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is expected to address the issue of China a lot this week, including whether former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is to become the first former DPP premier to visit China, Lin He-ming (林鶴明), a spokesperson from Hsieh’s office, said yesterday.

While arrangements for relevant paperwork, air tickets and accommodation are ongoing, Hsieh’s trip to Beijing for a world bartending competition still remains tentative.

India could spice up ties: academic

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

With strong will from India’s government and inter-party effort in Taiwan, the two countries could sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) by next year, an Indian academic wrote in a column published on Saturday.

Madhav Das Nalapat, director of Manipal University’s Department of Geopolitics and the UNESCO Peace Chair holder, made the comment in a newspaper column titled “Tsai visit boosts India-Taiwan ties,” in which he addressed the 10-day visit to the south Asian country by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The piece was published on the Web site of the English-language Pakistan Observer newspaper.