Friday, November 30, 2012

Editorial: Taiwan’s lack of self-confidence

In the late 1990s, the Chinese Basketball Alliance — the only Taiwanese professional basketball league to date — engaged in heated debates toward the end of each season about how to give out the Most Valuable Player award and the selection of the league’s best five players. The reason was simple: If the league did not set any restrictions on the awards, the MVP would have been a foreign player who posted Shaquille O’Neal-esque numbers and the best five players might also have been foreign players.

All the awards going to foreign players was not going to cut it in a Taiwanese league, the league management figured, which was why imported players were ruled ineligible for the awards.

In 1999, the league folded — not exactly because it refused to hand those trophies to foreigners, but rather because of mismanagement.

Hundreds of university students gather in Taipei to protest Next Media deal

By Chris Wang and J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporters
Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - Page 1

Hundreds of young Taiwanese from around the nation yesterday continued to put pressure on the government to act against media monopolization and reject the sale of the Next Media Group’s (壹傳媒集團) Taiwanese businesses to two consortiums with a six-hour protest outside the Joint Government Office Building, where officials from the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and academics were holding a public hearing on the sale.

Next Media Group signed an agreement on Tuesday to sell its four Taiwanese businesses — the Chinese-language Apple Daily, Next Magazine, Sharp Daily and Next TV — for NT$17.5 billion (US$600 million) to two consortiums comprised of Chinatrust Charity Foundation (中信慈善基金會) chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團) chairman William Wong (王文淵), Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), Lung Yen Life Service Corp (龍巖集團) chairman David Lee (李世聰) and Taiwan Fire & Marine Insurance Co (台灣產物保險) chairman Steve Lee (李泰宏).

The sale has raised fears of a media monopoly and undue influence from China on Taiwan’s media, in light of the investors’ major business operations across the Taiwan Strait. Critics of Tsai, Taiwan’s wealthiest person, who made his fortune in China, have accused him of interfering with editorial matters at his other media outlets.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

CPC pricing misled public: study

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) has deceived the public with its claim that the nation enjoys the lowest fuel prices among its neighbors, because there are several “untold secrets” in its pricing calculations, a think tank said yesterday.

A Taiwan Thinktank study conducted by several academics says that fuel prices had been underestimated because the state-run oil refiner has left out the fuel tax in its pricing calculation and its floating pricing mechanism is not adjusted based on global oil prices.

Stop new NHI premium, capital gains tax: DPP

‘BAD POLICIES’:The supplementary premium policy would only cause confusion and injustice, while the tax would cause market instability, the opposition said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday urged the government to cancel a supplementary insurance premium policy and a securities capital gains tax that will take effect on Jan. 1.

“We have reminded the administration of [President] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) many times about bad policies, such as the price increases for fuel and electricity. Today we would like to urge Ma to call off policies that would create more public outrage,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said after the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.

Su looking to fill DPP’s China body

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday continued his search for members to fill up the party’s China Affairs Committee after former premiers Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Yu Shyi-kun declined to join the new body.

With Hsieh and Yu — both prominent members of the opposition — refusing, the only seasoned politician on board is former party chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Kuan clarifies Golden Horse comments

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) yesterday denied reports that she had apologized over her proposal to scrap the Golden Horse Awards after Taiwan’s poor showing this year.

Earlier in the day, Kuan said she would shoulder all the responsibility for the comments, adding that the organizing committee, as well as the Ministry of Culture, should also be scrutinized for their performance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Next Media deal close to signing

NOT SOLD::The deal has not been confirmed, but the outlets’ unions called on their new bosses to vow to respect editorial autonomy, which they said could not be bought
By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA
Wed, Nov 28, 2012 - Page 1

A cloud of secrecy yesterday surrounded the expected signing in Macau of a deal between Next Media Group (壹傳媒集團) and a consortium of three Taiwanese business leaders for the acquisition of Next Media’s four outlets in Taiwan, a deal that raises the specter of increased Chinese influence over Taiwanese media.

According to reports by the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily, a consortium led by Chinatrust Charity Foundation (中信慈善基金會) chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團) chairman William Wong (王文淵) and Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) was to sign a contract to buy the media outlets from the Hong Kong-listed Next Media at 3pm in Macau.

Students vow to keep fighting media deal

By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters
Wed, Nov 28, 2012 - Page 1

Students, academics, civic group representatives and opponents of the planned sale of Next Media Group’s (壹傳媒集團) four Taiwanese outlets to a consortium yesterday vowed to keep fighting for the nation’s freedom of speech and media diversity as the controversial deal was set to be inked in Macau.

About 100 university students from the Youth Alliance Against Media Monsters ended their overnight protest in front of the Executive Yuan in Taipei shortly after noon after clashing with police twice as the students tried to enter the building.

Pension funds a ‘major national crisis’: TISR poll

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A majority of respondents in a public opinion poll released yesterday said the potential collapse of government pension funds is a “major national crisis” and that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should collaborate with the opposition to find a solution.

With several pension programs facing bankruptcy in the next decade, 74.2 percent of respondents in a Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR) poll said it was a major national crisis, while only 15.2 percent disagreed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Party quits blue camp, urges cross-strait unity

‘VICIOUS INFIGHTING’:The New Party’s chairman said pan-blue and green camp squabbling and CCP aversion were impeding Taiwan’s economic recovery
By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The pro-unification New Party yesterday vowed to pursue grass-roots actions to push for the opening up of Taiwan to China on all fronts to build a “new China where people enjoy freedom, democracy and equal prosperity,” as New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) announced the party was leaving the pan-blue camp.

“We must end the vicious infighting between the blue and green camps to revive Taiwan’s economy and rid ourselves of the fears, aversion — or even antagonism — toward the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] to create a good future for our descendants,” Yok said.

Think tank proposes use of islands as ‘gateway’

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A bold proposal by a pro-Taiwan independence think tank to make the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu a “gateway” for further cross-strait integration received a mixed response yesterday.

The recommendation, presented by Taiwan Thinktank earlier this month, suggested allowing dual currencies, direct transportation links and resource sharing on the islands, adopting the same format that exists between Hong Kong, Macau and China.

DPP voices opposition to easing agricultural rules

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday voiced its strong opposition to further relaxation of rules governing Chinese agricultural imports, which it said could cause a loss of more than NT$11.1 billion (US$382 million).

“When most countries are setting up a firewall to protect their own agricultural products from the impact of globalization, Taiwan’s government is doing the opposite,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

Students hold Next Media deal protest

VERY DEMANDING::The students were joined by other activists in presenting a list of demands on the deal to the Cabinet, saying they would not leave until these were met
By Lee I-chia and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - Page 1

Several dozen students yesterday protested in front of the Executive Yuan, calling on the government to carefully review the plan to buy Next Media Group’s (壹傳媒集團) four Taiwanese outlets, to avoid the concentration of media in the hands of the few and to protect freedom of the press.

The demonstration was held one day before the consortium led by Chinatrust Charity Foundation (中信慈善基金會) chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) chairman William Wong (王文淵) and Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) are to sign a contract to buy the media outlets from the Hong Kong-based Next Media.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Many fear economy may become like Greece’s: poll

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A public opinion poll published yesterday found that the majority of respondents were concerned that Taiwan’s fiscal problems could lead the nation to face an economic crisis similar to Greece’s and felt pessimistic about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pension reforms.

Asked if they were concerned that the nation’s debt crisis could turn it into another Greece, 70.7 percent of the respondents said yes, a survey conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank from Wednesday to Friday showed.

Court urged to reject Want Want appeal

CONDITIONS CONTESTED:Experts said that the stipulations put on the media giant’s bid to buy cable TV services by the NCC were key to safeguarding freedom of the press
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Academics yesterday urged the Taipei Administrative Court to reject the Want Want China Times Group’s appeal of the conditional approval of its acquisition of cable television services, citing concerns about media concentration.

With three suspension clauses and 25 additional clauses, the National Communications Commission (NCC) on July 25 conditionally approved the group’s NT$76 billion (US$2.61 billion) acquisition of cable TV services owned by China Network Systems, a deal that many fear would create a media monopoly.

DPP denies Su has overturned Tsai’s grass-roots policy

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday denied a media report that DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had overturned one of the policies of his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), that encouraged legislators-at-large to inaugurate local offices to strengthen the party’s grass-roots connections.

In a press release, DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) dismissed a Chinese-language report in the China Times yesterday which said that Su intends to terminate the policy and that the party had stopped funding several of its local offices.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Taipei protests China’s new passports

TERRITORIAL CLAIMS::Pan-greens blasted the government’s slow reaction, saying Manila and Hanoi had already protested against Beijing’s inclusion of disputed areas
By Mo Yan-chih, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters, with Agencies and Staff writer
Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - Page 1

Taipei joined a number of governments in the region yesterday in severely criticizing Beijing for the inclusion in newly revised passports of an outline of China that includes the entire South China Sea, hemmed in by dashes, as well as depictions of scenic spots in Taiwan — Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake and Hualien’s Chingshui Cliffs.

The change, which was first reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday, highlights China’s longstanding claim to the South China Sea in its entirety, though parts of the waters are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

Tsai to join China Affairs Committee

POSITION:Former premier Frank Hsieh has declined an invitation to join the DPP’s committee, reportedly saying that he wanted to leave room for other party members
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has agreed to join the party’s China Affairs Committee, while former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has turned down the same offer as the DPP’s search for members of the controversial committee continued.

In a press release issued late on Thursday, Tsai accepted the invitation extended by DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is to be the committee’s convener, to serve as one of the committee members.

Legislators set up cross-party human rights focus group

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

More than 50 legislators established a cross-party human rights group yesterday in the legislature to promote human rights and to collaborate with overseas parliamentary counterparts on the universal value.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), the chairman of the group, announced the official establishment of the Parliamentary Cross-Party Group on International Human Rights at a press conference.

Dalai Lama visa rejection draws more fire

CHINA FACTOR::The DPP ramped up its criticism of the visa denial, saying it has damaged Taiwan’s image as a democracy that values human rights
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - Page 1

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday lambasted President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government for denying a visa to the Dalai Lama, saying this was another “proof” of Ma’s pro-China position.

“President Ma, what are you afraid of? What do you want to do? Your denial of the Dalai Lama’s visit has hurt Taiwanese and Taiwan’s international image,” Lu told a joint press conference with the DPP caucus in the legislature.

Friday, November 23, 2012

EDITORIAL: The DPP must go on the offensive

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 - Page 8

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has echoed criticism that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is a “bumbler” and attacked his refusal to set aside political antagonism and call a national affairs conference to resolve the nation’s problems.

However, when the party looks at itself in the mirror, it sees another Ma.

The DPP has mostly bumbled along since losing the presidential election, and meaningful conversation between party heavyweights seems too much to ask.

Groups slam denial of Dalai Lama visit

NOT NOW::Officials did not give an explanation for the government’s decision to refuse the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa, other than to say it was not the right time
By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter
Fri, Nov 23, 2012 - Page 1

Acting on the president’s instructions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has again denied a visa to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who had been invited by an international group to attend its annual regional conference in Taipei next month, sparking outrage among various organizations in the country.

The Dalai Lama “is welcome to travel to Taiwan in due course. However, we need to arrange a more opportune time for his visit,” Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said in a letter, dated Friday last week, to Freda Miriklis, international president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International), the non-governmental organization behind the event.

Chinese dissident urges Taiwan to push democracy

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A Chinese dissident yesterday urged Taiwan to insist on its values of democracy and human rights in its dealings with Beijing and be a partner in the international community’s effort of containing China, instead of taking China’s side.

Expressing concerns over Taiwan’s tilting toward China, former Chinese democracy activist Chen Pokong (陳破空), now a US-based writer, told a symposium that Taiwan “cannot become a gap in the global China-containment strategy.”

Tsai Ing-wen calls for across-the-board budget cuts

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday called for suspending the implementation of the capital gains tax and slashing the government budget by 20 percent to realize structural change that would resolve Taiwan’s fiscal woes.

The former DPP presidential candidate addressed a wide range of issues in an interview with the Chinese-language Business Today weekly magazine, which was published yesterday, with a primary focus on resolving Taiwan’s deteriorating fiscal problems.

DPP asks for Next Media probe

FREE SPEECH::Lee Kun-tse said journalistic autonomy has often been sacrificed in media deals and the NCC had failed to assert the importance of journalistic independence
By Chris Wang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter and staff writer, with CNA
Fri, Nov 23, 2012 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday urged government agencies to launch a probe into the source of funding and the final beneficiary of the sale of Next Media Group’s Taiwanese outlets.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC), the National Communications Commission (NCC) and the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) should all shoulder their respective responsibility to ensure the deal does not jeopardize freedom of speech, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

DPP says MJIB is spying on its youth camp

CLOAK AND DAGGER:A DPP legislator and the DPP’s youth wing said Kaohsiung police asked for the names of participants, while Tsai’s office said she was also being monitored
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau (MJIB) has conducted illegal monitoring to spy on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), despite President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pledge that no spying on political parties would occur under his watch, the DPP said yesterday.

In a press conference, the DPP’s Department of Youth Development and DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) accused MJIB agent Chen Chun-cheng (陳俊成) of collecting a list of the participants at a youth camp organized by the DPP in Greater Kaohsiung.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ma pledges to tackle pension reform

‘PSEUDO REFORM’:The DPP reiterated its call for a national affairs conference to gather together people from all parts of society to deal with their own ‘fiscal cliff’
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said the nation’s loss-plagued pension funds could not and would not go bankrupt, as he pledged to come up with a pragmatic, feasible reform program in January amid complaints by opposition parties about his approach to resolving the problems.

After meeting with Premier Sean Chen, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Examination Yuan President John Kuan (關中) on the thorny issue, Ma said at a press conference that his administration would tackle the matter in a responsible and cautious manner because many people have a stake in the sustainability of the pension system.

Su to head DPP China committee

HSIEH SHUNTED:Su Tseng-chang said he gave up his plan to have Frank Hsieh as convener because ‘it is the chairman’s responsibility to integrate different opinions’
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday announced the establishment of a China Affairs Committee, ending media speculation about the makeup of the committee by doubling as the committee’s convener.

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), whose landmark visit to China last month made him the front-runner to lead the committee, expressed his support.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

DPP caucus slams alleged plans for a sovereign fund

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday demanded that the Ministry of Finance abandon an alleged plan to establish a sovereign fund by combining four government funds, saying that such a fund is unnecessary and risky because of a lack of transparency.

The caucus also reiterated its opposition to a reported plan to invest those government funds in China’s stock market.

Union warns HK over Next Media deal

NO CERTAINTY:The Taiwan News Media Trade Union told the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong to inspect huge problems related to the Next Media deal
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan News Media Trade Union yesterday sent a letter to the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and warned that the pending deal in which a Taiwanese consortium is to buy the Next Media Group could jeopardize the interests of the group’s Hong Kong shareholders.

Given that the deal could be rejected by Taiwan’s National Telecommunications Commission (NCC), and the unresolved labor disputes between Next Media founder Jimmy Lai (黎智英) and his employees, the union urged the commission to conduct the necessary inspections and disclose its findings to the group’s shareholders in Hong Kong.

Groups urge Lanyu radioactivity checks

DODGY TESTS:The Atomic Energy Council said that the devices used in previous radioactivity checks by Japanese experts had been affected by electromagnetic waves
By Chris Wang and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers and several academics yesterday told a press conference that the nuclear radiation level in Lanyu (蘭嶼), also known as Orchid Island, was a serious concern and demanded a complete investigation into potential radiation threats on the island.

Katsumi Nakao of J.F. Oberlin University and Yoh Kato of Tokyo Metropolitan University, who were invited by the Atomic Energy Council to conduct radioactivity tests on the island on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, decried the detection results announced by the council, saying the real levels were significantly higher than those reported by the council.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DPP invites Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Taiwan

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has extended an invitation to Burmese democratic movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Taiwan, the party said in a press release yesterday.

DPP Department of Foreign Affairs Director Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠) and DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) extended the invitation to a delegation of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party.

DPP denounces Next Media deal

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday expressed its strong opposition to the proposed acquisition of Next Media Group by a consortium, saying the deal could be a “major catastrophe for Taiwan’s democracy” as it would allow China to influence Taiwanese media and jeopardize freedom of speech.

“As a political party that has always pursued democracy in Taiwan, we will not allow the situation to deteriorate and our determination to stop the deal should not be underestimated,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told a press conference.

Reform in China is fantasy: dissidents

CHANGE:One analyst said that a change in leadership style was possible, as the incoming Chinese president was from a different generation than his predecessors
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

While many expect Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) to be a reformist when he takes over the Chinese presidency, Chinese dissidents yesterday told a forum in Taipei they were pessimistic about possible political reform in China because of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rigid political framework.

“Regardless of what the outside world expects of the arrival of a reformist in China, all Chinese regimes are bound to be conservative and political reform is likely to be just fantasy,” Hu Ping (胡平), a US-based Chinese dissident, said in a forum which discussed China’s possible political development after Xi takes over from outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

‘Constitutions’ is not a ‘one China’ proposal: Hsieh

SAME DIFFERENCE?Ma said in an interview that Frank Hsieh’s cross-strait platforms ‘added up’ to ‘one China,’ and Annette Lu said he ‘hit the bullseye’
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday countered President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) interpretation of his “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) proposal, saying the initiative was intended to highlight that there were two constitutions on either side of the Taiwan Strait, not one.

Ma was quoted in an interview with Chinese-language news magazine Yazhou Zoukan published on Thursday as saying that Hsieh’s initiative “is not different than the Chinese Nationalist Party’s [KMT] initiative of ‘one China with different interpretations’ (一中各表).”

Former US representative visits Chen

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former US representative Tom Tancredo visited former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in hospital yesterday and expressed his concerns about Chen’s health.

A former representative from Colorado, Tancredo, 66, arrived in Taipei late on Thursday and visited Chen at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, accompanied by former Democratic Progressive party (DPP) legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮).

Survey finds mixed views on foreign policy priorities

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A public opinion poll has shown that more than half of respondents feel that China and the US should be a priority in terms of Taiwan’s foreign relations, but younger people tended to favor China as the priority, a public opinion poll showed.

“The result appears to reflect Taiwanese people’s pragmatism,” Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR) general manager Tai Li-an (戴立安) said in a press release yesterday.

Taiwan to face US trade pressure, analysts warn

BALANCING ACT:The US government is keen to access local markets, while Taiwan will face new challenges as new strategic plans for the Asian region come into play
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan is expected to face heavier economic pressure from the US over access to its markets, but should also work toward playing a more significant role in the US’ grand Asia-Pacific strategy, analysts said yesterday during an examination of projected Taiwan-US relations under US President Barack Obama’s second term.

The challenge for Taiwan in its relations with the US following Obama’s re-election will be two-fold — economic and political — and the economic issue appears to be more urgent, academics told the forum, which was organized by Taiwan Thinktank.

Tsai calls for interparty cooperation on reform

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday proposed holding a national affairs conference and establishing an interparty special legislative committee to resolve the nation’s fiscal problems.

Skyrocketing government debt and a worsening pension crisis have placed national economic security at risk, Tsai said in a press release, adding: “It’s time for us to go back to rational policy discussion without being divided by party ideology, so we can face the problems together.”

Friday, November 09, 2012

EDITORIAL: Human rights key to cross-strait ties

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 8

Tamding Tso, a 23-year-old woman, self-immolated and died in Amdo region, eastern Tibet, on Wednesday, raising the number of Tibetans who have set themselves ablaze in protest against the repressive Chinese regime since February 2009 to almost 70.

Maybe people read these kinds of stories too often to think that they are significant, or maybe they do not read them at all. Either way, Taiwanese, and in particular the administration of Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), have not been paying enough attention.

Taiwan cool to China’s unification call

‘SAME OLD STORY’::The DPP chairman said that while the party welcomes cross-strait engagement, Hu Jintao’s warnings were a rehash of past comments
By Chen Hui-ping and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 1

The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday reiterated President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “three noes” policy — no unification, no independence and no use of force — in response to China’s call for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to negotiate and sign a peace agreement.

Speaking at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th National Congress in Beijing yesterday, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) also warned Taiwan against any moves toward independence and said that China would stick to the principle of “peaceful unification” with Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” model.

“We resolutely oppose any separatist attempt for Taiwan independence. The Chinese people will never allow anyone or any force to separate Taiwan from the motherland by any means,” he said.

Funds wasted on overseas trips, DPP lawmakers say

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday said they were amazed and shocked by the way government officials squandered public funds by arranging “meaningless” overseas visits and seminars.

Since 2001, the central government has sent 28,904 delegations on overseas visits, an average of eight delegations per day, and has allocated a budget of NT$1.8 billion (US$62 million) to overseas visits in the budget statement for next year, lawmaker Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) told a press conference.

DPP legislator blasts AEC

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) yesterday blasted the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) after a report confirmed Taipower’s serious nuclear waste repackaging error on Lanyu (蘭嶼), also known as Orchid Island.

“If the AEC and Taipower fail to handle nuclear waste well, nuclear safety in Taiwan is over,” Cheng told a press conference in the legislature.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

DPP tells Ma to donate his wages

EMPTY PROMISE?Legislators insisted that the president give a clear itemization of the state affairs fund to clarify how he spent it and if he misused it for private donations
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday demanded that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) deliver on his promise to donate half of his salary to charity and disclose how he has spent his state affairs fund in the past four years.

Under mounting pressure to ease the government’s fiscal problems, Ma on Tuesday announced that he would cut the NT$40 million (US$1.37 million) state affairs fund by one-quarter in next year’s budget and said he hoped ruling and opposition parties could stop squabbling about unnecessary issues and work together.

Ma congratulates Obama following election victory

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the government, yesterday offered congratulations to US President Barack Obama on his election to a second term.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) sent a message to Obama to express his heartfelt congratulations immediately after learning the election result, the ministry said.

In a press statement, the ministry said the state of the US-Taiwan relations are in the “best state since 1979,” when the US switched diplomatic allegiance to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Hsieh hits back at critics of his recent China visit

NOT RATIONAL:Former premier Frank Hsieh lashed out after an attack on him on Sunday, saying his trip to China has been lauded by independence advocates
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday said those who had described him as “Beijing’s minion” and a “devil” over his recent visit to China had lost their demeanor and poise in the discussion of public policy.

Hsieh did not name names in his weekly radio talk show, but his comment was apparently directed at former secretary-general of the Presidential Office Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), who made an attack on Hsieh on Sunday at a forum.

Politician pans agency over files

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) yesterday blasted a government agency for not granting him complete access to declassified historical files compiled on him during the White Terror era.

Shih, who served 25 years as a political prisoner for “intention to overthrow the government,” was accompanied by his wife, Chen Chia-chun (陳嘉君), two daughters, Chinese Culture University professor Yao Li-ming (姚立明) and DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) on a visit to the National Archives Administration (NAA) yesterday afternoon.

Forum warns of PRC’s influence

SHADY DEALINGS:China’s fingerprints are everywhere in the local media business, a media reform forum was told, and freedom of speech is being eroded with impunity
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Chinese influence over Taiwan’s media has been as serious a concern, if not more serious, than political influences or concerns about a media monopoly, academics and media members said yesterday in a forum held in Taipei.

“Beijing is now able to influence Taiwan’s politics and economy through closer cross-strait integration. The only thing it has yet to control is public opinion. And that is where [Chinese influence] came in,” Association of Taiwan Journalists president Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜) told a forum on media reform organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Ma, premier to cut discretionary funds

FUND FUROR::Sean Chen said heated exchanges about fund related issues have been manipulated to fuel conflict between classes, generations and occupational groups
By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter
Wed, Nov 07, 2012 - Page 1

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Sean Chen yesterday said they were willing to pare down their respective discretionary funds to put an end to partisan squabbling over government spending that they said has shifted attention away from more important economic issues.

In his first stop on his itinerary yesterday morning, Ma announced that he would cut the state affairs fund of NT$40 million (US$1.37 million) by a quarter in next year’s budget statement, pending a review by the legislature.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Ex-premier says independence is key goal

TAKING A STAND:Yu Shyi-kun said it was not the DPP’s China policy that cost them January’s election and that ‘accepting’ KMT ideology was far more dangerous
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday said that China affairs are not the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) priority and that the party should focus on the economy, winning a legislative majority and securing its long-term goal of making Taiwan an independent, sovereign nation.

Yu also said he encouraged cross-strait engagement, but had reservations toward former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) initiative of “constitutional one china” (憲法一中).

DPP’s Su optimistic US relations can be rebuilt

FRIENDS NOT FOES:Positive responses to visits by DPP officials to the US shows a willingness to pursue better ties with the opposition, a party official said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is optimistic that its sour relations with the US is in the past and would be rebuilt by better channels of communication regardless of who wins today’s US presidential election, DPP officials said yesterday.

Relations with the US have been one of the priority issues since he took the party’s helm and it would continue to be so, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told a forum, which previewed the US presidential election, at DPP headquarters.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Tsai tells of key threats to Taiwan during trip to US

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have been advised to be tolerant and to give the Republic of China (ROC) “more space” in acknowledging that the “ROC is Taiwan and Taiwan is [the] ROC,” former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Friday night in New York.

The former DPP presidential candidate made the remark in a speech at the Taiwan Center in Flushing, New York, the last public appearance of her two-week “thank-you” tour of the US, a press release provided by Tsai’s office stated.

Dissident warns DPP over plans to shift China policy

ISOLATED VOICES::The recent trip to China by Frank Hsieh marks the potential for ‘political suicide’ for the party, writer Yuan Hongbing has said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Mon, Nov 05, 2012 - Page 3

A Chinese dissident yesterday warned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over a planned shift in position on its China policy and said former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) would lead the party down a path of “political suicide” in his similar attempts to shift plans.

“Beijing has two grand strategies for its absorption of Taiwan. First, economic integration goes before political integration. Second, making the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] another Chinese Communist Party [CCP] and the DPP another KMT,” Yuan Hongbing (袁紅冰) told a forum hosted by Beanstalk, a group founded by former secretary-general of the Presidential Office Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟).

Friday, November 02, 2012

Editorial: Time Ma dropped the numbers game

Fri, Nov 02, 2012 - Page 8

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has always been very fond of numbers, like a scientist or the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.

He likes numbers so much that when presenting campaign strategies, such as his famous “6-3-3” campaign pledge and the “i-Taiwan 12 projects,” he explained almost everything using 16 Chinese characters or less and tends to describe his achievements using Taiwan’s world ranking according to various reports. This approach makes sense, as numbers are often easier to understand than a 1,000-word text explaining government policies.

Recently, Ma proudly announced that Taiwan ranks 13th in the World Bank’s Knowledge Economy Index and seventh in the International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness rankings this year, showing that Taiwan has great potential and “there is no reason to hang our heads low.”

Lawmakers slash subsidies

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

Lawmakers yesterday agreed to slash a NT$97.36 million (US$3.3 million) budget allocated to various benefits in response to criticism that the benefits were not backed by law.

As a result, each of the 113 lawmakers will see his or her budget drop by NT$860,000.

The decision was the result of a meeting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called with the caucus whips of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), People First Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Former president urges pension program review

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Miaoli County

It will take a complete review and reform of various social insurance and pension programs to resolve their financial difficulties, and high-ranking officials should clearly point out the direction of reform, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said in Miaoli County yesterday.

Speaking to the media during a question-and-answer session, Lee said it would be wrong to individually fix or save financially-challenged pension programs, which have sparked heated public discussion recently.

“It would take a thorough review, planning and reform to adjust those programs altogether,” he said.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

DGBAS revises GDP growth down again

LIMITED MOMENTUM::A DGBAS official said the economy has been in a state of ‘anemic growth,’ while the Cabinet said it was cautiously optimistic about next year
By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter
Thu, Nov 01, 2012 - Page 1

The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) yesterday revised downward its GDP growth forecast for this year to 1.05 percent from the 1.66 percent it estimated last month, due to weaker-than-expected momentum in the second half of the year.

It was the ninth straight time the agency has revised downward its forecast for this year’s GDP growth since August last year, when it forecast a 4.58 percent growth rate.

The opposition reacted by saying that a Cabinet reshuffle was now a necessity.

Lee touts vital role of art, religion

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Miaoli County

Art and religion play an equally important role in a country as politics and the economy, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday in Sanyi Township (三義), Miaoli County.

The 89-year-old former president was speaking to a group of woodcarving artists at Sanyi Woodcarving Museum, saying that art and religion are important in the 21st century because “technology cannot solve everything.”

TSU lawmaker says bad investments behind fund’s woes

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Labor Insurance Fund’s over-investment in the stock market’s electronics and financial sectors was the primary reason for the fund’s losses, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said yesterday.

The Council of Labor Affairs had left out the mismanagement of the fund’s investments when it explained why the fund could go bankrupt in 2016, Hsu told a press conference.