Friday, November 30, 2012

=UPDATE= Ministry of Education Launches White Terror Tactics Against Next Media Student Protesters?

This is flying around Facebook and the bulletin boards in Taiwan, hotter than hot right now. The email above is said to have been circulated by the Ministry of Education (MoE). The last sentence is ambiguous to me, but apparently it reads either that the MOE is looking for lists of registered students so it can see who was absent and presumably at the protests, or else it has attached a list of such students for the schools to handle. After noting that it has been raining and cold for several days, it asks that " officials care for the health of the students..." and "each university more deeply understand and care for the students". The subtext is obvious to anyone who grew up in Taiwan, especially during the martial law era. The students are engaged in their own subversive response, but this sort of thing is also aimed at the parents. That way the parents will put pressure on the students not to engage in such activities. That also happened during the Wild Strawberry protests about the Assembly and Parade Law a couple of years ago.

The email goes out to many universities all over Taiwan. It asks "區內學校" to spread the word. "區內" appears to be a reference to "Taiwan Region." Ugh.Nope, just a reference to the districts the universities are in.

If you read Chinese, there are some hilarious comments on this popular bulletin board system. The "689" appears to be a coded reference to the number of people (in millions, 6.89) who voted for Ma Ying-jeou as well as the 689 votes by which Leung Chun-ying won the Hong Kong chief executive election.

Expect updates as new information comes in.

UPDATE: Excellent Taipei Times report showing how the students understand "concern".
On the other hand, in the context of student movements, the term “concern” is often associated with threats and attempts by schools to bar students from taking part in demonstrations.

“For example, some universities would impose stricter curfews in student dorms because they are ‘concerned’ about students’ safety at night. CGU cuts the Internet connection at dorms at midnight because the school administration is ‘concerned’ that students may stay up all night playing online games,” Chang said. “Moreover, school officials or on-campus military education officers talk to students when student newspapers publish articles critical of school or government policies, saying they only want to show their ‘concern.’”

The term “showing concern” has always had a negative connotation among students, he said.
Great work, TT.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

=UPDATED= Next Media Parceled Out to Five Buyers

Tea pickers on the slopes of Alishan

UPDATE: I'm moving this to the top. Finally heard the reason for the fifth buyer. By adding the fifth buyer, they can separate the print and TV portions of the deal, meaning that the NCC can't impose the same condition of separation of cable TV and print they tried to before. The new deal also reduces Jeffrey Koo Jr's holding to just below the threshold required by the FSC. Next Media, as a friend observed, had the most powerful investigative team in the business. How much longer do you think that will remain true?

Student protests in front of the FTC and the legislative Yuan all day too. But the number is too small to gain international media attention, judging from the photos.

Adventures in Charity, episode #249:
I'm buying tickets at the Chiayi train station on Sunday with a big pile of 100 NT notes. A girl behind me in line leans forward and asks if I could loan her $100. I said sure, no problem, and slipped her a 100 NT note. She then asked me how she could pay me back. "What's your phone number?" "Forget it," I said, "I don't live here. You don't have to pay me back." Suddenly she looked at me crossly. "Hey!" she barked. "What kind of attitude is that?"

I put that tale there because you'll need some light humor to deal with the Next Media deal. A friend summed up the five buyers of Jimmy Lai's Next Media thusly:
  • Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman, Jeffrey Koo Jr.
  • Formosa Plastics Group chairman, William Wong
  • Want Want China Times Group chairman, Tsai Eng-meng
  • Lung Yen Life Service Co. chairman, Lee Shih-tsung
  • Taiwan Fire and Marine Insurance Co. chairman, Lee Tai-hung.
Businessweek explained the deal, inked in Macau for tax purposes:
Next Media will sell its Taiwan print assets to four investors including Want Want Chinatimes Group President Tsai Shao-Chung, William Wong of the Formosa Plastics Group, Chinatrust Charity Foundation Chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr. and Lung Yen Life Service Corp. (5530) Chairman Lee Shih-tsung, Simon said.

Lai, known for criticizing the Chinese government, is exiting most of his Taiwan businesses after battling regulators for licenses and distribution rights. The investment by Tsai, son of Want Want China Holdings Ltd. (151) Chairman Tsai Eng-meng, may raise regulatory concerns as Lai’s Apple Daily and the Tsais’ China Times will have a combined newspaper market share exceeding 45 percent, according to National Chung Cheng University’s Kuang Chung-Hsiang.


Lee Tai-hung, chairman of Taiwan Fire & Marine Insurance Co. (2832), replaces Tsai in the group buying the television assets, Simon said. The pacts were signed yesterday, he said.
The deal requires approval from the Fair Trade Commission, the National Communications Commission, and the Financial Supervisory Commission. Each may find reason to balk. The FSC had objected to Jeffrey Koo Jr's 7% stake in a financial firm (blogged). The Fair Trade Commission may not like the 45% share of the media market it gives the Tsai media operations. The National Communications Commission, you may recall, gave tentative approval but required Tsai to sell off his cable TV operations. Tsai gave the NCC the digitus impudicus, and the case is now in the courts.

The articles in the international media tended to (wrongly) frame the issue as a pro/anti-China affair. For example, the AP article on the deal is solid as far as it goes, but it wrongly characterized the student protests as anti-China when they are pro-democracy. The business publications covering the story pointed out that it is likely that the Tsai-owned media will go soft on China's territorial expansion and other problems, but failed to mention that Apple and Next Media also provide independent coverage of domestic corporate shenanigans, including environmental stories that other media don't publish.

Also, I heard tell of a rumor running around that one of Taiwan's online media outfits, NOWNEWS or ETTODAY, is going to be bought by a Chinese firm. Take with NaCl.....

ADDED: Taipei Times editorial on the sale.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Beijing Does Damage Control on Passport Map

A whip scorpion. 

UPDATE: China announces it will begin boarding and turning back ships in the South China Sea.

Pushback has begun...first, the problem (Guardian):
The map, in China's newly designed passport, claims ownership of the entire South China Sea – parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia – as well as disputed areas on the China-India border and two Taiwanese tourist destinations.

The Philippines, Vietnam, India and Taiwan have all vehemently protested against the new microchip-equipped passport, which essentially forces neighbouring countries to validate China's position on contested regions.

Vietnam and the Philippines lodged formal complaints last week with Chinese embassies in Hanoi and Manila, respectively. India's external affairs minister, Salman Khursid, called the map "unacceptable".

"China has ignored the truth and sparked disputes," said a statement from Taiwan's mainland affairs council.
Washington also criticized the move, saying it raises tensions. A mild criticism of Beijing! Be still my beating heart.

The sad part is that the ROC government on Taiwan agrees that all these things belong to "China" -- the "truth" ignored by China is that this China is the ROC, not the PRC.

Meanwhile Beijing attempted to downplay the issue...(VOA)
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei tried to downplay the issue, telling a Wednesday briefing that the Chinese passport map should not be over-interpreted. He said Beijing wants to maintain contacts with neighboring countries to promote what he calls the healthy development of personal exchanges.
“The issue of the maps in China’s new passports should not be read too much into. China is willing to remain in touch with relevant countries and promote the healthy development of the exchange of people between China and the outside world.
LOL. Anyone can recognize this classic riposte: If there's a problem, it's your problem. You guys are just too sensitive. In "response", Philippines and Vietnam have stopped stamping the passport, while India is issuing visas to Chinese showing an Indian map with the correct territorial distribution.

In response? It's curious that the passports have been out there for quite some time, but no one has said anything until now. Manila and Hanoi were willing to overlook the map until the light of publicity shone upon it. Taipei obviously doesn't care; its maps are even more expansionist than the PRC's. Still, what this map says is that negotiations with China on the issue will not be possible; it will simply remain obdurate until its demands are met. Or there's a war.....
Daily Links:
  • Donghe Bell Tower in Taipei from MKL. Had no idea this existed until I saw it on MKL's blog.
  • Russia also putting a finger into the South China Sea. Returning to Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam?
  • Ocean acidification is already threatening US oyster yields. How long before it threatens Taiwan's cherished oyster omelets?
  • MOI supports increase in the amounts individuals can donate to political parties, since the 2014 elections are going to see enormous sums spent. And what a coincidence, both parties, KMT and DPP, are now supporting delays in the capital gains tax. Smart position -- the Finance Ministry is going to implement them, it says, meaning that it costs the two parties nothing to oppose something that is going to happen anyway.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wilson Center on Taiwan's Econ, Dec 13

Wilson Center Event, including the excellent Peter Chow:

Staying Ahead of the Economic Curve:
Taiwan and Its Rivals in East Asia and Beyond

December 13, 2012 3:30 to 5:30 pm

Technology dominates Taiwan’s economy, and the sector is the bedrock of the nation’s growth engine. Yet companies across the Taiwan are facing numerous challenges, not least increased competition from China, Vietnam, and beyond, while the profitability of the technology sector at large remains in question. What policies, if any, can Taiwan pursue to ensure that it remains a technological powerhouse? Can the government do more to improve its investment climate, or has it already fallen behind Singapore and other rivals? How will the ongoing territorial disputes in northeast Asia impact foreign investors’ interests in the region?

Alejandro Espinosa-Wang
Private Sector Development Specialist, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group

Rupert Hammond-Chambers
President, US-Taiwan Business Council

Peter C.Y. Chow
Professor, Department of Economics and Business, City College of New York

5th Floor Conference Room
Woodrow WilsonInternational Center for Scholars

RSVP to the Asia Program at allow for routine security procedures when you arrive at the Center.A photo ID is required for entry. The Center is located in the southeastwing of the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington,D.C. The closest Metro station is Federal Triangle on the blue and orangelines. For detailed directions, please visit the Center’s website,
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Taoyuan vs the Aborigines

The gorgeous 159A between Shijhuo and Chiayi.

Meant to get this up yesterday, but sooooo busy... An interesting situation sheds light on one of the reasons for the upgrades to municipalities that several counties have undergone in the last few years (TT):
“At the moment, Fusing Township (復興) in Taoyuan County is designated an Aboriginal township with a mayor and a council elected by all residents, and based on the law, the post of mayor can only be filled by an Aborigine,” Yabu Eyo, a representative from a Fusing-based Atayal Aborigines self-help organization, told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning.

“When Taoyuan County becomes a special municipality, Fusing Township would become merely a district, with the head of the district being appointed by the mayor — and we would lose our council as well,” he said. “We are worried that the appointed district chief may not understand Atayal culture, customs and traditions.”
As I noted two years ago....
TheNorth-South income disparity is an important driver of the island's political life; but now emerging is a growing clash between the municipalities and the counties. For years, Taipei and Kaohsiung commanded a huge chunk of government money, with Taipei getting the majority of that. To counter Taipei's massive advantages, Taipei County, Kaohsiung and its county, Taichung and its county, and Tainan and its county have decided to upgrade to municipality status in order to collect a bigger share of the government budget. Recall that in the ROC system a municipality is the equivalent of a province whereas the counties remain merely local administrations. The result is a worsening of urban-rural budget issues.
This clash over resources, which manifests itself in the two key faultlines of counties vs. municipalities and north vs south, has fallout for other political issues. To wit:
The new upgrades will result in new development and new land speculation, which will in turn bring in new monies into the pockets of officialdom. It will also result in a vast expansion of government payrolls, since a municipality has the right to employ thousands more people in the local government -- meaning new opportunities for political patronage that will help cement the grip of the party in power on the local governments. The expansion also allows for new appointees to committees and boards.
ADDED: Apple below observes:
There is another way of looking at the upgrade/merger of counties and cities to special municipalities. It could be considered part of a process of relocating the ROC to Taiwan. The effective abolition of the Taiwan provincial government has necessitated an ongoing reorganisation of the ROC government system. As provinces no longer have any role in the government, the government is creating special municipalities to fill their place.
Daily Links, yesterday's version:
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Blast from the Past: President Ford, Teng Hsiao-ping on Taiwan

Beijing, Dec 4, 1975:

Vice Premier Teng: So we now enter our third session and I think the final session for this visit. I believe in the talks we had yesterday, we have covered almost all the ground, and I think especially the deep going conversation you had with Chairman Mao shows we have touched upon all aspects.

And the Taiwan issue that both sides are concerned about actually was also discussed during your wide-ranging conversation with Chairman Mao. And we have understood Mr. President's point; that is, that during the time of the election it will not be possible to make any new moves.

As for our side, we have told the Doctor many times that we are very patient. And in our relations we have always put the international aspect first and the Taiwan issue second.

The President: 

Too bad you missed it: Alishan

This weekend I repeated a ride that Drew and I had done back in Dec of 2010, Taichung to Caoling on Day 1, then Caoling up Alishan to Fenchihu and then down to Chaiyi city on the glorious 159甲 on Day 2. The ride up Alishan and down the 159甲is one of the loveliest on the island and I had long wanted to repeat it. But there was a problem: on that ride, I was pretty wiped out after the climbing on Day 1 and had to walk a long stretch of the brutal 169 on Day 2. This time I was determined not to fail. I had the 11-32 cassette on my bike (I have a SRAM Apex groupset) swapped for an 11-36. With a 50-34 compact dual up front, this gave me a 34/36 for a climbing gear. Last weekend I tested it: could I spin more and go up hills more easily? It seemed so. Bring on Alishan!

A gazillion pics in this post. Click on READ MORE below to see them. Drew's wonderful posts on the ride may be accessed here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Economy and Economist

The Economist carried a letter from the diplomatic representative in the UK responding to its blundering Ma the Bumbler piece that stirred the nation last week. The letter actually put its finger on an excellent point:
It is not surprising that some of his initiatives have been unpopular during the downturn. The people of Taiwan have every right to use harsh words against their president, but when a foreign media organisation repeats the name calling it should at least use quotation marks.
Shen is right; The Economist article carries not a single quote of any speaker on the topic, from (wo)man on the street to expert in the office.

By contrast, the Intelligence Unit has a late but good review of the Administration's initiatives to increase foreign direct investment in Taiwan. It observed the same thing everyone else did a couple of months ago (like me), that there is a contradiction in the heart of the Ma Administration's plans to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan....
Such measures may help to lure some companies back to the island, and this would provide a boost to job creation and economic growth. However, they might not attract the kinds of firms that would be beneficial for Taiwan's longer-term development. Promises of low wages will appeal primarily to labour-intensive industries rather than innovative, capital-intensive manufacturers of high value added products. In its current formulation, the government's FDI strategy therefore appears to run contrary to its broader goal of modernising Taiwan's industrial structure and shifting away from the low-margin contract manufacturing in which the island has specialised. According to the MEA, the firms that have returned to Taiwan from mainland China in recent years operate primarily in sectors such as textiles and electronics, which is hardly an encouraging sign of restructuring.
It goes without saying that increased foreign direct investment was one of Ma's promises from ECFA. As the numbers in the figure in The Economist make clear, FDI is in the doldrums. Like everything else to with the world economy... as I noted in the post last month, the KMT's plan is simply a recapitulation of the 1950s and 1960s, using cheap labor and industrial districts.

...speaking of doldrums, former DPP Chair and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen came out and said that the government should delay implementation of the capital gains tax:
The stock market trading volume remains sluggish, causing concern over whether the capital gains tax on stock transactions should become effective as scheduled. Tsai Ing-wen stated that she thought it was not an appropriate time to impose the tax. Moreover, Tsai proposed that the government should either not implement the capital gains tax on stock transactions or implement the version of the tax proposed by former Finance Minister Lin Chuan's (林全), which was also the DPP's version.
The Finance Ministry, which apparently has more sense than most of the island's politicians, said bluntly that the tax would be implemented on schedule in Jan of 2013. Looks like the Mayans were off only by a month...

Finally, if you were wondering why Taiwanese are so angered with Ma, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has an avalanche of stats and pretty graphs that show how the economy since 2007 has put thumbscrews on Taiwan workers....

Chart 3.4: Manufacturing compensation basically fell in the post-2007 period.

Chart 3.7: Manufacturing productivity, though not keeping pace with the pre-2007 period, still rose. This means that productivity gains are not going to workers in the form of increased wages, but to capital, which, as we know, pays relatively low taxes in Taiwan.

Chart 3.10: In local currency, manufacturing costs have fallen in Taiwan. More than anyone else on this list.

Chart 4.3: Note that gap between labor compensation and inflation. The BLS observes: "Compensation growth rates lagged inflation most notably in Hungary, Taiwan, and South Korea."

To sum up, workers are making less, far less, relative to productivity, than they did in the pre-2007 period. Inflation is running far ahead of labor compensation which is, as the last chart indicates, negative. Falling real compensation, rising inflation, and productivity gains going to ownership and labor robbed of its share. If the Ma Administration wanted to reduce wages to advance its plan to expand labor-intensive, low value manufacturing, things are certainly moving in the right direction.

Speaking of dirty ugly low value manufacturing, there is a petrochemical plant being mooted for Taichung harbor.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

China's New Passport has Expansionist Designs

China has done it again. Neighbors all peeved....
The Philippines and Vietnam condemned Chinese passports containing a map of China's disputed maritime claims on Thursday, branding the new design a violation of their sovereignty.
The map means countries disputing the Chinese claims will have to stamp microchip-equipped passports of countless visitors, in effect acquiescing to the Chinese point of view.
The Peaceful Rise© in action! According to other news sources, the pages contain photos of Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan, that reservoir built by the Japanese, and another site in Taiwan. Winning those hearts and minds.....
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Wild at Heart Heads Up

Just a quick heads up: the local environmental organization Wild at Heart has rebooted and reconfigured their English site. Here is an excerpt from the English version of their Shadow Report on Nuclear Power:
...Like Fukushima Island, the location of the 2011 Japanese nuclear disaster, Taiwan is situated at the juncture of the Phillippine and Eurasian Tectonic Plates. Islands along this geologically active seabed bulge frequently experience high-magnitude earthquakes -- from 1991 to 2006, there were an average of 18,500 earthquakes per year, with 49,919 in 1999 alone. There are faultlines near all four of Taiwan's nuclear plants. Chinshan and Kuosheng plants are located near Mt. Datun, a dormant volcano, and the Lungmen plant is exposed to the activity of 70 underwater volcanoes, with geologists warning that volcanic eruptions are a potential threat to nuclear safety. In 1867, the Keelung-Chinshan Tsunami -- the most deadly in Taiwan's recorded history -- affected areas dangerously close to the present-day locations of the Chinshan and Kuosheng plants. In 1771, 85-meter-tall waves inundated Japan's Ishigaki Island, 200 kilometers off Taiwan's northeastern coast. Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs notes in its Central Geological Survey that faultline and underwater volcano activity is expected to accompany the observed expansion of the oceanic trough northeast of Taiwan, making tsunamis a likely occurrence in the area. This is of great concern because geologists believe that tsunamis pose a serious threat to nuclear plant safety. The Chinshan and Kuosheng plants are also located along the potential path of rock- and land-slides....
The site looks great, enjoy a few minutes there.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Next Media: One of Many =UPDATED+

Some people argue that Taiwan is being "Finlandized" but that view is incorrect. What is actually happening is that Taiwan is being Hongkongized. Commonwealth Magazine observes in another one of its excellent articles Will Taiwan go the way of Hong Kong?:
Former Legislative Councilor and human rights activist Christine Loh wrote in her book Underground Front: The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong that the vast majority of new owners of Hong Kong media are tycoons with vital business interests in China. These tycoons do not even shy away from buying loss-making Hong Kong media against common sense and entrepreneurial principles. Loh cites as an example Taiwanese billionaire Tsai Eng-meng, chairman and CEO of Want Want China Holdings, who bought a 47.58-percent stake in troubled Asia Television in 2009.
Like Hong Kong, Taiwan is being strategically flooded with Chinese tourists:
The southern city of Kaohsiung, long ruled by the DPP, is a prime target for Chinese efforts to win the hearts and minds of the locals with tangible economic benefits. Chinese nationals account for 60 percent of the harbor city's international tourists, a ratio two times higher than the nationwide average of 30 percent.
These tourists, as I have noted before, create new dependencies, and can be withdrawn if need be to punish southern Taiwan, as they were in 2009 when the Dalai Lama visited Taiwan. Southern Taiwan, long an exploited colonial region of the north and consequently powerfully pro-independence, is an important area of Chinese action. According to the article, Beijing's strategy is aimed at winning the three middles: middle (and lower) incomes, small and medium enterprises, and middle Taiwan. But a key component is a below the radar struggle over the media:
China-based Taiwanese entrepreneurs have also been exhibiting a growing appetite for unprofitable Taiwanese media outlets. In 2007 Eric Teng, who is chairman of Singfor Life Insurance and has strong business interests in Shanghai, joined hands with like-minded entrepreneurs to buy the staunchly anti-communist Central Daily News, the official party newspaper of Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT). The print newspaper was then revamped as an online publication. According to its mission statement, Central Daily News is now devoted to cross-strait peace.

Moreover, the Kaohsiung-based Commons Daily, once reputed to be the largest newspaper in southern Taiwan, is about to be taken over by Global Life Insurance chairman Yeh Chia-ying, who has long maintained cozy ties with Kuo Hua Life Insurance's Ong clan and the Chin Pao San Group of Hong Kong. Another popular newspaper in the south, the Chinese-language Taiwan Times, has repeatedly been the target of takeover attempts.
ECFA, modeled after the Hong Kong CEPA agreement, is one of three prongs of Beijing's Hong Kong strategy for winning hearts and minds: (1) privileged economic access to Chinese markets; (2) floods of Chinese tourists; and (3) control of the local media in the hands of pro-Bejing billionaires. The article argues that Taiwan's more developed networks of civic organizations and its more entrenched democracy will enable Taiwan to prevent Hongkongization, but I would argue that Beijing's strategy, though strategically apt, is a tactical failure on all fronts because it exists merely for appearances' sake. ECFA is a sham that has done little for Taiwan's agriculture while encouraging smuggling from China; the profits from the China tourist trade are far less than the Commonwealth article claims and remain largely in the hands of the Chinese firms running the trade, and a pro-Taiwan media alternative still exists. Of course, Beijing could wake up at any moment.....

UPDATE: The International Federation of Journalists is also concerned about the implications of the NextMedia purchase for press freedom in Taiwan.
Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1957 Anti-American Riots

A friend of mine passed me these photos off of eBay from the Baltimore Sun (thanks, M). They are pictures of the US embassy in Taipei after the destructive 1957 riots. Others are here, here, and here. The riots were apparently stage-managed. This site has the story.
Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Economist Validates and other Predictions

A few posts down, I noted how The Economist "criticism" of President Ma was actually a backhanded affirmation of his policies and provision of cover for the many deep issues that plague his Administration. I observed:
...By using the term bumbler to adumbrate the many such issues surrounding Ma's presidency, The Economist actually hides the severe problems with Ma while making a pretense of criticizing him.
The Taipei Times reported today on The Economists' response to the issues raised by the pan-Green media's outpouring of glee...
Ministry spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said Dominic Ziegler, Asia editor of the weekly magazine, said he had noticed that “bumbler” had been “irresponsibly mistranslated” by some Taiwanese media as “笨蛋” (or “dimwit”), which he said was a “gross mistranslation.”

Ziegler said the two Chinese characters used in local media were an incorrect translation of “bumbler.”

Ziegler sent an e-mail reply to Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), Hsia said, in response to the ministry’s reaction to the article titled “Ma the bumbler” in its current edition, which in its body calls Ma an “ineffectual bumbler.”

Hsia quoted Ziegler as saying that the word “bumbler” is not an insult to Ma because it describes a man “who acts indecisively or in a slightly confused manner.”
As I said, The Economist supports Ma's work on behalf of Taiwan's wealthy non-taxpayers, his wrench of Taiwan into China's orbit, his signing of the less-than-useful ECFA, and sundry other matters. He's just a bumbler, the poor lad, but he's doing the right thing. Ziegler's response was well-played, the media always makes a nice whipping boy and in this case, even better, he happens to be right. If only we lived in that alternate universe where the pan-Green media had dialed up some of the many informed native speakers who live in Taiwan, comment regularly on these issues, and who can meaningfully translate "bumbler" so that Ziegler had no foothold for The Economists' defense of Ma -- imagine if the pan-Green media had instead focused some heat on The Economist for its several glaring errors of fact and interpretation, putting the mag on the defensive, Ziegler would be eating a healthy serving of Corvus retractus today...

In other news, remember when this blog and numerous other commenters noted that (1) prior to ECFA China never promised to let Taiwan have FTAs and (2) it probably never would, since letting Taiwan have FTAs is not in China's interest? Well, scholar Alan Romberg was talking at the release of his new book about the Taiwan-Singapore Economic Cooperation Agreement...
Turning to Taiwan’s quest for international space, Romberg said China would oppose any issues related to Taiwan’s assertion of sovereignty.

This could be seen in Taiwan-Singapore ties in the form of an economic cooperation agreement instead of a free-trade agreement, over which China expressed serious concern and sought to ascertain if Singapore adhered to the “one-China” policy, Romberg said, urging China to show more flexibility in such matters
What? No FTAs? Who could have imagined China would continue to squeeze Taiwan internationally and fight against FTAs for Taiwan?
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PLA Sends out Timely Reminder

Experimenting with the new ring flash in the yard, caught this spider waiting patiently for breakfast.

J Michael scores again in The Diplomat. In a piece on a Chinese simulation of an attack on Taiwan as an ad for an airshow (Taipei Times report)....
Here’s a lesson on how not to win an opponent’s hearts and minds, courtesy of the Chinese. While showcasing a ground strike package during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Guangdong (better known as the Zhuhai Air Show) last week, the Chinese sought to win over foreign clients with a promotional video showing aircraft being blown to bits at an airbase in a country with which Beijing hopes to “reunify.”
...Cole puts his finger on a key point:
Consequently, the benefits of engagement seemed to outweigh the occasional reflex in Beijing to block Taiwan from joining global organizations, such as the U.N., or to participate in international events, from film festivals to military competitions, under the name “Taiwan.” Although such incidents make the news in Taiwan, they rarely outlive the news cycle and are quickly forgotten. Meanwhile, the starkest contradiction — China’s continued military buildup targeting Taiwan despite improving relations — has become a fact of life in Taiwan, an abstract that, aside from academics and a handful of government officials in the U.S., does not keep anyone awake at night.
Every year we go through the ritual of hearing that the number of missiles facing Taiwan has increased. In fact we are used to it, like the summer typhoons, the stray dogs turning up in the neighborhood, and the arrest of local baseball players for cooperating with organized crime. It's part of life. It's become normalized. When the volcano doesn't erupt, we stop thinking about it....
Daily Links:

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The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 2 (1833)

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Daily Links, Monday, Nov 19th, 2012

I purchased a Meike FC-100 LED ring flash from ($29.99, they take Paypal). The instructions are in hilarious Chinglish, mostly incomprehensible, but the thing works ok. For shots more than a meter away it is probably too weak, but for closeup macro work under half a meter, like this shot, it seems to do fine. You can see the reflection of the flash in the water droplets.

What's shining on the blogs this week?

Gorgeous day in central Taiwan


BLAST FROM THE PAST: The Treaty Ports of China and Japan (1867) at Google books. With an extensive discussion on Formosa.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ma the Bumbler Media Storm

The Economist's Ma the Bumbler article has generated a storm in Taiwan, with international media coverage by AFP:
"How can a 'bumbler' get a doctorate from Harvard?" said Wang Chien-shien, president of the Control Yuan, a branch of Taiwan's government in charge of monitoring the others, according to the Taipei-based daily China Times Sunday.

Ma, who received his doctorate in juridical sciences at Harvard in the early 1980s, was the target of a "biased" report, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford was quoted as saying by the Central News Agency.

Diplomatically isolated Taiwan is highly conscious of its image abroad, with the local press often reporting at length if the island is mentioned in international media, even if it is as part of the weather forecast.
Cooler was DPP Chairman Su's response, showing the man's graciousness and class, in the China Post:
“At this time, the entire nation, including the DPP, should work together to help the government,” he said.
...but both former Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, who sounded mostly exasperated, and Su called for the government to convene a national affairs conference about the many pressing issues facing the nation. The China Post also has the Presidential Office response. FocusTaiwan has the rundown of the local media responses. Perhaps the most sensible comment came from longtime Deep Blue diplomat Loh I-cheng:
Asked how Ma should respond to the British weekly's comment, Loh I-cheng, a retired diplomat, said the president should just laugh off the criticism.

"National leaders should always push themselves to do things that will not leave them with any sense of guilt.
Exactly. But laughing things off is simply not how things are done here. Sending out the diplomats to rebut a magazine article really ought to be beneath the dignity of the ostensible President of China.

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Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Economist gives Fair-Haired Boy Ma 40 lashes with a Wet Noodle

The Economist ran a surprising article this week that's been the talk of Taiwan: Ma the Bumbler. Although there has been much glee on the pan-Green side (more on their moronic response in a moment), showing once again how in Taiwan, Foreigners Validate, this piece is actually a pile of tepid dreck that totally misses on saying what it should have said, no doubt due to The Economist's commitment to ideological purity and its longtime support of Ma Ying-jeou. Although it also appears that the writers didn't do their research. Let's have a look....
Ordinary people do not find their livelihoods improving. Salaries have stagnated for a decade. The most visible impact of more open ties with China, which include a free-trade agreement, has been property speculation in anticipation of a flood of mainland money.
The first two sentences are largely correct. The last one is largely wrong. Property speculation in Taipei is largely due to the fact that, as this blog has ceaselessly observed (whatever on earth do people think I write for?), expensive Taipei apartments are now tax shelters. The China Cargo Cult is just the excuse for building all those tax shelters. Moreover, the most visible impact of open ties with China isn't the Taipei property bubble -- the writers with that claim have merely revealed their Taipei-centric thinking -- but the hordes of nasty, spitting, pushing, arrogant, tetchy Chinese tourists creating ever more ill will between locals and those who anticipate being their overlords, as Chinese tourists constantly remind us. Thank you, Beijing and Ma Ying-jeou for send us this golden shower of tourists, so many of us knew the joy it would bring.
Yet Mr Ma’s leadership is also to blame. He has failed to paint a more hopeful future, with sometimes hard measures needed now. Worse, he frequently tweaks policies in response to opposition or media criticism. It suggests indecisiveness.
Ma has failed to paint a more hopeful future? Well, except for 6-3-3. "The Golden Decade." The claims that ECFA would result in many new Free Trade Agreements. The tourism bonanza claims. The ECFA bonanza claims. Readers will no doubt be able to add their own. Ma has not in fact failed to paint a more hopeful future; the problem is that the hopeful futures he paints are rank nonsense to any intelligent listener. Even stranger is that the best criticism The Economist can come up with is "indecisiveness?" Don't they read the local papers? Remember when you searched Google in Chinese and the first suggested term for Ma Ying-jeou was "incompetent"? Remember all the criticisms from all quarters that Ma is aloof, out of touch? Ma's problems date all the way back to typhoon Morakot and have been extensively documented in the local and foreign media (Asia Sentinel, Apr 2010, post Morakot, Aug 2009). "Indecisive?" The only indecisiveness here is The Economist's criticism....
Public anger first arose in June, when Mr Ma raised the price of government-subsidised electricity....
Public anger with Ma long predates the electricity price rises. It goes back to Morakot years ago, as I just noted, when his handlers let him out of their control and he said all sorts of silly things while giving the appearance that he didn't give a damn about what happened and overseeing a dilatory and incompetent government response. The claim about June is wrong on its face; the electricity price rises date from [use Google to find out, the Economist writers didn't]. Here, let me cite an article about it...
Following the announcement of hugely unpopular rises in the price of government-subsidised electricity, Mr Ma said on May 1st that the rises would be implemented in stages.
I got that from some rag from the UK, let me think, oh yeah.... The Economist, May, 2012. Taipower applied for the electricity price rises in... April (my post). Public anger about the electricity prices dates from April, not June.

And public anger? Where's the beef? Remember how peeved the public was over the beef issue? No mention of that here either, yet that UK rag I was just talking about had a piece on public discontent on it in March. Do we not read our own magazine?

But let's go ahead and list all those things not appearing in here that different segments of the population are upset about. Income inequality. The bogus capital gains tax. Taiwan's low ratio of wages to productivity, among the lowest in Asia. The utter failure of ECFA, which has provided no identifiable benefits for the population. Note that all these ignored political issues are part and parcel of the neoliberal looting of Taiwan's economy that The Economist has always been a cheerleader for. Not part of our ideological structure! Better ignore them! Moving Taiwan much closer to China, something that has angered people all across the political spectrum, also vanishes from this piece.

The Economist writers end by making the rookie mistake of imagining that the bickering among the KMT signals something new...
Cracks are starting to grow in the KMT façade. Recently Sean Lien, a prominent politician,...
...especially strange when the first paragraph of the piece refers to KMT "infighting." The Economist team first fails to properly contextualize this claim. Sean Lien is the son of Lien Chan, the powerful KMT politician and failed former KMT Presidential candidate, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the KMT. The context is important because as correctly contextualized pieces have noted, Party elites, including Lien Chan, have long disliked Ma Ying-jeou. No cracks are appearing; rather, these fault lines are always there and show up regularly as senior party members bicker amongst themselves. The interpretation offered here is completely incorrect. Nothing new is going on.

Finally, the orgy of pan-Green delight at The Economist apparently turning on its longtime fair-haired boy is disgraceful. As one of the sharpest observers of Taiwan politics I know observed privately, the translation used on the political talk shows, 無能的笨蛋, incompetent idiot, is wildly overblown. But the Liberty Times also ran with a very similar claim that is also much too strong. As my friend observed, associated with the Liberty Times is the Taipei Times and a corps of very fine translators. Apparently LT was so interested in taking a shot at Ma that they decided to ignore this resource. Never mind that criticizing Ma as incompetent is pointless; the public had no faith in his ability but re-elected him anyway. The "bumbler" label is a sideshow of a sideshow.

Sadly, in its glee the pan-Green media missed the point. The ultimate failure of The Economist's piece isn't its errors of fact, key omissions, and tepid criticism of its long-fawned over golden boy. It's their highly ideological selection of bumbler to describe Ma. A bumbler is one who acts clumsily, but with positive intention. But did Ma have a positive intention on ECFA? Or was his purpose merely to draw Taiwan closer to China irrespective of the obvious negatives? Did Ma merely bumble to failure on the capital gains tax? Did the upward revision of the property tax assessment, unchanged since 1987, disappear from the political discourse due to Ma's bumbling? Have we failed to obtain F-16s because Ma is a bumbler, or because he doesn't want them? One could go on all day with such questions, but I know your eyes are glazing over and your morning coffee is almost finished. By using the term bumbler to adumbrate the many such issues surrounding Ma's presidency, The Economist actually hides the severe problems with Ma while making a pretense of criticizing him.

UPDATE: Some excellent comments below. SY points out that UDN reports that Ma wants the Taiwan rep in the UK to lodge a protest with The Economist (link).
"....that Ma Ying-Jeou has requested the MOFA to have the Taiwan representative to the UK find a way to lodge "a proper protest" with The Economist ("要求外交部透過駐英代表處對「經濟學人」適度提出抗議") and to take a stand ("表達我政府的立場".)"
... "to express his government's point of view" to The Economist. No doubt there will be a letter. David from Formosa thinks it may represent a watershed moment:
Compare the use of "Ma the bumbler" with the "Havard educated Ma", "Ma the peacemaker" and "Ma the popular, charismatic leader" memes that have dominated the international media for so long. The Economist may have broken the spell that has let Ma avoid a lot of much needed scrutiny for the last four and a half years.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Malaysia Interlude: Shopping Pulau Labuan In Chinese!

As you all know, I really love Malaysia and have gone there the last two years to enjoy a couple of weeks of cycling in Borneo each time. So when the good people at Tourism Malaysia contacted me and said write for us! I was totally happy to. Here is my piece on Shopping on Labuan Island in Chinese. Pictures by me too! Once again: I'm heading back to Malaysia in January, maybe the Peninsula, maybe another restful two weeks in Borneo. Would love to have you along!

This article was part of a publication for Tourism Malaysia. If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website如果你喜歡本文並且想要瞭解更多關於去馬來西亞旅遊的知識,那麼請訪問馬來西亞旅遊網站 
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Friday, November 16, 2012

DOJ Heroically Seizes Assets of Family of Chen Shui-bian

Whoa! Thank heavens our heroic US Dept of Justice took some time out from busting potsmokers to seize property from the family of Chen Shui-bian. You can read the trumpet blast of freedom yourself complete below or go to the DOJ. Note that the bribe is still referred to as "alleged."

Let me put this in perspective for you with three questions:
  • Has the DOJ seized even a penny from either of the powerful Chinese one-party state politicians whose representatives and descendants have extensive, nay, vast holdings in the US?

  • Has the DOJ seized even a penny of the US assets of any of the individuals or entities allegedly involved in bribing Chen Shui-bian?

  • Has the DOJ seized even a penny from the Wall Street kleptocracy?
Way to strike for freedom and against corruption there, DOJ. If only Chen Shui-bian had blown up the world economy through extensive fraud or run a one-party state that jailed and murdered its opponents, his US investments would be safe and sound.

Yes, I know, Chen Shui-bian is the font of all evil, causing drought, disease, war, famine, and preventing the Cubs from reaching the series for the last 103 years. Spare me. His prosecution gave every appearance of being 100% politics, an anti-democracy tactic whose political and propaganda goals the US Department of Justice just served. Way to go, DOJ.

ADDED: Don't miss SY's comment below.


Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEWednesday, November 14, 2012
U.S. Forfeits $2.1 Million Worth of Property Purchased with Alleged Bribes Paid to the Family of the Former President of Taiwan

The Department of Justice has forfeited a Manhattan condominium and a Virginia residence – with a combined value of approximately $ 2.1 million – purchased with the proceeds of alleged bribes paid to the family of the former President of Taiwan, Shui-Bian Chen, as part of the department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced the forfeiture today with U.S . Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.

On Oct. 23, 2012, U.S. District Judge Norman M oon of the Western District of Virginia entered a final forfeiture judgment against a residence in Keswick, Va., and On Oct. 24, 2012, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in the Southern District of New York entered a final forfeiture judgment against a condominium in Manhattan. Both properties were previously owned by the former first family of Taiwan through a British Virgin Islands shell company.

Today, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) took possession of the Virginia property. The title of the Manhattan condominium has been vested through court order to the government.

According to the civil forfeiture complaints filed in this case, during former President Chen’s administration, Yuanta Securities Co. Ltd. paid a bribe of 200 million New Taiwan dollars (equivalent to approximately $6 million USD) to former first lady Sue-Jen Wu in 2004 to ensure that the Taiwan government would not oppose Yuanta’s bid to acquire a financial holding company.

The former first family used Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts, British Virgin Island companies and a St. Kitts and Nevis trust to purchase the two properties. One of the shell companies, Avallo Limited, which held title to both properties through U.S. domestic companies, settled both forfeiture actions under terms that provide for the sale of the property and forfeiture to the U.S. government of approximately 85 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of both properties.

“The Kleptocracy Initiative was established to prevent corrupt leaders from using the United States as a safe haven for their ill-gotten gains,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “The former president of Taiwan’s family allegedly accepted millions in bribes in exchange for official action favoring Yuanta Securities, and we have now taken possession of two valuable properties purchased with their alleged spoils. We are committed to using every tool available to root out foreign official corruption.”

“This most recent seizure of luxury properties in New York City and Keswick, Va. belonging to the son of the former President of Taiwan Shui-Bian Chen is part of a continued effort by Homeland Security Investigations special agents to identify, locate, and seize properties and accounts in the United States belonging to him and his family,” said ICE Director Morton. “HSI will continue to find and seize the U.S. assets of foreign corrupt officials who try to use our country to conceal the illicit proceeds and profits of their crimes.”

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Linda Samuel and Trial Attorney Jennifer Wallis of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance. The case was investigated by ICE- HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group, the HSI Miami Asset Identification and Removal Group and the HSI Attaché Hong Kong, with assistance from the Taiwan Ministry of Justice, Special Investigations Division.

This case is part of the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. This initiative is carried out by a dedicated team of prosecutors in the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and where appropriate return those proceeds to benefit those harmed.

Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through institutions in the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to .

HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group in Miami targets corrupt foreign officials around the world that attempt to utilize U.S. financial institutions to launder illicit funds. The group conducts investigations into the laundering of proceeds emanating from foreign public corruption, bribery or embezzlement. The objective is to prevent foreign derived ill-gotten gains from entering the U.S. financial infrastructure, to seize identified assets in the United States and repatriate these funds on behalf of those affected.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Next Media Mess

Last month the big deal went through: publisher Jimmy Lai of Hong Kong decided to sell off his NextMedia's print and television operations in Taiwan. The buyer at that time was Jeffrey Koo, Jr. The sale was widely seen as a blow to media independence in Taiwan, since Next Media does a great job throwing light in dark places, and Apple Daily, despite its front pages splashed with sex and gore, did manage to establish itself as a relatively non-partisan news source.

New wrinkle emerged this week: the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) is balking at the sale to Jeffrey Koo, Jr. The China Post observes:
The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC, 金管會) yesterday ruled that Chinatrust Charity Foundation Chairman (中信慈善基金) Jeffrey Koo Jr. (辜仲諒) is not eligible to run Next Media or be the representative of signatories to buy the group.

Although Koo has only 7 percent of the shares of Chinatrust Financial Holding Co. (中國信託), the FSC ruled that his position as director of that company, and his father Jeffrey Koo Sr.'s (辜濂松) position as chairman, means he is prohibited by law from running Next Media.

FSC regulations stipulate that financial institutions cannot step into the operation of companies in other industries.
According to the report, another prominent Taiwan magazine, Wealth Magazine, reported that Tsai Eng-meng (Robert Tsai), the fanatically pro-China owner of the WantWant Group, is one of the backers of the purchased. Tsai denies this, but many media reports have put his name on this purchase. Wealth Magazine said that Tsai would put an end to Next Media's habit of investigative reporting. Koo has stated publicly that he would respect the magazine's editorial independence (take cynical comment as read). In response to the FSC's disapproval of Koo, Formosa Plastics, also allegedly part of the deal, is alleged to have raised its stake in the deal.

Some of you may be scratching your head over Koo. That's the same Koo who was on the lam from authorities. Hilarity will ensure when this Taipei Times report reminds you....
One of the financial scandals in which Koo was involved was Chinatrust Financial’s flawed bid for rival Mega Financial Holdings Co (兆豐金控) in 2006 — known as the Red Fire Case (紅火案), after the name of the offshore company used to conduct the illegal transaction. He had evaded an arrest warrant and hid in Japan for two years before returning to Taiwan in 2008. He was the vice chairman of Chinatrust Financial at the time.

Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜), organizer of the alliance, said Koo Jr was not fit to run a media business because he had been sentenced to nine years in jail by the Taipei District Court in 2010 for the illegal takeover bid for Mega Financial in violation of the Securities Exchange Act (證券交易法) and the Banking Act (銀行法).
So...the FSC thinks that a guy with a 7% stake in a firm is in violation of the rules preventing finanicial firms running media operations, but that it is perfectly ok for this same fella who has been convicted of illegal financial transactions and has been sentenced to nine years (case is on appeal) in slammer to be running a charity foundation and be a director of a ChinaTrust Financial. Probably this has nothing to do with the fact that the Koos are a powerful pro-KMT family.

Interestingly enough, the Taipei Times article did not mention that the reason Koo returned to Taiwan in 2008 was to testify in the Chen Shui-bian case (last year Koo was one of the factors in the lawsuit from 26 civic groups about the Chen case). Yes, that's right -- you can get sentenced to nine years in jail and confess to involvement in bribing the President, and the FSC will still accept you as a director of a large charity concern and a trust company and object to your owning a media firm on the grounds that you are involved in running a trust company -- not because you are a convicted crook.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

State Funds Mess...

Fund mess: KMT-DPP wrangling is ongoing...
The Presidential Office yesterday declined former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) call for the president to hold a national affairs conference to discuss problems related to the various pension programs, saying that pension issues are being taken care of by the executive and legislative branches.
The Council of Labor Affairs has been taking heat over the management of NT$ 2 trillion in funds. For example:
After news surfaced that the labor funds would go bankrupt within the next decade, additional information was revealed suggesting that the funds had suffered multimillion-dollar losses due to deliberate manipulation of stock prices by individual operators.
and from Tuesday's China Post:
Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said during an interpellation session that the operation of the four largest government funds are all consigned to six investment banks. Although the profit margin was set to be 8.436 percent, the actual profit margins from 2009 to 2010 ranged from minus 7.2 percent to 3.78 percent. The weighted stock index, however, was up by 6.89 percent.


In response, Chang said he will ask officials to investigate whether any of the six banks have conducted certain practices such as buying stocks of companies that apparently suffered from losses. Officials will also check the accounts of investors and their family members to look for any suspicious income. Officials will also look into whether investors were bidding against each other using government funds.

Former ING fund manager Hsieh Cing-liang (謝青良) has been under investigation for allegedly purchasing a large number of stocks in Ablerex Electronics Company (盈正豫順電子) in an attempt to push up the stock price, and later used the labor pension fund and labor insurance fund to purchase these stocks. Hsieh walked away with NT$14 million, while government funds accumulated losses of NT$144 million.

KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said on Nov. 10 that the labor pension fund, the labor insurance fund and the public service pension fund lost NT$300 million in total through purchasing stocks of GIGA Solar Materials Corp. (禾碩電子材料) at NT$900 per share and selling these stocks at between NT$400 to NT$600 per share.
Turning over giant sums to financial firms who mismanaged them? Who could have suspected financial firms would do such a thing? That's never happened before! This mess triggered an investigation by the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) into the management of these funds, which in turned spurred our slothful legislature to spend a few minutes on the nation's business and look into the NT$2 trillion in other funds... yes, you guessed it, the oversight system for these funds is, well, spotty, and not managed the way it is in other countries. As the article points out, the four major funds, labor insurance, labor pension, employment insurance and national pension, cumulatively lost roughly NT$90 billion this year and if the claims are correct, their growth would have been better if they had simply been pegged to the TAIEX. The lights shining in dark corners are also prompting the city of Taipei to look into its own pension program. These funds need to be on a firm footing since the population is aging....
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nelson Report on Asia People in Obama's Second Term

This got sent around. From the Beltway insider Nelson Report:


Since Bader left for Brookings and private sector consulting, the heavy China load has been carried by Donilon, State's Kurt Campbell, with key starring roles by Sec. Clinton, DOD Sec. Panetta, and the President himself. Whether this "senior China person" serves at State or the NSC can be critical, given lines of communication and personal relations issues.

Richard Bush, former NIO at the CIA for Asia, former President of the US Institute on Taiwan, former House Foreign Affairs Committee China person, current China guru at Brookings...would be a widely popular choice with the additional virtue of making sense from any perspective, whether at the White House, State, or in Beijing.

Think also Brookings' Ken Lieberthal, former Senior Director for Asia in Bill Clinton's NSC, constantly back and forth DC/Beijing, prolific writer/advocate who would fill all the "senior China person" profiles.

Michael Schiffer? Extensive Obama Campaign experience, good record as a DAS at DOD, and more recently getting re-acquainted with the vagaries of Capitol Hill as the Asia guy on Kerry's committee staff. That's why we have him slotted-in for NSC Senior Director, given our "China person" premise.

Frank Januzzi? Enormously experienced Cap Hill staffer, especially on Japan, Korea and N. Korea, currently very happy as Amnesty International's DC rep, good record of bipartisan cooperation. Could do either State or NSC in the event he's asked."

Your guess is as good as mine. But the two main choices for Sec of State on Huffpost today, UN Ambassador Rice and Sen Kerry, don't seem to have a whole lot of China experience. On the other hand, I would have said the same about Hillary Clinton and she's been a really good Sec of State. So what do I know?
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Call for Papers, 2013 European Assoc of Taiwan Studies Conference

Sure wish I could go! Call for Papers for the 2013 European Association of Taiwan Studies Conference. It will be held in Lyon May 2-4, 2013. Website for details: EATS
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.