The new [Taiwanese] legislature will be so dominated by the opposition that it can pass or reject any bill it likes or dislikes.
That doesn't bode very well for Ma's bid for the nation's highest public office.
A new [Chinese Nationalist Party] premier has to live up to the expectations of the dissatisfied electorate in less than two months before the presidential race takes place.
It's a mission impossible.
If the [Chinese Nationalist Party] head of government fails, the disgruntled eligible voters will turn against the opposition party.
Honeymoon, doc. The KMT, like any other party, will be granted a honeymoon. All they have to do is play it safe for two months, and they're home free.
Play it safe. That means no presidential recalls that engender sympathy for the other party. No matter how good they feel. Oh, and while you're at it, you might want to keep champion driver Chui Yi from running down any MORE policemen with his truck, hmmm?
But in all honesty, they don't really have to be all that conservative. Doc, your man's golden. A shoo-in, as you like to say. As I wrote in a previous post:
...should the Taiwanese elect a legislature on January 12th composed of a KMT supermajority, they will have instantly rendered their March 20th presidential election an exercise in futility. Vote for a KMT president, get a KMT president. Vote for a DPP president - and you AGAIN get a KMT president. Because the KMT both can and WILL recall that DPP president (and his vice-president) within a very short time after being elected. Leaving the legislative speaker - a KMT man, of course - to assume the post of president.
Taiwanese opposed to Ma might just as well sit March 20th out, playing mahjong or singing karaoke or stupifying themselves with hard liquor. 'Cause after the January 12th fiasco, their vote isn't worth a damn anymore. Not a damn. They could give Ma's opponent a landslide victory, and it wouldn't mean a thing. The wrong guy wins - you recall him. Or impeach him. Or failing that, gut the powers of his office, all nice and legal-like.
(Don't know if you've considered this, but the KMT might even find it useful to have an impotent Hsieh in the presidency. They'd still have all the power that really counts, while at the same time have the benefit of someone to rail against in the next election!)
A gorilla escaped from his Taipei City Zoo enclosure on Saturday and caused a visitor to stumble in fright at the sight of the giant primate before one of the zoo's veterinarians ended his afternoon promenade with a tranquilizer dart.
Fortunately, the raptors are still in their cages, I think...
At a separate setting yesterday, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) urged party members not to be too excited about the party's victory in the elections and pledged that the party would not abuse its power as the dominant party in the legislature.
"`Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.' The KMT should remember this saying. If we are too arrogant with victory, we will lose the presidential election," Ma said yesterday while visiting the mausoleum of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) in Taoyuan County.
Oh, he does talk the talk, don't he? In the immortal words of Ma Ying-jeou - or was it the Amazing Spiderman? - with great power comes great responsibility. And yet, it was barely a day after the KMT's lop-sided legislative victory that members of the party faithful began contemplating a grab for ever more power:
[Chiang Min-chin, a pro-KMT scholar suggested that the Chinese Nationalist Party] should amend the constitution to impose a proper system of checks and balances on [Taiwanese] presidential powers...
Not too surprising that a party with a two-thirds majority in the legislature would want to castrate the presidency. But what of the legislature? Any plans to impose a proper system of checks and balances on THEMSELVES?
On the heels of the KMT's massive electoral victory, a bit of not-so-ancient history from Taiwan's China Post, with a rather startling admission:
With over a two-thirds majority in the new parliament, the [Chinese Nationalist Party] may try to recall President Chen again. It failed to do so three times in 2006, because it could not muster a two-thirds majority vote. Chen survived the three recall motions thanks to the solid support of more than one-third of lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan who are DPP lawmakers.
The [Chinese Nationalist Party] has to come up with a better excuse to oust the president, however. [emphasis added]
Is the China Post now publicly admitting that the KMT resorted to using flimsy excuses in their previous attempts to recall Chen? Are they really saying that all that huffing and puffing about recalling Chen over the National Unification Council was nothing more than hysterics intended to gin up outrage among KMT true-believers? That demands for Chen's recall over his attempted cancellation of a nuclear power plant in 2000 was nothing more than political theater?
Well, those days are over, fellas. Sure is easy to make irresponsible calls for someone's head when you know there's absolutely NO chance of the axe ever falling. But the KMT's just been handed a two-thirds legislative majority. A couple seats shy of three-quarters. And if Chen's golden retriever so much as poops on the sidewalk, the KMT can recall him. So it really is put up or shut up time.
If the KMT truly believes Chen should have been recalled in 2006 (but was only spared because of overzealous partisanship), they should recall him now. Better that way. Why do they need NEW excuses? Aren't the OLD ones good enough?
Frankly, I'm looking forward to a Chen recall. Let the Taiwanese understand once and for all the enormity of their decision to grant absolute power to a party that's so blase' about overturning the results of past (and by implication, future) elections. Let 'em know that their decision yesterday has stripped Taiwan of political checks and balances. Let 'em know that the price of democracy is responsibility for the men you elect. And let 'em ruefully reflect on this old piece of cynical wisdom:
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
I imagine Taiwanese will be getting it soon. Good and hard.
Anyone know the result of the Kaohsiung referendum on limiting classroom sizes?
Sure, it's understandable that the English papers in Taiwan would discuss how the two national referendums initiated by the major political parties here went down in flames, but it would also be nice to know how a genuine grassroots initiative at the local level fared.
Gee, ya think China might be trying to send Taiwan some kind of, I dunno, some kind of message, or something?
In China sailors and civilians working on the former Russian aircraft carrier
Varyag, report that the ship will soon be officially renamed to the Shi Lang
(after the Chinese general who took possession of Taiwan in 1681...)
“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too
frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven
that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
It may merely be a case of KMT bosses hyping their electoral chances, but there's been some talk lately that Taiwan's Chinese Nationalist Party might pick up a two-thirds majority in the upcoming legislative elections. From today's Taiwan News:
[Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian] related that some rumors had claimed that the DPP would only win between 29
and 38 seats and observed that KMT leaders were "brimming with confidence" and
expected to win a two-thirds majority, or at least 76 of the 113 seats in the
new Legislative Yuan.
Chen elaborated a little on the consequences for Taiwan of the KMT winning so decisively:
...the DPP chairman warned that the "worst case" of the regaining
by the KMT of absolute control over the Legislature "would not only be a grave
setback for the DPP but will be a total defeat for Taiwan, democracy and
The president said that the capture of a two-thirds Legislative majority by
the KMT would cause Taiwan's national status to retreat from the DPP's position
that "Taiwan and China constitute two countries, one on each side of the Taiwan
Strait" to the KMT era of "one China and ultimate unification" as maintained by
the KMT's "National Unification Guidelines."
"Taiwan's national survival and direction of development will face a
180-degree turn" and "'unification' will no longer be impossible or a ridiculous
ideological advocation but will become the accelerated policy goal of the
Chinese Nationalist Party government," predicted Chen.
It's a little surprising that Chen didn't mention some of the more immediate effects of a two-thirds win by the KMT. Dr. Joe Hung of Taiwan's China Post has been good enough to reveal some of what could lie in store:
Should the KMT win a two-thirds majority or more, President Chen Shui-bian...might be recalled before he steps down
on May 20.
Poor, naive soul I am. Here I was, thinking the KMT had given up trying to recall Chen. After all, the guy only has a few more months left in office. But why let good old-fashioned practicality get in the way of political vendetta?
Now, it must be admitted that Chen leaving office a month or two early isn't likely to make much difference in the grand scheme of things. But what Hung fails to do is take the implications of this legislative power a step further: if the KMT can so easily dispose of President Chen with their hypothetical two-thirds majority, then they can just as easily do away with some OTHER successor president who has the misfortune of belonging to the "wrong" political party.
In other words, should the Taiwanese elect a legislature on January 12th composed of a KMT supermajority, they will have instantly rendered their March 20th presidential election an exercise in futility. Vote for a KMT president, get a KMT president. Vote for a DPP president - and you AGAIN get a KMT president. Because the KMT both can and WILL recall that DPP president (and his vice-president) within a very short time after being elected. Leaving the legislative speaker - a KMT man, of course - to assume the post of president.
(This might sound a bit crazy and conspiratorial to anyone unfamiliar with Taiwanese politics. To those I would say, 'twasn't me who wanted Chen recalled for abolishing a defunct unification committee that hadn't met in seven years. No, KMT members were the ones busy setting the bar that low. Past being prologue, we can assume future KMT recall efforts will also be based on similarly flimsy grounds.)
Taiwanese polls are notoriously unreliable, and we'll know in a few days just how well the Chinese Nationalist Party fares. But give the KMT the power of automatic presidential recall via a two-thirds majority? I wouldn't even trust MYSELF to wield that kind of power responsibly over my political opponents - much less a party that had recently presided over 40 years of martial law.
He may be a polonium-poisoning, vote-rigging, opposition-jailing despot...but Vlad the Cad DOES know how to pick 'em. For the State Duma, I mean.
First off, meet Alina Kabayeva, 24-year old former gymnast and newly-elected legislator from the United Russia Party. She enjoys quiet, candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, and rolling around naked on synthetic animal fur.
Next up, let's give another warm welcome to Alina's distinguished parlimentary colleague, Svetlana Khorkina. A seven time Olympic medal-winning gymnast, cerebral Svetlana enjoys reading, debating new laws, and, from the looks of things, the occasional wardrobe malfunction.
Tyranny may indeed be the ugliest form of government...but Putin, the old dog, is sure doing his level best to persuade us otherwise!
Vice-President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday blasted the
Ministry of Education over its "manhandling" of the re-emplacement of the
inscription at National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, saying she was sorry the
project had been handled without consideration of public sentiment.
At an election rally in Jhonghe, Lu, the first Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP) heavyweight to criticize Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng's
(杜正勝) decisions regarding the hall, said the minister should
be blamed for DPP's recent waning popularity.
"From my observations, the ministry's mishandling of the former CKS Hall
issue was a major blow to the party's support over the past few months. Tu must
apologize to the public for not handling the matter in a more genteel and
agreeable manner," she said. [emphasis added]
Time to play pin the tail on the scapegoat. Yes, Tu engaged in some regrettable and counter-productive name-calling,
but there are plenty of other people responsible for the independence
party's fall in fortunes - not the least of whom would be Lu's boss,
President Chen Shui-bian. (Bit hard for her to blame the big guy in
Anyways, let's not forget the circumstances here. Recall that the Taiwanese Central Government:
paid for 240,000 meters of prime real-estate in central Taipei *
paid for the construction of a monument to Chiang Kai-shek
paid yearly for the maintenance and upkeep of said monument
Then one day, after making this sizable investment, the national
government decided it wanted out of the dictator-glorification
business. So it tried to rename the hall. At which point, the Taipei
City government said, not so fast. We love CKS, and we WANT
him glorified. But instead of making the national government a
fair market-value offer on the property so that the monument could continue to
send this message, the city government decided to take the
cheap and confiscatory route instead:
We hereby proclaim Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to be a temporary
historical site, they said. The national government may still "own" it
in some kind of legalistic sense, but from now on, we in City Hall, WE
will control it. Don't even think of damaging or desecrating this
ancient (27 year-old) artifact - not a SINGLE nail may be used to hang
a new sign, nor a single old name-plate be removed. And just to
show you we mean business, we'll call out the police and set up road blocks
to prevent anybody from doing so.
(My, political speech sure is grand. And cheap too, when it's on someone else's nickel!)
At this point the central government said, playtime's over, and sent
the national police to protect the folks sent in to change the name on
In a nutshell, THOSE were the circumstances under which Tu said what he
said. He may not have been "genteel and agreeable," but it's not
always easy being "genteel and agreeable" when you're in the middle of
a good, old-fashioned showdown. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- POSTSCRIPT:
During the standoff, I often thought that both sides should have asked
a court to decide who has jurisdiction over the monument. (Based on
purely libertarian principles, I think the national government had the
stronger case.) Surely that should have been the FIRST step, instead
of the face-saving FINAL one, taken by City Hall only after it had
already backed down.
(On the other hand, you might argue it was wise the courts weren't
involved. Because no matter WHAT the judge's ruling, someone was bound to be
disappointed, and the court's political impartiality would have been
subsequently questioned by one side or the other.)
Leaving that aside, I wonder whether this affair hasn't filled
Taiwanese businessmen with a certain sense of unease. After all, they
just witnessed City Hall arbitrarily declare the Chiang Kai-shek
Memorial Hall a temporary historical site. They know Taipei was busy
spending big bucks finding a panel of "experts" to testify in favor of
that ruling. And if those businessmen happened to be CKS fans, no doubt
they were busy applauding.
But here's the thing: if City Hall can do that to a 27 year-old
monument belonging to the national government, why can't it do the same
to a 27 year-old FACTORY belonging to YOU as well?
Just think of the shakedown possibilities here: "Hello Mr.
Businessman, we'd like an especially LARGE campaign contribution from
you this year. And if we don't get it, maybe we'll announce your shop
is a temporary historical site. (We've done it before, you may have
noticed.) Now, don't let the process worry you - we'll just spend THE NEXT
YEAR assembling a group of "experts" who'll decide whether or not to
make that status permanent. In the meantime, please don't forget you're forbidden by law from making ANY changes to the building's interior
"Terribly sorry if that puts a crimp in your operations, old bean, but this is our precious historical heritage we're talking about!"
I see it, the only defense a businessman would ever have in that
scenario would be public opinion. And were I in his shoes, I'd be very
uncomfortable having my investments protected by anything so fickle.