All [Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou] has to do now is to assert his leadership. He has to tell the
people they are going to face harsher economic realities and ask them to have
faith in his leadership to steer the country out of danger. He has to make the
people follow the leader. Sir Winston Churchill courageously asserted an
inspired leadership to help the United Kingdom survive the Second World War. The
people of Taiwan would wish their president can be like Sir Winston.
The people of Taiwan would be well-advised to keep looking. Because I'm reasonably certain Sir Winston never had British police confiscate Union Jacks from U.K. citizens the day Rudolph Hess flew into town.
On Monday, Taiwan's KMT mouthpiece newspaper, The China Post, came out and admitted that Taiwan's KMT president Ma Ying-jeou is a liar. But that's OK, Ma's boosters at the paper said -- because no one should ever have believed a word the guy said to begin with!
President Ma Ying-jeou offered an open apology to the people on Thursday. In a TV interview, the president said he was sorry he has let the people down by failing to keep is campaign promise to make the Taiwan economy grow by six percent a year.
The apology is unnecessary. It is uncalled-for. Everybody knows not just the Taiwan economy, but the whole world economy is facing a depression touched off by the U.S. financial meltdown. The campaign promise? Only incorrigibly optimistic fools believe every presidential campaign promise can be kept.
[Ma Ying-jeou] knows, and all clear-thinking people know, his campaign promise could never be kept, because it is impossible for anybody to whip the economy into line. [emphasis added throughout]
Gee, thanks for telling us this now, 9 months AFTER the election. Kinda makes you wonder though, what ELSE Hizoner was lying about. Because Ma sure made lots of promises . . .
Number one: Ma's promise to defend Taiwan's democratic form of government, judicial independence and freedom of speech. Was he lying about those things, China Post? Or when he promised he and his party wouldn't abuse the near absolute power given them by the electorate -- did he lie about that? Ma also professed to love Taiwan, too. Was there a whiff of dishonesty surrounding that statement, as well?
I'm all at sea. Because after all, only "incorrigibly optimistic fools believe EVERY presidential campaign promise that Ma Ying-jeou made". All "clear-thinking people" know the guy's gonna break at least SOME of those promises, right?
Am I being unfair? Maybe, but not very. Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers and some other very smart people were warning as far back as two or three years ago that a reckoning was coming in the U.S. mortgage industry. Perhaps Ma and his gang of seasoned economic advisers forgot to keep their ears to the ground. Or crack open a copy of a Wall Street Journal every now and then.
Somehow also, they neglected to notice the direction of oil prices, too. Fifty dollars a barrel, a hundred dollars a barrel, a hundred fifty dollars a barrel -- how high did Ma's wunderkins think the price could possibly go before it triggered a nasty recession?
Yes, the American financial crisis came a shock to many people, but a global recession because of skyrocketing oil prices was in the cards no matter WHAT happened in the States. Yet despite all those ill-portents, Ma's economic advisers continued to allow him to ludicrously promise Taiwanese voters that "everything will get better (economically) once Ma is elected."
To be blunt: Ma and his economic advisers are either incompetent . . . or they're liars. If they had no premonitions of an impending downturn then they're incompetent -- and not worthy of anybody's trust.
On the other hand, if they DID have an inkling of what was going to happen and still lied about happy days being here again, then they're liars. And again, not worthy of anybody's trust.
Speaking of trust, the China Post spilt much ink making exactly the same grandiose economic promises that Ma Ying-jeou did. Now the Post unashamedly comes forward and tells us that they, like then-candidate Ma Ying-jeou, were lying. Unlike Ma however, the China Post doesn't apologize for lying to its readership -- no, the Post actually adds insult to injury, and calls everyone who BELIEVES what the paper writes "incorribly optimistic fools"!
The subject they talked about was apparently Taiwan's attempt to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) over China's objections. However, the story leaves unsaid whether members of the alliance broached the topic of Ma's illiberal and undemocratic practices of the past few months.
The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the government’s
“apparent interference in state-owned media” after both the Central News Agency
and Radio Taiwan International complained of pressure from the authorities. The
International Federation for Human Rights is concerned that police action during
the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) curbed the freedom of speech of
protesters. Reporters without Borders also expressed concern over the detention
of a journalist covering the visit.
UPDATE: Nothing at all about this at the ALDE's website.
UPDATE (Nov 28/08): Had a headache when I wrote this, and the tone is a little grouchier than I intended. My apologies for that.
Thursday's Taipei Times had a bit more on the ALDE visit:
At a separate setting on Tuesday, Graham Watson, leader of the Alliance of
Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, told the Taiwanese
media that [former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian] should not have been handcuffed when he was taken to court two
weeks ago for a detention hearing.
Although the principle of rule of law
should be respected, “there should also be a rule of civility,” he said, adding
that as Chen was unlikely to escape, handcuffing the former president had been
Ehh. Don't know about the whole "rule of civility" thing. Let's just get back to the rule of law for a moment:
November 11/08 - Chen is arrested without charge, handcuffed and thrown into the clink, incommunicado. (Draconian, but all perfectly legal under a martial-law era statute.)
November 16/08 - Chen is sent to hospital in the middle of a hunger strike. Unhandcuffed.
So what's the legal "rule" here? Do Taiwanese police rules force them to handcuff suspects, or don't they? Or do they just make it up as they go along, handcuffing the former president in order to throw red meat to Chen-haters, and leaving him unhandcuffed when they don't want the public to sympathize with his plight too much?
Not to be too hard on Mr. Watson. I googled him, and he sounds like a good friend of Taiwan. His Asian trip apparently ends later this week, and I definitely want to check out his blog to see if he has any further observations on the current state of the Beautiful Isle.
Then I would forbid all examination of my claims. I would go still farther, and, as reason would be my most dangerous enemy, I would interdict the use of reason -- at least as applied to this dangerous subject. I would taboo, as the savages say, this question, and all those connected with it. To question them, discuss them, or even think of them, should be an unpardonable crime.
- 19th Century French liberal Frederic Bastiat, on how to set up a (religious) autocracy (Economic Sophisms, p 315)
You're a lawyer who relays to the public a message from your client. He says he thinks his prosecution is politically motivated.
The Ministry of Justice has asked the Taipei District Court and Taipei Bar
Association to investigate whether former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁)
lawyer has violated the lawyer code of ethics by conveying his client’s messages
to the outside world during Chen’s detention.
Claiming Cheng Wen-long’s (鄭文龍) statements have been political in nature and
defamatory to the judiciary, the Ministry of Justice said on Monday night that
it had sent a letter to the Taipei District Court and the Taipei Bar
Association, asking if Cheng had violated the lawyer code of ethics. [emphasis added]
Cheng also issued a 10-point statement on behalf of Chen denouncing "the death of the judiciary."
Interestingly enough, the KMT had a much more relaxed opinion about this unpardonable crime when IT was the party out of power. For the last 8 years, the KMT used to ALSO accuse the judiciary of partisan partiality when their party members sometimes received unfavorable rulings.
The response to these accusations, was entirely different however. The Ministry of Justice under the former administration NEVER initiated legal proceedings against KMT men who complained of political intereference with the courts. Because the former administration had a sense of political liberality that is entirely lacking among the authoritarians of Taiwan's Chinese Nationalist Party.
Here though, the KMT is not entirely to blame. Candidate Ma Ying-jeou quite clearly spoke of his admiration for the illiberal Singaporean model of "democracy" prior to the presidential elections -- and the Taiwanese public, willingly and of their own volition, elected him president anyway.
Welcome to the land of lawlessness, then. A curious land where a crime is a crime . . . or it may not be one at all. It all depends upon the political affiliation of the perpetrator.
"When you go to the court, you see a lot of guilty people on trial. Some are guilty of small crimes like parking tickets. Some are guilty of big crimes like questioning the authority of our magnanimous leaders.
Some of the guilty people say they aren't guilty.
If they were not guilty, why would our infallible government have said they were? It makes no sense!"
(They really get the Andy Rooney "voice" down. While I'm tempted to show this to some of my Taiwanese friends, they probably don't know who Andy Rooney is, so they might not get the humor.)
Noticed last night that Transparency International just put out their 2008 report, and compared Taiwan's position (#39) to that of last year's (#34).
I'm inclined to give Ma Ying-jeou a pass for this poor showing -- there was a lot of
unhappiness in Taiwan over allegations of corruption by former President Chen
Shui-bian even BEFORE evidence of his possible money-laundering popped
But as I said in the last post, the real trick will be to see where Taiwan stands on this index one or two years from now.
Last Saturday's Taipei Times looked at the new Democratic congress and predicted it'll be tough sledding over the next four years with the Obama administration at the helm; Michael Turton on the other hand has reason to believe relations will continue roughly the same as they are now.
As for myself, I will approach the question from a different angle. Without denying the importance of pro- or anti-Taiwan sentiment in the next administration and congress, the other side of the equation cannot be overlooked. That is to say, will the administration of Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou make it easier for American politicians and State Department bureaucrats to support Taiwan, or more difficult?
Because Michael raises a good point when he says there won't be a single "Taiwan-policy czar" -- there will in fact be many doing that -- some more supportive of the country than others. So what Taiwan does over the next four years ALSO matters, because negative developments in Taiwan will strengthen the hands of Taiwan's detractors versus its supporters.
Ask yourself this, then: One or two years from now, will Taiwan's ranking on leading international democratic and good government indices be higher or lower? For example, within the first five months of Ma Ying-jeou's presidency, disturbing reports surfaced that the Taiwanese government had begun interfering with the editorial freedom of Radio Taiwan International (the KMT government wanted RTI to quit being so critical of the KMT's newest best friend, the Communist Party of China). As a result, members of the RTI board ended up quitting in protest.
If this is any evidence of what the next year or two will bring, Taiwan's position on press freedom indices will decline.
The same goes for indices ranking freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest. Last week, the Ma administration took the extraordinary measure of confiscating Taiwanese flags from Taiwanese who attempted to protest the arrival of a delegation from China. Just yesterday, we learned that Taiwanese police under KMT direction had begun tailing political dissidents. And tomorrow? We await with dread. Indeed, one official from the Ma administration ominously warned the opposition that they shouldn't take their free speech rights for granted. So on this matter too, I predict a decline in Taiwan's international scores.
And what of Taiwan's position on lists evaluating judicial independence? Leading members of Taiwan's opposition have now been jailed for corruption-related crimes -- jailed incommunicado without charge, whilst prosecutors drag their feet on cases involving KMT politicians accused of similar crimes.* But just this Wednesday, American and Dutch officials began to question the impartiality of the Taiwanese judicial system; a day later, even President Ma's former law school mentor at Harvard University wrote an op-ed column to express his own doubts on the matter. What we see is that the KMT's politicization of the justice system IS being noticed overseas, though it may take some time before the criticism begins to mount.
Finally, I'll go a little out on a limb regarding Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. I'd bet even money that 2 years from now, Taiwan's position on that list will be worse than it is today. But even if it DOES hold its place on the CPI, Taiwan's reputation as a democratic nation will still take a hit. Politicians will take note of its declining status on all the OTHER indices I've mentioned, and those friendly to Taiwan will be left on the defensive.
Which is why when relations between Taiwan and America begin to cool, I'm prepared to cut Obama some slack. President Obama, President McCain -- it doesn't matter -- either one would be forced to display SOME kind of American displeasure in response to Ma's alarming initial steps towards authoritarianism.
* We've known since at least January of this year that KMT legislator
Diane Lee owes the government of Taiwan the equivalent of $3.29 MILLION
U.S. dollars due to government paychecks she illegally collected while
she was still an American citizen. But the wheel of justice grinds
slowly . . . if you're a member of the ruling party, that is.
I written quite a few posts about the visit of China's negotiator to Taiwan already, and -- barring any flashes of new insight -- this'll probably be the last post specifically devoted to the subject. Here's a couple things I'd like to note before I move on:
1) Injured Reporters
Taiwan's China Post has tried to make a lot of hay about the fact that a number of reporters were hurt during the night of the anti-unification protests of Nov 5th and 6th. In particular, the paper points to a Chinese reporter who was attacked by the crowd. (Although the Taipei Times said this reporter was merely surrounded.)
Now, in any contest of believability between the two, the Times would win hands down. But it certainly wouldn't surprise me if the crowd HAD treated the Chinese reporter roughly. Such treatment of reporters wasn't exclusive to one side however; by Saturday Taiwan's Minister of the Interior publicly apologized to a reporter who was beaten by a policeman with a short bamboo quarterstaff.
It seems likely though, that several injuries were accidental. Many reporters were no doubt hurt (through no fault of their own) due to badly-thrown water bottles and other projectiles. Yes, these people were injured, but it's stretching it to say they were DELIBERATELY attacked by the crowd, as the Post insinuates.
There's one final category which the English press has given scant attention to, namely, reporters who were hurt because of their own sheer recklessness. I have but one example. On the morning of Nov 7th, I saw on television a fairly wide-angled shot (taken safely from the sidelines) of a Molotov cocktail being hurled towards police lines from the crowd. Streak of light through the black air. A flash of flames on the padded armor of the riot police.
And within SECONDS, 3 or 4 men with video cameras raced from the sidelines within 5 feet of police lines, so that they could capture the event up close and personal.
Now, the cameramen I'm talking about weren't injured, but they very easily COULD have been. Ye Gods! These idiots had just charged headlong into a Molotov cocktail crossfire zone. What if the thrower had had a buddy? What if a second petrol bomb was already in mid-flight? They were facing the police; there's no way they could have dodged it.
But hey, anything for some juicy footage -- and a nomination for the 2008 Darwin Awards.
2) Collateral Damage from the Temporary Outlawing of the ROC Flag
In order to appease Chen Yunlin of China, President Ma Ying-jeou ordered Taiwanese police to confiscate their own nation's flag from protesters and passersby. The implications for civil liberties and freedom of speech should be obvious, so I'll discuss them here no further. But the effect of one incident in particular I think has been under-explored:
[Sun Chun-chien, a taxi-driver in Taipei] said that although taxicabs bearing the Taiwanese flag
on their taxi lights on the roof usually line up in front of the Jiantan MRT
station — in close proximity to [the hotel where the Chinese envoy was staying]
— yesterday police asked them to leave. [emphasis added]
From this day forward, taxis with ROC flags upon them are at an economic disadvantage in Taiwan. Anytime a Chinese official visits in the future, cab drivers must take into consideration the possibility that police under Ma Ying-jeou's direction will divert them or send them on their way, fareless. By his toadying to China, President Ma -- the man who claimed to love Taiwan and the Republic of China -- has created an economic incentive for taxi drivers to remove all symbols of national patriotism from their vehicles.
And just who are these drivers? Are they all Taiwanese independence advocates? Hardly. A good number of Taipei cabbies are KMT men. KMT men who may not be pleased to have their idols treated by Ma Ying-jeou's police as false gods. A sad story from today's Taiwan News:
A 79-year-old man was fighting for his life
Tuesday after trying to immolate himself near the student protesters at Taipei’s
The man, surnamed Liu, was covered in an inflammable substance and set
himself on fire, but bystanders and police rushed to douse the flames. Police
later said the liquid might have been gasoline or diesel oil.
Liu was taken by ambulance to nearby National Taiwan University Hospital
where he was listed in critical condition with burns over 80 percent of his
body, doctors said.
He left behind a letter critical of the government, police said. In the
letter, Liu said he joined the ruling Kuomintang in 1950, but expressed
dissatisfaction at police action against people carrying the Republic of China
flag during the visit of Chinese top negotiator Chen Yunlin last week.
Not a cab driver, but a KMT man just the same. No wonder the KMT's mouthpiece newspaper, the China Post, has been too ashamed to print even a single story about the flag confiscation policies of KMT President Ma.
After protests erupted in Taiwan because of visiting Chen Yunlin (a Communist Party negotiator from China), I thought I'd pick up a few Taiwanese papers to see photos that didn't make it into the English-language press. Here's one from page A6 of Friday's Apple Daily News:
(A better version is probably available on their website, but the site's in Chinese and I can't navigate it.)
Anyways, Chen Yunlin is the guy in middle, in the back seat. Here's a digital close-up:
Jeez, 7,000 Taiwanese policemen guarding him, and Chen STILL looks like he's gonna wet himself. Not too many anti-CCP protests back where he comes from, I guess. Or maybe he bought into all that Xinhua and China Post propaganda that Taiwanese compatriots are just DYING to reunify with the motherland.
Musta been a rude awakening.
Guy on the left doesn't seem to be enjoying himself much, either. But that glowering driver looks pretty scary, though. Bet HE could teach Ma Ying-jeou's stormtroopers a thing or two about breaking the fingers of people carrying Tibetan flags.
Speaking of which, Taiwan Matters! had a pic of the woman whose finger was dislocated by police acting under orders from China's puppet president in Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou. Note to foreigners: you may be better off trying to unfurl a Tibetan flag in downtown Lhasa than you are now in downtown Taipei.
These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along:
At a separate setting yesterday, National Police Agency director-general Wang Cho-chuin (王卓鈞) denied allegations that government officials had ordered the confiscation of Republic of China flags [from ROC citizens, on ROC soil] . . . [emphasis added]
Believe Wang Cho-chuin, or your own lyin' eyes:
You have learned much, young Wang Cho-chuin. But you are not a Jedi yet.
(Hat tip to Tim Maddog for calling this video to my attention.)
UPDATE: In another report, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou also denied he had any hand in the decision of Taipei's Grand Hotel to remove ROC flags from their premises when a Chinese delegation came to stay.
If we take Ma at his word (!), we can only conclude that the board members of the Grand were responsible for the decision. They were the ones who chose to hide their nation's flag when the Chinese Communists came to call, like shame-faced teenagers stashing Penthouses under the mattress.
That of course, is their right. The Taiwanese government gave the board members of the Grand the concession to run the hotel, and to run it as they see fit.
On the other hand, it is also the right of the defenders of Taiwanese sovereignty to publish the faces of these anonymous sunshine patriots. Name 'em and shame 'em.
Major Strasser: You see what I mean? If Lazlo's presence in a cafe can inspire this unfortunate demonstration, what more can his presence in Casablanca bring on? I advise that this place be shut up at once.
Captain Renault: But everybody is having such a good time!
Maj. Strasser: Yes, much too good a time. The place is to be closed.
Capt. Renault: But I've no excuse to close it!
Maj. Strasser: Find one.
The Taiwanese police were shocked -- shocked! -- earlier this week to find a music store playing music. Not just ANY kind of music, mind you, but patriotic French TAIWANESE music. The kind which offends visiting Nazi CHINESE overlords:
On Tuesday night, when China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan
Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) was at a banquet hosted by Chinese Nationalist
Party (KMT) honorary chairman Lien Chan (連戰) at the Ambassador Hotel in Taipei,
a crowd of pro-Taiwan demonstrators staged a protest outside the venue.
A customer bought a CD titled Songs of Taiwan (台灣之歌) and asked [the store owner] to
play it in the store. . .
But everybody is having such a good time . . .
“As the music was on, people started dancing right on the spot, and more people
gathered. It was difficult even for me to go into my store,” Chang
All of a sudden, she said, police officers led by Taipei City’s
Beitou Precinct chief Lee Han-ching (李漢卿) entered the store and asked them to
turn off the music.
The crowd started protesting and confronted the
And so Major Strasser ordered the place to be closed. From an earlier report in the Taipei Times:
Footage from TV news stations showed the police forcing the store to switch off
the music and pulling down the store’s metal shutters.
And what excuse did the Taiwanese police find? Unlike Captain Renault, they didn't need one. Because according to the country's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, the police ARE the law. To be obeyed without question. No matter how arbitrary or quixotic their whims might be.
(Maybe, if you're lucky, they'll condescend to giving you whatever excuse they find. Some time AFTER the fact.)
. . . “commanding officers at the scene should be given full authority to decide how
to maintain order, as only they understand what is happening.”
Nothing there about police being obligated to obey the law themselves. THAT might interfere with enforcement of Ma's illegal orders to confiscate Republic of China flags from ROC citizens on ROC soil.
Ma's doctoral thesis at Harvard Law School must have made for fascinating reading. I understand the title was, "When I Become President, The Cops Will Have Carte Blanche To Do Whatever I Damn Well Tell 'em To Do."
. . . “If the police can’t make [the legal violation] clear at the scene, they should be able to
explain to the media afterwards” . . .
Arrest first, find excuses later. Or in this case, close the shop down first, and accuse it of violating the Noise Control Act after the media calls them on it.
Noise Control Act? Are you kidding me? Two years ago, Ma Ying-jeou (then Taipei's mayor) not only tolerated,
but ENCOURAGED the gathering of hordes of people protesting the former
president. More than a few of which blew AIR HORNS in the middle of the city, at all hours of the night.
Police issued not a word ordering THEM to stop. But I guess some folks find shrieking air horns to be sweeter to the ear than Taiwanese anthems.
(Video of Shih Ming-teh protests against former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian from YouTube. Ma YIng-jeou himself makes appearances at 00:08, 02:39, 02:55 and 04:35.)
Now Ma is president, and he doesn't want an envoy from China to see ROC flags. Or hear Taiwanese patriotic songs.
Sure picked a funny time to start cracking down on NOISE POLLUTION.
“Taiwan undeniably enjoys sovereignty, but the DPP [Taiwan's main independence party] should not take their freedom
of speech for granted,” KMT caucus Secretary-General Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said. [emphasis added]
Temporarily. Although he's only 6 months into his term, so he's still got plenty of time. From Thursday's Taipei Times:
No national symbol of the ROC was allowed [in Taiwan] where [China's negotiator] and his delegation might
see it. National flags, a representation of national sovereignty, were seized by
police from protesters and passers-by alike. People waving the five-starred PRC
flag, however, were left alone. [emphasis added]
Since Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou obviously prefers the flag of Communist China to that of his own country, I suggest Taiwanese indulge him next time. Leave those ROC flags at home, and go ahead and bring Ma's beloved PRC flags instead.
(Just don't forget to carry a Bic lighter as well.)
Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, I mean. On his election promises. Or to narrow things down, why don't we examine just ONE of those promises he made in particular...
If elected next year, Ma said he would not allow China to demand that
the country cover national flags . . . during cross-strait exchange events in Taiwan. [emphasis added]
This Monday one of those cross-strait exchange events started rolling, when Chen Yunlin, the chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) flew into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for a little visit. And Taiwanese who took CANDIDATE Ma at his word were in for a rude surprise when they met with police under orders from now-PRESIDENT Ma:
Police stationed themselves along the route between the [airport] and the Grand Hotel in Taipei, setting up a number of checkpoints . . . Several vehicles decorated with Republic of China [Taiwanese] flags . . . were not allowed to enter the airport. [emphasis added]
When former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taoyuan County councilor Wu
Pao-yu (吳寶玉) entered the arrival hall at 8:50am waving an ROC flag, police
officers immediately asked Wu to put the flag in her bag.
flag is our county’s flag. Please tell me why I can’t carry a national flag in
my country. Give me a reason,” Wu said.
Police officers later removed her from the arrival hall. [emphasis added]
[Sun Chun-chien, a taxi-driver in Taipei] said that although taxicabs bearing the Taiwanese flag on their taxi lights on
the roof usually line up in front of the Jiantan MRT station — in close
proximity to [the hotel where the Chinese envoy was staying] — yesterday police asked them to leave. [emphasis added]
Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of Taiwan's main independence party, recently explained why her party was opposed to the recent visit to Taiwan by China's negotiator, Chen Yunlin. In response, Dr. William Fang of Taiwan's China Post offered a rebuttal, titled ironically enough, "Tsai's unintelligent, ridiculous and paradoxical comments."
Ironic, because -- yeah, you guessed it -- the good doctor disproves Tsai's arguments with a few unintelligent, ridiculous and paradoxical comments of his own. Fang quotes Tsai thusly:
"But unfortunately . . . now, all national flags of the Republic of China [Taiwan] in the Grand Hotel [in Taipei] have been folded up [in order to appease the visiting envoy from China]." This the Ma administration has humiliated this country, Tsai concluded.
. . . we must bluntly remind Tsai that her party has never paid due respect to the national flag of the ROC, therefore, she has absolutely no right and justification to blame the Ma administration for not displaying flags at the Grand Hotel where Chen [Yunlin] will stay (if it does [sic] happen as she said). Indeed, Tsai's motive on the flag issue ought to be questioned. [emphasis added]
Whoa, whoa -- let's start with Fang's parenthetical statement, in which he expresses doubt about Tsai's allegations concerning the removal of Taiwanese flags at the Grand Hotel. One wonders whether Fang even bothers to read his own newspaper, because it was only a day earlier when the China Post featured an above-the-fold picture on the front page with the following caption (skip down to the underlined section):
(Above) Concertina-wired chevaux de-rise[sic] in front of the Grand Hotel in Taipei. The barricade was set up yesterday to fend off protesting crowds who may get close to Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait, and his 60-member delegation. They are scheduled to arrivesing [sic] the envoy. Taiwan's president urged those opposed to a top Chinese envoy's visit to keep their protests peaceful, less than two weeks after demonstators attacked another representative from Beijing. (Left) A Taiwanese man unfurls a national [Taiwanese] flag outside Taipei's Grand Hotel Sunday as Taipei gets ready to welcome the first visit by the top Chinese envoy, Chen Yunlin in Taipei. The hotel, where Chen is to stay during his visit starting Monday, has removed from its perimeter all the national flags to avoid embarrassing the envoy . . . [emphasis added]
If Fang maintains that Tsai is lying about the incident, then he must also logically hold that his own newspaper lied about the very same thing to its readers. So which is it, Fang? Are they both lying, or they both telling the truth?
Tick-tock, tick-tock . . .
But Fang's main point with this is that Tsai is being hypocritical. Tsai's party never paid "due respect" to Taiwan's flag, so therefore it has no right to point fingers when the KMT does likewise. Which is right up there with admitting that yes, I may be grossly obese, but that physician has no right to tell me to lose weight, 'cause he's kinda fat, too. (And furthermore, I'd rather stuff my face full of twinkies and die of a massive coronary rather than take advice from some hypocrite in a white lab coat!)
Wisdom from the brow of Pallas Athene, this ain't. What Fang forgets is that the truth's the truth, whether spoken by saint, sinner OR hypocrite. Tsai's party may very well be hypocritical here * (although see my footnotes as for why I think this is a bad rap). But that doesn't invalidate Tsai's point, namely, that Taiwan's Chinese Nationalist Party has just pissed on their own country's flag.
The corollary to the truth being the truth would have to be that a lie told by a liar is always a lie. Speaking of liars, does anybody remember this "sincere promise" Ma Ying-jeou made when he was running for president?
If elected next year, Ma said he would not allow China to demand that
the country cover national flags . . . during cross-strait exchange events in Taiwan.
You've gotta admit, it was a nice campaign slogan to fool the rubes.
And finally, one of Fang's ancillary arguments against Tsai is that it's irrelevant how the negotiator from China addresses Taiwan's president. The president is the president, no matter HOW he's addressed. "Mister" Ma or "President" Ma or whatever the envoy wants to call him -- the differences are largely semantic.
Taking Fang at his word, I now dub Taiwan's KMT president "Buttmunch-in-Chief" Ma Ying-jeou. Nine in ten KMT supporters agree, he's the right man for the orifice!
President Ma, Buttmunch Ma -- Pot-tay-to, Pot-tah-to, right?
* Are members of Taiwan's main independence party hypocritical about the ROC flag? Certainly, a number of them probably prefer some other flag to the one the country has now. But when push comes to shove, does that mean they're prohibited from defending a flag they consider to be less-than-ideal?
By the same token, it's a common occurance that a man's girlfriend might not be quite as pretty as he would like. Someone calls her plug-ugly though, and he rises to her defense.
And that happens whether someone of Doc Fang's ilk thinks he's got the "right" to do so or not.
The [Taiwanese] Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday announced a rough itinerary for
[Chinese Communist Party negotiator] Chen
Yunlin’s (陳雲林) visit to Taipei, setting his meeting with SEF Chairman Chiang
Pin-kung (江丙坤) for Tuesday.
The pro-independence Taiwan Society North meanwhile said that it would offer
cash prizes to anyone who could hit Chen with an egg.
“We will offer
NT$1,000 to protesters who hit Chen’s body with eggs, and NT$10,000 to anyone
who can hit Chen’s face,” vice chairwoman Michelle Wang (王美琇) said.
Naturally, the Taiwanese government is eager to avoid such unpleasantries:
The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday that there would be more
than 800 police officers guarding the Grand Hotel throughout Chen’s stay. In
addition, it said Chen would be escorted and protected by 40 Special Forces
officers wherever he went.
The police authority said some 2,000 officers will be dispatched to escort Chen
and members of his delegation from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to the
Grand Hotel, where the delegation is staying during its five-day
About 800 police have been deployed to stations inside and outside
the airport, while another 1,200 have been deployed at stations along the route
that Chen and his delegation will take from the airport to the hotel. Some 800
officers have also been dispatched to guard the Grand Hotel.
Chen will be escorted and protected by 40 special forces officers wherever he
goes and police will form a “human shield” around him to prevent any unexpected
protests that may break out, police said.
Lest the reader get the wrong idea, I think all this security is terrific. Everywhere he goes, let this Communist Party apparatchik cower behind Ma Ying-jeou's legions. Let him know that he and his bosses would be eaten raw without them. Let him flip on the TV in his room in the Grand Hotel, and let him see Taiwanese and Tibetans and Falun Gong adherants heap abuse upon his tyrannical masters in Zhongnanhai.
Most of the caption of the photo in the link above can't be read from the China Post's website, but the relevant part of it says:
The hotel, where [visiting Chinese Communist Party negotiator Chen Yunlin] is to stay during his visit starting Monday, has removed from its perimeter all the [Taiwanese] national flags to avoid embarrassing the envoy . . .
Hey, mission accomplished. The Taiwanese at the Grand Hotel avoided embarrassing the envoy -- by instead embarrassing themselves.
And their country.
In this however, they're only following the lead of Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, who has previously stated that he wouldn't mind being addressed as "Mr. Ma" (instead of "President Ma") by visiting Communist Party officials.
Query: When foreigners hear of Taiwanese denigration OF THEIR OWN FLAG ON THEIR OWN SOIL, why should they feel ANY SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER the next time China suppresses the ROC flag abroad?
All this reminds me of a story that appeared on The Drudge Report a few weeks back:
Any football match in France before which the country's national anthem is booed
will now be "immediately stopped", French Sports Minister Roslyne Bachelot said
Wednesday after meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"When whistling of our antional anthem happens, all friendly games with the
country concerned will be suspended for a period yet to be determined by the
Now granted, "What would the French do?" is not a question that frequently keeps me up at night. But I wonder if the French would be QUITE SO ACCOMODATING towards a thug from a foreign government that wanted to annex their country.
Perhaps while under Nazi occupation, they might. Which alone speaks volumes about Marshal PétainMister Ma and the grandees of the Grand Hotel.