Volunteers pretend to be wounded during a simulated missile attack on Banciao Train Station in Banciao, Taipei County, yesterday. The Wan’an 31 drill took place between 2:30pm and 3pm in northern Taiwan yesterday afternoon.
Listen to the voice
back on track, Chen urges
‘FOR OUR CHILDREN’: The
former president said that while he would not attend a rally aimed at pressuring
the KMT to boost the economy, his heart would be there
By Ko Shu-Ling
Friday, Aug 29, 2008, Page 3
|Huang Chin-lin, third right,
director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Taipei branch, and party
supporters yesterday call on the public to participate in a
demonstration scheduled for tomorrow.
PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday encouraged people to put Taiwan back on course by participating in a demonstration organized by pro-localization and other civic organizations tomorrow.
The goal of the rally is to pressure the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government to improve the economy, protect national sovereignty and pass “sunshine laws.”
Chen said that although he would not be participating, his heart would be with the demonstrators.
“One hundred days have passed [since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office]. How many days can Taiwan afford to lose?” he said in a statement issued yesterday. “For the sake of Taiwan and our children, we must turn out and help Taiwan return to the proper path.”
Although the economy has weakened over the past 100 days, the Ma administration’s China-friendly policy was much more worrying, Chen said.
The administration’s pro-China attitude had created an unprecedented crisis for Taiwan’s sovereignty and national security, he said.
Chen said the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration had for eight years insisted on opposing China, rejecting unification and protecting Taiwan.
The KMT government, however, continued to regard China as the motherland and was making an effort to reach its ultimate goal of unification with China, he said.
Listen to the voice
Environmentalists protest road plan
A BRIDGE TOO FAR? :
Protesters dressed as crabs and shrimp wanted the construction of Special
Expressway No. 2 to be halted in order to protect the Nanzai Stream
By Shelley Shan
Friday, Aug 29, 2008, Page 2
Environmentalists protest in front of the Ministry of Transportation and
Communications in Taipei yesterday, calling on the ministry to halt
construction of Special Expressway No.2 to protect the Nanzai Stream in
Banciao, Taipei County.
Hundreds of environmentalists gathered in front of the
Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday morning,
demanding that it halt construction of Special Expressway No.2 (特二號快速道路) in
order to protect the Nanzai Stream (湳仔溪) in Banciao (板橋), Taipei County.
The 30km expressway, which connects Tucheng (土城) with Wugu (五股) and passes through Taishan (泰山) and Sinjhuang (新莊), is scheduled to be completed by 2010.
Members of the Banciao Rivers Association dressed up as crabs and shrimp and put on a skit in front of the ministry building, before handing a petition to a ministry representative.
The association said in a statement that the stream has strong connections to the history of Banciao and that it was the only waterway in the Taipei Area where large trees grow along the banks.
However, the ministry has chosen not to preserve the stream and has insisted on building an overpass above it, the statement said.
The association denounced Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) as a “river terminator” and demanded that MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) step down over the plan. The association further demanded that the ministry halt construction on the section spanning the stream. Designs for two other sections of the expressway should also be altered, they said.
In response, the ministry’s Directorate General of Highways said that construction would continue as planned as it was impossible for the ministry to stop the construction.
Lee Chung-yun (李仲昀), a section chief at Taipei County’s Public Works Bureau, said the project was evaluated by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) before being finalized in 2004.
“The stream is nothing but stagnant water now because it has been cut off from its source,” he said.
As part of the construction project, Lee said the Taipei County Government had budgeted NT$950 million to revitalize the stream. He also said that the overpass was not being built right above the stream, but over higher land to the west.
Lee said two completed sections of the expressway would soon be opened to traffic, which would help divert part of the flow of traffic into the city. The consequences of any delay would be unthinkable, he said.
Listen to the voice
Presidential Office shrugs off PRC’s snub of UN bid
‘TO BE EXPECTED’:
Spokesman Wang Yu-chih said Taiwanese should not take China’s response as a
rebuff of Ma Ying-jeou’s olive branch and goodwill gestures
By Ko Shu-Ling and Jenny W. Hsu
Friday, Aug 29, 2008, Page 3
The Presidential Office vowed yesterday to continue to push cross-strait reconciliation and a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing, despite China’s opposition to the country’s UN bid.
Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chih (王郁琦) said that the basic rights of the 23 million people of Taiwan who want to participate in international organizations and activities should be respected.
“It would help establish mutual trust, lower the chance of misunderstanding and prevent conflicts if both sides of the Taiwan Strait could jointly participate in international activities,” he said. “It will only help strengthen the peaceful development of both sides if our country could participate in international activities.”
Wang’s comment came in response to Beijing’s objection to Taiwan’s latest UN bid, when Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Guangya (王光亞) said Taiwan was not qualified to participate in the specialized organizations of UN.
Wang Yu-chih said that Wang Guangya’s comments were “expected” and the government would continue to push cross-strait reconciliation and a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing.
When asked by the Taipei Times what the administration would do if Beijing did not respond positively to Taiwan’s goodwill, Wang Yu-chih said Beijing had extended a lot of goodwill since Ma took office and the public should not interpret Wang’s comments as “ill will.”
“I would call it an isolated case that occurred as we push the policy of cross-strait reconciliation and a diplomatic truce,” the spokesman said, adding that similar situations occurred during the Boao Forum and the controversy surrounding Beijing’s reference to the country’s Olympic team.
He said the administration would continue to try to participate in international activities as long as such efforts did not violate the result of the two referendums held in tandem with the presidential election in March.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) referendum proposed “joining” the UN under the name “Taiwan,” while the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) referendum suggested “rejoining” the UN under the name the “Republic of China.” Both referendums failed and the proposals cannot be put to a vote again for three years, according to the Referendum Law (公投法).
Wang Yu-chih said that all government policies, including foreign policy, were made according to the principles that Taiwan is put first and the people will benefit.
The strategy of the former DPP administration had proved ineffective, he said, and only if both sides extend goodwill to each other could Taiwan get somewhere in the international arena.
Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Liu Teh-hsun (劉德勳) urged Beijing to take the wishes of the Taiwanese people to participate in international organizations seriously.
“The people of Taiwan have always wanted to expand their nation’s participation in international organizations with dignity,” Liu said. “We hope Beijing will pay attention to the political reality in the Taiwan Strait and change the approach it has adopted.”
If both sides of the Taiwan Strait could jointly participate in international organizations, Liu said, it would help establish mutual trust, smooth away differences, reduce unnecessary misunderstandings and prevent conflicts.
Liu urged both sides to negotiate on the principle of “mutual non-denial” and seek a balance for a win-win situation. He also called on both sides to engage in mutual assistance, cooperation and respect so they could contribute more to the international community and cross-strait development could march toward peace and prosperity.
In related news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rebuffed criticism that it had been “too weak” in responding to Beijing’s rejection of this year’s UN bid, saying the “diplomatic truce” proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) only pertains to the long standing tug-of-war with Beijing for allies.
Taiwan will never give up the fight for increased participation in international organizations, it said.
“We have always said that diplomatic truce means neither Taiwan nor China will steal away each other’s allies based on the mutual goodwill. But the government will never relax its efforts for more participation in international organizations,” ministry spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said.
Last Monday, in a letter to the UN Secretariat, Beijing criticized Taiwan’s UN bid, saying the “Taiwan region” was not eligible to participate in the activities of specialized agencies under the global body because it was not a sovereign state.
This year, instead of seeking to become a member of the UN, the Ma administration decided to ask only for “meaningful participation” in the activities of UN auxiliary organizations.
On Wednesday the ministry said Beijing’s objection to the bid was “predictable.”
“We are not surprised that Beijing retained its usual stance, but unlike before, Beijing said the issue of Taiwan’s international space could be resolved through consultation,” Chen said.
However, he was reluctant to interpret Beijing’s offer to negotiate as an olive branch or a gesture of goodwill.
Some critics have called the ministry “weak” and “too soft” for not chastising Beijing over its claim that Taiwan is part of China in its official statement on Wednesday.
Chen said the ministry was being “pragmatic” in its long-term pursuit of increased international space.
Approached by reporters in the legislature yesterday, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), head of the Diplomacy and National Defense Committee, said China’s letter meant that both sides of the Strait were still testing each other’s bottom line.
“In the international arena, we should fight the fight when necessary,” he said.
He said Taiwan and China might work on negotiating a model similar to that of the APEC for Taiwan to gain participation in UN affiliated organizations, but he said Taiwan should never give up fighting for the rights it deserves.
MOFA denies US opposes China sovereignty
STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA
Friday, Aug 29, 2008, Page 3
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday rebutted media reports that US officials had encouraged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not to give any impression when engaging in talks with Beijing that China had sovereignty over Taiwan.
The ministry added that the US has never expressed any fixed position regarding Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.
MOFA spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question about a story in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) yesterday.
The Liberty Times reported that following Ma’s pro-China stance and his recent moderate approach in pitching Taiwan’s participation in the UN, the US had expressed the desire that
Taipei refrain from implying China had sovereignty over Taiwan and instead insist that China not be allowed to determine whether Taiwan could participate in international activities.
The message was delivered to Ma by American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt during Ma’s transit stops in the US en route to South America and the Caribbean from Aug. 12 to Aug. 19, the report said.
“Through our continuous contact and communication with the US government, the US has expressed great appreciation for the proposal regarding Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN’s specialized agencies,” Chen said. “The US never had any fixed stance [regarding Taiwan’s UN bid]. The report is totally untrue.”
However, sources yesterday told the Liberty Times that they were puzzled by the Taiwanese government’s reaction, saying that since the US had already expressed its position, there was no need for the Ma administration to issue such a prompt denial.
At the time when Burghardt made the remarks, a Taiwanese official stationed in the US was in attendance and made a record of the conversation, the sources said.
The pot is
calling the kettle black
Friday, Aug 29, 2008, Page 8
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) have recently come under intense moral and political scrutiny for depositing funds in overseas bank accounts.
Unfortunately, Taiwan still does not have a complete set of laws and regulations governing such actions. While visiting diplomatic allies in Central and South America, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), a former student of law, came out with the surprising comment that “this affair brings to mind former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos.”
It was hardly appropriate for him to compare present day Taiwan to a dictatorship of more than 20 years ago. In his eagerness to attack his political adversary, Ma overlooked the fact that the political associates of Marcos’ successor, Corazon Aquino, were no less hungry for riches than their predecessors. “People’s power” in the Philippines failed to usher in clean government — surely not the best analogy for Ma to choose for his own rise to power.
In 1986, Marcos was exposed as having hundreds of millions of US dollars invested in the US, and was driven from power by a popular movement. All the presidents who have come after him became embroiled in corruption and fraud once they entered office.
Despite graduating with a law degree in the US — where she was a classmate of former US president Bill Clinton — incumbent Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has not been able to avoid questions and protests over her alleged overseas bank accounts. The Philippines has suffered unending political turbulence, with its economy making no noticeable progress over nearly four decades — an example that other developing countries would be well advised not to follow.
Ma made a regrettable error when he chose to apply the analogy of the Philippines, with its chronic internal wastage, to Taiwan, not because Chen cannot be compared to Ferdinand Marcos, but because Ma’s own record and that of his party — the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — are also tainted.
The KMT lost government control in 2000 partly because of its history of corruption. What has it done to clean up its act in the ensuing eight years, and what is it going to do in the next four years? For all this time, the KMT has retained a majority in the legislature.
Why, then, is Taiwan’s anti-corruption “sunshine” legislation still too dim and fragmented to cast a light into every dark corner?
While the political arena is still ruled by the law of the jungle, making it a place where those with the most resources call the shots and the weak go to the wall, it is sheer malice for Ma and the KMT to mock and accuse their opponents of corruption. A party that is unwilling to judge each and every politician by the same standard is not qualified to bear the banner of “corruption fighter.”
Regarding the question of whether Chen and Wu have broken the law, our view is that the authorities handling the case should prove their worth to the public by conducting a thorough investigation without prejudice. At the same time, however, the same standards should be applied to all political figures regardless of party affiliation, including the president.
In the course of various elections, all these politicians have received donations great and small. Can they account for their true electoral incomes and expenditures and what happened to funds that were left over at the end of the campaign? Did the surplus funds end up in their personal accounts or those of their family members? During their terms in office, did they have any quid pro quo arrangements with their donors? Did the politicians’ incomes increase out of proportion to their salaries? Did they maintain overseas bank accounts?
The system needs to be strengthened to clarify these questions and prevent abuses. A superficial approach is not good enough.
The KMT has held a dominant position in the legislature over the past eight years. During Ma’s tenure as KMT chairman, his party proposed four “sunshine laws,” while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) put forward nine such bills. However, the legislature’s efficiency in passing these bills has been singularly unimpressive, while their content also leaves a lot to be desired.
Not only have the DPP’s bills been blocked — even the Political Party Law (政黨法) proposed by Ma is still on the drawing board, stymied by the issue of party assets. Although three bills — the Political Donation Law (政治獻金法), the Public Servants’ Property Declaration Law (公職人員財產申報法) and the Lobby Law (遊說法) — have finally passed their third reading after many delays, they have been widely condemned as having too many loopholes and being tailored to suit the interests of certain parties. The way this anti-graft legislation has been handled does not suggest the presence of humility or self-restraint among our politicians.
For example, take the Political Donation Law. The section seeking to fix an upper limit for political parties’ financial contributions to individual candidates was opposed outright by the KMT, and the item was not included in the law. The aim of the proposal was to set a basic standard to stop elections being unfairly swayed by pouring in party funds, but it was stopped in its tracks.
Another example: Prompted by the current allegations against Chen, KMT lawmakers have proposed as priority legislation for the next session the drafting of a law forbidding politicians from holding wealth whose source cannot be fully explained. In fact, the matter already came up last year when the draft Public Servants’ Property Declaration Law was finally tabled for debate in the legislature.
How can the KMT explain that when the DPP advocated imposing criminal penalties on officials who could not account for dubious income, it forced through a clause imposing administrative financial penalties only? Shouldn’t the KMT have dealt with the matter last year, instead of trying to simply close the stable door after the horse had bolted? Apart from Chen, how many craftier horses are out there, with no chance of being caught?
Article 20 of the UN Convention against Corruption, which came into force in 2003, stipulates that a public official whose expenditure and lifestyle do not conform to his or her lawful income should offer an explanation for this, and if it is clear that the official has gained illegal income through corruption or fraud, this should be sufficient grounds for prosecution, even in the absence of conclusive evidence. How many of our politicians would pass muster if scrutinized according to the spirit of the UN Charter?
Ma has declared that he is prepared to take full responsibility for his actions. We suggest that he refrain from short-sighted political manipulation, clean up his party’s act and work to establish a healthy and transparent system of government.
Can the KMT shed the burden of its party assets? Will a full set of “sunshine laws” be passed without undue delay? These are the questions everyone is asking. If the answer is no, then every politician will be, if not a criminal, then at least an accomplice to the crime.
bogs down democratic evolution
By Ku Chung-Hua 顧忠華
Friday, Aug 29, 2008, Page 8
Taiwan’s road to democratic development has been full of hurdles. When faced with different historic challenges, many people may doubt whether Taiwan’s democracy will be able to continue on and whether the quality of our democracy will earn the respect and recognition of the world.
The biggest obstacle to Taiwan’s democracy lies in the martial law that was imposed here for 38 years and the party-state concept that is deeply ingrained in the minds of our people. Following the lifting of martial law and the transition of power, Taiwan’s democracy progressed tremendously, representing a strong civil force that disallows political parties or politicians from attacking commonly held democratic norms.
However, democratic development is often rough and tortuous. Newborn democracies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeastern Asia have all experienced political turbulence because of the poor leadership of politicians that placed their democratic systems in jeopardy.
The recent financial irregularities involving former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family members have saddened and puzzled his supporters. The scandal has also put the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) under great pressure. The DPP had planned to mobilize a street demonstration on Aug. 30. However, many within the DPP now have mixed feelings about this demonstration, as they feel it may give the impression they are supporting Chen.
New developments keep appearing in this case of alleged money laundering. Chen has constantly proclaimed that “the money is clean and there was absolutely no corruption.” Chen’s son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) have also returned to Taiwan for questioning.
Viewed in light of the current evidence, Chen would only be guilty of contravening administrative regulations and for failing to declare his campaign funds accurately and would thus not have broken the criminal code. If this is the case, the media will owe Chen and his family an apology.
On the other hand, however, if we judge the case by higher moral standards, Chen has indeed tried to benefit financially from his actions, thereby harming political ethics and therefore deserves to be condemned and punished accordingly.
The demonstration scheduled for the end of this month is a perfect opportunity for the public to call for greater transparency in the government and we therefore sincerely hope that it can be used to make an urgent appeal to the legislature to pass the “sunshine bills” as soon as possible in order to bolster honest and upright public servants.
If you can trust his comments, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said that the scandal could forge a public consensus on clean politics, allowing the government to use the situation as an opportunity to pass the “sunshine bills.” Wu said the systematic implementation of complementary measures for property declaration and checks would reshape Taiwan’s democracy.
We also call on both the ruling and opposition parties to take advantage of this opportunity to thoroughly eliminate the problems caused by money in politics — including party assets — as well as decrease any pressure that money has on Taiwan’s democracy.
All in all, the demonstration scheduled for the end of this month is not meant to support any particular political party, nor is it simply a movement to provoke or support a certain politician. It aims to help promote an anti-corruption mechanism for the nation’s democracy and get rid of some of the heavy burdens money has caused in politics.
Ku Chung-hua is the chairman of Citizen Congress Watch and an adviser to Taiwan Think Tank.