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The windier it is, the more determined I am to go on

15/01/2012

I started blogging not long after the DPP lost the presidential election in 2008. I did it because I was worried that it would become increasingly difficult for the Taiwanese to be heard as freedom in Taiwan and the sovereignty of Taiwan gradually disappear. Over the past 3.5 years, what I worried would happen happened. I did hope that Tsai would win and make some changes but she didn’t.

Last night (14th Jan), a number of people phoned into the Talking Show and talked about possible vote rigging or at the very least poor vote counting practice in their local polling stations. Bear in mind that most of the polling and count staff are KMTers or KMT supporters.

An observer said that he had arrived 4pm sharp to observe the vote counting but no one was allowed in for 15 minutes and no one knew what was going on inside. This is illegal but when he questioned it, a police man came to keep him outside.

Some said that they had witnessed the staff in their local stations being very quick to rule papers not clearly marked between DPP or KMT as a vote for KMT.

An officer was caught to rule an ambiguous one invalid when it was supposed to be counted as a valid one for the DPP legislative candidate. When challenged, all the staff ganged up on the observer who caught them red handed. Luckily, the observer refused to budge and insisted that they consult the guidelines and physically turn to the page with that particular rule in.

A woman said that she went to observe but got ordered around by the officer as if she was an assistant. She did not get to observe at all. She did not argue at the time because she did not know the rules or what to expect. She wished that she had been given more information beforehand.

The above stories do make people wonder the fairness of this election. I am not suggesting that the results would have been different if the above did not happen. The point is that they shouldn’t happen. The margin by which one loses matters as well. More importantly, everyone who has made the effort to vote deserves to have their ballot paper handled properly.

There was a song written in Taiwanese by A-hsiang (阿翔) for Frank Hsieh when he lost the 2008 presidential election. The title could translated as ‘the windier it is, the more determined I am to go on’ (風越大, 我越要走). This title was taken from the poetry Hsieh quoted in his first public speech after the 2008 legislative election. Between 2007 and 2008, Hsieh was fighting an uphill battle with a lot of backstabbing and antagonism from within the party. A lot of supporters not only wanted the DPP to win but also really felt for him personally. I guess the writer was one of them. Although Tsai Ing-wen did not meet with the same kind of hostility during this election, she had to dealt with a lot as well. Anyway, it says:

Let’s hold each other’s hand and keep going.
We have lost but are not afraid.
God has seen our hard work.
One day, our children will know that Taiwan is our name.
Oh~  The windier it is, the more determined I am to go on,
regardless of any difficulty or suffering ahead.
The windier it is, the more determined I am to go on.
Wipe away those tears.
Falling down is no big deal
because we are the proud sweet potatoes*
* meaning Taiwanese

Where is Taiwan going from here? Where is DPP going from here? Will more DPP seats make a difference? Will freedom and human rights continue to disappear? We’ll see…

Sky lantern

12/01/2012

A Tsai supporter (not a professional singer but with a nice voice) made a song, ‘sky lantern’ (天燈). Releasing sky lanterns is considered sending good wishes and praying for good luck. It’s about hope. A clip is now on youtube, edited for this presidential election. The song is in Taiwanese and sounds very Taiwanese. All the lovely photos were taken from Tsai’s campaign website.

I translated the lyrics for those who don’t understand Taiwanese. Sorry for the awful English – not as beautiful as the Taiwanese but hopefully tells you what the words mean.

Red lanterns fly in the sky.
Good wishes are just like stars and the moon.
They fly over mountains and streams.
The love and sentiment can warm up the coldest night.

Lanterns of hope fly in the sky.
Gratitude and encouragement follow one another.
Flying high and flying together, they find us peace and happiness.
We always work so hard and only hope to have a better future.
Happy or sad, we want to be able to tell what we see and how we really feel.

Twinkling lanterns fly in the sky.
They are all in our heart.
The darker the night, the more beautiful they look.
They will always protect our beloved home.

(Just realised that this is my 100th post. Seems fitting to blog about something this nice)

Does Miaoli prosecutors’ office work for the people or KMT?

11/01/2012

Michael Turton quoted a Taipei Times article about Miaoli county prosecutors’ office issuing an indictment to a DPP legislative candidate and political commentator for public defamation. I’d like to add that the alleged defamation referred to them describing Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) (KMT), as “an official without moral principles and a bully” on the Talking Show on 23rd June, 2010.

Their comments were because of Liu’s part in the Dapu incident, in which the Miaoli County Government seized farmland to expand the Hsinchu Science Park’s branch in southern Hsinchu by blocking off roads and sending excavators into farms that were awaiting harvest.

Premier, Wu Den-yi and Liu actually apologised for what happened in Dapu in 2010. If it was wrong to criticise Liu for the Dapu incident, why did Wu and Liu apologise then? It is puzzling why Miaoli county prosecutor indicted the two commentators only days before the election. More bizarre is that the same prosecutors’ office and the police never seemed to have investigated the death KMT legislator, Hsu Yao-chang’s wife caused or contributed to.

Hsu was also found to have plagiarised someone’s Masters Dissertation. This is Hsu’s dissertation. This is the one he plagiarised. Here’s a comparison table highlighting the parts Hsu copied. It seems that Hsu did not just quote the study but copied pages and pages, chunks and chunks of someone else’s writing. When asked, Hsu claimed that he had never heard about that study but it was actually in his reference list. Apparently, both dissertations were supervised by the same person. How he missed such obvious plagiarism is beyond me.

Fatal crash swept under carpet: KMT control of media and law enforcement?

03/01/2012

The wife of a KMT legislator, Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌), was involved in a fatal accident on 29th November 2011 in Miao-li County, Taiwan. She hit a motor scooter while in traffic violation and the rider died instantly. Witnesses said that there had also been a man in the car when it happened but no one confirmed the identity of the man. Some have wondered whether Hsu was the man and whether the man was actually the driver. There had been literally no press coverage. This aroused suspicions of a cover-up. Some residents started posting information on Facebook, demanding answers.

On 31st December 2011, Miao-li city chief, Chiu Ping-kun (邱炳坤) questioned the complete silence on Facebook. ETtoday then put out an online report yesterday. However, within hours, the page was removed. There is now only one report on Newtalk. Hsu told the press: 1) the rider was drunk and 2) he had nothing to say because what happened already happened. The victim’s uncle confirmed that Hsu had visited two days before the funeral. Hsu emphasised to the reporter that the victim’s family were very grateful for the financial compensation he paid.

The whole thing was a huge contrast to the press coverage and police efficiency when a DPP legislator was involved in an accident. The DPP legislator’s attitude was also very different from Hsu and his wife’s, as he immediately called a press conference to answer questions, resigned his position as a legislator and withdrew from the upcoming legislative election.

No one is suggesting that Hsu’s wife was solely responsible or that Hsu was involved. People just want answers and at the same time feel stunned by the lack of press coverage of this incident.

Update: Yes, Hsu is running in the 2012 legislative election. This could be why there has been such a tight lid on this incident.

KMT’s attempts to silence pundits?

01/01/2012

In a public speech in a church, Talking Show host Cheng Hung-yi (鄭弘儀) revealed that during the 2010 special municipality elections, ‘a political party’ offered a huge amount of money to ‘his boss’ (I don’t know whether he was referring to the producer or the president of SETTV) to buy off Talking Show for three months, with a catch – Cheng had to be removed from the show. According to Cheng, his boss flatly refused and soon after that, Cheng was sued by individuals closely associated with Ma’s government and currently there are six ongoing cases against him personally. If you understand Taiwanese, please see the clip of Cheng’s speech at the end of this post. He also talked about how his high school teacher/military instructor tried to bully him into joining the KMT and how Taiwan has changed since. Towards the end of the talk, he showed figures that indicated a steady increase in support for the DPP.

The most controversial of all the legal cases against Cheng was probably the DoH complaint. Apart from Cheng, six regular guests of Talking Show (Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), Chung Nien-huan (鍾年晃), Wu Kuo-tung, (吳國棟), Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), Hou Han-chun (侯漢君) and Ho Po-wen (何博文)) and Dr. Billy Pan, a psychiatrist, were also named. Taipei Times reported:

The Taipei Prosecutors’ Office on Friday began handling a request by the Department of Health (DOH) to prosecute seven talk show pundits and a physician for allegedly spreading rumors about the influenza A(H1N1) flu vaccine.

While former DOH head Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) revealed on an ERA News talk show on Thursday that the petition against the pundits was the last official document he signed during his time as the country’s top health administrator, the complaint was filed in the name of the DOH.

The government is using the executive and judicial agencies to control comments it does not like Lin (DPP spokesperson) said.

Contending that their sensational allegations made people reluctant to get vaccinated and left some vulnerable to severe bouts of flu and even death, Yaung said he felt compelled to file the complaint to prevent the further spread of misleading information to better protect public health.

This marked the first time that a government agency has taken legal action against television pundits over what it called false comments about the flu vaccine.

If indicted and found guilty, each of the pundits is subject to a fine of up to NT$500,000 (US$17,100), according to a law on the prevention of contagious disease.

Cheng has refuted Yaung’s accusation and said the former DOH head had refused an invitation from the show to discuss the vaccine issue.

He insisted the show was only providing the public with information about both the positive and negative impact of flu vaccines, and added he would consider filing a defamation lawsuit against Yaung.

As a viewer, I do not think Talking Show was spreading rumours as the discussions were based on facts and figures. They were questioning the high number of individuals developing serious side effects, the vaccine production details, time scale (i.e. whether the testing and production were rushed) and the relationship between the company and Ma’s government. Dr. Pan, who is quite into number crunching, posted his comparisons on his own blog. The figures showed that although the overall prevalence of side effects for Taiwan produced vaccine was similar to those produced by other countries but the prevalence of serious side effects (including deaths) was about four times higher than others. In a follow up post written about three months later, Dr Pan estimated that the death rate immediately following vaccination in Taiwan was approximately 16 times higher than in the USA. At the 12 month follow up, Dr. Pan calculated that the prevalence of serious side effects for the Taiwan produced vaccine was 6 to 10 times higher than other countries.

The above demand answers and the pundits simply asked the government to explain and respond but DoH under Ma was not forthcoming with information and figures and at no time was there any mention of recalling the vaccine. If Dr Pan’s analyses were inaccurate, all the government had to do was to refute with proper stats. Yaung’s action looked like another attempt to silence those who questioned what Ma’s government was doing. He filed the complaint under the name of DoH, meaning that he was using public resources. He did it on his last day as Minister, meaning that he left the donkey work to the next person and the liability to the agency.

Some of you may have worked out that this was not the first time Talking Show or Cheng’s position as the host was under threat. Please see my previous posts:

KMT’s control of media: the real reason behind Talking Show’s reduced hours

‘Talking Show’ in Taiwan being cancelled altogether?

I am concerned that this will only get worse if the KMT wins again.

Happy New Year

01/01/2012

I’d like to wish everyone a happy and fruitful 2012 and apologise for the fact that I haven’t posted anything for a few months by now. This was due to heavy workload and changes in job responsibilities. Everything I planned to write about or said I would write about will still go ahead. I’m hoping to ease myself back into blogging again and get into the full blogging mode soon.

Again, Happy New Year to everyone!

Su Tseng-chang and the Liberty Times

13/04/2011

In today’s Taipei Times, there is an article on the latest development of the DPP selection for their presidential candidate for the 2012 election (i.e. telephone polls). Before discussing the article, let me explain the way it works (I’ll do my best). When someone gets a call, they will be asked three questions and they have to answer all three for the call to be valid in the polls. The three questions are:

  1. Between Tsai Ing-wen and Ma Ying-jeou, who would you support in the 2012 presidential election?
  2. Between Su Tseng-chang and Ma Ying-jeou, who would you support in the 2012 presidential election?
  3. Between Hsu Hsing-liang and Ma Ying-jeou, who would you support in the 2012 presidential election?

The person who gets the highest support against Ma Ying-jeou would win. In other words, the comparison is always made against Ma rather than each other. As such, if someone supports all three DPP candidates, none of them is going to get any point and their answer becomes useless. In this situation, if all green supporters support all three (or both of the strongest two), then the outcome is going to be determined by blue or middle voters and if the blue camp wants to interfere with the outcome, their supporters can simply pick someone they think is the weakest.

To show the true support level each candidate gets, the best way is for everyone to say that they only support the candidate(s) they are most sure about in all three questions. This means that when asked about the person they support vs. Ma, they say the person’s name and when asked about the others they do not like as much, they say ‘no comment’ or simply repeat the name of the person they truly support.

In this article in Taipei Times, something in the following passage seems to be misrepresenting the fact.

Advertisements produced by groups connected to Tsai’s campaign have said that voters should “only support” the DPP chairperson, suggesting that they should choose Ma over the other two candidates.

As far as I know, no Tsai supporters within the DPP suggests that they should choose Ma over the other two candidates. They have always been saying that voters can say ‘no comments’ orjust  repeat ‘Tsai Ing-wen’.

I also think it is quite funny for some DPP figures to suggest that ‘asking voters to “only support” a single candidate would run counter to its ideas of avoiding inner party strife’. Asking voters to ‘only support XXX’ has actually been used for years in all the other DPP polls. Those who are criticising this approach now have probably all said the same thing when they themselves or their faction members are in the primaries for council or parliamentary elections. Why have they suddenly developed this aversion? Is it because the one they support is lagging behind and they are hoping that the strongest candidate’s support gets balanced out by those who give support to both of them? If everyone is confident with the one they support, they can all ask voters to ‘only support’ whoever they support, can’t they?

I am disappointed but not exactly surprised to see Taipei Times misrepresenting this point because it is not a secret that its Mandarin version, the Liberty Times (the best selling newspaper in Taiwan) has been a loyal supporter to Su Tseng-chang for years. They not only support Su but either viciously attack anyone in Su’s way or ignore news associated with those individuals. Now, I am beginning to wonder whether the owner’s influence has seeped into Taipei Times as well. If anyone knows the running of Taipei Times or has observed their reporting for a long time, your observations and comments are really welcomed. I will write another post in the near future, looking into how the Liberty Times supports Su and the ramifications. I would just like to point out the possible reason for their unwavering loyal to Su today.

The owner of Liberty Times is the owner of a huge construction company. The company owns a lot of land in Taipei County. When Yu Ching was the county chief, he refused to issue the license for three buildings because the company did not comply with the regulation where companies have to give up land to offset the engineering cost. Since then, Liberty Times has been extremely negative about everything Yu did. After Su Tseng-chang became the chief, he quickly let it through. Those three tall buildings brought in potentially billions of profit for the company.

A lot of Su supporters argue that SETTV supports Hsieh and therefore Hsieh is no better. I completely disagree because one programme on SETTV showing more support for Hsieh during the 2008 election does not mean that the whole company does. SET News has often been observed to stir trouble for Hsieh as well. Also, that particular programme’s support for Hsieh completely disappeared after he lost the 2008 election. It may be true that the owner of SETTV is a friend of Hsieh’s but I am inclined to believe that his support for Hsieh is based on his appreciation of Hsieh’s achievements in Kaohsiung (he came from Kaohsiung) and personal friendship rather than any profits Hsieh helped the company make. If there is any dodgy exchange, with the level of hostility other media companies has towards Hsieh so far, I doubt it could remain hidden after all these years.