The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) achieved a whole new level of chutzpah this week in going on the defensive over its economic stimulus plans (or lack thereof) and its stolen party assets. The sheer brazenness of the comments from administration and party lawmakers almost defied belief, except that under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, we have come to expect that the emperor has no clothes.
First up was Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Steven Chen (陳士魁), who said on Wednesday that the government was hard at work trying to boost the economy, but was not concerned about whether the public could see any improvement, calling the determination of progress “a subjective matter.”
Chen went on to say that he had publicized only a few of the more than 100 plans put forward by Cabinet ministries as part of the government’s massive “Economic Power-up Plan” so as to not overburden the media, but that he could assure the public that the majority of the plans were nearly accomplished. So, he did not want to create more work for reporters by actually telling them what the government was up to, which would create the need for them to write stories about what was being done. What a pile of horse manure.
This supercilious comment echoed the ill-fated 40-second TV ad that was pulled from YouTube this week, the one with the narrative that the Economic Power-up Plan was too complex to explain in simple words, but the important thing was that a lot of things were being done. The public would just have to trust the government, was the implication. No wonder so many people were quick to label both the ad and the government’s YouTube account as frauds.
A willingness to trust in the unknowable and unseeable is what Chen and his masters are counting on — a mindset that hearkens back to the KMT’s authoritarian era, when the public was more malleable (or more scared).
The only example of the “more than 100 plans” that Chen was willing to mention was a proposal to take effect early next year that would mean people no longer having to routinely renew their vehicle licenses. He said the policy would benefit 15 million motorcyclists and 6 million drivers, adding: “If people still cannot feel an improvement after that, then I am speechless.”
It is hard to see how reducing paperwork for motorists is going to get an export-oriented economy back on its feet, but Chen’s implication was that it is not the government’s problem if the public is too slow or too dim-witted to understand what is being done on its behalf. Chen’s comment left many speechless, but from laughter, not disbelief.
Just as the KMT and its officials cannot understand why the public is unwilling to see what is not there, like the emperor’s clothes, they do not understand why critics continue to harp on about the party’s stolen assets.
On Thursday, it was KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng’s (吳育昇) turn to defend the indefensible. In a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee to review a proposed bill on political parties, Wu complained of persecution by opposition lawmakers who wanted to include something about the KMT’s stolen assets in the bill. He said only the courts could decide “whether KMT assets are legal or illegal, it’s not a decision that should be made by the legislature.”
It does not take a court to decide what was stolen. It has always been very clear. Any assets obtained from property, companies and facilities held by the Japanese colonial government at the end of World War II should rightfully have ended up with the national treasury, not the KMT. Any profits derived from such stolen assets are also tainted fruit and should be handed over to the treasury. This is not persecution, it is fact, and only the KMT remains too blinkered to see it.
A brazen defense of the indefensible is becoming the trademark of the Ma administration. If all the energy spent on whitewashing was put toward something that was actually productive, the economy would be bouncing back already, as would Ma’s poll numbers.
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement