Thu, Aug 06, 2009 - Page 8

Are Taiwanese fooled?

When my friends and I last visited our home country I was stunned to see that Taiwan is no longer the same free country since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was elected by the majority of the Taiwanese people. The local newspapers and TV stations appear to be out of touch and not reporting what has been happening in Taiwan. The economic crisis, the high suicide rate and a feeling of helplessness have deeply eroded the fledging democracy that the previous two presidents had built.

President Ma has not honored his campaign promises to improve the economy or to bring political reform and protect the sovereignty of Taiwan. Worse yet, he has made a mockery of the law by manipulating the judicial system. One example is the continuous persecution of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family. Ma has fooled the nation and the public many times. I wonder if the majority of the Taiwanese people agree with his actions.

Is he condoned as a ruler, or a dictator? I know he doesn’t act alone. He has loyal followers who work for him and execute his wishes.

During a recent court appearance, six prosecutors congratulated a not so credible witness after she apparently said something they were pleased with! It is obvious that prosecutors are not conforming to standards. The majority of the news media did not make this an issue. I have not seen or read about any law professors condemning the prosecutors. It is quite clear that the law schools in Taiwan are not giving the prosecutors a good education.

The blame for the current situation needs to be shared by the Taiwanese majority who voted for Ma and his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and by those who were too apathetic to vote.

The problems of Ma and the KMT have been fueled by government officials who think they need to keep their position by implementing bad policies, which make people suffer.

Also to blame are Taiwanese who are short-sighted and rush for personal short-term financial gain by transferring hard-earned economic prowess to China at the cost of long-term political stability and independence. Even those who previously were pro-Taiwan are caving in to China’s demands now that their economic and financial survival depends on low-wage factories.

Am I mad? Yes, I am furious. Do Ministry of Justice officials, law school professors and the many respected intellectuals have consciences? Why are they not speaking up and telling people the truth? If Ma is fooling the people, it should be pointed out they are also allowing themselves to be fooled.


Libertyville, Illinois

History backs ECFA plan

The debate over the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) reminds me of the debate surrounding the free trade agreement between Canada and the US: After the FTA was signed on Oct. 4, 1988, there was an election in Canada in which Conservatives were in favor of the FTA and the Liberals were opposed.

The Conservatives won and the FTA was ratified. Four years later, the FTA was expanded to include Mexico and became the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Then, on Oct. 25, 1993, there was another election in which the Liberals won saying they were opposed to NAFTA, but it nevertheless went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994.

My point is that you shouldn’t always believe what opposition politicians say when they claim that the government has negotiated a bad deal that will cost jobs, because they are just saying these things just for the sake of opposing the government.

It would actually be very scary if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) really did believe their protectionist propaganda, as most economists these days know that protectionism isn’t the way to go.

Protectionism is generally considered the main reason why there was an economic depression in the 1930s.

Indeed, it is not the KMT that is lying here: The claim from the KMT is that China is actively negotiating free trade deals with other Asian countries while Taiwan is unable to sign any trade deals because Asian countries don’t want to risk their trade status with China.

This is all true: By signing the ECFA with China, Taiwan would be free to negotiate trade deals with other Asian countries without the risk of offending Beijing. The alternative would be for Taiwan to end up as an isolated country like Cuba or North Korea. Is that really what people in the DPP want?

Protectionism is based on an out-of-date, disproved economic theory. The basic assumption is that each side in a negotiation has its own interests and that one side in a negotiation must win at the expense of the other.

This flies in the face of 59 years of modern economic theory and ignores the fact that the two sides may have mutual interests that could form the basis of an agreement.

The reality of the situation is that free trade deals are designed to be win-win situations.

The members of the DPP should be ashamed of themselves for lying to the people of Taiwan for the sake of political gain.

Then again, they are only doing what politicians all over the world do. I can understand this mentality, but I do not condone it.