Several US Taiwan experts gave a thumbs up to the constitutional package approved by the Legislative Yuan this week, saying it will lead to a more moderate, responsible legislature and a better overall quality of lawmaker in the future. \nThey also felt that the legislature's actions could blunt any momentum toward radical constitutional change in the future, and said they doubted China would react negatively to the changes that will result from this week's overwhelming vote in favor of the reforms. \n"It's a welcome and much needed reform," said John Tkacik, a long-time Taiwan specialist at the conservative Washington-based think tank, the Heritage Foundation. \n"All the things [in the package] are positive things that are needed," said former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Nat Bellocchi. \nThere was no surprise that the reform packaged was approved, given the bipartisan support from the pan-blue and pan-green camps, although Shelley Rigger, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina, quipped, "it's surprising because it is very rare that politicians vote themselves out of a job," a reference to the decision to reduce the Legislative Yuan's size from 225 to 113 seats in 2008. \nTkacik stressed the package's moderating influence. With the current multi-seat districts and large size of the legislature, "an awful lot of extremists and unsavory people are elected to public office," he said. The new winner-takes-all system will be "a very moderating force on the politicians and the electorate," he said. \nRigger agreed. Under the new system, the parties "have to be responsible for the way they vote in the legislature. This was something where they felt the pressure so intensely that they had to go ahead and do it," she said. \nIndividual legislators "had to be made to toe the line," which the reforms will accomplish, she added. \nChina is not expected to react strongly, the experts contacted by the Taipei Times all felt. \n"It's none of their business," said Bellocchi. "It shouldn't have any impact on China-Taiwan relations. It's just a local government doing what they want to do," he said. He drew a parallel with the elimination by Taipei of the Taiwan Provincial Government in the late 1990s, which China largely ignored. \nRigger called the changes envisioned in the constitutional package as "technical changes. I don't see these changes in any way changing Taiwan's relations with the mainland," she said. \nIf the at-large seats were eliminated, China's reaction would be different, she feels. "Those seats were meant to represent the people of China, writ large," she said. So, their elimination might have had symbolic meaning for Beijing, she said. \n"I personally don't think China cares one way or the other," said Tkacik, who agrees that China will see this as a local matter, saying Taipei "can do whatever they want." \nTurning to the referendum, Tkacik says that the Taiwan Solidarity Union's proposal to enact a civil referendum law allowing any group of citizens to collect signatures and put a referendum on the ballot "would have set the Chinese off." But the referendum law that passed, which requires a super-majority in the Legislative Yuan to propose a referendum, "is anodyne," Tkacik said. \nFor Rigger, the package "should come as a relief for people in Washington and Beijing who have been worrying about this constitutional reform ... this takes some of the wind out of the sails of the constitutional reform movement because rationalizing the legislature was a very popular reason to have constitutional reform. So I don't think it's going to be that easy to get up a head of steam for additional constitutions changes one this one is made," she said. \nShe said the current package "is not as problematic as it could have been," calling it "much more modest" than President Chen Shui-bian was talking about only a year ago. \nNevertheless, Bellocchi cautioned that Taipei "still has a long way to go" before the reforms are implemented. "There is a lot of work to do yet," he said. \nIt was not clear which party will stand to benefit or lose in the end from the approved package. "It's possible that the Democratic Progressive party (DPP) will not do as well" under the new rules, Tkacik said. However, he noted that given the current Legislative Yuan's size, the DPP "found it very difficult to find qualified candidates" to fill the seats. \nIf the package was proposed by the DPP and passed with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) support, "I would have been surprised," he said \nBut, since it was proposed by the pan-blue camp, "I have to go back and look at it again. It doesn't make sense that the KMT-PFP would benefit much. Which tells me it is possible the DPP sees some loophole that isn't apparent to the naked eye." \nHe drew an analogy with last year's referendum law, in which Chen recognized Article 17 as a loophole to call himself for an election-day referendum, despite pan-blue efforts to prevent him from doing so.
Food delivery provider Foodpanda had 564 consumer disputes from January to last month and failed to attend many mediation sessions with local governments nationwide, the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee said. In a news release earlier this month, the committee said that it investigated consumer complaints and mediations for Foodpanda and rival Uber Eats during the period, when the number of delivery orders jumped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber Eats had 80 consumer disputes, the committee said. Of Foodpanda’s consumer disputes, 368 resulted from delivery drivers canceling orders after customers could not be reached, 108 were related to the quality or quantity
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
Passengers arriving at Taoyuan International Airport will find that most entrances to both terminals have been sealed off as part of its COVID-19 prevention efforts. Follow the signs and directions posted on the doors to find the nearest entry point. The airport has installed infrared cameras and thermometer guns at all open entrances, and all persons with a temperature of over 37.5 degrees Celsius are prohibited from entering the terminal. In addition, staff will take the temperature of those checking in to their flights in advance at Airport MRT stations A1 and A3. In accordance with the Centers of Disease