One of the most reputation-ruining sights Taiwan can offer is a gangster funeral. Attended by hundreds of black-shirted young men and senior politicians from both ideological camps, these events prove that democratic accountability and social standards don't mean the same thing to all people.
What makes the funeral of Chen Chi-li (
He wasn't just a standover man taking protection money from street vendors; he was a tool of state oppression. But the revisionism in the print and broadcast media in recent weeks has portrayed this thug as close to heroic; a man who died in exile in Cambodia, far from family and friends. At the same time, no one weeps for the man he killed, Chiang Ching-kuo (
In the course of mourning Chen, the sight of a string of celebrities, ne'er-do-well politicians and retired security agency officials lining up to pay their dues played itself out. Of the former, pop singer Jay Chou (
But it is the politicians -- and their seniority -- that should be of enduring concern. How astonished and enraged Americans would be if House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the organizing committee for the funeral of a notorious mafia boss. Yet that is exactly what has happened here: Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
The KMT, it seems, can't get by without cavorting with criminals.
But this is not a partisan cancer. Even more despicable is the presence on the honorary list of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus convener Ko Chien-ming (
Ko's presence is revolting because he trivializes the sacrifice of Henry Liu, who allowed people like him the freedom to represent the DPP.
This easy association with criminality continues to plague the legislature, too, with an attempt to restrict candidates for public office to people with no criminal record or a minor criminal record being defeated in recent days.
Both parties have acted shamefully and shamelessly on this matter. President Chen Shui-bian (
And Wang Jin-pyng deserves an equally strong rebuke for blithely dismissing this debacle as being worthy of any concern.
KMT politicians who attack the president and his family for alleged illegal conduct while saying and doing nothing about legislative misconduct are damned hypocrites. Likewise, DPP politicians that complain of judicial persecution of the president while saying and doing nothing about legislative mischief -- or its protection -- lack all credibility.
It is all too easy to say "a pox on all their houses" or some such, but the fact is that all of this behavior is tolerated by a large number of voters who will put any lowlife into office as long as it is not someone from the opposition. Thus continues this collapsible morality in the face of criminal connections to the political, security and entertainment establishments.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has over the past few months continued to escalate its hegemonic rhetoric and increase its incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. The US, in turn, has finally realized how its “strategic ambiguity” is increasingly wearing thin. Similarly, any hopes the US had that the PRC would be a responsible stakeholder and economic player have diminished, if not been abandoned. Taiwan, of course, remains as the same de facto independent, democratic nation that the PRC covets. As a result, the US needs to reconsider not only the amount, but also the type of arms
Taking advantage of my Taipei Times editors’ forbearance, I thought I would go with a change of pace by offering a few observations on an interesting nature topic, the many varieties of snakes in Taiwan. I will be drawing on my experiences living in Taiwan five times, from my teenage years in Kaohsiung back in the early sixties, to my last assignment as American Institute in Taiwan Director in 2006-9. Taiwan, with its semitropical climate, is a perfect setting for serpents. Indeed, one might say serpents are an integral part of the island’s ecosystem. Taiwan is warm, humid, with lots of
China constantly seeks out ways to complain about perceived slights and provocations as pretexts for its own aggressive behavior. It is both victimization paranoia and a form of information warfare that keeps the West on the defensive. True to form, China objected even to the innocuous reference to Taiwan at April 16’s summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Neither leader’s prepared remarks even mentioned Taiwan, out of deference to the Japanese side. Biden’s opening statement was modest: “Prime Minister Suga and I affirmed our ironclad support for US-Japanese alliance and for our shared security.
There is no ambiguity when it comes to war. Ambiguity begs for certainty and a lack thereof has historically led to war. History is full of examples: Europe’s and the US’ ambiguity as to how they would respond to Hitler’s growing territorial expansion in Europe was certainly a contributing factor to World War II. In the same vein, US ambiguity toward Japan’s expansionist militarism in the 1930s clearly led to the Pearl Harbor attacks that started the war in Asia in 1941. Ambiguity in a world with leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will inevitably