President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) call over the weekend for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to return to the provisional legislative session to “review” the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was disingenuous at best. \nMa said it was the DPP’s responsibility, as the nation’s largest opposition party, to return to the extra legislative session to “monitor the government.” \nSadly for Taiwan’s democratic institutions, “monitoring” the government under the Ma administration, where both the executive and legislative branches are dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has taken on an entirely different meaning. \nThe DPP walked out of the “review” on Friday because the KMT, which has about three-quarters of the seats in the legislature, used its majority to bypass a committee review and called instead for one month of deliberations. \nA clause-by-clause review of the ECFA has been nixed by the Cabinet and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT member. Faced with this situation and aware it has insuffient votes in the legislature to kill the ECFA as a whole, the DPP had little choice but to not participate in what is turning into nothing more than an unnecessary exercise to rubber-stamp the deal, for which every taxpayer in Taiwan is paying. \nWalking out was the right thing to do. Staying, or returning to the legislature and taking part in this travesty of deliberative democracy would confer an aura of legitimacy on the endeavor that it does not deserve. More than that, by participating in this KMT-orchestrated “review,” the DPP would make it possible for the Ma administration to tell the world that the process was transparent, fair and that the outcome reflected consensus between the two main parties. \nUnable to do its job of monitoring the government in the legislature, the DPP has been compelled to work outside the system. \nOf course, this action also exposes the DPP to accusations that it is acting “irrationally” and refusing to cooperate in the democratic process. Seen from abroad, those criticisms could even gain some traction. However, given its options, when forced to choose between being portrayed as “extremist” or actually doing what is right for the country, the DPP made the right decision. \nThough it is unlikely that this course of action will force the Ma administration to reconsider its ECFA policy, at least the DPP will have stuck to its principles and avoided becoming an accomplice in the perversion of democracy. That alone, however, will be insufficient. What the party must now do is come up with alternative strategies to either prevent an ill-reviewed ECFA from coming into force or, at a minimum, launch a public diplomacy campaign to explain to Taiwanese — and the world — why it could not be a participant in Wang’s legislative circus. \nFailing to do so — because of the DPP’s image problems in the international media — would make it easy for the KMT and governments who support the ECFA to cast the DPP in the role of a troublemaker. \nThe reluctant player here, the one who is exploiting the organs of democracy devoid of its heart and spirit, is the KMT, not the DPP.
While the nation grapples with its falling birthrate, it is also imperative to address how parents are raising their children. The phenomenon of “dinosaur parents” — who lash out at teachers, store staff or people on the street when confronted about their children misbehaving — has been an issue for a while, but there seems to be an uncomfortably high number of incidents making the news lately. On Saturday, a preschool teacher on an online forum wrote about a mother who often visited the school and screamed at the staff for various reasons — including her child being late to school
Americans tend to think of Vietnam as a war that split the US rather than as a country in today’s world. Vietnamese are of course way past that. The country does not have any US Electoral College votes, but if it did, they would be cast enthusiastically for US President Donald Trump. When I told a group of university students at a park in Ho Chi Minh City that I was from the US, they asked: “Do you know why we love Trump?” “Uhhh, is it because he hates China?” I asked back. “Yeah,” the group responded in unison. With a 1,000-year history of
Beijing’s media mouthpieces in Hong Kong last week reported that China is planning to create a list naming “die-hard Taiwan independence activists,” and that those on the list would be “severely punished” and “held accountable for as long as they live.” On Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said that “they and their financiers” and other supporters would be “cracked down on in accordance with the law,” although “the legal rights and interests of the wider population of Taiwanese compatriots” would be fully protected. With threats and division, in addition to military pressure, Beijing has now added this trick to its
According to newspaper reports, the Ministry of Education has responded to a teacher-student romance — between a 34-year-old female professor, surnamed Lin (林), and a male graduate student — that occurred several years ago while Lin was still an associate professor serving as the student’s master’s thesis adviser at National Taipei University of Technology. The ministry said the university’s lecturer evaluation committee has passed a resolution to issue a written warning to Lin for breaching her contract, and suspend subsidies for the department at which she teaches for one year. The ministry also said that the case fell under the