Reform has been a popular catchword of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) since he assumed office in May 2008.
As recently as last month at his re-inauguration, Ma, in his speech titled “Upholding ideals, working together for reform and creating greater well-being for Taiwan,” said: “If we want our nation to develop, then we must reform ... We absolutely cannot leave the hot-potato issues and heavy burdens to the next generation. I am keenly aware that the most important duty and mission of a re-elected president is to work with the people to forge greater well-being.”
Talk of reform is surely welcome and encouraging, because it suggests the intention of moving policies in directions that would better benefit the nation and its people.
However, good intentions are not enough. A quick glance at the so-called reforms and accomplishments claimed by the Ma government so far leaves many shaking their heads in disappointment.
Ma has on several occasions hailed the Agreement on Joint Cross-Strait Crime-Fighting and Mutual Judicial Assistance, signed in April 2009, as a significant achievement of his administration. Granted, since its implementation Taiwan has repatriated a number of suspected members of telephone and online fraud rings, but how effective has it been in repatriating major Taiwanese fugitives who are hiding in China? Not very.
For one, former legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助), convicted of securities violations, went missing 24 days before he was supposed to start a four-year prison term in April and was suspected of having absconded to China. While Taipei prosecutors said they had asked Chinese judicial authorities to detain Lo, nicknamed “Big Cat (大貓),” if he shows up in China, no word of any progress has been heard.
And how could we ever forget fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao , former chairman of the now defunct Tuntex Group, fled to China in 2001, leaving about NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) in unpaid bank loans. If the agreement is for real, why has Beijing not repatriated Chen, whom Chinese authorities have called a “model Taiwanese businessman in China” because of the taxes he pays to Beijing on his Chinese investments?
Then there was the amendment to the Anti-Corruption Act (貪汙治罪條例) pushed through by Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) last year, which Ma praised as a reform that allowed prosecutors to demand that civil servants suspected of corruption declare the origins of their assets if the increase in their assets is disproportionate to the increase in their income in the three years following the allegations. Sound good? Well, there is a catch — civil servants suspected of corruption would first need to be brought up on charges before they are required to explain the origins of their suspicious assets or property. In other words, the amendment is only a half-hearted effort at reform.
As for the Ma administration’s recent proposed capital gains tax in the name of reform and a more equitable tax system, it has been dealt with hastily and has so far succeeded only in creating panic among investors and sending the TAIEX plunging. It would be utterly brazen of Ma to hail his government’s proposed capital gains tax as a reform when what it achieves in the end is superficial and fragmentary.
Ma has shown the public he is good at talking about reform, but the question remains: Can he walk the walk or is he merely fishing for fame?
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
During my twenty-two years in the US Senate, I became a student of Taiwan and its history. I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, and have made at least 25 trips to Taiwan and have been invited as an observer to two of the nation’s presidential elections. Taiwan’s continuous economic miracle has seen the nation transition from a mixed agricultural-industrial society at the end of Japan’s 50 years of jurisdiction to today’s economic powerhouse, unmatched by most nations of the world. Just as outstanding has been Taiwan’s decades of resistance and