Today’s world is said to be a post-truth environment. That is a melodramatic response to today’s information overload, but the essential message holds merit. The trend can be seen in politics, especially in the run-up to November’s mayoral elections. Facts are facts, but they are routinely manipulated by politicians, and voters must evaluate what they are told.
The politicians, of course, are betting they will not, human nature being what it is.
When Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇) in July accused then-Hsinchu mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) of contravening the Copyright Act (著作權法) in a thesis submitted to Chung Hua University in 2008, she set off a string of plagiarism allegations. Almost immediately, accusations were leveled at Nantou County Council Speaker Ho Shang-feng (何勝豐) of the KMT, Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華), the KMT’s candidate for Nantou County commissioner, and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如). Soon, plagiarism became a handle on which to hang political manipulation.
On Sept. 3, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Keelung mayoral candidate Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) denied plagiarism accusations, and on Tuesday, TPP Legislator Ann Kao (高虹安), the party’s candidate for Hsinchu mayor, defended herself against media reports that she plagiarized two studies, which she had coauthored, for her doctoral dissertation.
During a news conference, Kao cited an e-mail from Jane Strasser, senior associate vice president for research and research integrity at the University of Cincinnati, where she obtained her doctorate, saying that Kao “has entered the political arena, which may be the motivation for the allegations (or not).”
Strasser got that right.
Kao subsequently committed an unforced error by revealing her academic elitism, belittling Chung Hua University — where Lin received his degree in 2008 and which is in the city Kao wants to govern, therefore damaging her chances of succeeding.
However, the allegations, for now, hold little water.
Late last month, former premier Simon Chang (張善政), the KMT’s candidate for Taoyuan mayor, was accused of plagiarizing reports commissioned by the Council of Agriculture during his time at Acer Inc. He is still working to refute those allegations, and held a news conference on the issue yesterday morning.
Chang might well be exonerated, despite lingering questions about his integrity, in a way that Lin will probably not be: The National Taiwan University academic ethics committee confirmed that he had plagiarized content for his 2017 master’s thesis and recommended that his degree be revoked.
Many plagiarism accusations are politically motivated, but this does not mean they are unfounded.
In July 2020, Kaohsiung City Councilor Jane Lee (李眉蓁), then the KMT’s candidate in the Kaohsiung mayoral by-election, was accused of plagiarizing content for a master’s thesis she submitted to National Sun Yat-sen University. She denied the allegations and called them politically motivated.
However, an investigation found she had plagiarized 96 percent of her thesis, and her degree was revoked. Lee said she “accepted the decision” and apologized for her “personal failings.”
Plagiarism is rife, and it goes across the board of Taiwan’s political parties, but that does not mean all politicians are guilty as charged. Denial is a symptom of the disingenuousness of a political class that believes an apology and wringing of hands absolve responsibility, and that denials are a sufficient hedge — because supporters will believe them, and detractors will not, whatever the facts. Plagiarism allegations are the flip side to this, and once made, politicians will refute them.
Voters must take a critical view and seek to see through the political manipulation, not just allow the political parties to make unfounded claims to damage their opponents.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum in Taipei, former Singaporean minister for foreign affairs George Yeo (楊榮文) proposed a “Chinese commonwealth” as a potential framework for political integration between Taiwan and China. Yeo said the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait is unsustainable and that Taiwan should not be “a piece on the chessboard” in a geopolitical game between China and the US. Yeo’s remark is nothing but an ill-intentioned political maneuver that is made by all pro-China politicians in Singapore. Since when does a Southeast Asian nation have the right to stick its nose in where it is not wanted
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and
More Taiwanese semiconductor companies, from chip designers to suppliers of equipment and raw materials, are feeling the pinch due to increasing competition from their Chinese peers, who are betting all their resources on developing mature chipmaking technologies in a push for self-sufficiency, as their access to advanced nodes has been affected by US tech curbs. A lack of chip manufacturing technology such as extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) would ensure that Chinese companies — Huawei Technology Co in particular — lag behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co by five to six years, some analysts have said.
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,