There are no pig guts for me to throw in the legislative board game No. 1 Zhongshan S Road: The Scene of A Bill (中山南路一號 : 法案現場), so I trash the meeting room to delay the progress of a draft act I don’t like.
Such is real life in the nation’s cutthroat lawmaking battlegrounds, and this sort of sabotage happens more often than one thinks — just two weeks ago, opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members smashed up the speaker’s podium to prevent Premier Su Chen-Chang (蘇貞昌) from delivering his policy report.
My wiley opponent is ready, however, and has switched meeting rooms ahead of time. So I hit him with a sex scandal where he’s photographed leaving a motel with a female colleague, which limits his ability to vote on bills until the public eventually forgets about his transgressions. He can hold a press conference to clear his name, but he doesn’t have the right card.
Photo courtesy of Citizen’s Congress Watch.
All this time, however, I’m working to block a bill that promotes gender equality, something that I would definitely not support in real life. But my party, or my character — who may or may not resemble a certain politician — does not gain much from supporting the issue. So I must shoot it down.
This is the juicy side of the Legislative Yuan that the public is more familiar with, but these extreme or backhanded actions are just one portion of the arsenal lawmakers rely on to further their agenda. For much of the time, I’m making actions such as “amending a motion” or “requesting a public hearing” to keep the bill in second reading, or rallying public support and launching petitions. That’s the real meat of the process, and is what the game aims to educate its players about.
Photo: Liao Chen-hui, Taipei Times
After two years of fundraising and testing, legislative watchdog group Citizen’s Congress Watch finally released the game on Sept. 29, developed in conjunction with Soochow University’s (東吳大學) Legislative Research Center. While we hear about the legislature constantly in the news, the game is quite illuminating and, according to the legislators who tried it, an accurate simulation of the immense bureaucracy and political maneuvering that goes into passing a law.
The game is targeted at high school and university students, and Citizen’s Congress Watch staff have been holding sessions during civics classes as well as other events. Unfortunately it is only in Chinese, as it would be very beneficial to English-speakers who often feel bewildered by what’s going on in those chambers as well.
It was very helpful that the group sent several staff members to the Taipei Times’ office to explain the game and conduct an hour-long session, and like any quality board game it takes the entire hour and a few rounds to barely start settling into things. But the brief exposure already enhanced my basic understanding of how the legislature works.
Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times
Unless I’m extremely vested in a bill, I seldom follow its progress from start to finish. And when I do, I’m more interested in the issue and debates (and shenanigans) that ensue rather than the process itself. But sometimes I wonder how some bills get bogged down and stall only to resurface from time to time, while others get passed shortly after they’re brought up. I still don’t know what all of the terms in the game mean after just one session, but I’ve been noticing them more as I browse the news.
But most importantly, the game is enjoyable and quite competitive. The catch is that players are not aware of each other’s political inclinations, and they cannot see their actions on each bill, leading to a lot of guessing and observing. This part may not be as realistic, but it definitely adds another layer to the otherwise straight-up gameplay.
While I would like to have seen more outrageous antics — for example, there isn’t a card that allows me to physically assault my rivals, which is a time-honored tradition in Taiwan’s legislature — it’s still a highly effective means to make an often tedious subject fun.
Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times
Oct. 18 to Oct.24 To chief engineer Kinsuke Hasegawa, the completion of the Taiwan Railway Hotel was just as important as the launch of Taiwan’s first north-south railroad. Many guests — most notably Japan’s Prince Kotohito — would be coming to Taiwan for the Western Trunk Line’s inauguration ceremony on Oct 24, 1908, and it was imperative to host them at the extremely lavish new establishment. Hasegawa personally presided over its construction for the final months, which carried on day and night with over 1,200 workers toiling in shifts. They just made it — four days before the official ceremony. Designed
It’s not even a road yet. At the moment it is merely a hint of upturned sod off Highway 11. When I visited last week the digger was sitting there unattended for the holiday. And yet, there it was, terrifying. On the site plan the locals obtained, the road goes down to the south end of Taitung County’s Shanyuan (杉原) Beach. That beach now hosts the infamous Miramar hotel, built on land taken from aborigines by the government in 1987 and handed over to a developer to build a hotel in 2004 as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project. The hotel became the
Wu Shih-hung (吳識鴻) isn’t an avid reader of comics or Taiwanese literature. An animator by trade, Wu first became involved with Fisfisa Media (目宿媒體) through its acclaimed documentary series on Taiwanese writers, contributing his distinct ink brush-style artwork to the 2011 feature on Wang Wen-hsing (王文興), The Man behind the Book (尋找背海的人). “When I first joined the company, people were talking about how good the animations in The Man behind the Book were,” editor of Fisfisa’s comic division Lee Pei-chih (李佩芝) says. “Every new employee had to watch it.” When Fisfisa decided to launch its long-discussed comic venture featuring acclaimed
Jazz is back, but just don’t call it a festival as the Give Me Five concert series is set to kick off tomorrow in Taichung. Running through Oct. 31, the small-scale performances take the place of the annual jazz festival, which was canceled for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In years past, the multi-day event attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators. “It’s totally different this year,” Hsiao Jing-ping (蕭靜萍), head of performing arts for the city’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, says. Nearly 30 traditional and contemporary jazz bands will perform at venues throughout the city. The old