Week of Jan. 9-15, 2016

The general elections enter their final period with fierce campaigning, negative campaigns and lawsuits; DPP presidential candidate Tsai steps up security measures following intelligence on possible threats; attacks on Tsai and her China policy intensify; prosecutors have handled over 1,000 cases of electoral violations; the Presidential Office denies a report that President Ma will seek the KMT chairmanship after the elections; the White House calls on China to respect the election result while U.S. experts warn of the possibility of China resorting to pressure and coercion to influence the new president. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.



POSSIBLE CHINA REACTIONS: U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes called on China earlier this week to respect the results of Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections, while Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington and director of its China Power Project, warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) could resort to pressure and coercion to influence Taiwan’s next president, as Xi has clearly demonstrated he is willing to tolerate a high level of friction with a large number of neighbors and has a potential appetite for risk.

TSAI REITERATES COMMITMENT TO CROSS-STRAIT STABILITY: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reiterated on Wednesday that she would do her best to maintain stability across the Taiwan Strait through diplomatic communication.

TSAI STEPS UP SECURITY MEASURES: In response to intelligence received by police that she might be facing security threats, DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen began to wear a bullet-proof vest on Thursday, as requested by the National Security Bureau. Tsai also cancelled plans to join the crowd before taking the stage during a campaign event in Taichung.

RIVALS FOCUS ON TSAI’S CHINA POLICY: Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) on Sunday questioned remarks by Tsai Ing-wen that the DPP has not denied the “historical fact” that cross-strait talks took place in 1992 — with the two sides wishing to push forward the cross-strait relationship, trying to “seek similarities, while acknowledging the existence of differences” — as “sophistry.”

Meanwhile, describing Tsai’s China policy as “obscure and unfeasible that not even God would be capable of implementing it,” People First Party (PFP) presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) dismissed on Tuesday speculation that he might serve as a special cross-strait envoy should Tsai be elected president.

ATTACKS AGAINST TSAI INTENSIFY: DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen continued to be the target of smear campaigns this week, with rumors that her mother once worked in a hostess club, and that she (Tsai) had received illegal donations from former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) via Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥), the former first family’s physician who was accused of playing a role in the family’s corruption.

New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) also issued discriminatory and controversial warnings in an interview with the pro-Beijing China Review News, alleging that Tsai could be “ruthless” as she “has less to care about” as a single woman than people who have children. “One day she might go amok; she might ally with the U.S. and Japan and start a war against China, he said.

Citing a U.S. forum in which four former U.S. defense secretaries urged Taiwan not to reverse the “progress” made in the cross-strait relationship, the KMT caucus continued its scaremongering with warnings that a DPP administration would result in “catastrophic diplomatic ties” if it reverted to its previous diplomatic approach — an allegation that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly shot down.

A new campaign videos released by the KMT to trumpet its achievements in cross-strait relations again labeled Tsai as having expressed her inclination to allow the import of ractopamine-laced U.S. pork products, an allegation that Tsai has repeatedly dismissed.

The KMT caucus also exploited the debate on the abolition of the death penalty on Tuesday for campaign purposes. The blue camp said that Tsai must “reveal her stance” on the issue as legislative candidates from the New Power Party (NPP), a member of the “third force” that has received DPP support, have advocated ending the death penalty.

TSAI RENEWS CALLS FOR VOTE CONCENTRATION: Amid growing concerns over the dilution of votes to the DPP due the large number of candidates from small parties, Tsai renewed her calls on Tuesday for supporters to pool their legislator-at-large votes for the party, saying the DPP’s lineup of candidates is a good representation of a progressive force that deserves a mandate. The NPP on Wednesday pushed back against the DPP’s repeated calls for a “concentration of votes,” stressing that voters should cast their ballots based on policy issues as both parties have nominated “outstanding candidates.” The NPP will support important DPP reforms while serving as a watchdog in the legislature, Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said amid speculation that the DPP’s appeals had soured relations between the two parties.

Separately, prominent Sunflower activist Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) began campaigning for candidates from the “third force” after receiving his official discharge from the military.

CHU CALLS FOR PAN-BLUE SUPPORT: Aware of the KMT’s dim electoral prospects, KMT presidential candidate and its chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) appealed to his supporters on Tuesday for their party votes to the ruling party. A number of KMT members have urged voters to turn to the New Party, a move that Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said would allow the party to oversee the government with its legislative seats even if it loses the presidential election. Chu made his plea just days after his party described the turnout at a rally on Saturday for Chu and his party’s legislative candidates — led by Chu, his running mate Jennifer Wang (王如玄) and President Ma calling for the stability of Taiwan — as “a display of the KMT’s renewed vigor and momentum.” Police authorities estimated the turnout at 68,000 participants, two-thirds of the turnout alleged by the KMT.

TSU APPEALS FOR VOTES TO ENSURE ‘GREEN MAJORITY’: Eying at forming a caucus and joining forces with the DPP and the NPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) on Tuesday called on voters to cast their party votes on Saturday to ensure that the pan-green political camp wins an outright majority in the legislature against the “red forces that advocate for Taiwan’s unification with China.”

KMT CANDIDATE’S ATTACKS DRAWS IRE: KMT legislative candidate Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) labeled his NPP counterpart Freddy Lim (林昶佐) as “mentally abnormal” because Lim “wears his hair longer than a woman’s.” The remark quickly prompted criticism as “perpetuating appearance-based discrimination” for campaign purposes.

ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: Authorities have handled a total of 1,044 cases of electoral violations in recent weeks, with charges against 1,797 suspects involved in vote-buying, campaign violence, underground gambling on poll results and other election-related violations, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has said. A number of pan-blue campaigners have been accused of vote buying and violations of election laws. DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen blasted the KMT on Monday for condoning vote buying with its failure to “show resolve” in ending electoral fraud. Tsai called on the public to put an end to the vote-buying culture once and for all by refusing to support the “vote-buying party” in Saturday’s elections.

Separately, the DPP on Thursday alleged that KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu had mobilized employees of the New Taipei City Government to take part in a KMT campaign parade.

MEDAL ISSUANCE TIED TO ELECTIONS? The Ministry of National Defense announced on Tuesday its plan to offer over 12,000 commemorative medals to honor veterans who fought the communists during the Cold War era. It denied there was any “political agenda” behind the initiative or that it was meant to influence the presidential election.

EXPERIENCING TAIWAN ELECTIONS: Activists from Hong Kong who participated in the Umbrella Movement in 2014 have signed up for “election tours” to witness Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections, hoping to meet candidates, visit polling stations and join boisterous election rallies across the nation. Several delegations and academic groups from all over the world are also in Taiwan to observe the elections.

The number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan, however, has halved in the weeks before Saturday’s elections, with Beijing allegedly “discouraging” visits, travel agencies have said, with concerns that the atmosphere of democracy could “inspire” the Chinese people to reflect upon the lack of political freedom back home.

CANDIDATES’ STANCE ON GENDER, IMMIGRATION: The gender policies of the three presidential candidates are mainly empty promises, while their responses to queries about caregiving, sexual discrimination in the workplace, same-sex partnership rights, pensions and trade were disappointing, the Awakening Foundation said on Wednesday. Separately, protesters urged foreign spouses on Monday to cast invalid presidential ballots unless candidates put forward meaningful policies on immigrant issues. The KMT’s nomination of Cambodian immigrant Lin Li-chan (林麗蟬) on its legislator-at-large list has turned her into a “vote ATM” simply to attract votes, they said, adding that she lacked clear policies on immigrant issues.

INITIATIVE FOR YOUNG VOTER TURNOUT: College students have launched a crowdfunding campaign to charter buses to help with the travel of students studying away from home to vote at their hometown in a bid to boost the participation of young people in the presidential and legislative elections on Saturday.

VOTE-COUNTING PHOTOGRAPHY RULES: The Central Election Commission on Sunday announced five rules governing photography and filming during the ballot counting in Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections. This will be the first time this is allowed.

MA SEEKS CHAIRMANSHIP? The Presidential Office on Wednesday denied allegations in the Chinese-language Next Magazine that Ma wanted to return to the KMT’s top post and would seek the seat in accordance with party regulations as its presidential candidate Eric Chu is likely to resign as chairman if the ruling party is defeated in Saturday’s elections.



NT DOLLAR’S DEPRECIATION: The New Taiwan dollar slumped on Thursday, down NT$0.117 to close at the day’s high of NT$33.742, almost reaching a seven-year low amid renewed concerns over the world’s economy.



NEW DOMESTIC FLIGHT TERMINAL: Countering a Taipei City Government proposal last year to relocate Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) from the downtown area by 2020, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) announced a plan on Tuesday to expand its infrastructure, with a new terminal scheduled to be in operation by 2025, as the airport is now close to its maximum service capacity.

DIGITAL ID CARD SCHEME: Despite concerns over personal data protection and government surveillance, the Ministry of the Interior unveiled its plans for a new electronic national identification card, which would integrate information from the digital citizens’ certificate and the National Health Insurance Card while leaving the choice of whether to store information of e-mail address or credit card data to individual cardholders.

RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT: State-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) said on Tuesday it plans to invest more than NT$400 billion (US$11.89 billion) to develop renewable energy sources over the next 15 years, expanding the nation’s total installed offshore wind power capacity to 180 megawatts (MW) and total installed solar power capacity to 100MW by 2030.


The Taiwan Insider is a weekly feature prepared by the Thinking Taiwan Foundation’s Chris Wang, Serena Chuang and staff members. Comments? Leads? You can reach us at editor@thinking-taiwan.com. Click here to subscribe to the Insider and receive it in your e-mail.


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One Response to “TAIWAN INSIDER Vol. 3 No. 2”

January 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm, Mike Fagan said:

It is better to characterize Yok Mu-ming’s (郁慕明) remarks as stupid rather than “discriminatory”. The implicit reasoning is invalid, and obviously so, therefore the remarks were stupid. It is enough to simply say his remarks were “stupid”… because that is what they were. But the use of “discriminatory” is a conceptual aberration. To discriminate is to choose. When a politician chooses to say unwarranted, invalid remarks about someone due to their lack of children, or gender, or sexuality, or marital status or whatever else, the bit we object to is not the choosing of this or that aspect of identity, but the unwarranted or invalid nature of the remarks. If it were the other way around, then you might as well accuse a woman of “discrimination” when she rejects the advances of one man, but favours those of another man whom she regards as a better catch. So no. It is better to use the cruder invective (“stupid”) which targets the invalid nature of the reasoning, and bin the knee-jerk use of the politically-correct, but conceptually empty term “discrimination”.


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