Ten years of blogging at David on Formosa

A decade is quite a long time in the relatively short history of the internet. So I thought it was worth noting that this blog’s first post, The Ugly Isle, was written on this day ten years ago. At that time Facebook was only a few weeks old and Twitter hadn’t even been thought of. The internet has certainly changed and in some respects blogging has been overtaken by shorter, faster and more networked forms of online publishing.

I have put a lot of time and effort into creating content for this blog over the years. It has been a valuable experience and it has given me many opportunities. It has helped me to connect with a great group of bloggers in Taiwan and also to engage with an even larger group of people that read this blog.

At the time I started the blog I was inspired and encouraged by Michael Turton who continues to set the standard as a prolific Taiwan blogger. There are a few others in the Taiwan blogging community that I would like to mention. Kudos to TC Lin who continues to write at what is probably Taiwan’s longest running blog. Fili did a lot to promote blogging in Taiwan through Taiwanderful and the Taiwan blog awards. MJ Klein did a great job promoting social activities for bloggers such as the legendary Blogtoberfest. Tim Maddog started off with a personal blog, managed the group blog Taiwan Matters and then built a large following on Twitter. It has also been great to see my friend and classmate Ben Goren channel his passion for and knowledge about Taiwan into an award winning blog.

I have moved on from Taiwan and this blog is only sporadically updated. I still have fond memories of being part a vibrant community of bloggers who recorded many of the exciting, weird and wonderful happenings on the island of Formosa. I also still appreciate the work of those who continue blogging and help me to keep up to date with what’s happening in Taiwan.

Taiwan Studies takes centre stage at ANU

Taiwan the view from south conference anu

I’ve just spent the past week in Canberra attending a Taiwan Studies conference at Australian National University (ANU). The conference titled “Taiwan: The View from the South” was hosted by the Australian Centre on China in the World. The conference brought together scholars from Australia, Taiwan and other countries

It was the first time that I had been involved in a Taiwan related academic activity in Australia. It was great to renew some of my connections with Taiwan, especially meeting with my supervisor Dr David Blundell. It was also a good opportunity to learn more about the work being done in the field of Taiwan Studies in Australia. Continue reading

Taiwan needs absentee voting

The following letter was published in the Taipei Times today. In the letter I suggest that Taiwan should adopt pre-poll and absentee voting to reduce the level of disenfranchisement in elections.

On the same day that voters turned out for the nine-in-one elections in Taiwan, there was also a state election in Victoria, Australia.

I followed both elections with interest and voted in my home state of Victoria.

Voters in both Victoria and Taiwan can be pleased about the way the elections were conducted and have a high degree of confidence in the integrity of the results.

One major difference between the two elections is that in Victoria almost 30% of voters cast their votes via pre-poll or postal vote.

Voters in Victoria also had the option of casting an absentee vote, i.e. voting in a district other than the one they were registered in on election day.

However, in Taiwan many people are denied the opportunity to vote because they cannot attend the polling booth near their registered residence on election day.

This leads to significant disenfranchisement of military and emergency services personnel, as well as university students, shift workers and other people living away from their registered residence.

Rather than informal arrangements such as a student association organising buses for students to travel home (University students, military members take steps to vote, Taipei Times, 19 Nov 2014) the Central Election Commission needs to implement pre-poll and absentee voting to ensure all Taiwanese have an opportunity to vote.

These measures could initially be trialled at by-elections before being adopted for nationwide elections.

Election results reflect deep concerns of Taiwan’s citizens: Bruce Jacobs

The following commentary by Bruce Jacobs, Emeritus Professor of Asian Languages and Studies at Monash University, was originally published on The Conversation.

Voters assert themselves as Taiwanese in a warning to KMT

By Bruce Jacobs, Monash University

Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won an unprecedented landslide victory in the country’s local elections. The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) won only one of Taiwan’s six largest “special municipalities” in voting on Saturday and this by a very narrow margin. Elsewhere, the DPP won unexpected victories in many counties and municipalities.

The best explanations for this unexpected DPP victory relate to the losing party. Like Australians, Taiwanese want their ruling parties to be able to govern themselves. The divisions between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have resonances in the KMT between Taiwan’s president (and KMT party chairman) Ma Ying-jeou, former vice-president and premier Lien Chan and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who have been quite open in their three-way mutual detestation.

In addition, parties that cannot govern themselves usually perform badly in policy and administrative terms. Recently, major food companies in Taiwan have used industrial oil rather than food oil in the preparation of foods. This has raised huge questions over the government’s ability to provide safe food for its citizens.

Ma’s government, which should be aligning with South Korea as a fellow Asian democratic state, became hysterical about the “certain” damage to the Taiwan economy when the South Koreans signed a free trade agreement with China. It turned out that the Taiwan government had not seen the text of the FTA nor had it done any research. Continue reading

The battle for Taichung on social media

screenshot of Lin Chia-lun's Facebook page

Taichung is a key battleground in Taiwan’s local elections. Overall victory or defeat in the elections is likely to be judged on who wins the mayoral race in Taichung. Both major parties have a realistic chance of winning what is likely to be a close contest. Hence, they will be investing a great deal in their campaigns.

The closeness of the contest in Taichung makes it an ideal site for analysing and comparing the campaign strategies of the two major parties. In this post I have done some basic analysis of how the two mayoral candidates are using social media to get their message out to voters.

The battle for Taichung sees incumbent mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) competing against Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). These two candidates also contested the election for Taichung Mayor in 2005 with Hu the victor on that occasion.

Jason Hu has been Mayor of Taichung for thirteen years now, nine as Mayor of Taichung City and the past four as the Mayor of Taichung Municipality. Hu is also a Vice-Chairman of the KMT and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Lin Chia-lung was the Legislator for Taichung No. 6 District until he resigned shortly before the election. He has previously served as  Director of the Government Information Office and Secretary-General of the DPP. Continue reading

Taiwanese community in Melbourne shows support for Sunflower Movement

330 action in Melbourne in support of Taiwan's Sunflower Movement

About 500 members of the Taiwanese community rallied outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday. The rally was part of a worldwide action with other events taking place in major cities of Australia, Europe, Asia and North America to show solidarity with Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement.

At the same time as the event in Melbourne a crowd estimated at 350,000 was turning out in Taipei. This represented a massive show of public support for the student-led Sunflower Movement which has occupied the Legislative Yuan in Taipei since 18 March. The movement’s key aim is to ensure that the Cross-Strait Service and Trade Agreement (CSSTA) and other agreements with China are subject to proper scrutiny by the legislature. Continue reading