David on Formosa commentary on all things Taiwanese -- Taichung, Taiwan Sun, 31 Oct 2010 04:29:56 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.1 Rain cannot stop the LGBT Pride Parade http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/RXXu_kumdHs/ /2010/10/lgbt-gay-pride-taipei/#comments Sun, 31 Oct 2010 04:29:56 +0000 David Reid /?p=6995 Four men at LGBT Pride in Taipei

An estimated 30,000 people joined the 8th annual Taiwan LGBT Pride (台灣同志遊行) march in the centre of Taipei yesterday. Light rain did not stop the crowds from coming out to march with the numbers up on last year. The march is said to be largest LGBT Pride event in Asia.

The theme for this year’s event was “Out & Vote” (投同志政策一票). Politicians in Taiwan often make promises about gay rights, but have failed to implement their promises or pass legislation to benefit the LGBT community. The Taipei Times has a good article giving some more background on some of the key issues.

Crowd at LGBT Pride in Taipei

The parade began on Ketagalan Boulevard and then marched on a route through Ximending. The march stopped on Zhongxiao West Road outside Taipei Station and the crowd held up signs with the symbol used to mark ballots in Taiwan.

Amnesty International and human rights groups at LGBT Pride

This year I marched with a coalition of human rights groups in Taiwan which included Amnesty International and the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty. The group handed out postcards about the case of Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), one of the Hsichih trio. The next verdict on his case, which has dragged through the courts for 19 years, will be handed down on 12 November and there are events around Taiwan in the next few weeks to increase public awareness of the case. More details are available at www.hsichih-trio.url.tw.

Sung Chia-lun of the Green Party

Sung Chia-lun (宋佳倫) is the Green Party candidate for Taipei City Council in the Wanhua and Zhongzheng districts. According to the Taipei Times article linked to above she is one of three openly gay candidates running in the election for Taipei City Council. The Green Party also had a strong presence with many of their candidates for the forthcoming five cities election joining the march.

Christians at LGBT Pride - God loves gays

While the parade was on Zhongxiao West Road a pastor from a Christian church stood up and gave a speech. He said that every year around the time of the LGBT Pride Parade some Christians will say things like gays cause typhoons. However, we shouldn’t listen to them because God loves everybody. The Chinese characters on the sign in the background say “God loves gays” (上帝愛同志).

The rally ended on Ketagalan Boulevard with more speeches and performances. I had to leave early so I missed most of them including a performance by Amit (Chang Hui-mei, 張惠妹) who was this year’s rainbow ambassador.

*Also see my photos on Demotix.


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Movie review: The Fourth Portrait http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/EHfMUnJUmYQ/ /2010/10/fourth-portrait-movie-review/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 11:27:26 +0000 David Reid /?p=6962 The Fourth Portrait movie posterThe Fourth Portrait (第四張畫) paints a wonderful picture of the life of a young boy, Xiang played by Bi Xiao-hai (畢曉海), who struggles to find his place in a world of poverty and domestic violence. It is the second film for director Chung Mong-hong (鍾孟宏) who made his directorial debut with Parking in 2008.

The story begins with the death of Xiang’s father who was his sole carer. He is temporarily taken care of by the school janitor before going to live with his mother who has remarried. Xiang’s mother, Chun-lan played by Hao Lei (郝蕾), is from China and works in a hostess bar. She is too tired and broken to give Xiang the care and attention he needs. In one scene where she goes to meet Xiang’s teacher she emotionally relates the difficulties and struggles she has faced since coming to Taiwan.

The film contains elements of dark comedy, as well as more outright comedy provided by the petty criminal “Pistol” (手槍仔), played by Na Do (納豆). He forms a friendship with Xiang, leading him to engage in some petty crimes. However, although he is on the wrong side of the law, he essentially has a good heart. The friendship is part of Xiang’s search for a father figure.

This is in contrast with Xiang’s step-father played by Leon Dai (戴立忍). The step-father cares little for Xiang and seems self-absorbed. The film hints at his violent nature but there is only one scene where it is shown directly.

Throughout the film Xiang searches for love and and a place to belong. He also dreams an older brother who has gone missing. As the film draws to a conclusion a dark secret is revealed.

The film is beautifully shot in gray-blue tones that complement the world of poverty that Xiang lives in. The settings are typically decaying old buildings with not a single bright light or 7-11 to be seen. Some landscape scenes beautifully shot in saturated color provide a wonderful contrast to this depressing world.

The Fourth Portrait takes its place alongside other recent child-centred Taiwanese films like Orz Boyz and No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti. It brings up important issues of poverty, domestic violence and the place of Chinese immigrants in Taiwanese society. Although some key elements of the story aren’t fully developed, this weakness is made up for by the strong characters and excellent acting.

Links


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Prediction market for the five cities election http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/S_mjjdL32fw/ /2010/10/prediction-five-cities-election/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 23:19:59 +0000 David Reid /?p=6968 Election campaign posters in Taichung

The five cities election (五都選舉) is exactly one month away. On 27 November voters will go to the polls in the newly merged and upgraded special municipalities of Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taichung as well as Taipei City and Taipei County (which will be renamed Xinbei City/New Taipei City). The latest numbers from National Chengchi University’s Prediction Market Centre give some pointers to the likely results.

Greater Kaohsiung

  • Chen Chu (DPP) 64.1
  • Yang Chiu-hsing (Ind) 26.5
  • Huang Chao-shun (KMT) 8.7

Greater Tainan

  • William Lai (DPP) 85.0
  • Kuo Tien-tsai (KMT) 9.4

Greater Taichung

  • Jason Hu (KMT) 67.0
  • Su Jia-chyuan (DPP) 31.5 (Su is not actually listed, price is for “other”)

Taipei County (soon to be renamed)

  • Eric Chu (KMT) 49.4
  • Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) 50.6

Taipei City

  • Hau Lung-bin (KMT) 45.5
  • Su Tseng-chang (DPP) 51.5


I’ll just briefly comment on the current situation. In the three cornered race in Kaohsiung it seems the dump-save effect has led to KMT voters dumping the KMT candidate and shifting their support to the independent candidate and former DPP member Yang Chiu-hsing. This may be a result of James Soong recently endorsing Yang. However, Chen Chu still has strong support and will probably win comfortably regardless of how the rest of the votes split between Huang and Yang.

Tainan City is a walk in the park for the William Lai of the DPP. Incumbent Taichung Mayor Jason Hu of the KMT seems to have a comfortable lead in Taichung.

The races in both Taipei City and the soon to be renamed Taipei County are very close. Although incumbent Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, embroiled in various scandals surrounding the Taipei Flora Expo and construction of the Xinsheng Overpass, seems to be struggling. The results in these two cities will determine which party claims victory in the elections. If the KMT can hold on to the two Taipei seats then it will regard this is a victory. If the DPP can win one or both of the Taipei seats then it will be a good result for them.

The prediction market for the 2012 presidential election is also quite interesting. The DPP is priced at 51.8 ahead of the KMT at 49.2. The market for individual candidates currently looks like this:

  • Ma Ying-jeou (KMT) 33.0
  • Frank Hsieh (DPP) 32.4
  • Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) 23.4
  • Lin Yi-hsiung (DPP) 9.9
  • Su Tseng-chang (DPP) 6.5

Obviously as the incumbent president and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou is almost certain to be the KMT’s candidate in 2012. There is also a separate market for the DPP’s candidate for the presidential election. It has Frank Hsieh at 39.8, Tsai Ing-wen at 34.1 and Su Tseng-chang at 23.0. I find it surprising that Frank Hsieh is the front runner. Su Tseng-chang probably has a low price as he is expected to win the election for Mayor of Taipei City taking him out of the race. I think once the five cities elections are over it will become clearer who the likely DPP candidate will be.

*All data taken from http://xfuture.org/ on the morning of 27 October 2010.


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Taiwan’s press freedom ranking improves: RSF http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/bEmMNFpPaR4/ /2010/10/press-freedom-rsf/#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2010 06:24:12 +0000 David Reid /?p=6947 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its 2010 Press Freedom Index today. The index ranked Taiwan 48th in the world. This was an improvement of 11 places on its position last year. It is still lower than Taiwan’s 36th place in 2008.

 RSF called the performance of Asia’s democratic countries “impressive.” Japan, ranked 11th, held the highest position of any Asian country. RSF noted, “Taiwan and South Korea, rose 11 and 27 places respectively, after noteworthy falls in the 2009 Index. Although some problems persist, such as the issue of the state-owned media’s editorial independence.” 

Taiwan’s poor position in the 2009 ranking can in part be attributed to incidents of violence against journalists surrounding the visit of Chinese official Chen Yunlin in November 2008. According to RSF ten journalists were injured while covering the protests. As far as I know there have been no incidents of violence involving journalists in Taiwan in the past year.

An ongoing issue in Taiwan that has not been resolved is the KMT government’s attempts to exert greater control over Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS). RSF and Freedom House have both issued statements recently expressing concern about the KMT ousting PTS President Sylvia Feng to gain control of the board. RSF wrote, “Reporters Without Borders believes that a democratic government should take pride in defending the state-owned media’s independence. Protecting their independence is essential in order to guarantee a really democratic political system, one that allows all political parties and all sectors of society to make their voices heard.”

Although Taiwan’s media is free it suffers from being highly polarised due to the very partisan reporting of many media organisations. PTS is one of the few media outlets that provides balanced coverage. It also reports on many issues that are ignored by commercial media organisations. PTS plays a vital role in Taiwan’s media landscape. If it cannot maintain its independence then Taiwan’s media freedom will suffer a major blow.


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No consensus about national day in Taiwan http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/lSxpZ51G6E4/ /2010/10/no-national-day-consensus/#comments Fri, 08 Oct 2010 23:59:28 +0000 David Reid /?p=6884 On Thursday Arthur Waldron had a letter in the Taipei Times saying he was distressed that the opposition parties would not participate in the Double Ten National Day celebrations. He then suggested a “2010 Consensus” of one national day, different interpretations.

Today the Taipei Times has published two letters in response by Ben Goren and me. Ben places the issue in the context of “of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) … actively [seeking] to reinvigorate Chinese nationalism in Taiwan through downgrading Taiwan from a state to a region within an anachronistic Republic of China.” Ben goes on to write,

Waldron should know that the only consensus the current government cares for is the fictional “1992 consensus,” which in turn is only a transparent tool to reinforce the “one China” principle as a foundation for negotiations with China. If the Ma administration had truly wanted the -opposition to celebrate the ROC’s national day, why did it make every effort to remove and destroy the ROC national flag so that it would not offend the delicate sensibilities of Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in November 2008? As one of my Taiwanese supervisors said to me recently, what country denigrates and humiliates itself to the extent of trashing its most potent symbol of national sovereignty so as to please visiting foreign dignitaries?

Waldron’s distress would be better served lamenting how the Ma administration is actively striving to reverse and undermine the gains in sovereignty and national identity Taiwanese have accumulated since its democratization.


My letter begins by saying that Double Ten marks an event that occurred in China at a time when Taiwan was a Japanese colony. I then note that when the ROC did come to Taiwan it resulted in the 228 Massacre and four decades of White Terror. Finally I suggest an alternative date for a national day about which Taiwan could have a real consensus. That part of the letter is below.

Like Arthur Waldron I also hope that everyone in Taiwan can celebrate a national day together. However it should be based on a real consensus of Taiwanese society, not an ambiguous one.

The democratisation in Taiwan over the past two decades is a much prouder achievement and something that should be celebrated by everyone in Taiwan. I suggest that 10 December be made Taiwan’s national day. This marks the anniversary of the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident, a key event that led towards Taiwan’s democratisation. It is also Human Rights Day where the world celebrates the universal values of human rights. This is something that Taiwanese people could have a true consensus about.


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Taiwan’s reaction to Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/uiGld9LFCuY/ /2010/10/taiwans-reaction-to-liu-xiaobo-winning-the-nobel-peace-prize/#comments Fri, 08 Oct 2010 11:32:28 +0000 David Reid /?p=6897 Liu XiaoboThe Nobel Committee has awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Taiwan‘s Central News Agency (中央社) reports that Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), said in response to the news that she hopes Liu can be released from prison soon, but she felt the news was somewhat ironic.

Several days ago in the lead up to the announcement of the prize, the Taipei Society urged the Nobel Committee to award the prize to Liu Xiaobo. According the the CNA report the Society said that, “a Nobel Peace Prize for Liu would mean not only recognition of his long-term dedication to human rights and democratic reforms in China, but would also send a clear message to the Chinese communist regime that the world stands in solidarity with Chinese people who share Liu’s vision for a strong, prosperous and democratic China that respects individual freedom and human rights.” 

Liu is one of the authors of Charter 08 (零八憲章), a manifesto for political reform and democratisation in China. After the charter was released in 2008 I wrote about how the charter’s contents related to Taiwan. Writing in Foreign Policy several days ago, Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch, noted that Liu winning the Nobel Prize would “would make it impossible to prevent the mass diffusion of Charter 08 and Liu’s other writings.”

I have translated some reactions to Liu’s Nobel Prize win by Taiwanese people on Twitter and Plurk.

soundfury: 太恭喜曉波,恭喜各位中國朋友![translation: Greatest congratulations to Liu Xiaobo. Congratulations to every Chinese friend!]

DPPonline: 我們也要指出,自劉曉波遭羈押、判刑迄今,相較於美國、歐盟各國政府的聲援與行動,馬政府卻一貫緘默以對,為推動兩岸交流協商而對中國政府打壓民主改革派人士的行徑視若無睹 [translation: We want to point out, from when Liu Xiaobo was detained and sentenced, the American, EU and every country's government appealed and took action while the Ma government was silent. In order to promote cross-strait exchanges and detente they turned a blind eye to the Chinese government's oppression of those people promoting democracy.]

thecarol: 我在新浪貼了一條日文新聞一條英文新聞,不知道幾時會被刪。但我他媽的才不管!一定要貼![translation: I posted the news on Sina (a Chinese website) in English and Japanese. I don't know what time it will be deleted. However, it doesn't fucking matter! I had to post it!]

ilya: 這是所有在監獄裡面的良心犯的獎啊![translation: This is a prize for all the prisoners of conscience!]

拷秋勤–范姜: 聽到劉曉波得諾貝爾和平獎的消息實在太令人振奮了 [translation: When I heard the news that Liu Xiaobo had won the Nobel Peace Prize it made me feel really inspired.]

Further to the DPP’s comments on Twitter, they have issued a statement (中文) on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. The statement calls on the Chinese government to release Liu and allow him to travel overseas to accept his prize.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, issued a statement congratulating Liu. “Awarding the Peace Prize to him is the international community’s recognition of the increasing voices among the Chinese people in pushing China towards political, legal and constitutional reforms,” the Dalai Lama said. He also called on the Chinese government to release Liu Xiabo and other prisoners of conscience.

Update: Some responses from Taiwan’s government have now been reported by CNA. A quote from their report:

President Ma Ying-jeou said in a press release Friday that Liu’s award was “not only an individual honor but also has great historical significance for the development of human rights in China.”

Quoting his own speech of June 4, Ma urged China to treat dissidents with lenience because “it would convince people throughout the world that the rise of mainland China contributes not only to the cause of peace, but is also a positive development from the standpoint of the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

The article goes on to quote Premier Wu Den-yih and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan.

*Photo from Wikipedia.


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Film festival to promote dialogue on death penalty issue http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/vbTzhDBuwdw/ /2010/10/death-by-numbers-film-festival/#comments Wed, 06 Oct 2010 20:00:50 +0000 David Reid /?p=6869

The Murder by Numbers Film Festival  (殺人影展3:亞洲與世界的對話), featuring films and documentaries on the theme of the death penalty, is on from 8-10 October in Taipei. It will be followed by screenings in Hsinchu and on university campuses later in the month. The festival coincides with the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October.

The festival is the third to be organised by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (台灣廢除死刑推動聯盟). The first festival was held in 2004 and the second in 2007. The theme of the third festival is a dialogue between Asia and the world. Asia is one of the regions of the world where the death penalty is most frequently carried out. Taiwan had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty from December 2005 until April this year when four prisoners were executed. These executions again brought the death penalty debate into the spotlight and showed that Taiwanese society is deeply divided on the issue. Events like this film festival provide an important opportunity for people to engage in dialogue about the death penalty issue.

A number of films in the festival either have an English-language soundtrack or subtitles. The opening film of the festival on Friday night is Formosa Homicide Chronicle II, The Case of Lu Cheng. This documentary from Taiwan is about the case of Lu Cheng, a Taiwanese man who was executed for murder in 2000, despite there being major questions about the standard of evidence produced in the court.

There are more films with English soundtrack or subtitles on Saturday. At the Death House Door is a documentary about Pastor Carroll Pickett who was a death house chaplain in Texas. He presided over 95 executions and recorded his experience of each execution on audio tape. The film for the mystery screening on Saturday night has not yet been selected. However, all the films in the selection for the mystery screening have an English-language soundtrack or subtitles.

The closing film on Sunday night, From the Queen to the Chief Executive, is a film from Hong Kong. It is based on the cases of juvenile offenders “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure” and appeals for justice around the time of Hong Kong’s hand over to China.

The screenings in Taipei are at the Tsai Lecture Hall of the National Taiwan University Law Department. Entry is free. You can register online for tickets and pick up the tickets one hour to half hour an hour before the screening time. If you haven’t registered then tickets are available from half an hour before the screening time.

On 23-24 October the festival is in Hsinchu at the Image Museum of Hsinchu City. There are also campus screenings during October at National Cheng Kung University (10/15), National Chung Cheng University (10/18-19), Yu Shan Theological College (10/18), Providence University (10/19) and Chung Yuan University (10/20). To check the exact times of screenings, map of the venues or register go to the festival’s website at http://taedp-film2010.blogspot.com.


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Taiwan’s English-language media gets more digital http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/qppArD4O2xA/ /2010/09/taiwan-news-ends-print-edition/#comments Thu, 30 Sep 2010 08:15:42 +0000 David Reid /?p=6835 Taiwan News cover

This week saw two significant changes to Taiwan‘s English-language newspapers. The first was the announcement by the Taiwan News on Tuesday that it would cease publishing a print edition and only be available online.

The paper, established in 1949 as the China News, changed its name to Taiwan News after it was purchased by the I-Mei Corporation in 1999. In January 2008 it changed from a broadsheet to a tabloid format. The final issue was published today. Here’s a quote from the Taiwan News’ own report:

During a press conference yesterday, Taiwan News President Jack Wong announced that the 62-year old newspaper is going digital.

“The unthinkable is finally upon us,” said Wong. “On Tuesday, Sept. 28, Taiwan News will launch the previously impossible integration of text, color images, and sound in a digital multimedia format. It will be the world’s first and log-on is for free.”

In response to the recent global trend toward digital publishing, Taiwan News has switched to an all-online format. “The whole world will witness an electronic newspaper that leaves all others behind in its digital technology and multi-media capabilities,” added Wong.


Unfortunately what I have seen of the Taiwan News multimedia format so far has left me unimpressed. The url www.etaiwannews.com currently leads to a Flash page complete with pictures of women inviting you to “Touch Me Please!” After watching a painful animation of the woman dancing you can finally reach the online version of the newspaper. It is all in Flash complete with background music.

That is just the start of the problems. The Flash website doesn’t allow you to link to specific articles. New articles aren’t being indexed by Google News. A search for taiwan  source:etaiwan_news on Google News shows articles dated up to 26 September. However clicking through to those articles redirects to a Flash page. (A clumsy work around if you really need to see the article is to change the www.etaiwannews.com in the url to www.taiwannews.com.tw.) Updated news content now seems to be available on the conventional style website at  www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/index_en.php.

I contacted Taiwan News by e-mail and they responded saying that they were working on fixing some of the problems. At the time of writing this article many of the problems don’t seem to have been resolved. In becoming an online only publication it has made its content less accessible and difficult to find via search engines. The Taiwan News publishes some excellent editorials. It would be a shame for them to come to an end.

Taipei Times new website

Another of Taiwan’s English-language newspapers has also made some changes. The Taipei Times has finally updated the design of its website, which had undergone only minor changes since it was launched way back in 1999. The new website has a simple, uncluttered format and is fast to load. It is definitely an improvement on the older version.

Last year in a post on the Taipei Times tenth anniversary I noted the failure of the Taipei Times and Taiwan’s English-language media more generally to embrace social media. The Taipei Times features section now has Facebook and Twitter accounts, but its engagement in the social media sphere is still very limited. While at least the Taipei Times now has a website that loads quickly it still merely duplicates the content of the newspaper that is published once every 24 hours.


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Typhoon Fanapi strikes Taiwan, causes floods in the south http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/gF0HkfDNZ6s/ /2010/09/typhoon-fanapi/#comments Mon, 20 Sep 2010 11:49:37 +0000 David Reid /?p=6793 Typhoon Fanapi satellite photo by NASA

Image from NASA Earth Observatory

Typhoon Fanapi (颱風凡那比) was the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan this year. It made landfall at Fengbin in Hualien County at 8:40am on Sunday 19 September. The typhoon packed winds that exceeded 200 kilometres per hour. It also caused a Foehn wind which resulted in elevated temperatures in Taitung on Sunday morning.

Rainfall from Typhoon Fanapi

Some of the areas that experienced the heaviest rainfall were also the ones affected by Typhoon Morakot in August last year. Some locations in Pingtung County recorded over 1,000 millimetres of rain. According to the Central Weather Bureau website as of 5pm Monday Majia in Pingtung County had recorded 1,123.5 millimetres of rain. Shangdewen in Sandimen Township of Pingtung County had recored 1,007 millimetres in the same period. 

Rainfall from Typhoon Fanapi

The heavy rains resulted in flooding in areas of Pingtung County and Kaohsiung City and County. Television news is reporting that the floods in Kaohsiung City are the worst in 50 years. Focus Taiwan (CNA) reports:

In southern Taiwan, the wind damage was not that great but the area suffered severe flooding as the storm dumped about 600 millimeters (mm) of rain on that region.

“Several districts in Kaohsiung County, including Gangshan, recorded the highest volume of rainfall in history Sunday, ” Chi Feng-hsiung, a Kaohsiung City government official, said Monday.

The typhoon caused flooding in 77 boroughs in the southern city, wrecking the personal property of residents in the area, according to Kaohsiung City government statistics.

Kaohsiung residents blamed the city’s sewage and drainage system, which they said was not designed to handle the volume of rain brought by Fanapi.

The system was designed for the drainage of a maximum of 321 mm of accumulated rainfall over a 24-hour period. However, on Sunday, the 24-hour accumulated rainfall in several areas of Kaohsiung City and County exceeded 576 mm.

The extent of the flooding led Premier Wu Den-yih to note that facilities need to be upgraded to cope with climate change. CNA reports:

Flooding to the extent experienced as a result of Fanapi was expected to happen just once in 200 years, far exceeding what the existing flood control facilities are able to deal with, Wu said while visiting an emergency operations center in Taipei.

“Because of severe climate change, all public flood control facilities — no matter whether they are expanded existing ones or completely new — need to be designed with the possibility of such heavy rainfall in mind, ” Wu said.

Typhoon Fanapi and the associated floods highlights the vulnerability of many areas in Taiwan to extreme rainfall events. Planning for future events needs to take into account the effects of climate change. As the memory of Typhoon Morakot is still vivid many people were better prepared and knew how to avoid the risks in this case. It also seems the government took a far more proactive approach to dealing with the storm. Perhaps it was part show for political purposes, but that is far better than the slow and ineffective response to last year’s far more serious Typhoon Morakot.

There was also plenty of online activity related to the typhoon. The @taiwanfloods Twitter account has been busily tweeting Chinese-language updates about the typhoon and floods. The Storm2k forum has a very active discussion about the typhoon. The site has lots of meteorology buffs and storm chasers discussing the storm. There is lots of technical information plus a few on the ground observations.

Tony Coolidge posted some photos on his blog of damage to a high school in Tainan County. Kerim posted a video on YouTube showing the strength of the wind in Hualien. Michael Turton posted some videos of the typhoon in Taichung County. Troy Simpson had several posts reporting the impact of the typhoon in Kaohsiung. He has some videos of the typhoon as it hit and photos of the aftermath. Sandy has some photos of the post-storm damage in Neipu, Pingtung County. Barking Deer News has some updates on the condition of mountain trails. @ItsLesleyBee posted some photos of her flooded school on twitpic.


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Court questions constitutionality of Assembly Law http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DavidOnFormosa/~3/VOsUe3uabxs/ /2010/09/court-questions-constitutionality-of-assembly-law/#comments Fri, 10 Sep 2010 11:06:56 +0000 David Reid /?p=6762 The Taipei District Court has suspended a case involving Lee Ming-tsung (李明聰), an NTU assistant professor and one of the initiators of the Wild Strawberry Movement (野草莓學運), who was charged under the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法). The judge said a constitutional interpretation of the law was necessary before a verdict could be made in the case. Taiwan Today reports:

The Taipei District Court has ordered the trial of a National Taiwan University academic charged with violating the Assembly and Parade Act halted pending constitutional interpretation of several articles contained within the law.

The court found that proceedings against Lee Ming-tsung, an assistant professor of sociology at NTU, could not continue as the act infringes on a citizen’s freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the ROC Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


Focus Taiwan (CNA) has some translations from the Chinese-language press reports on the case. The Liberty Times reported on Lee’s reaction to the court’s decision.

Lee hailed Chen’s ruling, saying he was happier to see such as a decision than he would be if he were acquitted.

“The move marked a major step forward in our country’s democratic development and human rights protection, ” Lee said, adding that investigations or court hearings on all other cases involving alleged violations of the act should also be halted pending a Constitutional Court ruling on Chen’s application.

The Assembly Law was enacted in January 1988, only six months after Martial Law came to an end. It has been widely criticised by civil society groups for restricting freedom of speech and giving police too much power. The law came into the spotlight during the visit of Chinese official Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) to Taiwan in November 2008. The heavy handed tactics of the police during that time gave rise to the Wild Strawberry Movement. One of the movement’s key demands was to amend the Assembly Law which they claimed limited freedom of speech.

I have previously argued on this blog that freedom of assembly is a basic right and the Assembly Law attacks freedom of speech. A review of the Assembly Law is long overdue and all eyes will be on the Council of Grand Justices as they consider the constitutionality of the law. Substantial revision or abolition of Assembly Law is essential for the protection of freedom of speech in Taiwan.


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