Combined elections might not be a good idea

An opinion piece by Hawang Shiow-duan (黃秀端) in the Taipei Times today points out some problems with the idea of combining the presidential and legislative elections. It begins by pointing out that combined elections are not the norm for country with semi-presidential systems of government.

Taiwan’s system of government is a semi-presidential one. Of the 55 countries with a similar system, Romania, Namibia and Peru are the only ones that have combined their parliamentary and presidential elections. The other 52 countries, including France, hold the elections on separate dates. One has to wonder whether the minority of countries that combine their elections have reached this situation without having given the issue deep thought. In Taiwan’s case, the attempt to combine the elections is certain to encounter several problems that will have to be resolved. Continue reading

Falun Gong protests arrival of ‘CCP villain’ in Taichung

Falun Gong protesters in Taichung

Several dozen members of Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa) protested the arrival of Chen Zhenggao (陳政高), the governor of Liaoning Province, in Taichung this afternoon. The protesters shouted, “Chen Zhenggao, you’ve been accused, stop persecuting Falun Gong” (陳政高,你被告了,停止迫害法輪功). According to a Falun Gong website 409 Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of persecution in Liaoning Province. Continue reading

Combined elections should be put to referendum

I had a letter published in the Taipei Times today. The letter suggests holding a referendum on combining the presidential and legislative elections. I believe this is one of several referendums that could be held in conjunction with the forthcoming presidential and legislative elections. The most important one would be a referendum to amend the birdcage provisions of the Referendum Law.

While the idea of combining the presidential and legislative elections (“KMT mulls idea of combined legislative, presidential election,” Jan. 18, page 3) is good in theory, the means of achieving it should respect democratic principles.

With the legislative election now less than a year away, it is not the time to start changing the rules. Furthermore, any changes in the dates of elections that involve extending term limits would seriously harm voters’ democratic rights. Continue reading

Taiwan steady in Freedom House rankings

Freedom in the World 2001 map of Asia

Freedom House released its Freedom in the World 2011 report yesterday. The report’s key finding was that freedom declined globally for the fifth consecutive year. Freedom House noted that authoritarian regimes like those in China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela continued to step up repressive measures with little significant resistance from the democratic world.

Taiwan’s ranking was unchanged from last year. Taiwan scored one for political rights and two for civil liberties to retain its status as “free”. Taiwan’s scores were the same as South Korea and Japan. The Taipei Times has some comments about Taiwan from a researcher at Freedom House.

“Taiwan remained one of Asia’s strongest democracies,” Sarah Cook, Asia research analyst and assistant editor at Freedom House, told the Taipei Times by e-mail yesterday.

“Municipal elections held [on Nov. 27] were widely viewed as free and fair, despite a shooting at a rally the evening before the polls,” Cook said. Continue reading

Toxic practice spreads to Taiwan blogosphere

China has the 50 Cent Party (五毛黨) to regulate and control content on the internet. Now it seems Taiwan has its own version labelled the $5,000 Party (五千黨). The latter term was coined by convenor of the Taiwan Green Party Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) on his blog in response to an incident where a group of 20 bloggers where paid NT$5,000 to participate in a tour of a petrochemical plant and write about it on their blog. The Taipei Times reports in more detail:

Pan told the Taipei Times by telephone that the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) had invited 20 bloggers on a trip to visit a petrochemical plant in Kaohsiung and an electronic appliance plant nearby.

“The trip was totally free for participants. They received free meals and a NT$5,000 cash award,” Pan said. Continue reading

Video: Statement of support for Taiwan

Ben Goren has posted a short video on his blog that is a statement of support for Taiwan’s independence and the right of the people of Taiwan to freely determine their own future. If you agree with the statement you can record a video of yourself making the statement and post it on your blog, Facebook or YouTube. If you can translate the statement into languages other than English that would be great. Taiwanese people are encouraged to record the statement in Mandarin, Hoklo, Hakka and Austronesian languages.

Continue reading