Summary: Taiwan continues to lead in tech with a possible German acquisition. Taichung’s MRT woes look like they’re worse than thought. The KMT acting offal in the legislature, yes pun intended. Kao Chia-yu has had a terrible week. Finally, the Defense Ministry says the AIT director is wrong on arms sales. But up first, headlines.
The number of reported HIV infections in Taiwan has declined for three consecutive years since 2017.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) cited joint efforts by various government agencies for the success.
Cases peaked at 3,377 in 2005, but as of the end of October, the number of people with HIV had dropped to 1,190, down 21 percent from the same period last year.
Travelers to Taiwan who present faked COVID-19 test results on arrival could face a maximum fine of NT$150,000 (US$5,266).
Taiwan continues to lead in tech with possible German acquisition
Taiwan’s GlobalWafers Co., the third-largest silicon wafer supplier in the world, has confirmed that it is close to an agreement to acquire a German competitor Siltronic AG for 3.75 billion euros.
Siltronic is the fourth-largest supplier, and its acquisition will boost GlobalWafers market share from 18 percent to 25 percent, cementing its third-place position.
The two biggest suppliers are Japanese, holding 31 and 28 percent of the market respectively.
This will further strengthen Taiwan’s role in advanced tech.
Taiwan’s crucial and pivotal role in tech makes it important to the national security of advanced economies and their militaries, which is something both the US and China are acutely aware of.
Taichung’s MRT woes look like they’re worse than thought
Local Chinese language media is reporting that another coupler on Taichung’s MRT has broken, and six others have problems.
There are 36 couplers in total, so this is clearly a big problem.
Theories on what the problem is include poor manufacturing or that the sharp turn near the end of the line is putting undue stress on them.
If it is a manufacturing issue, presumably that can be solved, but it may take some time.
If the sharp turn is the problem, if they can’t come up with a manufactured solution it could force the MRT to run single cars only, or spend a huge amount of money changing the line itself.
Their current plans are for two-car trains to run initially, growing to longer ones later.
The December 19 launch date is now in serious doubt, with the mayor noting that now there was “no timetable”.
KMT acting offal in the legislature
The KMT’s attempts to block the importation of US meat, especially pork, containing ractopamine–which will be allowed from January 1–continue to escalate.
Here is how the Taipei Times described what happened:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday pelted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) with pig skin and entrails as he addressed the Legislative Yuan on pork imports for the first time since the KMT’s boycott began on Sept. 18.
Opposition lawmakers have been demanding an apology from the government for its decision to lift its ban on the importation of US pork containing residues of the livestock drug ractopamine.
After Su arrived at 10 am for his 13th attempt to deliver a regular policy report, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus moved to change the agenda to accommodate the premier.
The motion resulted in cries of dissent from across the aisle, as KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) protested that Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) was rushing to a vote without addressing the KMT’s objection.
After the motion passed, Su took the podium at 10:20am surrounded by DPP lawmakers.
KMT legislators attempted to drown him out with whistles and air horns, dumping buckets of pig skin and offal on the podium and the floor.
In his five-minute report, Su said that the government would continue its efforts to protect food safety in Taiwan with the same diligence applied to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and previously with African swine fever.
Chinese language media reported that the five-minute report was the shortest in history.
Continuing with the Taipei Times:
There are to be on-site inspections at US meat factories, clear labeling of the products and strict enforcement of the regulations, he said.
Taiwan must open up to the international community and connect with the global economic network, Su said, adding that the US is Taiwan’s most powerful ally.
While Su gave his report, scuffles broke out between KMT lawmakers dressed in black shirts that read: “Oppose ractopamine pork, consider health,” and DPP representatives.
At one point, KMT Legislator Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) was knocked over by Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) when he bent over to grab a garbage bag.
KMT caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) and others leaped forward to drag Chen away by the neck, causing a scuffle to erupt that was quelled by DPP lawmakers.
Sra Kacaw later said that he was not shoved over, although Chen should not have pushed him.
From local media reporting, Chen was fighting off 35 KMT lawmakers while he was being dragged by the neck and being punched himself.
The next day he pledged to go for 36 next time.
Back to the Taipei Times:
Afterward, Lin, Chiang and other KMT lawmakers convened a news conference outside the legislative chamber to apologize for the events of the morning while defending their actions.
Lin apologized for the KMT caucus’ use of pig entrails, saying that it was meant to emphasize that US offal containing ractopamine would be imported to Taiwan, as the US rarely utilizes these parts.
At the very least, the caucus is calling for complete factory inspections and clear labeling, he added.
Chiang said that the day’s proceedings were deeply flawed, from before the start of the session to You’s handling of legislative procedures, adding that Su never should have been allowed to take the podium.
“President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) keeps claiming that this is for the nation’s benefit, but is public health not in the nation’s interest?” Chiang asked.
DPP lawmakers convened their own news conference shortly thereafter, accusing the KMT of losing their minds to factionalism.
The KMT in its calculations is no longer thinking about the country or the functioning of the legislature, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.
Under Chiang’s stewardship, instead of considering how to question the premier or ministers, the KMT is only concerned with how to destroy the legislative forum, Ker added.
The DPP called on its counterparts across the aisle to turn around its behavior or risk forever relegating itself to the status of opposition party.
Obviously, this got totally out of control.
There was some talk on the TV news that they hadn’t originally intended to throw the pig guts, but considering they apparently went through a lot of trouble going from night market to night market to get it, they clearly had something dramatic in mind.
This year, under new KMT chair Johnny Chiang, the intensity of the fighting seems to have increased.
In the 1990s the fighting was also sometimes intense, with this year’s KMT presidential nominee and then lawmaker Han Kuo-yu putting then fellow lawmaker and future president Chen Shui-bian in the hospital.
Back then, much of the violence was intended to demonstrate to their constituents that they were fighting for their interests–and back then multiple lawmakers were elected from each district.
It meant a lot more lawmakers needing less votes to get into office, so even if the antics turned off a majority of voters, they could still win.
They later switched to the current first-past-the-post system along with appointed party-list lawmakers in a more streamlined legislature.
During this era, the violence was rarer, and followed a set of unwritten rules–in short no serious harm was to come to anyone.
This year, though, in some cases it looked that that was close to becoming a serious possibility.
As for the fallout, of course the international media had a field day with this, and watching a BBC TV report describing the pig guts and punching was painful to watch.
Interestingly, the KMT’s own Youth League came out against the KMT’s behaviour on this.
Taiwan’s largest pig farmers association, Swine ROC, called it “unacceptable and disrespectful.”
Separately, Johnny Chiang called for President Tsai to have a public debate with him on the issue.
She’s be foolish to march to the beat of Chiang’s drum, and I doubt she’ll do so.
Chiang is also threatening more pubic demonstrations over the issue if the government doesn’t back down.
Kao Chia-yu has had a terrible week
DPP lawmaker Kao Chia-yu has had a terrible week.
She was elected the youngest member ever of the National Assembly in 2005, to the Taipei City Council in 2010 and to the legislature this year.
She has an impressive resume, with a law degree and a Master’s in Cross-strait relations from Taiwan’s top university, National Taiwan University.
Her Instagram account amusingly is NTUFish, which I assume is her alma mater plus a play on her name.
Young, attractive, knowledgeable and articulate–and based in Taipei–she has been a mainstay on the TV talk shows for years and got a lot of press.
Over the last week, however, she took a series of beatings on those same news channels.
Up first, she was questioned about the price of a house she bought, which was lower than the average for the area.
She defended herself, saying she paid a lot up front for the discount, and that she had been frugal for years, not buying designer goods and cooking her own food.
She also has a decent salary.
In a seriously ill-thought-out move, she posted pictures of her apartment intended to show she was frugal, and to show she understood the plight of young people struggling to afford a home.
The pictures showed a huge pile of clothes and on her mattress a pillow that was seriously stained and disgusting, and without a pillowcase.
That generated a lot of online discussion, press attention and articles on pillow sanitation.
The next day she said having the clothes in a big pile made it more convenient to find them, admitted she was a hoarder, but said she found the pillow “very comfortable”.
And again, the very next day she was back in the news after a former fellow city councillor from the KMT accused her of buying a designer bag on a city trip to Italy in 2011, belying her claim to not buy designer labels.
And once again there was Kao defending herself in the media, saying she had bought it for her mother.
She was also accused of being lazy, which to their credit city government officials and even Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party denied, saying she was very hardworking and diligent.
Just when you think this would all finally die down, she’s back in the news again for her appearance in the legislature.
All her fellow DPP lawmakers showed up on the big battle day described in the last segment wearing black…except her.
She was wearing a pink blouse and grey slacks, very much standing out.
A fellow DPP lawmaker criticized her, noting they were all supposed to be together on this.
She was also accused of looking tired, which seems a pretty cheap shot from the press, considering they’d been beating her up all week.
Who wouldn’t be tired under the circumstances?
I missed her entire response on the TV, but there was something about she was happy she’d lost three kilos.
If this weren’t all enough, it then came out she’d set a bank account and group to solicit political donations.
She said it was still early days, and it was for the future, and there were still thinking of what they were going to do with it.
She denied she was planning to run for Taipei mayor in 2022, but didn’t rule out a run in 2026, but she wasn’t sure because she might not be “so young, cute and pretty” then.
That’s a pretty remarkable statement, it’s both a bit arrogant and deeply insecure at the same time.
Kao has been something of a spearhead for a younger generation of politicians, especially women, who have been elected much more on their own terms than their predecessors, engaging in things like cosplay and being more open about who they are–and in a way that is hard to imagine in other countries.
She seems to think, however, that her success is reliant on her being “young, cute and pretty”.
I think she’s selling herself, and Taiwan, short on this.
In the beginning it no doubt helped get her on the talk shows, especially the young part–there weren’t many young politicians and they didn’t have many options–and youth movements played a big role in the 2010s.
However, she hasn’t been a novelty for years now, and there is a generation of younger politicians now, including the cosplaying fellow DPP lawmaker Lai Pin-yu, who at 28 is 12 years younger than Kao.
Yet, Kao has remained much more of a fixture on the talk shows.
My take is that is because she is knowledgeable, articulate, experienced, hardworking and holds her own.
Defense Ministry says AIT director wrong on arms sales
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has rejected speculation that it might be planning to purchase arms worth US$5.2 billion from the US next year.
American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen told a forum in Taipei on Saturday said that US arms sales to Taiwan this year amounted to US$11.8 billion and that US$5.2 billion in sales were planned for next year.
According to the Taipei Times, people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the confusion stemmed from differences in budgeting cycles in Taiwan and the US.
For the fiscal year 2020, notified arms sales to Taiwan totaled US$11.8 billion, while for the fiscal year 2021, which began in last month, US$5.8 billion in arms sales have already been disclosed, they said, adding that all these sales have already been made public.
Christensen said the sales are to help the nation develop asymmetric warfare capabilities.
He also said that arms sales to Taiwan have long been a bipartisan consensus in Washington and the US would fulfill its obligations under the US’ Taiwan Relations Act.
Let’s hope more deals are on the way.
Image courtesy of the UDN Facebook page