Consumer confidence rises, a bit
Taiwan’s consumer confidence index (CCI) rose 3.9 points to 68.77 for June, ending four consecutive months of decline.
The index rebounded for the first time since February amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, and its six confidence sub-indexes all rose.
However, it should be noted that the rise is small, and confidence remains weak.
Foreign fishing crews labor insurance coverage lacking
Only around half of foreign crewmen on Taiwanese fishing boats are covered under the country’s mandatory labor insurance program.
According to the country’s labor laws, migrant fishermen have to be enrolled in Taiwan’s labor insurance program by the time they start their first day of work.
According to a CNA report, the Bureau of Labor Insurance may become a little more forceful when it holds information sessions at seaports around Taiwan in the second half of the year to inform employers that they must enroll migrant fishermen in the program.
An official said “We will inform the employers that they need to enroll their migrant fishermen in the labor insurance program, and if they still refuse then we will fine them.”
Fines will be four times the amount that should have been paid.
Fears in the KMT over Kaohsiung by-election
Two reports on Sunday in the two main pro-KMT newspapers, UDN and China Times, were strikingly pessimistic on the KMT candidate in the Kaohsiung mayoral by-election, Jane Lee (李眉蓁).
They also suggested the election could be make-or-break for KMT chair Johnny Chiang (江啟臣).
In the UDN article, they quoted people in the party as saying that Chiang’s “defensive line” is Jane Lee getting at least 30.89% of the vote, the amount the party candidate received in 2014.
If she drops below that, the article said that there would be pressure on Chiang to resign.
The China Times article took a different, but related tack.
The article kicks off noting that the DPP candidate is much better known than the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidates, suggesting he’s the most likely winner.
It then pivots to the comments of a political analyst worrying that Jane Lee will come in third, behind the TPP candidate.
Then, the article highlights two questions raised by the analyst if she does come in third.
“Will Johnny Chiang resign to take responsibility?”
And “with only months left in this chair term, will another byelection need to be held for chair?”
Both papers are well plugged in with the KMT.
Two things are very striking here.
First, there are clearly concerns not just that Jane Lee will lose, but that she will be crushed and possibly the party will fall behind the TPP.
Second, the focus on Johnny Chiang resigning.
I don’t know if the focus on Chiang is because they are genuinely concerned he won’t be able to pull off this election, or if they are working actively to undermine him.
There is a lot of pushback against him in the party over his efforts to retire the 1992 consensus.
It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that the editors of both papers are against that happening.
Poll on most popular politicians released
Local media outlet ET Today has released a poll showing the most popular politicians.
In the top ten, six are from the ruling DPP, three are from the KMT and one from the TPP.
At the top of the list–and if you’re a regular listener you already know the answer–is New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih of the KMT, with 71.8% favorability.
Second on the list is Vice President William Lai at 69.9%.
That is very good news for the DPP, as there is a good chance that Lai and Hou will be the presidential candidates in 2024.
Lai’s opinions on controversial issues, such as Taiwan sovereignty and cross-strait ties are well known–well, at least public opinions, there is speculation his private opinions may be stronger.
Hou is very popular now, and from all accounts deservedly, for doing his job as mayor well.
However, he has kept his head down on controversial issues.
At some point, if he does indeed run for president, he will have to take stands on those issues.
If Johnny Chiang’s reforms succeed, Hou may have some breathing room on the issues.
If not, and the party sticks with the 1992 consensus and other unpopular policies, Hou will have to choose between following the party line or breaking with the party and championing policies that are more in line with mainstream opinion.
Either way, he’ll take a hit.
Or he could break with the party.
Health minister Chen Shih-chung came in third, and DPP candidate for Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai came in fourth.
That’s promising for the DPP in the Kaohsiung byelection.
At fifth is former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu of the KMT, with 53.3% favorability.
This I found a bit surprising, he was crushed in the 2016 presidential election, winning only 31% of the vote.
This high favorability boosts his chances at winning the May, 2021 KMT chair election–which recent actions suggest he is planning to run in.
While the poll didn’t list results below 10th place, it did mention in passing that current KMT Chair Johnny Chiang came in at 15th, and another possible candidate, former Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu ranked 19th.
KMT lawmaker and great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek Wayne Chiang (蔣萬安) came in at seventh, with 48.5% favorability.
Taipei Mayor and TPP chair Ko Wen-je came in at eighth with 47.7% favorability.
Transport minister Lin Chia-lung came in at ninth, and Enoch Wu came in at 10th.
The KMT dramatically occupies the legislature
More than 20 KMT legislators stormed into the Legislative Yuan Sunday, blocked entry to the main chamber with chairs and chains and spray painted the words: “no endorsement for political crony Control Yuan nominees,” in the chamber.
They had originally planned to occupy the legislature for up to three days, but after 20 hours DPP lawmakers retook the legislative chamber at around noon Monday, following scuffles with KMT members.
More than a dozen DPP lawmakers used cable cutters to break through chains locking the chamber at around 11:10 a.m. before they surrounded the speaker’s podium.
DPP and KMT members scuffled for about an hour before the KMT lawmakers retreated after failing to hold their position.
Paint and bottles were thrown and several lawmakers grabbed others by the neck.
After losing their ground, KMT members stood in protest in front of the podium where they shouted slogans.
Obviously this is political theater.
Fighting in Taiwan’s legislature is nothing new.
This is, however, the first time that I’m aware of of a party taking over the legislature and spending the night there.
Leaving aside the issue they raise for a moment to focus on the theater, I think there are three things going on.
First, Johnny Chiang is under pressure, as I noted earlier in the show, and this is a way to get attention for taking action.
The same goes for the party, KMT support levels are at around record lows.
Third, they used the tactic used by the Sunflower movement of occupying the legislature.
That movement was very popular among young Taiwanese.
The KMT, meanwhile, has almost no support among the young.
So this may be an attempt to appeal to younger voters.
Will it work?
I highly doubt it, and in fact it may lower their youth support, if such a thing is possible at this point.
The Sunflower protestors were idealistic and peaceful–and were protesting the KMT pushing through a trade deal with China.
This attempt comes across as a cynical stunt, reminds everyone who the Sunflowers were protesting, and in the end turned violent.
However, the issue they raised has some merit.
Focus Taiwan reported this:
“The KMT caucus issued a statement Sunday strongly criticizing Tsai’s nomination of Chen as the new head of the Control Yuan and its newly established National Human Rights Commission.
The KMT caucus noted that during Chen’s tenure as Kaohsiung mayor from 2006-2018, the Control Yuan launched 58 investigations into her administrative team, including 30 cases of corrective measures and three impeachments against the local government, actions that raise questions about Chen’s qualifications to lead the body.
In addition, of the 27 nominees for the Control Yuan, 24 are members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party or have a close relationship with the party, according to the statement.”
The KMT’s statement is both correct, and very disingenuous–the KMT in past packed the Control Yuan with their members, and threatened to kick one KMT member that was nominated to be Chen’s deputy out of the party.
The Control Yuan is one of the five branches of government, tasked with conducting investigations into the government, which in theory is a good idea.
The problem is that it has a long history of highly problematic partisan investigations.
The lineup proposed by the Tsai administration looks to be just as problematic.
Chen Chu, for her part, is an excellent choice for the new National Human Rights Commission.
She was a political prisoner, jailed by the one-party KMT state during martial law.
That is no doubt why the KMT is so concerned about her.
She is too partisan a figure to lead up an independent investigative body, regardless of her formally leaving the DPP to take up the post.
There is a move, supported by the KMT, TPP and NPP–and in past by the DPP–to propose to eliminate both the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan.
A constitutional reform committee is to be formed in the legislative session that starts in September.
Meanwhile, the TPP unveiled a banner at their headquarters joining the KMT in calling on President Tsai to withdraw her nomination list, and in support of eliminating the two yuans.
They clearly didn’t approve of all the theater, however, saying their caucus wouldn’t act like “little clowns” and wouldn’t be drawn into the pan-blue, pan-green “farce.”
Screengrab image courtesy of video posted by the KMT caucus on their Facebook