Rain gear politics, DPP moves to deconstruct one-party state era legacy–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Coronavirus updates:

Taiwan reported no new COVID-19 cases on Saturday.
A vaccine Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) is developing for the coronavirus will enter human trials as early as this autumn, Vice President William Lai (賴清德) disclosed Friday.
The new vice president has a Master’s degree in Public Health from Harvard.

Unemployment up slightly

The unemployment rate showed a 0.31 percentage point rise in April from a month earlier to 4.03 percent, but after seasonal adjustments, it was 4.10 percent, a monthly increase of 0.34 percent percentage points.
Considering the economic impact of the pandemic, this is remarkably good.
By comparison, the US unemployment rate just hit 14.7 percent.
Meanwhile, a Cathay Financial survey showed public confidence in Taiwan’s economy and equity investments improved this month from last month.
However, 46.3 percent of respondents said that they expect the economy to deteriorate over the next six months, but that is down from 68.7 percent a month earlier.

Signs of life at Foxconn Wisconsin plants

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co’s (鴻海精密) smart manufacturing center in Wisconsin would begin trial manufacturing in the middle of this year, the company said.
Hon Hai is known as Foxconn overseas.
The firm also said it plans to build a research institute to develop key technologies to support growth over the next five years.
The plans for the Wisconsin investment–which was announced by founder Terry Gou with Donald Trump at his side–keep changing, much to the frustration of the Wisconsin government, which had pledged huge subsidies.
For awhile it seemed Hon Hai was going to drop the project completely, but US moves to decouple key supply chains from China may be providing impetus for the company to continue the investment.

Same sex marriages

A total of 4,021 same-sex couples got married in Taiwan as of Friday, almost exactly one year after a new law legalizing same-sex marriages in Taiwan took effect on May 24, 2019.
The majority of the registered marriages were female couples, which stood at 2,773, or 69 percent of the total, with 1,248 for male couples.
It should be noted that Taiwan doesn’t yet have full marriage equality.
Taiwanese may not marry foreigners who come from countries where it isn’t legal.
There are also some restrictions on adoption that only apply to same-sex couples.

Politics of flooding

Flooding in Kaohsiung of course had a political aspect to it.
Embattled Mayor Han Kuo-yu, who is facing a recall vote on June 6, flooded his social media with images of himself in rain gear examining the damage.
He had been criticized in past for neglecting his duties, but recently he has been working hard to correct that image.
Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai, who lost the mayoral election against Han in 2018, also went to Kaohsiung to show himself off dressed up in rain gear and out in the field.
He has visited Kaohsiung many times doing the same thing since the 2018 election.
If the recall vote against Han succeeds, Chen will likely be on the short list of potential DPP candidates.

Another DPP move to reign in agricultural associations

While the other major newspapers went with the proposed new security law in Hong Kong, the deep blue Want Want China Times ran as their headline today “DPP lawmakers to revise Farmers Association Act; up to one third of board members of farmers’ associations could be appointed by the government.”
So far this proposal has passed a first reading, moving it to committee.
It would only become law after passing three readings, which if the majority DPP supports it, will likely happen.
If you’re a regular listener of the show, you’ll know why this is important.
Agricultural associations for farming and fishing have traditionally been used as patronage and cash cows by local political patronage factions, most of which are affiliated with the KMT.
The DPP has already nationalized another source of patronage, the irrigation associations.
They also recently passed a law that gave agricultural associations the ability to handle social welfare payments, but the law also subjected the associations to spot audits, which could make it hard for them to cover up patronage activities.
This latest move appears to be another attempt to bring the associations under control.

In related news, the KMT recorded losses of NT$270 million last year.
The KMT is in huge financial trouble, which is one of new KMT chairman Johnny Chiang’s biggest headaches.
During the one-party state era, the KMT seized and appropriated assets, and at one time was frequently billed in the international media as the “world’s richest political party.”
When the DPP finally got control of both the presidency and the legislature, they passed the popularly-supported Ill Gotten Gains law, which has frozen KMT access to those riches.
That has forced the party to have to operate financially like a normal political party.
For the KMT, however, there is a catch.
The KMT for years used the party itself for patronage, giving jobs to loyal supporters, many of whom were–to steal a wonderful description from Nathan Batto–”professional tea drinkers and cigarette smokers” who provide little benefit to the party.
This has left the party with massive pension liabilities, and even though they have fired plenty of people, they still have pension liabilities for those people.

Image courtesy of Chen Chi-mai’s Facebook page

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