Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Back To The Fundamentals

The recent ridiculous acts of the Taipei City government really got me thinking…just what is the cause that make  to the whole organization falling apart.  Supposedly the government has all the financial and human resource support, so how did they become like this…an organization without common sense and judging by the evidences, arrogant and rotten to the core? 

Sure, Taipei City used to and still have a lot of problems, from traffic jam problems, air pollution problems to major construction problems…etc.  However, the city, despite its many problems, also improve somewhat overtime.  This could be contributed by because the city is really rich, even if 50% of money goes to waste, slow progress has also been made.  Plus, during ex-President Chen’s time as mayor, major improvements has been made.  Although, one really has to wonder, if Taipei City government can tighten its waste, and maybe just waste …say 10% instead of 50%, the whole Taiwan could benefit greatly…seriously.  A lot of local government has really limited budget, and improvement is moving in senile pace.  If you go around Taiwan for a bit, you will see stuffs that is done (whether well done or poorly done), but could have been done a lot better if they just have a little bit more money and resources.  That is why I tend to like the idea of dividing Taiwan into six or seven major pieces with each piece receiving budgets that make more sense.  Each area can then develop depending on their unique characteristics.  That is also why I like ex-Presidential candidate Hsie’s Six Star Plan.  Although I don’t know the details and how to divide the area and how to overcome some of the potential problems it could encounter, I think that is a step in the right direction.  Instead of wasting and dumping most of the resources into one small area in Taipei City, put the resources in places where they are really needed. 

However, that is really off topic a bit.  Right now, the problem is not just about Taipei City wasting money…it’s about Taipei City wasting huge amount of money on simple and useless things.  For example, Maokong…is that thing really necessary?  What’s the benefit?  Repeating paving the same road over and over again to make it flat, while leaving other roads extremely uneven…is that necessary?  Spending major money to build a swimming pool (6 tracks) for Deafolympics that does not fit with international swimming competition standard (8 tracks).  Is that necessary?  Build a glasses cylinder in place of a traditional night market that eventually drove all the stores away.  Is that necessary?  And finally, spending MILLIONS on a simple FLOWER EXIBITION (and with major budget put into advertisement and commercial)…is that necessary…or just plain STUPID? 

Many who lived outside Taipei City already point out the more evident problem of Taipei City: the way their citizens choose their mayor for the past decades.  I don’t want to go into great detail into this, because most people know it already.  Let’s just say they did not pick carefully.

However, other than that, what is causing city officials to become so incompetent, even after people point out again and again the mistakes they have made…and in my mind, they are actually getting worse and worse?  I think one of the problem is actually that the whole strategic direction is WRONG ever since Ma took over.  During Ma’s time, the city government seems to fixade on two things: Ma’s image making and short-term constructions.  After Ma’s 8 years, KMT’s Hao took over and continue this trend.  These fixation…IMO, are there for election purpose.  Politicians, ideally, would like to contribute in ways so they could be remembered well at least by some.  Ma, however, seems to fixate on winning 2008 presidential election after the 8 years as Taipei City Mayor.  Therefore, his team rushes on planning short-term projects and PR that could give Ma a short-term image boost and shade the image that “Ma is incompetent.”  They seem to forget that competency does not mean completing lots of projects, but careful planning with good foresight and budgeting that could really elevate citizens’ lives with efficiency.

This change in direction seems to become a major flaw and creates countless problems after 8 years.  Major waste of resources on illed planned projects are everywhere in Taipei City.  Sure, the city itself is still vibrant, but many problems are sufacing…some problems even created by Ma and Hao themselves.

So what’s the cure?  I think it’s “returning to the fundamentals.”  What are the fundamentals?  I don’t know, probably initiating projects based on a well thought out overall 10 years city plan and strategy, not just short-term random projects.  Focusing on providing its citizens more convenience in housing and traffic.  Focusing on the image of the city instead of image of the mayor.  Focusing on using the budget efficiently instead of going into major deficit.  I am no experts, but I think KMT’s Taipei City has forgotten the fundamentals of city governing that is why they do things that defy all common senses.  (Taichung City is not far behind, but other than crimes,  not a lot of media coverage).

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Taipei City Has Became a Black Hole in Budget

Although I know for a long time that Taipei City are wasting quite a lot of money, I was still very shocked to find out the over budgeting problem of the Flower Exhibition in Taipei.  I did not realize the waste of money could be so huge.

大話新聞 has been talking about this for several days now, and the more they discuss the more problematic things look.  One thing that really shocked me is the call-in yesterday, in which two Taipei City official called in to express their opinion.  The ignorance and arrogance they displayed is beyond my comprehension.  Sure, I make mistakes too…but these guys made a huge mistake but still act as if they are the men….it’s really ridiculous.  One guy (Yang) mention he had such and such long professional experience and accuse the show for being unprofessional, but he himself made a huge mistakes in city government procurement procedures.  Of course, with price difference so huge, it might not be just single incidental mistake, but a systematic problems and possibly systematic corruptions.

Right now the problem is not only why Taipei City got so much share of budget with such small area.  (of course, Taipei City got a lot of tax, but that is partially because a lot of companies have headquarters in Taipei City.  Those companies also have offices and factories else where perhaps but tax is only collected in Taipei City.  Therefore it still does not really make sense)…But also, that it is WASTING a huge amount of money.  Taipei City is not really improving, and other local government has no budget.  Just imagine what we can do with the wasted budget of Taipei City!!!!!

DPP Needs More Experts in Military Matter

I am sure everyone understands that national defense is not a matter to take lightly.  It is a serious matter concerning the life and death of Taiwan.  Other things such as economic, foreign relations and education also affect the future of Taiwan greatly, but national defense is also part of the factor.

A lot of people have this attitude…”yea, yea, whatever, China is not going to invade.  It is afraid of the US.  Also, the economic tie is too close for any meaningful military action.”  Such attitude I think is too naive and dangerous.  Situation can change.  Right now China is investing heavily in sea denial forces that can hinder the US and other countries ability to intervene.  With military strength now tilting toward China, the amount of time Taiwan can hold out shortens.  I am not trying to stir fears, but the fact is, military matter is an important matter.  Imagine Taiwan is like Hong Kong, without any armed forces except the police.  If that is the case, Taiwan will be annexed by China already.

So what?  Taiwan has its military and its experts, what’s the problem?  The problem is, most of those people are part of KMT network or under KMT influence, while DPP lacks national defense experts within its own party.  DPP right now has a lot of good economic and foreign relation expert, but to my knowledge, not many national defense experts among DPP members.  Therefore, when DPP politicians sometimes discuss national defense matter, I felt they lack the depth and expertise they seem to have in other matters.

This situation creates two significant problems:

KMT owns the national defense discussions.  Those with military credentials and authority are often KMT members.  Two notable examples are 帥化民 and 林郁方.  There are also other military journalists and retired general extra.  The problems are:

  1. are these experts really experts?  Because there are no one from outside questioning or challenging these people’s opinions, no one really knows.  For examples, 帥化民 and 林郁方 said a lot of  things that I think is questionable, but since they are the “expert” while I am not, I cannot really say what they say is wrong.  This is part of the reason why KMT can block the special budget for so long in the legislature during the DPP’s time (the other being that they have more people in legislature).  However, if DPP actually have more national defense experts with good background and credential, they can examine what the KMP politicians (experts) said and challenge them when necessary.
  2. KMT can discuss national defense matter the way they wanted, because they have a monopoly in this matter.  This is a serious problem, because we all know KMT’s pro-China and pro-eventual-unification stances.  Will you hire a thief as a security planner for your house or banks?  Exactly.  But that is what Taiwan is doing now.  If you look at what the KMT did in the past decade – blocking military budget without discussion in legislature and now slashing military budget year by year…you will start to wonder does it want to protect Taiwan or not.  KMT politicians still say they want to buy such and such from the US etc, but I think they only do that for show.  underneath, are they actually trying hard to acquire the weapons and command & control systems etc….I don’t know.

The second problem is simply that without good national defense advisors, even if DPP won the presidential election, this part will still be lacking and can create a lot of headache and problems.  Therefore, I urge DPP politicians to think ahead, think practically and try to get a few military and national defense experts that is loyal to Taiwan and trust worthy on your side.

You Need Expertise to Sell Taiwan Out?

I was going to say the same thing, but many people beat me to it.  Therefore I am not going to repeat the same idea here…it’s really stupid anyway.  Suffice to say…you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to sell Taiwan out, and Ma said is one of the stupidest thing I have ever heard (what Yang said was quite stupid as well, but the follow-up of Ma is even stupider).

DPP’s HK Commercial

DPP made an interesting commercial filmed in Hong Kong.  The CF can be seen here:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn_UMtw3sSA&feature=player_embedded

The commercial seems to cause quite a discussion in both Taiwan and Hong Kong:

The CF is pretty good in quality, but based on the reaction, it only scratches the surface of the problems and has not touched the root cause due to the limitation of time, although that might be enough to warn some people in Taiwan.

IMO, the problem of Hong Kong is not “over competition”, but “unfair competition” favoring those with capitals, power and connection with Beijing, created by various formal and informal treaties between Hong Kong and Beijing.  And I think we haven’t seen the full effect yet…probably wait another 10 years and things might become worse, based on the situation of the current generation of students and influx of women from China giving birth in Hong Kong (approximately 46% of babies born in Hong Kong now come from women that come from Beijing and Shanghai etc).

Of course, HK and TW are two very different places, therefore the effects could be a bit different….it could be OK in certain areas, but much worse in others. But in any case, it’s a good warning for those who cares in Taiwan.

Politicians Need More Humbleness

Recently there are some really bad drama acted out by the politicians in Taiwan…make you want to puke (figuratively speaking).

The first is from the Kaohsiung DPP politician Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), who has announced that he is running in the mayoral election for the Kaohsiung Municipality.  I don’t know enough to answer the question “楊秋興 or 陳菊, who is more suitable to be the mayor.”  However, I don’t think the is the real issue here.  The problem is that 楊秋興 has not enough legitimacy to run for mayor, although it is his right to do so.  First of all, he was already Kaohsiung county mayor for 9 years…even if he performed well under his term, in the tradition of democratic system, shouldn’t he consider other paths?  Secondly, he lost the internal DPP election.  Even if he himself felt that it’s unfair to him for some reason, I don’t see how that can legitimize his action.

Furthermore, this election is more than just Municipalities elections…in the current context, it’s also a vote of no confidence against the Ma government in his recent surrendering policies toward China.  Also, 楊秋興 in answering reporters question, saying he joined the race because he does not want Kaohsiung to be behind anymore….etc etc.  But…he seemed to forget that he IS Kaohsiung county mayor for the past 9 years.  Why doesn’t he do something or say something if he thinks he can help the situation?  Does he think that he is the only person that can help Kaohsiung?  No other people in his party is better suited for the job?  Such attitude is indeed arrogant.  Although we the people outside of the circle do not know what he is thinking exactly, I think a bit more wisdom and humbleness will help him to become more of a team player instead of a “believer” of 星雲法師 (a pro-China political fake Buddhist monk) and a jerk.

Another person that showed a significant arrogance is Ma, during his speech in KMT party conference, in which he blamed the cause of current problems on DPP’s 8 years once again.  In his speech, it’s obvious that he thinks everything he did is correct and every opposition is wrong.  And in his own words, he said opposing ECFA means being enemies of the people lol.  That sounds exactly like communists and Nazi German.  Also, a lot of what he said simply does not make any sense (a lot of editorial mentioned it, and is also discussed here.  I won’t try to go over the BS point by point).  Once again, this shows Ma and KMT’s arrogance.  However, in this speech, you can also sense a little panic in Ma….because he does seem a bit emotionally unstable (or maybe he acted that way).  Perhaps he realized that many people, even those who voted for him, now view him as one that is selling Taiwan out little by little or view him as an incompetent politician.  That is why he wants to blame everything on the previous administration after 2 years.

In both cases, I think their abnormal behaviour will not help them in their career, but indeed could bite them in the ass.  The chance of 楊秋興 winning is near zero and already many pan green supporters take note and have much less respect for him (in not outright angry with him).  Ma’s usual blaming others for problems with extra emotional unstability will not help him in his image, KMT’s election or his own 2012 election.  Once again, these two events show that Taiwan’s democracy is indeed still not mature.  It also shows that a little humbleness and honest self-assessment really goes a long way IMO.