Taiwan needs absentee voting

The following letter was published in the Taipei Times today. In the letter I suggest that Taiwan should adopt pre-poll and absentee voting to reduce the level of disenfranchisement in elections.

On the same day that voters turned out for the nine-in-one elections in Taiwan, there was also a state election in Victoria, Australia.

I followed both elections with interest and voted in my home state of Victoria.

Voters in both Victoria and Taiwan can be pleased about the way the elections were conducted and have a high degree of confidence in the integrity of the results.

One major difference between the two elections is that in Victoria almost 30% of voters cast their votes via pre-poll or postal vote.

Voters in Victoria also had the option of casting an absentee vote, i.e. voting in a district other than the one they were registered in on election day.

However, in Taiwan many people are denied the opportunity to vote because they cannot attend the polling booth near their registered residence on election day.

This leads to significant disenfranchisement of military and emergency services personnel, as well as university students, shift workers and other people living away from their registered residence.

Rather than informal arrangements such as a student association organising buses for students to travel home (University students, military members take steps to vote, Taipei Times, 19 Nov 2014) the Central Election Commission needs to implement pre-poll and absentee voting to ensure all Taiwanese have an opportunity to vote.

These measures could initially be trialled at by-elections before being adopted for nationwide elections.

Election results reflect deep concerns of Taiwan's citizens: Bruce Jacobs

The following commentary by Bruce Jacobs, Emeritus Professor of Asian Languages and Studies at Monash University, was originally published on The Conversation.

Voters assert themselves as Taiwanese in a warning to KMT

By Bruce Jacobs, Monash University

Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won an unprecedented landslide victory in the country’s local elections. The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) won only one of Taiwan’s six largest “special municipalities” in voting on Saturday and this by a very narrow margin. Elsewhere, the DPP won unexpected victories in many counties and municipalities.

The best explanations for this unexpected DPP victory relate to the losing party. Like Australians, Taiwanese want their ruling parties to be able to govern themselves. The divisions between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have resonances in the KMT between Taiwan’s president (and KMT party chairman) Ma Ying-jeou, former vice-president and premier Lien Chan and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who have been quite open in their three-way mutual detestation.

In addition, parties that cannot govern themselves usually perform badly in policy and administrative terms. Recently, major food companies in Taiwan have used industrial oil rather than food oil in the preparation of foods. This has raised huge questions over the government’s ability to provide safe food for its citizens.

Ma’s government, which should be aligning with South Korea as a fellow Asian democratic state, became hysterical about the “certain” damage to the Taiwan economy when the South Koreans signed a free trade agreement with China. It turned out that the Taiwan government had not seen the text of the FTA nor had it done any research. Continue reading “Election results reflect deep concerns of Taiwan's citizens: Bruce Jacobs”

The battle for Taichung on social media

screenshot of Lin Chia-lun's Facebook page

Taichung is a key battleground in Taiwan’s local elections. Overall victory or defeat in the elections is likely to be judged on who wins the mayoral race in Taichung. Both major parties have a realistic chance of winning what is likely to be a close contest. Hence, they will be investing a great deal in their campaigns.

The closeness of the contest in Taichung makes it an ideal site for analysing and comparing the campaign strategies of the two major parties. In this post I have done some basic analysis of how the two mayoral candidates are using social media to get their message out to voters.

The battle for Taichung sees incumbent mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) competing against Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). These two candidates also contested the election for Taichung Mayor in 2005 with Hu the victor on that occasion.

Jason Hu has been Mayor of Taichung for thirteen years now, nine as Mayor of Taichung City and the past four as the Mayor of Taichung Municipality. Hu is also a Vice-Chairman of the KMT and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Lin Chia-lung was the Legislator for Taichung No. 6 District until he resigned shortly before the election. He has previously served as  Director of the Government Information Office and Secretary-General of the DPP. Continue reading “The battle for Taichung on social media”

Taiwanese community in Melbourne shows support for Sunflower Movement

330 action in Melbourne in support of Taiwan's Sunflower Movement

About 500 members of the Taiwanese community rallied outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday. The rally was part of a worldwide action with other events taking place in major cities of Australia, Europe, Asia and North America to show solidarity with Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement.

At the same time as the event in Melbourne a crowd estimated at 350,000 was turning out in Taipei. This represented a massive show of public support for the student-led Sunflower Movement which has occupied the Legislative Yuan in Taipei since 18 March. The movement’s key aim is to ensure that the Cross-Strait Service and Trade Agreement (CSSTA) and other agreements with China are subject to proper scrutiny by the legislature. Continue reading “Taiwanese community in Melbourne shows support for Sunflower Movement”

Foreign observers needed for election

I had a letter about the need for election observers published in the Taipei Times today. While I hope the forthcoming election will be trouble free, I note in the letter that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) supporters have engaged in violent protests following election losses in 2000 and 2004. The risk of violent protests destabilising the political system and affecting the transfer of power should not be ignored.

It is disappointing to see that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not provided funding to European academics to observe next month’s presidential and legislative elections (“European election observers denied funding by MOFA,” Dec. 2, page 1).

The elections should be an opportunity to showcase Taiwan’s democratic development to the rest of the world.

DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has a good chance of winning the election. If Tsai is victorious, it will mark another transition of power and solidify Taiwan’s transition to democracy that began with the lifting of martial law in 1987.

However, one hopes the transition will be smooth and trouble-free. A look at Taiwan’s recent history suggests the possibility of trouble. Continue reading “Foreign observers needed for election”

Who will be Tsai's running mate?

A couple of months ago I wrote about the possible vice presidential candidates for both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). I correctly predicted that Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) would be the candidate for the KMT. However, the DPP is yet to select their candidate and there are a number of possible candidates who didn’t even appear on my original list.

It was expected that the DPP’s presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would announce her running mate this weekend. However, a report from CNA today suggests that Tsai may delay the announcement until October. Tsai is certainly keeping everyone guessing about who she will choose.

While a number of names have been mentioned there seems to be no certainty about who Tsai will pick. Some potential candidates who have been the subject of media speculation are listed below. Continue reading “Who will be Tsai's running mate?”

Tsai Ing-wen campaigns in Taichung

Su Jia-chyuan in the crowd

Last night I attended a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) campaign rally in Taichung. The rally for legislative candidate Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was held in a primary school hall in the West District of Taichung.

Directing the crowd

As people entered the gates there were tables for collecting donations and registering support for the campaigns. Flags were also handed out and people holding minor positions in the party were introduced by name as they entered the hall. Continue reading “Tsai Ing-wen campaigns in Taichung”

RSF concerned about Chunghwa Telecom cutting NTDTV's signal

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has written to Premier Wu Den-yih expressing concern about Chunghwa Telecom’s decision to stop relaying signals from New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV). Chunghwa Telecom advised NTDTV in April that they would not renew the contract to relay NTDTV’s signal.  NTDTV uses a Chunghwa Telecom satellite to broadcast Mandarin-language programming into Taiwan and China. RSF wrote:

In an 11 April letter, Chunghwa Telecom told NTD-AP that it would not be able to renew their relay contract when it expires on 9 August because of “insufficient bandwidth” on its new satellite, ST-2, which is about to replace the existing one, ST-1.

“The contradictions in the reasons given by Chunghwa Telecom for not renewing the contract and the supposed limitations of the new satellite’s technical capacity suggest that the real reasons lie elsewhere,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The similarities of this dispute and the dispute between NTD-AP’s parent station, NTD-TV, and the French satellite operator Eutelsat, make us fear the worst. Continue reading “RSF concerned about Chunghwa Telecom cutting NTDTV's signal”