Tag Archives: Taiwan

Taiwan: A Democracy or a Democrazy?

I’ve seen Taiwan’s democracy / democrazy through all these years. (What a renegade Chinese mainland resident I am!) During the years of Chen Shui-bian, when (political) lines between Ilha Formosa and its communist rival on the mainland were drawn with every Chen speech, people were far from being 100% in agreement about what Ketangalan Boulevard was all about. Brawls in the legislature were not uncommon: often, these were deals between Mainland China and Taiwan. Water was poured onto legislators, microphones were broken, and what must have been a hundred-page report (unstapled!) were simply thrown onto the floor. Things turned from the rational to the irrational when pro-China legislator Li Ao was thrown a shoe.

We’re having exactly the same in Taiwan these days over a new agreement with Mainland China. Yes, I’ve been lazy these days — I haven’t checked what’s up re: this very issue on the Wikipedia. But the fact is, occupying a legislature is (a) not done “just like that” and (b) is a serious issue indeed. On Facebook I’ve been hearing a lot of views from inside Taiwan and there is one that me and others posted that seems to have struck a chord (loosely translated below):—

If we have a fight with China, the communist army will wipe us out. If we keep fighting with the government, all of Taiwan stands to suffer. Thing is: the Taiwanese are best maximising their own efforts. Just be you and be better in all that you do. Make people look at Taiwan — going away admiring Taiwan. That is the true hidden beauty of Taiwan.

That’s one point that seems to have won a fair bit of hearts. But the question remains: What if you have a government that seems to be going out of control? Throwing shoes and occupying legislatures happens in democracies that have a bit of an identity crisis, for these appear to be acts of democrazy in a democracy. But the people still think the government are going bonkers. And they want to be heard.

We need something, then, that’s called a veto vote. Yes, it’s a David Feng polit term that makes less than no sense. It’s like as if you were told that you had to shift gears to make a car with automatic transmission work (which would technically be OK, but would in reality invalidate the one big benefit of going automatic — saving you from shifting gears all the time!).

But the idea of the veto vote is that the people can come out and propose either a counter-proposal or an outright veto of a government bill. In countries where people aren’t so “vote-savvy” (such as China), one can allow here the system to enable both “open-air” meetings and meetings with “informed voters”.

The two things about a democracy that make it all the more worthwhile (and believe me, I myself am a citizen of such a democracy — Switzerland):—

  • “Mic power”: That you are able to speak on an equal level as that of the government (by airing your free thoughts — of course ideally a la Habermas and his public sphere, without Big Bad Business interfering with you);
  • “Veto power”: That you are able to bang on that Great Big Red Button whenever you see government acting like a bozo, going bonkers.

Of course, you can have other rights as well — but as a citizen of a democracy living in a communist nation, I find that these two “power rights” are what separates a PRC citizen from a Swiss (as an example).

Note: Ever since Switzerland’s political EU-suicide on 09 February 2014, I have stowed away my “Swiss pride” and have become a vocal critic of the Swiss authorities — for a very simple reason that you can’t simply let the crowds tear apart an agreement you let them sign in the first place. It’s like: Oh great, I found my wife liked seafood, and I never liked that crap, so we’re divorcing. Instant knee-jerk reaction: Huh? Switzerland (and the SVP in particular) — you need to grow a few brains. There’s a better way to solve the immigration issues than to force yourself into isolation — that makes you eventually look like some kind of European Pyeongyang…

What Starbucks Does To You

I admit — in 2008, you knew me for my tweets (which sometimes included the unexpected full-length airing of city line announcements). In 2009, you probably knew me for my sentiment against the draconian “Green Dam” censorship software, because Auntie Beeb made a fairly big deal of that. In 2010, you knew me for the high speed trains — the last year before a clueless Sheng Guangzu unexpectedly slowed them down and managed, somehow, to let two trains rear-end each other.

(I’m a secret fanboy of Sheng Guangzu — you know, that bloke that did the tech tweaks to ultimately allow those two bullet trains rear end each other. These things come less often than alien intrusions, by the way. Note the irony in this sentence!)

In 2011, you knew me as nothing more than a reduced slave of the Starbucks empire. Here’s the thing: Tracy (that’s my wife) would go teach fellow students one-on-one and that’d desert me for two hours straight. I had to get stuff done — and too often it was at a Starbucks. They came out with the My Starbucks Rewards programme in late February this year, and after I realized that I got my stars with cumulative purchases (ie: I did not have to exceed CNY 50.— every time to get a star), I got in on the act.

In June 2011, I received my gold card thanks to unexpectedly huge tea consumption. (Much like @stinson, I don’t do coffee, although Tracy does.) At the end of the month, the Beijing-Shanghai HSR opened, shuttling us to Ji’nan, where I went into one of the more “recent” cities with a Starbucks. That basically made me Siren-addicted in Beijing, Tianjin, Ji’nan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Zürich, San Francisco, London — holy carp, 15 cities. I know I’m looking forward to the imminent arrival of Starbucks Harbin (the real one), a visit to Starbucks Kunming and hopefully, on the next trip south, Starbucks Wuhan.

68 stars for 2011 — 7 months on. And they say they’d treat me right on every visit. Well, guess what: I’m waiting for Tracy now and I’ve just missed out on the opportunity to register a CNY 20 tea purchase. But hey, I’ve 68 stars. I’m good for at least another year or so. And you’ve seen my fist shake at those idiot scalpers on shanzhai Chinese versions of eBay who have the nerve to sell, at inflated prices, My Starbucks Rewards cards with “just” 50 stars on them.

In the words of my chemistry teacher — they’d be flogged if they weren’t shot. So much for “preserving” our “socialist market economy”… heh…