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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---Tue, Jan 27, 1998 edition Local Election Coverage
KMT sweeps local elections
Also in this edition . . .
1: KMT wins majority of seats
2: party says people still have confidence in KMT
3: high court says government violated rights of 81 children
4: heavy snow injured thousands in Tibet
5: chief executive less popular these days
6: Beijing harks more cooperative tone
7: Taipei cool to new offer from Beijing
8: Beijing's policies angers general public
9: Lee wishes Chinese everywhere a happy new year
10: (Op-ed) Burma: 'Honoring Those Who Fought For Freedom' by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
11: (Op-ed) 'Mandela, I see as no one special anymore' by Ms TKG
Election coverage: KMT wins majority of seats
(1/25/98) The Kuomintang yesterday scored a major comeback against the Democratic Progressive Party by winning a vast majority of seats up for grabs in local government elections.
The KMT won 233 of the 319 town mayor and township chief races contested, eighteen more than it did in 1994. The DPP won 28 mayoral and township chief posts, seven more than in 1994, while independent candidates captured the remaining 58. In 1994, independents won 73. The KMT won 524 of the 890 deputies of city and county councils. The DPP took 113 city and county seats. The New Party, Taiwan's third-largest political grouping, only managed to capture 10 county council seats, while none of the party's four candidates for mayor or township chief won. The dismal performance prompted the resignation of NP Secretary-General Wang Chien-shien. Independent candidates captured 242 seats and the Taiwan Independence Party took only one seat..
The KMT's victory was a shot in the arm to the party in the wake of its devastating loss in the November 29 local government elections, which saw the DPP out poll the KMT for the first time ever. In those polls, the DPP took 12 of 23 city mayor and county commissioner seats up for grabs, leaving the KMT holding only eight mostly sparsely populated counties and cities. While the DPP was put in administrative control over more than 70 percent of Taiwan's population in that election, yesterday's results left the KMT still in charge of the councils that monitor, check and balance local government administrations.
Meanwhile, the KMT and DPP split the results of the two legislative by-elections held in Keelung city and Hsinchu County. The elections were held to fill seats vacated by winners in November's elections for county chiefs and mayors. The KMT's Ho Sheng-lung won Keelung's legislative seat back after former DPP lawmaker Li Chin-yung was elected the northern city's mayor.
Meanwhile, the DPP's Fan Chen-tsung held the Hsinchu County legislative seat vacated by ex-DPP lawmaker Lin Kuang-hua, now the northern county's commissioner. In Ilan County, voters elected Chen Ou-po, a DPP member, to fill the Taiwan Provincial Assembly seat vacated by ex-DPP assemblyman Liu Shou-chung, the county's new commissioner. Chen promised his supporters he would work to dismember the provincial administration in line with DPP policy.
Observers said the results of yesterday's elections would likely create increased gridlock between local government administrations and councils. The gridlock effect would probably be further amplified after 1998, when local governments will gain increased powers and authority after the Taiwan Provincial Government is vastly downsized, the observers said.
Meanwhile, DPP county commissioners will find themselves "surrounded" by KMT town mayors and township chiefs following yesterday's elections, as KMT candidates took over 70 percent of the positions. The DPP garnered just over nine percent of mayor and township chief races, most of which the DPP wants to eventually abolish in favor of appointment by elected county chiefs.
Yesterday's win, while widely expected due to the size of the KMT's election machine at the grass-roots level of government, was expected to help the party when voters go to the polls this December to elect the Legislative Yuan. Despite gains scored by the DPP in recent elections, the KMT still managed to nominate more than three candidates for every DPP hopeful who won.
Results: party says people still have confidence in KMT
(source: Central News Agency ) (1/25/98) The Kuomintang's landslide victory in Saturday's local elections indicated that voters in this country still have strong confidence in and high expectations for the KMT, the party's organization chief said. Johnson Chen Chiung-tsan, head of the KMT's Department of Organization Affairs, made the pronouncement last night as results were still coming in.
Voters went to the polls Saturday to elect 890 council members of 23 cities and counties on Taiwan and the two offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu. They also elected 319 rural and urban town mayors and township chiefs.
After the early returns of ballot counting indicated that the ruling party had won a landslide victory, Chen said the government's good performance in the current Asian financial storm has provided the voters with a good opportunity to see more clearly the performance of the ruling party. He said that the salary of all government employees in Taiwan will increase by three percent in 1998, while many other Asian countries have cut back government spending and lowered the wages for workers because of the financial storm. "The people have clearly understood what the Kuomintang has done for the country. They still have strong confidence in and high expectations for the ruling party," he said. Most workers are still very supportive of the Kuomintang, he added.
The ruling party was determined to win Saturday's elections, because leaders of the party were very concerned about their loss in the elections for mayors and county commissioners of the 23 cities and counties held in November, 1997. In the 1997 local elections, the KMT was beaten for the first time since opposition parties were legalized in 1987.
Many analysts saw Saturday's elections and the 1997 local elections as trial runs for the national legislative elections to be held later this year and the presidential election in the year 2000.
CHINA AND HONGKONG
Constitutional law: high court says government violated rights of 81 children
(source: Agence France-Presse) Hong Kong's High Court ruled Monday that a restriction under immigration laws denying 81 children the right of abode here shortly after the handover contravened the territory's constitution. The children, who all crossed into Hong Kong from mainland China before the handover last July, were denied the right of abode because their parents were not permanent residents here when the children were born. All the parents later became permanent residents.
Justice Brian Keith ruled an amendment to the immigration ordinance, which impossed the time restriction and was rushed through shortly after the handover, went against the Basic Law, the territory's mini-constitution. His ruling means the 81 children, and many others who applied for Legal Aid after the case began, can now obtain the right of abode. All the children are still in Hong Kong.
The move comes as a blow to the Hong Kong government, which was strongly criticized for taking steps to deport thousands of children brought across the border last year. Only 66 children a day were legally permitted to cross, although more than 65,000 on the mainland were entitled to the right of abode here.
Weather: heavy snow injured thousands in Tibet
(source: Agence France-Presse) Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures in northwestern China, near Tibet, have injured about 10,000 herders and caused the deaths of more than 300,000 livestock, a local government official said Monday.
The snow has also cut off about 94 families who have lost touch with local authorities in the snowswept plains where they herd animals, and are still unaccounted for, said the official with the Qinghai province disaster relief office. Most of the 10,000 injuries are from frostbite and snowblindness, he said. Heavy snows in the province blanketed grazing areas, leading to the deaths of the livestock from starvation, he said. Most of the families missing wandered further afield in search of food for their animals, and have not been heard from since, he explained.
Popularity: chief executive less popular these days
(source: Reuters) Economic woes, bankruptcies and layoffs have badly dented Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa's popularity, opinion poll results indicated on Monday. Tung's approval rating fell to 59.1 percent this month, the lowest since mainland China named him Hong Kong's chief executive in December 1996 when he scored 71.3 percent, according to the poll commissioned by the Apple Daily. Tung formally assumed office when British handed the former colony over to mainland China last July 1.
Cross-strait relations: Beijing harks more cooperative tone
Apparently making a major concession after a 2-1/2 year freeze in cross-strait ties, Beijing said yesterday it was willing to temporarily set aside the sensitive "one China" issue so that the cross-strait dialogue could be resumed.
The remarks, made by mainland China's deputy chief negotiator with Taipei, Tang Shubei, were published in an interview distributed last night by the mainland's semi-official China News Service (CNS). Earlier, mainland Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen had also hinted of concessions at a Beijing seminar called yesterday afternoon to mark the third anniversary of mainland Chinese President Jiang Zemin's eight-point policy proposal aimed at improving cross-strait ties.
Qian, who doubles as the mainland's foreign minister and heads the Chinese Communist Party's Leading Group on Taiwan Affairs, had hinted of new flexibility by failing to bring up Beijing's customary reference to "one China" as being tantamount to the communist People's Republic of China. In past remarks, Beijing leaders had repeatedly urged Taipei to open new political talks under its version of the "one China" principle.
Taipei has resisted, saying both sides should resume suspended negotiations centered around technical issues, such as fishing disputes and cross-strait registered mail service.
Yesterday, Qian again said the "one China" principle must be adhered to, adding that "there is only one China in the world, that Taiwan is a part of China, and that China's sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be set apart." But he didn't go on to proclaim that the "one China" was the People's Republic of China, prompting widespread attention among Taiwan's Beijing-watchers.
Meanwhile, in yesterday's interview with CNS, Tang said that now was "the time for resolving the reasons behind the lack of success in cross-strait technical dialogue over recent years." The dialogue, conducted by Taiwan's quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), was called off by Beijing in mid-1995 to retaliate against diplomatic gains scored by Taipei.
The news agency cited Tang, ARATS' vice chairman, as saying that if Taipei consented to holding consultations aimed at paving the way for a future cross-strait political dialogue, then Taipei and Beijing "would not need to discuss the political content of 'one China' right away." The consultations could be "based on the oral consensus reached between the two organizations (SEF and ARATS) in (past) technical talks," Tang said.
"Cross-strait negotiations are not based on the precondition that Taiwan recognize the People's Republic of China government as the central government," CNS cited Tang as saying. Tang was apparently referring to an informal arrangement that allowed Taipei and Beijing to make their own interpretations of what "one China" meant so practical negotiations could proceed.
The SEF has said its representatives made the so-called "each states its own" consensus in an informal, oral arrangement with ARATS that was never written down on a formal document. In mid-1995, Beijing backed off from the arrangement, accusing Taipei of creating "two Chinas" in the world community. Over the next several months, the mainland went on to stage a series of threatening military exercises and missile test-firings off Taiwan's coastline.
Yesterday, Tang said the technical talks suspended in mid-1995 could be resumed as long as they were conducted in tandem with preparations for future political talks.
Cross-strait relations: Taipei cool to new offer from Beijing
Taipei yesterday offered a cool reaction to an apparent softening of Beijing's stance on restarting cross-strait negotiations, saying the proposal was an improvement but still not what leaders here had hoped for.
Earlier, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Chang King-yuh had urged the mainland to resume cross-strait negotiations at the point where Beijing had broken them off in mid-1995. Yesterday afternoon, mainland Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen said Beijing would no longer insist Taipei agree to its definition of "one China" in future political talks.
Reacting last night to Qian's remarks, Straits Exchange Foundation Secretary-General Chiao Jen-ho said they reflected a softer stance, but still fell short of being realistic. "He (Qian) still lacked the courage, the decisiveness, to face the reality of there being two political entities existing within China," Chiao said. Chiao acts as Taipei's deputy chief negotiator with the mainland in the absence of formal cross-strait contacts.
Qian, who doubles as Beijing's foreign minister, made the remarks at a Beijing seminar held to mark the third anniversary of mainland Chinese President Jiang Zemin's eight-point proposal for improving cross-strait ties.
Earlier, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Chang King-yuh said Taipei had been informed earlier this month by a high-powered American delegation that Beijing was ready to resume talks between the SEF and its mainland counterpart, the Association For Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. In a morning press conference, Chang said that ex-US Defense secretary William Perry had conveyed the apparent concession from Beijing after traveling to mainland China from Jan. 11-15 and proceeding to Taiwan afterwards.
"During their stay in Taiwan, the US delegates revealed that mainland China would be willing to resume cross-strait talks, from where the talks were called off, without any precondition," Chang said, "We welcome this message relayed by Mr. Perry." Chang had told reporters earlier this month that Perry had informed Taipei of Beijing's willingness to resume talks without preconditions.
But yesterday was the first time that reporters were told Perry also told leaders here that Beijing wanted to resume the technical talks through SEF and ARATS. Chang said Taipei had completed the necessary preparation to resume the SEF-ARATS negotiations, which had centered around resolution of technical issues arising from expanded private cross-strait exchanges. The issues had ranged from repatriation of cross-strait hijackers to resolution of fishing disputes and handling of registered mail and parcels.
The move would indicate a concession from Beijing, which had insisted on dropping the technical negotiations in favor of opening a political dialogue since it unilaterally suspended the talks in mid-1995. Beijing said it suspended negotiations to protest what it called President Lee Teng-hui's actions in support of seeking Taiwan's independence, capped by his June 1995 private visit to the United States. Lee has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Yesterday, Chang called on the mainland to restart the SEF-ARATS talks as soon as possible.
Public opinion: Beijing's policies angers general public
(source: Central News Agency) Beijing's ceaseless blockage of Taipei's presence in the international community has angered the general public of the island, according to an analysis by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) released on Monday.
The MAC report, which was based on the results of several previous public surveys, says that as a result of the diplomatic blockade, most people here rate Beijing's hostility toward Taiwan as being even greater now than in the summer of 1995, when mainland China fired missiles into waters around Taiwan to menace local people in the run-up to the island's first presidential election.
Over 80 percent of the people support maintaining the status quo separation of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. But they are divided on how long Taiwan should maintain this status, with some favoring keeping it as long as possible, even forever, while others back the island's eventual reunification with the mainland, and still others say they support formal independence for Taiwan.
As high as 70 percent of local people are opposed to Beijing's "one country, two systems" formula now being imposed on Hong Kong, saying it's inapplicable to Taiwan. More than 50 percent of the people are against unification with the mainland despite Beijing's assurances that Taiwan can enjoy a high degree of autonomy, have its own defense force, and keep its existing social and economic systems.
Although divergent on whether Taiwan should allow direct postal, trade and transportation links with the mainland, most people do not believe that Beijing's vigorous promotion of establishing the "three- links" across the Taiwan Strait is without political or military motives. About 60 percent of the residents say they don't believe Beijing is sincere in asking for the resumption of the cross-strait dialogue that it suspended unilaterally more than two years ago.
On the agenda for future talks between Taipei and Beijing, most people, while not opposed to discussions on political issues, say technical issues should be the top priority.
New Year: Lee wishes Chinese everywhere a happy new year
President Lee Teng-hui has wished all overseas Chinese in the world happy and prosperous in the coming lunar new year, which begins with Jan. 28.
In a pre-recorded new year program of the China Television Company (CTV), President Lee said that there are overseas Chinese everywhere on the five continents. "As we are Chinese, our hearts are always filled with love for our family and nostalgia for our hometown on the occasion of the Chinese lunar new year," he said, adding that this kind of love and feeling may brighten the future of the Chinese nation.
According to an estimate made by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission in Taipei, there are approximately 30.63 million overseas Chinese in Asia, 3.73 million in the Americas, 646,000 in Europe, and 403,000 in Oceania. He expressed the hope that the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will be able to work together to create a "win-win situation" for the Chinese nation by peaceful, reasonable, mutually-beneficial and cooperative means.
"We believe the creation of a happy and prosperous Chinese nation under the principle of freedom, democracy and equal distribution of wealth is the only choice of all Chinese people in the 21st Century," the president said. "On behalf of the Republic of China, I wish things to go smoothly for each one of you, and that you will be happy and prosperous every year," he added.
The CTV's new year program will be broadcast by Chinese-language TV stations in various parts of the United States on Jan. 27-29.
Burma: (14/1/98) ( Burma: 'Honoring Those Who Fought For Freedom' by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) This month will mark Burma's Golden anniversary of her independence from British colonial rule. In a letter published by the Mainichi Daily in Japan, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi takes stock of this fifty year period, noting the sobering irony that Burma's citizens enjoyed more freedoms under colonialism than they do under the present regime.
( BurmaSong Home Page ) ( About Aung San Suu Kyi )
South Africa: (5/1/98) ( China Informed Op-Ed: 'Mandela, I see as no one special anymore' by Ms TKG) Ms TKG writes on Nelson Mandela, whose government switched formal recognition from Taiwan to the PRC. The author laments Mr Mandela's failure to maintain moral and ethical coherence---to maintain one's integrity---in discharging the affairs of government. . . . .