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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---
Mon, Dec 1, 1997 edition
DPP Wins Big
party moves to settle market's anxiety, and KMT retreats to reflect on poor showing

Also in this edition . . .

1. licking wounds, President Lee pledges soul-searching
2. New Party and Taiwan Independence Party are soundly defeated but optimistic for future
3. DPP surprises itself in strong showing, sets stage for future run with KMT
4. officials dismiss scheme for alternative bailout fund, promise surveillance measures
5. Kyoto climate conference
6. folk tales
7. water: drought in Indonesia
8. Zhu Rongji says currency will not be devalued
9. doctor warns of AIDS explosion
10. Anhui Province: explosion kills 42 in second mine disaster in two weeks


( Victorious Taiwan Opposition Vows Cooperation ) Taiwan's local elections were held this weekend, and the Democratic Progressive Party walked away with control over twelve of 23 seats. The KMT won eight county seats, and three went to independent candidates. All in all, this means the DPP now has control over 72 percent of the island's population, leaving the KMT with 22 percent under its wings. The KMT-splinter group---the New Party---lost in its bids, as did the Taiwan Independence Party.

As one observer on the streets of Taiwan told us, the entire situation is 'so strange,' for in his experiences very few people had been openly discussing politics, despite the plastering of political stories in daily papers. Such is the interesting role polls play . . . . The same observer had told us many weeks ago that the KMT was standing on uneasy ground, what with the recent issues of crime taking prominence among the headlines and the audacity of President Lee and others who made lightly veiled attempts to buy their constituents votes with promises of old-age pensions. Even so, pundits had not predicted Saturday's results. (Who are the pollsters in Taiwan?).

Yet, we should be careful in evaluating the polls and ascribing significance too quickly, before a thorough analysis has been made. If it is anyway relevant, consider the 1994 American Congressional elections, in which the Republican Party waged its so-called 'revolution,' knocking out a large number of Democrats. The political-spin and conventional---and enduring---wisdom would have us believe that the few who voted did so for Republican ideas; when, perhaps, they had actually voted mostly to unseat a long-enjoyed Democratic hold on the legislative body.

It is no surprise the business community in Taiwan has reacted so strongly. Business makes the society tick, and financial well-being, especially in the face of political isolation and Asian market downturns, must be at the heart of any administration. Of course the DPP is not in power at the national level, but the pieces are falling in place for an interesting run-up to the 2000 presidential election. We dislike equating election politics with market economics, but the principle that one needs to satisfy the customer would seem to be aptly applied here: voters have shown they are ready to make some rather bold moves, and with Taiwan's polity in flux its politicians would do well to remember that two years is a long-time in politics. The DPP will have to govern well to retain its strength. In the mean time, the stock market in Taiwan fell nearly 400 points yesterday, and the DPP has quickly moved to calm things down. "The Democratic Progressive are concerned with the development of Taiwan industry. We care as much as the Nationalist Party and any other party in the world," party chairman Hsu Hsin-liang told reporters. "We know such development is Taiwan's life-blood. We will try hard to let the society understand our view."

And don't forget the cross-straits problems . . . ( Bolstering cross-Straits relationship being urged )

In today's coverage we have four stories about the winners and losers. Enjoy.

See also: ( DPP leaders in appeal for calm )

Elections: DPP wins big
The Democratic Progressive Party crushed the Kuomintang's hopes of keeping local dominance, sweeping almost half of the 23 regional administrator seats up for grabs in Saturday's elections.

The DPP won commissioner and mayoral races in 12 counties and cities, doubling its current total of seats, while the number of KMT office-holders was cut to eight from the current 15. Independents grabbed three. One of them was a KMT maverick, and another was a DPP defector. Neither the New Party nor the Taiwan Independence Party managed to win office.

It was also the first time that the DPP surpassed the KMT in its share of the vote. The Central Election Commission said the DPP won 43.67 percent of votes, while the KMT obtained only 42.1 percent. The KMT, which has suffered its most serious setback since the start of democratization in Taiwan in 1987 when martial law was lifted, took 47.5 percent in the last local elections four years ago, at which time the DPP garnered 41.4 percent.

One of the biggest defeats for the KMT came in Taipei County, where the party failed to oust the DPP from its eight-year rule. The DPP's Su Cheng-chang toppled the KMT's Hsieh Sheng-shan, and will succeed incumbent Taipei County Commissioner You Ching. The DPP managed to keep all six constituencies it currently holds: the counties of Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taoyuan, Ilan, Tainan, and Hsinchu. The DPP made further gains in taking new seats in Pingtung and Taichung counties, and in the cities of Tainan, Hsinchu, Keelung, and Taichung.

The KMT netted control of Yunlin, Changhua, Taitung, Hualien, Chiayi, and Penghu counties, in addition to the two small frontier island groups of Kinmen, and Matsu (officially known as Lienchiang).

One of the independent victors was Chang Po-ya, the former director of the Cabinet-level Department of Health, who will succeed her sister Chang Wen-ying as mayor of the city of Chiayi. Another independent, former DPP member Peng Pai-hsien, took Nantou County, while independent Fu Hsueh-peng, who was kicked out of the KMT in a pre-election purge of mavericks, took Miaoli County. Fu defeated the incumbent KMT commissioner Ho Chih-hui.

The New Party's vote share dropped sharply to 1.4 percent from 3.1 in the last elections. The Taiwan Independence Party, formed by radical advocates of formal Taiwan statehood, took a meager 0.2 percent in the first election since its establishment last year. It only fielded three candidates.

Voting started at 8 a.m. and went smoothly until the polls closed at 4 p.m., with almost no irregularities or violent incidents reported.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

The Bruised: licking wounds, President Lee pledges soul-searching
The nation's once-stalwart ruling party, the Kuomintang, last night vowed to make a thorough review of its fiasco in yesterday's county commissioner and city mayor polls as its secretary-general, Wu Poh-hsiung, said he was stepping down from his post to assume responsibility for the poor election showing.

"The election results were a major setback for the KMT," President and KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui was quoted in a news statement as saying. "The KMT respects the choices of the voters and will conduct a heartfelt self-examination."

Lee pledged to continue party reforms despite the setback. "I hope party comrades will stick to a much higher ideal to win back voters' confidence in the KMT," he said. The KMT, which had garnered 15 of the 23 localities in the last elections and predicted it would win at least 13 this time, seized only eight.

At a news conference, Wu said there was a "big gap" between the party's expectations and the election results. Wu, who offered to resign in March but was asked to stay on after the KMT lost in the Taoyuan County by-election, showed a firmer resolve to quit this time. He said he would personally relay his "genuine intention" to resign to Lee. It was unknown if his resignation was accepted as of press time last night. Wu pledged that the KMT will closely supervise the administration of the eight KMT-held posts and demand that they fulfill their campaign promises in an effort to rebuild voter confidence in the KMT.

Meanwhile, Premier Vincent Siew last night also responded to reports about a possible Cabinet reshuffle after the elections. Siew told reporters that it would depend on administrative need and on public opinion whether or not the Cabinet should be revamped. On whether the new situation, in which the DPP controls half of the counties and cities under Taiwan province, will affect the future interaction between the KMT-ruled central government and the local administrations, Siew said he believed the relationship between the sides will remain good because their respective powers are governed by the Constitution and relevant laws.

The powers of the counties and cities are expected to expand after Taiwan province is marginalized---a plan which is scheduled to begin after the term of the present provincial government expires in December 1998.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

The losers: New Party and Taiwan Independence Party are soundly defeated but optimistic for future
The two smallest of Taiwan four major parties, who both failed to win a single seat up for grabs in yesterday's mayoral and county commissioner elections, both issued statements admitting failure while expressing hope for the future.

New Party Secretary-General Wang Chien-shien said he was sad that the voters in general were still unable to accept a relatively young party like the New Party. The New Party suffered a complete defeat in yesterday's elections as all seven NP candidates running for office lost by a vast margin. The New Party was formed by break-away members of the ruling Kuomintang in 1993.

Wang said he didn't feel pessimistic about the party's prospects for future development because of the elections results. On the contrary, he expressed an expectation of better prospects for the New Party in the elections over years to come. He said the elections this time would be of help to the New Party in January's islandwide elections for the local city and county council deputies, as well as the legislature over the coming two years.

Wang predicted the New Party's seats in the local city and councils would increase to between 70 and 80 from under 10 at the moment. He said he was sad about the New Party's failure in yesterday's elections but added that if the race were played fairly, the party would have won in the elections for the county commissioner on the off-shore islands of Kinmen and Matsu. Citing the Matsu elections as an example, Wang said the Matsu constituency had only some 2,000 eligible voters but the actual numbers of voters had increased by over 50 percent on the voting day due to the immigration of a "ghost population."

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Independence Party, which suffered the same fate as the New Party in the elections, said although it lost in the elections, it had succeeded in communicating its ideals to every corner of the country. Li Sheng-hsiung, secretary-general of the party, said the party fielded three candidates for the first elections since the party was founded last year, mainly to propagate its ideal, such as Taiwan independence, participation in politics by all the people, and a self-contained community. Li said the election culture in Taiwan has been degenerating and all kinds of mean tricks, such as mud-slinging, muck-raking and vote-buying, are becoming more and more popular among campaigners. He said the party's three candidates in the elections this time were the cleanest and the most righteous among all the candidates.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

The Victorious: DPP surprises itself in strong showing, sets stage for future run with KMT
With just 11 years of experience, the Democratic Progressive Party came out as the biggest winner of yesterday's elections, taking 12 of the 23 county commissioner and city mayor posts up for grabs.

While only winning just over half of the offices contested, maps can be deceiving. Examining the results from a view of realpolitik, the DPP ended the night with administrative power over some 71 percent of the country's population, not including the cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung, which will elect their mayors in 1998. This has set the stage for a potential strong DPP showing in future central government elections.

The KMT will be left with power over just 22 percent of the population, not including Taipei and Kaohsiung, as independents took Chiayi city, Miaoli County and Nantou County.

The DPP's Chen Shui-bian already took Taipei away from the KMT in 1994, and proved to be a strong presidential contender as he drew giant crowds on campaign stops he made islandwide for yesterday's elections.

But perhaps the most significant fallout from yesterday's balloting will come after two years, when revisions to the Constitution approved in April by the National Assembly, as well as changes to the Election and Recall Law yet to be approved in the Legislature Yuan, take effect and the provincial government is scrapped in all but name. Under the new rules, adopted as a result of a landmark consensus between the DPP and the Kuomintang, local-level officials including township, village and ward chiefs will no longer be elected. Instead, county commissioners and mayors will be empowered to appoint the grass-roots administrators-positions that are still overwhelmingly dominated by the KMT.

While largely ignored by the mainstream press and officials at party headquarters, grass-roots figures are the ones who come into contact with voters most often, providing various assistance, helping resolve disputes and acting as intermediaries with more powerful higher-ups. This makes them key vote solicitors when election time comes around.

After the DPP assumes the helm in 12 of Taiwan's most heavily populated localities, the party literally could wipe out nearly three-quarters of the KMT's traditional power base. But the DPP may be hard-pressed to find enough people to man all of the posts, since it has far fewer members than the KMT.

Yesterday's victory came as a surprise even to the DPP, which had only predicted victory in eight or nine constituencies. But internal conflicts over the party's candidate nomination process were expected to continue, as well as controversy over the DPP's policy directions as it prepares to try and eject the KMT from its role as the major party in central government organs.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)


Asean: officials dismiss scheme for alternative bailout fund, promise surveillance measures
( Bangkok Post Dec 1, 1997 - Regional problems block new aid fund Instead ministers to focus on safety net ) Asean finance officials rejected a plan to establish a fund separate from that offered by the IMF. The proposal made by Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad would have underscored the region's independence and commitment to resolving its own problems, reports the Bangkok Post. In its stead, Asean officials said they would work out a surveillance system for number nations to monitor each other with the aim of identifying potential crisis.

By agreeing to put bailout measures under an IMF umbrella officials were reacting to fears that alternative plans would be used to side-step stringent and painful reforms and undermine the IMF. A surveillance system for Asean nations would empower the organization's secretariat to address issues with member nations.

Environment: Kyoto climate conference
( The Earth Times/ENVIRONMENT: Kyoto climate conference must heed history. By Pranay Gupte ) Pranay Gupte, Editor and Publisher of The Earth Times, says that the Kyoto climate conference ranks as the latest in a string of big UN initiatives which have followed from the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment 25 years ago. Gupte warns of "mission creep" and lofty goals devoid of substance. He also makes a worthy point: the purported purpose of the conference, to set measurable limits on air pollution, does not factor in the world's growing population:

    "Still, at this time of globalization and interdependence, can climate change be meaningfully discussed separate from population growth--especially since the world is now adding 100 million people each year to an already unsustainable global population of 5.9 billion?"

Gupte warns of growing ideological divides between the developed and undeveloped world, as present technological limitations offer only a trade-off between economic development and environmental protection. Writes Gupte:

    In an age of economic liberalization and increasing assertiveness of nations' sovereign rights, there is also the risk that the North-South divide on climate could turn sharply ideological. Developing countries may well revive an argument that served as their rallying cry during the 1970s, when Unesco triggered a divisive and debilitating debate over freedom of the press: What works for the rich isn't necessarily in the best interests of the poor. In other words, poor nations, claiming eco-sovereignty, would accuse rich ones of eco-imperialism.

See also NYT: ( The New York Times: In Kyoto, the Subject Is Climate; The Forecast Is for Storms )

Folk tales: ( Japanese old tales ) Japanese folk tales can be found at the University of Library and Information Science in Ibaraki, Japan. The stories are available in French, English and Japanese.

Water: Pujung Journal: Drought Threatens Indonesia's Rural Poor is a New York Times article.


Economy: Zhu Rongji says currency will not be devalued
( China's Economic Czar Resists Pressure to Devalue Currency ) Zhu Rongji, China's Deputy Prime Minister and economic czar, said the country's currency, the yuan, would not be devalued. The remarks come after weeks of battering in Southeast Asian markets which have seen currencies there fall. "In the face of the devaluation of currencies in Southeast Asian countries, China will take measures to increase the competitiveness of its exports and its absorption of overseas funds," Zhu said in a People's Daily report. "It has no need of and will not resort to methods that would mean a devaluation." Mr Zhu also predicted growth rates of 8 to 9 percent into the early years of the next century.

Writing for the New York Times, Seth Faison notes China's economic growth has relied on foreign investment and exports. Given the current devaluations in other markets, it is unclear as to how competing products there will affect China's manufacturing. Also, foreign investment has fallen 35 percent in the past ten months, reports Faison.

The current exchange rate sets the yuan at 8.3 to a dollar. The currency is not freely convertible or traded. Faison speculates, the government may not want to devalue the currency, for doing so could increase pressure on the Hongkong dollar, currently under attack by currency speculators.

AIDS: doctor warns of AIDS explosion
( HIV cases 'may rise to 1.2m in three years' ) China currently has counted some 200,000 cases of HIV infection, but a mainland doctor has warned the number could rise to 1.2 million by the turn of the century. Dr Zhang Xiwen of the China Preventive Medical Institute made the remarks in a commemoration of World AIDS Day at the Great Hall of the People, reports the South China Morning Post. Dr Zhang said the rate of infection in China is still lower than that of other Asian nations, but the rate is growing rapidly. The infection has been diagnosed in every province but Qinghai.

( Accurate appraisal of AIDS 'crucial' ) Dr Conrad Lam Kui-shing, chairman of Hongkong's AIDS advisory council, said Hongkong and the mainland approach the AIDS problem in different ways. Dr Lam said:

    "On the medical side in Hong Kong, we are careful on preventing transmission of AIDS through blood products," Dr Lam said.

    "In China, there is a lack of blood-screening safeguards - so there is a risk if Hong Kong people go there and have to receive blood products."

    "It is not a glorious thing for the Government to admit there are so many people belonging to a high-risk group such as drug users. By denying the severity of the problem, they won't take the necessary strategies against HIV and they will aggravate the problem."

Mining: explosion kills 42 in second mine disaster in two weeks
( 42 die in city's second pit blast ) Mine disasters take a while to reach the media outside of China, but their occurrences are no less significant. Two weeks ago a mine explosion, thought to be caused by 'human error,' ripped through a Panshan mine. 87 miners died. Last week another mine killed another 42. Safety measures in many mines are aggravated by inexperienced technicians, reports the South China Morning Post. But these flagrant violations of China's 'mining laws' go 'unnoticed' by local and provincial authorities. The problem is further compounded by the fact that these two mines are state-owned, not 'renegade' upstarts digging without a government permit.

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a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong
©1997 Matthew Sinclair-Day
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