Taiwan’s Golden Boy Could be History

If anybody ought to benefit from the indictment of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian’s wife’s slush funds scandal, it should be Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who as the main opposition candidate would be a shoo-in to take over the presidency in March 2008 from a badly flagging Democratic Progressive Party. But Ma is embroiled in his own…

Taiwan’s Two Steps Forward, One Back Democracy

In a Taipei convenience store, five female students are buying crisps and Coca-Cola. Who is paying, one asks. Giggling, three reply with one voice: “special state funds, of course”. The joke is tinged with irritation that their president, Chen Shui-bian, could be spending government money to buy his wife French jeweler and Burberry handbags. The…

Of mangoes and mistresses

Lin Bing-huang looked glumly down the street outside the Ocean Hotel he owns in downtown Hualien. “From Monday to Friday I have few guests. We could fill the hotel with more mainlanders – but they steal the cups, towels and pillowcases and spit on the carpets. Do we really want them?” A port city on…

Taiwan’s Golden Boy Stumbles

With tens of thousands of protesters at the gates of the presidential palace this week to demand a recall of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, the opposition Kuomintang Party’s presidential hopeful, presents a welcome surface contrast – handsome, a jogger who speaks fluent English and has a law degree from Harvard University…

Divest or Die

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China twice held competitions for the words to a new national anthem, to replace the Kuomintang (KMT) party song used since 1928. Since it did not receive entries it deemed appropriate, the ministry in 1937 officially adopted the KMT song…

Goodbye, Mr. Chen?

You know a politician is in trouble when he goes public with the news that his wife thought of divorcing him recently in hopes of getting some sympathy—and the tactic backfires. Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian is in a hole, and he just keeps digging deeper. A series of scandals involving his wife, son-in-law and daughter…