Written by Ya-Chign Huang. Pigeon racing is a historically national sport in Belgium and the Netherlands, the main export countries of racing pigeons for Taiwanese fanciers. While pigeon racing is usually described as the working-class horserace in the United Kingdom, Taiwanese pigeon racing draws participants from all walks of life, including farmers, vendors, civil servants, blue and white-collar workers, and business owners. Pigeons were a common playmate for older participants’ childhood in the 1950s to 1970s when the races were institutionalized.
Written by Chinghui Liao. Hunting traditions are common across many indigenous communities in Taiwan, and maintaining food security has been an important cultural practice for thousands of years. Recently, however, certain endangered animal species have faced greater risk due to commercial hunting. These cases often involve indigenous communities, and this has made the issue difficult to resolve. In order to protect a functioning and biodiverse ecosystem, the “wildlife conservation law” regulates hunting behaviour and limits legal practise to only specific indigenous ceremonies.
Written By Brian Hioe. The depiction of politicians as animals thus comes full circle. Whereas such depictions were previously used as a way to mock pan-Blue politicians, embracing such images is now seen as a strategy of pan-Green politicians aiming not only to connect with young people but also to engage in playful self-mockery.
Written by Jade Guan and Wen-Ti Sung. The Taiwan Strait is a key hotspot in the intensifying US-China rivalry, where the two superpowers’ spheres of influence overlap. Beijing claims the area as a uncompromisable “core interest” of sovereignty and territorial integrity, while the US seeks to maintain its close economic, political and security relationship with Taiwan. Whether it likes it or not, Australia is a major stakeholder in any future conflict arising around Taiwan. As an ANZUS treaty ally, Australia is at risk of being dragged into events.
Written by Ian Inkster. Corruption has been a dirty word for many years. Whilst it was a normal mechanism of courtly governance in most nations at some much earlier times, the move to modernity has everywhere removed any legitimation it might have had in the past. Usually, this is seen as in contradistinction to the growth of electorates, civil societies, and democratic constitutions, however partial or ill-applied the latter often are. Nevertheless, we must also revisit the numerous exceptions and the general irregularity of this historical trend even at the heart of the claim.
Written by Yu-Hsien Sung and Chin-shou Wang. For many years, Taiwan has suffered from substantial amounts of corruption. The dominant political party used voting-buying machines to secure popular support and elicit cooperation from elites. Following the changes in the political environment during the democratization period, the old mechanisms gradually failed in their effectiveness. In recent global surveys on governance and corruption, Taiwan is considered as one of the best performers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, during the past year, several Taiwanese politicians and government officials were involved in bribery scandals.
Written by Erik Mobrand. Assessments of the state of corruption in Taiwan show wildly diverging conclusions. Corruption scandals break out regularly, seeming to keep the island in a series of emergencies. At the same time, global surveys laud Taiwanese authorities for successfully fighting corruption. If Taiwan is so clean, why do corruption scandals happen? Or, if corruption scandals are so regular, how can Taiwan be assessed as an anti-corruption success story?
Written by Jon S.T. Quah. Taiwan has been eminently successful in combating the current COVID-19 pandemic because of its rational approach of relying on science, extensive testing, quarantine, contact tracing, and through the population’s observance of the necessary public health preventive measures. In contrast, Taiwan has failed to make significant progress in minimising corruption, judging from the frequent recurrence of corruption scandals and its unimpressive performance on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from 2012 to 2019.
Written by Ernie Ko. On September 22, 2020, five Legislative Yuan (Taiwan parliament) members, including four current members and one ex-member, were formally indicted by the Taipei Prosecutors Office for bribery charges. This group of accomplices has been consistently receiving bribery for nine years from a local businessman in exchange for putting pressure on government officials to tilt the law in the businessman’s favour.
Written by Michael Johnston. Taiwan’s reputation for good government has vastly improved over the past generation and more. Its scores on the Transparency International’s well-known Corruption Perception Index have improved from a low score of 49.8 in 1996 to 58 in 2010 and 65 in 2019. The more sophisticated World Bank Institute’s World Governance Indicators include an index of Corruption Control. There too, Taiwan had risen from a score of +0.58 in 1996 to +1.03 in 2018.
Written by Kyoung M. Shin and Chan-Yuan Wong. As the initial shockwave ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to subsiding, it is imperative to start a more nuanced discussion about pertinent public policies. Even in countries such as Taiwan, who have thus far proven to be relatively more successful in stemming the tide, the government is still emphasising economic re-opening. It is often touted across the globe that Taiwan has been one of the more, if not the most, successful countries in combating COVID-19—and rightfully so. As of October 1, 2020, there has been a total of only 514 documented cases in Taiwan, most of which have been “imported.” While most countries around the world are still struggling to cope with the coronavirus, there has been no report of domestically contracted case in Taiwan since mid-April.
By Chan-Yuan Wong and Kyoung M. Shin. It is indisputable that Taiwan’s restrictive emergency policies have successfully brought the coronavirus under control and gave Taiwan the enviable status of a “virus-free haven.” Although one may argue that outcome should be used to measure “success” and “failure,” it is not the only criterion to evaluate public policies. Even from a purely economic efficiency point of view, how the outcome is achieved is equally important—that is, the measure of the associated costs and resource inputs. To effectively control the spread of the coronavirus, Taiwan has essentially taken a page out of its old “developmental state” playbook.