Written by Hiro Fu. Media personality Jaw Shaw-kong has taken Taiwanese media by storm with the consecutive announcements of his return to the Kuomintang (KMT), possible bid for party chairman, and intent to gun for the 2024 presidency. The daily coverage following Jaw’s return foreshadows his impact on the political landscape, but will he be able to, as he claims, “Make Taiwan Great Again” or even make the KMT great again, for that matter?
Written by Brian Hioe. The latest front on which the KMT has sought to attack the Tsai administration’s response to COVID-19 has been on the issues of vaccines. In particular, with the Tsai administration having enjoyed widespread public praise for its effective response to COVID-19, the KMT has tried to find ways to criticize or denigrate the Tsai administration’s response to COVID-19. In recent memory, this has included calls in January to lock down the city of Taoyuan in response to the Taoyuan General Hospital cluster.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. On 16 January, Taoyuan city councillor Wang Hao-yu of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was revoked by a whopping 84,582 ‘in-favour’ ballots. This was a staggering contrast to the 16,292 ballots received that won him his re-election merely two years prior. This election makes Wang the first city councillor from one of Taiwan’s six special municipalities to be recalled. More importantly, one can tentatively make a case that this is an important success for opposition parties such as the Kuomintang (KMT) and other pan-blue parties (e.g., People First Party) regaining political clout against the incumbent DPP government.
Written by Timothy S. Rich and Madelynn Einhorn. How does the Taiwanese public view COVID-19 policies and do these efforts boost evaluations of President Tsai Ing-wen? Taiwan received international acclaim for its aggressive response to the pandemic. Such policies included standard social distancing and mask mandates seen in most countries, with centrally coordinated quarantine and contract tracing policies, and fines of over $3000 US for violating quarantines. Due to these efforts, people in Taiwan are 3,400 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than people living in the U.S.
Written by Lihyun Lin and Chun-yi Lee. On November 18, 2020, the National Communications Commission (NCC) in Taiwan refused to renew the licence of CTiTV. This decision caused much protest from the opposition party, with the Kuomintang (KMT)’s high-pitch of ‘protecting press freedom.’ We found ironic how the KMT used Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) ‘s case as an example to indicate how the ruling party in Taiwan – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – intervened in press freedom and sacrificed Taiwan’s democracy.
Written by Wei-Ting Yen. In the past few years, two political outsiders in Taiwan have quickly accumulated popularity and became serious political contenders in elections. One is Ko Wen-Je, currently the mayor of Taipei. The other one is Han Kuo-Yu, the recently impeached mayor of Kaohsiung, the second-largest city in Taiwan. Their rise has prompted the island nation to widely debate whether populism has grown its roots in Taiwan because Ko and Han share similar populist traits.
Written by Milo Hsieh. Corruption in Taiwan has been a significant issue since the democratisation in Taiwan. In the early years of Taiwan’s democracy, this was a major issue for politicians in all political parties. Despite numbers and figures showing that Taiwan has been working well to root out corruption amongst its bureaucracy and politics, high-level corruption and illicit deals between politicians and the business community continues to Taiwanese politicians.
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 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 Hiro Fu. Few observers were surprised to see Chen Chi-mai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) win Kaohsiung’s mayoral by-election. In his victory speech, Chen called his win “Democracy’s victory, Kaohsiung’s victory.” This is an image that the DPP hopes to cast upon its return to power after Chen’s defeat in the 2018 mayoral elections. However, the DPP’s victory should not be confused with a victory for democracy, or necessarily as a victory for Kaohsiung.
Written by Frédéric Krumbein. President Lee Teng-hui’s most enduring legacy is his crucial role in the process of Taiwan’s democratisation. His predecessor, Chiang Ching-kuo, had already started the process of liberalisation. Yet despite his having lifted martial law in July 1987, Chiang died a few months later with the KMT dictatorship still intact. Lee Teng-hui then gradually implemented democratic reforms during his presidency (1988-2000).