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 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 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 Chieh-chi Hsieh. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, President Tsai Ing-wen has been able to obtain and continue to sustain high supporting rates mainly due to the many successful policy measures put forward to contain the negative impacts of the pandemic. The first opinion poll conducted after Tsai commenced her second-term of presidency in May showed her reaching a record-high of 71.2 per cent of supporting rate. Although there have been changes to Tsai’s support rate in following months, including a 10.5 per cent drop to 61 per cent in June, she is still able to sustain a high popularity rate of 65.8 per cent according to an August survey.
Written by Xiaoxue Martin. The Tsai administration’s steadfast diplomacy exhibits more continuities with its predecessors’ foreign policy than it cares to admit. Especially the large sums of development aid and assistance to diplomatic partners are a costly and unsustainable method to protect its alliances. The global downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will only make its allies more vulnerable to economic persuasion. With only 15 diplomatic allies left, and the mainland Chinese pressure to switch recognition only rising, the stakes are higher than ever before. With these bleak prospects, Taiwan’s unofficial partners are increasingly more important than the dwindling number of official diplomatic allies.
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 Mark Wenyi Lai. Former President of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui passed away this summer. The Beijing/Unification faction hated Lee, and the Independent faction/Mike Pompeo praised him as the Father of Taiwan Democracy, if not the Father of Taiwan. How do we evaluate Lee? What is Lee’s vision of where and how Taiwan is heading in the next century? How do our perspectives of him reflect our Taiwanese identity?
Written by John F. Copper. In 1963 I journeyed to Taiwan to further my study of Chinese, sponsored by the East West Center at the University of Hawaii. I heard of Lee Teng-hui at this time. He was one of the experts that designed and operationalized Taiwan’s well-known and eminently successful land reform program. Little did I know that Lee would become one of modern Taiwan’s foremost leaders and someone I would meet and learn much more about in coming years.
Written by J. Michael Cole. On July 30, former president Lee Teng-hui, whom many regard as the father of Taiwan’s democracy, passed away at the age of 97. Lee leaves behind a nation that is markedly different from what it was when he entered politics decades ago. No figure—none—has had as major an impact on Taiwan than Lee, whose decisions in the crucial period between the late 1980s and early 1990s determined the future course of the nation and propelled into the “third wave” of democratisation.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On July 30 2020, Taiwan’s “Father of Democracy,” former President Lee Teng-hui passed away in Taipei at the ripe old age of 97. He served as the country’s President from 1988 until 2000 and guided its transformation from a repressive authoritarian dictatorship that had been imposed on the island by the Chinese Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek after World War II, to the vibrant democracy that is Taiwan today.
Written by Kharis Templeman. If Tsai Ing-wen is superstitious, she should be worried: second term presidents in Taiwan appear to be cursed. Much like President Tsai, her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou started his second term on a confident and triumphant note. But over the next four years, he faced a relentless series of political crises, including an intraparty power struggle with Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, massive protests against the death of a military conscript and construction of a nuclear power plant, and of course the Sunflower Movement occupation of the legislature, which effectively halted cross-Strait rapprochement with Beijing.