Written by Ashley Deng-Yu Chen. During my interview sessions and participant-observation activities in Southern Taiwan, many findings struck me, even as a “local anthropologist”. Firstly, most of my interlocutors who had lived through the authoritarian decades under the KMT almost unanimously claimed that the current form of “democracy” and “liberal society” was not any better than the “social order” that was safeguarded by the rigid martial law order. Moreover, with the KMT losing the last general election in 2016 to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), many supporters subsequently believed that Taiwan had since sunk into a dark ditch of “political correctness” with obsessions of LGBTQ+ rights and naive revolutionist values.
Written by Brian Hioe. It is not out of the question that such young people will eventually take the reins of power. Indeed, they will once older politicians depart the political scene. But all appearances to the contrary, this may be a premature assessment. It may not be, in fact, that young people have come of age in Taiwanese politics, and instead of that, they remain subject to the larger established forces that have remained dominant for decades in politics. Whether this changes is to be seen.
Written by Chris Chih-Hua Tseng. Taipei has spawned some policy innovations. Meanwhile, in Taoyuan, an adjacent developing city that has built massive amounts of social housing, none of the above happened. Instead, the city government proudly announced it had built social housing the fastest. Why has social housing developped much more sluggishly in the capital than it has in Taoyuan? To answer the differences between these two cities, we need to expand our scope to broader urban politics and urban developmental processes.
Written by Sam Robbins. The notion that emotions can inspire political action is not new. Research into social movements contains many examples of the motivating power of passion, anger, and disgust… What is seemingly much less common is the active cultivation of positive emotions, such as happiness or fun, in such social movements. If you’re feeling content about your situation, what need is there to engage in collective action or civil engagement?
Written by Rose Adams. At only 20 years since its first democratic transfer of power, Taiwan’s democracy is shockingly well developed. With a voter turnout of 74.9% in 2020’s national election and a female President, Taiwan has achieved democratic feats that even the United States has yet to realize with 200-plus years of democratic experience. One of the more impressive of these records is Taiwan’s current percentage of women in government: a whopping 38% of legislative seats, one of the highest of any democracy. Compare that 38% to Japan and Korea, two of Taiwan’s neighbours who have similar electoral systems. At 10% and 17 %, respectively, of Japan and Korea’s legislature seats filled by women, Taiwan’s success is miraculous.
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 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 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 Frank Hsiao. The basic idea of his Cornell thesis was a two-sector model of economic growth: namely, the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors (instead of usual growth model of consumer good and investment good sectors).). Based on the idea of “primitive capital accumulation” by Karl Marx—whom LTH did not mention explicitly—he investigated, in the absence of foreign resources (foreign direct investment, loans and aid), whether the surplus-value in the agricultural sector could be exploited (transferred) as capital flow to the financial and foreign sectors, along with government taxes and levies, and also to the non-agricultural sector for industrial development.
Written by Frank Hsiao. Lee had an extensive collection of books, as his followers in Taiwan were proposing to build a library under his name to house his books. This made him quite different from other politicians. He read widely, had an excellent memory, could express his learning and thinking eloquently, and could write fluently. He was a very rare and talented scholar.
Written by Frank S.T. Hsiao The year 2000 saw the first peaceful regime change from the long-governing KMT (in power since first coming to Taiwan in 1945) to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). All these were accomplished adroitly without bloodshed. He did not even have his own political clique, military backup and secret service supports. Unquestionably, Lee was indeed one of the greatest politicians in the World. The Taiwanese and foreign media have very well documented all these achievements. What is seldom mentioned is his academic achievements and scholarship in the field of Agricultural Economics and his various writings.
Written by Denis Li, translated by Corey Lee Bell. Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan’s first democratically elected president, played a key role in the country’s journey from authoritarianism to democracy. In 12 years as president, he made six amendments to the constitution, earning him an indelible place in the history of Taiwan. The News Lens has compiled 10 of Lee’s quotes from lectures and interviews, which reflect his perspective on Taiwanese politics and cross-strait relations, as well as the expectations he harbored for himself as a political figure.