Future Market predicts: Ma falls behind by 8% and keeps falling fast

Xfuture, the future market website, claimed to be more accurate than most opinion surveys conducted by media in Taiwan, is conducting surveys in the form of stock exchanges for the upcoming legislative and presidential elections. There are 3 contract groups for the president election. I am sharing the timeline of one of them, The Estimate of Vote Percentage (2012總統選舉投票率預測), for all three candidates: Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, DPP), Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九, KMT) and James Soong (宋楚瑜, PFP). The data covers the period from 9/1/2011 to 12/2/2011 for both Tsai and Ma. Soong was not included into this contract group until 11/4/11. At the time of preparing this post (12/2), the data show a profile of Tsai : Ma : Soong = 51.0% : 37.1% : 12.5%.

The data is presented in two graphs: first the data only, allowing readers to observe the trends without the interference from my interpretation. The second one includes (1) events that might have marked the major critical changes of winning trend at specific times; (2) a projection of the trend to the election date (1/14/2012), by extrapolating the data of the last 10 days or so, to show the possible outcome if it keeps going with the current trend.

Fig.1. The estimate of vote percentage for the 2012 presidential election. Blue: Tsai Ing-wen (DPP); Red: Ma Ying-jeou (KMT); Brown: James Soong (PFP). Source: Xfuture

Fig.2. Critical Events and Projection. A. around 5% of Ma's supporters changed to Tsai in October, followed by a seemingly non-stop fall on Ma's side. B. Soong was introduced into the competition, which comes with a second wave of Ma's rapid fall; C. The war of persimmons, doubling up the speed of Ma's fall. See details in text. Also, the data in Fig.1. is extrapolated to the election date (1/14/2012) based on the current trend.It shows that Ma could fall behind Soong 10 days before the election, reaching a final percentage profile of Tsai:Soong:Ma = 50%:30%:20% --- if the current trend remains unchanged. Note: right after point C, there's a deep fall of Ma's rate. It was categorized by the Xfuture as intentional manipulation and was corrected back to the normal trend.

The data in this contract group shows that, before October, Tsai and Ma both gained ground with small but steady pace, with Ma leading by about ~10%.

In the mid to end of October, however, significant amount, about 5%, of Ma's supporters switched to Tsai in a very short time (Point A in Fig.2).

What happened in October that might have contributed to this swift change ?

On Tsai's side, she finished campaign tours all over Taiwan with overwhelming support, then heated up the campaign with the Piggie Bank Trio movement, signifying a common people's war against the KMT authority. Both could be seen as an effective way to consolidate green base and potentially brings a positive face to the election.

On Ma's side, he failed to respond to farmers' wish for the Old Farmer Subsidy (OFS). It is a tradition in Taiwan to raise the monthly OFS by NT$ 1,000 in presidential election, a tradition the DPP follows. But, Ma insists that farmers deserve only 316 dollars/month of increase this time.

It went wrong seriously in the beginning. In one of stories reported by a KMT local legislative candidate (note that the legislators will be voted on the same date as the president), when they went to the home of a long-time pro-KMT farmer to deliver the 316.00, the farmer just threw it back at them. Many others told them not to come at all.

Urgent calls like this from local KMT campaign workers were rushed to the headquarter in Taipei, repeatedly, only to meet repeating announcements from Ma's totally-out-of-touch campaign team that 316 is fair and square. It won't help at all when news about Ma's gov spent huge money in unrestrained way in other directions (see below), and raise subsidy to other groups of people who already enjoy much more monetary benefit than farmers did (see here, here and here).

Based on several sources from the KMT side, this arrogant blunder costs Ma somewhere around 3~10% votes. With each 1% equates to about 150,000 votes, Ma lost 450k ~ 1500k votes with this single blunder alone.

But Ma didn't stop there. In the press conference when he formally announced his "Golden 10 year" plan (黃金十年), supposedly to be a campaign-boosting ingredient, he rushed to include his plan of a peace agreement with the the communist China (see Frozen Garlic's comment for why Ma shouldn't have done so). It was a plan that he furiously denied 2 months ago when his campaign manager King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) -- allegedly the real powerful man-behind-the-scene who makes decisions for Ma to follow -- announced the peace talk in a trip to the USA. Besides, it was originally not in Ma's golden 10 years plan -- at least not to anybody's knowledge. Nobody in the entire Blue camp seemed to have any prior knowledge of it -- the KMT heavy heads, the KMT campaigners, the KMT legislators ... until Ma suddenly announced it in that press conference.

Stunned in an unimaginable manner, people from all camps threw in heavy criticism. In response, Ma's office delivered another rushed announcement in the midnight the same day --- that the peace agreement WILL be pre-approved by a referendum. But, in less than 12 hours, Ma followed it with another rushed flip-flop by saying that the referendum is just one of the means to get public opinions on the peace agreement.

Tsai responded with an approach like, "fine, lets get on with the referendum law, then."(my wording) The next Monday, the DPP law makers sent in the proposal to the Legislative Yuan. The KMT rejected it.

Ma's plan of peace agreement was thus finished and moved to the trash in less than 10 days -- along with his supposedly boosting Golden 10 Years Plan. What is left is the deep scars on Ma's image.

All the above events exploded in October, corresponding to the onset of rapid falling seen in the graph presented here. Note that the trend of falling continued, albeit in a slower rate, even before Soong was included in the contract (Point B), which sped up the gap increase between Tsai and Ma.

It was followed by even more catastrophic events (not marked on the graph) on Ma's side along the track, including the humongous spending on a musical "Dreamers" (夢想家) that was staged only twice. The contract was given to a small group of artists who are allegedly close to Ma's wife, and is the same group of people who also took several multi-million art contracts from the government after Ma took power. A large portion of government's budget for artists flow into the hands of the same group of people like fountain water. The money given to Dreamers alone equates to 50% of the yearly funding for artists.

Ma said he ""felt sorry" for how the gov money was spent. Ma's campaign companion, Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), said that he did not know the show had such a high budget and that he regretted the money was spent in that way. However, a pro-KMT commentator revealed that Ma and Wu were actually who approved the spending in a meeting. The guy who "resigned to stop the bleeding", Council for Cultural Affairs Minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁), is but a scapegoat.

With other bad (or good) news like the revelation of Ma's link to a bookie in suspicion of manipulating the election outcome, we went on to the "War of Persimmons" , by which Pro-KMT polls all said that Ma regained the lead after this by as much as 8~10%. But the data shown here (point C) indicated that Ma actually suffered even more.

In review, Ma's fall could be roughly dissected into 3 stages:

1. In October, Tsai gained ground with campaign tours, Piggie Bank Trio, etc, and Ma lost ground with OFS, the peace talk, etc --- contributed by: Tsai, Ma

2. In mid Nov, Ma went down with Soong's entry as well as Ma's Dreamers Musical and his links to bookie --- contributed by: Soong, Ma

3. In end of Nov, Ma went further down after the persimmon price debate --- contributed by: Ma

In summary, the falling of Ma is due to 3 factors: Tsai, Soong, and Ma. Among them, Ma contributed to his own fall in much larger magnitude. That is, Ma is the one who puts his own re-election in jeopardy.

This is something we have to bear in mind, 'cos, if Ma loses, many pro-KMT media, as well as many foreign media that is really foreign, are going to blame Soong for Ma's loss, while in fact Ma's his own worst nightmare.

The extrapolation of the trend presents a possible scenario that Ma's rating could fall behind Soong's in around 10 days before the election, reaching a final result of Tsai:Ma:Soong = 50%:20%:30%. Certainly, if only the trend is kept, which may not be likely.

No matter what, 40 days before the election, there's just no sign that Ma could ever recover from his downfall trend. Seeing how many screwup moves contributed by Ma and his people, Ma might be better off not campaigning at all.

More ref:

See XFuture's own report on the same data set:
未來事件交易所目前對2012年總統選舉預測-蔡英文擴大領先馬英九8%、宋楚瑜上升到12%_20111202 http://nccupm.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/1429/


The Shutting Down of a Reputable Poll Center

A quick response to Michael's blog about the sudden shutdown of Global Views' (遠見) poll center. I don't have time to gather references like I usually did, so bare with me.

The following is some background info that might be helpful to understand the context behind what's going on:

1. Back in 2000 when there were 3-way campaign for the president: KMT Lien (連戰), PFP Soong (宋楚瑜), and DPP Chen (陳水扁) -- that is, 2 blue and 1 green, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), then Lien's campaign manager(?), announced a poll result right before the voting day, saying that Lien already won over Soong in polls by a large margin, asking blue supporters to focus their votes on Lien but not waste it on Soong.

The election result was that Soong lost to Chen by only a small margin, but Lien's votes were barely half of Soong's, making Chen the president. If Ma didn't announce that poll to tell people Lien already won huge in polls, most likely Soong would have taken more votes than Chen did, and the blue would never have lost the government to the green.

That is, Ma is not only the critical reason for Soong to lose the president race in 2000, he is also the grandfather of "fabricating polls."

Because of Ma's behavior, Taiwan passed a law to forbid poll announcements one week before any election.

2. Starting from May this year, the numbers of polls conducted by pro-KMT media were abnormally high. They run like a poll every two or three days. It feels like that the entire news field is flooded with polls intentionally;

3. The poll center of the Global Views was established by the director Mr. Dai (戴立安) several years ago. GV's polls is considered somewhat more neutral and objective in Taiwan;

4. Every poll has to be weighted based on the distribution of gender, age, etc. The GV used to publish the weighted polls. But starting from May this year, they started publishing only rough data (which always show Ma won), and hide the weighted result behind a pay program. Users have to pay to peek into the real result. The GV warned to sue anyone who publishes the real result;

5. According to words accidentally slipped out of people's mouth, DPP's candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) probably (note: I put this word to protect myself) won over Ma by a margin of ~7% in the GV's real result. This result is very different from ALL OTHER pro-KMT polls (they all say Ma won; some polls say Ma won by more than 10%);

6. Not long ago, the GV announced that they will put more effort to bring the race to the people by conducting more more reliable polls on the president race, starting from October;

7. Then suddenly, without any sign, the GV shuts down their political poll center. Mr. Dai (戴立安) resigned, giving up the entire polling model he established and maintained. Some sources said he might be forced to leave;

8. In an interview, Dai said that Tsai won Ma by 4~6%;

So, now, here we are. Now all those pro-KMT polls can publish any result they want -- just like Ma Ying-jeou the Grandfather of False Polls did in 2000 -- without any other poll standing in their way.

#1. Global Views Shuts Down Polling! =UPDATED=


Large scale hacks to Tsai's office appears to come from China and Ma government

The computers in the Tsai Ing-wen's campaign headquarters were found to be hacked last Saturday.

The report (in Chinese) says that the hacks are in the form of Trojan horse, aiming at info stealing but not destruction. The headquarter was not aware of it until a "falsified Chairperson's schedule" was circulated among the headquarter personnel. The person responsible for the circulation had no idea where it was from.

Tsai is both the president candidate and the chairperson of DPP's. Her office holds all the info regarding how the DPP had planned and is planning to campaign for the president and legislator elections early next year, including how to deploy the resources, who is gonna take charge of what, etc.

All these info were stolen, alone with critical private info like user names, passwords, etc, of the headquarter personnel's.

The report didn't mention how long the stealing had been going on. A Trojan horse type of hack usually stays in the victim computer for a long time while gathering info. It's likely that the DPP has been operating like an open book for a long time in the eyes of her opponents.

The DPP had the ip's traced, and found that the hacks came from 3 sources:

1. China's national Xinhua News Agency (XNA);
2. Individual hackers;
3. Some "special group" inside Taiwan;

The XNA denied any involvement. But the investigation reveals attacks came from the XNA in Beijing and going through the XNA branch in Malaysia.

The 3rd group is revealed to be from the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, an office in Executive Yuan (RDEC, 行政院研考會) of the Ma Ying-jeou government.

There's no comment from Ma government so far. The DPP said they don't want to speculate anything now.

They do complain about the reluctance of the police in pursuing this case. A police office was quoted as saying, "don't pull the trigger only because you see a shadow," when he/she was asked to investigate.

This is not the first time the police plays dormant to threats against the DPP. Two Three months ago, a facebook user publicly call for assassinating Tsai. The police claimed they will investigate.

There were several online assassinating calls against Ma Ying-jeou in the past. Each of them was dealt with in a lightning pace --- whoever made that claim was caught by the police the same or the next day.

But when the target was Tsai, it's a different story. Two Three months from the date the police claims to investigate, the one calling for killing Tsai is still at large now. There's no sign if the police intends to catch this guy. Update: for the assassination call on the Facebook, the police says that they've asked the Facebook in USA to provide the user info but to no avail. They say they will keep trying.


More on the speech freedom case of a food blogger

More than a week after the news -- blogger Liu posted a negative comment about a restaurant and received a fine of ~7,000 US$ plus 30-day detention with 2-year probation -- more info collected makes things look clearer. Liu's original post and the verdicts from both the first and the second trials (all in Chinese) can be found in [1].

There are many blog posts in the English blogsphere commented about this. Among them MKL's post [2] is probably the most popular one. But there are lots of holes need to be patched in his article. Earlier in my blog, I posted a comment [3] about his work, "But when one wrote an article containing lots of unchecked and misleading info, and in that same article spent considerable focus to criticize others those same mistakes, it does look funny to me." The following is a further exploration of that view, with additional details into the case.

I felt funny 'cos in MKL's article, I was among the ones he criticized for

"of course most of the English speaking blogosphere in Taiwan is abuzz and appalled and whatnot (without even reading the original text in Chinese), the so often linked Taipei Times headline was enough for them to pass a quick judgement"

even though my post he linked to was based on a Chinese-language (the Liberty Times). In fact, I didn't even know TT reported it at that time.

It was followed with "I did a better job than others"-style of criticism with statements of having translation helps to make the case analysis in his blog better than others. The funny feeling continued, considering that I has spoken/written in Chinese all life long.

But this is just a personal feeling. It is certain that being able to read/write Chinese doesn't guarantee what I read/write is absolutely correct. This also applies to whatever translation MKL got. I've commented in MKL's blog (on June 27th) on a very crucial error of his article - that is, on the insanitary condition of the restaurant - a comment MKL seems to overlook. With the help of translation, MKL concluded,

"Colleague's testimony in court exposed her as a lier, but the most important thing, that lead to her conviction were her unsubstantiated claims about the sanitary condition"

That is a very serious accusation without ground. I don't know what went wrong -- imprecise translation? miscommunication between MKL and the translator? Or MKL didn't put the translation into the article correctly?

Reading through the court documents [1], what we can say about the witness' testimony, at most, is that her claims (talking about something she heard two years ago) are inconsistent with the claims from the accused. And when statements from witness and from the accused are inconsistent, the judge proceeded with a logic like this (note: this is not a translation):

If what the witness said is correct, then what the accused said is wrong. Therefore, it's obvious that the accused said is wrong. (「被告說她有去吃過,說那裡覺得比較髒一點,吃起來覺得還好」等語,被告確曾對證人提及上開言詞,比對被告張貼於網路所使用之文字:「很難吃、不衛生、有蟑螂」等字眼,已足見前後兩者有極明顯之差異。)

I believe readers can easily spot the false logic.

The judge then continued with that the reason the accused said inconsistent things is because that she wanted to ruin the restaurant's business.

That's quite a stretch, from my point of view.

The witness also said,

"(Yes I heard people said that) it was insanitary. The accused and other colleagues said so." (不衛生是有,被告及我其他另外的同事都有講過)

"Three other colleague also said that the restaurant was a bit insanitary" (我另外三個同事有說過那裡環境比較髒一點)

which the judge didn't seem to take into account. Why only took part of her testimony that is against the accused, but skipped the part that favoring her?

Furthermore, in the appeal court, the accused stated in writing that,

"other bloggers also wrote about the insanitary conditions of the restaurant." (其他網路部落格評論該小吃店髒亂)

It seems that the judge ignored that, too.

The photos taken (probably during the investigation) also shows insanitary conditions (從照片看得出來,他們店到現在還是一樣不衛生) and bottle(s) of cockroach killer (嗣後取得之該店不衛生現場照片與現場擺放殺蟑劑之照片,足見伊所述情節客觀上尚非全然無據). Both are consistent with the descriptions from others that the restaurant was insanitary.

Readers are welcome to read or skip to near the end of this article to see witness' detailed description and picture for yourself being there.

Some readers might also notice in Liu's original blog article,

"I didn't write (about the restaurant) in my food review before, because the restaurant is insanitary and the food is terrible."

which implies that she is a food reviewer who doesn't want to write about -- let alone to ruin -- a restaurant over insanitary condition and/or terrible food.

Based on all info above, it would be more reasonable to assume that the restaurant had been insanitary since two years ago and most probably up to the time of investigation. It would mean that the accused were telling the truth and that the judge made an illogical ruling.

But even if we take the judge's words for granted, nowhere in both verdicts did the law say the accused is a lair. The witness didn't say that, the judge didn't say that. The most serious accusation from the judge is "obviously inconsistent," which, as described above, is based on a false logic.

Therefore, MKL's claim that "Colleague's testimony in court exposed her as a lair" took one step forward from a questionable ruling onto the direction of distortion, thus wrongfully paints a dark judgment on the accused. The fact people calling her "crazy woman" - listed in MKL's blog - is very minor and is irrelevant to the case. By adding that to his highlighted list, it helps to plant a seed in reader's minds that the accused is bad.

Taking into account of MKL's original questioning on "the ruling was given in Feb but why reported now" (it was corrected later after my comment), the case was presented with incorrect info and wrongful accusations, most serious being the one calling her a lair without researching what the truth is (even after I pointed it out). It seems to me that the article was written with a predetermined objective to set the accused on the wrong side from the very beginning.

There are couple of other minor errors, with my highlights:

~~ She claimed that the owner and a customer repeatedly called her "crazy old woman"

-- The Precise translation should have been "Crazy woman". The term "瘋婆子" doesn't necessarily target at "old woman," especially in emotional dispute. (The court document shows that the original wording was "肖查某")

~~ "She then noted in her post, that "of course she wasn't bothered by the car, but she doesn't like people, who make the traffic worse in the neighborhood."

-- No, man. This translation of Liu's article is not correct. What Liu wrote was that "although he didn't obstruct me, but (he) obstructed the public traffic" (雖然他沒妨礙到我..但妨礙到大家的交通). From the tone of entire article, it is clear that she was "deeply bothered." In fact, she mentioned "Although I am mining other's business ... but ... I just couldn't leave it alone" (我這樣雖然多事..但是..就是看不慣), which showed that she was "bothered" to no end.

~~ "the story is out now, because she appealed the verdict, but the judge did not reverse his original ruling"

-- To my knowledge, an appellant court is always ruled by a different judge. So there shouldn't be "his original ruling." What's the point of having the same judge, anyway? To admit that his original ruling is wrong?

~~ "A regular customer of that shop found the post she wrote and told it to the owner, who then decided to sue her for defamation."

--- The owner sued her for "Against the Reputation,"(妨害名譽) but not "defamation."(毀謗) But it's very hard to distinguish the two. The judge did apply charges based on a crime of "defamation", which made it more confusing.

~~ "The judge sentenced her to a 30 days detention, which were changed to 2 years probation and a heavy fine of 200.000 NTD"

-- The judge didn't fine her 200,000 NTD (there's a typo in the decimal point). The fine was 500,000.00 NTD. But the accused and the complainant reached an agreement of 200,000.00 NTD before the 2nd court ruling.

~~ "Michael Turnton does the same and adds his famous sarcasm."

-- As one commenter pointed out, the name Turton was spelled wrong.

It's always encouraging to see a writer try to do some good. In this sense, MKL does have the spirit. Unfortunately, doing a half-baked research with distortion and claiming it "this is what really happened" doesn't really sound right. I guess it made the article more "sensational," especially when the article also criticizes other bloggers for not doing the same kind of research the author did. The fact that the article has to be kept revising, but still leaving quite a few errors and also leading readers into a wrong direction, speaks for itself about how well the research was done.

Other things about the case that we know now:

~~ This is not a case due to Ms Liu writing a "bad food review." It is clear that her blog article in question is not a food review. This is where MKL's effort made a positive contribution to the story;

~~ During the questioning in court, the complainant, Yang, who sued the accused, was listed as a witness,

"The above facts are witnessed and described by the witness, i.e., the complainant Yang, and Chen (Note: Yang's daughter) and others in details during the investigation"

Can you do that ? Go sue someone and play the role of witness in court ? I feel very uncomfortable. And scary, too.

~~ From the judge's statement quoted above, it sounds like the judge already determined what facts were before the witness' testimony was taken into consideration.

~~ Note that the testimony of the second witness, Chen, was very evasive. She dodged every question the judge asked, so her testimony is useless (when asked if the store looked dirty, she answered she just went in to eat, so she didn't notice the environment; when asked if the food tastes bad, she said she didn't order the restaurant special so she can't say)

~~ Below are what in Liu's blog that got her into trouble and the judgment made by the court :

1. Bully -She called the restaurant (owner) bully (惡霸). The judge's ruling on this:

"Because so angry, (the accused) used the internet to attack the restaurant, i.e, the complainant, with extremely negative emotional term "bully". It is therefore obvious that it's difficult to say (the accused) didn't intend to ruin the restaurant's reputation.

Bear with me on the awkward structure of the 2nd sentence. It is a direct translation of what the judge said, which by itself is very difficult to read.The point is, saying the term "bully" is "extremely negative emotional" seems quite a stretch to me.

2. Insanitary (很髒) -- as I mentioned earlier in this article, the judge didn't seem to take into account of other statements that are consistent with Liu's "insanitary" description.

3. Cockroach (蟑螂) -- Liu wrote that she saw (a) cockroach, which she didn't and couldn't prove.

However, cockroaches usually don't pose for photo shot. Besides, an insanitary environment is usually a breeding place for cockroaches, especially when it is greasy and warm and dark (cockroaches are "photophobic" -- they are afraid of light), it almost guarantees that someone will find cockroaches somewhere sometime.

Knowing that, and check back on the witness testimony in details about the restaurant condition,

"The first time I went, it was at lunch time. After I ordered and went in to find a seat, it was dim and dark, and the tables were a bit dirty. Therefore I went outside, where they cooked the noodle. It was brighter there. What I felt at that time was, the tables were a bit greasy."

"The second time I went there with a colleague, I didn't went in. Because it was at night, we ordered to-go and took it back to our company. At that time the condition of the store looked the same as what I saw in the first time, the floor looked dirty and it was dark inside"

The judge asked, that the tables looked dirty, is it because of grease ? Witness: "Yes, and looked old, too."

The judge asked if it looked clean after wiping. Witness: "If it was insanitary simply because of dirty tables, then wiping will clean it. But other than the tables felt dirty and greasy, the floor, the wall, and the light all felt the same."

"*the kitchen of the restaurant was outdoor. Where they prepared food and cook dishes, as well as the plates, the utensils etc etc, all made me feel a bit insanitary"

The witness didn't see a cockroach. But the restaurant condition described by her is a heaven for cockroaches. It wouldn't be a surprise that some customers see a cockroach or two there.

4. Hard to eat (很難吃)-- Liu wrote that the food was terrible. The judgment:

"Even if the accused thinks that the "dry noodle"(or "noodle w/ soybean paste") is too salty, she should have written that concretely, then she can argue she was with good intention and her writing is appropriate. It is hard to determine that her writing that the dish was terrible was with good intention when she's been there only once and felt that the "dry noodle"(or "noodle w/ soybean paste") was too salty."

Didn't we say that the accused did not write a food review ? The judgment would have made more sense if the accused did write one.

We knew that the accused wrote something to express her anger. But, there's some long distance between "expressing anger" and "intending to ruin the business."

~~ For those 4 terms, the judge ruled that the accused committed two crimes: Affront and Aggravated Defamation.

Lastly, even I've done so much to try to clear the case, I have to admit that it couldn't be the whole thing, for what I present here is "logic deduction," but not "legal deduction," such as "what behavior offends which article of law." I don't have enough legal knowledge to opine on that part of judge's ruling (blogger JustRecently might have a take on this [4]).

At this moment, I would say that this case is about an article, expressing author's anger, being stretched to a malicious intention of ruining others business, and harsh punishment was applied accordingly.


[1] 台中劉姓部落格作者因言論被判刑的相關文件 / Echo

[2] Taiwanese blogger jailed over critical restaurant review in Taichung / MKL

[3] Wrote negative comments on food in Taiwan and get heavy punishment /Echo

[4] Freedom of Expression vs Protection of Reputation / JustRecently

Other earlier posts:
-- http://michaelturton.blogspot.com/2011/06/landmark-free-speech-ruling.html
-- http://ozsoapbox.com/taiwan/food/taiwan-jails-food-blogger-over-salty-noodles-review/
-- http://thewritingbaron.com/and-throw-away-the-key
-- http://laorencha.blogspot.com/2011/06/holy-crap.html


Wrote negative comments on food in Taiwan and get heavy punishment

[update] See my newer article with more updated info of this event.

Didn't write anything for a long while (I spent most of my time on Black Rain's blog). But I think I should bring this to your attentions, regarding what you write in your blog that could get you into troubles in Taiwan.

It appears in today's news:

部落客惡評麵店 賠20萬判拘役
Blogger Maliciously Comments on Noodle, Fined NT$ 200,000 and More

A blogger ordered a noodle in a restaurant. She then wrote an article in her blog to criticize --- too salty, the store too dirty, had cockroaches, the owner allows illegal parking causing traffic troubles --- as what any customer in the USA would write on a daily basis.

Only thing is that she was not in the USA. The restaurant brought it to the court and she was fined by the judge with:

* ~7000.00 US dollars (The owner asked for ~17,000.00). Fined ~ US$ 17,000.00 in the first trial (on Feb 15th). The accused reached an agreement with the complainant for ~ US$ 7,000.00 before the 2nd trial.
* delivering an apology
* 30-day labor
* 2-year probation.
* 30-day detention, probated for 2 years.

Why ?

1. The investigators went to the restaurant but found that the store was clean and no cockroaches so what the blogger wrote was wrong --- Oh yea, it was after the owner brought it to the court, and the investigators expected the store be left dirty and the cockroaches be there to greet them when they got there;

2. The judge said, she went to the restaurant only once and took only one bowl of noodle. For that, she cannot say the food from the store is bad --- i.e., she should have been there numerous times and eaten all the dishes before she made any negative comment;

3. The fact that she wrote a negative comment after eating there only once shows that her intention of writing that blog article was to ruin the reputation of the restaurant.

With that, the judge concluded that what she wrote is beyond the freedom of speech, and charged her with Offenses Against Reputation (妨害名譽) accordingly.

Even if that crime sticks, the punishment is way too heavy from my standard.

The article also cited a remarkable comment from a lawyer as saying:

"When making comments, people should hold an objective and fair attitude, but not just criticizing. After all, everybody has different tastes, so you can't make one comment for all."

That is, you are not allowed to voice your own judgment. Instead, you should always voice "what everybody thinks."

So, watch out what you write in Taiwan, people.


Tsai Ing-wen for 2012

After revealing her intention of running for the president two days ago (3/9), DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) delivered a speech, titled "I heard Taiwan's voices - Tsai Ing-wen for the DPP presidential primary" in a press conference today to make the formal announcement, becoming the 2nd to roll into the race - after former VP Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

It probably took many by surprise, cos judging from the behaviors of all potential runners in the past, people might expect that Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌) would have made his announcement before Tsai did. Su managed to put himself into the spotlight again and again with activities one after another - music concert, book publishing, photo exhibition, etc, since his a-bit-embarrassing loss in Taipei mayor election last year (Nov, 2010) -- an election in which he behaved in a not-very-glorious manner of total disregard on the power and responsibility structure of the DPP. Not following the nomination process, he made a public announcement of his intention to run for the Taipei mayor at a time of turmoil when the DPP was suffering the possibilities of splitting and losing in the two southern cities, Tainan and in Kaohsiung. His move forced Tsai and the nomination team of the DPP to face a choice of either accepting his term unconditionally, or suffering a storm of yet another splitting on the north if they opted to pick a candidate of their choice to run for Taipei (not Su) by following the nomination rule. That wasn't really a choice for the DPP, 'cos they couldn't possibly afford to having another splitting impact. As a result, Tsai and the nomination team were forced to bend the rule for Su. Su's move was considered a power-grabbing one, made at the cost of his own party and comrades having to give away their power of determining candidates. Since Su wasn't in any party staff or official, it became that he took the power that was not followed by responsibilities. It apparently angered many green supporters.

With that inglorious history, as well as some very questionable moves he made in the past, it's natural for people to expect him to behave the same way to make an early announcement.

But the DPP's president candidate is to be decided solely by public opinion polls in which Su doesn't seem to get an edge, albeit the continuous effort of the Liberty Times to promote him by (systematically) filtering out positive news about Tsai Ing-wen -- sometimes you have to go to the pro-blue media, or even China Review News, to see important news about Tsai. Last week, when reporting an article of aiming at criticizing Tsai and promoting Su, the Liberty Times deleted a sentence, "(Su) himself voluntarily told DPP legislators that his support in polls was advancing" (告知自己民調逐步攀升的訊息), which (accidentally) revealed the secret of whom might have been behind a recently circulated rumor that Su was leading in DPP's internal polls (the DPP denied any internal poll was ever conducted). It doesn't look good for Su. The LT reported everything else (criticizing Tsai and promoting Su), but this sentence was deleted. Other media - if they do report it - reported that sentence faithfully. The most recent filtering of Tsai's news was a speech, titled "Dynamic new world - the young generations and the future" (變動中的新世界-青年世代與未來), given by Tsai to university students. The speech is an important one to show Tsai's vision on future generations and is a prelude of her speech today. It can be found in many media but not the LT.

And these are just a few of many many examples. The LT has been criticized to operate like Su's personal advocating organ ever since the infighting between Hsieh and Su for the previous presidential primary way back in 2007. For its bravery of continuous flattering Su albeit years of complaints, the LT (自由時報) has earned itself a nickname "自由蘇報", where 蘇 stands for Su.

So it makes no surprise that the LT continues its tradition of blowing Su's popularity out of proportion, which would mislead its readers into believing that Su is in the lead. But all that efforts don't seem to make a significant achievement this time. The following are some quick pointers of support rates (in percentage) between Tsai and Su:

2/1281%5%Black Rain blogOnlinegreen~blue
2/2442%23%Apple DailyCallsgreen~blue
2/2573%13%Boss TalkCall-inDeep Green
3/165%31%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue
3/869%30.6%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue
3/973%25.5%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue #
3/1177%19.5%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue @
* Comp in Type: means the data was collected as a comparison against Ma Ying-jeou; ^ "Stance" on the right column displays my opinion on which political stance each host holds. green=pro-Taiwan; blue=pro-China; red=China (note: some consider the "Black Rain Blog" deep-green); # collected from the Future Market website about 12~16 hrs after Tsai's running intent was reported, showing that the gap between Tsai and Su was enlarged significantly; @ collected 2 hrs after Tsai's announcement speech, with even bigger gap. Now Su's support drops down to about 1/4 of Tsai's.

One thing noteworthy is that the only host media reporting Su is barely winning over Tsai is TVBS, which aligns very well with the "promoting Su, denouncing Tsai" phenomena seen in the blue camp. All the other available data - except that of udn, which happens to be a pro-blue media - shows that not only is Su losing to Tsai, but also he is losing big. At best, Su can only get half of what Tsai has. The report (on 3/8) of Tsai intents to run boosted Tsai's support by 4% and lowerer Su's by 5.1% (a 9.1% gap), and the formal announcement today (3/11) put another 10% gap between them, making Su's support barely higher than 1/4 of Tsai's.

Not only so. Even before Tsai expressed her intent, there are groups of different stances formally expressed their endorsement on Tsai: domestic and oversea scholars and researchers, WUFI, students and The Formosan Statehood Movement. I haven't seen any group come out to endorse Su.

With the huge odds against him, Su's only chance is to "bypass the game rule" again, by pushing a coordination process in which a consensus might be reached in a closed door manner, with the endorsements from several DPP old guards who are supporting him and/or against Tsai.

He first made a move to have a so-called secret meeting - a secret meeting that was all over the news immediately - to initiate a talk with Tsai, such that "Su is the one who is seeking consolidation but not friction."

About a week later (3/6), a more formal meeting, consisting of all those important DPP big heads, was held. It was said that a consensus was reached -- on the sense of the necessity of consolidation, but not the sense of who should be the one.

Tsai's sudden announcement came two days after that meeting. Something probably happened - or should have but did not - during that meeting, pushing Tsai to think that it's the right time for her to come out. One explanation is that those old guards in the DPP attempted to enforce a "Tsai-Su" pair or even "Su-Tsai" pair, bypassing the polls entirely. The attempt might have been sensed by Tsai, and a quick decision to announce her campaign was needed to stop the manifestation of that attempt.

There's another explanation that Tsai has got everything set in the party, in such a way that if she leaves the chair position now, the party could move forward smoothly for the future duties.

Tsai will take a leave from the chairperson post. It was originally circulated that Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) could be assigned the acting chairperson to perform the party duty. Hsieh has done an excellent job organizing the campaign for the DPP in Taichung last year during the Five-City election, and has maintained good relationship with Tsai and her team. Surprisingly, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) was picked as the acting chairperson instead. It was said that Tsai wants to avoid the impression of a Tsai-Hsieh alliance that could potentially intensify the conflict of sector fighting inside the DPP.

Tsai has already organized part of her campaign team, some were party staff, resigned from their posts to follow her. It fits well with her style -- everything thoroughly thought and well planned before making a move.

In the mean time, a Central Standing Committee meeting held on Wednesday (3/9/2011) decided to assign 5 people as members of Polling Committee (民意調查委員會) to operate the upcoming polls for nomination of candidates.

The committee will decide 5 organizations on 4/25 to carry out the polls for the president primary, with 3000 valid samples in each poll. The primary process is scheduled as follows:

3/17: announcement of primary process
3/21~3/25: registration
3/31~4/22: speeches for each runner
4/25~4/29: polls
5/4: announcement of presidential candidate


Tsai Ing-wen is now the focus of both support and defaming

There have been quite event-packed lately, especially on the DPP side. A lot of debates about the nomination processes of the 2012 legislator and president elections, a lot of noises about who should be the president and vice president candidates, followed by moves made by all potential ones -- Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) announced "Constitutions with different interpretations" (憲法各表), Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced his new book 超越瞬間 (means "Surpass the Instance") and "Taiwan Consensus" (台灣共識); Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the establishment of two DPP's think tanks (Security and Strategy Research Center 安全與戰略研究中心 and Economic and Social Affairs Research Center 經濟與社會研究中心) , and her view on Taiwan's future (和而不同); Former VP Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), too, extended her own think tank to include a China research division, and after weeks of attacking Tsai in very sarcastic manners - even compared Tsai to Chiang Kai-shih and Hitler -- announced her intention of running for the president, which is followed immediately by an anti-Lu-running-for-president facebook group established by facebookers. Supporters of Su coined a story that a DPP internal poll says Su has a higher support than Tsai has, followed by a rebuke that the DPP has done no internal poll so far. At the mean time, endorsements for Tsai to run for the president seat are coming out one after another from different groups (note that she hasn't expressed intention to run yet): scholars, students, WUFI (台獨聯盟) and The Formosa Statehood Movement (建州派)。Among all these, Su went to talk with Tsai for an hour in a supposedly "secret" meeting, allegedly talked about the presidency candidate race, but Tsai denied.

With so many election-related activities on the DPP side going on within just a short couple of weeks -- many could be critical enough to steel the direction of history in some way -- it is a bit surprise when blogger Frozen Garlic -- a researcher in the Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica -- said in his most recent post yesterday that nothing significant on the DPP side in the past 2 and half months --- while he did talk about what happened on the KMT side - like Ma will be the man and speaker Wang has no chance, etc, which is indeed "nothing significant". It continues with:

Tsai is probably ahead now, but I think she damaged herself by overplaying her hand in the battle for the nominations process. The DPP will have its presidential nomination in late April. (Why the rush? The election isn’t for another 11 months. Of course, as the leader, Tsai wants this decision made as soon as possible before anything happens to change the race.)

There indeed are arguments saying that deciding the DPP president candidate earlier would favor Tsai. But as far as I know, Tsai didn't express what she wants on this. In fact, whoever pays attention to Taiwan politics would have known that Tsai has always been tight-lipped on everything. It would be out-of-character for Tsai to express a self-favoring statement like that. It makes me wonder if Forzen Garlic's statement is substantiated by facts, or it is a biased impression expressed as a fact.

But real surprise came when DPP's nomination processes were distorted to vilify Tsai:

Tsai also got her way in the legislative nominations. She wanted the district nominations to be decided by telephone survey, with no party member voting component, and she wanted the party chair (herself!) to completely decide the party list. The latter, especially, is where I think she went a bit too far.

This is entirely wrong. The "telephone survey without party member involvement" was decided by the majority of central committee, not by Tsai. It was then passed in DPP's  National congress with landslide majority. And the the party list of candidates will be decided through free registration of whoever interested and then coordination. Only if the coordination fails, then the phone survey will step in (see here).

That is, in nowhere is Tsai authorized with the power of determining any candidate, let alone "completely deciding the party list." It is obvious that either Frozen Garlic is unaware of what he was talking about, or he simply came up with an untrue story to put blame on Tsai.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, the DPP announced that it would forgo any nomination process in “difficult” districts, and the party would simply draft candidates for these districts. The problem is that their definition of “difficult” is so broad that it encompasses 40 of the 73 districts. In some of these, the DPP should probably be favored to win. This is ridiculous and simply a clear power grab. So much for the institutionalization of the rules of competition.

The draft process he described can be found here. He forgot to tell readers (or maybe he didn't know) that the draft in each difficult district will be carried out by DPP's core members from all sectors, but not by Tsai. Some of the responsible members are strongly against Tsai in many aspects, the nomination process included. A design this way would facilitate the "power distribution" among all sectors in the DPP, in effective reduces the power of chairperson. How would that be ridiculous and how would that be a "clear power grab?"

The lack of knowledge about the subject he studied and the way that the truth was presented in a distorted way to fit the context of "Tsai grabbing power" are quite a surprise, judging from the quality of his blog in the past.

Ever since Tsai gained more and more support, there are forces of all sorts trying to defame her. Some because of fear -- for example, Ma Ying-jeou refused to say her name but used "she" instead, admitting that saying her name will help put her in the spotlight and boost her fame. Some because of hatred -- a hidden hatred that you just can't rationalize, as revealed in some pro-blue (and some deep green!) supporters. I can't judge what category Frozen Garlic falls into, but I sure hope that his blog can go back to the usual quality asap.

Note: ironically, the title of his article is "catching up." Wish he has done that for real.


Be a party believing in the land and the people - Tsai Ing-wen's new year wish

: I didn't know that the DPP has it translated:
DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen's 2011 New Year Statement


DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen's 2011 new year wish, 做一個相信土地與人民的政黨:寫給2011年的民進黨, to DPP members. It delivers her messages on two key issues: sovereignty and economics. Translated below with my highlights.


If any still has a doubt whether the DPP could stand up again, I would respond: the election results in the past two years already provided the answer. We have regained people's trust, which allows us to compete with the KMT head to head.


The DPP is the first ever political party that was spawn from this land (Taiwan) after the war (WWII). It aims at standing with the people since the day of establishment. Taiwan is a land that has suffered but is filled with hope. It is also a land that is encircled by super powers yet insists in being a master of her own. The people in this land share the common past as well as the future mission. Believing in the land, believing in the people and, especially, believing in the value that we represent for. These are the most important tasks for the DPP in 2011.


It has always been our belief that the land and the people are the root of a country. Therefore, when the ruling party (KMT) starts celebrating in hustle and bustle the 100-year anniversary (of the founding of ROC), we don't have to be cynical. Instead, we can take this chance to ask all the people in Taiwan to ponder and review what we have in mind about our country. In fact, instead of arguing for jargon like "the 1992 concensus", "one China, with each side having its own interpretation", "different interpretations for one-China", we would rather ask the people directly --- what is your country in your mind? Anybody can answer that quickly, be it Taiwan, be it Republic of China. Hidden behind both of these two answers is a simple idea - this land is my country. It does not belong to or equivalent to the People Republic of China across the strait.


Therefore, I have been puzzling why president Ma kept asking questions (about the fabricated "1992 consensus" saying that Taiwan and China have reached a consensus on the sovereignty of Taiwan), as though he is not quite sure about the current and future status of this country. In reality, we have this land, we have 23 million people, and we have a democratic system that is a fruit of long and slow innovation. To a president, it should have been clear that wherever your voters are, wherever your country is.


The biggest difference between the KMT and our party is that the KMT argues "Taiwan can't exist without the ROC", but we argues "the ROC can't exist without Taiwan." Simply put, the KMT worships "the regime and the ruler," yet we believe in "the land and the people." The line that makes the difference is that we insists Taiwan is our priority, and we believe that we are on the side with the majority of people.


The ROC government came to Taiwan In 1949 and became part of the history of this land. We understand and respect it as a historical fact. We also believe that the only way to change this sixty some year system is by way of a democratic process. But what the people really need at this moment is not the confrontation deadlock on nationality ideology between the green and blue camps; nor is to spend large amount of budgets to create an identity that is so detached from the land. What the people expect is that all people, no matter green or blue, have the free will to create and choose our future without a premise of certain political frame.


For most of the people in Taiwan, the 2010 was still a painstaking year. The GDP resumed growing, the consumption was more active. But at the same time, the living costs increased without corresponding increases on salary and income. It signifies a new model of our economic development, a model in which the wealth distribution is unbalanced. Therefore, while some enjoy the fruit of economic recovery happily, others can only share tears with their kids in the cold winter. Developing with this model, the gap between the rich and the poor, as well as the gap between the city and the country side, will be further enlarged.


Therefore, another mission of the DPP's in 2011 is to offer a new economic idea different from that of the KMT's in order to resist the trend of increasing wealth gap that is deteriorating the society. For 2011, another mission of the DPP is to present an economic approach that is different from that of the KMT, to resist the worsening wealth gap in our society. When the KMT is satisfied with the number of the GDP growth, we want to walk into the lives of the people, to care for their jobs and incomes. No matter how high the apparent number is, it is empty as long as the people can't feel it. The DPP wants to to be affected by the people's experiences, to establish a secure future for the majority who don't have neither the economic capital nor the social resources. The DPP is for those people, so we have to remind ourselves everyday: if the DPP is not there for them, who will care for their future? This is the original intention of our party, and is the value we have to guard now.


The 2010 has passed. We walked through it with appreciation, appreciating the support, the criticism, the lenience and the expectation that the people gave. The DPP should not let the people wait for too long. We need to put on full gear for what needs to be done and what touches the people.

Update: Thanks mike (see comment section) for pointing one flaw of my translation, as corrected in the two paragraphs up.