How to Read the Taipei Times
September 22, 2005
Imagine yourself embroiled in a legal dispute with a shameless scoundrel, someone who knows perfectly well he is in the wrong and you are in the right, but doesn’t care. As he figures it, “xian xia shou wei qiang” (The best defense is a good offense). As he figures it, you will expose his lies the first chance you get, so he accuses you of everything he’s guilty of before you can open your mouth. This is known as “zuo zei de han zhua zei” (A thief shouting “Thief!”).
If you’ve ever had the misfortune to run into someone like this, you have an inkling of how millions of ROC citizens on Taiwan feel. Scoundrels like this have seized control of the ROC government, and hapless ROC citizens are forced to endure shameless Pan Green lies every waking day.
Pan Green scoundrels know the grotesquely overpriced US arms deal is nothing more than protection money for Uncle Sam and pork for DPP cronies, but they don’t care. Their defense against public exposure is to accuse the Pan Blue opposition first.
Unfortunately for long-suffering ROC taxpayers, this Pan Green tactic of preemptive damage control often works.
Unfortunately for Pan Green spin doctors, it sometimes works too well.
ROC citizens are catching on. They are beginning to realize that most Pan Green “rebuttals” they read are inadvertent admissions of guilt. They are beginning to realize they need no longer painstakingly rebut each and every Pan Green lie that comes their way. Once they learn how to read between the lines, they can sit back and chuckle as Pan Green spin doctors, such as those on the Taipei Times editorial staff, outsmart themselves and unwittingly lay bare every DPP misdeed for the world to see.
Consider for example this September 10, 2005 Taipei Times editorial, entitled ‘Lies, damned lies and KMT “truths.”‘
“Thursday’s comments by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) legislative caucus cause a severe philosophical headache. There are, proverbially, three categories of untruth: lies, damned lies and statistics. The KMT’s manipulation of the the results of last year’s referendum on the purchase of anti-missile technology involves the misuse of statistics to disseminate damned lies. So into which category does it fall, or is there a whole fourth category of untruth of its own: KMT statements?”
Ignore the long-winded lead-in. Ignore the borderline Chinglish. Focus on the Pan Green tactic of preemptive damage control.
The editors of the Taipei Times know that the KMT, NP, and PFP are certain to expose the DPP’s transparent lies the first chance they get, so they launch the rhetorical equivalent of a preemptive First Strike. They accuse the Pan Blue opposition of everything they know the DPP is guilty of, only they do it first.
In other words, when the editors of the Taipei Times insist that “The KMT’s manipulation of the the results of last year’s referendum on the purchase of anti-missile technology involves the misuse of statistics to disseminate damned lies,” what they really mean is they themselves are disseminating lies by manipulating the results of last year’s referendum.
How specifically? Let’s subject their spin control to a badly needed reality check, paragraph by paragraph. Let’s learn “How to Read the Taipei Times.”
Taipei Times: “The KMT’s argument is that the proposal to purchase PAC-3 missile batteries was defeated in the referendum and according to the Referendum Law the issue cannot be put before the people again until 2007, so a fortiori a budget for the purchase of the weapons cannot be passed. This is not just rubbish of the sort we expect from this source, it is a dangerous lie that is making every single resident of Taiwan significantly more unsafe for longer than they need to be by delaying weapons purchases essential for the nation’s defense. Let us be clear: For all of the perhaps frivolous language, this is absolutely no laughing matter. “
Reality Check: The Taipei Times claims that Chen Shui-bian’s “weapons purchases [are] essential for the nation’s defense.”
A “weapons purchase” is a purchase of weapons. Chen “weapons purchases” are not attempts to purchase weapons. Chen “weapons purchases” are attempts to purchase protection.
After 17 straight years of incompetent beyond belief Pan Green misrule, the once disciplined, once capable ROC armed forces now have as much fighting ability as a troop of Boy Scouts. They don’t even know how to operate the equipment they have now, let alone any future weapons acquisitions. They are referred to disparagingly by the public as “cao mei bing” (strawberry soldiers), raw recruits too delicate to do any real fighting.
The ROC’s armed forces can’t fight, and the Pan Greens know it. Not that it matters.
The Pan Green Quisling government of former president Lee Teng-hui never had any intention of using the weapons it bought from the US to do any actual fighting. Neither does the Pan Green Quisling government of current “president” Chen Shui-bian. Lee’s past “weapons purchases” and Chen’s proposed “weapons purchases” are protection money paid to the New Rome in the hope that if Taiwan’s Quisling nomenklatura ever declares independence, George W. Bush will “do whatever it takes” and the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet “come riding to the rescue.”
The nation that ROC taxpayers are being asked to pay to defend is the ROC, the Republic of China, or “China” for short. Chen’s “weapons purchases” are not only not essential to the defense of China, they are positively harmful to the defense of China. Chen’s “weapons purchases” are “essential” only to the advancement of the treasonous Taiwan independence movement. That is why a solid democratic majority of patriotic ROC citizens on Taiwan rejected them outright.
Taipei Times: “It takes an astonishing twisting of the truth therefore to come to the KMT’s present position that the vote on the missiles was “defeated” in the referendum. For it to have been defeated, about 8 million people would have had to vote no. How many people did vote no? Some 581,000. The KMT has deliberately tried to confuse two issues: the referendum’s failing to be valid and the defeat of the referendum proposal.”
Reality Check: The Taipei Times is right about one thing. It does take an astonishing twisting of the truth — for the Taipei Times to insist that Chen’s “Defensive Referendum” was not soundly and decisively defeated in 2004.
Taipei Times: “So what is the truth? In March last year, 7.5 million people voted in the referendum — 92 percent of which voted for the arms purchases, while 8 percent voted against. The referendum was not, however, considered to have passed because the law requires that more than 50 percent of eligible voters agree to the proposal. This meant that for a referendum to be considered a valid test of public opinion, half of Taiwan’s 16 million eligible voters would have to vote either yes or no. Not only did not enough people support either outcome, not enough voted to even make a valid decision possible.”
Reality Check: Never mind the confusing run-on sentences. Never mind the irritating use of passive voice. Concentrate on the Pan Green tactic of striking first, and consider its logical implication.
When the authors of the Taipei Times editorial insist that the Chen regime’s proposal to purchase PAC-3 missile batteries was not defeated during 2004, they are really admitting that it was defeated.
Both referenda failed because 55% of the voters who went to the polling stations on election day boycotted them. Only 45% of the voters who went to the polling stations on election day obtained referenda ballots.
As everyone, Blue (KMT), Green (DPP), Yellow (NP), Orange (PFP), and Purple (“Naderite”) knows, A-Bian’s media campaign explicitly bound voting Yes! on the referenda to voting 1 in the presidential election. It was part and parcel of his reelection strategy. He was determined to exploit antipathy for Beijing to boost his reelection prospects.
Pan Green voters were instructed to vote “100,” meaning for president vote 1, for referendum one vote YES, and for referendum two, vote YES.
Pan Blue voters responded with their own, mirror image binding of the referenda and election. The Pan Blue catechism, which rhymes in Chinese and was memorized by all Pan Blue voters was “For president vote 2! Boycott the referendum!”
Chen’s heavy-handed publicity campaign polarized the voters exactly as he intended. None of the above is disputed by anyone across the ROC political spectrum.
On election day, 55% of the voters — Pan Blue voters, obtained presidential ballots, stamped the 2 box for Lien/Soong, then walked out the door, boycotting both referenda.
Conversely, 45% of the voters — Pan Green voters, obtained presidential ballots, stamped the 1 box for Chen/Lu, obtained both referenda ballots, stamped the Yes boxes in order to say “Yes! Taiwan.”
Furthermore, 20% of those who took part in the referenda did so under duress. They felt pressured to take part in the referenda because local voting booths were staffed by people they knew, who might leak their failure to take part in the referenda to their superiors.
In principle this cuts both ways. In practice it doesn’t. In practice, the DPP is the ruling party and controls the machinery of government. Pan Blue public servants in particular might lose their rice bowls if they refused to at least go through the motions. These voters in the privacy of the voting booth stamped the NO box on the two referenda after stamping the 2 box for Lien/Soong on the presidential ballots. These voters amounted to one in five of those who participated in the referendum.
Were Chen’s referenda defeated? You bet they were. Did Chen’s illegal and unconstitutional referenda inadvertently amount to “a valid test of public opinion?” You bet they did.
Taipei Times: “Since the referendum was not valid, it cannot bind the government to any policy in any way. If the KMT wants to think of the referendum as valid after all, then it appears that Taiwanese who care about the issue overwhelmingly want the anti-missile weapons. We could argue that those who didn’t vote simply don’t care. The pan-blues might call this intellectually dishonest, to which we could cynically reply that “what’s sauce for the goose ….” But of course we don’t have to. The referendum was not valid. This is a fact, not a piece of politically motivated obfuscation. An invalid referendum, just like a law that fails to pass, binds nobody’s hands.”
Reality Check: Here is where the editors of the Taipei Times really outsmart themselves. Here is where the editors of the Taipei Times trip themselves up, big time. Here is where in their overeager effort to preempt every imaginable criticism from the Pan Blue opposition, they unwittingly expose their own mendacity.
The editors of the Taipei Times know perfectly well that boycotting a referendum is hardly the same as not bothering to vote in a referendum. Boycotting an illegal and unconstitutional referendum because one is resolutely opposed not merely to the passage of its provisions, but even to the legitimization of the referendum itself, can hardly be equated with not bothering to vote in a referendum because one is afflicted with sheep-like passivity.
Boycotting Chen’s Potemkin referendum was the Pan Blue voters’ way of saying NO even more loudly than accepting a referendum ballot under duress and marking NO on the ballot. Boycotting Chen’s Potemkin referendum by refusing to accept the referendum ballot altogether, was the Pan Blue voters’ way of saying a resounding NO both to the arms purchase and to the high-handed means by which the referendum was rammed down their throats.
Do the editors of the Taipei Times know this? Of course they do. The editors of the Taipei Times know perfectly well they are being “intellectually dishonest.” They know perfectly well they are engaging in “politically motivated obfuscation.” But in their panicky attempt to preempt anticipated exposure, they unintentionally wound up shining the spotlight on their own dishonesty and obfuscation.
The editors of the Taipei Times want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to claim that Chen’s referenda were both valid and invalid at the same time. Valid when it appears to substantiate the Pan Green case. Invalid when it in fact substantiates the Pan Blue case. They want to play “Heads I win, tails you lose.” Well sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.
Taipei Times: “It should be remembered that this was a deliberate strategy of the pan-blue camp. Having been outfoxed by the government over the holding of the referendum in the first place, it encouraged its supporters not to vote in the referendum in order to ensure that the referendum simply failed to produce a result.”
Reality Check: Yet again, the editors of the Taipei Times unwittingly prove the Pan Blue case and disprove their own. What is this “rebuttal,” except a candid admission that the Chen executive rammed its illegal and unconstitutional referendum down the throats of a reluctant public, which responded by boycotting the referendum altogether? What does this “rebuttal” do, except put the lie to the Taipei Times’ allegation that “those who didn’t vote simply don’t care.”
Once one catches on to the fact that the Taipei Times’ preemptive editorial opinion pieces are inadvertent admissions of guilt, one need longer painstakingly rebut each and every Pan Green lie. Once one learns “How to Read the Taipei Times,” one can sit back and chuckle as the Pan Green spin doctors on the Taipei Times editorial staff outsmart themselves, and unwittingly lay bare every DPP misdeed for the world to see.
The next time you pick up a copy of the Taipei Times at your local Taipei 7-11, or log onto their homepage, don’t wear yourself out rebutting the transparent absurdities in their op-ed pieces. Just remember “How to Read the Taipei Times” and let them do the work for you.