Foreigners on Taiwan Human Rights Committees

There has been discussion in various posts about foreigners input into the different Taiwan human rights projects. I got a notice the other day that three foreigners had been “invited” to sit on the Executive Yuan’s Human Rights Preparatory Committee.

I pass that along just for folk’s information.

take care,
Brian

Who are they?

Hang on, is one of them you. Good job, man (I mean, err, woman, I mean, err, human). The beer’s on Brian!

I googled “brian”, “kennedy”, “taiwan”, “human”, and “rights”, and it gave me a ton of stuff! If you’re the same Brian Kennedy as the one on the google, then you started up Taiwan’s Amnesty Interational as well as the Taiwan Association of Human Rights. Good on you! Also, you’ve got a helluva beard:

aitaiwan.org.tw/old/pics.html

Hi Hakka-sonic,
Thanks re: the beard. To answer your question the foreigners, who my wife noticed on the list, were me (“consultant” for Ministry of Justice), Bo Teddards (“consultant” for Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Father Ryden of Fu Jen University.

Hakka-sonic, outstanding cybername, my wife is half hakka.

take care,
Brian

So what qualifies one to sit on the Executive Yuan’s Human Rights Preparatory Committee. I mean, obviously, you’ve done quite a bit of work in the field, but why should you share the glory with these other two guys?

Hakka-Sonic,
I have no idea. I would strongly suspect that they “culled” the names from folks who had spoken or presented papers at other conferences and/or they asked the various ministries to recommend someone who meets these criteria:

  1. foreigner
  2. knows something, no matter how little, about human rights (that joke/comment was directed at myself, not the other two. I know Mr. Teddards and Fr. Ryden personally and they are both well informed and dedicated human rights advocates)
  3. willing to work for free

I fit those three criteria, so I am in. Plus since I don’t speak Chinese I won’t talk too much at the meetings…that is a real plus.

take care,
Brian

Hey, I qualify for all three, but I would require that at least coffee and donuts be served, that is, unless the human rights protectors have some fancier foods and beverages up their sleeves.

What are the top issues for this crew? Are you guys going to focus on that Hsichih Trio issue? Or is this about human rights in general. Taipei Times had an interesting editorial the other day – it was of a group of women protesting that their should be quotas for the military colleges, while a guy, obviously doing military service, looked on and said some thing like, “if you want equality, why don’t you support conscription for women?”

Hakka-sonic, you asked what the Committee will be doing. The answer to that is: the same thing all Taiwanese government committee do, that is nothing. I do not say that as a joke, but as a straightforward answer to your question. The purpose of committees in Taiwan is so the government can claim they are doing something about problem x y or z while in fact doing nothing. Or as one of my local attorney friends put it, those committees are just fucking dog and pony shows.

He is right.

It is a kind of perverse version of the Taoist idea of wuwei, acting without acting!

Although Taiwanese committee meetings can have their interesting side. For example one time I was at a fairly large Taiwanese committee meeting on some human rights issue. We, about 30 of us, including fairly high level reps from the different ministries, were sitting at a long oval table. The guy sitting directly across from me was one of the many vice ministers over at the Ministry of Defense.

It was great, the guy sits down, pulls out his booklet for the meeting and then takes the booklet opens it up to some random page and then makes a big show of flatting the binding so the booklet will stay open to that random page. He runs his hand back and forth and back and forth creasing the book open. I commented to my friend sitting next to me, oh, look that guy is using Shaolin Monk Iron Palm on his booklet to get it to stay open!

Then he folds his arms in front of him, closes his eyes and goes into a trance for the rest of the meeting. I was amazed in that his head and torso never moved. I attributed this to some type of Secret Military Kung Fu, which he had been trained in at the Ministry of Defense. So he sits immobile in his trance for the next hour and a half.

Then! Then! Precisely at 11:55 (5 minutes before lunch), he snaps out of his trance, folds the book closed and drops it in his bag. I marveled at how exact his biological clock was. I attributed that to the fact he was a career snivel servant and had been in several thousand sleep inducing meetings over the course of his meaningless and forgettable career.

Now, you think I made all that up just to be funny. I did not, every word written above is true and correct as they say in the law.

The other thing that makes Taiwanese government meetings interesting is the phenomena of the Meeting Idiot. What happens, and it happens in every Taiwanese meeting I have ever had the misfortune of attending, is that somehow, through some mysterious occult Taiwanese practice, which I as a foreigner am not privy to, someone is designated as the Official Meeting Idiot.

This persons task is to make long winded idiotic comments at very regular intervals in the meeting. The Official Meeting Idiot must demonstrate that:
First: they have no idea what the meeting is about
Second: they no ability to reason
Third: they have the willingness to display item 1 and 2 in public usually in a shrill loud voice.

Each meeting must, as required by the Act Governing Taiwanese Government Meetings, have an Official Meeting Idiot.

Actually I made up that last part, but the rest is true.

Okay then, hopefully that answers your question.
Take care,
Brian The Meeting Master

[quote]someone is designated as the Official Meeting Idiot.

This persons task is to make long winded idiotic comments at very regular intervals in the meeting. The Official Meeting Idiot must demonstrate that:
First: they have no idea what the meeting is about
Second: they no ability to reason
Third: they have the willingness to display item 1 and 2 in public usually in a shrill loud voice.[/quote]

Oh well, despite your nastiness about Forumosa, you’ve at least cleared up the question of where Annette Lu served her apprenticeship.

I’ll do you a favor Sandman, I’ll stop posting if I have offended you or the Formusa. Normally I get paid for my words. I posted here a couple of times recently (breaking my vow to not waste time on chat boreds) just to give folks something realistic to talk about.

If that does not suit you, I am glad to go and leave the board to the usual “cast of characters” which is what I will do.

Adios,
Brian

On behalf of forumosa.com, I apologize to Mr. Kennedy.

I am willing to back this up with coffee and donuts (my treat) at the Starbucks of Mr. Kennedy’s choice. Please advise me of your schedule.

[quote=“brianlkennedy”]Hakka-sonic, you asked what the Committee will be doing. The answer to that is: the same thing all Taiwanese government committee do, that is nothing. I do not say that as a joke, but as a straightforward answer to your question. The purpose of committees in Taiwan is so the government can claim they are doing something about problem x y or z while in fact doing nothing. Or as one of my local attorney friends put it, those committees are just fucking dog and pony shows…

The other thing that makes Taiwanese government meetings interesting is the phenomena of the Meeting Idiot. What happens, and it happens in every Taiwanese meeting I have ever had the misfortune of attending, is that somehow, through some mysterious occult Taiwanese practice, which I as a foreigner am not privy to, someone is designated as the Official Meeting Idiot.[/quote]

Thanks for the insights. I’ve never been privileged enough to serve on a committee, but I have seen the Meeting Idiot in action. It’s an effective ploy because it sucks up time during which some important issue might be raised and something changed for the better (and hence someone’s face lost). In cases involving foreigners, it can the foreigners, who are there and ready to rumble, fully frustrated as the idiot keeps sucking up time, making inane comments, etc. The foreigners can end up focused more on how surreal the whole scene is than on the issues at hand, and invariably end up leaving and thinking Taiwan’s whole system is screwed.

You haven’t offended me in the slightest – I apparently have much thicker skin than you.
And I think it would be a shame if you stopped posting.

[quote=“brianlkennedy”]I’ll do you a favor Sandman, I’ll stop posting if I have offended you or the Formusa. Normally I get paid for my words. I posted here a couple of times recently (breaking my vow to not waste time on chat boreds) just to give folks something realistic to talk about.

If that does not suit you, I am glad to go and leave the board to the usual “cast of characters” which is what I will do.

Adios,
Brian[/quote]

Don’t stop posting. After googling you, I read some of the articles that you have written for the local media and I found them interesting. I’d like to know how things go with the committee. Even if it isn’t effective, in terms of setting policy, some interesting issues will still be raised.

Mr. Kennedy,
Are you still involved with Amnesty International, Taiwan?

To his credit, Brian Kennedy says it the way he sees it. His candor is to be respected if repeatedly demonstrated ignorance of those doing things Chinese-style is not. He is arguably even more ineffectual than anyone else in Taiwan.

Mr. Hartzell made an open invitation of mianzi to doing things Chinese-style and it has been ignored. Contempt for all things in Taiwan suggest that Brian is not a team player or his own rugged individualism is far too narcissistic for his own good and the cause of human rights in Taiwan.

Do not put yourself in a vulnerable position of having no guanxi in Taiwan society. Because then you really will not matter to anyone no matter how ineffectual you already are. :!:

So who is effective? Any what have they done?

I will refer you to the track record of Richard Hartzell and ARC Permanent Residency. It is takes commitment and longterm determination to move any Chinese bureaucracy a few inches. His current position is building on his past. Without selfless Richard Hartzell, where would the US expatriate community be today?

The perenial problem with Taiwan aliens is they are too often fresh off the plane. Then they are very ineffectual and loudmouthed when Chinese frustrations are a denial of instant self-gratification. Poor Mr. Kennedy cannot hide any trail of marginalization and the controversy of his Taiwan experience. He ought to accept that open invitation but then perhaps a baby boomer narcissist will never make history either. The only real qualification of effectual impact is what the historians will assess in the final analysis. So far, I see no one except Hartzell on any radar screen of history. Everything else is just static.

There are some comments in the Taiwanese press these few days about the forced deportation of children from Taiwan.

Such actions are sure to give Taiwan a bad image in the international community. So, I am wondering, since the local Taiwanese human rights groups are not doing anything about this . . . . . are any foreigners getting involved?