I was asked recently if there were any sort of general public interest groups operating in Taiwan to protect the public from government abuses; abuses both in the individual sense and in the large scale sense of government agencies and officials
You forgot to mention that most NGOs in Taiwan are almost entirely funded by the government. This is another factor that diminishes their independence and effectiveness.
On another note–you seem very down on Taiwan recently. What’s the problem?
Maybe the lack of NGOs is a good thing.
Maybe the general public feels that the government isn’t doing such an awful disservice so the demand for their services isn’t there. (I’m NOT saying the ROC government is good by any stretch.)
Even NGOs are a product of demand. The supply will meet the demand in number and quality.
Are you saying that the government suppresses the ‘demand’ and formation of NGOs? Or that Taiwanese are apathetic? Both?
I wrote to Brian Kennedy, because he does the In Perspective on ICRT on Mon mornings at about 7:45-7:55.
It astonishes me that Taiwanese can stand there and tell me how they are a good people, but their politicians are trash; to read how political positions in some counties have become like hereditary titles; and how lawmakers regularly abuse their powers with little or no repurcussions.
It’s like reading “Officialdom Unmasked”(Guan chang xian xing ji). The same things Chinese officials did in th 19th century and knew were wrong and destroying their country they continue to do today in the 21st century. Need more info? Read this then:
To Muffin: Chinese have always been apathetic/in thrall to their ruling class. The emperors were quite literally thought of in the same terms of Jesus Christ. Questioning the emperor or his commands was a suicide ticket. In fact this was how a lot of officials made their views expressed post mortem.
Consider the links to organized crime and politicians being an effective NGO could make your life resemble th outcome of a dissenting official. The KMT did have a dissident journalist assasinated in LA in 1984 by the Bamboo Union. Their spiritual adviser(ask a Chinese person to explain to you the term, it’s a whoozy) was a member of Legislative Yuan, Lo fu something.
Taiwanese want better, fairer and more transparent gov’t. The problem is they have no historical Chinese gov’t as a role model to follow. If you read the Analects of Confucius or The Great Learning, you start to understand why the NGOs, political parties, and corporations you do hear about revolve around a cult of personality.
The case of the guy who makes his living collecting rewards from exposing black gold politics. He has a lot of followers and his own views. I wish I had kept that newspaper article on file. You can look it up in the Taipei Times.
It is true that my public writing of late has been somewhat harsher towards Taiwan. Two reasons for that: I just had my nine year anniversary here so my view of what is and is not possible in Taiwan has grown quite “realistic”. And that in turn leads to harsh critiques. The second reason is that I have largely given up any idea of any “reform” on this island being anything other than a show, that too leads to harsh comments.
As I may have mentioned to Richard a while back, I am through devoting my time to Taiwanese criminal justice or human rights reform projects except to the extent that my (chinese language) writings and teaching may in the long run (e.g. 10-15 years) have some influence.
As a result of this decision, I devote most of my time to teaching judges and prosecutors California criminal law. The remainder of my time goes to my next two books; one on legal ethics, another on Chinese martial arts history.
So I am quite “down” on Taiwan as a whole. Having said that, I am quite “up” on (some of) the individual people. I find all of my judge/proseuctor students to be great folks; intelligent, motivated, well informed, committed to learning about the California criminal justice system.
On a personal note, I am devoting the time I used to “waste” on Taiwan reform projects to taking care of my family, practicing my religion and studying Chinese martial arts. I discovered it is a far better way for Brian to spend his time.
Brian–since you mention religion, what do you think of the ones in Taiwan? Is this a possible source of civic reform, or do they just become part of the corrupt system?
Among the religious groups in Taiwan I think a number of them do very fine work in different areas. The Tzu Chi organization stands out among the Buddhist groups. Also too, many of the Catholic organizations do outstanding work that I am personally aware of. I am told, although I have no first hand knowledge of it, that the Mennonites have done considerable good works among the aboriginals on the east coast.
That is the good, now the bad. The majority of Buddhist groups in Taiwan are, how shall I put this, either social clubs (which is fine in a sense) or money making ventures for the various (cough, cough) dharma masters.
I shall pick one Buddhist group out for special harsh Brian criticism. The Fa Guang Shan (Buddha Light Mountain) down in Kaoshuing. The head of that organization, whose name eludes me right now, is a money grubbing creep whose theme song should be the old Led Zeppelin song Buying a Stairway to Heaven. That clown, when he is not hustling politicians or being hustled by them, comes out with such bits of dharma wisdom as: Taiwan should have the death penalty to insure social order.
Dingbat right wing statements like that make him Taiwans answer to Jerry Falwell.
I should mention that I do consider myself a Buddhist