Politics and polemic Archive

  • Changes to Nationality Law irk Taiwan’s foreign-born residents

    Changes to Nationality Law irk Taiwan’s foreign-born residents

    My article from today’s News Lens (27/03/2017). An old friend and mentor of mine still likes to say that I quit a journalism degree 20 years ago because I didn’t like talking to people on the phone. Like the work of our mutual hero, Ryszard Kapuściński, this claim lurks in an anteroom between reality and fiction: [...]

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  • Colonialism can never be justified

    Colonialism can never be justified

    Below is my piece from today’s News Lens ( 23 March, 2017): As European colonial and imperial exploits reached their apogee in the late 19th century, moral philosophers such a John Stuart Mill were faced with a quandary: how to justify the colonial project? In fact, it doesn’t seem to have been too much of [...]

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  • Li Kuo-Ting: The adaptable strategist behind Taiwan’s success

    Li Kuo-Ting: The adaptable strategist behind Taiwan’s success

    “Li Kuo-ting’s name,” wrote Hong Kong economist Tony Fu-Lai Yu (余赴禮), “is well-known in Taiwan.” If this were true when Yu penned the words 10 years ago, it certainly isn’t now. Granted, as Yu points out, Li’s name (李國鼎) is enshrined in a foundation that funds scientific endeavor in Taiwan and promotes cross-Strait cooperation in science. An [...]

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  • Dark shadows and new hope: Taiwan and El Salvador

    Dark shadows and new hope: Taiwan and El Salvador

    The single shot from a rifle that hit Archbishop Oscar Romero straight in the heart as he was saying mass at San Salvador’s Church of the Divine Providence on the evening of March 24, 1980, was to send shockwaves through El Salvador and the world. Even in a country where murder had become a way [...]

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  • Taipei’s Little Burma and the legacy of the KMT ‘jungle generals’

    Taipei’s Little Burma and the legacy of the KMT ‘jungle generals’

    The distinctive red and yellow paving of Huaxin Street has been uprooted since my last visit. It’s one of those head-scratchers that define local government decision-making in Taiwan. “Why would they do that?” asks my younger son. Why, indeed? The design gave the road a pedestrian-friendly feel, a refreshing contrast with the rest of New [...]

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  • How do Taiwanese Americans feel about Donald Trump now? (SCMP piece)

    How do Taiwanese Americans feel about Donald Trump now? (SCMP piece)

      The Surmaitis family’s dog has become a pawn in a genuinely civil war. “She’s Trumpy Dog,” insists Judy, the matriarch. “Mom, she’s depressed when she’s Trumpy Dog,” her daughter Alison Chan replies. “She’s a Cubs’ fan, which means she’s Obama Dog.” Why not “Hilldog”, à la South Park?   [Read the full South China Morning [...]

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  • The Ugly Side of Taiwan’s Olympics

    The Ugly Side of Taiwan’s Olympics

    This is the original of my op-ed piece from today’s Taipei Times. I’ve also added stuff that I would have included but, based on experience, guessed wouldn’t make the cut for style and length reasons: Taiwan was overjoyed by weightlifter Hsu Shu-ching’s (許淑淨) gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last Monday. [...]

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  • East Asia Forum piece: Taiwan’s friend buying days are over

    East Asia Forum piece: Taiwan’s friend buying days are over

    Forgot to post this up. It’s a pared down, edited version of my Global Asia piece. Actually, it’s really a completely different article, which is why I’m sticking it up separately. I’d like to give the editors at East Asia Forum (based out of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University) a hearty slap on [...]

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  • Global Asia Feature: Looking Back, Moving Forward: Foreign Policy Challenges for Taiwan’s New Leader

    Global Asia Feature: Looking Back, Moving Forward: Foreign Policy Challenges for Taiwan’s New Leader

    My piece in the summer issue of Global Asia. (The line calling Chiang Kai-shek the “KMT founder” is not mine. It stayed in despite me changing it after the piece was returned to me for a final proof).   Taiwan’s newly inaugurated president, Tsai Ing-wen, faces a conundrum when it comes to foreign policy. If she [...]

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  • Taipei’s Vicious Cycle: Snatching Space from Pedestrians is Not the Answer

    Taipei’s Vicious Cycle: Snatching Space from Pedestrians is Not the Answer

    Below is the original version of my editorial/whinge from today’s Taipei Times:   Years ago I was tinkled by a cyclist on the sidewalk outside the student dorms at Shida. In response, I engaged in my version of what soccer goalies call “making yourself big” – deliberately positioning my body to obstruct passage. Why? Well, [...]

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