林益世 讓政府亂了馬腳？2012-07 天下雜誌 501期
Taiwan Leader’s Approval Ratings Tumble
The latest casualty—Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih—was hauled away in handcuffs last week following allegations he was involved in a NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) bribery scandal.
Mr. Lin, whose mother has been accused of burning some U.S. dollar bills and flushing others down the toilet to hide them from prosecutors, has thoroughly doused Mr. Ma’s hopes of maintaining his squeaky clean legacy and possibly poured cold water on the Kuomintang (or Nationalist) Party’s chance at a third term, analysts say.
“Although Mr. Lin’s graft case might be an isolated incident, the scandal has tremendously damaged the KMT and the president, whose popularity already was on a downward spiral,” said Cheng Tuan-yao, a professor of politics at National Chengchi University.
A recent poll conducted by popular KMT-leaning news station TVBS shows Mr. Ma’s approval rating has plunged to an all-time low of 15%, a sharp drop from his 51.6% victory in the January election and the lowest since 2009, when Mr. Ma’s approval rating fell to 16% following widespread anger the government’s slow response to Typhoon Morakot.
The same poll also showed roughly 70% of the voters are dissatisfied with the president’s leadership.
Mr. Lin’s wife, Peng Ai-chia, a well-known local anchorwoman, has also been charged in the case.
“Unless the president can come up with some quick fix solutions, the KMT will be facing a very arduous battle in the 2014 municipal elections, especially in southern Taiwan where the KMT lacks a weighty candidate to take on the opponent’s stronghold,” said National Chengchi’s Mr. Cheng said.
Southern Taiwan tends to be much more “green” (pro-independence), and hence more supportive of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, than other parts of the country.
The son of a local politician in the southern city of Kaoshiung, Mr. Lin was widely tapped as the top — perhaps the only — KMT contender capable of mounting a challenge against the DPP it the city’s upcoming mayoral race.
Since Mr. Ma’s re-inauguration in mid-May, his administration has suffered a string of public relations setbacks, including public anger over rising oil and electricity prices, lingering gridlock over U.S. beef imports and controversy over a capital gains that led to the resignation of Mr. Ma’s finance minister Christina Liu.
While corruption is nothing new in Taiwanese politics — ex-DPP president Chen Shui-bian’s who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison term on graft charges – the bribery allegations are particularly damaging to Mr. Ma, who has tried to make a trademark of clean governance.
In the wake of the scandal surrounding Mr. Lin, Premier Sean Chen has ordered all public servants to attend a seminar on clean governance. Although the president, who doubles as KMT chairman, has offered several public apologies and stripped Mr. Lin of his party membership, many have criticized what they describe a lack of tough, systematic efforts to clean up the government.
It is not enough that Mr. Ma maintains his personal rectitude, he must also demand the same from his team, argued a China Times editorial last week.
“It is possible that case is larger and more serious than it appears. The only way the Ma government can rebuild its clean image is by purging all cancerous cells for once and for all,” said the editorial.
– Jenny W. Hsu
China’s capital controls
The more special economic zone
The landscape of capital-account liberalisation
Jul 7th 2012 | QIANHAI | from the print edition
The subway station at Qianhai bay, on the city’s west coast, is spick and span, with a full complement of signs, announcements and billboards, including one for a performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, sponsored by Classy Kiss milk. But only one exit is open. And it surfaces in the middle of a wasteland of dirt, scrub and puddles. It is, surely, the best connected nowhere anywhere. spick and span,
This empty spot is, however, full of big ambitions. It is one corner of a 15-square-kilometre zone earmarked for experimentation by China’s cabinet. The zone has licence to try policies that are “more special” than those prevailing even in an SEZ. It aims to attract “modern service industries” rather than big-box manufacturers. It will charge only 15% corporate-profit tax and levy no income taxes on the finance professionals, lawyers, accountants and creative people it hopes eventually to attract.
These cosmopolitan folk will live in a “waterfront city”, says James Corner, whose firm won a competition two years ago to design the bay’s future landscape. Over the next couple of years, he explains, the city will build a system of “water fingers”, large parks that collect, retain and purify the streams that flow from the hinterland, allowing water to enter the bay clean and clear.
Water is not the only flow Qianhai aims to collect and retain. It also wants to attract some of the offshore yuan that have pooled outside mainland China’s borders. Over 550 billion yuan ($87 billion) now sits in Hong Kong deposit accounts; another 60 billion yuan sits in Singapore, and 35 billion more resides in customer deposits in London, according to an April study by Bourse Consult.
These yuan cannot flow freely back into mainland China, however. Banks can invest a limited amount in the mainland’s inter-bank bond market. Companies that raise yuan outside China can seek permission to invest the money in their operations inside the country. But the money can easily become bogged down in China’s exchange controls, especially when the authorities are trying to tighten credit.
Qianhai, however, will be permitted to broaden these channels. Its firms will be given help in raising yuan offshore. Hong Kong banks will be allowed to enter the zone more easily. The ground will also be laid for greater cross-border lending. “Since the mainland is targeting the gradual achievement of full yuan convertibility, Qianhai should be a pioneer for progress,” said Zhang Xiaoqiang of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s planning body.
The plan poses some puzzles. If offshore yuan were to be lent freely to Qianhai firms, what would stop them lending the money on to the rest of the country? An easing of capital controls between Hong Kong and Qianhai would seem to require a tightening of controls between Qianhai and the rest of the mainland. Otherwise the stream of yuan inflows could become a flood.
The answer to the puzzle may lie in the timing. The Qianhai zone is not scheduled for completion until 2020, by when China’s capital controls may already be far looser nationwide. It is therefore unlikely that Qianhai’s opening up will get too far ahead of the rest of the country’s. In finance, as well as infrastructure, China likes to lay down the tracks, platforms and ticket barriers before the throngs arrive.