Taiwan News: CEC Floats Referendum Reform After Long Lines Mar Elections

Taiwan News: CEC Floats Referendum Reform After Long Lines Mar Elections
Credit: Reuters / TPG
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Taiwan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said Sunday that it will consider increasing the number of polling stations in coming elections and will also look into whether to hold referendums alongside local elections in the future.

In a report submitted to the Legislative Yuan, the CEC admitted to making mistakes in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections which led to long lines at polling stations. The report said the lines were caused by limited space and insufficient voting booths at the stations.

The report also noted that the presence of multiple referendum ballots prolonged the process.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
Voters wait to cast their ballots in Kaohsiung during the Nov. 24 regional elections.

At some polling stations, voters continued to wait in lines as other stations began to count ballots. This situation has led Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) to demand that the Taipei results be invalidated after he lost to incumbent Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

The CEC said it would discuss methods to simplify the voting process, including potentially redesigning referendum ballots, as more referendums could be held alongside elections in the future. It also said it would review the law on when to hold referendums.

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Two former directors of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) advocated for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Taiwan at a forum in Taipei yesterday.

Former AIT director Stephen Young said the U.S. should iron out an FTA with Taiwan, along with supporting Taiwan’s defense and encouraging visits by high-level U.S. officials. He also said Taiwan should consider lifting a ban on importing pork from the United States.

William Stanton, also a former AIT director, said the U.S. should utilize FTAs strategically and pointed out an FTA with Taiwan would assist the U.S. in facing the power of a rising China.

The forum, hosted by the Taiwan Thinktank and the Washington-based Global Taiwan Institute, centered on how Taiwan and the U.S. can work together to respond to China’s “sharp power” influence.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has prioritized alternative approaches to an economic dependence on China, including a boost in engagement with the U.S. and her signature New Southbound Policy. Voters, however, responded to her policies last weekend by delivering sweeping local-level victories to the KMT.

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Credit: Nick Aspinwall
Former AIT director William Stanton (R) discusses Chinese 'sharp power' at an October forum with fellow panelists Kwei-bo Huang (黃奎博) (L) and Parris Chang (張旭成).

Read More: Taiwan Gathers to Repel China's 'Hard Power in Soft Power Glove'

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to suspend a tariff hike on Chinese imports from 10 to 25 percent for 90 days, after which the U.S. will review Beijing’s progress in meeting a list of U.S. demands.

The tariffs were scheduled to kick in on Jan. 1 but will now be put on hold following the meeting at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Beijing has agreed to increase its imports of U.S. products, particularly soybeans, and curb other actions such as intellectual property theft.

After the dinner meeting, both sides hailed the temporary truce as a success. In the immediate aftermath of the agreement, some analysts equated it to the two countries hitting the “pause” button on their ongoing trade war.

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KMT lawmakers yesterday called for a reshuffle of President Tsai’s Cabinet, with KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) saying the results of the Nov. 24 elections proved the sitting Cabinet has lost its legitimacy.

Tseng said the government should review leadership of the ministries of education, health and welfare and economic affairs, along with the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, the National Communications Commission (NCC), and the embattled CEC.

KMT Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said the Nov. 24 election results proved that people are dissatisfied with the performance of the Tsai administration and that more ministers should be dismissed.

On Saturday, Premier William Lai (賴清德) approved the resignations of three ministers: Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢), Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) and Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元).

KMT Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) specifically called for the resignations of Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津).

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The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it will elect its new chairperson on Jan. 6, 2019 after President Tsai resigned from the party’s top post after its Nov. 24 election losses.

Last week, the DPP elected Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) to serve as acting chairman.

DPP members who plan to run for election can sign up beginning in the middle of this month, the party said.

Candidates who have been called to run for chairperson so far mostly skew middle-aged, raising questions on whether the DPP is ready to heed President Tsai’s calls to reflect the voices of young, progressive voters.

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Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

Read More: OPINION: How the DPP Failed Its Supporters by Becoming Another KMT

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Taiwan’s Freeway Bureau said it will hold drivers responsible for clean-up fees when items fall from their vehicles onto Taiwan’s freeways.

Items that take over 30 minutes to clean up and obstruct traffic in at least one lane will be billed from between NT$3,000 (US$97.50) and NT$24,000 (US$780), the bureau said. Items which take less than 30 minutes to clean up will not be billed.

The bureau reported 47,729 instances of debris on the nation’s freeways last year, according to the Taipei Times, including some strange items such as “pigs, deer, pianos and idols.”

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Independent Taipei mayoral candidate Wu E-yang (吳萼洋) of “honey lemonade” fame has secured a government gig after all.

Wu, who infamously said he would give Taipei residents free honey lemonade during a televised mayoral debate in November, was invited by Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau to help promote honey products at an event in Taipei.

Wu had claimed he had entered the mayoral race to promote the health benefits of “honey lemonade.” His eccentric debate performance gained him wide popularity among Taiwanese, although this only translated into 5,617 votes, or a 0.4 percent share of the votes.

Forestry Bureau Director-General Lin Hua-ching (林華慶) said Wu’s love for honey lemonade made him a natural spokesperson for Taiwan’s honey and other agricultural products.

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Credit: Depositphotos
Taipei's 'honey lemonade' mayoral candidate picked up a weekend gig with the Forestry Bureau.

Along with Taiwan’s honey, Wu said the country’s lemons are of better quality and more aromatic than those produced outside of Taiwan.

Wu also reiterated his call for Taiwan to produce more pineapple cakes, which he claims can solve Taiwan’s problem of pineapple production while also being used as gifts to be given to diplomatic allies, ensuring they do not switch their recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Read Next: INTERVIEW: The Distant Self-Governing 'Utopia' of Rojava Has a Message for Taiwan

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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