October 2009 | By Jane Leung Larson
President Ma and John Chen, C100 chairman
Because reports on Taiwan rarely appear in the American mass media, below are excerpts of a few news stories that show the challenges Taiwan has faced in the past few months.
“Ma Calls for Land Law to Prevent Typhoon Disasters”
October 11, 2009
The law should put public safety first and prohibit or restrict the development of vulnerable areas, Ma said in his National Day address at the Presidential Office.
Morakot claimed at least 700 lives in early August and caused Taiwan’s worst flooding in 50 years. Ma was forced to reshuffle the Cabinet early last month over criticism of his government because of its slow response to the Morakot aftermath. Then-premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) resigned to take responsibility for the delayed evacuation of people living in mountain villages. . . .
“If we prepare for every typhoon as a possible Morakot and every outbreak of infectious disease as another SARS epidemic, then the damage can certainly be reduced,” [Ma] said.
“'Historic 'Reunion' of Chinese Art”
By Cindy Sui
October 7, 2009
The three-month exhibition at Taiwan's National Palace Museum features 37 items borrowed from Beijing - the first time any artwork from the centuries-old Chinese emperors' collection has been loaned to Taiwan.
The exhibition is particularly significant because of the historic tensions between Taiwan and China over their shared history.
Toward the end of China's civil war in 1949, around 650,000 pieces of Chinese calligraphy, porcelain, bronzes, paintings and other art collected by emperors spanning several thousand years of Chinese history were packed in crates and shipped to Taiwan by the retreating Nationalists, who did not want the priceless cultural heritage to fall in the hands of the communists.
China has previously said the art was stolen and should be returned to Beijing. . . .
The Taipei exhibition was made possible because relations between the two sides have dramatically improved since Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou was elected in 2008.
He has focused on reducing tensions, strengthening economic ties and expanding cultural exchanges with China. . . .
Taipei, however, has not agreed to lend items to Beijing, for fear they will not be returned.
The two sides have yet to sign an agreement in which Beijing recognises Taiwan's ownership of its collection and promises to return borrowed items. . . .
It would be a dream for many Chinese to see items stored in Taiwan exhibited in the mainland, Li Peisong, deputy director of the Beijing museum's cultural relics protection department, told the BBC in an earlier interview.
"It's not just the dream of Beijing Palace Museum curators, but all mainlanders. After all, only a small number of people can afford to travel to Taiwan to see them," Mr Li said. "Only then can both sides enjoy China's valuable cultural treasures and understand Chinese culture."
Mr Li added that there was a way around the touchy subject of ownership.
"The mainland's view is Taiwan is a part of China, so there's no such problem of the art being 'returned' to China," he said.
“Taiwan’s Jailed Ex-President Loses U.S. Lawsuit Bid”
By Cary O’Reilly and Janet
October 7, 2009
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington yesterday dismissed a petition from Chen, saying it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
Chen filed the suit on Sept. 23, claiming that Taiwan is still technically under U.S. military occupation more than 60 years after American forces defeated Japan in World War II. He wanted the court to rescind his life sentence and declare that actions for which he was sentenced were undertaken while he was acting as the “U.S. Military Government de facto Civil Administrator.”
The 58-year-old Chen and his wife Wu Shu-chen were fined and sentenced to life in prison on Sept. 11 by the Taiwan District Court for corruption, fraud and money-laundering after a yearlong trial. Chen, who has been detained since December, has denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated. He has filed an appeal against the life sentence.
On Sept. 23, Chen, former National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen and former deputy foreign minister Michael Kau were charged with siphoning off funds while Chen was in office from 2000 to 2008, the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Panel said. The former leader allegedly took $330,000 and used it for his son’s overseas education.