Cabinet reshuffles ahead of midterm elections

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan today announced a reshuffle of top officials in diplomacy, security, and defense. Presidential Office Secretary-General Joseph Wu will replace Foreign Minister David Lee, who will replace National Security Council Secretary-General Yen Teh-fa. Yen will replace Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan, who will head a think tank to be established by the defense ministry. Mainland Affairs Minister Katherine Chang will be replaced by National Taiwan University Professor Chen Min-tong, who was a former minister in 2007-2008 and served as President Tsai Ing-wen’s deputy when she was mainland affairs minister. Labor minister and veteran affairs ministers are also both being replaced. Continue reading “Cabinet reshuffles ahead of midterm elections”


Labor law change sparks protests and police action scrutiny

As the Tsai administration and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) prepares to pass amendments to the Labor Standards Act, the law that governs employer-employee relationship and workers’ rights in Taiwan, protests and demonstrations have followed over remarks from officials and the proposed changes, seen as catering to business demands. Low wages and long working hours have long been the norm for the Taiwanese work force, but expectations from the younger generations seem to make the status quo untenable.

This culminated to yesterday, where over 10,000 demonstrators protested the changes at various places in Taipei. New Bloom’s detailed account is worth a read. While police declared parts of the protests illegal due to an unapproved route change, the Taipei Bar Association and rights groups have accused the police of illegally detaining and transporting several demonstrators and volunteer lawyers at the scenes of protest and demanded apologies from the government.

Better Taiwan

During Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s National Day address titled Better Taiwan today, she pledged to honor her electoral promises and accelerate reforms, safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, and to actively seek Taiwan’s place in the new international order.

In particular, she reiterated her government’s approach in dealing with China:

Our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure.

She did not mentioned the magic words (“1992 Consensus”) China has been looking for, which naturally drew ire from our neighbor across the strait. Yet as China seems unable to comprehend the lack of support for the so-called consensus in Taiwan, Taiwan-China relations will likely remain in its current state of no official contacts, unless something drastic happens in the upcoming 19th CPC Party Congress.

Mayor of Tainan appointed new premier

Following the resignation of Taiwanese Premier Lin Chuan 林全 and his cabinet yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen today appointed Tainan Mayor William Lai 賴清德 as premier, leading the executive branch of Taiwan’s central government. The cabinet reshuffling is widely seen as a move to reverse Tsai’s low approval ratings to prepare for the 2018 local elections. Former premier Lin has not held any elected offices.

Lai, 57 and a doctor by profession, received a BS from National Taiwan University in Taipei and MD from National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. He subsequently studied at Harvard University and was awarded a Master of Public Health degree. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1996 and four times elected to the Legislative Yuan in 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2008, all representing the Democratic Progressive Party in then-Tainan City. After then-Tainan City and Tainan County were merged into a single municipality, Lai won the 2010 mayoral election and was re-elected in 2014 with ~73% of the votes.

2017 Universiade opens in Taipei

The 29th Summer Universiade, the world university games, opens tonight in a ceremony at Taipei Stadium in Taiwan’s capital city. More than 7,000 athletes from 144 countries are competing in 22 sporting events. The ceremony features cultural and music performances, speeches from Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and International University Sports Federation (FISU) President Oleg Matytsin (Russia), and lighting of the ceremonial flame. The parade of nations was interrupted by anti-pension reform protesters, resulting in most athletes having to enter the stadium after all flag bearers have passed through. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced the opening of the games. Continue reading “2017 Universiade opens in Taipei”

Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage

After hearing oral arguments on the case concerning same-sex marriage brought by activist Chi Chia-wei and Taipei City Government two months ago, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court today ruled that the marriage chapter of the Civil Code, which states marriage as between “the male and the female parties,” to be unconstitutional. (Read the Court’s English press release.)

In its Interpretation 748, the Court contends that Part IV Chapter II of the Civil Code on marriage violates ROC Constitution Article 22, protecting people the freedom of marriage, and Article 7, stating all ROC citizens to be equal. The Court rules that relevant authorities must amend or enact laws within two years to protect the right of marriage for same-sex couples. However, the Court did not specify whether the parliament should amend the Civil Code, add additional articles allowing same-sex marriage, or to create a separate law allowing same-sex civil union. Continue reading “Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage”