Saturday, July 26, 2008

The KMT and the Greening of Taiwan

The China Post story below about Taiwan's left leaning "energy" policies (more like "environmental" policies) shows that the Kuomintang (KMT) is anything but politically conservative in our way of thinking. I think the reason these policies appeal to the Chinese Nationalist mindset is that the Nationalist have always and forever been about State Socialism. They have always wanted to control the means of production and consumption. This has allowed them to have gang like control over the island entrenching themselves through corruption and thereby becoming the richest political party in the free world. ("The Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) - Until 1986, Taiwan's political system was effectively controlled by one party, the KMT, the leader of which also was the ROC president. Many top political officials were members of the party. The party claimed over 2 million members, and its net assets were reputed to total more than NT $61.2 billion, making it the richest political party in the world.")

Prior to 2000, when power was transferred to the Taiwanese by democratic election for the first time in history (the 1st democratization milestone was the 1996 Presidential election), the KMT could exert this control with impunity in part because the political right in the United States viewed it/Taiwan as a stop gap against the Communist Chinese. The United States providing moral support to the Nationalists in "the eventual" taking back of China from the Communists (
it wasn't until 1991 that the KMT claim to rule all of China was dropped). As a result, many Republicans have viewed the KMT as a fellow right wing party rather as the center left socialist party in seems to be today, and indeed has always been. Preceded in expression of devotion to the Mainland by KMT Party member and loosing 2004 Presidential candidate Lien Chan (a real sore looser) and People First Party (PFP) candidate James Soong, Taiwan's new president, Harvard Graduate (and US green card holder) Ma Ying-jeou promised his dying father, as evidenced by the engraving on his father's urn, that he would work toward eventual reunification of Taiwan and China (as if they has ever been unified in the first place).

Similarly Ma's economic vision is far from that of conservative Republicans. So it seems apropos that the Premier in Ma's administration would reveal an energy "policy" which tracks with that of the left in the United States. Touted as "a concrete plan for slashing carbon emissions within a period of four years," it includes bike paths and strong encouragement for people to use bicycles, more efficient but hazardous fluorescent light bulbs, conversion of vehicles to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and quotas/deadlines for moving to alternative energy sources. (The LED traffic signals are, however, a nice addition.) Prominent in its omission from Ma's "energy" policy are any plans to boost the real supply of energy. But since the policy is to slash carbon emissions I suppose they can increase the non-carbon-emitting energy supply, right? Good luck, Ma!

Somehow when you cross the seas right becomes left, and left becomes right. For just as the KMT Party does not seem like the political right to us (though considered the political right in Taiwan), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) identifies itself as liberal and yet holds to many core ideals Republican's adhere to. With a few exceptions, the platfo
rm of the DPP fits well within that of the Republican Party of Texas, while the KMT does not have a platform but rather takes policy positions base on white papers from it's leaders. The KMT is not a grass roots political party. The DPP is much less centralized, much less authoritarian, thus more like the Republican Party of Texas.

Premier issues energy policies

Saturday, July 26, 2008
The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Liu Chao-shiuan announced a concrete plan for slashing carbon emissions within a period of four years in accordance with the sustainable development policies of President Ma Ying-jeou.

Liu said yesterday that all traffic signals across Taiwan will be replaced with LED lights in three years.

Power-saving bulbs in all homes and water heaters running on solar energy for 140,000 households will be installed in four years.

As many as 100,000 of the island's taxis will be running on cleaner-burning liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in four years.

These were among the major action plans worked out by Liu and senior Cabinet officials at a meeting to review the administrative work for the past two months and map out new strategies for the coming months and years.

Liu said the measures will be implemented to realize the green revolution promised by President Ma and Vice President Vincent Siew in their election campaign pledges to conserve energy and safeguard the environment while achieving long-term and sustainable economic development. On World Environment Day on June 5, President Ma reaffirmed that the government's future policies would not only focus on economic growth but also on social welfare and sustainability.

LED traffic signals

One of the major initiatives is to replace all bulbs in traffic lights to LED (light-emitting diode) lights within three years.

Taiwan is one of the world's top suppliers of LED products, including the light panels used by TV sets and computers.

In three years, Taiwan will rank along with Singapore as one of the most advanced areas in terms of utilizing LED systems for traffic control, Liu said.

Power-saving bulbs

Liu and other government officials believe overhauling Taiwan's lighting system will pay big dividends in electricity savings.

The move was in line with a decision by many advanced countries to end the sale and use of incandescent bulbs by 2012.

The government already implemented a plan to give discounts on electricity bills for families that exert efforts to limit power consumption to less than the previous year.

According to Yeh Huey-ching, the director-general of the Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the policy aims to gradually eliminate the use of conventional light bulbs in Taiwan, where about 22 million incandescent bulbs are consumed per year.

Solar-power heaters

Liu said the government will encourage the installation of solar-powered water heaters at a rate of 35,000 sets each year to bring the total to 140,000 in four years.

Taiwan now ranks among world leaders in the development and production of solar-energy equipment and materials, including the solar batteries and panels.

However, most of the products are exported to overseas market every year while not many local residents on the island are able to share the benefits.

With its advanced technology and geographic position with constant exposures to the sun, Taiwan is in the best position to tap solar energy.

LPG taxis

The government has been remodeling vehicles at public offices and public transport systems to use clean LPG or biodiesel processed from waste cooking oil.

Converting all taxis in Taiwan into LPG vehicles is another major step to reduce carbon emissions.

Premier Liu set out a target to build more LPG refueling stations and converting all taxis running on Taiwan roads and streets in four years.

Other changes

Concerning other initiatives concerning the transformation of living environment and transport services, Liu's Cabinet will expand bicycle paths islandwide and build up public transportation networks in the rural regions.

Government agencies will also increase the number of rechargeable electric motorcycles to 100,000 islandwide.

In addition to beefing up research and development fund for developing renewable energy resources, Liu said the government will boost the special loans to NT$50 billion from NT$10 billion to help enterprises modernize their manufacturing facilities.

The building code will be revised to encourage the construction of "green buildings."


Environmentalists welcomed in general the new measures, but wanted more details.

Huang Sifon, director of an association promoting green transportation, said that the premier needed to explain what kind of bike paths he plans to build.

"What people need is to use the bicycle as a real means of transportation -- which can really make our transportation greener -- and not just as a recreational device that people enjoy in the evening on the riverside," she said, hoping that the bike paths will be set up for commuters.

"It is a good thing that the government will help convert taxis into LPG vehicles," said Pan Han-shen, secretary-general of the Green Party Taiwan, although other problems need to be solved for the new measure to have maximum impact.

He argued that there are too many taxis in Taiwan, and empty taxis running all day leads to a serious waste of energy.

According to the Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control under the Environmental Protection Administration, 14,702 of a total of 89,215 taxis in Taiwan have already converted to LPG systems as of the end of June this year.

Copyright © 2008 The China Post.

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