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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Ma's policies deepen Taiwan's predicament

President Ma Ying-jeou declared upon his return from a six-day visit to Honduras, the Dominican Republic and the United States that the successful completion of his "missions" had shown the correctness of his strategy of a "diplomatic truce" with the authoritarian People's Republic of China and rebuilding "trust" with Washington through adoption of a low-profile posture.

Ma, who is also chairman of the rightist ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), also confirmed the decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to notify Congress of a US$6.4 billion package of defensive weapons procurements for Taiwan.

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Paying for public health

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) declared on Monday that the government would not raise National Health Insurance premiums for the time being, dismissing Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang’s (楊志良) comments over the past few weeks that the department would raise premiums this year — possibly before the start of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Criticizing the shortcomings of the DOH’s premium adjustment plan, Wu instructed the department to review its plan, provide more details on remedying the insurance system’s financial woes and ensure that at least half of the population be spared from the planned premium hike. Wu also reminded Yaung to refrain from making public comments before a policy is finalized.

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Reuters and Associated Press get it wrong on Taiwan's history

Recent news service reports from Reuters on the $6.4 billion weapons sale from the United States to the Republic of China in-exile on Taiwan have distorted the 20th Century history of the island.

Reuters, in an explanation why such a large weapons buy is needed, mentions the People's Republic of China claims to Taiwan but tells readers that the island has been "self-governing" since the 1949 Chinese civil war.

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Billions later, is Taiwan any safer?

Though welcome, the US$6.4 billion US arms sale to Taiwan announced by Washington on Friday will not bring much in terms of Taiwan’s ability to defend itself. All the items in the package, with the exception of the 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, had been approved — and then delayed — by former US president George W. Bush’s administration. In other words, since large parts of the package were first announced in 2001, Taiwan’s military has been treading water, while China has sprinted ahead with the modernization of its military.

None of the items in the package will make a substantial difference. While the PAC-3 missile defense system can bolster the defense of certain key targets, it is not sufficient to deter an attack, especially as the sale is likely to result in a decision by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to add short and medium-range missiles to the 1,500 it already aims at Taiwan and step up its missile program.

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Endorsement of Lobo sullies Taiwan's democracy

President Ma Ying-jeou's attendance at last Wednesday's inauguration of Honduran President Porifino Lubo of the conservative National Party of Honduras sullied the reputation of Taiwan's hard-won democracy and marked a grave diplomatic misjudgement.

Ma, who is concurrently chairman of the rightist ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), endorsed as "democratic" the new Honduran government, which was created by general elections held by a repressive "interim" regime formed in the wake of the coup against former president Jose Manuel Zelaya of the Honduran Liberal Party last June 28 after the Liberal Party president proposed constitutional reforms that could open the Honduran political system to wider popular participation.

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China is no friend of Washington

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Jan. 24 that his country was resolved to produce its own highly enriched uranium — a long-standing bone of contention between Tehran and the West. The West offered Iran a draft nuclear deal last November under a resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that called for Tehran to trade about 80 percent of its domestically produced low-grade uranium for highly enriched nuclear fuel from France and Russia.

The uranium would then be converted into fuel rods and returned to Iran for use in the medical research. Such an arrangement was designed to reduce Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon quickly and buy more time for negotiations. Iran has rejected the offer.

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Newsflash

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lin Shu-fen, left, and Chen Ting-fei, right, at a press conference in Taipei yesterday, urge President Ma Ying-jeou to clear up allegations that he met with one of the nation’s top bookmakers in September.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The Presidential Office and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday denied President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) met privately with one of the nation’s most powerful bookmakers in September, insisting that the president has handled all political donations in accordance with the regulations.

The Chinese-language Next Magazine yesterday reported that Ma held a closed-door meeting with bookie Chen Ying-chu (陳盈助) in Chiayi on Sept. 10 when campaigning in the city. According to the magazine, Chen is allegedly in charge of major underground betting activities on local elections.