Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Another well-written article about Taiwan's elections, by John Tkacik, Jr., who is very sharp with his characterizations and quite a character himself.

I'm feeling quite overwhelmed by all the skills I am behooved to develop to improve my capabilities on the job. This year, I hope to pass the CFA Level 1, Series 7, and Taiwan local brokers' license exams...and I need to improve both my spoken and Chinese reading abilities (so that I can read industry papers), Excel skills, and knowledge of Bloomberg. Ohhhh...

Sunday, March 28, 2004

This morning I got up at 5:45am to run the Nike 10K, and beat my goal time by over 12 minutes to finish in 59.37. Yay! The run actually felt pretty good and the weather was perfect -- the rain had let up but the temperatures were still cool, no wind, and overcast skies.

Friday night I went to bed early and woke up on Saturday morning without an alarm clock -- wonderful! Later, I had lunch with Dean Khoury and Assistant Dean Anne-Marie Michael, both of whom were visiting Taiwan from MIT, Jen and Janet. I paid a long-delayed visit to my tuina acupressurist, and felt so much better afterwards. I even got some studying done before heading over to Saloon briefly to wish Felix a happy birthday.

All in all, a restful weekend. Now back to studying...

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A well-written opionion piece in today's Taipei Times:

Demagogue shows his face

Perhaps Taiwan is not ready for democracy -- half of Taiwan anyway. An election under the Constitution is what everyone started out with. In the end, dissatisfied with the result, a childish and petulant Lien Chan led his supporters on a night of troublemaking. I witnessed a frenzied and somewhat scary and disturbing exhibition of exactly what you never want to see in a democracy -- one side calling for essentially a mob to gather strength and inciting the people to violent emotions. In a mature democracy, the candidates know what is at stake in carrying out the constitutional mandated election procedures (even in a contested election), and they call for calm, not protests at the local DPP office.

What the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) did was to give a good idea of just what a KMT-led government would be capable of. Instead of contesting the election under the law (which he will do in any event), Lien vented his bad feelings in losing the election by chancing civil war or anarchy. He showed us the KMT way is the way of the mob: against reason, against law and against the Constitution.

Of course in a democracy there will be close elections. Of course there will be contested elections, and there will be recounts. Of course one side will be disappointed and the other jubilant. It is the way of a democracy. Of course the KMT is disappointed. If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost, its supporters would have been disappointed, too. But the good thing about democracy is the peaceful transition of government. Nothing in a democracy could have been accomplished by taking a 10,000-strong crowd, led by the pouting Lien, to the Presidential Office. The recount will not be advanced by a mob. It should not be performed under the pressure or intimidation of a mob. The election is a matter of voting and tabulating. There are emotions, but of course, a sensible party leader will keep his supporters in line, and make sure they do not disturb the Constitution, the law and the democracy. That is the point, isn't it?

Watching the frightening display tonight, which went into the wee hours, with a flowing mob confronting and attacking police, throwing bottles and driving trucks into barricades, it was clear the KMT supporters had been whipped into a frenzy that convinced them they would either succeed to power legally, or seize it by the mob if they didn't like the result. The KMT showed it would be perfectly satisfied with mob rule. I saw tonight that the KMT doesn't really like democracy -- it craves only power.

At the DPP celebration after the election, the 10,000 supporters gathered there were told it was a chance to show the world Taiwan's best face, its democracy in full order, its Constitution working. People were told to behave, and to show the world how a mature democratic people can be. At the KMT rally, Lien refused to concede the election and exhorted his followers in a teary, petulant speech to march to the Presidential Office and demand a recount.

Under the Constitution, all he has to do is ask. It's part of the election process and no mob scenes are required.

Watching Lien tonight sulking and pouting on the podium, it made me realize for the first time how close we have come to a violent overthrow of government. It appeared to me that Lien and many in the KMT believe they are letting the DPP rule at the KMT's pleasure (as if the DPP leased Taiwan from the KMT for four years), and if the KMT doesn't like what happens, they will step in and change it.

They might try the election first, but if that doesn't work....

It would not be a surprise to me to watch Lien and his ilk plan and carry out such a move. It is people such as this that are the tyrants and dictators in many oppressed countries throughout the world. In fact, the more you look at it, the more the KMT looks like the Chinese Communist Party.

How sad for Taiwan. One can only hope the recount doesn't spark a further embarrassing spectacle courtesy of the KMT if the result isn't what they want. It seems the KMT is simply not willing to be denied power for another four years.

Lee Long Hwa
United States

There are a few theories about attempted assassination of Taiwan's President Chen:
1. the KMT hired an assassin to kill Chen;
2. the DPP staged the event to garner sympathy votes;
3. China hired an assassin to kill Chen;
4. A gambler with a big bet on Chen losing did it.

I think the first two are unlikely as both sides lose more from the attempt than they gain. I believe that Friday's events overshadow other aspects of the election; including the failure of the referendum to pass.

I do have more to say, but fatigue has me feeling as if my thoughts must wade through the thick soup of my mind before breaking free into the air.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

What a hectic week, and I was not well-rested to begin with. Our office had two senior vice presidents, two analysts, and clients in town this week. I also had friends and family here for the election, which included my great aunt's birthday on Wednesday. So good to see people, but a bit draining on top of new responsibilities at work. I simply luxuriated in bed this morning, catching up on some much needed sleep.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Last night I saw Bamboo Dream, an amazingly beautiful performance by Taiwan's renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theater. I found the visuals very inspiring, and after the performance, we were lucky enough to take part in a backstage tour and hear a short talk given by the set designer. It's hard to describe the spare beauty of the set, and how the lighting evoked different moods. Oh, and the dancers' bodies were amazing -- they had incredible control and artistry, and the moves were a mixture of ballet, modern, tai chi, and acrobatics. Every time I see a dance performance, I want to get up and move, too.

Unfortunately, this weekend I have my CFA test prep course. I really appreciate the course; I'm definitely an aural learner, and the course schedule helps pace my studying. The one drawback is that I sit for nine hours in a classroom, which just leaves me feeling sluggish and bloated by the end of the day. And tonight, Eve organized a lovely vegetarian buffet dinner, so now I'm feeling especially rotund.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Martha Stewart may now be the tarnished diva of domesticity, but Angela and Felix are virtuosos of fun. Last Monday, the couple threw an Oscars party at Felix's place. Gather about ten hungry women together on Oscar's night with one guy whipping up a fabulous Malaysian feast and you have some pretty satisfied tummies!

Felix prepared laksa, a traditional Malaysian-style noodle soup. An aromatic soup full of spices and chili was spooned over rice vermicelli, shrimp, bean sprouts, shredded omlets, and other fresh vegetables. I loved accompanying the noodles with the Malaysian pickles, the peanutty sauce mellowing the spiciness of the pickled cucumbers. Equally good were the chili beef and the chili belachan fish (belachan is a fish paste from Malaysia). The beef was tender, with a warming spiciness. The fish was crisp on the outside, meltingly soft on the inside. I originally though I'd share just one with Bonnie, but began eyeing the second platter of fish Felix brought out after we polished off the first.

On a future visit (Angela and Felix, I hope there is a future invite waiting for me!), I would have just the beef and pickles over white rice. The food reminded me of one of my favorite Korean dishes, bi bim bap, which I love eating in cold weather because of how it is warming and comforting without any hint of heaviness. Comfort food without the hangover.

I'd definitely follow the main entree with a few helpings of Felix's rojak fruit salad. A mixture of tofu, cucumber, guava, and pineapple, seemed strange at first glance, but made sense when drizzled with the rojak sauce, a dark, velvety sauce that was just shy of being too sweet.

For dessert, Felix served squares of white toast spread thickly with kaya coconut jam, with a drizzle of condensed milk on top. The smooth unctuousness of the jam made me want to eat another slice...but there was no longer even a smidgen of room left in my stomach. If you're doing Atkins, South Beach, low-glycemic index, or any sort of diet, beware of the toast with the kaya coconut jam!

Felix had written in the invite that he and Angela sent out that he hoped we would leave his home a few pounds heavier...that was definitely true.

Monday, March 08, 2004

A jury found Martha Stewart guilty of hampering a stock fraud investigation. I hope the company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, survives. I suppose I'm not the ordinary American, who associates the company's brand with the living person. Somehow, I've always had the impression that Martha was not a pleasant woman. And I've always found her presence to be her television show's biggest detractor. But I've always liked her product, and the ideas of the people she assembled at her company. Presentation with style, flair, and not necessarily with a lot of money -- Martha Stewart's ideas preceeded Target's idea that just because something is cheap, it doesn't mean it can't be chic.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Rock climbing two Sunday's ago:

For more pictures, check out my Beitou Rock Climbing photo album on Imagestation.