The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen intends to amend the Public Television Act to change the board election of the chairman of the Taiwan Broadcasting System to appointment by the premier, triggering criticism that the government is extending its black hand into public television.
DPP Aims to Turn PTS into Party Media
United Daily News and
China Times, September 17 and 18, 2021
The Ministry of Culture has announced draft amendments to the Public Television Act which would not only greatly reduce the number of directors and the review threshold for their appointment but also stipulate that the chairman of the Public Television Service Foundation, who is currently elected by the board of directors from among its members, would be designated by the premier. Scholars are questioning whether the proposed revisions violate the spirit of public television and make the PTS vulnerable to behind-the-scenes political manipulation. Opposition legislators have also expressed objections, vowing to go all out to boycott the amendments.
Professor Lai Hsiang-wai of the Department of Radio and Television, National Taiwan University of Arts, stated that if the PTS chairperson is designated by the government, Taiwan will be seen as setting an international precedent. In the United Kingdom and Japan, for instance, public television chairs are elected from within the board of directors. In particular, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has often emphasized that public television should keep a decent distance from the government in order to maintain its public image and independence.
According to a commentator, the Tsai administration previously shut down the critical CtiTV News station and is now attempting to turn the originally independent Taiwan Broadcasting System into its partisan propaganda apparatus. A new green authority with no separation between the government and media is rapidly taking shape.
(Photo from: CtiTV News' Facebook)
New Authoritarianism in Politics and Media Meddling with Taiwan’s Public Television
By Li Chia-wei
China Times, September 18, 2021
The Ministry of Culture announced a draft revision of the Public Television Act. In addition to reducing the number of board of directors and lowering the threshold for the selection of directors and supervisors, it also includes that the chairman of the board of directors will be appointed by the Executive Yuan, new international broadcast services and exchanges, and an expansion of the government current annual subsidies of NT$900 million (about US$32.4 million) cap limit. This makes people "furrow their brows and realize that this case is not simple.” The ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) lack of separation between the government and the media have long been criticized by people from all walks of life, and even their own people. However, this amendment not only blatantly tramples on the DPP’s own long-term proposition that "the party, the government, and the military should be out of the media", but also has a hint of the mainland’s “public propaganda” style. It causes fear that the Taiwan Broadcasting System (TBS) will become a tooled for propaganda domestically and internationally for the ruling party.
If the Ministry of Culture were seeking to solve the problem of the inefficiency of the board of directors and the frequent difficulties in selecting the directors and supervisors, and therefore wanted to amend the law in order to solve it, it is understandable and there would be no room for discussion, since after all, this is a long-standing problem in the operation of the current system. However, the political appointment of the chairman has nothing to do with being a resolution for these problems. Whether it is from the DPP members or the Executive Yuan’s version of the law revision proposal, such a proposal has not been seen before. It is a first in public television organizations worldwide. Perhaps the reason for legislation is the same as Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung's answer regarding mixing Medigen with other vaccines. They reflect worries that Taiwan will never be able to lead the pack.
The central government's plan to mix and match the Medigen vaccine with Moderna has triggered strong backlash. Many criticize the government for treating the people like lab rats in order to enrich Medigen.
United Daily News)
Proposal to Mix Moderna with Medigen Controversial, Clinical Trials to Start Next Week
United Daily News, September 16, 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines remain in short supply in Taiwan, as only 34,000 people were inoculated with the second dose, while some 3 million people are anxiously waiting for their second dose. Institutional Review Board of the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) approved the clinical trial of “mixing Moderna with MVC vaccine” on September 14 and the mixing is now under review of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the CECC, stated yesterday that academically the two vaccines could be mixed and if everything went well the clinical trial could begin next week.
Chen Admits: No Such Mixing in Other Countries
Dr. Hsieh Si-min of the NTUH Division of Infectious Disease, who was in charge of phase 2 clinical trial of the MVC vaccine and is currently responsible for the mixing clinical trial, said the immune response of the mixing would have its initial result in late October and by then enough data would be available for CECC or clinical doctors for further vaccination.
The Executive Yuan recently reviewed and approved a special budget of NT$240 billion (about US$8.6 billion) for the Navy and Air Force. This is the fourth time that the Tsai administration has proposed a special budget in five years. The public debt has reached NT$2 trillion (about US$72 billion), surpassing the record set by previous administrations.
September 13: The Navy procured from the United States 100 sets of shore-mounted harpoon missile systems. Due to a tight budget, it originally planned to purchase 32 sets. However, after high-level American national security officials strongly demanded that Taiwan must procure all at once, the Navy was forced to submit a new price offer. The Navy prepared a budget of NT$86.6 billion (about US$3.1 billion) to procure 100 sets of harpoons at once.
September 15: The Armed Forces held its annual Han Kuang Exercise from September 13 to 17 for five consecutive days, four nights, in various combat areas throughout Taiwan, using real forces and partial real ammunition. President Tsai Ing-wen went to Pingtung to monitor the "Jiadong Runway Fighter Takeoff and Landing" exercise in the morning of September 15. Four fighter jets completed takeoff and landing within four minutes, setting a record for the Jiadong Runway.
September 16: The Executive Yuan reviewed and approved a draft special regulations on the procurement of naval and air combat power enhancement programs, clearly setting forth a special budget cap of NT$240 billion (about US$8.6 billion) to procure within five years missile systems, air defense systems, and high-efficiency ships. The most eye-catching is the Hsiung Sheng cruise missile system, previously listed in a classified budget for Hsiung Feng IIE missiles. The missile system covers a range of about 600 kilometers and can reach military targets in mainland China.
This is the fourth time that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen has proposed a special budget in five years. It has accumulated debt of NT$2 trillion (about US$71.7 billion), surpassing the record of previous administrations.
September 17: The foreign and defense ministers of the United States and Australia held a ministerial forum on September 16 in Washington. In a joint statement after the meeting, the two sides emphasized that Taiwan plays an important role in the Indo-Pacific region and that they will strengthen relations with Taiwan and support its international participation. They also called for peaceful resolution of cross-strait disputes. In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed sincere gratitude on September 17.
The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia announced on September 15 a new trilateral security pact known as AUKUS. America and Britain will assist Australia in building nuclear-powered submarines with the aim of countering China. Mainland China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized this move for undermining regional peace and stability and intensifying the arms race and called for abandoning Cold War mentality.
September 17: The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for the first time took punitive action against a food delivery service. It said that foodpanda's demand that restaurant prices on the platform must be consistent with dine-in prices at the restaurant is a violation of the Fair Trade Act. The FTC will impose a fine of NT$2 million (about US$71,000) on foodpanda and order it to cease unlawful activities.
September 17: A new session opened at the Legislative Yuan. Premier Su Tseng-chang prepared a special report on the decision-making process behind the "3 + 11" quarantine measure for airline crew members but did not mention any responsibility for the epidemic prevention breach. The opposition criticized the short 12-page length of the report, despite the fact that over 800 lives were lost. The Taiwan People's Party even called upon Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung to step down. Kuomintang (KMT) legislators occupied the speaker's platform and tore up the written report. Premier Su was unable to deliver his governance report at the Legislative Yuan, and proceedings went idle for a day. Premier Su will report to the Legislative Yuan again on September 22 and be interpellated.
September 18: The internet celebrity "4XGAY" recently announced on Facebook that he tested antibodies at his own expense 15 days after inoculation of the Medigen vaccine. The result was only a low 35.4, while his friend who received the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by Moderna had an antibodies value 140 times that of his, stirring heated discussion. "Rengege," an Internet celebrity based in Taichung, also disclosed his and two other friends' antibody test results, showing that the Medigen vaccine's IgG value is only a quarter that of AstraZeneca and Moderna. Since the government prohibits the public from testing antibodies on their own, clinics that performed the tests will be fined.
September 18: A poll targeting KMT party members emerged showing that chairmanship candidate Chang Ya-chung became a frontrunner unexpectedly and fared the best among four candidates. It is reported that many party members have greater anxiety, and the sentiment of abandoning incumbent Chairman Johnny Chiang to save former Chairman Eric Chu is brewing. According to the latest poll which surveyed the public, Chu polled the first with 45.9 percent, Chang second with 18.3 percent. Chiang polled 14.1 percent, while former Changhua County Executive Cho Po-yuan bottomed at 4.2 percent. But respondents were not necessarily KMT party members. The winner will become known with the election on September 25.
September 18: The day marked the first day of the extended Mid-Autumn Festival weekend holiday and the first extended weekend holiday since the epidemic prevention alert level was lowered to level 2 from level 3. Many people felt "stuffy" with all the pandemic restrictions and went out to travel "in revenge." Many scenic areas in central and southern Taiwan, as well as Hualien and Taitung, saw an influx of people and vehicles. Many boats traveling to the outlying islands of Penghu, Little Liuqiu, Green Island, and Lanyu carried passengers at full capacity.