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Volume #16, Number #2

Published in November, 2012

This paper aims to examine the Tseng-Wen Reservoir Trans-basin Water Diversion Project from the perspective of environmental justice, and to explore the disputes on the distribution of interests and environmental risks of the project, and the policy implications of local action. It reveals the multiple perspectives of stakeholders on the project, the various knowledge claims among experts of different disciplines, and conflicts between local knowledge and the experts. The authorities have framed the project as either a water supply effectiveness issue or an economic development issue. However, environmental groups fear that the project involves extensive self-interest and bribery, consider the experts’ thinking on water resource development to be limited, and are of the opinion that local aboriginal tribes suffer disproportionate environmental risks. It highlights the problem of a lack of recognition of people and place. The tribes’ unique cultural meanings, invisible cultural assets, and their integrated relationship with nature are excluded from the EIA report, which lacks fully informed consent or substantial participation from local residents in the decisionmaking process. The project involves scientific controversy as well as unpredictable and irreversible impacts on the environment which cannot rely upon experts and technocracy only. It needs to recognize local particularities, and lay knowledge needs to be included in knowledge production and policy-making. This paper argues for the need for early involvement and public deliberation on water resource planning, for consensus seeking through continuous intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogue, and for alliance building to bring transformation.

Mei-fang Fan

The passage of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1965 did not help Hong Kong to protect its citizens from discrimination at all, although Hong Kong has been a member of the convention since 1969. The H.K government had done nothing to deal with its racial discrimination problem for decades, either under Britain’s rule or China’s rule. However, some 40 years later in 2006, the H.K. government submitted a bill proposal to the Legislative Council which aimed to eliminate racial discrimination. This caused us to inquire why the H.K. government changed its mind to deal with the problem of racial discrimination. In this paper, we attempt to figure out the explanation by interviewing H.K. legislators, government officials and staff from NGOs, and analyzing discussions and debates during the legislative process.

The results indicate that the enactment and the passage of the Race Discrimination Ordinance in Hong Kong can be explained by the boomerang model of the transnational advocacy network which creates tremendous pressure on the Hong Kong Government to take action. On the one hand, NGOs in Hong Kong that advocate the elimination of racial discrimination played an active role in lobbying legislators and pressuring the H.K. Government to enact a bill that can decrease the extent of racial discrimination in Hong Kong. On the other hand, these NGOs also established a strong connection with actors outside Hong Kong such as international organizations and the United Nations’ Committees to force the H.K. government to pay attention to this issue and further to change their behavior. In short, the development of a transnational advocacy network among Hong Kong NGOs and the international regimes and international civil society has accelerated the enhancement of the Race Discrimination Ordinance and changed the policy of anti-racial discrimination of the Hong Kong Government.

Shiow-duan Hawang, Cheng-nan Lin

Following the 2012 presidential elections, the DPP seems to stand at a crossroads. Facing intensifying interaction across the Taiwan Strait and a majority of voters who want to see stable cross-strait relations, its history and identity as Taiwan’s oldest independence party seems to have become a burden for electoral success. Arguably, most Taiwanese can now at least live with the ‘1992 consensus’ of “one China with different interpretations”. It is hence stated by a number of party leaders and advisors that the DPP must modify its China approach to accommodate the ‘1992 consensus’ and the ‘One China principle’. Others reject this and instead plead for a rebuilding of the party from the grassroots, reactivating its links with civil society and rejuvenating the DPP’s democratic values. This article reconstructs the DPP’s China policy since the change in ruling parties in 2008. It argues that the DPP “learned little” from its defeat in that year and mainly conducted strategic maneuvering in the run-up to the 2012 elections to neutralize Ma Ying-jeou’s pro-active China policy. The article then focuses on the current debate in the DPP on the necessary consequences of the 2012 election outcome for the party’s China policy, demarcating the space for an alternative approach and pondering if there might be a new ‘pragmatist consensus’ rising in the party leadership.

Gunter Schubert

It is commonly seen that the citizens’ preferences regarding the issue of “unification vs. independence” are determined by a six-itemed measurement placing unification and independence as the two ends of a one-dimensional continuum and four other related items in between. The citizens are directly asked to pick out one of the six items. This method has an advantage of being easily understood by citizens when answering questions. However, it has also led to a high proportion of citizens choosing the item referred to as “maintaining the status quo.” In responding to this defect, scholars have introduced conditional terms, such as “China’s military invasion” and “political and economic differences between the two sides” to decode the citizen’s real intention to maintain the status quo. The method of adding conditional terms also carries a merit of exploring the citizen’s ideological and pragmatic considerations on the issue of unification vs. independence. Unfortunately, this method might suffer from complicated measurements and variable processes on the one hand, and from failing to add new conditions effectively under changing environments on the other. In order to maintain the advantage of the one-dimension continuum and decoding the citizens’ intention to maintain the status quo at the same time, this essay proposes an improvement by adding two followup questions regarding the citizens’ second preferences and least-desired preferences on the issue of unification vs. independence after the measurement involving six items. The empirical evidence used in this essay would suggest that the new measurement has not only outperformed the previous measurement involving six items in decoding the citizens’ maintenance of the status quo but also the transitivity among the six items. With validity, this new measurement has more explanatory power than the previous measurement. Methodologically, this essay has provided an improvement in the measurement of crucial variables. In essence, this essay has also made the understanding of citizens’ preferences regarding the issue of unification vs.independence more perceptible.

Yi-ching Hsiao, Ching-hsin Yu

We assess the retrospective and prospective economic survey questions by empirically examining the 1996 to 2008 TEDS presidential election surveys. We discuss which question is more appropriate in determining economic voting. Because the social economic assessment questions specify a time frame, they generate the validity problem when asked after the elected president has taken office. This problem is particularly severe for retrospective economic assessment. It induces respondents to compare the economic conditions of two consecutive presidential terms rather than the economic conditions one year before the election. In addition, because respondents already know those who have been elected, their answers are more likely to be influenced by partisan or candidate preferences, resulting in the problem of endogeneity. By contrast, the questions regarding the predecessor’s and the candidates’ handling of the economy do not specify a time frame. The validity problems are less severe. In actual fact, we demonstrate that the endogeneity problem goes with each set of economic assessment questions. To better examine the effect of economic assessment on vote choice, it is necessary to address the endogeneity problem. Without further information, researchers should at least control party identification and candidate image.

Chin-en Wu, Yi-tze Lin