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Showing posts from May, 2014

Macau Protestors Force Chief Executive to Withdraw Controversial Bill

On May 29 Cui Shi'an (崔世安, Chui Sai On in Cantonese), the Chief Executive of Macau Special Administrative Region, announced his decision to scrap a controversial bill that would have allowed him to receive 70% of his salary until he found a new job and that would have granted him immunity from prosecution during his tenure. Furthermore, it would have granted high pensions to officials after leaving their posts. The bill had angered many Macau residents , who accused Cui of trying to " selfishly enrich himself " (私心自肥, literally " fatten himself ").  The bill proposal sparked an unprecedented wave of political protests among the population. Activist groups organised a demonstration in front of the Legislative Assembly, and around 20,000 people took part in the rally on May 26 . This was the biggest popular movement since Macau was handed over to the PRC in 1999. Members of Macau Conscience  (澳門良心) , one of the major activist organisations involved in th

The Taipei MRT Knife Attack and Taiwan's Society

Every time a crime is perpetrated, the media find themselves in a difficult position. On the one hand, they have the responsibility to spread knowledge, inform and analyse. On the other hand, they are a business that must make money out of the news they report on. They are easily tempted to speculate on the suffering and the misfortunes of people, to turn them into entertainment.  The Taipei Metro knife attack that happened a few days ago is such a tragic and sad event that I think everyone should be careful not to use this massacre as a pretext to speculate and fabricate theories that try to explain why Zheng Jie committed that crime. The most absurd of such theories is that the Sunflower Movement made society more violent and therefore encouraged individual acts of ferocity such as Zheng Jie's. These ideas can't be taken seriously, as they completely lack evidence and are nothing more than insinuations. The murder of four people should not be used as an instrument to fi

An Old House in Taipei - Or Not?

It's hard to write a blog post the day after the Taipei Metro knife attack. So I decided to just upload a few pictures I took one or two days before I left Taiwan in February.  These are the pictures of a building I've always been curious about. It has an old-style tile rooftop and it looks quite old. Since it's located inside a courtyard separated from the street by a wall I couldn't see much except for the roof.  The house is in Roosevelt Road in Taipei, and I've always wondered if it's really an old one or not. My dream is that it's a Japanese or Qing-dynasty house, and that we can save it from its decay. But I'm pretty sure it's just a dream, because the whole area is modern, with nearly no exception (but there are a few, which I hope to show in the future).  I would like to meet some local Taiwanese who know something about this building. But so far, that, too, has been a dream.

My Love-Hate Relationship With Taiwan's Convenience Stores

Some Taiwanese friends of mine make fun of me because I spend too much time in convenience stores. I have a favourite one near my home. Late at night, I am often the last customer sitting there. It is quiet, there is Wi-Fi, I can read books or surf the internet or do some work while drinking a beer, or coffee, or eating some snacks. Sometimes I also have dinner there. And yet I don't like convenience stores. They don't have the relaxed, individual atmosphere of coffee shops; their packaged food - which must be heated in the microwave - is full of preservatives; Wi-Fi isn't free; they are more expensive than supermarkets.  Nevertheless, there is hardly a day when I don't go to a convenience store to buy a drink, to top up my phone, to withdraw money from an ATM, etc. Inside a Family Mart store Taiwan is the country with the highest density of convenience stores in the world , and perhaps it is also the country where they have reached their highest sta

Paris vs Taipei: The "Importance of Appearances" Experiment

A few days ago norniTube released a video that shows how people react when a man falls down in a street in Paris, pretending to be sick. In the first part of the video, the man is dressed like a homeless person. People get by but no one helps him. In the second part of the video, the man is dressed in a suit, and immediately some people go to him and ask him if he's all right ( note ). The incident is supposed to show that people often ignore each other's suffering, and that the way someone looks determines how helpful and friendly others will be.  The same experiment was tried by Apple Chen in Taipei, in the wealthy Eastern District, near Sogo department store. However, the experiment was not about the different reaction of passers-by to a homeless and a rich-looking man.  A normally dressed man begins to cough and then falls down. After just a few seconds some people go to him and ask if he's all right. He says that he has pills in his pocket, and

What I Really Think About Taiwan's Independence

Every now and then I receive messages from people who accuse me of being pro-KMT, pro-China, anti-Taiwan etc. etc. Well, I admit that I'm not a China-hater or KMT-hater, and that repeating over and over again that China and everything related to it is bad is not the purpose of my blog, and I wish - as a reader of blogs and newspapers myself - that the attitude of demonising others were less widespread.  I have explained in another post that I think the media coverage of China is often extremely biased ; it is either ideologically pro-China or ideologically anti-China. During my academic career I have learnt one important thing: when you write about something, distance yourself and try to be balanced. Being balanced doesn't mean you can't interpret things from your own perspective, but you must try to take into account all possible perspectives.  I therefore made clear that I think both pan-Chinese nationalism and Taiwanese nationalism are as legitimate as

The "Six Guidelines" and "Six Taboos": A Guide For Mainland Tourists in Hong Kong

" When you enter a village, follow the local customs " (入鄉隨俗), advises a Chinese idiom equivalent to our " In Rome, do as the Romans do ." This is the message that  Xinhua News Agency tried to convey through its "Six Guidelines, Six Taboos" (六指南”, “六禁忌”), a guide for mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong ( note ). The guide was issued a few days after the infamous " Peeing Infant Incident " (童尿事件) that caused a new wave of anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong. According to Xinhua, people who behave badly are just a small fraction of the over 30 million mainlanders who visit Hong Kong each year. However, the article acknowledges two problems: 1) the number of mainland tourists exceeds the number of Hong Kong residents, and therefore they are perceived like a huge tourist "army"; 2) mainlanders should adjust to Hong Kongers' customs and sensibility, as the aforementioned idiom urges travellers to do. The author o

National Taiwan University To Install Comdom Machines on Campus

Over the years I became familiar with the fact that some people depict Taiwan as a prude and conservative country, while others think it is a place for easy girls and crazy nightlife. I have wrote about my thoughts on the subject in another post . Certainly I don't have the impression that Taiwan is as prude as some people have told me before I came here (which I am not criticising), and the following news seems to confirm this.   National Taiwan University (Taida) will be the sixth university in Taipei to install condom machines on its campus.  A girl posing next to a condom machine at Shixin University ( source ) According to Apple Daily , last semester Taida's administrative council decided to adopt a motion submitted by the students union to install two condom machines on the campus. Other Taipei universities have already done so in the past: Shixin University (世新大學), Taipei College of Maritime Technology (台北海洋技術學院), National Taipei University of Nursing and