Daily Bloom, 7.21.14

Welcome to the Daily Bloom! The Daily Bloom will be a daily shortform blog with updates on the day’s political going-ons. If something particularly exciting happening in Taiwan, we will be providing live updates on our Facebook page and Twitter account. At the end of the day, we will compile the live updates to provide a chronological timeline of the day’s events. If not, we will simply report on what happened that day, or what might be of note that happened. If you have news tips about what would be interesting to cover, send to [email protected]!

July 21, 2014

MRT stabbing incident suspect Cheng Chieh indicted on four counts of murder and twenty-two counts of attempted murder. The stabbing incident, which happened in May, was the first incident of murder in the Taipei MRT, and provoked widespread social panic, with social commentators questioning the social values of contemporary Taiwanese youth. Cheng, twenty-one, now faces the possibility of the death penalty, which will no doubt be further controversial with some calling for the use of the death penalty in his case in spite of the degree to which capital punishment has been a tumultuously debated issue in recent years. Since the subway incident, the Taipei MRT has seen increased security, with patrols of police now being a common sight.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel company promised reparations for damage during Vietnam riots. Riots this past May targeting Chinese and Taiwanese companies came in the wake of originally peaceful protests against the placement of a Chinese oil rig in territorial waters claimed by Vietnam, but more broadly reflect larger anxiety about growing Chinese economic power in the region. It was no small matter of irony for many Taiwanese that immediately in the wake of the Sunflower movement which sought address concerns of China’s growing influence over Taiwan that the Taiwanese government attempted to distinguish Taiwanese factories from Chinese factories during the riots even whereas it had previously effaced Taiwanese-Chinese distinctions. Of course, the picture remains more complicated, with many Taiwanese factories employing mainland Chinese intermediaries, contractors, and workers. Hanoi’s payment of reparations would be an attempt to lure back companies and repair its damaged image after the riots, but comes after previous rounds of failed negotiations.

Independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je defends public housing plan to build 50,000 housing units aimed at young and financially needy. The plan would call for building the rent-only units at a cost of 100 billion NT, but Ko’s plan was criticized by KMT candidate Sean Lien as unrealistic. Housing continue to be an issue in Taipei, with housing prices skyrocketing, and housing generally remaining unaffordable for young people. While in recent years, young have begun migrating outside of Taipei to live in the cheaper housing in the surrounding New Taipei City, construction plans to facilitate easier transport between New Taipei City and Taipei have seen problems with slow pace of construction and corruption intended to prime real estate prices.