Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 14 2015

How not to be a good president

I was thinking the other day: If I were the president, due to step down in the near-ish future and with little hope of my party winning, I’d just start doing whatever the hell I thought was a good idea but never pushed before due to lack of public acceptance or local politics. What can you lose at this point? You’re already sunk. Why not throw shit at the wall and see what sticks? Of course, I’d probably be the most unpopular president Taiwan has ever had (and that, my friends, is saying something), but who knows? A few years down the road people might wise up and see that some of those stupid things might have actually been a good idea. Like when Chiang Ching-kuo was promoting an eight-lane north-south freeway but was forced to cut it down to four lanes due to opposition from such people as Hsu Hsin-liang. Now, of course, we all wonder why the first highway was so small, and we’ve spent billions trying to fix it. Oh, those were wacky times!

So let’s rant! Here for your fantastic whimsical consideration are some awful ideas that would make me not only un-electable but probably the target for an angry, pitchfork-waving mob or two, but which I think might just make things better down the road:

1. I might levy a heavy tax on ghost money, but I would probably just outright ban the stuff. Modern ghosts probably don’t use the stuff anyway, and we’re losing all of our god-damn trees as well as creating pollution. Ghosts probably use the Internet anyway. Go make your offerings on guipal.com if you feel the need, but don’t fuck up our air based on your superstitions. Moderate amounts of incense would be tolerable, but the ghost money thing…that’s right out.

2. Romanization: Hanyu Pinyin. Everywhere. For everything, including company names, personal names on passports, pet names, etc. Existing major city names would stay as is, and maybe include a hyphen between the given name characters, but otherwise, the spelling would all be according to Hanyu Pinyin. Your name is your fucking name, you don’t get to change it around on a whim. There’s a process for that. Include a system for romanizing Aboriginal names as well, of course, but for Chinese names, Hanyu Pinyin or GTFO.

3. Pump up the electric scooter infrastructure (get it? Pump up….oh forget it), allow imports to compete on the market, and ban two-stroke scooters outright. If you have a two-stroke scooter, you get a discount on your new electric scooter. Congratulations.

4. Hello service industry people! Tired of hiding behind the counter whenever someone of a different race walks in because you fear they might speak another language? I’m here to solve your problem: From now on, no matter who your customer is, the first words out of your mouth will be in a local language. If they complain, tell them I said it was ok. If said customer fails to understand that, then figure something out. I guarantee you it won’t be as much of a problem as you think it will be, and even when it is, it’s not your problem, it’s theirs. Speak your own fucking language; they’re the visitors here, not you. To our police friends: If the white dude on the scooter without a license doesn’t understand you, again: Not your problem. You got his info, you issue a ticket. After that it’s his problem. Have some fucking self respect.

5. Ships. Hey, did you know that we’re on an ISLAND? With lots of rivers? Look at any map from the Japanese era, and you’ll see a spaghetti plate of lines connecting Taiwan to lots of other places. Kind of sad that everyone’s so afraid of water that we’re all hiding behind huge concrete walls with soldiers and barbed wire on top, isn’t it? So STOP IT! Coming soon: Not only mandatory swimming classes in schools, but also ferry services between Taipei, Ilan, Hualien, Taitung, Kaohsiung, and Kending. Actual ferries across the Danshui/Dahan/Xindian river system. A new flood-containment system that doesn’t require huge concrete barriers. Let the river be part of the city again. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

6. Old buildings. Work out a system of reimbursement for historical structures so that the owners won’t be left with a rotting hulk on their hands, lest they tear the things down in the dark of night and exclaim in mock surprise the next morning: “Oh my, I wonder what happened to my house?” We will prepare a pool holding all the discarded alligators from Da-an Park just for you.

7. New buildings. Residences can only stay empty for a certain amount of time, whereupon Mr. Tax man will be visiting. Want to fend him off? Cut your losses and sell it for cheap. You can’t guarantee you’ll be able to sell most of the apartments in that building you’re building? Perhaps you should have taken a clue from the seven completely empty buildings next door. *WHOMP goes the stamp* Denied.

8. Bar-free windows. If you insist on barring up your windows, that nice, strapping Fireman will not be able to rescue your sorry ass from the fire you started when you were trying to burn ghost money in your god-damn hallway. Enjoy the view, and stop worrying that thieves will make away with your moldy black sofa. The thing’s awful to sit on anyway.

9. Inspectors get changed out. Inspectors, no matter how honest they may start out, will inevitably be co-opted into the corrupt system. Change them out every so often to avoid this.

10. Politicians clean up their messes: Stepping down to “take responsibility” for something won’t be acceptable. You want to step down? Fine. FIX YOUR SHIT and then leave. We’ll be happy to show you the door after you stop the streets of your city from exploding. Thank you very much, and by the way, once you step down, you stay the fuck down. We don’t want to see your name on the ballot next month. Or ever.

11. The military. Sure, the draft is ending, but if you want a real professional military, changes are going to have to be made.  You can’t run a volunteer army the way you ran a conscript army, and you’re working against decades of bad memories for most of the people here. The first step is to pay a decent wage, make it a viable career, etc. But you need to market yourself to people who are into this kind of thing, by which I mean actual soldiering, not just lazy students or whomever you’re trying to impress with comfy barracks with Hello Kitty wifi spots or whatever the hell you’re offering. Offer adventure. Offer challenges. Leave out the amenities.

12. Chinese tourists. Hey, don’t we all love Chinese tourists? Or at least their money? But you know what? There are other countries in the world! Instead of participating in a race to the bottom, I think you’ll find that, with the above policies, people from other countries might just want to visit as well!

13. Freedom of speech. You hear a lot about how “free” Taiwan is. But there are a few niggling problems with that. The public insult laws need to go. Slander and libel are of course actual Things, but public insult is just a fact of life, and if you can’t handle being given the finger in traffic, you need to STFU and deal.

14. Public photography. In a decade or two, if things keep going the way they’re going, the only way we’ll ever know that places like Hungary exist will be reading questionable Wikipedia texts. Taiwan is ALREADY practically invisible in the international scene, and you want to prohibit photographers from showing it to the world? Fuck that. If you’re in a public place with no reasonable expectation of privacy, we don’t care if someone shot you picking your nose or scratching your ass.

15. Actual fucking media. This is becoming a problem worldwide, but it’s pretty awful here as well. In order to call yourself a news source, you will need to offer real, actual journalism. You start in with this 24-hour “infotainment” shit and you’re out. You mix your op/ed with your actual news? There’s the door. You opine on shit you have no right to opine on? Good-bye. On your way out, feel free to look up Walter Fucking Cronkite and school your ignorant ass.

16.  The street is the street. It is not your living room. We will paint a line where the street goes, and another where the sidewalk goes. You will not put your shit in the street. You put it there, and it becomes ours. Or a deserving charity’s. But not yours.

17. Intersections. Automatic bollards will pop up at red lights. Emergency vehicles will be able to disable them, but your gas pedal will not. You want to run a red light? Talk to the bollard. Anyone injured by running into a properly functioning bollard will be required to take all the responsibility for all the damage caused.

18. Marijuana. Allow it, regulate it. There’s no real reason not to. America may have a stick up its ass about this, but the opium wars ended a long time ago. Sure, it’s a drug, but we allow tobacco and alcohol, under certain conditions.

19. Marriage equality. Again, no reason not to. Many reasons to do it. We’ll be in the spotlight as a bastion of human rights in a region where such things are rare. There’s literally no downside to it. You even get to piss off crazy right-wing Christian hypocrites, which is just gravy.

20. Immigration: Create a reasonable system of immigration that treats everyone the same. You don’t want foreigners to be allowed to keep their other citizenship, Mr. ABC? Fine, then you’ll have to do it too. Same rules for everyone, regardless of race.

21. Judges will be selected by a rigorous examination after decades of experience in the legal system, not as a graduation present from mommy and daddy along with a fake Versace bag from a night market. The bag is more convincing.

22. Stop worshiping English. No, the whole world doesn’t speak it. It’s not a sign of how “fashion” you are. Sure, if your job involves negotiating government treaties face-to-face with U.S. congressmen, then of course you need to possess a good command of the English language. If you run a bubble tea shop and are worried that some day you might be tasked with negotiating government treaties, I’d say don’t worry so much about the English lessons and more about the shit chemicals people are trying to put in your tea.

23. You put poison into food? You go to jail for a long time. People die or get sick from the shit you put in your food? You get tried for murder and/or attempted murder. In any case, your company disappears.

24. Raise utility prices. “Hmm, we have to somehow restrict usage on these valuable items, but everyone is using them because they’re so cheap? WHO CAN SOLVE THIS UNSOLVABLE CONUNDRUM?” Yeah, you could write some hokey slogans about being a good citizen and saving these precious resources out of the goodness of your precious widdle heart. Or you could do something effective, like raises water and electricity rates to levels that aren’t some of the cheapest in the entire world. It’s crazy, but it just might work!

25. Language schools (and everyone else, but especially language schools): Don’t want to hire someone because of their race? Sure, go ahead! And then go to fucking jail, because that shit is lame.

I guess that’s it for now. I didn’t put a great deal of thought into these, but go ahead and sharpen those pitchforks, because everyone knows that some random blog post is legally binding and everyone will be forced to think exactly the same way as I do.


posted by Poagao at 12:14 pm  


  1. I get hopping mad at how many drivers do nothing to help ambulances and fire trucks pass through traffic and lights quickly and safely. But I saw that last week something on that finally cleared a committee, so maybe there will be at least a minor improvement, though I could still face public insult laws for yelling at those drivers who fail to even attempt to yield to emergency vehicles.

    Re. no. 13: Watching Game of Thrones last night, I was reminded of Taiwan’s restrictions on what is shown on television. Although in the case of that series the censoring is Singapore’s doing rather than Taiwan’s, isn’t there still a government office somewhere (formerly within the GIO) where people employ scissors/mosaics “to protect the children” or whatever? Certainly TV here has a lot lower T&A quotient than back in the 1990s — if you don’t count the special subscription channels, of course.

    Censorship of movies showing in theaters doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. But that doesn’t appear to mean that the censorship office is gone, rather that Taiwan likes to use certain opportunities to brag it’s more open than other countries in the region because some art film gets cleared (e.g., Nymphomaniac).

    Comment by Mark S. — April 14, 2015 @ 5:32 pm

  2. I’d vote for you.

    Comment by Anthony van Dyck — April 14, 2015 @ 9:41 pm

  3. I agree completely. But, would like to add two.

    26.) Language schools: hire ACTUAL FUCKING TEACHERS and not Rando McWhitey. I don’t just mean “don’t hire based on race” although that’s a part of it, but I would shut down any language school that can’t be bothered to hire teachers that lack even a basic certification. It needn’t be a teaching license as they aren’t public schools and many language schools cater to adults (teaching licenses teach you how to deal with children – all but useless in an adult situation), but it needs to be something. Hire based on qualifications, not race, and have some actual baseline qualifications, or get out of the damn business. You don’t deserve to be in it.

    27.) If you’re going to do something about utility prices, perhaps also do something about wage stagnation? How about putting a real end to unpaid overtime, and excessive overtime? How about telling company owners that no, they can’t pay entry-level office workers below a living wage (22k/month is NOT A LIVING WAGE) and then expect them to work 12 hours a day?

    and one more for good measure:

    Mandatory gender-equality curricula in schools, maybe as a multi-part unit in health or civics class. This is a problem in other countries too – no matter where I am, I’m sick of hearing sexist bullshit that could have been addressed during one’s education. Assumptions that women are the best or only responsible caregivers to children (thank you, Ms. KMT legislator, for trying to add that language to the working hours amendement)? Back to school. Say that if a man hits his wife, there must be a reason? Back to school. Opining that a woman can’t be president because women in Taiwan don’t have military experience? Back to school. Feeling unmanned by the thought of your wife or girlfriend making more than you? Back to school. Are you a boss who tries to give female employees marriage advice like “you shouldn’t divorce your husband, men cheat, it’s what they do, it’s woman’s job to forgive them?” Back to school.

    Rather than trying to talk down this nonsense when it is said – which I guess is someone’s freedom to say and think, however shitty their opinions – target it in school through education so it will be much less common and much less socially acceptable. Make other countries stand up and take notice when Taiwan becomes a thought leader in this area.

    While we’re on the topic of school, memorizing a battery of facts for repeated exams? Maybe not the best education strategy.

    Comment by Jenna — May 17, 2015 @ 11:23 am

  4. I agree, Jenna, though not being an English teacher I didn’t feel I should get into too many details on education. But the educational system does need a complete overhaul, and that includes educational values instilled outside the classroom as well.

    I’d also provide incentives to companies that pay decent wages to their employees, but I’m also not a businessman and don’t know exactly how that would work in detail.

    Comment by Poagao — May 17, 2015 @ 11:30 am

  5. I’m also not quite sure I’m on board with the idea of stopping the learning of English. I agree with “stop worshipping English”, but even if you don’t need it for work, some people just enjoy learning it, and others want it the way you’d want any skill. I don’t want to be some crappy American style anti-foreign language monolingualist. If you want to learn a foreign language, do it. Go ahead. Even if you don’t need it for work – not everything is done with work in mind. But don’t worship it as a better language…just another tool in your skillset, the way I might take French lessons even though I don’t need French for work, or work on picking up Taiwanese although it’s not essential at all to my daily life.

    But get your English lessons from actual teachers (or at least people with certifications that are worth something) – the decline in people taking English lessons because they feel they have to, leaving only the people who REALLY have to or who want to, will likely correspond with the reduction in the number of “Engrish teechers” running around, which would suit us all quite nicely. Except the Engrish teechers – but who cares what they think.

    Comment by Jenna — May 17, 2015 @ 11:33 am

  6. I never advocated stopping the learning of English. Of course anyone should be free to study whatever floats their boat.

    Comment by Poagao — May 17, 2015 @ 11:35 am

  7. Got it. I am an English teacher (one with actual qualifications! Not a teaching license, but a teaching license wouldn’t help me in the work I do now anyway, which is with adults) so I do feel like I’ve got the expertise and experience to skewer that whole crappy industry.

    I would like to see many an Engrish teecher leave because nobody is going to hire an uncertified nobody, and many a buxiban owner go out of business because he or she doesn’t really know a thing about ELT and doesn’t care.

    Comment by Jenna — May 17, 2015 @ 11:35 am

  8. I love all of this.

    I had never thought of making a large scale ferry system. I’m not sure of the benefit though with MRT and HSR systems in place. These are quicker and more efficient systems.

    A little about schools. Actually the problem is the buxiban/anchinban system. Learning should primarily be done in the schools rather than in extra classes that last all night. Getting some supplementary help is okay but it’s currently replacing the schools as primary instruction.

    I think you underestimate the importance of English though. South America, Japan, Africa, Europe and almost every place on earth might not speak English as a first language but there are large populations that have some basic ability.

    Comment by Kirk Beiser — May 17, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

  9. ONCE AGAIN, I’m not saying English shouldn’t be taught, just that English shouldn’t be worshiped.

    Comment by Poagao — May 17, 2015 @ 11:07 pm

  10. Hi TC. Perhaps off topic (like your site tho). Completely off topic, but I’m really interested in what style of Chinese art this is (at top of page), kind of a modern style, everything with an inked outline. I’m interested to know if there’s a name for this style. Usually there are modern themes, like buildings, cars, etc. All outlines inked. I like this style very much. Not all Chinese art is like that. It’s a more modern style. Can you help me? I am an artist.

    Comment by Brian — May 18, 2015 @ 4:08 pm

  11. It’s from a phone card. Remember those? I photoshopped Liao Tien-ding to have a camera and tripod.

    Comment by Poagao — May 18, 2015 @ 11:50 pm

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