Archives:

Taiwan’s ruling party candidate defiant despite disastrous polls

Taiwan’s presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu said she will run for presidency despite her unpopularity with voters. Photo: SuppliedTwo women to decide Taiwan’s relationship with China
Shanghai night field

Taipei: The embattled presidential candidate for Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang, Hung Hsiu-chu, has refuted calls from her own party to step down, despite facing a likely landslide defeat in the island’s forthcoming January election.

A defiant Ms Hung, who is trailing heavily behind opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen in the polls, stressed she planned to remain in the race to the end.

“I will insist on my original intention to run for president and carry out my promise … even though some party members have tried to persuade me to quit,” the 67-year-old told reporters in Taipei on Tuesday.

Local media has widely reported that KMT party chairman Eric Chu had appealed to Ms Hung repeatedly to step down because of her disastrous polling numbers.

“Maybe she doesn’t care about her personal success or failure,” Dr Chu told reporters on Tuesday. “But as the KMT chairman, I must consider our party’s future existence.”

“I needed to tell her a truth that, from a grassroots level right up to heavyweights within the party, there are differing opinions and voices concerning her [nomination for presidential election].”

Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency, citing an unnamed party official, reported the KMT would likely call a special party progress as soon as Wednesday to remove Ms Hung and install Dr Chu in her place.

The straight-talking Ms Hung is considered a controversial candidate for her conservative views and pro-Beijing stance, both of which have alienated the voting public and caused deep divisions within her own party.

Ms Hung won her nomination after emerging as her party’s sole candidate for presidency in July, with other party heavyweights reluctant to come forward after a disastrous showing in last November’s “nine-in-one” local elections, which forced outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou to stand down as party chairman.

The KMT has struggled to regain its standing, especially among younger voters, with widespread dissatisfaction over the party’s handling of Taiwan’s stagnant economy and growing youth unemployment.

Entrenched concern over the KMT’s pursuit of increasingly close economic ties with China have remained a hot-button issue since protesters from the student-led Sunflower Movement stormed the Legislative Yuan in April last year to protest a trade services pact with the mainland.

Ms Hung’s unpopularity has exacerbated panic within the party. One recent newspaper poll put her support at 12 per cent, compared to 45 per cent support for Dr Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party. Ms Hung’s popularity rating was lower even than that of a third minor party presidential candidate, James Soong.

But Ms Hung said calls for her to quit the presidential race were “unreasonable” and any move to remove her would run against the KMT’s bylaws and destroy the party’s credibility in voters’ eyes.

“I cannot think of a reason to quit at the moment,” she said.

January’s poll will be closely watched in Beijing, which favours the KMT. Cross-strait relations deteriorated significantly under the previous DPP government led by Chen Shui-bian. Dr Tsai, who was defeated by Mr Ma in the previous presidential election in 2012, has espoused a more moderate approach to cross-strait relations than her predecessors.

The reporter travelled to Taipei as a guest of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Follow FairfaxForeign on Twitter

Follow FairfaxForeign on Facebook


Gogglebox and Limitless reviewed: watching the watchers

Gogglebox armchair critics Mick and Di. Photo: suppliedIt is perhaps a sign of the times that the ultimate expression of television entertainment is a program that captures people engaged in the dark art of watching television. If television is some kind of dark mirror to our lives, then what do we make of Gogglebox (Lifestyle Channel, Wednesday, 9:30pm and Ten, Thursday, 9:10pm)?
Shanghai night field

The brilliance and elegance of this series lies in the simplicity and relatability of its premise: people are filmed watching television, capturing every emotion from exhilaration to boredom. It’s a format that makes some broadcasters edgy, largely because it can deliver a crushing verdict on their work. Rather like picking one student to read another’s essay out loud in class.

What makes this particular iteration of the format so beautiful is that it more than lives up to its British antecedent. (The series is based on an established, and very good, television series from the UK.)

And yet it is not relatability alone that gets Gogglebox over the line.

The first series established a broad suite of great characters – Mick and Di, Lee and Keith, the Kidds, the Jacksons and others – for the audience to observe while they react to their own television viewing off-camera.

The casting here is about diversity of perspective and, vitally, a very present sense of humour. Without the latter, Gogglebox would collapse in a heap.

It also speaks to the universality of television itself. Were the Gogglebox format about capturing reactions to art, or music, or theatre, it might not have the same impact. There is something strangely universal about the warm, flickering glow of the television set, though as a society we don’t like to acknowledge that.

In that sense, the show acknowledges that we are all television critics, though we do not all write for this illustrious journal. So what then, would the Goggleboxers make of Limitless (Ten, Sunday, 8:30pm)‎, a rather ambitious attempt to retool the film of the same name for the small screen?

You would hope they’d like it. On view, it’s not too bad. Film-to-television adaptations are perhaps the riskiest (and least successful) of all with the possible exception of comic book-to-theatre adaptations. (Though the thought of Giganta: The One Woman Show is a tantalising one to ponder.)

Limitless began life as the book The Dark Fields, which was used to create the film. But rather than simply reboot the film’s world with new actors playing old characters and a slightly tired, stretchy do-over of the plot, the television adaptation rather brilliantly enters the film’s narrative space and, for the most part, leaves it intact.

Jake McDorman stars as Brian Finch, a man who discovers the near-limitless potential offered by the drug NZT-48. In the shadows is Eddie Mora, played by Bradley Cooper, who was the lead character of the film. So rather than simply copy the film, the series moves the story forward, brings in a new focus but keeps Cooper’s Mora as a kind of mentor figure, now with an agenda of his own.

There are powerful cautionary messages built into the series premise, notably that nothing comes without a price. NZT-48 has side effects, so every leap forward comes with risks. There seems to be a hint of a conspiracy surrounding the drug and those whose lives it has touched. But, as with everything in television, all will be revealed, eventually.

Ultimately it takes a certain kind of intangible balance to make everything work. That is perhaps thanks to writer Craig Sweeny and director Mark Webb. With the subtlest​ of changes, Limitless could have been cliched dreck of the sort so loved by the American television schedule. Struck correctly, it is television’s equivalent of the middle bowl of porridge: just right.


X-Files, Beowulf, Twin Peaks and more: the five hottest scripted dramas at Mipcom

Billions stars Damian Lewis and Paul GiamattiDazzling debut: World premiere of new X-FilesMipcom gets underway in Cannes despite natural disaster
Shanghai night field

Though the seemingly endless pit of reality TV formats has always been the well from which TV’s program buyers drank, much of the chatter at the annual television market Mipcom now focuses on scripted drama.

Indeed, as programs such as House of Cards, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have become the most valuable pieces on the programming chess board, there is an ever-present sense of hunger to find the next big scripted hit.

Many come to Mipcom, which is held annually in Cannes, France, with their eye on the big prize of international sale, but few are truly distinct enough to become “the next Game of Thrones”. Indeed even aspiring to take that mantle is fraught with risk.

But there are strong contenders in the scripted arena. And this year’s Mipcom has five shows around which there is enormous buzz. They’re all very different shows, but they all have what every show at the market is desperate for: a hook which is strong enough to slow the passing sea of program buyers and draw them in. ‎Beowulf (ITV Studios)

Based on the epic poem of the same name, this is a 13-part miniseries which, of these five shows, is the only one which resembles Game of Thrones in visual terms. That said, it’s a vastly different beast. It sits much more closely to shows like Merlin and Robin Hood in that ITV is pitching it into a broader demographic, but it is nonetheless compelling and benefits greatly from recent leaps and bounds in the UK’s special effects world. (Thank you, Doctor Who.) It stars Kieran Bew as Beowulf, Ed Speleers as his adopted brother Slean and Joanne Whalley as Rheda, their mother, who becomes thane after the death of her husband, the beloved Hrothgar, and must battle to hold her community together, even as Hrothgar’s two sons go to war against each other.

The X-Files (20th Century Fox)

The truth is still out there? You bet it is. Due largely to the fact that both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have other commitments (he has Aquarius, she stars in The Fall) this sequel of a sort to the iconic 1990s science fiction mystery series is returning with just six one-hour episodes. And yet the buzz is palpable. The announcement from 20th Century Fox that the series would return was met with much fanfare, but since then momentum has grown. This “limited series” return will not just feature Duchovny’s Mulder and Anderson’s Scully, but some of the show’s iconic supporting characters, including FBI boss Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and the “smoking man” (William B. Davis).

Billions (CBS) Homeland. ” src=”http://www.smh上海龙凤论坛m.au/content/dam/images/g/i/1/w/s/x/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1435700059261.png” title=”” width=”100%” />

If the Wolf of Wall Street was somehow a treatise on Wall Street’s excess, Billions promises a much darker and disturbing treatment. All the buzz here stems from the show’s pedigree: Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti star, Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin are producing, and the CBS-owned Showtime, the channel which gave us Ray Donovan, is its US broadcaster. Billions is a study in the power and politics of New York’s high finance world, and in that sense seems very timely. Perhaps off the back of Lewis’s star turn in Homeland, this is also generating enormous noise at the market.

Into The Badlands (eOne)

Think of this as the stepchild of Game of Thrones and the martial arts genre. It will also have particular resonance for ns, as it is “loosely” based on Journey Into The West, an ancient tale which was turned into the much-loved television series Monkey. The US network AMC is describing it as a “genre-bending martial arts drama”, which follows the journey of a warrior and a young boy as they journey through a dark, dangerous, feudal world in search of enlightenment. eOne has a reputation for edgy and inventive dramas – the brilliant Matador springs to mind here – and Into The Badlands looks excellent.

Twin Peaks (CBS Studios)

Where do you even begin with one of television’s most enduring masterpieces which, on the whim of a throwaway line from slain schoolgirl Laura Palmer in the original series about returning in 25 years, is poised to fulfil on that promise? David Lynch’s reboot of Twin Peaks isn’t even finished – it has only just begun filming – and yet it is one of the market’s most interesting offerings. It is not being formally launched here – that will most likely happen at next April’s MipTV or next year’s Mipcom – but as a powerful measure of its potential, buyers are already visiting the CBS stand in the Palais with a keen eye on acquiring it.


Uber and Airbnb confirm they send profit offshore

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said as new sharing economy services emerged, it was vital to get the tax settings right. Photo: Daniel MunozUber and Airbnb have revealed in submissions to a federal inquiry that they route profit through companies in the Netherlands and Ireland, where taxes are lower.
Shanghai night field

Uber and Airbnb have told a Senate corporate tax avoidance inquiry  that while they comply with n tax laws, their n  operations merely provide support services to parent companies based in the Netherlands and Ireland respectively.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who is chairman of the  inquiry –  before which  Uber and Airbnb could both be hauled – said as new sharing economy services emerged it was vital to get the tax settings right.

“It is alarming when a company is evidently sending untaxed revenue to the Netherlands or Ireland earned from services delivered in ,” he said.

“The corporate structure of a company held by a parent in a low-tax jurisdiction such as the Netherlands or Ireland is cause for concern.

” cannot be a spectator as profits are simply shifted overseas through clever accounting methods.” No detailed accounts

Uber’s director of public policy Brad Kitschke said in the submission that since Uber was “a private company still in the early-investment stage,  unlike listed companies [it] does not provide detailed public accounts”.

Uber was a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber International Holding BV, which was based in the Netherlands, he said.

And Uber BV was in turn an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Uber Technologies Inc.

The head company, Uber BV, was “responsible for the management of our international operations, including our business strategy and development, and financial investments and engineering”, he said in the submission.

Uber BV’s management team set the business objectives for the n market, which were then supported by Uber .

But Uber provided only “certain support services, such as local marketing promotions to potential riders and drivers, and to Uber BV”.

“Uber BV pays Uber for the performance of those services,” he said. “Uber complies with all relevant n tax obligations.”Tax structures under scrutiny

Such tax structures, which have been legal under international laws so far, could be changed as governments around the world begin implementing the final Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development plan against profit shifting, known as Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, which was released on Monday.

The submission noted the OECD plan had been in the works and could change the way companies like Uber were structured.

It also used the business lobby argument that under the plan could lose out to other nations such as China in the taxing of its resources.

“Almost every country in the world would like more tax revenue for their treasury,” Mr Kitschke said in the submission.

“But if the laws being suggested here in were imposed on n companies operating abroad – for example in China – the taxes paid by those companies overseas would rise and the tax paid locally would fall.”

“It’s why an international approach to corporation tax reform is needed, and why the OECD effort, which is inclusive of non-OECD countries such as China and India, is the best venue for addressing these issues.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the Coalition had given the n Taxation Office $86 million to go after multinationals and introduced legislation into Parliament that boost anti-avoidance provisions. “We were ahead of the curve in terms of the initiatives that were announced by the OECD and I think we are making great progress,” Mr Morrison said.Airbnb calls Ireland home

Airbnb’s and New Zealand manager Sam McDonagh said “Airbnb also complies with all n tax laws and pays all required taxes”.

But Mr McDonagh  also confirmed that “Airbnb is a wholly owned entity of Airbnb Ireland”.

“Our small team in Sydney performs the marketing and promotional functions relevant to the local market,” he said.

“All engineering, customer service, legal, business development, maintenance and other functions are administered by Airbnb Ireland and are physically based outside of .”

Airbnb’s marketing and analytics teams outside developed and directed marketing campaigns and targeted specific neighbourhoods within cities, “which are then executed by Airbnb in “, he said.

“Airbnb Ireland develops and manages Airbnb’s business operations outside of the United States.

“All transactions relating to users outside of the United States, including guests and hosts in , are handled by Airbnb Ireland, pursuant to applicable laws and regulations.”

The sharing economy had “transformed and strengthened the economy at large” and “the emergence of platforms such as Airbnb have enabled people to use their home in a diversity of ways that benefit the broader community,” he said.


Maitland council held to ransom over Morpeth development application

Morpeth residents are unhappy about plans for either a high-density housing estate or a trailer park at the old Morpeth Bowling Club site. Picture: Max Mason-HubersTrailer park touted if Morpeth housing blockedA developer is threatening to create a trailer park in historic Morpeth unless Maitland council approves a high-density housing estate in the village.
Shanghai night field

Morpeth Land Company wants to build 23 to 30 homes on the former Morpeth Bowling Club site and sell the existing clubhouse as a childcare centre.

A council report issued last month recommended that the company’sproposal to have the land included in the Maitland urban settlement strategy, which governs future land development and is the first step in the approval process for the housing estate, be denied.

The report also recommended that the proposal to rezone the land to ­general residential be denied.

If the council and NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure do not support the plan, the company will attempt to provide relocatable housing for the low socio-economic bracket on the land.

That type of housing is permissible, with the consent of council, under ­private recreation zoning.

Morpeth residents say council is inconsisent

Company director Brad Everett, who is the land use director at Hunter Land and who spent seven years as Maitland City Council’s planning director, met with the council on Tuesday to urge them to change their negative perception of the plans.

Councillors were supposed to vote on the recommendations at the September 22 meeting but council manager David Evans withdrew it at the last minute and said the issue would be dealt with in two parts.

A revised report, which has kept the same recommendation, is expected to be put to a vote at the October 13 council meeting.

Morpeth is my town, says developer

Fellow company director Lyndon McCleod, a former Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Show judge, said “the council officers were creating difficulty” and their “report on the proposal was harsh”.

He claimed Maitland councillors did not share the same negativity and said the company would be forced to create a caravan park on the site if the council refused to rezone the land.

“I don’t know why the council would want to put a caravan park there when you could have housing that was designed in keeping with the heritage of the area,” Mr McLeod said.

“With a zoning change the housing could happen and we think it is a more suitable development.”

A council spokesman said the developer could not assume the caravan park would be approved.

He said the proposal would be “subject to a rigorous assessment like any other development application put forward in the local government area” and a range of factors including the “impact on the heritage significance of Morpeth would be considered”.

Mr Everett’s company Everplan Pty Ltd, and Hunter Land senior development planner Deborah Gordon, also have a financial interest in the project, according to the n Securities and Investments Commission documents.

Maitland real estate agent Timothy Peters is another Morpeth Land Company director.

Hunter Land chairman, ­developer Hilton Grugeon, has worked closely with Mr Everett since 2006 and, although not financially involved in this project, he was privy to the finer details and offered his assistance.

He said, “the council had an easy decision to make”.

“If the council chooses not to change the zoning it will end up with a cheap and nasty trailer park. A cheap outlay for those involved, and a good return on investment.”

Distressed Morpeth residents have urged the council to say no to both plans.

Merrin Whitney, who is restoring a house opposite the site, was frustrated residents had to “jump through so many heritage hoops” when they made changes to a house or built a house in the town, while developers thought they were above the regulations.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it,” she said.

“The houses would be packed in there and it would ruin the site. A trailer park would also be awful – people coming and going all the time, you wouldn’t know who was over there.”

The initial council report, released last month, provided a range of reasons why the proposals should not proceed – including that it was inconsistent with local government legislation.

Despite this, the report noted the council could “make a spec­ific exception” for Morpeth Land Company and push through the land’s inclusion in the urban settlement strategy, if the councillors wanted to support it.

The report claimed making the exception would not spark aflurry of requests fromlandholders who also wanted their land included in the strategy outside the council’s annual land review.

The Herald, Newcastle