Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Return to THIMUN

There is something poetic about returning to where it all began, at least where the last 12 months of our expansion began. I'm talking about THIMUN of course. Last year, I was lucky enough to be one of the select few to represent O-MUN at the conference, and honestly sometimes I wonder how the heck I did it. I was an O-MUN noob at the time, I only discovered the program in July, and had barely attended any debates. Yet, there I was, debating like there was no tomorrow, and out reaching like a clever salesman. I think back to all those meetings we had, crammed in Ms. Martin's room coming up with the ideas that have been implemented today. National programs, Assistant Directors, leadership trees, all came out of that one week in January.

I write this as we are about to start our descent into Schipol, the airport and to be honest, I am excited if not anxious as to what our team accomplishes this year. As so aptly stated by Ms. Martin, last year we were the outsiders, this year we are seated at the table with O-MUN members from all around the world. I look forward to watching the team debate in this amazing environment and I can't wait to spread O-MUN again. I have learned so much since last year and I can't wait to show off some of that knowledge.

This year, my team, the team, is comprised of 8 TAS students, all of which whom I have worked with over my many long years at TAS helping with the program, as well as 6 O-MUN delegates. In my opinion, this team may be stronger than the team last year, only because O-MUN has grown so much since last year and has provided so many opportunities for the delegates to better their craft.

O-MUN is something that I have come to love like a parent loving a child. It is something that I have put countless hours into working, caring, and improving, and while my time with O-MUN has not been as long as some of my colleagues, I am very happy with where I am today. I will say though, I have developed a whole new level of respect to my MUN directors: Ms. Sinclair, Ms. Rowe and Ms. Martin as I have come to see the travel teams in a new light. Organizing a team, this team, has been one of the most frustrating yet enlightening experiences I have ever faced. The level of work that is required was somewhat surprising, which led me to realize how much the directors put in each time a trip occurs. So I conclude with a word of thanks. Thank you for organizing travel teams, especially ones the I have been a part of, because I now understand what goes on behind the scenes.

Oh and we will have #rawherring awards for those who deserve them be cause like I said! Frustrating and enlightening.

A Humble Opinion to What's Going on Back Home

When I first heard about the protests, one thing immediately popped into my head: "Look, another example in which nothing gets done".Of course I referencing the fact that there have been documented incidents in which fights have broken out among the legislators.Now you might say that's just democracy in its "rawest" form but it's also just plain brawling.Now before I begin on what I have to say is my opinion on this whole matter, I have to flatly state that I too have a limited knowledge of what is going on.Everything that I am commenting about is things that I have learned from the CNN iReports, posts on Facebook, and conversations with my dad.Other than that, it is merely speculation.One thing before I begin is that when my dad and I were talking, it came up that this protest may just be a political stunt by the DPP (if you don't know by now, if I could vote, I'd probably support the KMT).Now here are a few statements that summarize my feelings towards this event.

1. I support the students as they exercise their right to protest and to act as a checks and balances for the government.
2. I do not support the actions in which the protest has been carried out such as but not limited to, the occupation of both the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan, as well as the accidental or intentional defacement of government property.
3. I support the need for a Free Trade Agreement with the PRC as well as any other country for it provides the basis of economic, social and political development.
4. I do not support the government in their lack of transparency, but I do acknowledge the fact that it is necessary at times.
5. I do not support the police in using excessive force to quell the protesters, but I do acknowledge the fact that there has been no precedent in this type of protest in the last few years and that a hard call probably had to be made in this circumstance.  Violence is should be used as a last resort, but if and only if that is the last resort.  Every action should be questioned beforehand.
The fact is that even if the FTA is passed, it can be revoked.  All it takes is a government whether it be this one or one with a DPP majority to say, "look, we don't like this, sorry, but no more." I mean we saw direct flights to and from the PRC established even after the terms of President Chen Shui-Bien.  In the terms that President Ma has been in power, there has been an increase in Cross-Strait relations.  Doesn't mean that the next President will want such, it is very possible that everything that the President has done will be all revoked the moment the next President is in office.  Nothing in politics is static.  What is interesting is that the protests have now drawn two types of people.  1. Those who are concerned about the lack of transparency from the government and 2. Those who fear an overreliance on the PRC with our economy due to the signing of the FTA.  I will now address both concerns to the best of my ability.
1.  Regardless of what happens, transparency from the government will most likely stay the same.  Yes, civilian watchdog groups can be formulated and installed but all this will do is increase the bureaucratic process in which the government is already flooded with. Even the US government has a buffer time in which they are allowed to release classified documents.
2. The fact is that the ROC is already heavily reliant on the PRC for its economy.  ROC's main export is computer chips and LCD panels, both of which are manufactured in factories in the PRC.  The PRC is the ROC's number one trading partner in which it accounts got 28.0% of the exports and 13.2% of its imports.  The ROC has already signed a trade agreement with the PRC in 2009 called ECFA, in which it could potentially expand the market for ROC exports (the benefits to ROC have yet to be determined though).  ROC also has seen an increase in the tourism industry.  500 thousand tourists from the PRC came to the ROC in 2013.  If the FTA is not signed, then there must be more FTAs with other countries to compensate because economic development should not be stunted as a result.
To be honest, I found it funny when I started seeing pictures of TAS students joining the protests because I began to question if those students really knew what was happening.  I remember a couple years back in middle school, my parents took me to the protests that called for the removal of President Chen Shui-Bien.  I had no idea what was happening, besides the fact that I had to stand, and yell and maybe get a free hat.  I did not know the controversies that surrounded the President and at the time nor did I care.  Now I'm not saying that TAS students are ignorant or oblivious because I know some are probably following the news intently and have a clear sense of what is happening.  I do find it funny though that the first news outlets that were being sourced by iReporters on CNN iReport came from Apple Daily, which in my opinion is nothing more than news being over hyped with cool pictographs.
In conclusion, what this article and what my comment and what everyone else's comments are is an exercise of our rights as well.  However, it does not call for bashing of other opinions, yes some may be unsubstantiated or come from people like me who know that they don't have the whole facts but nonetheless it doesn't mean that I should be mistreated or shamed on the Internet.  The freedom of speech and press does not entitle people to be attacked or mistreated due to their opinions