The China Desk
home | the strait scoop | by others | links | downloads
Taiwan Independence Spin Control
April 14, 2006
According to an April 12, 2006 Taipei Times Editorial entitled "A carousel of legislative obstruction":
In recent years, South Korea's economic success has exceeded Taiwan's, a fact that has encouraged lawmakers to rail at Premier Su Tseng-chang in the legislature. Su has said that he will work harder on the economy, but legislators must take their share of responsibility because their obstructionism is the main reason behind the nation's economic and political troubles.A case in point: The nomination of Hsieh Wen-ding to the post of state public prosecutor-general was rejected by opposition parties because they did not approve of his views on the presidential assassination attempt, as well as scandals besetting the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp and the high-speed rail project. They claimed Hsieh would not have been able to avoid political interference. To increase the independence of the prosecutorial system, the state public prosecutor-general is nominated by the president and approved by the legislature. But all that has resulted is interference from somewhere else on the hierarchy. The opposition parties endorsed Hsieh's experience, ability and integrity. During his review, Hsieh said he would not tolerate political interference and that he would abide by the law, but his answers to questions on certain cases did not please the opposition. He did not, for example, accept the opposition's list of recommendations for a state public prosecutor-general's special investigation task force, changes which the government has rejected. The opposition parties are seeking a state public prosecutor-general who will not tolerate political interference -- unless it is their own. It is clear that Hsieh has been turned down because he would not accept this. Few will be surprised by the pan-blue camp's attitude, because over the past six years it has blocked government policy regardless of merit. It criticizes the government for implementing second-rate or inscrutable policy, but then cripples the operation of oversight mechanisms. One example of this is the Control Yuan, whos job it is to monitor policy implementation and proper conduct, but which has been frozen for more than a year because of opposition dissatisfaction with the president's nominees. As a result, cases in which civil servants have been accused of breaking the law, disciplinary measures for bad performance and public complaints are not being processed. All of this, and Ma Ying-jeou's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has the temerity to throw corruption allegations at the government. This brazen behavior is the result of an opposition that is prepared to damage not only the government but also the organs of state to whatever extent deemed necessary to win office. It's a circular game of the utmost cynicism: Block the appointment of senior investigators, then complain the government isn't doing any investigating. Until the Control Yuan and the judicial system are permitted by Ma and his team to function properly so that corruption and other irregularities can be investigated, we can only expect more of the same -- all the way until the next presidential election. The opposition's refusal to approve the nomination for state public prosecutor-general is only the latest -- but by no means the last -- example of an opposition that claims to stand for the interests of this country but actually could not express themselves in a more contemptuous fashion.
Published on TaipeiTimes http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2006/04/12/2003302326 Editorial: A carousel of legislative obstruction Wednesday, Apr 12, 2006,Page 8 In recent years, South Korea's economic success has exceeded Taiwan's, a fact that has encouraged lawmakers to rail at Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in the legislature. Su has said that he will work harder on the economy, but legislators must take their share of responsibility because their obstructionism is the main reason behind the nation's economic and political troubles. A case in point: The nomination of Hsieh Wen-ding (謝文定) to the post of state public prosecutor-general was rejected by opposition parties because they did not approve of his views on the presidential assassination attempt, as well as scandals besetting the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp and the high-speed rail project. They claimed Hsieh would not have been able to avoid political interference. To increase the independence of the prosecutorial system, the state public prosecutor-general is nominated by the president and approved by the legislature. But all that has resulted is interference from somewhere else on the hierarchy. The opposition parties endorsed Hsieh's experience, ability and integrity. During his review, Hsieh said he would not tolerate political interference and that he would abide by the law, but his answers to questions on certain cases did not please the opposition. He did not, for example, accept the opposition's list of recommendations for a state public prosecutor-general's special investigation task force, changes which the government has rejected. The opposition parties are seeking a state public prosecutor-general who will not tolerate political interference -- unless it is their own. It is clear that Hsieh has been turned down because he would not accept this. Few will be surprised by the pan-blue camp's attitude, because over the past six years it has blocked government policy regardless of merit. It criticizes the government for implementing second-rate or inscrutable policy, but then cripples the operation of oversight mechanisms. One example of this is the Control Yuan, whos job it is to monitor policy implementation and proper conduct, but which has been frozen for more than a year because of opposition dissatisfaction with the president's nominees. As a result, cases in which civil servants have been accused of breaking the law, disciplinary measures for bad performance and public complaints are not being processed. All of this, and Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has the temerity to throw corruption allegations at the government. This brazen behavior is the result of an opposition that is prepared to damage not only the government but also the organs of state to whatever extent deemed necessary to win office. It's a circular game of the utmost cynicism: Block the appointment of senior investigators, then complain the government isn't doing any investigating. Until the Control Yuan and the judicial system are permitted by Ma and his team to function properly so that corruption and other irregularities can be investigated, we can only expect more of the same -- all the way until the next presidential election. The opposition's refusal to approve the nomination for state public prosecutor-general is only the latest -- but by no means the last -- example of an opposition that claims to stand for the interests of this country but actually could not express themselves in a more contemptuous fashion. Copyright (c) 1999-2006 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved. 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.9. Devil's Advocate The Production About the Production Casting Sets Effects KEANU REEVES and AL PACINO star in a drama directed by TAYLOR HACKFORD about the eternal struggle between power and weakness, between temptation and surrender, between good and limitless evil. * * * Production Photo Kevin Lomax (Reeves) is a success in the courtroom and out of it. He's a young Florida defense attorney who's never lost a case. No matter how repugnant the crime, no matter how guilty the defendant, Kevin Lomax has the power to mesmerize the jury into accepting his arguments, buying into his logic, being convinced by his charisma -- and freeing his clients. Lomax enjoys a happy marriage with his sexy young wife, Mary Ann (CHARLIZE THERON), and even has a good relationship with his straitlaced, churchgoing mother (JUDITH IVEY), despite her pursed lips over his small-town-boy-makes-good lifestyle. In fact, things seem just about perfect for Kevin -- nearly Heaven on Earth. But not exactly. One day Lomax is in court defending an alleged child molester. In order to win his case he has to break down the victim's composure just enough to make the jury wonder if a teenage girl might have lied about her teacher's slimy advances. And win Lomax does -- despite his own awareness that his client is guilty as sin. Soon after, Lomax receives a visitor -- an urbane New York attorney (RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON) who explains that his powerful law firm has become aware of the Florida hotshot's acquittal record and would like to meet with him personally -- at their very lavish expense. Over the urgent objections of Lomax's mother, who asserts that New York City is the world's nexus of sin, Kevin and Mary Ann head for the Big Apple and a look at the astounding luxury that life in the big city can offer the fortunate. And Kevin Lomax meets John Milton (Pacino), the man who has summoned him in this extraordinary fashion. Milton, an earthy, brilliant and charismatic man, is the founder and head of Milton, Chadwick, Waters, a powerful, mysterious law firm with interests and clients all over the world. He's been watching Lomax and he wants him at the firm. He can make Kevin a very enticing offer, he says -- a home, a salary, a position in life that no one else can top. Production Photo Lomax, dazzled by the gorgeous apartment he's shown, the beautiful women and powerful men at Milton's parties, and the brilliant, accomplished partners in Milton's firm, grabs the brass ring. He and Mary Ann move into their elegant new home and begin a new life. But as Lomax tastes the power of being a wealthy New York attorney, something in him changes. Winning is no longer just a goal -- it becomes an obsession. When Mary Ann starts telling her husband that the other partners' wives are not what they appear, that their life is not a good as it seems, that she's having frightening experiences she can't explain, he comforts her brusquely and ignores what she's saying. And when Milton's interest in him seems inexplicably generous, Lomax decides not to question it. So by the time he finds himself defending a wealthy real-estate developer (CRAIG T. NELSON) who's accused of three brutal murders, Kevin Lomax is thrilled by the challenge, not frightened by his growing belief that his client is guilty of an even bigger crime. Production Photo Then Eddie Barzoon (JEFFREY JONES), the firm's managing partner, dies a sudden, horrible death. Mary Ann's terrified perceptions pull her away from sanity. Another law partner, the beautiful Christabella (CONNIE NIELSON), teases Lomax so seductively he can hardly think. Kevin's mother comes to New York and warns him that the situation has gone too far and there are certain things he needs to know. And through it all, John Milton keeps reminding his prote'ge' that life is rich with possibilities for those who are unafraid to sample them. But Kevin is beginning to be afraid. Lomax's existence in Heaven on Earth has ended. Now he's stepping into Hell. And standing at the gates to welcome him is John Milton. "The Devil's Advocate" is produced by ARNON MILCHAN, ARNOLD KOPELSON and ANNE KOPELSON. TAYLOR HACKFORD, MICHAEL TADROSS, ERWIN STOFF, BARRY BERNARDI and STEVE WHITE executive produce; and STEPHEN BROWN is the co-producer. The film has a screenplay by JONATHAN LEMKIN and TONY GILROY, based on the novel by ANDREW NIEDERMAN. Warner Bros will distribute "The Devil's Advocate" worldwide. About the Production.... Production Photo The premise of "The Devil's Advocate" excited director Taylor Hackford and struck him as both pertinent and entertaining. "The courtroom has become the gladiator's arena of the late 20th century," he says. "Following the progress of a sensational trial is a spectator sport; you're watching something that's part melodrama, part vaudeville and part cold-blooded calculation. And now that audiences have seen televised trials, they realize that morality and justice have very little to do with the outcomes. The winners are the lawyers who will stop at nothing. I thought it would be interesting to put that behavior into a larger context of right and wrong. "I was also interested in the way that competing and winning have become such core values in our culture that we lose sight of the place where some other concern should intervene. I wanted to examine a character who's been rewarded all his life for being a winner, so he's never stepped back to say that winning may not always be the best thing. We often fail to do that until things go wrong -- we don't know how to anticipate that we're about to take matters too far." "'The Devil's Advocate' is a story about some characteristically American values: ambition, drive, materialism," says producer Arnold Kopelson. "Going after success and its trappings is a classic American male behavior, and Kevin Lomax shows us what can happen when that behavior gets out of hand. "Anyone truly caught up in modern society and in running after public success will have done things for their ambition; they will have sacrificed some of their human quotient. The things you run after, the things that you attain all have prices, and they all impact on other elements of your life," agrees producer Arnon Milchan. "It's wonderful and dramatic to look at our lives in terms of right and wrong, to see how close to making a Faustian bargain we have come." Hackford joined the production after reading the early version of the film's script, written by Jonathan Lemkin. "I liked the premise that Jonathan set up and the events in the story, but there were certain aspects of it that I wanted to develop even further," he recalls. Hackford brought in writer Tony Gilroy, with whom he had worked on his most recent film, the critically lauded "Dolores Claiborne." Gilroy and Hackford discussed the project and decided to expand on the tantalizing nature of evil in contemporary life at the millenium. "The people in this story who get into trouble are people who have made certain choices," explains Hackford. "Tony and I don't believe in blaming the Devil for these terrible events; when people have the opportunity to exercise their free will, they choose to damn themselves nine times out of 10. We wanted to show that you make your own choices in life -- the Devil is merely the impulse inside of us to choose what we know is ethically wrong. It's not some guy with a forked tail -- we ourselves are responsible." next next Find Theaters/Buy Tickets (c)1997 Warner Bros. 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.9. Devil's Advocate The Production Casting Production Photo Once the script was complete, it was time to begin the casting process. The impact of "The Devil's Advocate" clearly rests on the characters of Kevin Lomax and John Milton, two powerful men, one at the beginning of his career and one in robust mid-stride. Their emerging conflict is the core of the story, and it required two charismatic and gifted actors to fill the roles. Taylor Hackford feels confident that he drew the ideal mix in Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. Says Hackford, "Keanu has a different, perhaps stronger, presence in this film than the one we're used to seeing from him. Here he appears as a young man who has never had doubts about what he wanted, who's succeeded in life by trying hard and not wondering what else may have contributed to his success. I think Keanu has done a terrific job of bringing that kind of competitive, non-reflective, all-American guy to the screen." Production Photo "Kevin's an ambitious man, a moral man, too, but he wants things," says Reeves of his character. "He comes from poverty, and he now wants personal and material gain. He's never lost a case, he's vain, and he's proud he's an attorney. He wants to win; he wants to know that no one can beat him. Kevin's a man who's very much about control, and he always thinks that he has the answers. He even says in the height of his wife's trauma that `I'll win this case and then I'll focus all my energy onto her.'" Adds producer Anne Kopelson, "At the beginning of the story Kevin's never really encountered something he couldn't handle. He thinks it's all because of his abilities; he doesn't acknowledge the things in life that he can't control." John Milton is the essence of Kevin Lomax's temptation, the invitation by a modern-day Satan to enter an underworld that is represented by the excess of our most worldly pleasures. "He is the fulcrum," says director Hackford. "You feel Milton's presence in every scene, not only the scenes that he's in, but also the scenes he's not in, because you know that he is manipulating everything that happens. He is very sardonic, very funny and he can be cruel. But he's never really pulling the strings by himself -- he's giving people their choice, their free will to decide. Production Photo "Al Pacino was the first actor I thought of for the role of John Milton," continues Hackford, "I told him what I wanted at the beginning, he bought the vision, and then started coming up with his own ideas, and the character of John Milton really blossomed." Mary Ann Lomax is played by Charlize Theron, who made a substantial impact on audiences with her role in the independent release "2 Days in the Valley." Recalls Hackford, "I auditioned Charlize along with a substantial group of talented young women and she was an immediate standout; she had the range of emotion, from cocky to desperately vulnerable, that I was looking for. Despite that, she tested four times for us before she got the part -- and the reason is simply that she is so beautiful that I was afraid audiences wouldn't be able to empathize with her. In the end, though, Charlize's talent and perceptiveness convinced me that she was the right woman for the role." "Mary Ann is a powerful presence in this story," says Anne Kopelson. "She's very proud of her husband, and she's an outgoing, flirtatious and successful woman in her Florida hometown. When we first meet her, she seems almost like a female version of her husband, and they're very well matched. "The difference between them becomes much clearer after they go to New York. We realize that Mary Ann has an inner voice and that she listens to it, unlike Kevin. She knows that being a big frog in a small pond doesn't guarantee her success in New York City; she's insecure and doesn't try to be more sophisticated than she is. And when she sees people surrendering themselves to appearance, possessions and status, she knows that something is wrong." Agrees Arnold Kopelson, "Mary Ann loves to see her husband succeed, but she isn't greedy. She quickly gets overwhelmed by the demands of a successful Upper West Side lifestyle, but she can't convince her husband that they are falling away from each other. John Milton is wise when he sees that Mary Ann is the biggest threat to him in his plans for Kevin." Veteran stage and film actress Judith Ivey plays Kevin's mother. Says Hackford, "When Judy came in to read with Keanu, I could see on Keanu's face that they liked each other. There was a connection between them and it showed in their interaction. You could believe that she was his mother right from the start. Production Photo "She is an interesting character in the movie; at first she seems completely peripheral, like a detail of Kevin Lomax's life. As the story progresses, however, we come to understand her strength and we're even a bit surprised by the way she responds to the events that unfold around her." Kevin's behavior changes when he arrives in New York and encounters a diverse group of people whose attitudes are different from his own. At Milton's law firm, Eddie Barzoon (Jeffrey Jones) is the managing director, a cocky sophisticated and hardnosed attorney who encourages Lomax to enjoy his new opportunities. But when Barzoon himself begins to question his loyalty to John Milton, he finds that it's difficult to break the commitments he's made. Craig T. Nelson plays New York's most powerful real-estate tycoon, Alexander Cullen, who is accused of a brutal triple homicide. Cullen makes Kevin feel powerful by entrusting his defense to the young lawyer, but Kevin takes on a bigger job than he'd realized when he begins investigating Cullen's life. Nelson, known to millions of television viewers as the affable star of the hit series "Coach," demonstrates his talent for dramatic roles and darker shadings in his portrayal of Cullen. Christabella, played by Connie Nielson, is the clever and beautiful lawyer who is, in many ways, the female counterpart to Kevin Lomax. Says Nielson, "Christabella will stop at nothing to succeed. She and Kevin are very much alike: they're young, attractive and completely driven by work." But Christabella's job is something Kevin doesn't fully understand until it's too late. Tony Award winning actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson was cast in the role of Leamon Heath, the firm's representative who is sent to Florida to recruit and lure Kevin to the firm. "I'm Milton's right-hand man and Milton's given me a wonderful life. I have a beautiful wife, a luxurious Fifth Avenue apartment, a big salary and everything I ever wanted. But to get these things I had to sell my soul, like everybody else at the firm," says Santiago-Hudson. Sets Production Photo Creating the rarified world of New York's ultra-wealthy and privileged is a unique challenge. The city's own style is universally well-known, but production designer BRUNO RUBEO wanted to juxtapose it with certain settings that were unforgettably unique to the character of John Milton. For example, the spectacular interiors of John Milton's apartment were built on a soundstage in Los Angeles. Rubeo explains, "We wanted Milton's apartment to be very loose and very sexy. We didn't want to give the impression that this was a man with a normal life and a normal apartment. This particular set was designed in order to fully capture the mystery of John Milton. "Some of the characters in the movie wonder, where does he sleep? Where does he entertain? It's seductive, yet scary and mysterious, so you can't really tell how far this place goes or where it goes. It is fitting that one of the most stunning sets in the film serves as the location for the film's finale." The dramatic and minimalist law offices of Milton, Chadwick, Waters, were designed and constructed on the top two floors of the Continental Club in lower Manhattan, although John Milton's round office was built on a soundstage. The stunning rooftop water garden of John Milton's office, however, was actually built on the rooftop of the Continental Plaza building, where the actors walked in a blustery February wind, inches from a 50-story drop, on narrow platforms constructed by the production. Computer graphics added the water at a later stage. "This way," recounts Rubeo, "the actors walked from a soundstage outdoors to a real setting, but it all looks seamless." Real-life real-estate tycoon Donald Trump lent his own Fifth Avenue penthouse to the production to double as the home of real-estate developer Alexander Cullen. The trial scenes were shot in both the federal and state courthouses downtown, as well as in the Municipal Building on Foley Square. The company also filmed in the neighborhoods of Chinatown and Soho. previous next next (c)1997 Warner Bros. 188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.9. Devil's Advocate The Production Effects Production PhotoWhile "The Devil's Advocate" is set in the real world of contemporary New York, the events in the story are certainly not conventional, and their representation onscreen required virtuoso technical abilities. Visual-effects specialists RICHARD GREENBERG and STEPHANIE POWELL and Oscar-winning makeup effects specialist RICK BAKER created the unsettling images that reveal the true identities of John Milton, his law partners and their spouses, as well as the dramatic effects at the climax of the film. Says producer Arnon Milchan, "One of the most frightening things is not to be able to trust your senses -- to look at something and not be sure you can believe your eyes, for example. Time and again, there are scenes in `The Devil's Advocate' where Kevin and Mary Ann think they may be seeing something very frightening, but when they look again, it's not there. The doubt and the confusion is even more frightening than the specter they thought they saw." Explains Taylor Hackford, "We were careful not to let the monster out of the box, so to speak, by using any images that were obvious. Things appear and disappear in a moment; sometimes they seem real and sometimes they seem like a bad dream, so that when the events in the story actually do emerge into reality, the Lomaxes don't know what's real and what isn't anymore. Production Photo"There is an important scene at the climax of the story in John Milton's home, where he himself is transformed, first into a younger version of himself that resembles Keanu Reeves, and then into an angel. To accomplish this, we used life masks of both Pacino's present-day face and his younger face -- the latter of which we obtained from DICK SMITH, who created it for `The Godfather.' We also made a life mask of Keanu, and Rick Baker, who did his training long ago with Dick, used all three to transform Al from a mature face to a youthful face to a blend of his own and Keanu's youthful face, and finally into an angel, which is, of course, what Lucifer was before he was cast out of Heaven. "The transformation is eerie and unsettling, but also very beautiful. It reminds us where the Devil came from, and why he exists: he was the highest angel, the closest to God, until his ego caused him to be cast away from God. Today, we are so often driven by our egos -- and rewarded for it -- that we forget how dire Lucifer's punishment was for his sin of ego and vanity. "We've created a very real-world Devil in this story -- a demon whose world is our own, with all its mundane events. He appears in human form and presents human choices, and his greatest lure is what we have in common with him: our greed, ego, jealousy, competitiveness, lust, dishonesty. Production Photo "He is familiar, and that's what makes him so dangerous. But when he is fully revealed, that's what also reminds us he was once divine. It was losing the battle, giving up the struggle against those temptations that damned Lucifer. So instead of showing him as something with horns and a tail, we chose to show him as he once was, before his ego corrupted him." Warner Bros. Presents, In Association with Regency Enterprises, A Kopelson Entertainment Production of A Taylor Hackford Film: Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate," starring Charlize Theron, Jeffrey Jones, Judith Ivey and Craig T. Nelson. The music is by James Newton Howard; the film is edited by Mark Warner; and the production is designed by Bruno Rubeo. The director of photography is Andrzej Bartkowiak, A.S.C. The executive producers are Taylor Hackford, Michael Tadross, Erwin Stoff, Barry Bernardi and Steve White. The screenplay is by Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy, based on the novel by Andrew Niederman. "The Devil's Advocate" is produced by Arnon Milchan, Arnold Kopelson and Anne Kopelson. It is directed by Taylor Hackford and distributed worldwide by Warner Bros., A Time Warner Entertainment Company. previous next (c)1997 Warner Bros. <A HREF="http://ng3.ads.warnerbros.com/event.ng/Type=click&FlightID=5212&AdID=5891&TargetID=1687&Segments=4,5,14,21,22,26,27,29,43,45,47,63,80,83,84,91,101,120,123,124,125,126,127,133,137,141,147,153,154,155,171,172,174,216,220,223,255,262,263,275,294,300,302,310,311,339,353,355,358,369,373,380,381,382,392,398,421,425,426,428,430,447,451&Targets=2370,235,550,818,2018,2261,2297,1708,1687,1121,2296&Values=25,30,46,50,60,72,85,91,100,137,150,189,227,231,357,772,808,856,1030,1067,1070,1148,1167,1191,1193,1194,1210,1642,1702,1767&RawValues=&Redirect=" target="_top"><IMG SRC="http://fake.jpg" WIDTH=120 HEIGHT=60 BORDER=0></A> <A HREF="http://ng3.ads.warnerbros.com/event.ng/Type=click&FlightID=5379&AdID=6116&TargetID=2174&Segments=1,4,5,21,22,26,27,29,43,45,47,63,80,83,84,91,101,120,123,124,125,126,127,133,137,141,147,153,154,155,171,172,174,216,220,223,255,262,263,275,294,300,302,310,311,339,353,355,358,369,373,380,381,382,392,398,421,425,426,428,430,447,451&Targets=2394,320,2100,2174,2192,2316,80,2082,1116,2065,2370,235,550,818,2018,2261,2297,2296&Values=25,30,46,50,60,72,85,91,100,132,150,189,229,231,357,772,808,856,1030,1067,1070,1148,1167,1191,1193,1194,1210,1642,1702,1767&RawValues=&Redirect=" target="_top"><IMG SRC="http://fake.jpg" WIDTH=468 HEIGHT=60 BORDER=0></A> Devil's AdvocateHell Decor Greed There is no greater calamity than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontentment. And there is no greater disaster than greed. Lao-Tzu Every one of them was so cross-eyed of mind in the first life, that no measure governed their spending. Dante Inferno Greed is all right....Greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself. Ivan Boesky 1986 continue (c)1997 Warner Bros.