Sunday, November 27, 2005

Rallying With Chiu Tai-san


Today we took the family over to Fengyuan for a rally for Chiu Tai-san, the DPP candidate for Taichung County Commissioner. The rally commenced in the south-central part of the city and then walked down Chungshan Rd, the main drag, a few kilometers to Tanzi, where a stage had been prepared at a local school. The candidates gave speeches there to much noisy acclamation.

Fengyuan is generally friendlier to Chiu, and was absolutely plastered with ads for Chiu and the other candidates. We asked the Chiu campaign volunteers why there were so few Chiu ads in Tanzi, and they explained that each time they are put up, someone comes along and takes them down. There's still lots of dirty tricks going on in Taiwan politics.



Zeb poses with a water bottle featuring Lin Chia-lung, the DPP candidate for Taichung mayor.


The rally was slated for 2:30 but we came an hour earlier, to find a good parking spot (which the police promptly evicted me from) and soak up that good DPP atmosphere.


First we nicked massive amounts of election stuff. I am always impressed by the sheer amount of stuff the world produces.


The local TV showed up for the festivities.


Posing with flags and banners.


What would an election rally be without plenty of noise?



Mom the DPP babe.


This old couple insisted I take a picture of this poster from the 2004 Chen campaign.


Naturally, standing around, a prominently pro-DPP foreigner, the Chiu campaign immediately drafted me to hold one of the effigies that would flank the election stand. Zeb and Dan-dan stood alongside me right in front.


As time went by thousands showed up from the various local DPP campaigns.


Here we are. The leather strap helped support the weight of the thing, which was not only heavy, but took off in the wind like the mast of the Flying Cloud.


Sheridan and I get into some good father-daghter bonding.


One of the sins of the opposition.


Chiu Tai-san, left, chats with a policeman.


Here we are posing one of the DPP heavyweights, Chen Jyu, the former head of the labor bureau, driven from office by the ridiculous Kaohsiung MRT scandal. Long a champion of human rights, she was jailed by the KMT back in the old days. She is one of my wife's heroes.


Here we are being arranged in place by one of the DPP volunteers.


Everyone waits in high anticipation for....


Vice President Annette Lu. Lu is one of my favorite Taiwan politicians. She dresses just like your batty old aunt, and just like your batty old aunt, says whatever she damn well pleases.


Here she and Chiu Tai-san share a platform. DPP heavyweights campaigned all over island today.


Drumming up a storm with Chiu.


That's me carrying the purple one.


The Veep's security detail was amazing. Since a pan-Blue supporter took a shot at the President and Vice-President the day before the election last year, security has tightened tremendously.


The march began as Lu rode off to the next assignment.


Here I am marching. My back was about stretched out of shape at this point. Along the march dozens of old people stopped to shake my hand and thank me, and praise my children for their good looks. Several people also walked along to chat and explain things to me, conversations which invariably ended with a sigh of disgust and the use of the term "Kuomintang" as an expletive.


A TV news reporter interviews me. Several reporters cornered me, cameras in tow, and asked why I supported the DPP. I tried to give some disgustingly earnest answers.


We were instructed to slow down so that the march could spread out along the route.


Marchers crowd the road.


At this point, an hour into the walk, my kids' enthusiasm and energy was flagging.


A volunteer leads cheers.


Marchers crowd a street corner, election ads providing a backdrop.


Destination! A local junior high school.


Everyone gathered around for the rally. At this point most of the marchers had departed for a nap and dinner.


The kids explore Dan-dan's new electronic dictionary.


The candidates speak.

Now that you've gotten all the way down here, it is time to review the pics and ask yourself: what didn't I see here? The answer? Young people. Aside from a few diehard volunteers, there were virtually no young people present. I have never met a more politically apathetic group of young people than Taiwanese young adults. Fortunately they seem to grow out of it.

UPDATE: David adds in the comments below:

I suspect a big reason for the Taiwanese obsession with rallies is that plenty of people grew up with demonstrations their only possible outlet for influencing change: People who have grown up in a dictatorship demonstrate. People who have grown up in a democracy vote.

Good point.

12 comments:

mark said...

Awesome. Great to see you waving the green flag.

You comment about a lack of interest from youth is interesting, and perhaps not surprising. The strongest pro-Green, and often Taiwanese independence supporters I know are Taiwanese kids here in London. They seem to have a political awakening when they travel and live abraod. I met members of a taidu group once who all sported little Taiwan flag pins, like Kim Il-sung badges, and they had a missionary zeal.

menghsindy said...

What a great set of pictures!

As for the young people... I'm sure schedules vary, but isn't it more or less exam season right now? ;) I wonder, though, how many of those marchers were also parents who did NOT do what you did -- make the march a family affair. [Not that young folks are any more likely to follow the wishes of their parents, but still, political awareness can and perhaps should be cultivated at home...]

Anonymous said...

A couple of points---
1. I agree with you on Annette Liu---she spent almost 2000 days in jail for speakin' her mind---and she hasn't stopped.
2. After reading about the history of the KMT in Taiwan, it's hard for me to understand how anyone could support that party. I guess it just speaks to the power of corruption, payoffs, and strong armed tactics. I'm not saying the DPP is squeaky clean---but how could it be worse than the KMT, and worse, they're friends in the PRC.
3. You've got 2 good looking kids---thank God for you wife!!!!

Michael Turton said...

Thanks for all the nice words. We had a good time. MS, midterms finished a week or two ago at most schools. I hope the next rally has a lot more young people...

Michael

David said...

On the lack of young people: they do seem apathetic, but they also vote. Perhaps they just don't buy into the rally/demonstration culture of Taiwan?

After all, how many 20-somethings back home do you know who've been to a political rally (for local elections)? I don't think i've even seen any sort of rally for local elections in the UK!

I suspect a big reason for the Taiwanese obsession with rallies is that plenty of people grew up with demonstrations their only possible outlet for influencing change: People who have grown up in a dictatorship demonstrate. People who have grown up in a democracy vote.

Michael Turton said...

I went over my 50 strong business translation class today. About half said that they would vote, the rest simply refused or came up with lame excuses.

Michael

David said...

Yeah - but the last two local elections in the UK have had turnout of 28% & 35% respectively, so 50% ain't that bad ...

Mark said...

I could only wish Americans were as motivated to get out and vote as Taiwanese people are.

Micheal, I have a question. Is it true that there's a law that says foreigners aren't allowed to participate in political demonstrations in Taiwan? Obviously, if such a law exists it's a stupid one, but do you worry about publicizing your activities?

Titania said...

Hello from Portugal :)

It would certainly be an adventure to visit a country with such a different culture!
Thanks for sharing :))

Greetings!

Michael Turton said...

Micheal, I have a question. Is it true that there's a law that says foreigners aren't allowed to participate in political demonstrations in Taiwan? Obviously, if such a law exists it's a stupid one, but do you worry about publicizing your activities?

There is such a law, and I AM worried, although not so much about the law, but because my campus is pro-Soong, and revenge is possible, even certain. In fact my wife's friend saw me on TV and called. She was worried I might be tracked down and get my ass kicked. I did have a flat tire last night, but it was far from where the car parked, on a road I don't normally take -- nail puncture.

On the other hand, I've been participating in demonstrations since I can remember, and nothing has ever happened. I used to work for the independence movement so there is a file on me somewhere. If anyone wanted to kick my ass, they would have already.

Michael

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Possibly under constant pressure from, particularly, China, Taiwan's political arena evolved into something out of this region. I'm most amazed by fighthing MPs, as well as street rally to support their leader. Freedom of speech and action are just superb.

And the way i saw it, even if you get caught in some political demonstrations there, you'll get the support pretty soon.

Anyway you're still here. Cheers! :)

BostonCeltics33 said...

Good stuff Michael,

The strongest pro-Green, and often Taiwanese independence supporters I know are Taiwanese kids here in London. They seem to have a political awakening when they travel and live abraod.

What Mark said is so true. It's the same here in the States. Once the young people travels abroad, they'll realize they're not "chinese" but "taiwanese". They will also realize how they have been brainwashed in Taiwan.

Set their mind free Michael and show them how far the rabbit hole is.