Friday, July 21, 2006

The Emptiness of the Drop Chen Campaign

An anonymous spammer has been spamming the blog with urgent requests for me to visit the Drop Chen Email Signature campaign supposedly run by pro-Green academics. The movement has made no attempt to clean up or verify the signatures, and the whole thing is simply more fools dancing to pro-Blue tunes. Case in point: me.

The first page has a list of signatures. I'm on there -- twice -- in Chinese -- although I have never signed this petition (see pic above; click for life size). I'm not even going to bother going through the hassle of emailing them, as the spammer will simply paste my name in there again. How hollow are the ethics of the Drop-Chen crowd? Pretty hollow, apparently.

UPDATE: JOHNNY NEIHU is all over this one:

Stop right there. Amazing, is it not, that this group can be so erudite and have such impressive democratic credentials, yet not have the ability to open a dictionary and look up the meaning of "democracy"? If they have it their way, it'll be trial-by-polling-firm under the supervision of an academic Star Chamber all the way until the next premature election, and the next premature election after that.

You can also give the boffins among this group some brownie points for tenacity. Years of evidence of the unreliability of Internet polling didn't stop them from seeking support from anonymous Netizens in their all-talk, no-action campaign.

No wonder, then, that their online petition asking Chen to fall on his sword received support from Chen himself, as well as first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍); Annette Lu; former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝); US President George W. Bush; the very dead Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石); and the unholy trilogy of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜). Oh, and Chen Shui-bian's dear old mother, too.

Hey guys, I know it's summer and getting pretty hot out there, but couldn't you have shed the egghead stereotype and hauled your lazy asses from your air-conditioned offices and out onto the street to collect signatures and addresses from real people?

But there's another thing that academics should do when making authoritative statements, (especially sociologists, who are prone to conflating science with activism): Declare your interests.

"Pan-green academics attack Chen" was the generic headline after these guys stood up to be discounted, but what they didn't disclose was several strong links to Lin Yi-hsiung, the latest addition in a line of former DPP luminaries to place ego above party and country. Lin has been sniping at the president ever since the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant debacle, which Lin in part triggered through his quixotic opposition to the project.

So, for once, I say thank you to the United Daily News and reporter Huang Ya-shih (黃雅詩) for filling in the CV blanks on this charade for the average punter. Huang reminds us that Fan Yun -- like Wu Nai-teh -- assisted Lin in his campaign for the DPP chairmanship in 1998, and that Wu was heavily involved in the formation of the DPP's New Tide faction.

Lin himself, like all good spiritual leaders of would-be factions, has stayed aloof, saying he doesn't want to get involved in any campaign -- but for good measure he gave his full support to this gang in the cause of removing Chen from office. Thanks for that, old chap. The KMT check's in the mail. You may now shave your head and make a pilgrimage to Yushan (玉山).

Clearly, being a sociologist or a political scientist makes you no less vulnerable to being a moron in public. But in case you need it spelled out for you, O Wise Ones of Academe, this crisis is not about factionalism, Chen's competence or his personal fate. It's about the credibility of the political system and due process being followed when the system shows up faults.

Presidents, even ineffectual ones, are under no obligation to resign. They can be impeached by the Control Yuan or recalled by the legislature, but if neither happens, then the president has the mandate of the Constitution and the imprimatur of the people to stay in office.

Yup. This petition is about a faction fight, not democracy.


David said...

Yeah - but then again, any petition which has "Mr. Q"'s endorsement must be OK ... :)

Jason said...

Any cause that attracts the support of someone named "Nangle" is good enough for me. Where do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

Michael and Jason:

viva democratic Taiwan

Tim Maddog said...

anonymous, didn't you already sign Michael up? If it wasn't you, then who was it? Tell us what kind of person you think would do something like that? I'd really like to know your thoughts on this.

And if that's what you ("anonymous") call "democracy," answer this simple question: Are the people behind that link asking the pan-blues to uphold the same "high moral standards"?

Michael, please do e-mail them. Let's see if they have any moral standards themselves.

Tim Maddog

Colonel Sanchez said...

Someone with a sense of humor that probably doesn't take himself too seriously -- unlike a lot of foreign academics in Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...

Someone with a sense of humor that probably doesn't take himself too seriously -- unlike a lot of foreign academics in Taiwan.

Yes, it's lucky there's no one like that around here. Being so pathetic seems to be limited largely to the anonymous posters....


Portnoy said...

Hi, Michael, many Taiwanese bloggers are also discussing about this issue, you might want to go to this url to join our discussion.

And of course, if you can help to collect some of the ideas arising from English speaking Taiwan blogosphere, that will be great.

I might also do some Chinese to English translation of some great Chinese articles if it is necessary.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, Portnoy, that site looks very interesting.


Kenneth Choy said...

In his piece, Johnny Neihu said that presidents "can be impeached by the Control Yuan" but the 2005 constitutional amendments changed that.

The current procedure is for the Legislative Yuan to initiate a motion of impeachment to be heard and adjudicated by the Grand Justices in the Constitutional Court. (Article 2 of the Additional Articles to the ROC Constitution.)

the foreigner said...


Makes me wonder if my Chinese alter-ego, a certain Mr. Why-Guo-ren, is also on the list.

I'm out of country right now, so I haven't been following Taiwanese news too closely. Thanks for cluing me in.

BTW, out of all those pages of signatures, how on earth did you ever find your own name was fraudulently added?

Kai Xie said...

hmmmm, I don't think Chen's mother is dead yet.....

Michael Turton said...

BTW, out of all those pages of signatures, how on earth did you ever find your own name was fraudulently added?

It was right on the first page, twice.