Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Hermit Kingdom

Remember when Shih Ming-teh was going to camp out in front of the Presidential Palace until Chen Shui-bian stepped down? All bluster of course. As the media have reported, Shih is going to be a recluse -- until Chen Shui-bian steps down. Jerome Keating notes:

Shih Ming-deh has recently returned from the sunny climes of Thailand where he basked while whatever remnants (if any) there were left of his red shirts withstood the wind, rain and cold outside Taipei Main Station. Now Shih is plying another grandstanding move. He pledges that he will be true to his word, that since his coup did not topple Chen Shui-bian, he will become a recluse. He will retire into a small apartment near the main Taipei Main Station and stay there until Chen steps down in 2008.

Lots of people live a reclusive life in a small apartment near the train station, but only Shih can manufacture any media moments from it. Long past his sell-by date, as Shih was bidding reporters good-bye and closing the door to his new apartment, he told reporters that the public should vote Blue, and if they don't vote Blue, they should cast an invalid ballot.

I'm not worried, though. I'm sure the BBC will go right on breathlessly reporting about how Shih's demonstration was a non-partisan demonstration designed to "highlight corruption." It's one thing to err, but another to persist in it. As my favorite Vulcan once observed, just be sure you're not confusing empiricism with stubbornness.

But enough scoring on the klueless BBC. Bottom line: it's heartbreaking to see Shih Ming-teh, whom so many of us admired for so long, become a shill for the people who once put him in jail. What was it all for, Nori?


Anonymous said...

I really just don't get Shih... despite his sort of saint like credentials, his moves to topple Chen Shui-bian are as you and many others have pointed out, completely misguided, inconsistent, contradictory, full of grandstanding that comes to nothing...

Let's say the toppling CSB was the right thing to do. So this guy goes through all that jail time, but he gives up after a few weeks and then goes to Thailand, currently an authoritarian country??? He mentions nothing about the KMT's wealth, doesn't care about any of the confirmed corruption going on with either the KMT or DPP on anything lower than the presidential level... is it a grudge thing?

What happened to Shih Ming-teh's principles? You can be misguidedly idealistic, but he's not even that!

Anonymous said...

I don't get Shih either, so I can only guess that he feels Taiwan owes him for all the years that he spent locked up---and he intends to collect.

The debt that he thinks he's owed probably includes a great deal of fawning and adulation, along with an array of creature comforts. I'm fairly certain he feels a great deal of hostility towards Chen for taking the reins of the DPP, and denying him the prestige that he feels he deserves.

From his speech and actions, I think one can detect a large dose of meglomania. This is not uncommon among Taiwanese figures, but Shih lacks the defenses or inhibitions to contain those impulses.

For all his apparent faults, he could still have retained his heroic stature, if he had simply followed in the footsteps of the Peng Ming-mins, the Wei Ting-Chaos, the Huang Huas, and others of his era, who quietly left the spotlight for their well-deserved rest.

For some, though, the spotlight, the wine, the women, the money, and the fame (or infamy) are too powerful to resist.