Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Robin Winkler To Run for Diane Lee's Vacated Seat

Max Hisrch of Kyodo has the report:

An American-born lawyer who gave up his U.S. passport and gained Taiwanese citizenship has become what he said is the first white to run for the island's parliament, vying for a seat that until last month belonged to a Taiwanese who resigned over allegations she holds U.S. citizenship.

Robin Winkler's candidacy, announced this week, for the legislative seat of a key district in capital Taipei is the latest ironic twist to the island's rough-and-tumble politics.

But Winkler's bid to represent Da-an District, where residents lean toward conservative Chinese values, also highlights Taiwan's shifting identity politics in the era of globalization, as a flood of immigrants and an ethnic divide figure prominently in the island's political narrative.

And in many ways, Winkler, 54, is the opposite of the ex-lawmaker he seeks to replace: Diane Lee, formerly of the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT). Lee, 50, last month quit her seat amid a storm of controversy over whether she holds U.S. citizenship and thus broke a law prohibiting dual citizenship for lawmakers.


By contrast, Winkler, to all appearances, is a foreigner. In 2003, however, he renounced his U.S. citizenship and became a naturalized Taiwanese, partly to avoid deportation for his legal practice and activism, he said. Fluent in Mandarin, he runs Winkler Partners, a Taipei-based law firm he founded in 1993, and the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the environment.

''We're going to run a very international campaign,'' Winkler told Kyodo News by phone Wednesday, referring to his bid to become the island's first naturalized citizen to hold a parliamentary seat. ''Ours will be a platform of global values.''

Winkler seeks the nomination of the Green Party, a global political party advocating environmental conservation and non-violence. The party's Taiwan chapter, he said, will likely choose its nominee this week, with that candidate running against candidates from the KMT and DPP. Winkler said he would focus on environmental issues and social justice in his campaign.


Winkler's bid comes amid a small but growing shift in demographics, as the island transitions to what its National Immigration Agency calls an ''immigrant country.''
Winkler, driven and intelligent, will make a fine addition to the legislature. Don't know how useful he'll be in its fistfights, though....


Anonymous said...

I hope he will win the seat.
My parents live in Da-An area, and are deep-green supporters.

Good to see someone like Robin to run for the vacated seat. We need CHANGE too.

PS. Change for the better not worse!

One of your fan,

insectlin said...

He can count on two votes from my parents.

And I will use my blog to advocate his cause. (Probably only for Green Faction, in this case.)

Go, go, go.

Readin said...

I was kind of excited about this until I learned he wouldn't be running for DPP or even KMT. Does he have a spending cut bill's chance in Congress of getting elected?

Anonymous said...

While I respect Winkler's work on environmental issues, there's a much bigger, more important, more current, and I think much more persuasive issue of sustainable development.

Don't get me wrong, environmentalism and sustainable development overlap quite a bit, but they aren't identical, and hands-down, sustainability is the more powerful issue in Taiwan (as it is elsewhere). Sustainable development wraps a lot of hot issues in terms that bring together both left and right, liberals and conservatives. It's not just about what's good for the natural environment:

0) It brings a practical bent and inclusive tent to bring in new allies to the fight against global warming
1) It's good for the poor because solutions must be scalable (ie pedestrian friendly developments, mass trans)
2) It's good for business because it focuses on efficiency and costs, not unfunded, inflexible regulation
3) It doesn't deny any and all growth, which isn't the position of the vast majority of environmentalists, but it makes that position explicit
4) It has a well-defined vision of what needs to be achieved

That said, the Green Party has been a leading advocate on sustainability issues, smartly pointing out that in Taipei City, motorists (both cars and motorcycles) have been increasing ever since the building of the MRT and that even the newer development of the city is neurotically focused on car-friendliness instead of pedestrian/bicycle or even scooter friendliness.

If Da-An district weren't a lost cause for the pan-Green camp anyways, I'd have some reservations about him siphoning votes away from the DPP candiate. But I think the press coverage he'll get, and the issues he'll be advocating have the potential to profoundly add to the political discourse in Taiwan, enough so that it'd be worth it regardless.

Best of luck to Robin and looking forward to seeing you in the news!

Robert Roth said...

Ah, it's a pity we moved out of Da-an just 5 months ago...

Then again, it's my completely uninformed opinion that he would split the DPP vote more than the blue vote.

Perry said...

Interestingly, the nationality law seems to state unequivocally that a naturalized citizen can only run for a legislative seat after 10 years as ROC citizen ( Article 10, both Chinese and English). Winkler has only been a citizen for five years. Does anyone know?

Michael Turton said...

Yes, perhaps Robin is trying to get publicity for that unfairness...or perhaps he was grandfathered in before the law was changed.

I'll call him and ask him tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

You don't have t post my comment; but you should update. Either the news is wrong and Robin can run, or he made a mistake (not qualified under current law) and isn't running.

Anonymous said...

2015 - 2003 = 12 - bingo.