In the ROC government system, a municipality is more or less equal to a province in clout. Under the current Act Governing the Allocation of revenues, 43% of revenues go to special municipalities (currently two, Taipei and Kaohsiung, plus the three new ones) and 57% to everywhere else. This unequal allocation means that the reason Taipei is such a nice place to live is because the rest of the island is impoverished to make it so.
The new upgraded New North City (what a lame name!) is the focus of a political chess match between the DPP and the KMT. This week the current head of the Taipei County government, the much-maligned Chou Hsi-wei. Chou, widely thought of as incompetent, tearfully announced that he would not seek re-election, something KMT insiders had been trying to dissuade him from doing for the last two years.
Instead, current Vice-Premier Eric Chu, one of the KMT's few rising stars, looks to be selected to run for the seat. In the China Times poll, Chu crushes Tsai Ing-wen, Frank Hsieh, and Yu Shyi-kun... but look at the numbers for Su Tseng-chang, formerly a chief of Taipei County, popular in the north after his excellent work (link):
February 4thUDN, another pro-KMT paper, has similar spreads. Su's popularity has put the DPP in an apparent bind, as KNN describes:
However, with the KMT’s candidate now all but certain, Su Tseng-chang may be forced to make up his mind ahead of schedule. This places Su in a pickle. If he were to win in Xinbei Municipality, he would have to serve out his term. If he were to lose, he might also be kicked out of the 2012 Presidential race in advance. According to the DPP party charter, anyone who participates in the municipality elections will not be permitted to run in other elections for public office within one year. This is the biggest reason Su has been delaying his announcement.Basically, the KMT is trying to force the issue so that Su can run for President, or for the chief of New North City, but not both. Su is quite popular, competent, and clean, and would make a formidable foe in 2012 for Ma, whose satisfaction ratings remain low (see link below). UDN offers the same "prisoner's dilemma" here. Thus the lowball poll numbers for Chu may be part of a campaign to get Su to run against him for New North City mayor.
Apple Daily editorialized on President Ma's remark that he had only learned about Chou Hsi-wei's refusal to run from the paper:
It is strange for President Ma Ying-jeou to say Monday that he only learned about the bowing out of Taipei Magistrate Chou Hsi-wei from the mayoral election in Xinbei City, the name by which the county will be known after being upgraded to a special municipality, after reading about it the newspaper.Ma is both President and Party Chairman. He didn't know that Chou wouldn't run?
When Chou, with tears in his eyes, announced his withdrawal, he said he talked "twice" to both Ma, who is also Kuomintang (KMT) chairman, and KMT Secretary-General King Pu-tsung. Is it not bizarre, therefore, for Ma to claim he only knew about it after reading the paper? If Ma knew in advance but professed to have no knowledge, it would be a pretense, but if Ma really did have no knowledge, it would be even worse.
We are worried about whether the president is indeed stupid, or whether he thinks it is everyone else who is stupid. We would prefer it to be the latter, because if not, then it means he is being kept in the dark.
If a president rules the country by reading the newspaper, then it would be better to seek a newspaper chief to serve as president. Some have mocked Ma on the Internet that he only knew he was elected president after reading about it in the paper and that the first step when China invades Taiwan will be to destroy all newspapers so that Ma will know nothing about it.
- Latest satisfaction ratings of Ma and KMT government: dismal.
- DGBAS raises economic forecast.
- Bruce Jacobs' excellent editorial on the resignation of Su Chi.
- Hong Kong firm trying to buy large Taiwan insurer, an AIG unit (Nan Shan), amidst concerns the Chinese government is secretly backing the deal. Taiwan government currently cold to it.
- Conference on flexibility in the Taiwan Strait at USC on the 24th. Speakers are all pro-China MOFA types. Don't expect much insight.
- Hilarious: Google's first two choices for "Ma ying-jeou" in Chinese are "incompetent" and "bad omen."
- DPP wants tax relief for East Coast just as by-election looms. What a coincidence.
- BLAST FROM THE PAST: M.A. in Taipei alerted me to this great article on the history of popular music in Taiwan, from Sinorama in 2002.
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