Saturday, September 18, 2010

Taipei Race Still Tight

As we batten down the hatches for typhoon Fanapi here on The Beautiful Isle, a China Times poll finds the DPP's Su slightly ahead of KMT Mayor Hau for the Nov election in that city. Hau has taken a beating from a steady drumbeat of DPP criticism of corruption in the city's procurement system. The Taipei Times reports:
Amid a string of procurement scandals related to the Taipei International Flora Exposition and the Xinsheng Overpass, Hau on Monday announced he had approved the resignation of his deputy mayor Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), adviser Chuang Wen-ssu (莊文思) and Chuang’s wife, Ren Shiao-chi (任孝琦), a secretary in Hau’s office.

The move came weeks after the city government was accused of buying flowers for the Taipei International Flora Expo and drainage piping for the Xinsheng Overpass at highly inflated prices. The city government’s slow response to the allegations only exacerbated the situation and hurt Hau’s image, costing him support in opinion polls less than three months before the election.

A poll conducted by the Chinese-language China Times suggested yesterday that Hau’s election opponent, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the DPP, now enjoys a support rate of 41 percent, two percentage points ahead of Hau.
The poll is more interesting than that. The KMT news site has it. The China Times poll also asked people who they thought would win: Su over Hau 43-27 in that one. China Times also polled on The City Formerly Known As Taipei County. The KMT's Chu was up 42-38 over the DPP's Tsai, and when asked who they thought would win, voters gave the nod to Chu, 38.5 to 32.7. It's incredible that after the solid performance turned in by the DPP in many years of rule, and the dismal display of inepitude by the KMT's Chou Hsi-wei, the current magistrate, people would be thinking of voting KMT. But Chu cuts a solid technocratic figure. Apple Daily has him up a decisive eight points over Tsai.

Interestingly, the fact that both Chu and Hau are sons of powerful KMT politicians seems not to have any effect on the vote for them. Such nepotism appears to be thought natural by voters.

Voters are being wooed with promises of Enviro-leisure. For example, Eric Chu, the KMT candidate for The City Formerly Known As Taipei County, released his platform the other day. It's a nice mix of pork and middle-brow enviro-leisure:
Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Sinbei mayoral candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday pledged he would work to greatly expand the area covered by pathways and bicycle lanes, if elected in November, as part of his policy to develop tourism.

Just hours after he officially registered his candidacy with the Central Election Commission yesterday morning, Chu’s campaign office released a nine-point policy guide on tourism, the latest major policy announcement following earlier pledges to expand the MRT system and provide discounts to seniors.

In the five-page document, Chu said he would create new low-speed limit tourist roads in major scenic destinations along the coast and in areas including Danshui Township (淡水) and near Keelung. He added that, if elected, he would push for the construction of a 120km-long ocean-side bicycle path along the northern coastline.
A 120 km bike path would be awesome and I hope it happens. Chu's campaign focuses on increasing tourism -- many Taipei county destinations are already tourist meccas, such as Yingge (ceramics), Danshui (riverside), and Pinglin (tea). Chu wants to run spur lines into smaller tourist communities to bring in the masses -- an example of this are the short lines to Jiji in central Taiwan and to Neiwan (Hakka culture) in northern Taiwan. Chu also wants to build 80 kms of metro tracks in Taipei county. Hard to see how the budget for that would ever materialize....

The DPP's Su Tseng-chang in Taipei released a plan for Taipei the other day.
He proposed 10 strategies to make the capital greener, prettier and healthier, including constructing leafy boulevards, planning mid and long-term green infrastructure and constructing more “green corridors” connecting the city’s parks and MRT stations.

Su urged voters to let him win the Taipei mayoral election to counter the speculation that he was not committed to the November poll and was using the mayoral race as a springboard for a possible candidacy in the 2012 presidential election.
The proposals are aimed squarely at middle class independents, many of whom who vote the KMT by default, who can be swayed by appeals to modernity, leisure, and greening the built environment. At present Su enjoys a solid lead in that demographic. The basic strategy of the this triple appeal is the same as Chu's.

Take care of yourselves this weekend!
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Green Left said...

Su's environmental policy is abysmal. Tokenism at the very worst. I think even the Bush administration had a better environmental policy.

Chu's on the other hand, particularly his MRT proposal, is very progressive. Kudos to him - let's hope that should he get elected, he follows through on it (or it least most of it).

Michael Turton said...

Su will probably carry out some of his policies. Chu will not. And the party Chu belongs to is so much less progressive than the DPP. It;s silly to look at the promises of one politician that way.

Green Left said...

And the party Chu belongs to is so much less progressive than the DPP.

A generation ago or more, yes, but not anymore. The last few years especially, the KMT have been the more progressive of the two.

Hans said...

Green Left... have you been following Taiwanese politics enough to have that hope on Chu?

I live in Kaohsiung and after witnessing the troubles and time that a city has to go through in order to install a MRT system, plus the efforts it takes to maintain it, I would prefer Chu's counter part, Tsai's BRT proposal. It's much cheaper, takes much less time to build, and carry very similar effectiveness of transportation. I experienced the BRT system in Switzerland and understood immediately how that would work in cities of Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Some of the parks are already way too crowded because of the bicycles. It's pretty crazy. I don't know if more bike lanes would exacerbate the problem or relieve it.

I would argue for commuter friendly bike lanes. It's nice for weekends to go out into a park, but it's hard to bike to central Taipei from Taipei County without quite a bit of risk, except from maybe Sindian or Danshui. But even then, once you're in the city, it's super dangerous.

One thing though--none of the college students use bicycle lights at night! It makes for super dangerous bike riding and driving. This is so easy to fix and an ordinance should be passed immediately, especially in Taipei City and County.

Anonymous said...

Is the Brazil deal with Taiwanese diaspora? If not, I bet they are probably Chinese-Brazilian (not necessarily from China) at least.

Not a knock against--the Taiwanese diaspora has created connections for Taiwan all over the world in high places and in key industries. Agreed that deal-making like that needs to happen more.

Anonymous said...

The KMT is not progressive, but dynamic. WHat I mean is that the KMT is much like the late Qing. They enact dynamic policies, but not for the benefit of the policies. Instead they merely seek to use these policies to maintain their power and control over areas that are vital to maintaining the flow of wealth to their elite members.