A couple of polls out: Global Views has its most recent party ID tracking poll out. More people say they are KMT/lean KMT than are DPP/lean DPP. With such a large number of people saying they are "independents" -- 28% it is likely that the poll vastly underestimates the number of pan-Greens.
The KMT news organ reports in English on the DPP candidates versus Ma Ying-jeou:
According to a survey commissioned by the Taipei-based Broadcasting Corporation of China, President Ma Ying-jeou is not a shoo-in to win a second term. If President Ma represents the KMT, and Tsai Ing-wen the DPP in the 2012 Presidential election, the survey shows that President Ma would have a support rating of 36.35%, and Tsai Ing-wen 34.48%. If President Ma represents the KMT, and Su Tseng-chang the DPP in the 2012 Presidential election, the survey shows that President Ma would receive a support rating of 36.35%, and Su Tseng-chang 34.55%. In either case, 20% of the voters remained undecided.Undecided is an enormous number of voters and is likely to include more pan-Greens than pan-Blues. It is still early, but if these numbers are anywhere near valid, it is good news for the good guys.
The Kuokuang Petrochemical complex in Changhua was the subject of a visit by all three candidates the other day. Ma was silenced and then later heckled. But recall that the Kuokuang project was approved by the DPP when current Presidential hopeful Su Tseng-chang was premier. According to the KMT report, Su humbly apologized for that decision. The fact that Tsai was reared in the neoliberal religion while Su is a consummate developmentalist state politician means that the environment will get no more than lip service in this election.
As a friend of mine noted, the opposition to Kuokuang may be vocal at the moment, but if the locals were seriously polled, you'd probably find that local supporters of the project outnumbered the opposition. I have biked from time to time in that area along the coast south of Lukang in Changhua and down through Yunlin. It is one of the most desolate, depressed areas of Taiwan, in my opinion, rather like the Valley of Ashes in The Great Gatsby. It could certainly use a boost, as the Taipei Times admonished today:
For more information on land subsidence and other issues surrounding this plant, see this post I wrote a while back. But the cold hard fact is that the number of large developmentalist state projects like this killed for environmental reasons is infintesimal. Since both parties have approved many similar developmentalist state projects around the island that ran into opposition from environmentalists, it does not appear that the environment is really going to be a huge issue in this election -- the mud from these projects sticks to everyone.Anti-Kuokuang sentiment fomented when people became suspicious that the Ma administration had lost its neutrality and decided to push ahead with the project even before the Environmental Impact Assessment had been completed. Public Construction Commission Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) has expressed concern about the impact of the plant on water and soil conservation, and the potential worsening of the problem of land subsidence, which may even compromise the safety of the Yunlin stretch of the High Speed Rail. His opinion has not changed. This is something that should be taken very seriously.
We have learned from last year’s fires at Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s sixth naphtha cracker and the current nuclear incident in Japan that just because a government says something does not make it true. People are more sensitive now about the possibility of an environmental disaster. If the government does give the go-ahead for the plant, can Ma guarantee the decision will not come back to haunt Taiwan?
Cities in Changhua County and Fangyuan Township (芳苑) need economic regeneration, but is Kuokuang the answer? Should the plant turn into an environmental nightmare, could local people cope?
But anything could happen.....
- Jens Kastner in Asia Times says ECFA critics too quick off the mark.
- New book out on Taiwan-Japan relations in the Imperial era.
- KMT once again pushing the myth that Chinese gold saved Taiwan's economy. I have discussed why this is 'gwash before here.
- J Michael Cole writes on why a partial missile drawdown by China isn't worth much to Taiwan. But it could be a major coup for the KMT in the coming elections.
- Meanwhile, Randplanet still hasn't discovered the concepts of conservation or technological progress. Or that wind machines don't render useless all the land they sit on. Is no one submitting sane and sensible letters to the Taipei Times?
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