Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Soong Factor

James Soong, PFP chairman and political heavyweight, interviewed in the Liberty Times (Taipei Times trans). Consider:
This reminds me of the 713 Penghu Incident. Dean [of the Yantai United Junior High School ] Chang Min-chih (張敏之) had been a member of the KMT since he was 17, but just because he stood up for the students who did not wish to join the military, he was labeled a communist spy and executed. It’s a very cruel thing. I joined the party when I was 18, and then I was dismissed from the party.

I don’t want you to think that my fate was the same as Chang’s. What I want to say is that I do not have any personal issues [with Ma], and that is the principle that I, and the PFP, hold to adamantly.

It is also this principle that I told honorary KMT chairman Wu [Poh-hsiung] (吳伯雄). At the time, some people wanted me to go back to the KMT and be an honorary chairman, but I said, “is being a dismissed party member honorary?” So, the first thing [for the KMT] to do is to clarify what happened back then.

We’re always criticizing the communists, but even they understand the concept of righting old wrongs. Besides, I wasn’t the only one who was expelled. Back in the old days, a lot of KMT elites, including Wu Rong-ming (吳容明) [and] Chin Ching-sheng (秦金生) [who were among the] best civil servants and party members of the KMT, had been expelled too.
In the introduction to the interview, Soong positions himself as the true heir to President Chiang Ching-kuo,  who is much better remembered in Taiwan than his father. Note that here he aligns himself rhetorically with KMT reformers of the past, thus playing the victim card and positioning himself as a reformer at the same time. Soong was kicked out of the KMT in November of 1999 after announcing a run at the presidency as an independent when he lost the KMT nomination to Lien Chan.

Soong, who ran as a unificationist in the 2000 election on a platform quite similar to the one Ma is currently pursuing (relations neither domestic nor international, peace treaty, EU-type commonwealth agreement, etc). He also maintains that Taiwan does not need a military since China won't attack it as long as it doesn't declare independence.

Soong was smart enough to nominate a pro-independence surgeon as his Veep in the 2000 election. If he runs seriously, he might do the same in this election. Although the pan-Green camp is hoping Soong runs, it is important to remember that he will also take votes from the Greens and independents who dislike the KMT, especially if he runs a pragmatic pro-Taiwan campaign like he is capable of doing. In the 1990s he was widely given credit for learning Taiwanese and for running the "provincial government" of Taiwan quite well, which raised his standing among the locals.

Much depends on how Soong positions himself in the campaign....

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Anonymous said...

I'd dearly love to see Soong play spoiler role in 2012 just like he did in 2000.

Taiwan Echo said...

What do you think a Tsai-Soong ticket ? Could that be possible ?

Some signs:

1) The likelihood of Soong running for the prez is very low. He knew that he has no chance. I think no one in Taiwan would believe he could make it.

2) Tsai has been promoting a direction of middle path. It is a very good chance (albeit risky) to gamble on this. But, risky is not her style.

3) LDH's public talk to promote Soong to "do something big, but not the prez," at the same time saying that "legislator at large" is too small for Soong. His talk is something triggers my thought along this line.

Michael Turton said...

A Tsai-Soong ticket? Wow. You're evil! :)

But would the DPP base come out for a Tsai-Soong ticket?

Taiwan Echo said...

The DPP base would most likely come out for Tsai-Soong ticket, if Tsai sells it right by emphasizing how critical it is to tear down the green-blue wall that polarizing the society.

The fact that people love Tsai, as well as the urge to kick Ma down, will help.

Some TI extremists will go insane. But, they already went insane when Tsai emerged as the green leader. That's why they push Huang (黃越綏) to run for the prez. But Huang can't even gather required endorsement for her to jump in. It won't surprise me if some of those TI extremists eventually go extreme to vote for Ma just to vent their hate against Tsai. (well, some already advocate that, in an enraged mode, though)

Certainly some will cry and decide not to vote. It's a very risky move, but a good chance to resolve the crack between green and blue.

It will be risky from another aspect: the likelihood of Tsai being assassinated will jump hundred if not thousand times higher.

STOP Ma said...

Tsai-Soong ticket?!!


A lot more greens would stay home than you think with that slap in the face, Echo.

Taiwan Echo said...

“A lot more greens would stay home than you think with that slap in the face, Echo.”

Maybe, lol.

But, take a note, when Soong first ran for the prez, he asked 陳唐山 to be his running mate. 陳 refused. He then asked 張昭雄, and 張 agreed. Both 陳 and 張 are very green.

That is, when aiming for the prez, Soong was never confined by the traditional blue-green view.

It is true that when 陳 didn't deny Soong's invitation immediately back then, he was labeled a "betrayer" by the green camp right away, which - in my opinion - causes his chance of going higher in the political ladder.

But, that was 12 years ago. Things changed a lot during these 12 years. Maybe the break is coming.

Or not?

a said...

Soong's problem is his stance on the China issue, not his color. I think Tsai could sell running with a light blue who favors localization. Running with Soong would be political suicide. If the chance exists that something could happen to Tsai, thereby leaving a unificationist in office, why not vote for the devil you know, or simply not vote at all. As for the support Soong might bring if greens don't abandon Tsai, it might be paltry. Why would deep blues, Soong's crowd, vote for a DPP candidate?

I imagine that, barring a compromise between the KMT and PFP, Soong will run for a geographical seat. If he wins, this will give him a four-year platform to support his party in the legislature. He can also use his campaigning to support other PFP candidates. Remember thatthis is about keeping his party relevant. If he put himself on the at-large list, Soong would be lost behind a generic party vote during the campaign. Not an ideal situation. If he runs for president he will lose. This would only be worth it if he felt he could rally the vote to get more of his desired candidates into office. The stronger the PFP is in the legislature, the stronger he will be.

a said...

One more note. We all saw the damage that the at-large DPP ticket infighting did last month. For weeks, the papers were filled with stories of DPP division. Tsai had to spend her efforts taking friendly fire from her own party. Relatively little time was spent on addressing Ma's issues. Ma was looking strong with the party congress, VP pick, and several big media events in succession. Tsai is down in the polls due to the fallout.

Now imagine the uproar if Tsai picked a unificationist as VP candidate. She couldn't even sell the at-large ticket. How would she sell Soong to the party?

Taiwan Echo said...


I feel the same way that Soong will not run for the prez. But I don't have enough info to conclude what he will or will not run for the legislator at this moment.

Your logic about the risk of a Tsai-Soong ticket makes sense, and I believe that logic is a view of majority.

What I "imagine" here is a break, which in itself is a risk, to pull the green and blue together for one consolidated Taiwan.

The reason people from either green or blue might go to vote for a Tsai-Soong ticket is a chance for Taiwan to walk away from the chaotic polarity.

Will people do that ? I don't know. But if there is ever a chance for this togetherness, now is the best timing.

Why? Like I said before, Soong doesn't mind, and Tsai has that vision. But Ma doesn't.

"For weeks, the papers were filled with stories of DPP division. Tsai had to spend her efforts taking friendly fire from her own party. Relatively little time was spent on addressing Ma's issues. Ma was looking strong with the party congress, VP pick, and several big media events in succession. Tsai is down in the polls due to the fallout."

We have very opposite observations on this. Friendly fires on Tsai? yes. Tsai spent little time on addressing Ma's issue? No.

"Ma was looking strong with the party congress"

-- don't know where you pick that up. What's reported is how cold the KMT party is, how indifferent KMT members are about it, and how people walked away from it in the middle of the conference.

"Ma was looking strong with the VP pick"

-- again, where you got that idea? Ma, like Tsai, got heavy friendly fire and negative public opinion, and the stock market dropped heavily.

"Ma was looking strong with several big media events"

-- like what? indicting LDH ? Negative media events don't make Ma look strong.

Maybe we are reading news of different countries.

a said...

Give me the list of articles that focused on at-large. Then give me the list of articles that focused on Tsai's criticism of Ma. Then we'll talk. Regardless, I know which will be more numerous.

a said...

As for "looking strong", who said every event was uncontroversial? Strong = forceful.