Saturday, November 05, 2011

Piggy Banks Rock the Election

Paul Mozur at WSJ chimed in with a piece on the Tsai campaign's use of piggy banks as a potent symbol in the upcoming election, which is now about two months away. After describing the hot piggy bank situation, he observes:
At a press conference on Monday, the campaign dubbed November “little pigs month,” and Ms. Tsai encouraged voters to “fatten the pigs” they received at home in preparation for the Jan. 14 election. She also likened the DPP to a “little pig” facing the “big wolf” of the Kuomintang, in part a jab at the large financial reserves the KMT retains from its decades of one-party autocratic rule over Taiwan.

According to disclosures to the Ministry of the Interior in 2010 the KMT had earnings of NT$3.53 billion, almost 80% of which came from dividends from investments. The DPP earned NT$626 million with no funds coming from dividends. In the same year the KMT had expenses of NT$2.88 billion while the DPP spent NT$541 million. (Report in Chinese)

A spokesman for the KMT said the piggy bank drive was simply a fundraising ploy and the party wouldn’t get involved by commenting, and that it deals with its assets in a fair, just, and legal manner.

Since Taiwan’s transition to democracy in the late 1980s and 1990s, the KMT has sold off some of its assets and it says much of the remainder of its assets are invested through its Central Investment Co., which it has tried to sell four times in recent years without finding a fair price, according to the spokesman. But critics have argued it continues to gain an unfair advantage from the income it earns off its assets, and it’s unclear what it will do with the cash it earns if it manages to sell the vehicle.
Do the math. As a big investment firm, Central Investment likely invests in large firms -- who are the biggest beneficiaries of the KMT-CCP cross-strait reapproachment. President Ma is both Chairman of the KMT and President of the government performing the negotiations. Move along folks, no conflict of interest to see here.

Interesting to see how the rhetoric has shifted -- when the KMT first arrived the locals would call the KMT the "pigs". Rituals in which pigs were sacrificed then took on a political double meaning, the more so because the KMT became increasingly bent on reshaping traditional religion as the Taiwanese practiced it, under the slogan of "Simplify Customs and Save Waste", deep into the 1970s. Indeed, the Taiwanese used to cover the pigs with colorful Nationalist political symbols, ostensibly demonstrating their loyalty to the regime in carrying out traditional religion, but since the pig was killed, the double meaning should be obvious.

Now the little pig has been adopted as a symbol of the opposition and of its commitment to little people and small donations vs the powerhouse political party that is one of the richest political parties on the planet.

And finally, for you lovers of historical irony, a keen and highly intelligent observer of local politics with a long memory passed around this old textbook from the early 1980s, showing kids donating their piggy banks out of the love of the ROC:

Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...

It is well known that any political interaction with any country requires the backing power. This is common sense. Backing power under the name of the "people" means not so much. You may get some charity support, but not much more than that. If Tsai and DPP can in some way get as big backing as KMT, then they have more power to accomplish their ideals, if there are any beyond "independence", and more negotiating power. Remember that much actions taken during the Chen administration was also to accomplish this, only to fall short because corruption took the faster lane.


阿牛 said...

Text from book:

第八課 兩個捐錢的小孩子





阿牛 said...

Found this too, someone's already spoofed the original story

Michael Turton said...

Yeah, I didn't include the spoof. But thanks.


Anonymous said...

I've had people ask me why certain things happen to them..., like being transferred to positions not of their liking..., based on my experience, the truth is generally somewhere between the extremes, or, having no relevance to either explanation.

And the truth is never revealed to those that have already made up their minds either due to ignorance, joking, or with some other unrevealed purpose.

There are times political things are specially arranged to gain more publicity and have a more dramatic effect. It creates the gossip effect. The fact is when the media just talks about all the construction and improvements being made, people get to feel it boring because these take long term consistent effort with very little excitement.

Voters and consumers alike quite often make decisions based on emotions and religious type belief. Simple example, people with money quite often will not buy stuff that are low priced regardless how good the quality, just because they think they feel lose of face if they tell their friend they are using cheap stuff. Thus pricing strategy becomes an art. Same in politics, if the voters cannot make judgement based on good information and educated considerations, then the more dramatically the candidate present their case, the more people will be attracted. This does not seem to be the spirit behind democracy, and certainly is not a mature form of it. (when people get mad and feel offended when Jacky says Taiwan presidential election is like a joke, you know they are irrational and do not feel self secure)

However, the show must go on in whatever path it may lead. How mature the democratic process really is depends on how most voters make their decision at the height of all this excitement. Hope everyone have fun and enjoy the process, but make sound educated judgement when the time comes.