Monday, June 29, 2015

Presidential election campaign round up

Old school style

Current KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu is interviewed in Commonwealth Magazine here. The interview is a complete nothing, sadly. But she gave us another week of Hung this week...

She met with the UK representative in Taiwan this week (Taipei Times)
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential hopeful Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), if elected, would base her policy on her “one China, same interpretation” proposal, despite it being left out of the party’s newly drafted policy platform, Hung’s spokesman Philip Yang (楊永明) said yesterday.

Yang made the remarks in response to media queries regarding the omission of Hung’s proposal from the policy platform, which is pending approval from the KMT national congress on July 19.

The “one China, same interpretation” proposal was described by Hung as an “advanced version” of the so-called “1992 consensus,” backed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

According to Hung’s interpretation, “one China” would be the Republic of China (ROC), not the People’s Republic of China.


Although Hung has praised the apparent cross-strait rapprochement that has taken place under Ma’s administration — which she attributes to his adherence to the “1992 consensus” — she questions whether Beijing has ever recognized the existence of the ROC.

She has said that her formula would make China “accept the fact that the ROC exists.”
Yes, that's right. Hung's foreign policy idea is totally different from her party's and is not in its platform. It's no wonder many people are viewing Hung as a provisional candidate, a sort of placeholding "Well..." in the presidential election process.

Her cross-strait policy is simply a KMT True Believer affirmation of the ROC. Note that we're talking about this because Hung has talked of little else -- her economic and social policies remain sketchy, but it appears she will differ little from the Ma Administration.

As I noted earlier, Hung's out-of-touch China policies undercut the KMT's ability to criticize DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. Sure enough, the DPP went after Hung this week (Taipei Times):
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday criticized Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) of recklessness in her cross-strait policy proposals after Hung accused Tsai of hiding her support for Taiwan’s independence to cheat voters.

We should refrain from being reckless in cross-strait policies, as the public expects us to have platforms that are stable, predictable and in line with public opinion,” Tsai told reporters when asked to comment on Hung’s criticism of her cross-strait policies during a campaign event in Taichung. “These are the most fundamental principles that any policymaker should follow.”
Tsai has carefully located Hung out of the mainstream. Good work.

Frozen Garlic, the excellent local elections blog, came out with two big posts on the election. The first is on the KMT's second thoughts about Hung, saying that four things had happened to make him think that Hung's candidacy was not a certainty:
First, in this week’s KMT Central Standing Committee, Wang supporter Lin Jung-teh 林榮德 openly blasted Hung, saying, “She hit the USA with her left fist; she hit Wang Jin-pyng with her right fist; she tripped up Eric Chu; and she was ‘New Partyizing’ the KMT so that it might become a small party after next year’s election.” This is pretty open and hostile stuff coming in the KMT’s official forum. They should be producing statements about party harmony and unity, not publicly airing this sort of internal conflict. Still, we could overlook this as simply sour grapes from a bitter nomination fight.
That line I've highlighted above is pretty much what we've been saying since the November election -- the KMT die-hards are strangling the KMT, which must become a Taiwanese party if it wants to remain a viable political organization. The New Party was formed by the non-mainstream KMTers in the 1990s as a "purer" version of the KMT, which had become "contaminated" with Taiwaneseness under Lee Teng-hui. It's one of the many amusing aspects of Taiwan watching that we constantly hear about how fractious and rickety the DPP is, but it's the KMT that has spun off two major parties (and spun off some more this election).

Froze also points out that her degree isn't very good, which won't help her, and that some reporter asked her if she is speculating in real estate in Shanghai. There is no evidence for the latter, but if it turns out to have substance, it would destroy her. Froze takes the accusations and complaints as evidence of internal KMT struggle over Hung's candidacy. So stay tuned, she could well be replaced.

The other piece from Frozen Garlic is on the decline in the KMT's party ID. This analysis is strong, and it echoes stuff I and others have been writing about for a while (like this). Froze observes:
To put it bluntly, the KMT has suffered a massive decline in its party ID over the last four years, and party ID is one of the most important variables in all of political science. You can see this decline in data from TISR and the Election Study Center, NCCU, pictured below. From the late 1990s until 2012, party ID was fairly stable. The blue camp, mostly the KMT, had a consistent lead of about 5-10 points over the green camp, mostly the DPP. Not coincidentally, the blue camp consistently had about a 10% edge in most elections. In hindsight, the 2012 election might be both the most “typical” election result and also the last election of that party system.


What’s amazing to me about this plunge is how it happens in nearly every sub-population. Maybe you think young people are abandoning the KMT. They are, but not any faster than old people.
His remarks on the urban-rural class issues are excellent, and the whole analysis should be read in its entirety. Froze was speculating on the fall in KMT support among working class people back in November -- it was apparent from the results of the election, as was continued support among rural Hakka communities. That might be blunted this election -- the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen is a Hakka from Pingtung. The TISR numbers are here.

Most interesting of Froze's comments was this one:
Blue supporters are mostly ignoring last year’s elections. They don’t matter. They were local, not national elections. People just wanted to express dissatisfaction with President Ma, but they’ll come back to the KMT in national elections when it really matters. The KMT had lousy candidates. Whatever the reason, I keep talking to KMT true believers who think the KMT is in good shape for next year’s elections. They aren’t convinced that Hung Hsiu-chu can’t beat Tsai Ing-wen, to say nothing of the possibility that the KMT will lose the legislature.
One of the problems with living in Taipei where Froze's interlocutors live is that it is different from the rest of Taiwan. This echo chamber effect where the conventional wisdom is largely pan-Blue propaganda affects the judgments of foreigners who live there, but it also affects the locals...

Meanwhile Tsai Ing-wen was reassuring farmers in Taitung, who ship much fruit to China, that China will continue to purchase fruit from Taiwan even if she wins the election. The DPP struck back at comments from a local prof saying it might give up the ROC claim to the South China Sea -- but note that the prof unwittingly reveals that if the claim was adjudicated according to UNCLOS, China would have no claim....
Daily Links:
  • Massive fire at Water park during concert. 350+ injured, including six foreigners Video. Injury count now over 500, with over 180 seriously injured. AP story. The crowd was sprayed with a cornstarch based paint formula, creating a powder explosion. Although the management and organization were completely incompetent, the response was brilliant, with young people spontaneously jumping to help, the water park pouring resources into it, and first response teams on the scene right away. This tragedy, with many young people sustaining massive burns, brings to mind that stupid event years ago in Taichung in which 9 people were killed at a fire performance in a local club. Both exhibit a similar contempt for safety and ingrained lax local administration. Last year Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu refused to issue permit for a similar concert, citing safety concerns. Kudos to her.
  • Call for submissions, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Angkor Photo Exhibition
  • Ketagalan Media: The Rabbit Temple and Same-Sex marriage. Excellent and little known side of Taiwan
  • Thinking Taiwan with good piece on what Singapore and China blocked from the Taiwan music awards
  • Taiwan universities set up condom machines on campus.
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!


Anonymous said...

I doubt Tsai will be able to move the rural Hakka vote just by being Hakka herself - she didn't last time, after all. Not that it'll matter.

Michael Turton said...

I agree, but it blunts KMT ethnic divide and rule politics, and makes it more difficult to criticize the DPP for being anti-Hakka.

Michael Turton said...

I agree, but it blunts KMT ethnic divide and rule politics, and makes it more difficult to criticize the DPP for being anti-Hakka.

Anonymous said...

Mike, good to see you are finally beginning to see the light when it comes to Hung and her role in the Kuomintang's process for nominating an ROC presidential candidate. Vice President Wu Den-yih is remaining wonderfully silent and will certainly step up to save the day for the KMT and Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...

Haha. I'm lovin' it. Trading Hung for Wu? That would be all kinds of awesome.


STOP Ma said...

The waterpark fire incident should never have happened if proper regulations were in place to test such products.

Hmm...a cornstarch-based powder sprayed on people in the middle of an event that is surrounded by electrical equipment. Gee. What could possibly go wrong there?!

Ever heard of grain dust fires? Hello??!

It's absolutely astounding that people are not calling for the heads of the government officials that are responsible for such lax safety regulations.

But, then again, Taiwan doesn't have much in the way of safety regulations, sadly.

Another example where 100's have to be maimed / killed before something is done. But, still -- as I type, there is no national ban on this substance!! Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how many votes a pro-independence KMT could win. There are many Taiwan independence supporters who aren't very fond of the DPP (like myself.)

Anonymous said...

I'd sooner expect Hau Lung-bin to be drafted than Wu.

Anonymous said...

A Taiwanese friend told me some think she is just out to collect the funds for each vote cast.

Michael Turton said...

Either is not electable, though Hau would be a much more intelligent and flexible candidate.

Mike Fagan said...

"The waterpark fire incident should never have happened if proper regulations were in place to test such products."

It wouldn't have happened if the organizers had had a sense of responsibility and done some research beforehand. Blaming the government simply lets these morons off the hook.

Anonymous said...

Huge kudos to Chen Chu for preventing a similar dangerous show, had no idea!

John Scott said...

Regarding cases of accidental combustion of airborne dispersions of powder, incl. grain silos, bakeries, etc., doesn't that normally result in a single explosion that is over in an instant?

Seeing the videos of the fire at the water park, the flames were apparently going for quite some time. Hard to believe that a little wet cornstarch power could produce sustained flames two meters high.

It looks more like something flammable had been spilled on the ground, and then somehow ignited.

Mike Fagan said...

Alcohol, obviously. But there was probably all sorts of shite lying around on the floor too.

les said...

A friend of mine in the chemical industry mentioned to me that when the US military was stationed here post WW2, they brought in their own gunpowder for reloading ammunition locally. They then used people in the flour bulk storage business to take care of storage and handling because they alone understood the explosion risks presented by fine flammable powders. It wasn't considered wise to use liquid storage experts, not even those used to handling gasoline etc., as the hazards are quite different.

As to what was burning on the ground, the powder will continue burning even if it's fairly compacted, once it's hot enough. Of course there were lots of abandoned plastic sandals left behind by those fleeing, among other personal belongings. Check out this Mythbusters episode where they use creamer rather than corn starch to make fireballs: