James Hilton remarks in Lost Horizon that the Chinese manage to combine official rigidity with unofficial flexibility. I got a dose of that this morning, when I presented my standing ticket and asked if there was a seat on the train, which there always is.
The ticket seller, an older man with one of those flat, sincere faces, tapped a stubby finger on a notice posted on the window. "Can't make changes within one hour of the train leaving."
I made a few tart comments that cast aspersions on the ancestry and good behavior of the idiots who thought up that rule.
"Ok, ok. It's no problem," he relented. "I'll give you a seat." I thanked him profusely and soon I was the proud owner of seat 23, car 6, for the next two hours. "But don't do it again," he warned. "Rules are rules."
I was thinking about this in the context of Frozen Garlic's excellent post on Hung Hsiu-chu winning the primary. He remarked:
In retrospect, this battle was a victory for front room politics. All the people who thought that the game in the front room was meaningless and that the real decision would be hashed out in the smoke-filled back room were rudely surprised. I’m convinced that if they could do it again, Wang and Wu would have simply registered for the primary. Hopefully this year’s experience will convince aspirants in future races to jump in and participate in the regular procedures rather than hoping for an old-style coronation. If you want the candidate’s sash, you need to seek it openly and aggressively. (I wonder if the Sunflower students are happy at this victory over black box politics! J)In fact, KMT Chairman Eric Chu had been battling for real rules in the primary process that had actual teeth, rather than backroom deals. Speaker of the Legislature Wang has been making running-if-my-party-needs-me noises, so I think there are still plenty of people still not convinced that backroom deals are dead. But what's interesting is that Wang and Wu didn't run because they figured, as always before, the KMT bigwigs would arrange events behind the scenes. The purpose of rules is to shaft lesser beings, not to apply to oneself...
The excellent writer Anon at Thinking-Taiwan reviews the Hung candidacy... he noted:
If such protest movements are an illegal and undesirable way to express public opinion, how about enacting change through the lead opposition party? That’s no good, either; Hung despises the DPP. She called it a troublemaker using populist tricks that will destroy the foundation for peace, close off the country, incite social hatred, and lead the people into destitution. A common trope of hers is that popular protests against KMT prerogatives are not manifestations of the will of the public; instead they are incited by the DPP and its ilk. For example, when asked about the high school history curriculum controversy yesterday, she said, “Don’t use the pure hearts of students to manufacture conflict.”Anon reviewed her positions and came to the same conclusion I did the other day: she's totally out of touch with the mainstream in most of her positions. Yesterday she remarked that Taiwan independence was unconstitutional. She then went on to describe the problem of Taiwan's people:
Hung said that what worries Taiwanese is the prospect of unification taking place on China’s terms, because China wishes to apply its “one country, two systems” formula in the unification of Taiwan, while Taiwan wants to see a unified China characterized by freedom, democracy and the rule of law.Nope. What worries Taiwanese is annexation to China, period. Fullstop.
Even Ma, who prior to 2008 had taken the exact same position that Beijing did in saying that both sides of the strait should determine the future of Taiwan, shifted to the position that only Taiwan's people could determine its future. He reiterated that last year (WantWant finds three instances of that since Nov of 2008). Hung in fact is to the right of Ma's public statements (but note that Ma also paired that with the ROC Constitution in his Jun 2014 statement). Ma was able to grit his teeth and urk out that he was Taiwanese before each election and even leave Taipei for a "long stay" among hoi polloi outside Taipei. I'm very curious to see how Hung will handle that. Her comments about how the KMT has been forced to be quiet about its core beliefs (ThinkingTaiwan)...
Over these past years, we have lived as if we are inside the framework established by our opponents. When it comes to basic principles about the position of our country, and the core ideals of our party, we have fearfully forfeited the right to speak.... suggest that she will go down with the ship, guns proudly spitting "I'm Chinese!" defiance in all directions. Solidarity had a good laugh on Twitter at her shock at being thought of Ma Ying-jeou v2.0.
Solidarity pointed me to a Storm media piece on early polls. TVBS offered a poll that showed Hung over the DPP's Tsai by 3. The NCCU prediction market responded with a poll showing Tsai over Hung 50-29, with Tsai over Hung/Soong 44-22-21. Soong hurts them equally apparently. So concerned is the KMT over her candidacy that the legislative KMTers derailed constitutional negotiations by attempting to have the legislative and presidential separated as part of the deal.
I warned on this each time I mention Hung: it ain't over yet. She still has to pass the Congress on Jul 19th. But nothing suggests that the July Congress will revoke this process and pick a candidate the old way.
Anon at Thinking-Taiwan noted that she's a regression to the mid-1990s KMT. I think to understand how the backroom dealers were content with Hung and what this "regression" context is, we need to return to the 1990s. I wrote on this before:
In fact, in January of 1988, when Chiang Ching-kuo died and Lee ascended to the Presidency, a hardline faction of mainlander officers threatened a coup. The intervention of James Soong, who mediated the crisis, enabled Lee to retain power. The early years of Lee's presidency were thus overshadowed by the conflict between Hau, point man for this faction (the "non-mainstream faction"), and Lee representing the Party Machine and the mainstream KMT factions, over the direction of the KMT, and the shape of the government. Lee moved Hau out of his position as Chief of the General Staff, into the post of Minister of Defense, and finally to the position of Premier in May of 1990. Hau was appointed to that position because of the continuing threat of hardliners who wanted to run Hau as an alternative Presidential candidate in the March 1990 election, and because the previous premier, Lee Huan, had sided with the hardline mainlanders against Lee Teng-hui (he was a close associate of Chiang Ching-kuo). In fact Hau would eventually run as the Veep on an alternative ticket with Lin Yang-kang in 1996.This struggle between the more-Chinese-than-China, more-KMT-than-the-KMT faction led by Hau and the mainstream KMT led by Lee Teng-hui has now played out to its last bitter, pathetic end in the KMT: the non-mainstream faction has won the war and iced all mainstream candidates like Wang and even Chu (I suspect), but at the cost of the party itself. If there aren't major changes, and soon, their candidate, like the ancient impersonator of the Meso-American god Xipe Toltec, will be paraded around the nation like royalty for a year before being flayed alive.
- Legislature approves law cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by... 2050. LOL. It does launch a carbon market.
- Frozen Garlic on where KMT heavyweight Hau should run for a legislative seat in the south.
- New Bloom tries a different take on Tsai's visit to the US
- Video/Audio from Phils of Taiwan-Phils confrontation in the Batanes Islands off Philippines, with Taiwan Coast Guard saying it is their EEZ.
- KMT causes constitutional negotiations to collapse as it is desperate to split up elections to prevent DPP sweep
- Apple Daily tells story of New Taipei City district chief who spread malicious rumors that Tsai Ing-wen was profiting from investments in China, even doctoring a video. When pressed, he shrugged and said it didn't matter, since Tsai was going to win anyway.
- Taiwan Explorer shows that Taiwanese upvoted the food poll. What a pathetic pile of crap.
- How China Practices for Invading Taiwan
- The new curriculum is a KMT fantasy
- No shit: re the OPM data hack -- PRC located contractor staff had direct access. Outsourcing gov't data to the PRC. The idiots in charge should be shot.
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