Monday, July 20, 2015

Hung is now the candidate

Making hay while the sun shines.

It seems unreal to write these words, but the KMT has settled on the candidate no one foresaw back in November: Hung Hsiu-chu, the former Deputy Speaker of the Legislature, now the Party's champion.

Hung's out of control speech is now the Party's speech, her crazed coded comments the Party's opinion. The Party has already encoded the 1992 Consensus into its platform in an attempt to keep her reined in. But her colonial attitude towards the local peoples is going to continue to shine...

I watched some of the KMT Congress which was livestream, if "live" is a word that can be used to describe KMT speeches. Hung is attempting to embrace Taiwaneseness in the clumsy, condescending way we all know and despise. When they brought out the KMT legislative candidates, they screamed "dong suan" -- "win election" in Taiwanese instead of "dang xuan" in Chinese. The Taipei Times report noted it as well:
Hung switched to Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) for a few paragraphs of her speech in an attempt to portray herself as having humble origins.

“My father was unemployed for more than 40 years after he was released from the prison on Green Island, but I never harbored a grudge or allowed my heart to be filled with hatred. If I am elected, I would be a president who understands the needs of the public. I would be a president who values fairness and justice above all else,” she said.

Switching back to Mandarin, Hung said there is a song that she is fond of called Beautiful Island, composed by famed Taiwanese folk singer Li Shuang-ze (李雙澤). The lyrics were written by Taiwanese poet Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀喜).
The cluelessness of her campaign team was once again on display. The song is "Beautiful Island", 美麗島 (mei li dao) in Chinese. My man Maddog reminded me that the song was banned by the KMT (Chinese Wiki). It should also be pointed out that Meilidao (Formosa Magazine) was the name of the famous pro-democracy magazine which lent its name to the famous December 10, 1979 Human Rights Day Incident in Kaohsiung. Chen Chu, Kaohsiung's mayor, rose to prominence because of that incident. Good choice of song.

How bad is this kind of campaign management? It's Sean Lien bad. Netizens were joking that Lien can relax now, since he is no longer the worst.

Mind you, this is only the beginning...

Her attacks on the DPP are staple Hung ideological propaganda, devoid of any connection to reality. From the Taipei Times piece above:
In her acceptance speech, Hung said: “Our nation faces various challenges: competition due to globalization, a slack economy, a widening wealth gap, the lack of justice equality and deteriorating quality of life, but the biggest threats are egregious political infighting and populism, which have stalled Taiwan’s development, incited disorder, disrupted society and left people baffled.”

“In order to safeguard [the nation’s] peace and openness, the KMT must be the winner in next year’s elections,” she said.

“We cannot leave Taiwan to be governed by lies and populism or let a party that has never repented and apologized [for what it has done] return to power and again trap Taiwan in disastrous isolationism and disorder,” Hung said.
These are all themes that hark back to her public remarks in June. Again:
  • "With the DPP using populist tricks to constantly incite social hatred" (divide and rule ethnic policies are a KMT staple, and the KMT invented a whole ethnic group, the waishenren ("outside the province", post-49 mainlanders) which it cultivates to this day. Blaming ethnic divisions on the DPP is bog-standard KMT propaganda. One only need look at the mainlander politicians who comprise Ma's cabinet and Administration to see the KMT's ethnic chauvinism at work.
  • "Many people with noble aspirations* are anxious because they have seen much disorder and chaos in Taiwanese society, and even moreso, the kitsch and populism of its political parties and politics commonly causing a lack of distinction between right and wrong and the throwing of values into chaos." It's a common KMT political propaganda claim that the nation is in chaos because of democracy -- which she reconfigures in her speech as a kind of degraded populism -- thus unconsciously revealing how she views herself as a member of an elite, an elite that is going to bring order to the galaxy. Solidarity flagged her comment about "noble aspirations" but the entire speech is redolent with her elitist view of herself, the KMT, and its mission. 
  • "But on the path of Taiwan’s democratization, our democratic values have gradually turned into a weapon to use against the 1.3 billion citizens of the mainland; no longer are they the basis for winning the hearts of those 1.3 billion." Another slam against democracy. She has to know how unpopular annexation to China is among the Taiwanese. Fundamentally, KMTers believe democracy should produce only the outcomes they want. Otherwise it is just a distortion. 
  • "With the DPP constantly creating trouble and demolishing the foundation for peace, do we, fearing ridicule" DPP victory will lead to war! is KMT slander. Note also her positioning of the KMT as the reticent victim of the nefarious DPP. Poor put-upon KMT!
These tropes are common in speeches from ideologically committed Deep Blues, I hear them from KMTers I talk to all the time. Basically, Hung can be summed up as: The KMT will bring order to the galaxy. Along with annexation to China...

Comically, she referred to Taiwan being a wretched colony under the Japanese, when it was far more orderly and developed than China under the KMT at the same time.

As many pointed out, the speech she gave implicitly criticized Ma Ying-jeou (who with typical Ma ineptitude said that he had nothing to apologize to Taiwan for in the last eight years) in its references to the economic situation and her comments that Taiwan will prosper if the KMT is good (read: when the Church returns to its Return to China roots). If she and her handlers were smart, she'd run as the anti-Ma candidate. But we saw from May and June that she supports the Free Economic Zones and wants nuclear power.

It was political blogger Ben Goren who summarized her best on Twitter:
Who will she pick as a running mate? My money is on an ethnically impeccable and ideologically acceptable male mainlander academic with some experience of government, like former Premier and Ma protege Jiang Yi-hua or the current Premier Mao.

Speculation has now turned to the James Soong wild card: will he run and soak up all the Light Blue votes that will refuse to vote for Hung? Possibly, because he wants to raise his party's chances of gaining seats in the legislature.

The other huge wildcard is now Wang Jin-pyng, the Speaker of the Legislature and KMT heavyweight, the informal leader of the Taiwanese faction politicians who form the local support for the KMT's colonial system of running Taiwan. Wang was the smart candidate in the event that Eric Chu, the current KMT Chairman, didn't run. According to the KMT "rules" he can't be selected as a party list legislator, having served two terms, although there is now media speculation that the KMT will change the "rules". Wang has refused to be involved in her election campaign. Is he angling to pick up the pieces of a Taiwanized KMT? Some are already speculating that the party leader in the legislature is going to be Hau Lung-bin, another mainlander and conservative, but a far more tactically flexible politician. He is currently vying in a primary in Keelung.

Recall that many now see the KMT as not winning the legislature. The real prize isn't the Presidency, but the legislature. If the DPP gets that, it can enact meaningful change.

This election is going to be media fun all the way. First, the foreign media has settled on the really important framework for this election: the candidates are female: BBC, Guardian. Hopefully they will quickly move off that.

More interestingly, we got a little taste of what is to come: the WARY trope. For mysterious reasons known only to Establishment media editors, the media can never say clearly that Taiwanese don't want to be part of China. So it uses the comical term "wary" to describe the local feelings about China, as if China were merely a strange dog seen crossing one's backyard. It is going to be fun to watch the media struggle for new ways to avoid speaking that simple truth -- today the Guardian referred to "growing uneasiness" among the people of Taiwan. WSJ said that 23% of the population supported independence, which was probably true in 1998.

It will also be interesting to watch how they struggle to frame the cross-strait trade debate. Tsai is a neoliberal, economic policy wonk, and LSE grad, hardly anti-trade. It's Hung, actually, who has no policy or educational background in this area. But just watch how the media will struggle to flip that frame -- making Tsai anti-trade and Hung pro-trade. I can't wait...

One other thing: note that the KMT Congress affirmed:
Yesterday the National Party Congress also confirmed amendments to the KMT’s party platform. The KMT’s cross-Strait policy in the platform would promote the spirit of the “Joint Five-Point Statement for the Peaceful Development of the Taiwan Strait,” insist on the Republic of China Constitution, and push for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations based on the foundation of the “1992 Consensus” and “one China, different interpretations.” The party platform also stipulated that the party should engage in cross-Strait interactions on the premise of “all for Taiwan, all for the people.”
Ben over at Letters from Taiwan pointed out months ago that Ma's insistence on the Constitution might be laying the foundations to declare any changes President Tsai makes unconstitutional, or even depose her constitutionally. It also appears aimed at attempts to dispose of the ROC's many stupid territorial issues by giving up claims, since KMTers invariably claim that the Constitution says this or that is territory of the ROC and can't be given up. Just thought I'd flag that.

Someone should ask Hung whether Mongolia is part of the ROC...

Ricky Yeh had an excellent piece at The Diplomat summarizing all the information already provided on this blog on Hung and the KMT.
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Anonymous said...

>>Someone should ask Hung whether Mongolia is part of the ROC...

Well, for comical effect, her official acceptance speech at the congress included the claim that Sun Yat-sen lead China in the eight year fight against the Japanese invasion. Not comical enough? She continued to say that he [Sun Yat-sen] lead Taiwan out of the sadness of being a [Japanese] colony.

1. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925 and has been crowned as the founder of KMT.
2. The so-called 8 year war against Japan happened between 1937-1945.
3. Japan ended its colonial rule of Taiwan in 1945; but, officially in 1952 as part of SF Peace Treaty.

Here's a link to the segment of her speech (in Chinese):

Anonymous said...

Hung also supports the TPP. If Taiwan signs up for this it will a negative effect on Taiwan. Just one example, medicine. Forget about getting 10 pills for a common cold anymore. Or for that matter, more expensive drugs for only NT$50 ea. Pharmacy bills will be in the thousands of dollars.

an angry taiwanese said...

the speech she gave implicitly criticized Ma Ying-jeou
I think it's 黃復興黨部 doing KMT purification, in the ideological domain. Hung is the newest flag-bearer of 黃復興黨部 and her criticism of Ma's domestic performance is really a way of attacking Ma for his disappointing performance in chinese nationalism.

The recent expelling of the five KMT members, who all have criticized Hung's candidacy, is really purification in the physical domain.

les said...

A few thoughts...

Ma-Hau-Lien camp are keeping Wang Jyn-ping on a short leash by offering him the chance to stay in the Speaker's job without having to run for election himself, which isn't really on offer anyway. Can they keep him on that leash or will he jump ship to PFP with whatever of the localized KMT is elected to the LY? I can imagine a chunk of the LY 'crossing the aisle' in the first day in session.

Tsai Ing-wen will probably run a quiet, serious campaign that sticks to policy, avoids attacking Hung directly and appearing petty or vindictive. Hung will continue shooting herself in the foot with her stupid remarks and amateur campaign 'strategy' anyway, so why bother going after her? The internet will do that at no cost (or blow-back) and the KMT padding Hung's poll numbers won't help any.

James Soong will cut a deal by which he gets to run his 'middle road' candidates for the LY in the center and south unopposed by KMTers. Half of them have jumped ship to PFP anyway, and more will likely follow, so it's actually a graceful way out for KMT. In return Soong will run a soft campaign for President which will mostly focus attacks on Tsai Ing-wen, then he'll withdraw at the last moment and urge his supporters to vote for Hung. Soong will get to pick the Speaker or the deputy in return, and have a sizeable chunk of the Legislature to bargain with for further deals.

Anonymous said...

According to the clip, She wasn't saying that Sun Yat-sen did those; she's saying that Sun Yat-sen created KMT, which did those stuff. The Subject and the "it" in her sentence refers to KMT, not Sun Yat-sen.
Not saying that those are not problematic statements, but to say that she claimed that Sun Yat-sen did all those stuff is missing the mark.

Raku said...

I could smell that old-timey, totalitarian party-state stink emanating from the congress without even being there.

Great blog Michael, keep up the good work.

Carlos said...

les, would Soong really do that - is he still in some way loyal to the KMT? This is his chance to turn the PFP into a major pan-blue party, maybe even THE major pan-blue party. It's a hell of an opportunity. They could do well in the legislature, and if Soong were to overtake Hung in the presidential election he might be able to count on the vast majority of Hung voters switching over to him (in the same way that almost all of his supporters ended up voting tactically for Ma last time). He'd have a chance of winning.

Raj said...

He'd have a chance of winning.

A very small chance, it would still be unlikely. It's one thing for supporters of minor parties to congregate around a larger one, as they always accept they back a small party. But supporters of the KMT see themselves as number 1. Their view is that people like the PFP should be backing them 100%, not the other way around.

And to be honest, Soong is an old face without any fresh ideas. Even if he could unite the hard core blue vote, I don't see him getting a majority.

les said...

@Carlos. Mmm. You're right that Hung probably only has the loony red-at-any-cost fringe that is truly beholden to her and would not switch to a more moderate alternate. I think the deciding factor there may well be Wang Jyn-ping. If he goes over to PFP then all bets are off. OTOH, a great many people see Soong for exactly what he is, an opportunist. PFP always has been a kind of refuge for KMT-in-exile and with all the recent ship-jumpers coming aboard it reminds the public what their roots are.
I don't think Soong can defeat Tsai for the Presidency and I think he knows it. How would he turn that position to his best advantage, by sticking it out to the loss or by adding his votes to Hung's at the last moment in return for more seats in the next Cabinet or some other reward? I cannot imagine Hung backing down, nor her backers here and in Beijing

Anonymous said...

>>Hung also supports the TPP....

I've not heard Tsai come out against the TPP...

Just sayin'