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.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.
“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).
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.”These are all themes that hark back to her public remarks in June. Again:
“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.
- "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!
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.Hung's comments reflect a colonial mindset in which Taiwan is temporary and uncivilised sourjourn in narrative arc of ROC manifest destiny.— Ben Goren (@BanGaoRen) July 20, 2015
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.
- DO NOT MISS: NYTimes with absorbing story of murder at sea involving a Taiwanese fishing boat, background to the anarchic Mad Max world of the high seas. Taiwan Law Blog with the background on whether Taiwan boats can be armed.
- Water park disaster claims eighth victim
- Wet cool weather this week.
- Four more wounded in knife attack at Taipei Metro station. Crowd subdued him.
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