Monday, November 02, 2015

Chu in Ma 2.0 Mode

The top image is the actual logo of the KMT Presidential campaign: "One Taiwan: Taiwan is power!" As the bottom image shows, the logo is already getting extensively parodied. The older generation may consider such things unseemly or even dangerous -- it's hard to get out of the mindset of living in a security state when you've incorporated it into your social identity -- but the younger generation pounces on easy meat like this with gleeful abandon. They weren't socialized during the security state era.

Not only is the logo strange, but it sounds awful in Taiwanese. An acquaintance announced on FB:
Taiwanese wordplay! The new KMT presidential slogan is "One Taiwan". Or in Taiwanese, "Ùan Tâi-ûan", which means "Blame (怨) Taiwan".
UPDATE: could also be read as "hate Taiwan," see comments.

As the pro-KMT China Post reported, the new KMT logo was immediately called out for its resemblance to the DPP's logo:
Chu also unveiled his campaign logo in a separate post: a tie-dyed "ONE" in his slogan "ONE Taiwan," but local media began to speculate that is had been plagiarized, saying it bears a resemblance to the logo of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) campaign.

Tsai's uses a green circle as her campaign logo, its colors varying according to the issue at hand.

KMT Culture and Communications Committee Chairman Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) told the local news media that Chu's logo showed a "varied but united" Taiwan through its rainbow coloring.
The rainbow color also recalls the LGBT movement for full civil rights. Tsai has already come out in favor of gay marriage, but for both parties and many prominent politicians, commitment to gay rights is not so much a move out of some human-centered moral or social commitment but a signal that one is modern. That is not true of Tsai herself, in my view: here she is on video saying she supports marriage equality.

More serious than the meaning of Logos is the irruption of the Wang-Chu rivalry into the KMT presidential campaign. KMT Chairman and Presidential candidate Eric Chu needs Ma's support and also needs to cut down any rivals, a common practice in authoritarian systems. Wang Jin-pyng, speaker of the legislature and unofficial leader of the Taiwanese KMTers, is a potential rival. Hence, the three new proposed changes to the KMT rulz* are aimed at lopping off Wang's power, as Frozen Garlic noted in an excellent post:
The first proposal, efficiency, is vague and practically meaningless. The second and third, however, can easily be interpreted as direct attacks on Wang’s power as speaker. What people in Taiwan seem to have in mind when they call for the speaker to be neutral is that he or she should not participate in party caucus activities. The speaker would not be the one trying to pass the majority party’s agenda. Instead, he or she would be more of a neutral referee.

.... In the Ma Ying-jeou vision of hollowing out Wang’s power, the KMT would like to make Wang the irrelevant speaker, while the real power migrates to the majority party leader – who can be chosen by the party chair. (Of course, this all still assumes the KMT will be running the legislature in the future, which seems rather optimistic at this point.)

The third idea is to increase the transparency of party negotiations, something that has widespread appeal. Nevertheless, the current system of party negotiations is closely associated with Wang Jin-pyng. He became speaker in 1999, and the current system was put into place in 1999 and 2000. Wang likes the current system of back-room, closed-door negotiations because it fits his style perfectly. He gets along with almost everyone and is ideologically flexible, so he is fantastic at negotiating. Without the media to mess things up, he has much more space to encourage different sides to make opaque trades. Most importantly, the speaker always chairs the negotiation meetings, so Wang is always in position to guide or even control the bargaining. Transparency would mess all this up, so Chu’s proposed reform would be a major blow to Wang’s power.
Wang has been skipping KMT events, which has led to much press speculation about his position and the feud with Chu. Solidarity translated some of this media frenzy. Indeed, today Chu denied the party had internal problemsA sample with Solidarity's notes....

Speaking of who will be on the Party List, legislators who are at-large and need not be elected, Chu said:
Regarding the order of names on the party list, Chu said he can’t personally direct the chess pieces as everything must follow party procedures. He emphasized that Wang is the KMT’s legislative leader and will be treated with the greatest respect, and the name order will be reached by consensus.
Remember, when the KMT piously cites the rulz for saying it can't help someone, it means someone is getting screwed. More:
A source said Wang is upset for three reasons: (1) He believes statements by Huang Fu-hsing (retired veterans) chapter head Dai Po-teh 戴伯特 represents the views of party central [ much more on that below; btw Chu appointed Dai]; (2) Chu didn’t accede to Wang’s demand for a public declaration he’d be No. 1 on the party list; (3) Chu is demanding Wang lead the way for legislative reform, and there have been rumors party central will attach conditions to party-list nominations, leading Wang to worry “his feet will be bound.”
The situation with the clash between the veterans, who are the KMT's return-to-China base, and the Party center, reflects the struggle going on within the KMT now for two decades: is the KMT a Chinese colonial political organization in which benefits and power flow only to people with the right ethnicity, or a party run by Chinese elites in concert with local Taiwanese? The "red" (more KMT than the KMT) faction believes that the Taiwanese must inevitably localize, Taiwanize, and destroy the "real" KMT if they get power in the KMT, and because at the sick heart of the KMT is a colonial state run on ethnic chauvinism. Hence the veterans object to Wang because he is Taiwanese...
Dai had stated at the central committee meeting that the KMT is a party with an organization and system and should not create new party-list rules for the sake of “one person.” Elsewhere that day, he stated that the grassroots strongly oppose changing the rules and doing so would absolutely have an effect on the presidential and legislative elections [ the Huang Fu-hsing can tell military veterans to stay home and not vote KMT]. He recommended that Wang Jin-pyng “voluntarily” take a party-list position of No. 10 or lower [ where he’d have a much higher chance of losing his seat].
"Not create rules for the sake of one person." Remember when Ma Ying-jeou was indicted and the KMT quickly changed the rules so that an indicted person could run for President? Ma was strongly supported by the veterans. Note that Dai -- whom Chu appointed -- threatened the KMT that the veterans would stay home if they didn't get their way. Solidarity notes that within the KMT the military networks are at war with each other over the nominations as well.

The KMT won't do well, though it does seem to be getting a legislative boost from the Chu nomination of 8-16% in this poll, Solidarity tweeted. But there are fewer seats for the KMT, withal. Why? One reason was the idiotic reform that reduced the number of seats, which the two major parties agreed to in order to shut out the smaller parties. Now the seats simply are not out there -- had the KMT not agreed and preserved the old strange proportional system, it would gain a certain portion of seats in the south, where there are military communities and longstanding faction networks.

The legislative reform hurt the faction networks by reducing their ability to gain seats, and thus, hurt their relations with the KMT and their relevance locally. Add to that the fact that the DPP is in control of municipal positions across Taiwan now, and the KMT factions are facing long-term starvation. Chu himself observed that he couldn't step down from New Taipei City mayor position because over 100 people would lose their jobs. What will happen to the factions when they don't have seats and their only alternative to starvation is the DPP?

In any case, all this is internal debate just another way of asking: what is the position of Taiwanese in the KMT colonial system? Spartans or helots? In fact, the answer to the position of the Taiwanese is "helots":
A friend of Wang says that Ma uses “this gang” who “wants to hold the grassroots hostage,” doesn’t know right from wrong, doesn’t know how to introspect, and goes on hurting people. To these people, it seems Taiwanese can only be the slaves of a few powerful people in the KMT. This clique wants only power, and there is no true democracy in the KMT, Wang’s friend said.
As I've noted before, Wang must have heard many remarks about the inferiority of Taiwanese to the "real Chinese" during his tenure in the KMT. How much more of this can he take? A longtime observer speculates that Wang will move after the election. I can't bring myself to believe it. Letters from Taiwan with much speculation on Wang's future.

In addition to coming out as "Taiwanese" -- a Ma specialty was gritting his teeth and saying he was Taiwanese -- and suppressing Wang Jin-pyng -- another Ma goal, Chu also came out this week with a proposal that the government institute a program of tourism to Taiping Island in the Spratlys. From Solidarity with his laconic reminder:
Chu said it wouldn’t take much to develop the island, and with its beautiful scenery and basic infrastructure a weekly flight could be established to allow people to travel there for tourism and see their country’s territory. ( Reminder: The island is 46 hectares / 110 acres in size.)
It's pretty obvious that Chu is going to follow the Ma Administration policy of using the South China Sea, the Senkakus, and other issues as irritants to keep relations with surrounding states roiled. US policymakers should ask themselves whether this is the person they want in power in Taipei: does the US really want a pro-China government in Taipei during the coming decade of increasing confrontation with China?

*Warning: may contain rules-like substance. Use with caution. 
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Anonymous said...

1. Neither Chu's or Tsai's logos & slogans make any sense. They both suck.

2. Red faction = Keep Marginalizing Taiwanese = sellout scum.

3. Excellent post Michael, thanks for keeping us informed.

an angry taiwanese said...

one 怨: a bitter and hateful state of emotion, which usually results from being treated unfairly or not gaining desired reward.
怨 and 恨 (hate) usually appear together as 怨恨

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think 怨 means hate not blame. Which makes the slogan even more unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I'm a bit of newbie in the recent history of those political personas. Other than being Taiwanese, why exactly has Ma held such a deep hatred of Wang to such a deep extent? What in your opinion was the proximate cause of this grudge?

Anonymous said...

The KMT campaign logo was plagiarized from Milan 2015.

Anonymous said...

Chu is no longer important. He will lose. I predict Ma's meeting with Xi will also make sure KMT go down in flame at current election. We will finally get rid of KMT for good.