Solidarity translated this piece from Wealth Magazine on the KMT's problem with its Deep Blue supporters. The heart of it notes its trouble with the Huang Fu-hsiung (the old soldiers)...
The cold reception of the Huang Fu-hsing was no surprise. A knowledgeable source says that it all started when the Ma administration sharply cut year-end pension bonuses for military and civil servants and reformed away the 18%-interest system. After the Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) case it abolished military courts. Then came social movements like the Sunflower Movement and the protests against the fourth nuclear power plant and high school curriculum revisions. The KMT appeared to them to be led by the nose by the green camp, and to be firing on its own troops again and again. It was seen as unable to protect its family’s rights and interests. This made deep blues cold and dissatisfied.The piece notes that replacing Hung Hsiu-chu, the outspoken, ultraconservative presidential candidate, with Eric Chu was deeply unpopular with the military veterans. The Deep Blues are also angered that Wang Jin-pyng heads the list of legislators to get at-large seats.
In a surprise twist, Chu then chose former labor minister Jennifer Wang as his running mate, and the green camp revealed she had speculated in military housing units. The military and civil servant networks again caught fire. The hot anger of the deep blues has turned regions where the KMT typically has a strong advantage because of the military communities—like Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung, and Taoyuan—into danger zones, influencing the legislative races.
One of the deals the KMT made in running Taiwan as a colonial fief was with the veterans, the "mainlanders" who came over with the KMT in '49. They would remain loyal to the party, send their sons and daughters to serve in the bureaucracy, military, police, and NGOs, and in turn, the KMT elites would supply them with ample pensions, cheap food, and other items extracted from the productive Taiwanese business and agricultural sector. This cocoon of "ethnic" privilege, which the Old Soldiers justify to themselves with an elaborate narrative of how they are victims (perfectly true, just incomplete), has been perturbed in recent years.
All of this has been upset by several developments. The Ma Administration not only messed with their pensions, it also reformed the government, eliminated some agencies and folding the people into other agencies. The result has been widespread anger in the bureaucracy at the Ma Administration -- and the bureaucracy is 1/3 mainlander, whereas the nation itself is less than 10% mainlander. The cuts in military pensions triggered massive protests against the President's plan from the retired veterans. The pension cuts and tax reforms also affected another longtime disproportionately mainlander group: teachers. Then to add insult to injury, as the piece above notes, Vice Presidential Candidate Jennifer Wang was speculating in military housing, essentially preying on her own supporters.
Another factor in Deep Blue unrest is their own mortality. Their children are emigrating or joining the Taiwanese majority and identifying as Taiwanese. They do not identify as mainlander. The next generation of self-identified Chinese in Taiwan is going to be miniscule.
Could they stay home? In 2004 ~600,000 blue votes disappeared (numbers are here). Several factors, including multiple parties, disillusionment with the system, disgust with the KMT's inability to win, splits in the Blue camp, and so on, are appearing in different forms in this election...
- In advance of the anticipated party asset laws if the DPP wins the legislature, KMT assets are flying out the door. Explain again why a political party needs a hotel in Pulau.
- Legislature passes right to end life laws
- Malaysians protest against Chinese intrusions in Malaysian waters. This pattern of intrude-and-depart is a common Chinese tactic seen in the East China Sea and also in the Himal. I wonder when/if it will be deployed against Taiwan...
- Good Bloomberg piece on Chinese attacks on the DPP.
- DPP proposes ban on Chinese investment in Taiwan's semiconductor industry
- Finally, the number of new cases of Dengue is dropping in Tainan.
- Yawn. Another "the DPP will sink trade with China" piece.
- Low salaries killing economic growth. No shit. That's what happens when the government focuses on transferring wealth to the rich instead of building the nation.
- An Economist Editor says this piece, free of concrete ideas on any big ticket item, represents the work of the "only commentator in English who writes about the big picture" in Taiwan (see the comments). No, seriously. Now you know why The Economist is so wildly behind the curve on Taiwan...
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