Thursday, January 07, 2016

Catching Up: Ads and other stories of the election

ADDLED: Kudos to my man Solidarity, who translated this sick KMT ad of a pathetic, resentful middle aged man contemplating the unfairness of it all. That's the Rational Party at work! Some of the comments from my Facebook....

A eulogy for the ROC colonial enterprise.
Well, they set the shit advertising bar pretty high with that Chinese sub one a couple of cycles ago.
The politics of despair. Let's see how that works out for them!
Bunch of whiners.
Good Lord! Who would want to identify with that character?
i thought this was an ad for the republican party in the US
Cry me a river. It's weird see the KMT having a go at playing the victim card.
Bummer. I was waiting for shots of carousing at the KTV and the appearance of the second family in Shanghai.
To me, it appears as an ad to promote the DPP rather than the KMT. All the right reasons are there NOT to vote for the KMT.
Nice to see they worked in a shot at Korea in there, too. Very deft of them.
I noticed that neither of the candidates appeared anywhere in the ad...telling
I thought you meant "slick" at first and were praising them.....
Hubris meter pegged at maximum after only 20s of exposure.
Is that 連勝文?[Lien Sheng-wen, the losing KMT candidate for Taipei mayor]
Well if that ad isn't shameless, then I don't know what is.
Well, can't be surprised they're going to try every trick in the political playbook
ah, poor little thing, here you have a cookie
Full of melodramatic, self pity and anger...KMT is the one who tears the country apart
Should be "born in the 60s" (not 50s)
I noticed that neither of the candidates appeared anywhere in the ad...telling
Nor did they mention which country they're banging on about.
On Twitter: Yoof and pro-TW's are unpatriotic, green-terror ingrates!

A party that makes ads like that has lost the people. As many pointed out, this ad is aimed at the KMT's base since it couldn't possibly be aimed at the general population -- and when you're attempting to shore up your base with negative ads two weeks before the election, you're toast. Lots of KMTers going to stay home to punish the KMT this election, so expect some surprises, especially in close legislative races in the north. One of my readers sent around a few parodies that came out immediately here and here. The KMT even managed to parody itself when they sent around an ad evoking a video game, which misspelled START as STRAT.

Compare that to this wonderful DPP ad which radiates confidence in the people and hope for the future.

Anonymous at Thinking Taiwan compares two ads., while Tumin looks at the KMT ad as an attempt to stir up intergenerational conflict.

ADDED: The Deep Blue New Party has actually made an ad to address the issue of Blue voters avoiding voting on Jan 16: "Why is everyone busy on 1/16?".

PROVOKING: Over at Thinking Taiwan, J Michael writes that Taiwan is not the provoker in the Taiwan Strait. That's an old and prominent theme on this blog, and it is good to see someone else taking up the cudgel.

PROGRESS: Another piece, at the Diplomat on the Third Force , uses the term "pro-Taiwan" correctly:
But the NPP’s political rhetoric should be interpreted as pro-Taiwan rather than anti-China. Their political agenda is strongly focused on progressive social justice, human rights, and democratic values. Their economic policy focuses on higher corporate and luxury taxes in order to redress wealth inequality. The Sunflower Movement itself was not solely an anti-China manifestation – it was the culmination of years of a maturing social movement scene and social unrest.
The whole thing is excellent. The NPP might get as many as three wins in the election, including my own district. Two is probably more realistic. They've already said they will be holding the DPP's feet to the fire, but the DPP will probably reach, minimally, around 60 seats.

PIGGING OUT: Readers will recall that the beef issue was really a pork issue --  under WTO if Taiwan let in US beef with ractopamine, it would have to let in pork from the US with that same toxic drug. While beef is no big deal, pork farmers in Taiwan operate a large and lucrative industry. The KMT spent last week attacking Tsai Ing-wen because her policy, they said, was to let in US pork:
During the two Presidential debates, Tsai Ing-wen released signals for slowing changing her policy positions. She has clearly made two policy changes. One. She now proposes to allow in US pork containing ractopamine residue, provided that they meet Japanese and Korean standards. Two. She now wants the Cross-Strait Agreement Oversight Bill be given top priority during the coming session of the legislature. That means that soon after the election, Tsai Ing-wen may permit US pork imports containing ractopamine residue, and Huang Kuo-chang may back passage of the STA.

For politicians to change their policy whenever they change roles is commonplace. As long as this sort of pragmatism serves the greater good, it is tolerable. But Tsai Ing-wen's ability to brazenly flip-flop in her policy position before changing roles, without batting an eyelash, is without peer. She has demonstrated the DPP's total lack of consistent principles. She has confirmed the truth of the adage, "Politics is the art of deceit." She has no qualms whatsoever about playing the public on Taiwan for fools.

Lest we forget, in mid-June 2012, the DPP demanded a zero tolerance policy for ractopamine laced US beef imports. It forcibly occupied the legislature podium for five days and four nights, to prevent ruling party legislators from approving their importation. Earlier that year, pig farmers traveled north to Taipei to fling pig manure at the Ma government in protest. DPP legislators joined their ranks and castigated the KMT for "selling out the health of the nation," and for "destroying Taiwan's hog industry." They demagogued the US beef and US pork imports issue for all they were worth. Now, however, Tsai Ing-wen, riding on the bandwagon, is slowly whirling herself. Have the DPP's past lamentations about the "health of the nation" and the "hog farmers' livelihood" been forgotten?
The two parties appear to have flip-flopped on the issue, with the KMT posing as the champion of the farmers.

Another important issue for the KMT is Korea -- which many Taiwanese view as a rival state that has surpassed Taiwan, and which the KMT is hitting hard on in this election since "Tsai has no plan for Korea". Note that the resent-filled ad at the top of this post mentions Korea. Of course, Korea has passed Taiwan while the presidency and legislature were controlled by the KMT, and KMT policies have failed to prevent that.

Finally the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission report on the Taiwan Economy and the Election is online here. It also outlines the DPP economic team in Appendix 1.

CARROT SHTICK: Beijing tossed Taiwan "a little carrot" as an acquaintance put it, by permitting travelers from 3 Chinese cities to transit through Taoyuan Airport.
Xinhua news agency on Tuesday carried an announcement from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office that residents of three Chinese cities — Chongqing, Kunming and Nanchang — would be allowed to transit through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for flights to a third nation, although a starting date was not given.

The council hailed the announcement as the result of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore on Nov. 7 last year, and said it hoped the plan would be expanded to cover all Chinese travelers in the near future.

Asked whether the timing of China’s announcement was suspicious, coming so close to the presidential and legislative elections, Tsai said: “I will treat the matter with an ordinary mind.”
This is an opportunity local airlines have waited a long while for. DPP Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen demand clarifications, since apparently it was done without negotiations, a grant from the beneficent Emperor BJ to the provincials.
Issues regarding cross-strait exchanges should be subjected to full-scale negotiations. I would take them in my stride if they have been through a democratic procedure and handled with equality and dignity,” Tsai said...
Of course, as many have observed, this means that should Beijing become annoyed with President Tsai, it can withdraw this bounty of warm bodies, a symbolic punishment. Beijing's economy is intertwined with Taiwan's, and the slowdown there which wiped another 7% off the stock market's value today has hit Taiwan hard, with the NT losing ground against the dollar. Hence Beijing is probably reluctant to take more painful moves, since they hurt China as well. But withdrawing a flood of Chinese for which there is no negotiated agreement costs Beijing little.

This mess will strike voters as still more evidence that the KMT's China policy is wrong. Nevertheless, the Ma Administration has scheduled an international press conference for the 15th, the day before the election, to tell the press about how awesome its China policy has been. That should be high comedy...

Another China issue reverberating here in Taiwan is the kidnapping of the Hong Kong booksellers and publishers from Hong Kong and Thailand. Everyone in Taiwan can see what that means for our island. It wouldn't surprise me if it cost the KMT votes, and both Tsai and the KMT's Eric Chu criticized it. Tsai called for the Hong Kong government to give a clear explanation and protect democracy in Hong Kong. If both parties are talking about it, it's having an effect.

REMARKABLE: A friend from Hong Kong remarked that activists in Hong Kong became dispirited after the Umbrella Movement's failure, while activists in Taiwan have become inspired to do more.

A friend told me that Hung Tz-yung, the NPP candidate who is running in my district here in Taichung, and who is an attractive young woman in her early thirties, had said that she is the oldest person in her campaign headquarters. A bunch of NTU sociology department activists have come down to help run her campaign, and everyone is young.

The last poll of the pro-KMT Cross-Strait Policy Association said that Tsai was blowing out Chu, with Chu at 16.3 and Soong at 16.1. This has started many of us fantasizing about Soong actually finishing ahead of Chu, but I don't think it is possible. Few people are going to get out of bed on Saturday to file a protest vote when they could just as soon stay home. IMHO Soong will be lucky to break 10%, though there's a lot of people ignorant of history who think he is reasonable and might vote for him. The debates helped him immensely.

Undecideds are high, and they will either break for Tsai or stay home. They won't break KMT for the most part.

SUMMARIES: Longtime Taiwan scholar Bruce Jacobs summarizes things for the East Asia Forum, which was wildly and stupidly pro-ECFA. Jacobs observes:
There will naturally be competition for leading positions, but Tsai has demonstrated her ability to think carefully and strategically about appointments. Her choice of running mate, Chen Chien-jen — a public health specialist and former vice president of Taiwan’s premier research institution, Academia Sinica — has been widely praised.

The question of relations with mainland China featured heavily in the two televised presidential debates. The vast majority of Taiwanese citizens are more than happy to have good relations with China. But most Taiwanese oppose China’s claims that Taiwan belongs to it. And China continues to threaten Taiwan militarily, with approximately 1500 missiles currently targeting the country.

Whether relations between China and Taiwan can continue as they are, or even improve, depends on China’s attitude. If China is not hostile, relations could be excellent. But if China continues to threaten Taiwan, relations will not improve.
Several good observations here, but note how forthrightly Jacobs describes the relations with China: if China is hostile, things will go ill. When was the last time you read that so clearly in any media piece?

LABOR: Another of the excellent batch of new writers appearing since the Sunflowers -- whose activism also inspired and transformed the English commentary scene -- Brian Hoie at New Bloom writes on why there are labor protests:
Namely, the hotbed issue as of late an amendment to the Labor Standards Act announced by the Legislative Yuan, which would limit the amount of maximum allowable work hours to per week to forty hours per week, with two days off per week as mandatory holiday. Previous legal regulations stipulated maximum allowable work hours of 84 hours per two weeks. Yet though some would see this as progress for worker’s rights, the Ministry of Labor also announced after the amendment that seven days of vacation would be removed from current national holidays, reducing the amount of days off from 19 days to 12 days. It is also claimed by workers that the amendment still does not guarantee that workers will have two days off per week.

The storming of Eric Chu’s campaign headquarters on December 25th was in demonstration of this amendment. But most dramatically, on December 15th, thirty workers charged and briefly occupied why Ministry of Labor demanding to meet with the Minister of Labor and spraying “Return our vacations!” on an elevator in the Ministry of Labor building. The workers were later removed by police. There are some reports that this brief occupation may have been a spontaneous act by a Taoyuan-based labor union.
The KMT has long opposed real labor unions, but the DPP also has a history of soliciting the aid of labor and then ignoring it when it gets power. Hopefully there will be real change under Tsai Ing-wen.

MIAOLI: Perhaps this weeks most shocking post was that of Frozen Garlic on the rapid transformation of Miaoli, long a KMT stronghold. Miaoli is about 60% Hakka and the Hakkas have long been a solid KMT bloc. But the DPP under Chen Shui-bian began to make inroads into Hakka fears that Taiwanese nationalism meant that Taiwan would be a majority Hoklo-state, and the Taiwanese nationalism of the 1990s has largely disappeared from the discourse. Chen spent millions developing Hakka culture institutions such as the Hakka museums and cultural centers found all over Taiwan, and in Hakka language promotion and use in political ads, and even in Hakka studies.

Now Tsai, herself a half-Hakka from Fangliao in Pingtung, is reaping the benefits of KMT incompetence in Miaoli and the DPP's patient cultivation of the Hakka vote. It's difficult for the KMT to claim that the DPP is anti-Hakka when its nominee is a Hakka, while the fact that the DPP nominee is a Hakka helps mute Hoklo-Hakka tensions in the DPP camp. Morever, the under 35 generation is less invested in the archaic ethnic conflicts that date back two hundred years in Taiwan. The rising Taiwanese identity is subsuming ethnic identities like "Hakka" and "Mainlander" among the Han (though not the aborigines), and I expect people in a generation or two will refer to themselves as Hakka-Taiwanese in the way that I might refer to myself as Italian-American.

In any case, read the whole thing because his discussion of the interethnic problem is excellent, but Froze writes:
Then they introduced the next speaker, Chunan Township mayor Kang Shi-ming 康世明, and my brain exploded. First, Since Yuanli mayor Tu Wen-ching 杜文卿 is the DPP’s legislative candidate in Miaoli 1, that meant the mayors of the four biggest townships in Miaoli were all supporting Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP. Those four townships account for about 55% of Miaoli’s total population. What?? Second, Kang’s older brother Kang Shi-ju 康世儒, who is the real power behind the mayor, is running for legislator in Miaoli 1 on the MKT label and against the DPP candidate. How does this work? Is the Kang family not supporting their own party’s vice presidential candidate? Third, Kang was also elected as an independent, but unlike the Miaoli and Toufen mayors who were wearing the purple vests of Tsai’s support organization, Kang was wearing a green DPP vest. Did he join the DPP?? So many questions! In his remarks, Kang asked people to vote for Tsai and the DPP’s candidate in Miaoli 2, but he didn’t say much substantive. He did, however, ask people to vote for his brother, which made for an awkward moment.

ONE CHINA = DEAD LETTER: Gunter Schubert writes at CPI on the death of the KMT's China narrative:
If it is correct to assume that most Taiwanese have become either oppositional or indifferent to the ‘China’ narrative, the KMT has a real problem. It would probably not be able to convince the majority of Taiwanese again that it is the only party that can deal with China and that adherence to the ‘1992 consensus’ and the ‘One China’ principle in indispensable for Taiwan to be safe and prosperous. Nobody can be persuaded to believe that any more.

Certainly, this is only an assumption, and it could be wrong. Maybe the Taiwanese will be driven back into the KMT’s fold if China plays hard against a DPP government by insisting on the ‘1992 consensus’ uncompromisingly and becoming actively unfriendly. However, this is far from certain. Pressure on a people that has a stance based on a consolidated identity, be that stance politicized or just taken for granted, can only further consolidate that stance. The KMT would therefore do good to think of some new ‘cross-strait speak’ if and when it is defeated in the upcoming ballot.
Between Beijing and the KMT, the KMT's China rhetoric has been comprehensively discredited. Its claims that moving closer to China will be good for Taiwan have been shown to be false, Beijing has not punished Taiwan seriously for its desire to be democratic and independent, there's been no war.

What new discourse can the KMT find? It is a colonial state that has come to the end of its rhetorical tether, its ethnocentric colonial ideology now an anachronism held in contempt by the locals. Its alliances with local factions are marriages of convenience to be dropped when no longer useful, its alliance with the CCP is a marriage of convenience to be dropped when no longer useful, it has no foreign allies except a faction of commentators and officials in the US. Its "pragmatism", mere short-term profit chasing, is no promising wellspring of rhetoric. Buh-bye.

This sturdy study of Tsai Ing-wen and stability from the Lowy Interpreter is an exception to the DPP OMG STABILITY crap that one often sees. It's almost like a follow on to the Schubert piece above: while the KMT is coming apart, Tsai is steadily moving toward tomorrow.
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Anonymous said...

Nice work, M.T. Thanks. Did you catch this story from last week?

Defection delivers Beijing’s nuclear secrets to Washington

(link is behind a firewall, but you can get the gist of it here. As a follow-up, do a search on: From living in Loomis to hiding from Chinese agents

If true, it probably explains the PLA shake-up a couple of weeks ago. Along with all the financial problems in China now and Japan's re-militarization", the CCP may be on the verge of going postal.

*search: japan's master plan destroy the chinese navy in battle

Brian Castle said...

"i thought this was an ad for the republican party in the US" It sure sounded like it. Get rid of the commens about Korea and China ... replace the comments about "justice" with comments about there words like racism and freedom, and you have a very accurate summary of how many Americans holding traditional values feel.

The difference of course is in what we want to conserve. KMT wants to conserve a dictatorial system and colonial thinking. Republicans want to conserve equality under the law regardless of race (America never had that but at least it became popular rhetoric in the 60s and it remains a popular goal for Republicans), freedom of speech, freedom of religion.

I would like to know more about the complaint in Taiwan that the word "justice' is only allowed to be used by certain people. Dismissing it as "whining" doesn't convince me. I've too often how popular culture and biased media create an echo chamber where contrarian thinking is ignored or, if it is so compelling to be ignored, it s ridiculed (e.g. by calling it "whining").

Grant said...

I was just reading the DPP are worried it won't get the party list majority because of the NPP. If you have majority of legislators but not party list how does this work? a little confused.

other then that thanks for the updates Michael.

Anonymous said...

"One of my readers sent around a few parodies that came out immediately here and here."

At the time of writing, the above sentence contains two links to the same parody video (我是覺醒的五年級生). I'd love to see the other parody video if the second link can be corrected! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Looks like this might be the second parody video?


Anonymous said...

Ractopamine; i recalled that a few years ago that this drug and other leanness enhancers were being widely used by Taiwan pig farmers. Here's a story from March 14, 2012 when the KMT government took steps to protect the public from the illegal activities of Taiwan pig farmers. Still given this government's record on food safety doubtless consumers are continuing to enjoy ractopamine and other leanness enhancers. Might as well allow in US pork so consumers can choose their poison.

Brian Castle said...

In the Richard Bush interview you linked to, Bush says he principal interest of America is the "peace an stability" of the Taiwan strait. Does this reflect the Obama administration's position? If so is it new? In the past (under earlier presidents) it seems to me there was always at the very least lip service paid to freedom and human rights. Am I mis-remembering?

Anonymous said...

That KMT ad, it's a suicide note!

Mark Kogan said...

Supporters of the KMT similar to the supporters of the American GOP are regressive to the core. American GOP voters - mostly old white men - long for the days of lynchings and sticking the attack dogs on black people wanting equal rights. KMT supporters - old Han Chinese men - long for the days of military dictatorship and sticking the attack dogs on anyone who's not like them. The KMT and GOP are both one step away from the likes of the BNP in England if they're not there already. A shame if they are elected in 2016, but thankfully they most likely won't!