Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meandering through the Party and Legislative Politicking

A friend near Baling. 

So much to catch up on! The KMT Chairmanship struggle is still a two woman race between Hung Hsiu-chu, the reactionary mainlander former presidential candidate, and Huang Min-hui, a Taiwanese faction politician from a family with long service to the KMT. Remarkable to think that if Chen Chu succeeds Tsai Ing-wen to the Chairmanship of the DPP, the president and heads of both major political parties will be female come May. This demonstrates not merely female power but continuity of female power, since the previous party heads will have both been female.

Interestingly, few of these powerful females are married. There are basically only two ways to become a powerful woman in Taiwan: as a wife delegated by a male when he is unable to carry out the duty (a favorite route of gangsters who run their wives for office while in prison) or as a public virgin. This situation was highlighted this week when TV personality Clara Chou criticized incoming NPP legislator Hung Tz-yung (my district!) for dating someone, saying she should be focusing on learning her job. Chou was probably just jealous, since Hung is 1000X more attractive than her, an authentic Taiwanese woman like so many I have known: beautiful, kind, warm, polite, well spoken, and made of steel.*

Hung's alleged sally into the world of romance also highlights another aspect of legislative power in Taiwan: she was said to be dating a reporter (who is now head of the Taichung City media organ, Donovan tells me). Many politicians have married reporters and TV anchors.

Meanwhile back in the KMT Hung Hsiu-chu and Huang Min-hui both courted the Huang Fuhsing, the Old Soldiers, this week. These Deep Blue seniors are crucial to winning the election, and they love Hung Hsiu-chu. Smart politician Jason Hu, the former Taichung mayor and briefly a potential candidate for party chair, said he was supporting Hung, an important indication that he thinks she will win. Hu no doubt has his eye on the long term and is courting the Old Guard, since next August there will be another KMT Chairmanship election at which point whoever wins in March will likely step down.

The courting of the Old Soldiers is a reminder, as a longtime observer put it on Twitter, that the KMT "cannot, will not, must not learn from their mistakes". They will likely ensure that no real change will occur. Note that neither Hung nor Huang is a "reform" candidate by any means. The KMT's downward spiral will continue, to the benefit of Taiwan and its democracy.

Speaking of not getting it, the legislature swung into action, with a flurry of draft bills being put forward and the KMT blocking the party assets law...
More than 100 draft acts sailed through their first readings and were referred to legislative committees for review and deliberation during the morning meeting, including draft bills on governing political parties; amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and the Disaster Prevention and Protection Act (災害防救法); setting up reciprocal offices with China; and the much-discussed legislation on the presidential transition of power.

What did not get through were four bills aiming to deal with ill-gotten party assets proposed by DPP lawmakers, which the KMT caucus opposed and were sent back to the Procedure Committee.

KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the regulation of political parties’ assets could be included in the proposed political party act, adding that the KMT opposed the DPP’s bills because they are “apparently targeting [the KMT].”

DPP Legislator Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) blasted the KMT’s move on Facebook, saying the KMT “still does not understand why it has been spurned by the public even after its 2014 and 2016 electoral routs.”
Recall that the Referendum Act is set up deliberately to make it impossible for public referendums to pass. Hopefully that will change. The Parade and Assembly Laws, deployed against protesters repeatedly over the years, are a holdover from the authoritarian days. Su Chih-fen, readers will recall, was one of the DPP politicians who was prosecuted in the opening days of the Ma Administration in 2008 when it went after the DPP (see this old post). She was of course found innocent. The KMT held a public meeting on the asset issue, with Huang adopting a cautiously conservative position (Hung was not present).

Gwen Wang, always excellent, set forth the great changes in this new legislature. Among the many changes she identified was the rise of the New Power Party (NPP)...
To continue their momentum, its five legislators will have to show the voters that they are not merely junior partners to the DPP, but a real “third force” in the political spectrum different from the KMT and the DPP. During the 2016 elections campaign, DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen lent her support to the NPP with herself and several DPP heavyweights, including the Tainan and Kaohsiung Mayors, attending many rallies held for NPP candidates. The close collaboration between the NPP and the DPP will be the “baggage” that the legislators will have to get rid of first, should they want to be a real alternative to the traditional blue and green camp rivals. As Dr. Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) of Academia Sinica commented, the NPP has to walk its own path because society is looking expectantly towards the NPP, to see whether they can be a real watchdog in the parliament.
...I should add that the Taichung mayor backed our NPP candidates and attended their rallies as well. The NPP came out this week with proposals for a parliamentary system. At present, with the KMT not yet eliminated, this is probably a bad idea -- indeed, it is something the KMT has called for as a tactic to weaken and cage a DPP presidency.

But to the extent that the NPP plays watchdog, it will set itself against the DPP. More importantly, the NPP has to differentiate itself because we need a viable alternative to replace the KMT as the second largest party.

The danger here, as I see it, is that the Legislature is inherently in opposition to the Presidency in Taiwan, and that dynamic could well continue under the Tsai Administration. Wisely, the Speaker is Su Chia-chuan, who is close to Tsai and was her running mate in 2012.

*Yes, I am crushing hard
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paul said...

taiwan's architecture and man-made environment outside of it's natural beauty truly is ugly. there's just no excuse for taiwan to be so ugly in 2016 after decades of wealth and development and for such an educated (often western educated) and well-traveled and supposed "civilized" and well-cultured populace to be so ignorant as to how ugly, gritty and dirty taiwan is.

doncropper said...

Hey buddy, you pasted an age-old pic of me on the North-Cross on your blog. I've arrived! And I still ride the same metal beast. Read your Dubai street-photography post right after dragging my unfortunate sprogs to an exhibit by Saul Leiter. No training and he wandered the streets of Manhattan for years taking images like this (Harlem, 1960), don't know if it's your style or whatever but :

Michael Turton said...

Haha. Miss you much, man. Was thinking about you, so I went and got a photo.

B.BarNavi said...

Why is Tsai still pushing the Diaoyutai thing? Political pressure? There's no point for her to do so.

B.BarNavi said...

Also, I might be in the minority here in thinking that Taiwan doesn't need to adopt superficial standards of "prettiness". It's got plenty of substance, thank you.