Sunday, September 17, 2006

ESWN on Taiwan Marches

ESWN comments on the protests:

For the 9/15 march in Taipei, the issue was reduced to anti-corruption in Taiwan, which is embodied by the current president Chen Shui-bian. While Chen and his wife have been implicated but not yet convicted of any specific crimes of corruption, many people around him (such as his Deputy Secretary Chen Chi-nan, his son-in-law Chao Chien-ming, his daughter's father-in-law and others) are embroiled in corruption cases that are now in the legal phase. This is straightforward. You can ask anyone why they were out there, and the answer is terse and direct: "Oppose corruption. Depose Ah-Bian." The issue is sharply focused.

ESWN makes a strong point here -- the anti-Chen crowd had a clear message that was easy to memorize. The march had nothing to do with opposing corruption, given that at its head say James Soong and other corrupt members of the Blue establishment. But it does show the ability of the Blues to get their people on-message, and keep them there. Of course, when your message is an utterance of blatant, simpleminded hypocrisy, it is easy to get people on message.

The problem arises when ESWN attempts to interpret the pro-democracy, pro-Chen protests.

For the 9/16 march in Taipei, the issue is more confused. Some participants want this to be a defense of their beloved president Chen Shui-bian, who is being smeared for corruption for which he has not even been charged on anything. There are other participants who would rather make this a case for the defense of democracy in Taiwan and severe it from the personal fate of the controversial individual known as Chen Shui-bian. The confusing messages creates antagonism within the alliance.The most egregious case is deep green media personality Wang Benhu (汪笨湖) who said (ETtoday via Yahoo): "The happiest person on the evening of September 15 is vice-president Annette Lu. She must have slept really well because she is getting ready to become president. At this moment, Annette Lu ought to be standing alongside President Chen Shui-bian." This is about as off-message as one can get. At this point, nobody wants to hear about internal power struggles within the Democratic Progressive Party.

The pro-Blue march has a simple program -- their goals are entirely negative, always the easiest to focus on, message-wise. None of the Blues has any positive policy program to offer, and none of them have the slightest interest in getting rid of corruption, else their respective parties would have to close up shop.

Where ESWN errs is in assuming that the plethora of DPP messages is a negative thing -- what it really shows is that the democracy side has a robust set of issues -- ranging from protection of democracy and rule of law to support of the Presidency as an institution and the man in it. The democracy side is a diversity that people have many reasons for supporting. People whose understanding of democracy is undeveloped look at that diversity and see anarchy. Sad.

What this diversity really shows is that unlike the Blues, the democracy side has a positive policy program. The anti-democracy side simply wants to bring down a Taiwanese President and will use any excuse to go after him -- the pattern of threats of impeachment followed by faux protests dates back to Chen's days as mayor of Taipei. That the Blues have nothing positive to offer the island is starkly depicted by the protests themselves -- the best the Blue side can do is extralegal partisan protests.

I especially love the way ESWN constructed that paragraph so the reader is left with a negative thought about the democracy side -- ESWN never misses a chance to hack on our democracy here. It is true that there's been lots of loose talk about how Lu secretly set Shih upon Chen so she could be President, which Lu, in her usual "can you believe how stupid these people are?" style, has joked around with. No thinking person takes such nonsense seriously. Bent on one-sided construction, ESWN ignores, of course, similar splits in the anti-Chen camp, such as the China Times telling Shih he ought to keep his mouth shut, or the fight that broke out over the gimmicks that the campaign would use. Of course, nothing about differing views really says anything about either camp; it is perfectly natural that in large political events there will be differing views among the leadership and followers.

ESWN adds:

Contrast this with what Democratic Progressive Party chairman Yu Shyi-kun allegedly said in public in Washington DC (reported in China Times).

Shih Ming-teh had already collected NT$100 million in August, but why did he wait until September 9 to ask people to join the sit-in wearing red clothing? Yu said: September 9th is the 30th anniversary of the death of Mao Zedong and red represents the Communists. Therefore, Shih Ming-teh did this purposefully.

Calling the people out in the street "Communist stooges" is not going to persuade them to go home. It is only going to make them angrier. Besides, this is quite absurd in itself. Even the Chinese Communists are not interested in Chairman Mao anymore, so why would Shih Ming-teh's Communist 'handlers' insist on him paying respect to the departed man?

For the current issue in Taiwan, the proper strategy is to say: The people have the right to go into the streets to express their feelings. However, we have fought so hard to achieve a democracy and we cannot afford street demonstrations to subvert the constitutional process. If you have any issues, please go follow the constitutional process or else everything that we have accomplished so far goes to ruins. Please: DO NOT INVOKE MAO ZEDONG AND THE RED GUARDS!!!

ESWN says: for the current issue in Taiwan, the proper strategy is to say: the demonstrations are extralegal and a threat to democracy. Hey no shit, Roland. That's what they've been saying now for over a month (where have you been?). Yu was not trying to persuade the protesters to go home; they won't regardless of what he says. Rather, the DPP of course cannot resist hacking on Shih and the Blues for their cooperation with and close links to China, and reminding the public whose interests Shih and the Blues actually serve.


Anonymous said...

I have been a reader of both ESWN and this blog for last three months. Both blogs frequently employ polarizing languages to support their partisan stands. While fascinating and very entertaining I was hoping for more objective commentaries and analysis, the political debate in Taiwanese society doesn't have to turn into Rush Limbaugh vs. Al Franken style.

Michael Turton said...

Why yes, we're partisan pro-democracy over here at the View. The wonder is that everyone does not have this bias. And people who are "polarized" by a pro-democracy stance have serious problems, Kai xie.


Anonymous said...

Well, I don't necessary equates Pro CSB/DPP to pro-democracy, it's like saying Pro Iraq-war equates with american patriotism. It's a misleading and flawed logic.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Kai Xie. Half hakka & taiwanese, shoud I cut myself into half and leave the Taiwanese 1/2 in Taiwan and exile the Hakka 1/2 abroad? Since Green only consider Hoklos their country people?
Got no political lingo, just a musician with lots of love for Taiwan...

Anonymous said...

nice professor job you have while you are not forced to worry about inventory or lay-off. For 6 years, you think A-bian contributed any to improve people's life/economy in Taiwan? Bian's policies made no imporvement to the society. Oh, I forgot, he doesn't have to worry about lay-off or bank debt, either. Right?! Anyway, a 2nd home in US is a good back-up.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the lynching mob!

This must be very pro-democracy according to Kai Xie's definition.

Anonymous said...

To Kai Xie & Co.,

Before you continue on with all these propaganda and rubbish, care to explain what's going on?

"In today's TV talk show, Dong Chi Shen (董智深), a news commentator from TVBS news station, threatened Dr. Stephen M. Yang that he would group an array of pan-blue's red army to surround the American Institute in Taiwan just because Mr. Dong believed that Dr. Stephen M. Yang, the director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, has sent manipulated information about Shih's campaign back to Washington D.C. The US government has long been the strong supporter of Taiwan. Dong Chi Shen's provocation immediately put American's offshore institution in danger and thus harm the partnership between Taiwan and United States. Dong Chi Shen's provocation carelessly reflected PRC's(Chinese) intention to disintegrate the mutual trust between Taiwan and the United States. Dong should be put into the list of global terrorists if he intents to do so. How can President George W. Bush tolerate Dong's threat to American embassy?"

From:Focus on Taiwan

Anonymous said...

Is this the democracy that you're talking about? If so, you can keep it.

"Sha! Sha! Sha!" Great slogan for reform.

I guess beating up reporters that you don't agree with is now a democratic freedom, eh?

The silence on this blog over what happened on the 16th is deafening. I wonder why?

I'm with ESWN on this one.

Michael Turton said...

The silence on this blog over what happened on the 16th is deafening. I wonder why?

Are you on crack? I have a blog entry on it! Read more closely please.

Michael Turton said...

While fascinating and very entertaining I was hoping for more objective commentaries and analysis,

Analysis does not require non-partisanship to be insightful -- partisans often have deep insights into their own and their opponents views. I could cast the whole blog in some kind of academic language, but then not only would it be difficult to speak truth, it would also be unethical to appropriate the nuetral language of scholarship that way.


Anonymous said...

Michael, you are right. You are not a media outlet, you don't have to be objective. What better way to learn about the far left and extreme right in US than going directly to the ACLU or the Christian coalition.

Anonymous said...


It is simply sick and discusting to see you and the other pan-green activists sucking up to each other on this blog.

A view from Taiwan my ass.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. anonymous above, What do you want me to explain?

First of all I can't find any news source about the Dong Chi Shen story you mentioned (care to provide a link?)

According to the blog you quoted below, the author wants US to brand Dong as a global terrorist, for what? He merely threatens to surround and protest, not bomb!

what does your quote prove? that Dong Chi Shen is biased? I already know that!

I'm not here to defend biased media, only that in this wrenching debate people need to maintain some level of civility, because after all they still have to live together in this beautiful island, or do each side plan to obliterate the opponent?

Tim Maddog said...

Since Sun Bin pointed out the idiot who said "殺!殺!殺!," let me point out that I didn't see that part where he actually killed anybody. [/sarcasm]

I seemed to notice that instead of encouraging him, the people around him were trying to get him to cut the foolish crap. It's also entirely possible that he was imitating what he'd seen the previous night at the train station and/or was suffering from an overdose of BS-TV. Who knows?

If we could get some transitional justice going here and treat all cases equally (the guy who "violently" unplugged a TV cable has already been identified, while Lin Cheng-chieh is still out setting off fireworks at redshirt rallies), then I'd love to have a talk with Sun Bin about those "violent" people who booed "poor" CTI.

Tim Maddog

Tim Maddog said...

I should correct my last comment, since the "sha" commenter didn't identify themselves as Sun Bin. I was probably confused by the fact that they linked to the same video that SB did to show how "violent" the pan-green supporters were. I think the rest of the comment still stands, and that some of those things are related to what SB said on his own blog and in comments to another post on this blog.