Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's Official! Soong is IN!

This year's Taipei Mayoral election promises plenty of good fun on the Blue side as Blue Potentate James Soong, Chairman of the People's First Party -- a splinter off the KMT formed in 2001 -- and self-proclaimed bearer of the Chiang Family Legacy, officially tossed his hat in the ring, his pearls before swine, and his cookies all over the people of Taipei with his announcement of his mayoral candidacy:

After months of speculation and innuendo, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday announced his candidacy in the Taipei mayoral election, sparking concern in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of a pan-blue split.

The KMT, which nominated its own Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) in May, has been negotiating with the PFP in an effort to dissuade Soong from joining the race.

Pledging to run as a candidate "transcending party affiliations," Soong shrugged off the KMT's concerns by declaring that he would temporarily leave his position as PFP chairman to run as an independent candidate, while urging Taipei residents to choose their future mayor according to the candidates' abilities.

"We should not depend on `faction politics' in Taiwan ... In choosing the future Taipei mayor, residents should consider candidates' abilities, instead of asking what a candidate's father or his party chairman can do," Soong said while releasing his new book at the Mayor's Arts Residence Salon.

The last line, with its reference to fathers and chairmen, is a cheap shot at Hau Lung-bin, the KMT candidate and son of former Premier and mainlander reactionary Hau Pei-tsun. The China Post recorded that Soong:

He also blasted Hau for having once betrayed the "pan-blue" camp, and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou for "ending the pan-blue" camp.

More interesting is who turned out to support a Soong candidacy:

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), talk-show host Sisy Chen (陳文茜) and several PFP city councilors attended the event to lend their support.

"Chairman Soong has put all his effort into understanding Taipei City's issues ... Given an opportunity, I believe that he will transform Taipei into a brand new city," Wang said.

Say.....who? Speaker Wang is a KMT heavyweight and political rival of current Chairman (and Taipei mayor) Ma Ying-jeou. Wang's appearance at a pro-Soong event is yet another signal that come 2008 party insiders may yet decide to hack Ma off at the knees. Some of you may recall that in the KMT Chairmanship election a few months back, Ma accused Wang of cheating and then spanked him hard in the election. Wang has yet to be heard from, I think. Somewhere behind that dapper manner and those perfectly pressed suits is a heart burning for revenge.

In addition to Wang, also associated with Soong is KMT legislator and attack dog Chiu Yi. That's the same wonderful fellow who made all those unsubstantiated attacks on Chen Shui-bian, and has built a career out of grandstanding, lawsuits, and in 2004, leading a riot. Chiu Yi's most recent arrest required 200 policemen. Is Soong the "black hand" behind the assault on President Chen? Sure are a lot of people attacking Chen and hanging out with Soong. Even more interesting is that the DPP thinks it can work with Wang Jin-pyng...whose political ally among the Blues is Soong.

The true guarantor of comedy here, however, is the presence of Li Ao:

In addition to Hau and Soong, independent Legislator Lee Ao (李敖) on Sunday announced that he would run in the election.

Li Ao, who was an intellectual in a previous life, loves to grandstand, is funnier than a troop of drunken monkeys attempting to learn ice skating, and will have absolutely no chance of winning. There is thus nothing to prevent him from cutting loose.

On the serious side, I have grave doubts that Soong will actually see this election through to the end. It is instructive, though, that his opening salvo was fired at the KMT. Taipei is profoundly Blue and thus, KMT candidate Hau Lung-bin is the frontrunner. Not only is he of impeccable mainlander ancestry, being the son of a reactionary right-winger who was Lee Teng-hui's chief rival in the opening stages of his Presidency, but he also served as the EPA head during the first Chen Shui-bian Administration and is widely seen as a moderate, popular among people from many different political stances. Hau's previous brief association with the DPP Administration was what led Soong to claim Hau betrayed the Blue camp -- even though Soong's exit from the KMT and independent run for the Presidency split the Blues and gave the Presidency to Chen Shui-bian in 2000. Yes, with Soong around, you have to wear rain gear to keep the irony from sticking to you.

No, I expect that this is all about Soong keeping up his visibility (as well as helping his party's candidates in their city council elections happening at the same time; Soong's party is slowly disappearing back into the KMT from whence it came). Soong has pledged that there will be no posters or big rallies (translation: no great expenditures). No, somewhere toward the end of the campaign, the wily and populist-minded Soong will pull out with a tearful, melodramatic, and oh-so-public ceremony, hand his support base over to Hau, and focus on the 2008 Presidential election. In the meantime, he will have given his PFP people a boost, prevented further defections back to the KMT, and kept his face in the public eye.

But whatever happens, look forward to a very enjoyable Taipei election season.

UPDATE: Roland over at ESWN has the poll numbers:

This is a tracking poll, so there are two numbers (one for the poll results on September 6 and the other one for October 17). This poll is about the support levels for the Taipei city mayoral candidates.

Hau Lung-kin (KMT): 50% -> 34%
Frank Tsieh (DPP): 15% -> 14%
James Soong (PFP): 10% -> 9%
Clara Chou (TSU): 1% -> 1%
Li Ao (IND): ? -> 5%
Undecided: 24% -> 36%

Clearly, there is a huge drop in the support for Hau Lung-king. Some of the support went to the newly announced candidate Li Ao but most of it goes to the Undecideds.

Roland has a typo -- that's Hau Lung-bin. He also complains:

Is this yet another push poll like some fundamentalists say all published polls in Taiwan are? Their assertion is that all published polls come from pro-China, pro-blue organizations and are therefore push polls. President Chen Shui-bian showed leadership when he said, "I don't read the news and I am very happy." Meanwhile, it is peculiar that the pro-green organizations never conduct and/or publish any polls. Is it professional ethics, or is it because the situation is so bad that it is impossible to spin?

I can't imagine who these fundamentalists are that Roland is talking about, although I assume since I've been talking about Roland's affection for push polls lately (here: Pro-Blue blogger ESWN has the results of a push-poll from Apple Daily up on his blog. ... Roland sometimes points out push-polls, but for whatever reason missed this one., and here: Pro-Blue blogger Roland over at ESWN loves those push polls. He's got one from the pro-Blue station TVBS on the Shih protests....) he might mean me (never can tell, though, since he doesn't link back). It's really quite simple, Roland -- stop citing unprofessional push polls from pro-China, anti-Taiwan sources, and I'll stop complaining about it. Note that I never claimed that all pro-Blue polls are push polls -- only that ESWN seems to have had a thing for them recently -- inexplicable, because usually Roland is all over push polls. Roland also complains:
Meanwhile, it is peculiar that the pro-green organizations never conduct and/or publish any polls.
Yet Roland himself has discussed polls from pro-Green orgs, such as these comments on the TSU poll of civic groups. As I noted, he is usually all over push-polls, and that one is a good example. He observes:

More troubling is the sampling universe. Is this a population survey (say, of adults in Taiwan)? No, it isn't because the support for Chen Shui-bian has been hovering just around 30%. This is a survey based upon 69 civic groups. According to CNA (via Yahoo! News), the TSU sent out questionnaires to 100 civic groups (which are non-government organizations with special interests that include industry, commerce, women, human rights, social community and social welfare), of which 69 questionnaires were completed and returned. On what basis? Who from the organizations completed the question? Does this represent the organization's or one person's opinions? What do these organizations represent (other than themselves)? I don't think that anyone knows.

So what do these survey results really mean? I have no idea. If this were a tracking report (e.g. conducted annually), then I can at least make some trending comparisons. Instead, this is just an opportunity for a small group of people to vent their frustrations, but there is no scientific basis for any general inference.

The survey sponsor is the TSU, which is a pan-green ally. You can speculate as to why a nominal ally wants to feed this piece of biased negative news to the general public.

It's commentary like this that makes Roland's site worth reading. Everyone loses when he puts up a push poll without commenting like this.

UPDATE: Anyone wondering why the pan-Blue protests led by former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh have died need only look at Hau Lung-bin's poll numbers instanced above. After a month of pan-Blue protests in Taipei, KMT support fell 16 points. No wonder all kind of conspiracy theories that Shih was really a Green tool sent to destroy the Blues are being passed around. Not only did Hau take a big hit -- losing a third of his support -- but down in Kaohsiung DPP candidate Chen Chu also received a boost. Thanks, Shih.


STOP Ma said...

You know, I would really like to see a popularity poll on Mayor Ma Ying-jeou now.

I have a feeling PandaMa's prominent flailing and illegal negligence on Shih's Double-10 shenanigans has also significantly contributed to the drop in KMT support.

BTW, thanks to all of the 179 people that have signed the "Resign, Ma Ying-jeou" petition! You may still sign the petition if you haven't already done so.

Jason said...

I second the opinion that Shih is a tool... :)

Biomed Tim said...

Soong is just using this as a bargaining chip. I think he's just trying to force Ma to make concessions. My guess is that he wants to Ma's word that there'd be enough seats for his party in the future. But that's just a guess.