Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blue team picks vote buyer for Keelung Mayor Election

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its spinoff kid brother, the People's First Party (PFP), jointly known as the pan-Blue coalition, have supposedly chosen Chang Tong-rong as their candidate for the Keelung Mayoral election necessitated by the death of Hsu Tai-li, the previous mayor. Chang is currently the speaker of the city council.

Hsu had been convicted in connection with shenanigans involving land deals, and the KMT, never one to miss continuing a tradition, decided that Keelung needed another lawbreaker as mayor:

Liu yesterday also questioned the fairness of the polls and reaffirmed his determination to run for the post. He said he could not believe that Keelung citizens had supported Chang, who was convicted of vote buying by the Supreme Court, to run for the mayoralty, and vowed to fight to the end of the election.

Despite the agreement to work together, the PFP candidate has not officially withdrawn, leading to threats to run separately. Apparently the KMT conducted the polls and then announced that that their man had won, violating an agreement between the two parties:

The PFP said that it had earlier agreed with the KMT to withhold the results of the polls temporarily so that the two parties could negotiate again in order to decide on a better way to jointly select a candidate for the election, citing concerns that the polls might be unfair.

PFP spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that in spite of the opinion polls, the PFP will still support Liu, and criticized the KMT for its about face on withholding the poll results. He questioned KMT's sincerity in negotiating with the PFP and labeled the KMT as hypocritical.

The PFP, essentially the personal fief of former KMT heavyweight James Soong, who left the party to run for President in 2000 as an independent, and formed the PFP in 2001 after narrowly losing to the current President, Chen Shui-bian. Since the 2004 election, when a joint KMT-PFP ticket blew a 20 point advantage and lost by a whisker to Chen Shui-bian, the PFP has been in eclipse, and was blown out in the recent municipal city council and mayor elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung. It is likely that the KMT considers the PFP no longer a serious threat to poach Blue votes, since the once-popular James Soong garnered less than 10% of the vote in the Taipei mayor election in December, and judges that its junior partner can be ignored with impunity.

Keelung has traditionally been a KMT stronghold, and the DPP is fighting an uphill struggle even if the Blue votes split. In a country with stronger democratic traditions, a convicted vote buyer would probably not be picked as a candidate, and would probably not be voted in, but Taiwan's voters have demonstrated again and again their willingness to vote for openly corrupt public figures.

Chang Tong-rong is currently speaker of the city council. City council speaker is an extremely important position, a major figure in determining who gets what plum pieces of land and to what use it will be put. Thus it has traditionally been one of the most corrupt positions in local city governments. It goes without saying that the KMT's rules forbid running convicted lawbreakers for government posts, but the law has never been a serious impediment to local political behavior.....


Paul Cowsill said...

"Taiwan's voters have demonstrated again and again their willingness to vote for openly corrupt public figures."

You say corruption/cronyism, they say tomahto.

skiingkow said...

I fondly (cough cough) remember seeing the road in front of our apartment being ripped up every 3 months like clockwork. This went on for the entire time I lived in Keelung (for 5 years).

Can the civil engineers be that bad?

Of course not. But I'm sure there was a lot of money made by the paving crew.

It's truly astounding that the citizens of Keelung accept this much corruption in their town.

Keelung could be so much better!!!