Monday, January 21, 2008

DPP Rally in Taichung

Yesterday I went to the DPP rally in Taichung to hear DPP Vice Presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang (pictured above) and Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh speak, as well as scoop up some paraphenalia and soak up some good DPP feeling. My wife went with but one goal: to shake Frank Hsieh's hand.

Outside the rally site the betel nut stands were bracing for action.

Slowly the crowd trickled in, with people bused in from all over south-central and central Taiwan.

Slowly the place filled up.

This being Taiwan, no public event can be without vendors.

And more vendors.

Thousands of empty seats quickly got taken. We located ourselves next to the aisle where we thought Hsieh might pass on the way to the stand. My wife stood ready to grab that Presidential hand.

Plenty of old people, with a leaven of the young. It was gratifying to see a few the young people, but I wish there had been more.

The rally opened with singers.

The crowd listened, and sang along.

Cameramen from several networks were there.

As were flag waving supporters.

And airhorns aplenty.

The DPP faithful go nuts over a speech.

A women's organization brought along their stalwart supporters.

The place was packed, with people standing out in the park and hanging on the fences.

Two legislative candidates acted as emcees for the evening.

Drums are a key presence at any political event.

Yeh Chu-lan, once mentioned as a possible Veep candidate, speaks to the crowd. She asked the young to come out and vote for Hsieh.

After her came Freddy of the metal band Chthonic, one of Taiwan's better known international voices.

Accompanied by a group of young people.

Some real characters out there yesterday.

And plenty of loud signage.

Su came out to speak. He's an excellent speaker.

As Su spoke, security watched.

Su gestures.

The DPP faithful wave their flags as they roar approval.

Finally, Hsieh appeared. But he foiled my wife, making an entrance from the side. When could she shake his hand?

Hsieh is also a first-rate speaker with plenty of passion.

The evening ended with candlelight.

Hsieh again frustrated my wife, taking off down the wrong aisle! Quickly we ran after him! The crush was tremendous -- you can just see Hsieh caught up in it on the center-right as everyone wanted a piece. We flowed with the crowd out the gate....but couldn't get near Hsieh. No handshake for my wife....

We stopped as the policemen rearranged the crowd to permit Hsieh's caravan to back through -- finding ourselves right at the front. Hsieh's car came to get Hsieh and he ran up to get in, stopping to grip my hand and those of a few other nearby supporters. My wife wailed in frustration. Hsieh jumped in the black car. He looked directly at me -- I smiled back and flashed him a thumbs up sign -- and suddenly the window came down and his hand shot out. Alone in all the crowd my wife was ready -- she reached out and shook it. And then the hand disappeared and the window rolled back up.

"He shook my hand," she said, turning to me, immensely satisfied. "Now he's certain to win the election."


skiingkow said...

What a great story, Michael!

I shook VP Lu's hand at a more intimate setting. For a woman who has been through so much, I couldn't believe how soft her hands were.

Anonymous said...

I was a little worried reading your entry that your wife wasn't going to get a handshake, glad she did in the end. Great pics and report Michael!

Michael Turton said...

I shook VP Lu's hand at a more intimate setting.

Ho-ho! So, we're reading about this one in your memoirs, eh? :)

Todd, I was a little worried too!


David said...

Great story. I've shaken hands with Yeh Chu-lan. I'm only one handshake away from the top!

Anonymous said...

"Now he's certain to win the election."

Yes, Hsieh will win! I was moved by his speech in Long Beach, California last year. And I shook his hand there!

cfimages said...

Thanks for the call about this yesterday - pity I was in Kaohsiung.

Unknown said...

Great story - and pictures!

Benjamin Thompson

maoman said...

Ah, but I've shaken Ma Yingjiu's hand twice, one of those times after a one-on-one meeting. So let's see whose handshake is more charmed - loser buys a beer, yes?

Anonymous said...

Something absolutely not being covered in either the English or Chinese language media in Taiwan is the incredible foresight Hsieh had last summer in bringing up two campaign themes:

1) 和解共生 (Reconciliation, Mutual coexistence)
2) 逆中求勝 (Winning under adverse conditions)

Last summer, while a lot of DPP thought the chances of gaining a majority in the legislature were very low, no one, absolutely no one, predicted greens getting only 40% of the vote and less than 25% of the seats in the legislature. There has been a complete change in atmosphere here and Hsieh is now the complete underdog's underdog in today's race for the presidency.

What's happened since the election is that since the legislature is completely out of whack and now has the power to 1) topple the cabinet at any time 2) impeach the president without any help from the greens 3) alter, revise the constitution, Hsieh has ironically, through the utter defeat of the DPP, suddenly found himself the man of times. The DPP was always the underdog, but now it is beyond a doubt convincingly so. The confidence that you can win under adverse conditions, the history of Hsieh winning in Kaohsiung and charging hard in Taipei and gaining a completely unexpected high portion of the vote gives his supporters and those on the fence the conviction that it's worth something to vote for Hsieh. That he could make people believe in a city like Taipei, a city that reelected the waisheng's great waisheng hope, Ma Ying-jeou, when Chen Shuibian's approval rating was 80%, is exactly the same thing he needs to do now. This isn't "old" historical Tang-wai business of 20-30 years ago--this has been the story of Hsieh's life for the past 10 or so years.

But I think more important is this idea of mutual coexistence. Mutual coexistence, sharing of power and ending the old historical animosities between the greens and the blues, looking at issues without the old ideological lenses is not the feel good talk it was 6 months ago--it's the only chance that Taiwan has for continuing to function as an open, competitive democracy. The blues know it too, and they know the political system has lost balance; but being beneficiaries, who's going to trust them to restore the balance on their own?

The absolutely beautiful thing about Hsieh is that he didn't come up with mutual reconciliation, coexistence the day after the legislative elections as a sore loser and he's not Ma who right after the election shot off his mouth and said he's out to get revenge for the legislator who lost ot Yu Tien. The times don't want a politician that thinks your loss is my gain, at least not since a week and a half ago. He's always been thought of as a more conciliatory politician compared to the sharp-tongued Chen Shuibian, and he's been publicly promoting this for the past year when people were much more optimistic about the DPP, and now, the times, the historical moment has come and absolutely demands and yearns for just such a leader.

Hsieh, Taiwan needs you.

Michael Turton said...

Minger, good point! But the LY can't recall the president -- that requires a public referendum.

Nor can the cabinet be toppled, since the President can dismiss the legislature in that case.

I hope they do that stuff -- prove to the people they are nuts, and show all those "vote for stability" analysts how wrong they were!


Tommy said...

Yes, well the question is, when will the debates be held? Ma has very skillfully kept himself smelling like a rose by avoiding confrontation and surrounding himself with his choir.

Anonymous said...

Good on you Michael. What a fantastic report!!
I do hope that Shieh will win!

Anonymous said...

It's glad to hear you both shaked hands with Mr. Hsieh.
I'm lucky enough because I shaked hands with Mr. Hsieh about 20 years ago during his election at that time.

Tommy said...

Oh, and your wife sounds like a hoot. I bet she often gets what she wants haha.

Anonymous said...

You said: "Minger, good point! But the LY can't recall the president -- that requires a public referendum..."

I also believe that the KMT cannot determine the legislative agenda, even though it holds a majority.

poseidon206 said...

"-- and suddenly the window came down and his hand shot out. Alone in all the crowd my wife was ready -- she reached out and shook it. And then the hand disappeared and the window rolled back up."

Michael, I'm getting a bit side-tracked... But this sounds so much like Arthur obtaining the Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake.

I forwarded your post to my girlfriend (who's busy teaching herself English), she enjoyed reading your post very much. Thanks again for a great story!

Anonymous said...

Your wife is so cute!
And I envy you!

Anonymous said...

That's awesome.!

I was real glad your wife get to shake his hand, I was just a few metres away from him during his rally in Taipei 2006 but didn't get to shake his hands

Hsieh Will win!

ph said...

Actually, this rally is where you first privately concluded we were going to lose (didn't foresee the magnitude of the blast, though! More on that later...). I went there, as I told some friends later, to get religion, and I most emphatically didn't. Intead of becoming more enthusiastic about the outcome, I became less. The presentation was lackluster and formulaic, relying on stuff that was old and the stroking of emotions and themes from previous campaigns. Every speech was in Taiwanese, except part of one (KMT rallies offer a mix). My kids sat there bored, addressed by people who couldn't be bothered to find a way to talk to the two Taiwan citizens I am raising.

How come you didn't tell us that?

Michael Turton said...

I didn't tell you guys that because I decided that my gut reaction was wrong. The last two elections at this time I thought there was no way we had a chance. So I second guessed myself.