Sunday, March 23, 2008

Election Rejection

Wow! That was certainly a blast with no uncertainty. Taiwan took a huge step backward yesterday, all the way back to before 2000. Lots of people have written over the years that Taiwanese are committed to their democracy and love it. That will now be put to the test. The KMT-dominated legislature has repeatedly attempted to hollow out institutions such as the Central Election Commission. That will now be possible. Will it be carried out, and will it be stopped? I'm betting that the answers to those questions are yes and no.

The canned stories are coming out in the international media. It's wearying to see the same crap -- the NYTimes again refered to Ma as a "Harvard-educated lawyer." Note that there were no reports of post-election violence, something only associated with the KMT. Nonetheless, we're certain to see those reports saying Taiwan elections are "marred by controversy"....

A couple of things. I was always maintaining optimism -- why not? no one else was! :) -- but it was two months ago, at the first rally in Taichung, that I 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. The DPP campaign, as I have noted, has been lackluster since day one -- the bounce I expected never came, I never felt the electricity -- the Ma team ran a better campaign, in almost every way -- more cash, better ads, better responses to issues as they arose, better talking points, and better handling of the media. And not too much Taiwanese. Very well done. Ma's victory shows that if Lien hadn't mailed in his campaign in 2004, or Ma or Soong had run instead, then Chen would have been a one-term president.

I bet, if anyone ever does the surveys (this being Taiwan no one ever will) that it was Ma who benefited from the Tibet issue the most. It gave him the opportunity to look and talk tough, when he needed to.

Many things were symptomatic. Went to a meeting of FAPA, the main pro-Taiwan group in the US, in Taipei on Thursday. It was painful to watch. Sometimes I contemplate taking out ROC citizenship, but the brave new world they advocate doesn't include me or my children -- and if a strong supporter like me gets that vibe, how then the young on the street who chatter in a delightfully liquid lingo that is predominately Mandarin, with leaven of Taiwanese and English? Every person at the FAPA meet was older than I, and they were speaking Taiwanese. Not one speaker or two, but Every. Single. One. As I listened to a bunch of speeches in a language I didn't understand -- every word reinforcing my overwhelming alienness, one of the photographers standing next to me turned to camera guy next to him and remarked, rhetorically: "Why are they speaking that language? I don't understand a word they are saying!" Not one of those people took the time to compose and deliver their speech in Mandarin, a language spoken by everyone in the room -- and, mind you, a language understood by the people they most urgently need to communicate with: the Chinese. Of course there was no English, the language of the international media. Brilliant to hold a press event in a language the press don't speak. Yes, Mandarin is the language of the hated colonialist KMT. Yes, Mandarin was imposed at gunpoint. But if you want people to listen to you, you have to speak their language. For all its gaping flaws and debased values, the KMT offers this multiethnic island a multiethnic vision. The DPP and its supporters still do not.

Another thing -- the atmosphere in Taipei is nightmarish. Never again will I spend an election there -- the conventional wisdom is totally out of touch with the reality of the electorate. In 2004 I stayed in Taichung and got a pretty good line on what would happen, but not this time. I used to describe what circulates in Taipei as a cloud cuckoo-land of KMT talking points, but even that isn't right -- I lack a good grip on the kind of language to characterize its vast and all-encompassing wrongness. As reporters were churning out articles saying that the election was going to be tight Ma win, as speakers everywhere were retreating to positions of nervous ambiguity, and people talking to both campaigns said it would be tight, voters were preparing to hand Ma a 17 point victory. On Friday the DPP was saying it was seeing a late surge for Frank Hsieh, which I didn't report because it so obviously reeked of lying spin. But some apparently did. Nobody I talked to in the capital even got a whiff of a 17 point Ma victory, though all thought he'd win. Certainly somebody knew, because there were massive capital inflows into Taiwan in the last week before the election as international capital prepared to hollow out Taiwan like a gourd invest in our fine nation in anticipation of a Ma victory. Ironically, the nearest polls were the nutcase polls in the pro-Ma papers, though a close examination will show they were nowhere near correct either.

Voter patterns! I'll have a full discussion on them later this week. One thing that really really really stands out here is the desperate need for thorough, credible, detailed survey work that is reliable through time. Tomorrow's analyses in Taipei are going to be largely groups of people talking without the numbers to back them up.

I'm burnt out and heartsick, and I am going to take a few days off from blogging. Enjoy yourselves.


Anonymous said...

Michael, I am shocked to hear that you, as a diehard pan-green supporter, do not understand Taiwanese. Isn't that a litmus test of the DPP? I'm really curious to know how you have gotten as far in the pan-green circle without that language skill? Perhaps it's your laowai status that they automatically assume you don't speak it? I'm really curious to know.

Michael Turton said...

Actually, I do understand some. But that's not really important to the thrust of my point.

I haven't gotten anywhere in "the pan-green circle." I'm nobody, anon.

I'll talk about my status in more detail later.

Michael Turton said...

ph --

Why didn't I tell you earlier? Because I dismissed it as a subjective impression, and because it was too early. I figured the campaign hadn't gotten rolling yet. It was just me, right? Being cynical.

And also because my wife reads my blog and I didn't want to upset her with a frank assessment or spoil her good feeling at achieving her campaign-long goal of shaking Frank's hand. I'll expand on my remarks in a subsequent post. That rally was totally crucial for me.


Anonymous said...

原來 michael 你寫的時候是寫給老婆看的...

不會講台灣話也沒關係啦. 愛台灣不是不分語言的啦.

Unknown said...

I heard the sad news this morning.
Just wanted to say that I enjoy the writings and photos you share, so keep at it. :)

Anonymous said...

Take it easy. We also have another four more years of Zapatero ahead of us in Spain, “Resignación amigo, resignación”


Tommy said...

Well, think of it this way. Hsieh would have been hamstrung as a president. Think Chen times 10. Winning the election was one thing. Governing after would have been quite another.

I have been anticipating this, but I do maintain some hope that the bed fest between the KMT and the CCP was just a way to get the DPP out of power. Any hasty surrendering to the peeps across the strait can only look bad for the KMT now. Let's hope also that Ma and Siew realise the damage that a true common market would cause.

The DPP needs to remake itself anyways. This might give them the kick they need to do it.

A small glimmer of hope... but it is something.

Unknown said...

"I bet, if anyone ever does the surveys (this being Taiwan no one ever will) that it was Ma who benefited from the Tibet issue the most. It gave him the opportunity to look and talk tough, when he needed to."

Michael - I think you are spot on with that one. Why aren't there survey companies out there posing such questions. As I said, on my somewhat hysterical rant on my own blog, perhaps we really do all deserve John "Death Star" McCain. At least it will wake everyone up.

Eduard - Is Zapatero that bad? From what I heard, he is a great improvement over his predecessor. He isn't jumping on any "War on Terror" bandwagons like Zapatero or our own Harper over here.

Unknown said...

Michael, what kind of President would Siew make for Taiwan if something happened to Ma?

Unknown said...

Taiwan’s citizens left their homes on Saturday and expressed their heart’s feelings with their votes. “Your writings are pictures to your readers. We saw the various candidates, their followers and what they stood for. No one describes the “goings on” like you Michael, and there are hundreds if not thousands of ordinary folks, logging on to “The View from Taiwan” each day in anticipation of learning and understanding more of how everything works in Taiwan. Thank you Michael. Outstanding coverage. You ARE an adopted Son of Taiwan.

Internal Fantasy Production said...

Too bad there ain't much top green politicians read your blog. You mentioned many great points through out the whole election period. However, whether those baby boomer pan green will understand that their era has passed and Mandarin might be the only tool to communicate with gray area voters and light blues or Local blue. Plus information technology and globalization has changed many aspects of the election. The younger generation will not understand the past, since they don't see it or feel it (such as 228). Pan green baby boomer are relying too much on the history that only a certain population experienced and did not necessary understand the younger voters' market demand it. Another thing is that people in the world is getting overheated about capitalism and free trade. This results in people forgot to question its principles or values from the past. "With light bulbs, story telling in the tribe fades" (Max DePree). In this money making era, people seems not preventing losing their traditional values, principles, dignities, and identities.
(I am 27 today, and I called my parent the baby boomer greens)

Anonymous said...

Well, it was bound to happen. 24 hours before Taiwan went to the polls, the DPP were still relentlessly pushing the Green Card thing. Eight years in office, and that's what you want to talk about? Gimme a break. On one hand, they were saying Ma is going to run away to the US if LaoGong takes over, all the while claiming Ma is in bed with the LaoGong. Oh, the MaoDun!! At least Ma's victory can shut their asses up, even for just a few moments.

DPP's addiction to Taiwanese is kind of a phase. It goes and comes, and will probably go away for a short time. They wanted to put on the 'I am REALLY Taiwanese' show to contrast themselves from the KMT, who they try to depict as outsiders. Like Chinese is some foreign language...when in reality, Taiwanese is just another language still brought over from the Mainland, and still spoken in the Mainland.

I think this victory by the KMT will bring some much needed maturity to Taiwan's governing bodies. I was never all that interested in the political goings on here, but a lot of the DPP crap really caught my attention over the past couple of years. Like Mr. Chuang, appointed by President Chen to serve in the Ministry of Education, going on National television and spewing profanities and calling Ma a gay sissy. Ministry of Education?? And he's only one example.

Anonymous said...

Finally there will be a government in place who will get something done and we can get back to making money. Good riddance to the greens.

Anonymous said...

Michael, great blog. I understand your frustration concerning people speaking solely Taiwanese; however, aren't all DPP rallies/speeches done in that lingua? Why didn't you complain before?

There is a FAPA-YPG Election Observation Tour happening. Decent amount of young people there.

Anonymous said...

Further pessimism: Bush admin seems to want Taiwan to move toward some sort of peace accord: "It falls to Taiwan and Beijing to build the essential foundations for peace and stability by pursuing dialogue through all available means and refraining from unilateral steps that would alter the cross-strait situation. I believe the election provides a fresh opportunity for both sides to reach out and engage one another in peacefully resolving their differences," Bush said. linky.
Snappy eh? The US got what it wanted, and Taiwanese nationalists should remember this betrayal.

Anonymous said...

An interesting entry. I'm glad your willing to admit that you agree that the DPP's handling of foreigners has been piss weak. As a foreigner with a wife and two Taiwanese kids, I can tell you that their decision to not to treat foreigners with respect (ingnoring meritocratic indicators such as high performance evaluations [stamped with Chops] and even glowing letters of reference from their own moderate appointments)caused a lot of stress for my family shortly after our marriage. I can forgive certain appointments for what they did to me, less so for the stress they caused my family.

I probably agree with you on more things than I disagree. This is a good opportunity for the party to do some soul searching and house cleaning. If they play the race card less, if they concentrate on "bread and butter" issues that are important to many of their supporters, and if they acknowledge their many mistakes and ask for forgiveness, I'm sure they will be able to rebuild themselves and gain back the lost ground.

Will this happen? Let's wait and see.

Anonymous said...

The most disappointing part for me in this election is that the extremely low turn out rate for the referendum. This meek response just gives the world wrong idea of Taiwanese’s will for independence, and meanwhile China just gains a lot of diplomatic currency in discrediting Taiwan independence.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh at foreigners living in Taiwan for so many years blogging about issues of freedom and democracy, and how they are so 'shocked' by what happened at the election yesterday. Maybe if the rose tinted glasses of western values and judgements are removed then the bloggers would have been able to tell that for the Taiwanese the primary election issue was the economy. All this talk too about Tibet, how it would strengthen separatist resolve in Taiwan again did nothing more then play into KMT hands. What didn't western bloggers see this? Because they were so full once again of their own values, judgments, and arrogance.

Anonymous said...

1. This is the end of the Taiwan Democracy experiment and its the last prez election we will see. The next one will be for The 23rd Province Chief Exec.

2. Taiwan will be part of China in just a few years or maybe even sooner because of the bank meltdowns that are happening now in the states. (and UK and elsewhere). The severe resession in the west will affect Taiwan in the coming months and Ma will have his hands full. (I expect several banks/financial holding co. here going bust). In the end, when China makes their move to control Taiwan, the USA will not have any resources to step in.

3. Sadly, the KMT supporters remind me of the bush supporters in the USA (blind/ignorant). Look what bush did to the states. Only after the fact do people now realize what a massive mistake they made voting that jerk into power.

4. In the end, if someone is to blame, I point directly to Chen's wife, son-in-law, the K-town MRT scandal, and the vulture inside trader scandal back in 2004. These people severely tarnished the DPP that lead to the LY defeat in Dec 2004. This was the tipping point and those people fucked it up for everyone. imho

Anonymous said...

Although I'm disappointed Xie didn't win, I think a president willing to speak English to the foreign media will definitely give Taiwan a new image - lets hope it's a good one.

Tom Carroll said...

Wow. Lots of good comments. Personally, I think it is time for a new party. Too much animosity between KMT and DPP for them to work together. Taiwan needs to move forward and keep its eye on the future. The DPP campaign was anchored to the past and also to work. The KMT was pushed along on promises of prosperity without work. Mom always told me you never got something for nothing. A new party might even be able to define issues for the KMT to respond to if it does not have to carry the baggage of the past.

Anonymous said...

2 more observations:

If you go to the website and click on English, the goofy flash thing they have going finally makes sense. (creepy, deserted type background sound...)

The green color lettering on the Taiwan beer cans will probably be made blue again by this coming summer.

Unknown said...

Gosh, Michael, you even got Mr. Chewycorns to agree with you! How out there is that?

Angry Taiwanese Guy said...

Michael, I think that "speak Taiwanese only" bit has been a huge problem. Maybe this election will bring reforms to all the DPP and democracy supporters of Taiwan all over the world. I don't know why they think it's a moral compromise to speak another language. If they have problems as victims of the White Terror and the forced language upon them, then do it in courts or whatever. Not during the campaign when you need votes from all sides.

I tried to bring people to help out in NYC for Passport 2 Taiwan and the organizer continued to speak in Taiwanese, totally ignoring them. Why? I've got no idea except it made this person seem like an asshole.

This practice simply does not help. I've personally shaken hands with Hsieh twice. I think people like Michael Turton and others need to be brought in to the DPP or other parties. At least have his and the opinions of other 'damn furriners' taken seriously.

Unknown said...

I hope my comment came across as part-sarcasm. I didn't mean to imply that chewycorns was right. After all, you, Michael, were talking about "ethnic essentialism" being something of a problem. Chewcorns was talking about foreigners. I am not sure if foreigners are that badly treated in Taiwan.

skiingkow said...

Heartsick is nowhere near the level of emotion that was felt in our family dinner after discovering that the Taiwanese have, in fact, done the deal with the devil. And yes, immigration to Canada was discussed.

I was away from Taiwan for over a year. When I came back I expected to see the homeless littered across the streets and shops closed everywhere from what the KMT propagandists were shoving in everyone's faces with respect to Taiwan's economy. It was all Chen's fault, right?

Instead, I saw new development projects booming everywhere and the restaurants and shops couldn't be any more busy. You cannot convince me that Taiwan was in a dire economic condition before this election. Certainly, Taiwan was not much worse than any other western industrialized nation. And it certainly wasn't bad enough to pull a knee-jerk reaction and sell out to China by electing a government and legislature that will indeed, sacrifice Taiwan's identity and send Taiwan's democratic movement back to square one.

But that's what happened yesterday.

So, my evaluation of the majority of Taiwanese as being short-sighted opportunists has been overwhelmingly confirmed in the past few months.

The Taiwanese have made a clear choice.

They support greed over ethics.

They support money over accountability.

They support compliance over righteousness.

They support corruption over long-term intelligent planning.

They support razzle-dazzle gimmickry over integrity and commitment.

Given that harsh assessment of the Taiwanese (who I think are probably one of the most friendly societies on the face of this earth), I think it was a herculean endeavour to overcome the authoritarian culture that has percolated due to one harsh regime after another over the past century. We, as humans, tend to gravitate towards what feels comfortable, I guess. The odds were not in Taiwan's favour to begin with. In fact, it was incredible to see how far the democratic movement progressed over the past decades, despite such odds.

And that is the crux of my grief at the moment.

This nation overcame so much to get this far and, overnight (figuratively speaking), they threw it all away.

So sad.

And my blog-name remains the same. Although it now merely mocks the Taiwanese, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

“(…) Mandarin, a language spoken by everyone in the room -- and, mind you, a language understood by the people they most urgently need to communicate with: the Chinese.”

So to communicate with people who don’t understand the home language of about 70% of the population, one switches to those people’s language?

Then never immigrate and attend similar meetings in Barcelona or Antwerp, Michael. As one might expect, one will not hear Spanish or Dutch, but Catalonian and Flemish, even at university level.

Now if I, a ‘foreigner’ living in Catalonia or Flanders, were to attend such meeting and state openly that they should speak Spanish or Dutch, the official languages understood by foreigners, the press, and the rest of the country, I am pretty sure I would raise eyebrows.

Instead, wouldn’t I want to learn the language, in particular since I identify strongly with the Catalonian and Flemish ‘causes’ (more autonomy for these regions)?

I agree with you that those speaking Taiwanese at the DPP-meetings could be blamed for not providing simultaneous translation in Mandarin and English. But in case they don’t, it’s not up to us foreigners to complain. Those people’s mother tongue is part of their identity, and identity is a main issue in any election.

Anonymous said...

Nothing is only black or white...
Sure, DPP has its big share of responsabilities concerning the election outcome.
But, is it a real defeat?
What if HSIEH won?
What could he do with a LY almost totally blue?
DPP will have much more to lose...
Situation would be worst with Taiwan becoming a full mess.
That would be a real defeat...
Just remember the past.
Now, MA has no excuse and he will have to explain how he will manage to implement his campaign promises of using "633 economic policies" to lift the nation's economic growth to 6 percent with a GDP per capita of US$30,000 while cutting the unemployment rate to below 3 percent.
People soon or later will realize about the brainwashing.
Just wait.
Democracy is become more mature and people too...
Beside, DPP obviously needs time to put together enough capable people to form an efficient government.
But time will come :-)

Adam said...

So will President Ma's green card help him when it comes to transit stops in the US? If so, having a green card would be a great benefit for a Taiwan president wouldn't it?

Chris said...

Michael, as always good job with the blog.

I have to disagree with you here, however. The elections were not a step back but a step FORWARD for Taiwan's democracy.

Like in 2000, these elections show the Taiwanese people's ability to select an opposition president/government. Let's be real: Chen Shui-Bian's two terms were largely disappointingly (this coming from a Chen supporter back then). It was time for new leadership, time for a change. I'm glad the citizens of Taiwan recognized this fact.

Every four years, our elections are a showcase to China and the rest of the world. Amid the country's international isolation and myriad of political struggles, these elections prove that Taiwan's democracy is still strong: today was a great step forward.

I am optimistic that Ma can improve the lives of Taiwan's citizens, achieve better cross-strait relations and gain observer status in the WHO. If he does a poor job, however, the people of Taiwan will simply choose not to vote for him in four years- that's the beauty of democracy.

Anonymous said...

"It's the economy, stupid."

The DPP will likely never rule Taiwan again.

The DPP offered nothing but 8 years of isolationist policies under the name of promoting Taiwanese independence. During the same time, we saw the PRC rise to have the 3rd/4th largest GDP in the world, enriching multiple countries and companies around the world. While the PRC rise was in its infancy Taiwan was uniquely positioned to receive huge amounts of capital around the world but this opportunity was squandered by the anti-Chinese position held by the DPP.

No matter how much A-Bien and co tried to push for recognition, the powers of the world, the US, the EU, Japan, Russia, etc refused to acknowledge or grant any recognition to Taiwan, in contrast to Kosovo. You can blame the PRC pulling ths strings all you like but the growth and strength of PRC is a result of massive western capital and investment there. It was beneficial to US, European, and Japanese companies to invest heavily in the PRC and they are the ones that changed the PRC from a poor country to one that will have the largest GDP in the world. The US, the EU, and Japan easily could've granted the recognition the DPP craved but those leading countries chose not to, regardless of what political party was in control in their countries. Most Taiwanese realized that no matter how hard we kicked and screamed, the western powers weren't going to grant us what we wanted. So we either continue the current futile course of isolation while our economy slowly weakens compared to the rest of Asia, or we take a chance, look to improve relations with the PRC. Most Taiwanese wanted to take a chance with the PRC.

Alice30forever said...

First time to see that you presented a balanced discussion and seeing both sides' weakness. I grow up in the 60s, speak Taiwanese, Haka, Japanese and I represent my age group who know the past and want to put it behind for my country's sack. Me and my family did let the DPP to have a go. Did I see them utilize their opportunities? not in the last 8 years, even not in the last chance of TV debate, Sorry, I do respect Hsieh, but I did not get anything out of him for what and how his party will lead us. Can you not see this is the one key that turned off -- majorities of us to vote for Hsieh?
Do I need any survey to confirm my heart to go with KMT? Nop, what I want is the cooperation from everyone and allow the KMT's policy and promise that can be full filed in the future..

Michael Turton said...

I have to laugh at foreigners living in Taiwan for so many years blogging about issues of freedom and democracy, and how they are so 'shocked' by what happened at the election yesterday. Maybe if the rose tinted glasses of western values and judgements are removed then the bloggers would have been able to tell that for the Taiwanese the primary election issue was the economy.

Now that's a bizarre statement. Were any westerners 'shocked'? I think many were saddened. I think everyone knew how good a job the KMT did to define the talking points and exploit their strategy of impoverishing the island and blaming Chen. It was ruthless and brilliant, and it worked perfectly. I think the issue is not their western values but your inability to get to a deeper and more robust view of their responses to and understandings of the election.

Bobapower said...

As a Taiwanese living in US, thanks Michael for keeping me update throughout the election. Despite my disappointment, I am proud of the passion of Taiwanese(and non-natives) and the commenters here.

I agree with all on:
-DPP's campaign wasn't good. it didn't matter as the economy doomed them. Credit KMT with placing all the blame on DPP.

-DPP needs to rebuild.

-Stop Ma made a great pt. Despite Taiwan's economic woes, we see it here in the US too. Taiwan is in the harsh transition period from a manufacturing to service economy.

I disagree with:
-DPP alone ruined Taiwan economy. Most of the world has been struggling. KMT always had majority in LY and instead of helping the country, they spent 8 years trying to destroy DPP and Chen. Both parties neglected the people.

-Ma will save the economy.
Sure with the blue LY, they could do things that have minor and temporary boost(not necessarily good). Like George Bush's stupid tax rebate "economic stimulus package".
Economy is a very complicated subject that every country struggles with. The common market is tricky and I'm not convinced that KMT has a solid plan(nobody does).

Taiwan has spoken and DPP supporters showed class in the defeat unlike...

Best wishes to our beloved island COUNTRY.

B.BarNavi said...

And the "Chen killed the economy" KMT talking points keep coming...

Truth be told, this was not completely unexpected. Contrary to the CW that stated the election was Ma's to lose, this was entirely Hsieh and the DPP's election to lose from the beginning. Every time they "took the high road", every time they refused to respond to Blue lies, every time they chose feel-good vaguery over scare tactics... After a campaign like this, do you really think the DPP deserved to win? They're even worse than US Democrats when it comes to campaigning.

Ma now knows he got elected on a pro-Taiwan platform. Let's see what he does to reassure the people who voted for him that no, he won't sell out Taiwan. And if you think he and the Blue LY can improve the economy... the faltering state of Wall Street tells me that they will only end up facing the same crap Chen did. Call this a morbid assumption, but I predict that when Bush policies finally catch up to the stock market and we're entering another Great Depression, Ma would be facing this reality head-on. (But I guess with the aid of the Blue Media, they'll just manage to find some way to blame the Greens... And if Hsieh won the election, you KNOW they'll crucify him for it! Happy Easter.)

B.BarNavi said...

DPP's addiction to Taiwanese is kind of a phase. It goes and comes, and will probably go away for a short time. They wanted to put on the 'I am REALLY Taiwanese' show to contrast themselves from the KMT, who they try to depict as outsiders. Like Chinese is some foreign language...when in reality, Taiwanese is just another language still brought over from the Mainland, and still spoken in the Mainland."

Except for the fact that most of them have spoken it growing up (that's a hella long "phase"), whereas most KMT do not even know how to communicate in anything but Mandarin (or "Chinese", as you put it). And "brought over from/still spoken" in "Mainland" China? Well they speak Hokkien in Malaysia and Singapore and Indonesia too, but that doesn't make them more "Chinese". And just try to tell a Fujianese or a Singaporean (who isn't an otaku) what an "otobai" is. Chances are they won't have a clue what you're talking about any more than Taiwanese know what "lui" is or how to "gostan".

Not only that, not one word of Mandarin was spoken in Taiwan until the KMT crossed over. How's THAT for an "outsider foreign language"? (Sorry about the rant, but the language issue always gets to me.)

Anonymous said...

The Taiwanese have made a clear choice.

They support greed over ethics.

They support money over accountability.

They support compliance over righteousness.

They support corruption over long-term intelligent planning.

They support razzle-dazzle gimmickry over integrity and commitment.

Somebody with the blogger name 'Stop Ma' wrote the above statements, which I almost mistook for sarcasm. They don't make much sense, especially when you look at the DPP's record. I am not suggesting the KMT are sparkling clean, but c'mon. You can talk more about corruption when Chen is tried for, well, CORRUPTION. There is an overwhelming stench of arrogance and snootyness when you start categorically calling out the 7 plus million people who voted for Ma. Saying that they put off righteousness and ethics to vote for Ma is a bit much, especially considering the DPP's campaign; They spent more time talking about Green Cards, Stolen Newspapers, and Ma's father's urn than most Taiwanese would've liked. This is a great example of a horrible platform. The Taiwanese are not stupid.

Tell us more about the gimmickry and greed, will ya? If you're suggesting that Ma's policy on China is too compliant or whatever, well, what about Frank's? There wasn't a big difference there. They both want to get away from A-bian's spazzery, which most Taiwanese were sick of. This idea that boosting Taiwan's economy by making a more involved connection to China is greedy, well, that's not really a very valid argument. Shouldn't Taiwan be COMMUNICATING with China? I mean, if you don't agree with your spouse on something, do you just break off the whole deal and cut all ties? I think working together and communicating is an important tool in the building of the future of Taiwan/China relations.

Turton, thanks. Great blog. I don't see eye to eye with you politically, but I love your blog. Best blog I've ever seen. Period.

Raj said...

Interesting comment from "Stop Ma". I don't think anywhere apart from a hard core of DPP supporters see Ma as the Devil. Maybe that was the problem. Because they didn't see him as someone who should be allowed to win the DPP didn't build a proper campaign - instead it became far too personal. What the DPP need to understand is that because voters hold all politicians in equal contempt, they rarely believe anything they say about the other side and thus negative campaigning rarely works apart from in a few prejudiced localities.

Michael, I hope that you are proved wrong in that another KMT presidency won't be that bad simply because Taiwan deserves better - or that if it is generally negative it can be resolved by a future administration. But I personally believe that if Taiwan was only ever going to offered the DPP or "evil" KMT then that was not much of a choice and thus the island's democracy was rather hollow.

As "That's Impossible: Politics from Taiwan" says it's time for the DPP to rebuild. Step out of the 1990s and join the rest of the electorate in 2008! They have a choice. If they refuse then they don't deserve to govern. If they take the opportunity to change then they will have another crack at the presidency and even a legislative majority.

Anonymous said...

I think you have explained the DPP loss pretty well here. An indifferent campaign, backward-looking, not focussed on the issues which the voters seem to care about. A fairly standard outcome for a tired and divided government that had been in power for a long time.

I am not quite so pesimistic as you about the effects of a Ma presidency. He has many obstacles, such as an over-powerful LY and the electorate will have high expectations that after 8 years of obstruction and negativity the KMT better deliver.

Finally, his campaign and the current Chinese position say so much about how far the political landscape has changed in Taiwan over the last decade. China now thinks its best hope is a Taiwanese president who simply rules out independence for the forseeable future. It's a long way for them to have come, and they know that he is the best they can hope for.

Anyhow, bring on 2012! A revitalized DPP, a weak and divided KMT. Hsiao Bi-kihm as the green candidate. They could do it!

Anonymous said...

LOL what an irony.

Postulate: Democracy is about the volition of people.
Fact: People chose Ma.

So if Michael thinks Ma is the wrong choice, that means democracy can be wrong, i.e. people's will can be wrong.

So what do you want, Michael? A dictatorship under the name of democracy? What an oxymoron.
Do you or do you not trust the people? On one hand you've been denouncing the oligarchic rule on the mainland, which I do agree; but on the other hand you think people on Taiwan are fooled into choosing Ma. But remember, the fundamental assumption that must be taken in order for a democracy to work is to trust people's ability to make rational choices.

As if Michael is never wrong, people can be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thoth Harris wrote:
Chewycorns was talking about foreigners. I am not sure if foreigners are that badly treated in Taiwan.

We can agree to disagree on that. Foreigners aren't allowed in the country's pension system, and in my case, chopped evaluations in government and an outstanding letter from my outgoing moderate green boss (who I still totally respect) could not prevent me from being dismissed arbitrarily by the deep green appointments after 2004. Any Taiwanese long-term civil servent or any political appointment would never be treated so poorly. If they treat people with outstanding pedigrees like this (ivy-league graduate school type of education), how do you think they perceive or treat newcomers in much worse bargaining positions?

So, yes, we are treated differently. I don't really care so much, as I don't plan on living here indefinitely. My heart goes out to people that have lived here 10-20 years and still can't vote, still can't obtain citizenship without giving up theirs (unlike Taiwanease in the US, Canada, or Europe) aren't given permanent positions, and still can't see they are being treated like second-class citizens.

So many people had such high hopes for the DPP (I know I did in 2000 and 2004). They failed a lot of these people.

International people should be the DPP's best friend (look at the sympathetic Western coverage of Tibet). Instead, the press is highly pro-KMT. This is difficult to overcome given the KMT's deep pocket and better international contacts, but my point is that the DPP has never been good at trying to understand foreigners or treating them equally. In many respects, we are treated as interesting circus animals. Michael's comments about them just communicating in Hoklo reinforces my point. This was just a few days before the election (when the foreign press are here in great numbers and looking for human interest stories in addition to the normal political ones), and they couldn't even make an attempt to communicate with or even appear friendly to his mixed family. If they treat a DPP foreign apologist like this, doesn't that say something? How many bridges were never built, how many relationships were never solidified, how many opportunities for extending support were never realized because of this parochialism?

There are people in the DPP that are as press savy and as international as Ma. However, they often have to come across as populists to pander to voters. The party has to re-establish itself beyond indentity politics, has to apologize for its shortcomings, and has to make ammends to the supporters it has alienated. If they can't do this, I'm afraid they'll always be an opposition party because of the entrenched interests that are against them.

I'm confident this loss will get them to clean house and will result in a healthier party in the future.I certainly hope so. In any case, Taiwan overwhelmingly chose the KMT. You may express your reservations, but in a democracy, everyone must respect changes in power. If anything, this transfer of power is just another great thing that seperates Taiwan from the PRC. People chose Chen in 2000 and chose to abandon his party in 2008. If Ma becomes too friendly with China (at the expense of Taiwan's democracy), I'm sure future elections will be much closer.

Anonymous said...

So, Michael thinks that the KMT fooled the people on Taiwan. Somehow the 7 million people are all susceptible to KMT's dirty tricks and thus are all....fools. How nice. So can we call the Taiwan democracy a government "of the fools, by the fools and for the fools?"

skiingkow said...

ya dang,

If you truly believe a KMT controlled legislature and executive is going to help corruption, then I've got a bridge to sell you. As Michael has pointed out many times before, corruption is systemic in the Taiwn political system.

Say what you want about Chen's family and the DPP with respect to corruption. But at least the light was shone on this problem and the suspects were rounded up and tried in the judiciary. Thanks to a KMT controlled Taiwan once again, this disinfecting process will no longer be there -- I can assure you. You won't see as much corruption scandals anymore simply due to the fact that it will be, once again, hidden. And then there's China.

Hsieh was right to show that Trojan horse in his campaign. How you or the 7 million Taiwanese that voted for Ma can possibly trust that he will be able to control the damage that will be caused when the labour market and property is opened up to the Chinese is beyond me. Indeed, judging by Ma's actions in the past several years he is neither competent nor inclined to do so.

Although I thought Hsieh went a bit too far himself, at the very least he is much smarter and much more cautious with this dangerous manoeuver.

And despite what you think, it was not "Chen" that "broke off communication" with China. It was the KMT and China that broke off communication with the DPP as soon as they rose to power.

Ask yourself -- why did China want the KMT and Ma to win? It's not exactly rocket science to figure that one out.

The KMT, by far, still stand more in tune with those ugly values I listed above.

The Taiwanese were fooled. They were fooled into believing they actually had a legitimate choice for progressive long-term democracy with the KMT. They were fooled into believing that the KMT will uphold the status-quo to which they so dearly want to protect.

skiingkow said...

But I personally believe that if Taiwan was only ever going to offered the DPP or "evil" KMT then that was not much of a choice and thus the island's democracy was rather hollow.

For people who believe in a continued democracy for Taiwan, there really wasn't any choice Raj.

The choice was between going backwards politically and reaping the short-term rewards or moving forwards (warts and all) and perhaps not generating a GDP that is as strong in the next few years (but overall, making Taiwan stronger as a nation). The Taiwanese decided to go backwards towards a more authoritarian system of government (to which they are used to) and to reap the short-term rewards at the expense of long-term uncertainty.

And I will be more than happy to eat my words if after 4 years I am proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Xinhua refers to Ma winning the 'Taiwan leadership election' and mentions that Taiwan voters 'veto' 2 UN referendums.

It appears the DDP is now victim of its own dogma. It it evolves out of its emotional ties with the past it can fulfill a more useful destiny in the coming years.

If the DDP doesn't evolve then Taiwan will lose its hold on democracy and authoritarian rule will open the door for Beijing to put its government in place.

Of course there is always the possibility that newer more relevant parties could emerge. There certainly are the various political elements floating around left over from James Soong, Lee Teng-hui and others that could become a future party.

Whatever improvements Ma foresees with China will come at a price. My guess is that the deal is already on the table.

Anonymous said...

Michael, love your blog, even though I am from the other camp. I think if the DPP reasoned and campaigned liked you, they would win most elections.

The main problem with the DPP is that they are out of touch with what younger generations of Taiwanese think (I am 29). It seems every election, they have to bring out "who is a true Taiwanese" card and the "who loves Taiwan more" card. It really pisses me off when I read and hear from people who accuse me of not being Taiwanese just because I disagree with them.

They also like to remind everyone of 228 and the white terror period over and over again. I think we all know our history and agree that KMT rulers in the past were pretty nasty people. But campaigning based on arguments that KMT of 2008 is still the devil of the past and Ma will lead us back to 20 years ago simply will not win you elections in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I usually appreciate what you write. Your analysis was good.
But I would like you and like-minded readers of your blogg to overcome your sadness.

A huge task is ahead of all of us : preservation of taiwanese democracy to make sure that political alternance will again be possible in the future.
KMT now controls all four powers : executive, legislative, justice and media. It will be easy for them to misuse their monopolistic position.

There is an obvious need in the coming years to monitor Ma's governance and especially whether he will fully respect the democratic institutions of Taiwan.
As we say in France, "hauts les coeurs!" (cheer up) and let's scrutinize and report what the blue will do from now.

Eddy said...

as cannot be said enough, the Taiwanese economy was not bad at all, and has posted a consistent 5% growth throughout all of Chen's term. Of course, leave it to the media to completely manipulate the statistics.

Even though this defeat for the DPP is unfortunate, the situation now will most likely force the KMT to pander to the Taiwanese population, and will further moderate the party in order to retain popular support. The DPP will most likely undergo internal reform to accomodate the moderate public as well. This will ultimately be good for Taiwan, as the extremist polarizing views of the past will no longer be sowing so much division.

XingyiReporter said...

Sort of disagree with pei yuan justin.

What a multiethnic state needs is prevalent interpreting service in public activities. Isn't is quite general in Switzerland or Spain and so on? I do think this is the right solution. Simply nurturing a uni-ligual evironment is not preferred.

By the way, if the language called Taiwanese is not spoken in Taiwan, then where is it supposed to be spoken in? Though the language came from Min-nan China, but it seems clear that Min-nan China would never be a better place for this language to thrive. It's obvious that Taiwan is exactly the "capital" of this language of 50 million speaker which ranked 24th in the world. (e.g. the Taiwanese record companies and singers have overwhelming predominance of the pop music industry in this language accross Southeastern China and Asia.)

It is an individual freedom and right to decide in what language to speak. I don't mean to force anyone to learn any specific language. But Taiwanese do need to learn to respect more the vernaculars of this island and forsake the "deservedly in Mandarin" mindset. Languages are more than communicating tools. Ask linguists, historians and anthropoligists, they have good perspectives about this.

Anonymous said...

A really, really interesting election stat I saw on TVBS: while Ma dominated the 30-39 and 40-49 age group (605 to 40% or more), it was close for 50-59 year olds, and for 20-29 year olds, it was about 60% to 40% in Hsieh-Su's favor! The DPP isn't going to win without the support of the baby boomer generation next time around either, but heck, I am greatly heartened that the young and idealistic, over 20 years later, still see the DPP as the more progressive, more hip political party. This additionally interesting because of all the talk pre-election (Chinese language media) that support for the DPP among 20-29 year olds had collapsed.

There's a problem with this young group though. Most of the time, they don't bother to vote, and I question if a lot of them even came out to vote, regardless of what they said in the survey. This also means the DPP is probably toast for the next couple of elections (local ones 20-29 year olds don't usually bother to vote in), until the many contradictions among Ma's supporters and in his platform start to rip his support base apart.

My recommendation for the DPP: in theory, the KMT is now too dominant, too large, and political reality is too harsh for them to satisfy all their supporters. Corruption is going to skyrocket. A confident KMT also means factional infighting and the possibility of a split. The DPP needs to figure out how to be quicker, nimbler, and out in front on issues that the KMT

How about using the internet and party resources to create greater education about Taiwan's history, especially the road to democratization? How about continuing to give positions on the Tibet issue and on human rights/democracy?

Corruption is going to be huge because that's what always happens with one party dominance. How about a blog/wiki/creative Web 2.0 website that tracks misuse of funds

How about getting in front of the KMT on economic issues? I can think of a shitload the KMT hasn't mentioned that has nothing to do with 3 links:

1) Privatization. Taiwan Post is still in the Japanese model and holds savings that aren't getting real returns. What a waste of capital. China Petroleum Company needs to be privatized. All that the gov't does is allow Formosa Plastics to rollover them with private sector efficiency when the prices are rational, and create a bunch of waste and hurt a legitimate private enterprise when the prices are too low.

2) Go all the way with environmental issues, but have a real plan for fixing our energy crisis. No real energy policy was given by Ma. Everyone in the world is trying to lower their oil dependence and trying to build up renewable/nuclear sources. What's the DPP's plans?

The DPP now, more than ever needs to be out in front and needs to reach out to be the outlet for every future dissatisfied customer of "but 633 was just a goal, I didn't actually mean that we could actually have 6% annual growth". Every non-DPP city/county/legislative district needs to have a DPP'er who is active in the community, organizing, gathering opinions/complaints, and WORKING ON ISSUES THAT MATTER. Think small, try to win small stuff, win fervent respect of each li and build it from there.

All you DPP legislators and the few city/county commissioners still in power--everyone figure out what issues matter most, and start getting on message. The Green think tanks come up with the theory, and everyone else discuss, get a consensus, and then everyone GETS ON MESSAGE. BLAST IT for a couple of weeks for each issue, everyone on message.

Come on, Taiwan needs healthy competitive two-party democracy. Let's go guys, there's hope yet.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I can't stand the stuff the garbage that's just standard lines from the Chinese-language world translated into English. Taiwan absolutely has not had poor macroeconomic performance nor has it been "isolationist". The restrictions on investment have been lowered and lifted compared to the 90s under the KMT, and it's amazing that they can say that the DPP "isolated" Taiwan. Taiwan today has several global brands that are leaders in their industries, the aggregators and innovators and are on the global stage in a way that wasn't possible in the 90s.

I would say Chen's administration was much more efficient, much more progressive, and much more open and transparent than Lee's administration. It was also much more multicultural/multiethnic (Hakka Commission, Hakka/Aboriginal television stations for example). It was a huge step forward. But no one notices that kind of thing, and they did a lot of things that were "the right thing" but the way they did it was horrible i.e. why the fuck does the Democracy Memorial Hall house a statue of one of the world's deadliest dictators? Also because of how clean they had promised to be and had the reputation for being, the couple of big ones (President's son-in-law insider trading among other things) were devasting.

I have a much more realistic assessment of why Ma won. First, looks matter: Ma is tall, and in Taiwan, considered good looking, speaks English, sounds well-mannered when he speaks Mandarin, and has a Harvard degree. Hsieh is short, and no one would consider him good looking, even if wife is kinda cute and sweet. Just look at the women vote. If you actually talk to women here, you know how badly superficiality influences the vote here. It's pretty disgusting for males native and foreign, but that's cause most of us don't benefit from looks that way.

Second, people are just sick of Chen. It started the day he was elected, but when the corruption scandals came out, those voices that had always been there started to smirk and jeer, and say "I told you so." Shi Ming-te helped make it worse, Chen's provocative comments made it worse (a lot of it isn't really that bad and even kind of funny, but once you find someone annoying...), the media and clever KMT ads made it worse...

I don't think it's rational at all, but people have to recognize that Taiwanese started blaming every single little thing on Chen, and it became that there was nothing right that Chen or his administration could say or do except to lose yet another election.

People started buying the explanations that Ma was giving, and ignoring and being completely dismissive of anything the Greens tried to say, including the transitional justice movement. The question wasn't policies or platform anymore--the reception of ANYTHING became just another annoying thing and no one wanted to SEE or HEAR Chen Shuibian. you have to understand, some previous Greens do things like immediately turn the channel when they saw Chen on TV. The absolute hate and disgust that people felt towards Chen Shuibian continued from 2006 and built up higher and higher till this election.

Everything else that people brought up, yeah I dunno. I have no idea why you guys think this was about issues or governance or campaigning.

The silver lining--with the leaving of Chen and the new KMT government, the DPP can start again without the burden of Chen. And the KMT I predict is going to be facing a lot of problems and contradictions, much sooner than anyone thinks.

Bobapower said...

@Ya Dang, if you want to read about Corruption, read up on KMT's history.
They've done very atrocious things.
I know people say stop living in the past.
1) many of the KMT thugs still dominate KMT.
2) Tell that to the families and friends who had loved ones killed, jailed or persecuted.

With KMT's wealth, media support and devout followers, they will always have an advantage in any election.

I'm not saying DPP is without fault, they have lots to learn and this loss is a valuable lesson.

I truly enjoy the opinions of the commenters.
With our passion for Taiwan, we sometimes forget how young this democracy is. Most leading democracies had centuries to evolve. We've had a few decades.
DPP is a very young political party. To come to power in such a short time is almost unheard of.

KMT had more decades to improve their craft.
In time the DPP will rebuild, learn and return to serve the people.

Taiwan baby!

Bobapower said...

@ Raj: voters hold all politicians in equal contempt, they rarely believe anything they say about the other side and thus negative campaigning rarely works apart from in a few prejudiced localities.

Unfortunately it is quite the opposite. The die-hard supporters greatly out-number the rational thinkers. This is true in any society.

Media in Taiwan is all about negative campaigning, basically tabloids. Unfortunately, they're the ones 'informing/brainwashing' the masses.

Its very trashy really. How often do you watch Taiwanese news/TV and thought "this is complete crap, don't they have some real news to cover?"

I know media companies (even in US) have their loyalties, but let's clean it up. Taiwan deserves better.

Norm said...

The term "corruption" is so redolent in Taiwanese politics that it has become trite and hackneyed. Each side can probably make substantive claims about the corruption of the other. I suppose its part of the political landscape and a very complex one to understand, let alone root out.

But, I am wondering about one species of corruption: voter bribery. I'm living in the U.S. now but one of my Taiwanese friends (admittedly a DPP supporter) has informed me that her relatives who live in the countryside were give something on the order of NT$2000 by the KMT to vote for Ma.

By raising this issue, I'm not trying to infer that Ma would not have won without these alleged payoffs. Rather, I'm interested in the extent to which this is an 'open secret': has there been any investigative reporting to reveal these sorts of activities? How widespread is it? Is fairly institutionalized, practiced in certain areas and not others, and are there accusations that both parties (not just the KMT) engage in this sort of thing? Please let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

Anonymous said...

The Taiwanese people voted for KMT government and KMT president. The people wants change and KMT represents change.

KMT will make Taiwan better with improved relations with China and the international community with trade and travel.

I look forward to fly from Beijing to Taipei in October.

Adam said...

The KMT has set pretty lofty goals for itself (633 - quite a tall order), by saying 5% economic growth wasn't enough - they could get 6%! People have very high expectations for the KMT now - people are expecting direct flights to Beijing for the Olympics! If they are not able to achieve it, then 4 years from now, voters will be in the same boat, complaining how the economy has stagnated under the KMT and therefore it is time to switch back to the DPP.

For those complaining that the KMT has too much power now and that the DPP will never be able to regain their former power, wasn't it a much worse situation during the martial law - one party rule days? The DPP was able to succeed then, why not now? Don't forget, there are still 5 million green voters out there who will be scrutinizing Ma's every move.

On the language issue, I'm happy to see a President who can answer reporter questions in English. Surely such a skill must be an advantage when it comes to foreign diplomacy.

Anonymous said...

and for 20-29 year olds, it was about 60% to 40% in Hsieh-Su's favor!

absolutely untrue. there is no way for TVBS to know this, and my guess is the opposite is true. The DPP really has lost the youth vote. As long as it harps on its theme of 'identity', the DPP will lose elections. What's more, its margin of defeat will continue to widen.

The DPP needs to clean house. It is controlled by a generation of 50 and 60 somethings who came of age during the 1970s and 80s. For them, it is all about Taiwan 'identity'. Most voters in Taian were born after 1970, and they simply do not care about this issue.

The choice is simple for the DPP: modernize its message, or consign itself to irrelevancy.

TicoExpat said...


The press in Spanish is reporting: Taiwanese people reject the United Nations.

The icing is "both sides are fighting over representation of China".


skiingkow said...


Vote-buying and black gold is an overwhelming KMT phenomenon. In Keelung -- where I used to live -- you would always hear about people being offered $1500 - $2000 NT from the KMT to vote for the party. And fyi, it happened during this election in Keelung, too.

skiingkow said...

sorta Taiwanese,

Sadly, there is a lot of truth in what you say. "Presentation" means so much in Taiwanese culture -- at the expense of substance. As in the U.S. and Canada, I wish Taiwanese would turn off their damn television sets and use the internet more. An uninformed electorate is a huge problem in democratic countries today. Without citizens who know the big picture and can critically think -- democracy will die. The Taiwanese -- passionate as they are -- are influenced way too much by the mass media. This cannot be overstated.

Generally, I am pessimistic about healthy democracies surviving because of the corporate influence in the mass media. And we will soon find out if the internet will survive to be the last true sanctuaries of freedom (with such things as "net neutrality" being attacked in the U.S.).

In China, of course, the internet is simply another medium to be explicitly controlled.

Anonymous said...

Vote-buying and black gold is an overwhelming KMT phenomenon. In Keelung -- where I used to live -- you would always hear about people being offered $1500 - $2000 NT from the KMT to vote for the party. And fyi, it happened during this election in Keelung, too.

Well, Stop-Ma you can keep thinking that way. My family used to be one of bigger employers in a small town in Taiwan (not so small now today but I still can buy stuffs in the shops there on verbal credits). The only buying vote money that we have ever taken are from the DPP in the 90s. I still remember my mom told me that you always take the money but never vote for the person.

Anonymous said... supporters, how do you think direct flights to Beijing are going to occur? From what I've observed, it seems that China wants Taiwan to claim these as domestic flights instead of international flights, which is something CSB would not accept knowing this would put Taiwan on the slippery slope of lost sovereignty. I'd like to point out a TaipeiTimes editorial from Oct 2005 that pretty much sums Taiwanese:

The dominant personality trait among Taiwanese is opportunism. For the last three centuries, bettering the lot of oneself and one’s family usually meant some kind of messy compromise with unaccountable and alien power holders. The moral has always been to seek advantage where one can, and don’t pay too much attention to principle.

Something else the blues don't seem to understand is the "shadow KMT" which lurks just beneath the visible surface. These are the deep blue China lovers that actually are the ones that will pull the puppet strings on Ma. These people are NOT out to protect Taiwan's interest. These people want annexation with China.

It makes me cringe every time I hear a KMT supporter say Taiwan is a sovereign country, blah blah blah...Ma will protect us.

Anonymous said...

True blue, everyone knows that polls here aren't accurate, but it's always inaccurate in one direction--they always underestimate green support by a large margin, and their poll overall was no exception. If you don't believe it and you think it was 60%-40% in the other direction, then you are saying that a lot of 31-39 and 41-49 voted Green even to the point that it was close, which I really find less plausible. You not only have to make up for the 21-29s being for Ma, you'd have to make up for the overall poll underestimating Green support. Given the implications of what you are saying, it's still much more likely that young support was a small glimmer of hope for the DPP.

Your comment about the age of DPPers--they were very young 8 years ago, and they are the same generation as Ma Ying-jeou. I don't know how it was possible you accused the DPP of being old when Ma is that age, Vincent Siew is even older, Wu Po-hsiung, the party chairman is old, and Ma, after being elected, stood around with James Soong and Lien Chan. The KMT was old and creaky to begin with, and now with big wins, these guys have zero incentive to step aside.

The DPP on the other hand, the democracy activist lawyer generation is going to step aside, and the age gap between the DPP and the KMT is only going to grow more stark. How they perform is of course still an open question that everyone is waiting to see.

The DPP is still the party of the young, even if it's now also the party of the minority.

Anonymous said...

Want to say that looking at endorsements, look at all the people that endorsed Frank Hsieh--Hsu Hsin-liang, Lee Yuan-tze, Lin Yi-hsiung and his daughter, former President Lee, bunch of directors, Freddy and his cohort of musician/creative industry friends, one of the two main comedians of Quanmin Zuidadang...

Jiang yo-bo, dictator Jiang's great-grandson also said a lot of things criticizing the Blues all throughout this period.

Even though a lot of these people have problems with Chen Shuibian or disagree with the DPP, they all came out for Hsieh. There is not a single "cool" person that endorsed Ma. Seriously.

Businessmen out in front? EVA chairman, who stands to benefit greatly from 3 links. Founder of UMC (number 2 foundry), who invested in China above the limit, got caught, and has held a vendetta against the KMT ever since.

So many of the celebrities endorsing Ma were waisheng. I think people forget that in the old days, waisheng were given disproportionate opportunities in media and cinema.

Bai bing-bing is also just angry that Hsieh saved a South African military attache from a kidnapper by offering to be the kidnapper's lawyer (kidnapper had killed Bai bing-bing's child), but she did Ma a favor in garnering support from so called "local" celebrities. But she's biased as fuck for very illogical reasons and makes anyone with a sense of right and wrong blood boil.

I mean, what gives? If Ma is so great, where are the Greens that "think different" endorsements?

Anonymous said...

Most of your comments in the article are spot on... But the ethnicity issue is the DPPs biggest problem... they divided people against each other and forgot that most of the people on the island really DO NOT want to emphasized divisions... In someways elements of the DPP remind me strongly of the British National Party ( a neo-nazi organisation )... Is that too strong? Mmm.


Norm said...

stop ma (or anyone else),

I certainly believe that vote-buying takes place, but I'd like to know a little bit more about the mechanics of it. I suppose that some party-affiliated organization would have to determine who the undecided/non-committed voters are -- maybe through polling. I'm wondering if how this works, how they can guarantee that one would actually vote for "their guy." Have you heard any stories about the specifics of it?

Anonymous said...

Not to worry, this is a democracy and the public has sent a message to both parties that if they don't do the right thing they are out on the street. It's hard to imagine one part being in power for three consecutive terms unless they are seriously doing something right (or unless you eliminate the competition - literally...). Much as I am not a KMT fan I feel a change in power reinforces the democracy just as it did when the DPP came to power in the first place. The KMT learned a few things sitting on the sideline (including how to obstruct and discredit a ruling party, but maybe they picked up a few pointers from the DPP back in the day....), now it's time for the DPP to sit in the proverbial penalty box for a while and figure out how to regain public confidence. It will take a major remake but they could be very strong if they do things right. But they better wake up and take some advice from people and make some real changes.
In the meantime, the KMT now has more than enough rope to hang itself with and although they are high and mighty now things could change oh so much in a few years. They oversimplified a number of major issues regarding cross strait relations and the economy and it will be very difficult for them to actually deliver on their promises. Everyone will be watching closely. If the DPP takes a two track strategy of transforming and rebuilding itself while simultaneiously highlighting the inevitable errors of the KMT the playing field could be very leveled by the time the next elections roll around.

skiingkow said...


The process of vote-buying is very subtle, of course. And the KMT are VERY good at it.

First of all, they do their research, by word of mouth, as to who will be susceptible to this technique. My inlaws are well-known to be dark-green in the community, so obviously they wouldn't risk it on them.

Once these voters are found, the game begins. One technique that I'm told was used with my father-in-law's friend was quite interesting. A gift would be presented and the voter would be told that if he didn't like the gift, he could return it to so-and-so. Of course, the gift (such as an ashtray) would be worthless, but when returned, it would turn out to be worth his effort.

As to ensuring that the voter will select the right candidate, I don't think there is any sure-fire way that they know (that is why picking the right voter is important). However, the 2 ballot-box process for the 2004 / 2008 elections would have helped the vote-buying process significantly. With the KMT politicizing and boycotting the referendum, it ensured that anonymity was compromised at the polling station. If you voted for the referendum, you were certainly most likely to vote for the green party.

And don't be fooled by posters like Arty. Vote-buying in the green party is scarce. That is partially why they do so poorly. Although, it certainly doesn't come close to explaining the overall results in this election.

Make no mistake about it though, the KMT have corruption down to an art form. The DPP on the other hand are not that good at it.

Anonymous said...


Lee Yuan-tze? Haha, 8 years ago, he endorsed Chen Shui-bian. So what if you have "cool" persons to endorse you when you screwed up like mad as president?

The funny thing is, when Chen invited his "cool" endorser, Lee Yuan-Tze to be Premier, Lee apparently got cool feet after witnessing the disastrous premiership of Tang Fei.

Unknown said...

I strongly agree with Stop Ma's last statement 10:57 AM. His statement paints a bleak picture of what is happening; it's also spot on.

Anonymous said...

TVBS survey results are available on their site, and Hsieh absolutely doesn't have a 60-40 lead amongst the youngest demographic.

Results show basically a heavy one-way lean amongst all voters ages 20-59. The only demographic that Hsieh clearly does better with are the 60+ crowd.

As far as direct flights with the mainland goes... it's remarkable how many people buy Chen Shui-bian's ridiculous story about "domestic" versus "international" flights. Taiwan has had direct flights with Hong Kong for decades; Taiwan has also arranged direct charter flights with the mainland for years.

How do you think those flights were defined? Domestic, or international? The answer of course, is neither. It's civil aviation, and there's absolutely no requirement that "national sovereignty" enters into the equation. Chen Shui-bian used it as a fig-leaf, but it will be discarded soon.

Ma already promised, post-election, to open up direct weekend flights within 2 months of his inauguration... just in time for the Olympics. He described on Sunday a scenario where Taiwanese businessman could live in Taipei, commute to Shanghai (1 hr away) for meetings, and still fly back to Taipei early enough for dinner (and to take out the trash).

Michael Turton said...

Ummm...CCT, I know that Chen is the Cause of All Evil in the World, including acne and pizza boxes in which the cheese sticks to the top of the box, but it was China that banned talks on direct flights, not Chen.

As the Beeb observes:

But China ruled out opening official talks with the government in Taipei to discuss permanent aviation links, branding the suggestion "inappropriate".

But don't worry, I'm sure Chen arranged that, in between the time he was spending organizing the rise in global oil prices, and the time he devoted to making sure that antarctic ice was melting at a faster rate.


Anonymous said...

I'm only about halfway throught comments so far, but not a single person has mentioned the important election that took place. Presidents come and go, and outside observers from multi-party democracies know the current guy is temporary and doesn't necessarily represent majority opinion on all topics. But the referendum for Taiwan joining the UN failed. Not only did Taiwanese overwhelmingly reject the idea of joining the UN as "Taiwan", they don't even want to join as "Republic of China". Taiwanese themselves have now made clear what had previously a subject of debate - Taiwan is not an independent nation. It must therefor be part of China. When Ma says something about Taiwan being part of China and someone objects, expect the pro-China crowd to tout the referendum. Outside of Taiwan, this referendum will be used as the trump card in any future discussions about whether Taiwan is independent. If China threatens war and there is talk in the US about how far we should go to defend Taiwan, the referendum will be the defining argument because we cannot defend a people who do not wish to be defended. If Taiwanese consider themselves part of China, who are we to intervene in a civil war?

Am I being simplistic and unfair because the referendum was boycotted rather than voted down? I saw the CNN TV report on the election, the BBC TV report on the election, and read the Washington Post article on the election, and there was no mention of a boycott. The referendum simply failed - that's what the rest of the world knows and that's all they'll care about.

Eddie said...

//There is not a single "cool" person that endorsed Ma. Seriously.//

Leehom Wang.

bikingmama said...

When I left Taiwan more than 10 years ago, Ma was so much more popular than Hsieh. Sad for me to see that it hasn't changed. And I agree with your point about the all-Taiwanese language rallies. Many young people though understand the language do not speak it. Hopefully they'll learn something from this loss.

Adam said...

I think the referendum results will end up biting the KMT in the ass. How can they justify applying to the UN in subsequent years when "the Taiwanese public don't support it"?

On the news yesterday, the DPP has said it will maintain price freezes on fuel prices and utilities until the May 20 inauguration. I think people will be in for a big surprise when prices suddenly get hiked after that.

Anonymous said...

...and there's absolutely no requirement that "national sovereignty" enters into the equation.

Say's who? You're an expert on this too?

There is not a single "cool" person that endorsed Ma. Seriously. - Leehom Wang.

Are you kidding, cool? There is a photo of this guy in Today's Apple newspaper pageA20. There he is with a big shiteating smirk on his face, holding a Olympic torch dressed in the Chinese uniform. So cool for a Taiwanese to represent China.

Richard said...

"Am I being simplistic and unfair because the referendum was boycotted rather than voted down? I saw the CNN TV report on the election, the BBC TV report on the election, and read the Washington Post article on the election, and there was no mention of a boycott. The referendum simply failed - that's what the rest of the world knows and that's all they'll care about."

Whether Western media reported it or not, the reality is that KMT did call on people to boycott the referendums. So, in that sense, Ma claiming that they will represent the people of Taiwan and let them be heard is rubbish.

Anyways, just wanted to comment on the Taiwanese language issue. Although I definitely agree the DPP needs to do a better job at reaching out to a larger audience by utilizing more Mandarin/English... do not discredit the importance of reaching out to the Taiwanese speaking in Taiwan. Most of the elders in Taiwan only speak Taiwanese/Japanese. Furthermore, I only speak Taiwanese and English. Yes it is odd, but thats what my parents spoke with me growing up in the U.S. And so, I can easily identify with my grandparents and their parents of the past and how they felt when the KMT was trying to suppress the Taiwanese language.

Probably not the best for getting election results, but the fact that DPP tries to define "true Taiwanese" can help show that the people of Taiwan, are not Chinese. In the U.S., I have Chinese friends that tell me that we're all the same. And, it's pretty easy for me to say, no we aren't. I speak Taiwanese, I don't know, nor understand Mandarin, so how are we the same? Anyways, getting off tangent.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Stop-Ma and all you pro-greens keep thinking that way. It is absolute fine by me. Without new leaderships and thinking within DPP, I can see DPP loses next 3 elections, minimum of 16 years for sure.

There is not a single "cool" person that endorsed Ma. Seriously.

I can give you another one. Ang Lee is way cooler than all the one mentioned Hsieh supporters. Come on he is the Incredible Hulk (the CGA is based on his movements)! You see green outside, true blue inside :P. His wife took an 16 hours flight just to come back to vote.

Anonymous said...

But the referendum for Taiwan joining the UN failed. Not only did Taiwanese overwhelmingly reject the idea of joining the UN as "Taiwan", they don't even want to join as "Republic of China".

Sorry, anon, but you're crying in your beer. Those referenda didn't have a chance in hell of winning.

The required threshold for passage of ONE referendum would be 8,656,918 votes. Not even Ma received that many votes.

The split referenda was a nasty tactic used to do just what occurred: split the vote.

But if you do your sums, you get the real picture: exactly 10,501,539 out of 17.3 million voting Taiwanese from all parties voted FOR joining the UN.

I'd say that's a pretty strong show for support of UN membership.

Unknown said...

What Marc says about the split referendum tactics by the KMT is similar to dirty old-school union-busting tactics that have been used in the past by some employers, such as the railroad strike in West Africa in the late 40s.

All you have to do is create another union and your opposition doesn't stand a chance. Divide and conquer!

Anonymous said...

But if you do your sums, you get the real picture: exactly 10,501,539 out of 17.3 million voting Taiwanese from all parties voted FOR joining the UN.//

um, you are allowed to vote in both referendums, you know? most people who voted for the DPP pleblicite likewise supported the KMT proposal.

Anonymous said...

Wang Leehong's family is deep Blue. They have deep family ties with Ma's family. I know because I once met Wang Leehong's uncle, who is an academic and he talked about Ma Yinan making a call to see if Wang Leehong could help out.

Ang Lee? First Ang Lee is waisheng. Second Ang Lee didn't support Ma Ying-jeou, his wife did. His wife has nothing to do with his film making. Third, Ang Lee, if you watched Lust, Caution would seriously disagree with Ma's Chinese nationalist interpretation of the movie, crying cause "back in the day, he sacrificed in that way too" (basically admitted he DID spy on fellow democracy activist Taiwanese students while a student in the US). That movie could have been very anti-Japanese and nationalist Chinese, but it absolutely was not. If it was that big of a deal for Ang, he would've come back to vote too--come on, he has the money...

Yes, I automatically discount any waisheng supporting Ma Ying-jeou as being significant, since that's their "default" and their "easy road". I asked, where are the cool Greens that supported Ma Ying-jeou?

Shi Mingte and Hsu Hsinliang, two highly respected DPP activists that are very disgruntled with the DPP would have been possible supporters that would have some weight (Shi losing a lot of credibility in his drive to have CSB step down), but Shi didn't say anything and Hsu enthusiastically supported Hsieh.

Everyone says ethnicity/identity doesn't matter anymore in Taiwan. Well, it doesn't matter to Min-nan who will vote for either party, but it sure as hell matters to waisheng, Hakka, and Aboriginals, who still, to this very day, vote in overwhelming majorities (over 3/4, waisheng soldiers get into the over 95% range) for the KMT.

Jack said...

@Sorta Taiwanese

"why the fuck does the Democracy Memorial Hall house a statue of one of the world's deadliest dictators?"

There are a lot of dictators that are loved in their own countries which are now somewhat democratic: Peron and Kemal Attaturk are two examples.

It was unnecessary to rename it "Democracy" Memorial Hall, since CKS Hall was neutral moniker anyways.

Anonymous said...

What good is freedom when there is no job and no food on the table? What about financial freedom? DPP took away more freedom than KMT as the economy has slowed down, the education system has failed, and the suicide rate is up. What good is freedom when it is enjoyed by the privileged few? I am a realist, and you are an idealist who thinks people in Taiwan have the same financial opportunity as in the US.

Michael Turton said...

It's ridiculous to claim that there were no jobs and no food on the table. If you can't think clearly about how the economy works, don't post here. It was not a choice between freedom and a full belly. It was a choice between different kinds of economic futures, and who would control those futures.

Frankly, I'm really tired of the idiotic claims about the suicide rate. If suicides were really due to the "failed economy" then it is the KMT's fault for not passing the economic stimulus package necessary, and for suppressing growth as a strategy to bring down the government.


Anonymous said...

Jack, a memorial in itself is the problem, not the name.

That is EXACTLY why I think it was retarded to change the name. The name was bad because Chiang Kai-shek isn't someone to be memorialized. Changing the name didn't solve the problem, because HELLO, THERE'S A HUGE STATUE OF HIM INSIDE!

If they have the power to do it, then do it all at once. Otherwise, you're just wasting political capital and not even accomplishing what should be done (renaming AND removal of the statue).

That peoples all over the world hold nostalgia for these dictators that committed horrible crimes during their reigns saddens me just as much as the fact that it's this way in Taiwan does.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Michael,
I enjoyed visiting your blog everyday.
In my view, DPP was defeated because of the communication problems. Not only the language problem you said here but more others.
I'm sure that it is not the point of your article but I am willing to help on translating next time when there's similar event with DPP elders in Taipei.