Monday, March 17, 2008

March 16 DPP Rally

As we pulled into the gas station, this KMT sound truck screamed inanities at us. In Hell the sound trucks run 24-7, and they play pro-KMT music.

Yesterday the family went to the big rally an Gencheng Park in Taichung. Snagged some great Hsieh paraphenalia, and soaked up some that powerful pro-Taiwan feeling.

I snapped this pair of dueling signs on Nanjing Rd in Taichung. The sign on the left has Ma's 6-3-3 promise, while on the right, the sign calls on voters to oppose Ma's One China Market.

We arrived at the rally and followed the crowd into the world of green.

The vendors were out in force. My wife picked up a nifty "Taiwan Nation" hat.

One side of the main rally area. The field extended off to the sides and back for several hundred meters.

Contingents of supporters were bused in from all over the island.

A group of supporters arrives. Note the big smile -- everywhere I went people insisted I take their picture, and offered grins and encouragement.

People arriving. Best part: lots of young people.

Like the last rally I attended<, this one opened with a singer.
Crowd and plot both thickening.

Totally hot DPP babes.

A group of young people showed with their "Reverse the Tide" shirts. They looked great, and the shirts were nice too.



The speeches begin.

The cameraman at work.

Surrounded by a sea of green.

After the initial speeches, groups representing sought-after demographics appeared. Here are the farmers, threatened by Chinese produce.

The crowd cheers.

The crowd says a prayer for the dead of Tibet. Chinese treatment of Tibet is a key indicator of their actual attitudes, for Tibet and Taiwan are exactly the same issue: China attempting to incorporate territories that may or may not have belonged to the Qing empire into its own colonial system. Tibet is an important rallying point for the DPP.

Plenty of old people were there, cheering themselves hoarse, listening intently, crying and clapping. The music, taken from major feature films, was also quite effective. My son, a movie buff, identified the theme from Independence Day. Also heard were the love theme from Braveheart -- the background to Hsieh's speech -- and themes from Saving Private Ryan. Let's see....a film about independence, a film about resistance to colonialism with a bonus hack on the collaborationist noble class, and a film about saving someone.....

Locking up the youth vote.

The crowd eats it up.

Young people in the crowd watched as...

...a group came out to represent students threatened by recognition of Chinese credentials.

This wonderful woman and I had a great time together laughing and cheering.

Lin Chia-lung, Sec-Gen of the DPP, speaks. Lin ran for mayor of Taichung in 2004 and was decisively beaten by Jason Hu of the KMT. Lin also headed the DPP's Tibet liaison organization and spoke on the topic of Tibet as well. The independence forces in both Taiwan and Tibet maintain close links, symbolized by the marriage of a key aide to Lee Teng-hui to the Dalai Lama's nephew.

Lots of faces painted and....


"And the old men shall dream dreams...."

Everywhere I went in the crowd people opened their hearts to me with big Taiwan smiles. "Take my picture! Me! Me!" People held up babies and children, and attempted to jump up to be seen. What a wonderful feeling it was!

Another contingent of supporters demanded I take their picture.

My friend Andrew Kerslake, who joined us for the rally, took this one. The crowd was gigantic, spilling over into areas on the wings of the rally, standing in the streets -- none of the shots taken by myself, my son, or Andrew adequately conveyed the size of the crowd.

Plenty of thumbs up for Hsieh.

Freddy Lim of the metal band Chthonic appeared onstage to appeal to the crowd.

The crowd loves him.

A Hsieh supporter smiles at the camera.

The media contingent set up on a platform overlooking the crowd.

Father-daughter bonding.

The current premier addresses the crowd.

The warmth was incredible.

Supporters cheer the premier's speech.

More young people, followed by....

...performing children.

Vice Presidential candidate Su arouses the crowd. Su's rich, gravelly, basso profoundo rolled across the crowd like an elemental force.

Thumbs up for Frank!

My daughter snapped me.

Hsieh, also a superb public speaker....

....roused the crowd to a fever pitch.

Then they bowed to the crowd.

To confetti, cheers, the boom of air horns and the screams of supporters, the rally closes.

Hsieh and Su came out for the curtain call.

The crowd goes nuts.

Local DPP politicos gather for the big send-off. And so we stayed to savor the atmosphere, stayed with the hard core, with the clean up crew, and with those who had forgotten where they parked their motorcycles.....

As if by magic, the clean-up began.

Outside the vendors make a few last sales.... rally-goers waited for their buses home.


Anonymous said...

Well, it seems that you are in such a good mood. Probably nobody can make you any happier.

How about --- you look really handsome.

Thank you for the wonderful report.

( And if your wife see this. Tell her that I am married, male, and I live in USA. )

cfimages said...

Nice pics. The news is saying 100 000 in Taichung.

Eli said...

The guy in the picture before Hsieh's looks really strange. Who is that? I hope it's obvious that that was a joke, but great job Michael. I'm so curious if they will really be able to "turn back the tide" (nizhuan逆轉), a term that I am finally starting to understand, after walking by the headquarters in Gongguan everyday. I believe Freddie Lim is one of the main founders. He and a couple others did a press conference outside the place when it opened. You should check out it out if you make it to Taipei before the election (It's right next to the Taipower building on Roosevelt). It looks very cool.

Anonymous said...

Cool Michael!, Great Pics!

David said...

It is so wonderful to feel the "Taiwan Spirit" at these events.

It is quite arguable whether Tibet was part of the Qing Empire. That said it just emphasizes the point that the PRC's claims to Tibet and Taiwan based on history are extremely weak.

Anonymous said...

I was there and can attest to the great atmosphere and particularly the power of Su's and Hsieh's speeches. Also striking was the young DPP member crying his heart out on stage - he had such a fiercely passionate look on his face which I think symbolises the stakes at play in this election. I posted two videos of the speeches on my facebook to help a) show what election rallies are like in Taiwan and b) help in my own little way to show support for the DPP. Now if both sets of candidates truly loved Taiwan as a country (not the ROC) then I would probably be more circumspect in taking sides but I've yet to see anything from Ma and the KMT that shows they have themselves changed for the better let alone change Taiwan. As one KMT man said recently "what thing are you that I should listen to you" - the PR's better but the core remains the same. The leopard changed his spots and the Taiwanese are like a rabbit trying to work out if he is still going to eat them. Rant over .. great work Mike.. love your blog.

Anonymous said...

i wonder if we get to see the pics of the blue's rally too

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a totally one-sided view and coverage on your one-sided blog.

David Yu said...

Yes, I also join DPP event yesterday. I'm not a DPP member. But for some reasons I can't support Mr. Ma.
1.He seems stand on two boats. Why can't he announce to give up green card publicly.
2.All his sisters and daughers are American citizen. Nobody can promise he'll fly to USA if necessary.
3.I don't trust his ability, look Taipei 圓環市場's result. It only attract moquitos now.
4.KMT still didn't donate its illegal property

Bobapower said...

Great shots Michael.
Really captured the moment, the energy and the passion of the people.
I get goosebumps looking at them.

I really wish I was there (in US). I was there for the 2000 election and the atmosphere is incredible.
The US election is so dismal and lame in comparison.

Go Frank/Su and go Taiwan!

Anonymous said...

It is amazing. I looked at your pictures and they were so similar to the KMT event I shot in Tainan.

Anonymous said...

Do you know you were on television last night? 民視新聞台, which covered the Taichung rally, showed a semi-closeup on you and your wife.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha! Nice observation about the movie music.

By the way, why were some of their hats light blue? It would seem to run counter to the whole color branding scheme going on here.

Anonymous said...

That was a great photo essay Michael. Very cool.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Michael
This is Justine. Wondering if you still remember me.
I was so excited to see you on the TV last night, actually the DDP rally that you came last night was so close to my house. But we didn't come to join with you. And I wasn't sure if I saw you from the rally but I told my family that must be you because we saw you so many times and including your wife.

It's kind of weird to saw a foreigner will take too much time on different politics, but I still remember you used to say the politics situation is very special in Taiwan. And technically, you are not a foreigner to me.

Anyway, I really happy to see you. And hope still get in touch with you, it's that possible??

Do you still remember me??

Hope to hear your reply.

Justine Chen

Sandy H. 何聖欣 said...

I was flipping channels Sunday evening when I noticed the rally and actually saw you in the crowd with your camera in hand. Although we've not met, I recognized you from your blog. Thanks for keeping us informed. March 22nd will be a very decisive day for Taiwan's future.

poseidon206 said...

Hey Michael,

I saw the report on FTV news, they had a very brief shot of you. I can recognize it's you. The beard and the glasses. Have a look at the news if they're still reporting that. You were on TV! Yay!

I was telling my girlfriend: "I know that guy! I know that guy! That's Michael Turton from Taichung! I knew him from blogspot!"

Michael Turton said...

Yes, that was me on TV. Hope someone saved it!

Justine, it is great to hear from you! Send me an email at


skiingkow said...

Wonderful pics as usual, Michael!

I might go to the local rally here in Keelung if I'm lucky this week. I remember the 2004 rally like it was yesterday and that one blew my socks off. The electricity reminds me of past rock concerts I have attended years past. (and I can also attest to the fact that the supporters are not camera shy)

I'm seeing some excellent crowds at the DPP rallies this time around. It's really encouraging knowing that Hsieh and Su need all the greens to vote if they are going to win -- as in 2004.

Jia you, Taiwan!

NJ said...

<< 2.All his sisters and daughers are American citizen. Nobody can promise he'll fly to USA if necessary. >>

you mean during wartime? The Americans will take in a refugee Taiwan president Ma or Hsieh wheater they have a green card or not.

Ketty W. Chen said...

Great blog, Michael. In Taipei, the Green and Blue crowd ended up on either side the road right in front of our apartment. It was quite a scene.

MJ said...

thanks for the wonderful report on Taichung's rally.

Tommy said...

I have been noticing the foreign news media's complete obsession with polls recently, no matter how questionable they are. For the last several days, they keep on saying "Ma is ahead by about 30 points (usually only quoting the United Daily) as of last count. I DO hope some people have changed their minds, especially since the KMT bust-in and the Tibet snafu.

We shall see.

Oh and to those of you who have something wrong with an opinionated blog, I have a solution. Find another blog.

amida said...

Michael, you were shown on Zhong Tian's coverage as well.

Michael Turton said...

Wow! on so many channels. It is kind of sobering.



Mad Minerva said...

Great bit of photoblogging! I'm tickled that some of my relatives and family friends were likely out in that crowd, and you might have seen them without even knowing it!

Runsun said...

Nice blog, Michael.

See more photos and videos, gathered by netters from 媒抗(anti-media), here:


for rallies on different locations. Get ready to be amazed by the creativity of those people.

Runsun said...

thomas:>>> Oh and to those of you who have something wrong with an opinionated blog, I have a solution. Find another blog.<<<

I think people who take one-sided fallacies as facts would shout "one-sided" when they see facts. :)

Anonymous said...

I was at the rally in Taipei. It was fantastic. The atmosphere was like the cross between an outdoor Bible meeting and a rock concert. I particularly enjoyed it when a Taipei policeman surreptitiously flashed me a number one.

It was certainly what we needed coming up to Saturday.

Scott Sommers.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what's worse, Mr Sommers having a flasher and a number one sprayed in his direction or the reference to some religious-right fest. I suppose we should be thankful no number twos were mentioned.

Tommy said...

Right runsun. Although I was more or less thinking of a pet peeve: People who criticise any blog because the opinion of the author is different from their own. A blog is not the news media, which proclaims itself "objective", therefore which opens itself to criticism when it is not. Blogs are personal, so personal opinions are expected.

Anonymous said...

Michael and Michael's readers:

There's a really excellent view of Hsieh in an interview in 商業週刊 that I want to bring to everyone's attention. Hsieh has reiterated his opposition to the building of the Su-Hua Freeway in unequivocal terms. Yes, Hsieh just committed political suicide in Hualien.

If there ever was a project that was the prototype of the Cement Clientelist State that Michael bemoans, it's the Su-Hua project, which is an exercise in machine politics at its best--the cement companies, the construction companies, the local leaders have banded together for a project that will destroy one of the last large preserves of natural beauty in Taiwan. The majority of Hualien voters support the construction of the highway and it is about short-term gains in profits.

Hsieh's main point though is he's on the right side of history, and the people of Hualien will support his view given time. It's exactly this spirit that was why DPP supported democracy, direct presidential elections, independence all throughout the 80s and 90s when, if anyone bothers to remember, these views were unpopular and hazardous to the health of the people that held them. It's a lot of spine, and with Hsieh coming from behind, he knew reiterating and removing ambiguity really wasn't going to do him any favors in Hualien.

But I for one am very happy to see the DPP's candidate showing some spine. Which is very unfortunately the opposite of Ma Ying-jeou's the-solution-to-everything-is-to-increase-government-spending.

You can read with your own eyes Hsieh's opposition to Su-Hua Freeway here.

Bobapower said...

Thomas is right.

This blog is Michael's opinion and take on things so there's no right or wrong.
Its like if he prefers Coke over Pepsi.

In any case, his takes are not nearly as biased as most of the Taiwanese media.

Keep up the good work Michael!

Anonymous said...

“The US election is so dismal and lame in comparison.”

You’ve gotta be kidding, Iceman. Granted that Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech came a day after you posted your comment, but there was already plenty of evidence he was capable of reaching a height such as manifested in this speech. Where in Taiwan is the leading politician who demonstrates such nuanced intelligence and who talks earnestly and in depth of confronting division head on? The U.S. has its most ringing speechmaker since Reagan, another candidate of high intelligence in Clinton, and a Republican candidate who is willing to take principled stands against the majority of his party from the very start.

Here, in contrast, Hsieh is running a negative campaign, and large parts of Ma’s platform are woolgathering, equivocating idiocy. I’m not arguing that the election here isn’t interesting, but I think you’re off your nut if you consider the US election dismal and lame in comparison; in effect, that’s saying attack dog vs. waffle boy is more interesting than an election in which candidates are addressing real issues more seriously, more often, and with less distortion of others’ positions than arguably has been the case since the 1960s in American politics.

I find your comment on this particular point inane in the extreme and would like to suggest that you read Obama’s speech to see if you wouldn’t like to reconsider. You can find the speech here:

Bobapower said...

Vin, great comments, perhaps I should've been more clear.

I wasn't referring to the US candidates. I agree, Clinton and Obama are the best candidates we have seen in a LONNNNNNNG time.
Yes, both Hsieh and Ma have been bickering over pretty dumb issues and sharing little vision they have for Taiwan.

I was referring to the voter turn out and general lack of passion for most elections here. Yes it gets media coverage, but sadly majority of the Americans can't even ID the candidates.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, Iceman. Is US voter disinterest really as great as you say, though? I mean this time around? Based on impressions I get from watching CNN-International, I thought voter interest was clearly higher in the US this time. I mean, Obama is raising record amounts of money. But I’m here, and it reads like you’re there, so I’ll take your word on that.

Bobapower said...

Hi Vin, here's a graph on US presidential elections.
The turnout for 2004 Taiwanese election was well over 80%

There is more interest this time because Americans hate Bush and the Iraq war that he's gotten us into. Obama and Clinton are both very popular and raising record amounts of money.
Despite all the attention on TV, Americans are still not passionate about the elections. We don't have the rallies and events that match those in Taiwan.
Of course, its a different game here. Most of the money is spent on these annoying TV and radio ads.
However, people don't have that passion, no "electricity" unlike in Taiwan.
I think Americans take voting privileges for granted. Most don't event make it to the voting places.
Then we complain when an idiot like Bush gets elected...