Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blindsided: 藍天變綠地 UPDATED X 3

Liyu Reservoir in Miaoli, way below full. Taiwan is in the midst of drought, worsening the haze and smog.

Wow. Everyone went to bed last night stunned. Many people thought Lin might win Taichung (not me, pessimism overcame me, I think), and of course Ko seemed a shoo-in for Taipei and Keelung no contest as well. Changhua was in the polls too. But nobody saw Taoyuan flipping, or Hsinchu City by a nose. Penghu seemed like a surprise, because I read complaints that planes back had all been booked and no one could come home to vote. But it turns out Ko's wife is from there, and she had a coattail effect on things, I heard. But You's fantastic performance in New Taipei City was unforeseen by all as well, except my friend and ICRT reporter Donovan Smith, who warned me that he was going to surprise everyone. I didn't listen.  What a fantastic night!

Out with the old, in with the new, see maps below...

...where, on the left, is the pre-election situation, on the right, the post (map source). Look clearly. The KMT controls -- barely, with a split city council -- New Taipei City. Aside from the built-up areas around Hsinchu city and the science park, the KMT controls a set of underdeveloped rural counties with small and declining populations. Everywhere voters lived in urban settings with strong, deep links to the modern global economy, they stayed home and rejected the KMT. This means, as the Economist noted, 60% of people now live under a DPP mayor.

Frozen Garlic took a first pass at the numbers (I'll discuss those tomorrow), and there are a lot of them. Go and look at his numbers, but I want to comment on his major observation.
Why? Again, these are all guesses at this point. I wonder if this has to do with urban labor forces. I think this pattern is compatible with the idea that the crucial group withdrawing support from the KMT is the lower income, renting, predominantly younger, wage labor or low-salaried labor force.
Froze interprets this as largely an anti-KMT vote, which it seems to most observers, including my very pudgy self.

I don't think we need analyze Taipei, where Sean Lien ran a beautifully awful campaign. But Taoyuan was really a shock. Last night everyone saw the DPP candidate up 30K and said "That's nice, but it won't last." Ha! A night when being wrong was sweet. But why?

Two major factors. The first, my man Frank M pointed out to me, is the Taoyuan Aerotropolis, a KMT construction-industrial state giveaway to China and to big development firms, which is a giant tumor that is swallowing ever more lumps of land. It's deeply unpopular. The week before the election a Taoyuan District Court judge wrote a blistering expose of it for Apple Daily. A while back J Michael Cole wrote a blistering expose of the mainstream media's failure on it. There were also other land scandals, like the Farglory mess, that were damaging to the KMT candidate, John Wu, son of Wu Po-hsiung, longtime KMT heavyweight.

A second issue is the internal migration/demographics that Frozen Garlic alluded to. There's been a massive movement out to Taoyuan and New Taipei City of people who can't afford to live in Taipei. This floating population is shut out of social mobility in the KMT's finance-driven, China-dreaming 1% looter economy, symbolized by the Taipei Housing Bubble, which, like the Blight from A Fire Upon the Deep, is slowly engulfing the known universe. That housing bubble, like all bubbles, exists to rob the middle class of its savings. It is inexorably re-arranging living patterns as people move out of Taipei in search of cheaper housing elsewhere. Moreover, Taoyuan is growing fast and sucking in young people from all over Taiwan. I talked about these demographic changes on the blog before, I think, but I didn't really expect them to be a factor for at least another election cycle.

It was the land issues and that demographic shift, coupled with a congealing of support for the KMT in this very anti-KMT election that I believe brought about a flip in Taoyuan. Now let's hope that the new guy can stop that Aerotropolis.

Kerim Friedman of Savage Minds sent this around. Map by Zhen Hong-lai.

Geographic, Generational Gaps Yawning in the KMT
Haha. Early in the vote count, as it became clear that all those KMTers who said they were staying home really did stay home, Luo Shu-lei, Sean Lien's Taipei attack dog, called on Ma to resign. Ma has promised a major speech for Wednesday, and there is a KMT central standing committee meet the following Wednesday. Get out the popcorn, boys, because the top of the KMT is about to become a snakepit, with all those vice chairman competing for the top position (Taichung loser Jason Hu says he won't resign his vice chairmanship post).

Major local papers are saying Ma will resign as KMT Chair, with Taiwan News reporting in English that both he and current Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin will resign their party positions. Most everyone said/thought on Saturday he wouldn't resign as did I, I just figured he go into his usual Saruman in Orthanc mode. But when Premier Jiang Yi-huah resigned, I assumed Ma was setting Jiang up to become the KMT's Chairman if/when he stepped down, so Ma could run things from behind Jiang.

If Ma succeeds in levering Jiang into the KMT chairmanship, we can settle back and watch Ma do more grievous harm to the KMT. Remember his vicious campaign against Wang Jin-pyng. That was Ma the Pragmatic Technocrat at his best.

Yes, I can't resist another laugh at the international media. Ma the Pragmatic. Bwahahahahaha!

The DPP's easy victories in the south are horrible news for the KMT. I think not many people have realized their implications for the national races.

Let's consider Su Tseng-cheng, the DPP stalwart. Su was County Chief in Pingtung and then went up north and became County Chief of Taipei County. Or Su Chia-chuan. He was County Chief in Pingtung and then went up to Taichung to barely lose an election for Mayor to Jason Hu.

If you are a DPP politician and want to acquire a national power base, you can run anywhere in the country and can acquire personal contacts and name recognition in heavily populated areas. If you are a KMT politician, however, you are locked out of the big southern mayorships and county chief seats. You can only win in less populated marginal counties like Miaoli and Taitung, outside of the north, assuming the DPP's victories hold up over time. Taitung's population is a mere 230,000, lower than in 1980, in fact. That's about as many people as in some apartment buildings in Taipei...

That means that, for probably a decade, no national level KMT politician can gain a large power base in the south of personal contacts, or develop administrative experience, or become nationally prominent, via the south. At the national level -- if the DPP can make some of these victories hold up -- the KMT is going to be a mere northern party with a few mountain appendages for some time to come. Where are they going to get seasoned politicians with broad national experience from? Worse, running places like Nantou and Miaoli doesn't exactly leave one with a reputation for clean politics... ditto even if they retake Changhua, whose politics are so dirty they can be used to generate topsoil.

This is seriously bad news because the KMT, unlike political parties in the US, has no system for making local politicians into national figures. In the KMT local faction politicians can never rise above that level to national prominence, the national party run by the mainlander core does not permit it. The only way to become a national figure is to make your way into the ruling caste, or be born into it. Hence those faction politicians in the south will never make it above the legislator level. Any KMT political talent born in the south dies there.

So to that shrinking caste presence which I have already discussed, add this contraction of KMT positions for grooming new talent. The loss of Changhua, Taichung, Keelung, Hsinchu City, and Taoyuan were disasters, reductions in the places where the KMT can groom new talent. If the DPP can retain one or two in the next election, especially Changhua, Taichung, and Taoyuan, then it can really hurt the KMT's talent base and further pen it up in the north, where demographic change will finally kill it.

The election was also a disaster for KMT up-and-comer Eric Chu, who barely beat You Shyy-kun in New Taipei City, a shocking outcome few foresaw. Chu has affirmed that he will not step down in 2016. It's easy to see why. As a longtime observer pointed out to me, just as the 1997 DPP victories helped pave the way for Chen Shui-bian in 2000, so these victories will make it that much more difficult for the KMT to win in 2016. If Chu comes out as the candidate, his chance of losing has palpably increased. Why risk it? He'll likely wait til 2020.

He might wind up as Chair, though. But then again, he might not -- the 2016 DPP advantage means that if the KMT loses the 2016 election, the Chair will likely have to resign. That will figure into the calculations of politicians seeking that office. If Chu does not run, the likely candidate will be someone much less popular, and thus, even more likely to lose, like current veep Wu Den-yi, current Taipei Mayor Hau Long-bin, or not-current premier Jiang Yi-huah. Which means it is even more likely that the Chair will have to resign. The DPP victory has avalanched a cascade of hurts on the KMT.

The selection of Yang Chiu-hsiung to run a hopeless race in Kaohsiung was another signal of KMT problems. Yang was a traitor, foredoomed to lose badly. Why not get someone down there to run a real campaign and maybe pull up local politicians' chances? Get some new guy some practice, out in front of the public. Despite the fall in turnout in Kaohsiung Chen Chu actually increased her total vote count from 2010, the public there was so un-enamored with the KMT. Yang was a giant middle finger to everyone who has served the KMT loyally down there, just like Sean Lien was a giant middle finger to the KMTers in Taipei, especially to longtime loyalist Ting, who would have won the mayorship handily against Ko.

My friend Drew Kerslake joked that in 2016 candidates from both the DPP and the KMT will be running on "I was opposed to Ma before anyone else was" platforms...

Now the pressure's on the DPP to produce...

UPDATE: Taiwan observer extraordinaire Michal Thim responded to me in chat:
i think that Chu is still in play for 2016, for simple reason, who else? and one possible explanation of his underperformance is that many of his voters stayed home, being confident their guy will win anyway...also, he under-performed but in the larger context, he excelled just by keeping his seat... also, if Tsai wins, she will be incumbent in 2020, and so far every incumbent got re-elected
Good remarks. I wasn't clear. I think it is a disaster for his presidential prospects, since he was the frontrunner. mea culpa.

UPDATE 2: Josh Ellis remarked on Google+
Another factor that caused John Wu to be defeated here in Taoyuan was his prince-like attitude when discussing the skyrocketing housing market. His statement: "If you can't afford a house, then don't buy one" (”覺得房貴不要買“) infuriated a lot of people in the county and Cheng the DPP candidate pounced all over it and used it to his advantage.

UPDATE 3: Ha forgot this. KMT amended Charter last year in Taichung meeting to say President must be Chair and when KMT President is sworn in s/he automatically becomes chair. From the KMT media organ:…
1. An Amendment to Article 17: In order to coordinate the KMT and its ruling presidency more closely, Article 17 was amended to mandate that any KMT President elected in the future doubles as KMT Chairman. In the future, whenever a KMT member is elected as President of the Republic, he/she will automatically assume the party chairmanship when he/she is sworn in as President.
It's the excuse Ma needs to remain as Chairman.
Daily Links:
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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Short Shorts: The Doom is Upon Us

The dew on a chill fall morning is amazing.

UPDATE 3: Dammit. My family is watching vote count. I'm so nervous now I can't update. But Ko ahead by 80K with 500K votes counted...

UPDATE 2: Many onlookers reporting that barbed wire and barricades are going up around KMT HQ.

UPDATE 1: This video has been making the rounds (with English) -- CCP supporters in front of Taipei 101 beat a woman, say they want the CCP to come over and eliminate all of the onlookers because Taiwan is China. Well, that little piece of Taiwan certainly is...


I'll be updating this throughout the day...

Election day, my wife and son went out to vote and done. Voting has become a sacred ritual of reproduction of the Taiwan identity, which has incorporated the island's democracy into its heart. How is Beijing going to police this place if it ever takes over?

Once again, if you haven't read it, the Reuters special report on Beijing's drive to absorb Taiwan is dynamite.

Julian Baum has a great piece on the 16 year old running a local candidate's political campaign. Simply awesome.

This WSJ report sensibly notes that China is not all that concerned about the results because it is only a local election and the issues and candidates are local. This restrained and sensible view of the election is at odds with the major media narrative of OMG IT COULD MEAN THE END OF EVERYTHING narrative that many other media are clinging to. For example the BBC trundles out its semiannual Taiwan election narrative: Future of Chinese relations at Stake. It's written by Cindy Sui, whose article is more fair and sensible than the headline makes it out to be. I doubt she was responsible for the headline.

Let's get it out clearly: relations with China are not at stake, and if there is a change, it will be because Beijing makes it. Both sides in Taiwan politics want good relations with China; it is Beijing that chooses whether they will have good relations. This ZOMG DPP WILL CAUSE THE APOCALYPSE  narrative that comes out every election is just another version of the zombie media narratives that remove all agency from China, which is simply the helpless prisoner of Taiwan political choices and has no independent will of its own. In other words, it's media bullshit. Imagine if the media treated the election as a test of China's flexibility and good intentions...

Chinese "scholars" weigh in on the election on behalf of the CCP, with some hilarious remarks.
Sheng Jiuyuan, the deputy chief of the Taiwan Studies Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, echoed Yan's view, asking if Ko, who claims he does not know what the 1992 Consensus refers to, is elected, "how can the leaders of the two cities exchange visits in the future under such circumstances?"
"The LOL factor in this one is high", a friend and Taiwan commentator observed. The PRC does not accept the 1992 consensus, which is a post hoc invention of the KMT. But it looks like it does require that the Taiwanese observe it, in typical PRC fashion. Then again, these are scholars talking in their private capacity, so Beijing has deniability. Nifty, eh? The idea that city-to-city exchanges depend on the 1992 consensus is purely ridiculous. But you know if the PRC cuts off exchanges when Ko is elected.... the western media will be out there blaming the pro-Taiwan side. Except for WSJ.

Frozen Garlic on some campaign ads:
One of the things that I have been particularly perturbed by over the past year is that the KMT has not revolted against President Ma’s leadership. A president with an approval rating consistently below 20% should face challenges to his power. Ma has become somewhat more impotent. The KMT legislative caucus has blatantly refused to follow his orders and pass the Services Trade Agreement or even the Oversight Mechanism. (Ma publicly blames this on the DPP, but if his caucus were united in wanting to pass it, they would pass it. It hasn’t passed because the KMT is divided, and the opponents are more scared of their voters than of President Ma.) However, with such extreme unpopularity, I would normally expect much more blatant rebellion. Finally, these sorts of ads force that tension out into the open.
The entire piece is great...

Froze and I both agree that this election is not as meaningful as the media narratives are saying:
In short, this election may be a lot less meaningful than many people believe. If Wu loses in Taoyuan, I might start to buy into the ideas that Taiwanese voters want a wholesale rejection of the comprador class or that significant slices of the electorate were transformed by the Sunflower movement. In the meantime, the least demanding explanation is simply that Sean Lien is going to lose because he was too lazy to spend a year or two intensively preparing for the election.
Exactly. The real signal of change is places that no one is paying attention to: Taoyuan, Hsinchu, etc. The Chinatown election between Lien and Ko is just a more colorful variation of politics as usual, and the contest in Taichung has slowly become a feature of local elections, not a test of anything except the candidates' ability to win. The real test is whether the KMT can keep control of places where it always has kept control. And for that, only Keelung has turned and that because the KMT simply fell apart there, not because of any generational thing.

Ralph Jennings' LA Times report on the election shows the threads that connect the financial industry and the KMT at work in the media. Jennings writes:
"If Beijing takes this weekend's results to mean the opposition party is likely to return to power in 2016, it will hold back on any more goodies or sweeteners for Taipei during President Ma Ying-jeou's final 18 months in office," said Sean King, senior vice president at consulting firm Park Strategies in New York and Taipei. "That's because a future opposition government would inherit these wins, and Beijing would then be in a position of having to reverse or revoke them."
The observation is as good as it goes, but recall that Park Strategies is very close to and very supportive of the KMT. King is a regular media guest and commentator...

KMT politicians engage in the political tactic of crying, attempting to reinforce their victim status....
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Google gives Taiwan a boost

Today's Google search home page.
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Last Round Up....

My amazing, wonderful son and I enjoy the excellent winter weather we're having. Which is bad news, because the island is desperately in need of rain.

Well, the election is barreling toward us. Tomorrow is Judgment Day, when Skynet will blast the hopes of one party. Or something like that....

The vote count can be followed at the Central News Agency site in English. h/t to my man Michal for the link.

The KMT's TV commercial showing a Korean woman beating Taiwan at cards and implying that Korea's newly signed FTA with China will devastate Taiwan's economy was widely panned as smacking of racism and criticized by Korea, Taipei Times reported. WantWant China Times reports on the Korea reaction here. One observer noted that the falling ROC flag paints opposition to the trade agreements with China as bringing down the ROC. Another noted that the KMT, by dragging in national-level issues, actually intensified the risk that the election would become a referendum on the Ma Administration's economic failures.

The video played on Taiwanese fears of being overtaken by Korea -- Taiwanese constantly see themselves, and are taught to see themselves, as perpetually threatened by Korean growth. Since Chinese culture treats growth as a zero-sum game (if someone is growing it can only be because someone else is shrinking), it is easy to see how people can be manipulated. Yet -- the particulars of the China Korea FTA remain under wraps, I was told...

Gerrit van der Wees in the Taipei Times with the observation that relying on China is a hindrance to free trade.

The quietly brilliant Michal Thim looks at this problem of national/local level in a response to Shelly Rigger's recent piece arguing that we shouldn't overinterpret the elections. Alex Calvo also offers some good thoughts on this theme at CPI.

Steve Tsang, a U of Nottingham China Policy Institute based academic, has a piece in Forbes explaining why we should be interested in watching the elections. Written from a China/KMT standpoint, it's a non-subtle advertisement for the KMT -- Tsang mentions how Hu supposedly transformed Taichung and how nice the police in Taichung are, but surely he knows perfectly well that Taichung is the island's organized crime capital and all about police-gangster relations. Note how Tsang explains Hu's unpopularity by blaming the Party connection to Ma. But the truth is that there's a reason why Hu has had hard fights in the last two elections -- Taichung is widely perceived by locals as being misruled relative to other Taiwan's municipalities -- it's the outsiders and foreigners who praise the place.

Jenny Hsu for WSJ on video (you look great, Jen, good job!) presenting on the elections. Channel News Asia says ruling party set to take a beating.

Ethan Gutmann, whom I correspond with from time to time and I know was greatly upset with the abuse of his book on the organ trade in China by certain parties to attack Ko Wen-je, the independent mayoral candidate for Taipei, sets the record straight in the Taipei Times.

The food safety thing is having an effect on the election, and Dragonbones has a great list of incidents at Taiwanease. Terrifying enough, this massive list is incomplete. Since I have been in Taiwan there have been at least three separate incidents of expired milk powder (dating back to 1991 or so) being used in dairy products, a common practice, apparently. Then there is the instant noodles with more sodium than is said... the problem is endless. The government does nothing, indeed, it often surrenders -- as in the flap of rice noodles not made from rice..

The Taichung election is widely seen as some bellweather for the island as a whole. Nothing could be further from the truth -- actually, media narratives tend to be pretty far from the truth -- the Taichung election is going to be won or lost by its respective candidates and their respective campaigns and is not a referendum on the KMT because Taichung Mayor Jason Hu has done a good job distancing himself from the mess in Taipei. He toes the government line and touts its policies, but somehow they don't stick to him. The focus on Taichung obscures the competitive race in Changhua just to the south, and the completely non-competitive race in neighboring Miaoli to the north. And Nantou....

The Miaoli race is rather more interesting in its way -- the county remains rather undeveloped -- great for cycling -- and is leaking population to more developed areas. Yet the KMT remains solidly in control of it. Go figure...

I have no real prognostication. I think Hu will win in Taichung. I have no idea about Taipei -- I am still viscerally unable to believe that Ko can win. Note that is not a prediction, just a gut reaction that prevents me from thinking clearly about the election, so don't credit me if he loses. Perhaps history will repeat itself -- the KMT mailed in the 2004 presidential election campaign and blew a 20 point lead from 2000 (the combined Lien-Soong advantage over Chen) and that was by Sean Lien's Daddy, Lien Chan. One can only hope.

But one thing is certain -- if Ko wins, the KMT is going to massively subvert and sabotage him in Taipei.

Non-election stuff.....

Martin Scorcese is shooting a film in Taichung beginning in February.

BBC reports on a shop in Beijing that bans Chinese. The Chinese language version says that this is not the first time this happened in area shops. In fact, as my wife pointed out to me, this is not a common behavior, but it is not exceptional, either. I can think of several instances in my own life where the signage said different things to foreigners and locals, to the detriment of the latter. A few years ago I was at a large restaurant in Taoyuan translating signs and I asked about a sign that said diners must make their children behave. They told me I didn't need to translate it, foreigners' kids are always well behaved. My wife recalled an incident which many years later still rankles -- shopping in Kaohsiung with her sister, she entered a bookstore to purchase some English books. The sign in Chinese said "don't open the books" but the foreigners in the store were happily flipping through them without any staff intervention. She and her sister challenged the staff, but they affirmed the existence of the double rule... my experience is that in many situations locals think foreigners behave better than they would. I'm not sure they are correct, but that is an assertion one often encounters...
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday night Short Shorts, Day of Doom Approaching Version

Dajia River, Taichung.

The election is two days away and observations are descending on me in all directions from eyes sharper than mine own. Come along for the ride...

On Taichung, a longtime watcher of Taichung politics observed the other day that the amalgamation of city and county, which hurt Hu in 2010, is helping him now. The local factions (note: I did not say gangs) in the city and county have worked out understandings, the powerful local factions have made their peace, and above all, money has been committed to them and their patronage networks. Integration of city and county appears to have strengthened the KMT's grip on the county, according to my friend.

Another longtime observer, who was on the beach when Koxinga's infantrymen waded ashore, said that he thought Lin Jia-lung giving up his seat was a signal of desperation, not confidence, a stunt to pull out a few more votes.

Don't see a win here for the DPP. Lin is nowhere near the candidate Su Chia-chuan was. Still going for him: Hu fatigue. People are tired of Hu. I only wonder why it took them so long.

Meanwhile in Taipei, things are moving faster than humans can track them. Sent around on Facebook, this video of CCP-associated buffoons beating up people in front of Taipei 101. The police do nothing about it, of course. Too bad the foreign media won't report on it -- then it would be cleaned up. But you can imagine the free rein these people will have if the China-allied party wins.

As the 29th approaches, a political commentator friend of mine and former election strategist from Canada commented that in 10 years of witnessing elections in his New Taipei City neighborhood he'd never seen the KMT mobilizing so many paid "volunteers" to greet the morning traffic in. "Maybe it's because they see the latest polls which are banned from publication..." he opined.

Austin Ramzy hilariously identified Ko Wen-je as "also one of the island's elite" along with Sean Lien, in an otherwise excellent article on the election for the NYTimes. Sorry Austin, Ko worked for what he got, unlike "investment banker" (ROFL) Sean Lien whose Daddy gave him everything. Don't miss the great comments of the well-known Taiwan scholar Jon Sullivan, who manages to squeeze an academic career into the cracks of running the ever more excellent China Policy Institute blog. Great stuff there which I will get to in a moment. But the race will not tip the balance of power in Taiwan -- the KMT will continue to control the major sectors of society. Only the generational change slowly eroding its position will tip that balance. The strong support of the young for Ko -- I spotted my students all week long watching videos from his walks of the weekend with approval -- is a harbinger of the coming change.

The Ramzy report with its desperate struggle for (false) balance in labeling Ko an elite and noting Ko's early gaffes also highlights a feature of the last few weeks that a lot of people missed: Ko hasn't said anything stupid in weeks. He's obviously learned from the criticism and he and his campaign team have reformed, unlike the Lien campaign which continues to signal its wealth and privileges and faux victim status in each communication. Ko appears as what he is: an authentically honest, flawed human being.

The idea that the Taipei election is some kind of harbinger of the future was reviewed and found wanting at Ketagalan Media by Kharis Templeman, who reviews elections around the nation in a useful piece.

Sean Lien was crying this week -- one of the key moves of local politicians is crying. One of the themes of his campaign is victimization -- the poor KMTers are victimized all the time. Lien has been pushing the shooting incident in the 2012 election for all it is worth. Watching the campaign for me is a dizzying introduction to the limits of the discourse. Lien can talk nonstop about the shooting incident yet no one ever mentions that he was shot by a gang-banger and rescued by a made guy in another gang (who was on stage with him (!)). The way the basic facts of Taiwan's political economy disappear in election discourses is both fascinating and frightening.

That shooting has been endlessly milked by the Lien campaign which says that he was obviously saved for some higher purpose by god himself. Humility is not one of Lien's character strengths.

Lien's inept campaign has been the subject of brutal mockery on the internet. A recent one panned by netizens shows a woman with an iPhone 6, a Macbook, and a nice house as a representative citizen of Taipei (video here). It's actually an interesting look at what the Lien campaign considers a representative person: one who can afford the latest gear and a nice house -- upper middle class is the lowest common denominator in the Lien mind. If Lien runs for president I'll have enough blogfodder for the next thousand years.

The KMT has attempted to capitalize on the loud rowdiness of the internet generation by appealing to the "silent majority" (video ad). The ad says that you don't shout on the internet, you just work. You're not one of the loudmouth set. It refers to "Taiwan" repeatedly...

The best thing to come out this week is a lengthy Reuters report on China's unification strategies for Taiwan. Despite its numerous problems don't miss it, it shows what we're up against.

David Reid looks at how the DPP is winning on the social media in Taichung. With numbers! Ben looks at an ad for K-town mayor Chen.

Julian Baum, longtime reporter here whose stuff is always top-notch, says the election is "partly" a referendum on China.

WantWant China Times thinks the wiretap affair may hurt Ko. The Ko office was cleared of any involvement in the tap, which the private detectives they hired said they had planted themselves in a bid to drum up business.

Deb Wu in the Nikkei Review covers Thomas Picketty's visit to Taipei where he argued for progressive income taxes and implicitly, against the KMT's pro-1% policies. Terry Gou of Foxconn also said that he'd invest more in Taichung if KMT mayor Jason Hu was re-elected.

The KMT has also been attempting to make the Taipei election about cross-strait politics and economics, things the mayor of Taipei has little to do with. Hence this week saw an entertaining but essentially meaningless discussion on the 1992 consensus.

CPI blog is hosting John Keane's series of pieces on Taiwan's election, a piece saying don't judge the Sunflowers by the election results, a piece by J Michael on militant civil society and elections,  and a piece by D Fell on Third Parties in Taiwan's elections. Don't miss 'em, CPI stuff is always quality.

The always awesome Donovan Smith cogitates on the Changhua county chief election:

In a further sign of the intra-KMT split between the current county commissioner and the party's candidate to replace him, Commissioner Cho Po-yuan is calling on the party's candidate Lin Tsang-min to copy his DPP counterpart's resignation of his lawmaker position ahead of the election. Lin has already emphatically ruled that out. The current commissioner had supported his Deputy Commissioner Ko Cheng-fang in the primary, which Lin ended up winning, but with Ko contesting the result claiming Lin had effectively stolen it with dirty tricks. Finally, Ko was convinced to drop the claim and publicly (and obviously grudgingly) support Lin, and in exchange to concentrate on a future run for legislator. That, it smells like, is the underlying game here. Ko, by the way, as of a couple of weeks ago I'd noticed, had still not taken down his 'candidate for county commissioner' billboards in Changhua, effectively confusing the electorate and reminding Lin he's still upset. Ko had also previously threatened an independent run, or to call for his supporters to boycott Lin. He's backed away from that threat in theory, but in practice the tepid support of Cho and the clear animosity between Ko and Lin suggest that KMT turnout will be depressed this time around. 

Greatest. Headline. Ever: Taiwan Seeking Better F-CK with Possible Longer Term Aspirations.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Links and Links

A pony attracts attention on a road in Taichung.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

vlogger Mordeth13 has crippling accident, Needs Your Help

The well known vlogger Mordeth13 has suffered a crippling accident..


Hey guys, M13 here.

I won't be uploading videos for a while. The March tour is most likely cancelled. So if you're booked for the March tour check with me or wait for an email confirming that it will be pushed to the next tour. I actually have someone younger cooller and better looking than me to take over my tours. So they are still happening.YouTube Search : M13 Taiwan Tours....  Click read more

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Taishang not coming home to vote....

A billboard promoting KMT candidates Sean Lien and Jason Hu. In Shanghai (source)

Over at China Policy Institute Gunter Schubert has a piece on the Taishang, the Taiwan businessmen in China. arguing gently that they are not the Trojan horses the pro-independence side in Taiwan's politics makes them out to be. Schubert has made a career out of researching the Taishang; his excellent 2010 paper on them is publicly available in PDF format. Sadly, the Taishang are most definitely a kind of Trojan Horse, as Schubert's own work shows, they simply regurgitate a gumbo of KMT and China propaganda draped in the usual neoliberal cloaking, the kind of stuff that we've grown used to hearing over the years from KMTers in Taiwan and abroad. You know it: China is inevitable, we must come to some kind of accommodation (never concretely specified), we must ship all our industries to China, it will hurt but in the long run we'll grow again, the free market will solve all the political problems between the two sides. It's a rhetoric in many ways long since divorced from reality. The political function of this discourse is obvious.

Interestingly none of the Taishang whose words Schubert placed in the paper expressed hatred or dislike of the Chinese. That's very significant, unless he heard such talk but chose not to include it.

They are also assuming all the characteristics of a typical long-term expat population: nostalgia for the Taiwan they knew, clustering in locations, establishing their own schools, keeping to themselves, eating familiar foods, and not mixing much with the locals. The latter evolution is much more interesting; their economic and political ideas are stale, parochial, and not very imaginative or insightful. Indeed, much of their economic and political thinking appears to be more akin to the kind of elaborate rationalizations that expats develop when they choose to live long-term in another country, an apologetic apparatus rather than a serious critique. Read in that light, their words actually make more sense. For example, no one actually observing reality can seriously believe that Taiwan becomes more competitive when its businessmen leave to build factories elsewhere or that the free market will create a political solution acceptable to both sides. Those statements read better as rationalizations for re-locating to China.

One thing the Taishang verbiage suggests, which doesn't get much exploration: given China's ultimate goals, is a robust Taiwan China policy even possible? The pro-Taiwan side cannot formulate a policy because China is obdurate; may as well try to form a policy to stop the fall of night. Similarly, the KMT's policy is to keep political talks as far down the road as possible while hollowing out the economy to the extent possible. There's no policy there either. And in both parties individual politicians are operating on an every-man-for-himself policy. That hurts the DPP much more than the KMT...

Taishang come in pro-Taiwan and pro-China flavors, just like politics back home in Taiwan. Many might argue that they will be more pro-China than the local population, but in fact, in this election, they just aren't coming home... Rabidly pro-China WantWant China Times complains about it:
When compared to the 250,000 to 300,000 Taiwanese who returned from China to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential and legislative elections, bookings of plane tickets reveal that only some 50,000 will be doing so for this year's elections.
Meanwhile tons of images of the massive rallies and walks this weekend in Taipei for Sean Lien and Ko Wen-je. Ko's also had people of all ages with a huge leavening of young people, while the Sean Lien rally was predominantly geriatric. That is not as bad as it seems for this election -- the old often vote, the young often do not. If you want images, the excellent photographer Dans is pro-KMT and has images of the Lien rally. Apple Daily has Ko with 150K people participating and images here. If you're on Facebook, the feed of redoubtable Taiwan expert J Michael Cole also has a pile of photos from the Ko events.
EVENT: Taiwan Brain Trust 2014 International Conference on New Asian Dynamics and the Role of Taiwan
Saturday December 6, 2014
The Westin Taipei
Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan Brain Trust, Taiwan
Project 2049 Institute, US (Click read more for speakers)

Taipei: Sean Lien follies continue

The government gives a comprehensive list of warnings for the Dajia River.

Sean Lien continues to spout nonsense, to the great amusement of all. Among many lowlights of his campaign include a proposal to solve the stray dog problem by dumping the city's stray dogs down in Chiayi -- a very revealing moment showing how the KMT ruling core views Taiwan outside of Taipei -- it is simply a place to dump their waste, the funeral home fiasco, and the claim that he had visited all 600 precincts of Taipei, when the city only has 400 or so. Local netizens have been mourning the Nov 29 arrival of the election, saying that it is too soon. They want more time so as to enjoy Lien's flow of silliness to its fullest.

Lien's latest eye-roller was his suggestion to rename Shifu Road, City Hall Road, after former President Chiang Ching-kuo, made the other day at a rally. The city government's household registration office quickly came out to point out just how silly that was: there's a process for renaming roads, which Lien appears not to have considered. Imagine that.... Apple Daily posted a Liberty Times report:
The statement says that Shifu Road runs from #1 (City Hall) to #45 (Taipei 101!!), for a total of 14 registered addresses. According to the statement, a fifth of the households along the road have to apply for the change (change comes from within, in fine Buddhist fashion). Then a survey has to be performed, and 3/4 of the households must agree. The name change must then be submitted to the City Council for majority approval.

It almost looks as if the ghost of Chen Shui-bian is haunting the KMT again, for Ketagalan Blvd in front of the Presidential Palace was named Chieh-shou Road (=Long Live Chiang Kai-shek) before Chen changed it. Seems some KMTers want to get in some retaliation...

On a more serious note, this process is why the local city governments run by the DPP have never changed the colonialist road names in their cities: few households and businesses would want to go through the trouble of changing their addresses, getting new namecards and IDs, and so on, so name changes are difficult.
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ko Wiretap case takes ominous turn

Poster for Taichung mayoral candidate Hu and a local candidate in an aboriginal area.

The wiretap case in Taipei took a turn for the ugly:
On November 4, Ko aides said they found signs of wiretaps at his policy center, with wires having been installed in a telephone exchange which would have made it possible to tap two phones inside the policy center. The incident led to a war of words between the Ko camp and the campaign of his Kuomintang opponent, Sean Lien, accusing each other of being behind the bugging of phones.

The case took a new turn Friday evening, when prosecutors questioned two private detectives from Yilan County. The two, Wu Te-yi and Lin Chun-hung, had been found to have left prints on the telephone box inside the building, reports said.

After questioning them, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office requested their detention, but the court ruled early Saturday morning that there was not sufficient ground to hold them and ordered them set free without bail instead. Prosecutors said they would look at the court ruling before deciding whether or not to appeal against the two men’s release.
One of Ko's aides, surnamed Peng, knew one of the detectives. The police arrested and jailed Peng but the two detectives were released even though -- yep -- they had fingerprint evidence. They also had video from outside the building showing the two men entering, according to Apple Daily, in the company of a staffer from the Ko campaign. The inference the judicial system wants the public to make appears to be that Ko staged this himself, with Peng as the go-between and the detectives planting the wires.

Yeah, right.

Peng refuses to pay bail, since he is innocent, he says. Meaning that Peng is locked up and can't directly challenge anything said about him -- so now you know maybe why he was locked up and the detectives are free to disappear until after the election, as Maddog pointed out on Twitter yesterday.

As many observers have pointed out, detective agencies are untrustworthy and often do things to drum up business. Like fake wiretaps, for instance.
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At Last: Back on the Bike + links

I haven't done a mountain ride in over two months, but today my friend Merican Teachr and I cut through the haze to climb up to Guguan. Pics below the Daily Links, click on READ MORE...
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Then and Now

Paul Barclay, who runs the East Asia Image Collection at Lafayette College is traveling in Taiwan at the moment. If you get the chance, go listen to him talk, he's wonderful. A friend traveling with him in central Taiwan posted this Japanese era pic captioned A Bamboo Bridge in Savage District  (original link). This picture was taken facing more or less east along the river.

Just for fun, I dug up a modern image I took of it on a ride several years ago. It is now the location of the Jiji Weir (my pic faces north). The old Japanese era road follows what is now the 152 on the north bank of the river, parallel to but above the 16, along the train to Jiji and Shuili, I believe. Corrections welcome.

Jonathan Burke, a friend on Facebook, posted this pic. He wrote:
Eighty years of history in two photos; the first was taken in 1935, the second was taken in 2014. The photos show a house belonging to the Paiwan people (one of Taiwan's indigenous tribes); the shot was taken in the era of Japanese occupation and the house was preserved as a historical site. After decades of neglect it has been renovated. Both photos feature the same person; first as a boy in 1935, then as a 92 year old man in the second photo.
Way cool.
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Watering a local garden.

Thinking Taiwan is rocking the intertubes as the election approaches with a bouquet of great stuff. On an obscure candidate for mayor in Taipei:
To run for mayor of Taipei, a candidate must pay a NT$2 million (roughly US$66,000) deposit. And if said candidate doesn’t receive more than 10% of the vote, the money will not be returned. Uncle Chao Yan-ching is definitely not getting his NT$2 million back. So the question on everyone’s mind is: “Why is he running?”
The awesome Wen-ti Sung on campaign ads (same post at CPI blog):
After the televised debate between Lien and Ko, this week the campaign finally entered Act 3, the “get-out-the-vote positive reinforcement ads” phase. Lien posted his presumably final campaign ad. Titled “One World,” it is a 2 minute-long music video featuring young breakdancers busting their moves to an upbeat tune. Towards the end a caption appears to defend Lien’s privileged upbringing: “Dancing is about technique and focus — one’s ‘background’ has nothing to do with it!”
J Michael on the KMT's latest absurd campaign tactics -- claiming Ko Wen-je murdered people for their organs:
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has said it would investigate the matter, as if government agencies under the current administration hadn’t launched enough investigations already against Ko and his supporters, a tactic oddly reminiscent of those used against DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during the 2012 elections. Ko’s camp has said it would take legal action against the accusers.
...and its link collection, the Taiwan Insider. There are many good pieces from earlier this month, like Michal Thim's piece on the military.

The China Policy Institute blog is also having a blogfest in honor of the upcoming elections. Tons of great stuff! My man Michal Thim is also on the spot with a piece on the 9 in 1 elections on the 29th:
Thirdly, the 9-in-1 elections are the first ballots following the turbulent events of the Sunflower Movement (and similar student protests in Hong Kong). They give voters their first opportunity to express their opinion other than to responding to pollsters’ questions. Like elsewhere, mid-term elections present an opportunity to express displeasure with the government by giving the ruling party a hard time, even if it is at the local level. Will the immensely unpopular administration of President Ma Ying-jeou sink the KMT’s election prospects?
Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley has a good one on film and public memory:
When Japan surrendered in 1945, Li Xianglan had a dramatic escape from prosecution for treason by the Chinese Nationalists. She was saved in time when the birth document which proves Li’s identity as Japanese, not Chinese, was finally smuggled into the country inside a doll. After being sent back to Japan in 1946, Li reassumed her birth name and continued to pursue an acting career with Akira Kurosawa and Charlie Chaplin, Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema. She later married a diplomat in the US, became a television journalist in the 1960s and was then elected to the Japanese Diet in 1974 where she served for 18 years. In 2005, she publicly requested Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi not to visit Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Thereafter the media in mainland China described her as someone who ‘transformed herself from an abettor in Japan’s aggression towards China to a messenger of peace’.
On the cross-strait investment situation:
After the KMT returned to the Presidential office in May 2008, Taiwan embarked on numerous economic negotiations with China over the following two years. The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) resumed negotiations in June 2008; three direct links – postal, transportation and trade – officially opened on December 15, 2008. Furthermore, in terms of economic cooperation, in June 2009, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs lifted restrictions on mainland investment in Taiwan. Up to June 2012, there were 408 cases of Chinese investment in Taiwan, of which 204 were in manufacturing; 161 cases in the service sector; 43 cases in public construction. Chinese investment in Taiwan totalled 350 million USD.
On the soft power of local elections:
Democracy is certainly Taiwan’s pride. And Taiwan’s presidential elections indeed make quite an impact on the feelings of many mainland Chinese (netizen). Just read for instance, the 2012 article in the Hong Kong Cheng Ming Monthly (no. 441) entitled “The presidential election in Taiwan evokes the mainland’s yearning for democracy” – a yearning, which sometimes makes use of sarcastic expressions, like in the online comment by one Chinese fellow shortly before Taiwan’s 2012 presidential elections: “For mainland Chinese to see the presidential election in Taiwan and particularly the TV debate between presidential candidates, is just like watching a eunuch looking at an erotic picture: they are excited but helpless to do anything.”
In the Diplomat, Cole on the attack of the KMT dinosaurs:
Besides the fact that ethnic politics have nothing to do with governance of the city, the most striking aspects of the remarks made by the trio (and a few others in the Lien camp who joined them) are their lack of sensitivity, their divisive nature, and the fact that such language is oddly reminiscent of the things we hear across the Taiwan Strait in Beijing — in other words, anti-Japan screeds and the other side of the same coin, Han chauvinism. The acid brimmed over: Ko was a “traitor” to the Han race, someone who couldn’t be allowed to govern “the capital of China” (confronted with this, the speaker claims he misspoke). Even Ko’s ancestors were targeted, with Lien Chan claiming (wrongly) that one of his grandfathers was a willing official in the Japanese colonial government (Taiwan was part of Japan between 1895 until 1945). Hau Pei-tsun also weighed in with an even wider net to include those who’d had a privileged status under the Japanese system. By association, anyone who supports Ko’s run for mayor is a brainwashed Japanese colonial subject, which Hau maintains includes former president Lee Teng-hui, a man who ironically gave senior jobs in government to both Lien and Hau Srs.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taipei Mayoral Election Roundup: last call for polls

A tiny hunting spider waits on a flower. Since I haven't been riding much this last month, you'll just have to put up with bug pics.

UPDATE: UDN has nifty poll tracking page.

I was discussing the likely outcome of the elections with Courtney Donovan Smith, the central Taiwan ICRT guy who runs the incredibly useful Taiwan News in English group on Facebook. The group is having its first get-together Nov 24 (venue to be announced) and we're all going to talk about the elections and then get really drunk and discuss the Sean Lien campaign and laugh til we puke. Because, as Frozen Garlic notes in another stupendously excellent and minutely detailed analysis of the Taipei race, the Sean Lien campaign is like the worst campaign in human history. This post from Froze was uber informative and perceptive and hilarious, read it all:
...That’s an impressive list of incompetency and clueless blunders, but Sean Lien’s effort beats them all. His braintrust has consistently failed to understand one of the most basic concepts in campaigning: framing. Every graduate student (and many undergraduates) in political science for the last quarter century has read News That Matters, a study in which scholars used fake news clips to show that people responded differently when different topics were presented. Heck, you don’t even have to read a book to understand this – most people know it instinctively. You will do better if voters are thinking about issues that they think you are better on than if they are thinking about issues that they think your opponent is better on. The Lien campaign has pigheadedly insisted on repeatedly forcing us to think about Lien’s privileged birth, his wealth, corruption, honesty, personal achievements, and character. The stupidest instance of this was a couple of weeks ago when the Pingtung County government was found to have leaked documents about a surprise inspection for a cooking oil factory. Up to that point, the DPP had completely owned the cooking oil issue. However, this was a perfect opportunity for the KMT to scream that the DPP was actually the one at fault and blur responsibility. Lien should have shut up and let this story dominate the media for a week. Instead, he changed the topic by telling reporters that the Buddha had come from a rich family. How could the media resist such an invitation? Ko responded with a sarcastic “a-mi-to-fo,” a monk came forward claiming that he had advised Lien but that Lien had completely missed his point, talk show hosts had another round of debates about whether a fortunate birth should disqualify someone from public service, and no one talked about cooking oil for a few days...
For weeks I have been having the same problem Froze has been having: when you look at the numbers, it is impossible to imagine Lien losing. And yet, the polls and the slapstick silliness of his campaign seem to suggest that he is going to burn his own house down and then wonder where all the ashes came from... or perhaps not even notice that the house burnt down, and start preparing for his 2016 Presidential run. O Lord, if you ever loved your people, send us Sean Lien in 2016.

Ben Goren also checked in with great stuff at the China Policy Institute blog. Describing watching the debate between Ko and Lien, he writes:
As I watched Ko face questioning about his “hatred” of the Republic of China and Lien try to explain how his policies would be beneficial, the smartphone of the Taiwanese voter at my side exploded in a storm of social media notifications, mostly along the lines of “OMG!”, and “Not fair”. When Ko was asked to convince the public he wasn’t guilty of fraud and graft at NTU Hospital, and Lien was asked how he could be so brave as to risk his life to serve the public, said smartphone almost melted in an tsunami of “LOL!” and, a perennial favourite where Lien’s campaign is concerned, “WTF?” It might not be the most elegant or detailed form of opinion sharing, but it is nevertheless instant feedback. Almost immediately Ko won the debate, just for being a victim to a sly trick. When the Lien camp later shrugged and said that that particular rule wasn’t discussed beforehand, it gave the public a glimpse of the dark win-at-all-costs underbelly of the party. For a candidate seeking to convince the public to trust him, letting this happen was a serious error in leadership. The public were then justified in asking, “If Lien couldn’t even lead his campaign team, and make wise decisions, how could he be trusted as Mayor?” Following this slow motion car crash, Lien had a lot of work to do just to sound plausible again, and to his credit he performed fairly adequately in the second part of the debate. Then he mentioned Chen.
The whole thing is great, of course.

The awfulness of Lien is hiding another issue that needs to be brought out into the light. Lien ran in the KMT primary against Ting Shou-chung. Ting is exactly the kind of politician any party would want, a hard working devotee of the party with many years toiling in its ranks, competent, respected, and policy oriented. He deserves a shot at stardom. But the KMT is an ethnic ruling party and Ting is not of the caste that is considered the ruling caste. He can't rise to Taipei mayor because the KMT sees the mayoralty as the fief for the children of members of the mainlander ruling caste, to carry on control of the KMT's colonial capital and the continuation of the ruling caste's power. Hence Ma, the son of a general; Hau, the son of longtime heavyweight Hau Pei-tsun, and now Sean Lien, the son of honorary chairman Lien Chan, parachuted into Taipei to win by right of caste inheritance. This caste-based perception of who should rule may come back to haunt KMT New Taipei Mayor candidate Eric Chu, who will likely beat the hapless DPP ideologue and former premier Yu Shyi-kun in New Taipei city (which, in case you've forgotten, is more populous than Taipei) when Chu attempts to run for President in 2016 under the KMT banner.

A lawyer on the campaign team of Kaohsiung KMT candidate Yang Chiu-hsing called on Ma to step down. Will Ma step down as Chairman if the KMT is blown out in the election? I don't see that as very likely. No one immediately jumps to mind as a possible successor to Ma if he steps down, except perhaps the aforementioned Chu. Readers may recall that Ma has appointed a passel of KMT heavyweights as vice-chairman, insuring a nasty succession struggle between the many vice-chairman. Hence he may be permitted to stay on simply to prevent that struggle from rending the KMT to bits. After he steps down as President, though, all these problems may quickly come to a head... Ma's vicious, lame performance in office has not only harmed Taiwan, he's badly damaged the KMT as well.

Because the KMT is a caste-based party at its heart which has traditionally ruled by preventing local factions and politicians from operating on a regional and national scale and challenging its power, it can't bring in new talent from the hinterlands to regenerate the party like the US parties can. It can only continue its caste-based ruling system by having caste members give birth to new caste members. But so many of that caste have kids who are citizens of foreign countries, a class privilege marker... and one that has reduced the number of the next generation available and willing to carry on the KMT caste system...

Getting back to Ting, not running Ting in Taipei was just stupid. Not only would Ting have won handily, since he is a credible human being in many ways, but had they run Ting, the DPP probably would have been forced to run a credible candidate of its own and expend vital party resources in a losing cause. Instead, Ko Wen-je ran on a shoestring, has ceased taking new donations, and run an increasingly competent and low key campaign that is actually looking like it is on the verge of a historic victory. And it has cost the DPP very little.

A piece by Anonymous at Thinking Taiwan argues that a fundamental re-arrangement is occurring with the Ko campaign.

Meanwhile, there was another set of truly insensitive and silly remarks today from Sean Lien. He's a totally creative candidate, constantly unveiling new facets of blithering ignorance and blundering offensiveness from angles you never would have imagined. The man has depths.

Premier Hau, just 96 years old but came of age in the 14th century, once again called down the curses of the KMT gods on Ko Wen-je, saying that Ko is Japanese (more or less). Jason Hu in Taichung never says anything that colossally stupid in public, which is probably why his poll numbers are much better than Sean Lien's. O Lord, if you have ever loved your people, give us Sean Lien in 2016 with 99 year old Hau as his attack dog.

Today was the last day polls could be published. The KMT news organ rounded up a bunch.
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Sad News: Nat Bellocchi (1926-2014) passes

News from a friend:

We are saddened to let you know that former AIT Chairman Nat Bellocchi passed away in his sleep in Sunday morning, 16 November 2014. Below is a brief summary of his life, and we pray for his family and for his soul.

We will dearly miss him, as he was a strong supporter of freedom and democracy for Taiwan, and didn’t hesitate to speak out for Taiwan.

His two most recent commentaries were on President Obama’s trip to Beijing:
and on the protests in Hong Kong:
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Taipei Mayoral Election: Lien Chan is all kinds of awesome

Spider guarding her young.

Election junkies: China Policy Institute blog run by Jon Sullivan will be hosting a special issue on Taiwan and the elections. The line-up looks fabulous. And trawl through the previous posts of Frozen Garlic, there's some great stuff there.

Lien Chan, Honorary KMT Chairman for Life, father of Sean Lien, current KMT candidate for Mayor of Taipei, has spoken (in Chinese)(Taipei Times) on the election, attacking Ko in no uncertain terms. He's so wonderful. He should really speak at KMT campaign events across the nation. Not for nothing did a sharp friend of mine describe the Lien clan as Lee Teng-hui's gift to the DPP....

The elder Lien delivered us his undying wisdom....
“Ever since the KMT lost power in 2000, [then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration] started implementing a series of ‘de-Sinicization’ policies, forcing children at the age of 11 or 12 to receive non-Sinicized education,” Lien Chan said in his speech.

“We were saddened to see Chinese ethics, traditional morality and history being twisted to such an extent. As for those children who grew up being fed erroneous ideas, they are now in their 20s or 30s and may have different occupations, such as in the media or Internet sectors,” he added. “As you can all see, we [myself and my son] have fallen victim to distorted comments online and in the media that have unnerved our society.”
De-Sinicization is KMT code for Chen Shui-bian's policies of removing markers of KMT colonialism in Taiwan. Whenever you see it used to describe Chen or Lee Teng-hui, you know you're looking at KMT propaganda. Lien is especially classic in attributing the internet and media comments to de-Sinicization. That is a significant advance over the usual complaints about de-Sinicization. 

He went on to deliver a couple of more blasts at his son's opponent, Ko Wen-je:
He then took aim at Ko, saying that as the third-generation descendant of a man who served the Japanese colonial government, Ko had received “imperialization” education and therefore dismisses everything pertaining to “Zhonghua culture” (中華文化), including its values and history.
At another venue he added:
“I absolutely cannot stand the thought of having someone whose grandfather changed his surname to a Japanese one during the Japanese colonial era as mayor of Taipei. He [Ko] calls himself a commoner and us the privileged few, but I call him a ‘bastard,’” he said.
Labeling Ko anti-China, under control of the pro-independence forces, and Japanese, is the KMT way of trying to get the deep Blue pro-KMT crowd to come out. I doubt it will work; when your candidate's nickname is "God pig" after the pigs fattened for religious sacrifice in local religious traditions, it's going to be uphill sledding.

Lien also took a slap at the Sunflower Movement:
“Because of the poorly revised textbooks, these students think they can publicly declare that they are not Chinese. They have the entire day to do nothing except surf the Internet and form something akin to an online army that propagates malicious rumors,” Lien Chan said. “It was all their [the Sunflower participants’] doing.”
Not a word of this needed to be said, a not a word of it will impress outside of the deep Blue voters. It wouldn't be surprising if this cost Sean Lien votes, especially from a public that is hungry to hear about bread and butter issues and which reveres the Sunflowers. Indeed, if they had treated Sean Lien as a traditional candidate who would spread around construction money, serve the public, and so on, they might have been better off...

Today's TVBS poll had Ko up by 13 over Lien. The KMT and its deep Blue supporters are feeling deeply threatened, not only by the short-term possibilities of the election, but also by the long-term trends. The young in Taiwan are completely unmoved by the KMT's faux Chinese identity and are busily working out their own Taiwan identity. That is why current KMT mayor Hau's elder father, former Premier Hau Pei-tsun, came out the other day to (hilariously) declare that Ko's election would mean the end of the ROC. They feel in their bones the turning of a page of history, and are reacting accordingly....

Ko update: On the Facebook of Ko's wife, a highly perceptive and educated woman, people are warning her and her husband to watch out. She posted a pic of the thank-you card the Liens had sent Ko after he had operated on Sean Lien, and said that they had given him a bottle of liquor which cost $400 but which they had purchased on sale at $160....

UPDATE: A commenter below observes:
She did so only after Sean Lien's mother claimed at a rally one day earlier (Nov 15) that Ko was not among the four doctors who treated Sean Lien for his gunshot wound, implying Ko was lying about having treated Lien.
Thanks, I didn't know who had said it. The other comments are good too, don't miss them.

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