PFP Candidate exploits traditional Taiwanese religious sensitivities (with updates)
Here is the next installment in my series on the relationship between religion and politics in Taiwanese society (Walk through the colon):
I've been sitting on this for a few days now; I just haven't had the time to put it down into words. On Friday--Mid-Autumn Festival--I was sitting in the Xin Beitou Starbucks trying to finish up a translation I have been working on for what seems like ages. I took a sip from my latte...
And then suddenly I heard the sound of ritual drumming outside--you know, those big red drums. I looked out the window and there was a procession of little trucks going by. They are the kind of trucks that could represent a religious or a political procession. Of course, anyone who read my last post (the one linked to above) knows that I see little distinction.
It was obvious that they were moving in a circular pattern--the sound of drumming would subside and then return again, louder and louder, and then softer.
At first, I thought it was simply a celebration for Mid-Autumn Festival. I was wrong--well sort of.
I soon found out that the procession was for the People's First Party (PFP) Candidate for Taipei City Councilor in Beitou, Wang Yu-cheng. Or is he running for re-election?
The PFP, for those who don't know, is the KMT-splinter party that was founded by James Soong.
When I walked outside, I noticed a sizeable crowd in front of an open-front shop. This is what I saw:
The first thing that's clear is the ritual altar draped in red in front of the shop, over which is a large picture of the candidate--Wang Yu-cheng. It says: "Don't distinguish between blue and green; just distinguish who is capable."
If you look inside the building (a very red experience), there is a giant image of Councilor Wang on the back wall. On the side wall, a smiling image of James Soong. You know, the primogenitor, or the sage--at least to his followers (when are we going to get the post on Soong's retaining Chiang Kai-shek's aura?). People were also chanting Soong's name.
There is more to this story and more to this image, but I'm getting tired. It turns out that the building that was the shrine to Nourish the City (育城) Wang on Mid-Autumn Festival became his headquarters.
Then the procession suddenly made sense to me. On the one hand, I was reminded of the imperial tour that I wrote about in my ancestor worship post. On the other, the military connotations were striking. It was like an army seizing the locale, and setting up its base. Or perhaps they are the same thing--the two hands.
Is Beitou now PFP territory? Has it always been? Perhaps we will all have to go light incense in front of the Wang family altar.
UPDATE: See Michael's words about James Soong today here and here.
UPDATE: Tim Maddog has more on Wang Yu-cheng--alias Mike Wang--in the comments. Also check out Tim's post from June of last year on Mr. Wang's activities making stuff up. Tim also wonders if the guy wearing orange in the picture above is the same as this guy, who is Wang's accomplice.
UPDATE: Jerome Keating has more on the head of the PFP, James Soong's outrageous behavior on National Day:
Soong and People First Party (PFP) cohorts attended the national ceremonies dapperly dressed in red suits, shirts and ties. It is unclear whether they wanted to demonstrate their alignment with Shih or to seek to take leadership of his group. Regardless, they immediately caused a disturbance. First they tried to disrupt the President's speech; then they tried to disrupt the ceremonies and marching guard. Scuffling took place, but no one was seriously hurt. They were escorted out.
Such behavior can be tolerated in idealistic but immature youths who have no sense of the history and dignity of the national day and are trying to make a point to their elders. However, to have the leader of one of Taiwan's major parties so perform in public does not speak well of his national leadership potential or his concept of democracy. These were not the actions of a Statesman.
The moment was not lost on Stephen Young, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. When asked by reporters what he thought of Soong's actions, Young answered in excellent Mandarin that it was inappropriate for such a day and directed the reporters to pose the same question to James Soong. Young went on to say that in a mature democracy, statesmen will wait until the courts have made a judgment before laying blame on others.
In Soong's actions and protest, we find a continued growing sense of desperation. There is the feeling of a man whose time and opportunities are running out. Soong has still not declared whether he will run for Taipei Mayor; his latest promise was that he would make up his mind after the National Day. I have written on him several times and extensively on June 10. He continues playing dangerous games risking alienation from some pan-blue supporters while courting others.
The moment of truth is coming for James Soong. Elections are not won by accolades from Shih's Red Guard. He is starting to grasp at straws.
Taiwan politics, religion, Taipei, Wang Yu-cheng, James Soong, Beitou