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Friday, October 20, 2006


Taipei Mayoral Election 2006: Pan-Blue Cohesion Edition

Yesterday the Taipei Times reported that People First Party Chairman James “The Artful Tax Dodger” Soong (宋楚瑜) has finally decided to give his supporters the news they’ve been waiting for and officially threw his greasy hat into the Taipei City mayoral election ring.

But as ever, Soong giveth with one hand and taketh with another. His candidacy now threatens to split the pan-blue vote with the KMT candidate (and son of former premier Hau Pei-tsun/郝伯村) Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who had been something of a favorite up until yesterday. Soong has reportedly answered calls by Handsome KMT Chairman Ma “Will Someone Please Just F**king Listen To Me For Once?” Ying-jeou (馬英九) to maintain pan-blue solidarity in Taipei with the dubious promise to resign his chairmanship of the PFP and run as an independent.

Soong’s odd decision to head off a pan-blue schism by offering to run under the Jolly Roger of independent candidacy (timed, curiously, to coincide with the release of his book, How to Publicly Screw Your Friends Over the Jimmy Soong Way) will hardly be of help to Hau, who has been bashed by members of the blue fringe for the unforgivable sin of whoring himself out to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during his shameful stint as the head of Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration from 2001-2003. Soong’s candidacy (independent or no) will now provide a focal point for the sizeable number of hardcore anti-Chen pan-blue supporters who still feel the need to publicly vent (spew?) more bile toward traitors like “Apostate” Hau and anyone they perceive as playing a part in the epic implosion of their Anti-Chen campaign. Soong himself nicely set the tone for his campaign by spanking Hau over his celebrated pedigree and his connections to Ma, who as Taipei mayor is being blamed for not giving out permanent protest permits to the Anti-Chen campaign:
"We should not depend on `faction politics' in Taiwan ... In choosing the future Taipei mayor, residents should consider candidates' abilities, instead of asking what a candidate's father or his party chairman can do..."


But Soong may actually end up grabbing a smaller piece of the wingnut vote than he originally planned, since professional gadfly/ professed lawmaker/ profuse conspiracy theorist Li Ao (李傲) announced his own independent candidacy this weekend. Li has long courted the blue fringe vote with his wild n’ wacky claims, like when he said that he had proof of the CIA’s knowledge of President Chen’s “staged” shooting in 2004, or when he threatened to “out” Soong as being in bed with arms traders and (what else?) the CIA, or when he accused former president Lee Teng-hui of having a tumor in his spleen in 2000 (planted there, no doubt, by the CIA). The China Post succinctly captures Li’s strategic “we must destroy this village to save it” attitude toward his fellow campaigners:
Li said his running in the race is not meant to destroy the solidarity of the so-called pan-blue camp, but stressed he will do everything he can to defeat the other candidates...

On the other side of the campaign trough we have indomitable former mayor of Kaohsiung and recovering aborigine Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) running under the banner of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and perennial third place seat warmer Clara Chou (周玉蔻) going through the motions for the TSU.

It’s been a tough year for Our Frank, what with his ignominious retreat from the premiership this past January and the crap he’s caught in the media over his handling of the Kaohsiung Sinkhole MRT project. Frank seeks to set himself apart from his pan-blue competitors by emphasizing his past experience of running a major city and basically praying that voters will be so sick of pan-blue in-fighting that they’ll forget he’s even connected with President Chen. The wealth of pan-blue competitors in the Taipei race can only help his chances; as Michael pointed out in his own analysis of the Soong announcement, public support of the blues has fallen off since the Depose Chen movement imploded, putting Frank in second place behind Hau. (Be sure to read Michael’s entertaining addenda concerning push-polls at the bottom of the linked post).

And what of the TSU’s Ms. Chou? It seems that other than her attempt to grab headlines in July by picking a fight with the DPP’s New Tide faction (is there still such a thing?) the only thing her campaign has going for it is the Official Lee Teng-hui Seal Of Approval™, something that doesn’t hold quite as much water as it did four years ago. If anything, Chou’s candidacy exists to remind voters that there is still indeed a TSU for the DPP to push around.

Given the “meh” nature of the pan-green campaigns in Taipei (I’ll cover the awesome Chen Chu’s /陳菊 quest for the Kaohsiung mayorship in another post), I “boldly” predict a whole lot of ink will be spilled in coming weeks over the endless bickering among the Blues, but I don’t think the “hard blue” SS (that’s “Soong Supporters”) have enough political mojo left in the tank to become a serious threat to Hau’s campaign. Soong will snipe at Hau, Ma and Hsieh comfortably from his consolidated position at the head of the blue fringe, and in the end we’ll have a two-way race between Hau and Hsieh with Hau winning by a decent amount. Furthermore, I predict with Amazing Criswell-like certainty that the defeated Frank Hsieh will suddenly disappear alone into the Central Mountain Range where he will be occasionally spotted by betel nut farmers weeping uncontrollably while listening to Bunun tribal music on his iPod.

You heard it here first.

Cross-posted at Wandering to Tamshui

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At 1:59 PM, Blogger STOP Ma said...

True to my blog name, I will comment on the Taipei Times editorial that you linked to. This particular conclusive excerpt is off-the-mark in my opinion.

"Maybe the problem is not Ma's inability to lead, but his unwillingness to make tough decisions and then stick with them."

Firstly, "making tough decisions" and "sticking with them" is inherently part of "leadership". I really don't know how the editorialist can separate the two.

Secondly, PandaMa's flaws are far more eggregious than just "leadership" issues. "Leadership" (especially in Taiwan) is a general term that includes "PR" -- which PandaMa is quite good at. It's time the pan-greens get past the "leadership" issue and start attacking his "management" skills -- an issue to which he is far more vulnerable.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Wulingren said...

Great post! I just saw a fairly big crowd from the cab on my return to Beitou. I scanned the scene and noticed a stage set up on the side of the road. Frank Hsieh was standing there with his arms raised in the air; he was working the crowd. Looked like a good show.

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank Hsieh did an excellent job as mayor of Kaohsiung, even taking into account the B.O.T. scandal. It has more direction, more improvements, more vision than Taipei and was starting from a much worse state. That there is even talk of a rivalry between Taipei and Kaohsiung says a lot about what Frank Hsieh has done for Kaohsiung.

Has anyone ever blogged on the circus that is Kaohsiung City Council? A councilor that becomes a Buddhist monk because he is about to be indicted? The general assumption that in the last term, the ENTIRE city council was corrupt, but only some got caught? Man, if you can get SOME things done in a city like that, you deserve to be mayor of Taipei.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger STOP Ma said...

If Frank Hsieh wants to become Mayor of Taipei, I would advise him to stop doing what the red-ants have been doing against Chen.

From Taiwan News:

Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP's) candidate in the December 9 mayoral election in Taipei City, challenged his opposition Kuomintang rival, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), yesterday to prove his innocence in an allegation that he has used public money to pay his water, electricity and phone bills.

(roll eyes)(sigh.) When are politicians in Taiwan going to realize that, in a democracy, you are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

Hearing this from Hsieh is very disappointing.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Stop_Ma,

Frank Hsieh has to do that. Four years ago, the DPP candidate took exactly that approach and failed miserably. Hau's problem goes far beyond that phone bill thing. All the favorable media coverages in Ma fashion don't come free. Was Hau really qualified as the Secretary of Red Cross Society? Did Hau really deserve the NTU tenureship? Whether it's Soong, Ma, Lian, Hau, Hu, Chiang, whoever, it makes no difference, they took advantage of ordinary people, public resources have been wasted in their PR efforts, through the media or even the educational facilities, people would be made to worship them. Yeah, I know, I am really getting way off the topic. However, the thing is that, if Frank Hsieh's really seriously about winning, this "raising awareness" approach would be his only option. On the technical side, of course there's plenty of room for improvement, but in principle he has to remind people of the really corrupted ones, no way around it.



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