Fri, Dec 08, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Campaign ad nauseam

By Daniel Mojahedi

Once again, another election is upon us. If you live in Taipei, you do not need to know anything about elections to understand this, for the streets, buildings and parks of the city are filled with every kind of campaign advertising you can imagine.

These ads are all the same. They show a picture of the candidate in some joyous or thought- ful pose, have their names written in large, bold characters, show their ballot number (just in case you forget their name) and often offer some short, witty and utterly forgettable phrase in Chinese that says little. Sadly, once elected our papers become inundated with their same friendly-yet-thoughtful poses, speaking a lot, yet still saying surprisingly little.

The worst thing about these ads is the saturation in which they are found. The campaign flags are the worst. They are placed only centimeters apart along the city's streets and parks and are somewhat of an eyesore.

The logic to this fails me. I cannot imagine anybody saying, "I don't know much about politics, but this guy has enough campaign flags along the road that I could walk from my home to the MRT on a rainy day without getting my hair wet, so I think I will vote for him."

Pan-blue voters are going to vote pan-blue, and pan-green voters are going to vote pan-green. More moderate voters, which are the only ones a campaign could really sway, are going to roll their eyes and hope for more moderation from their candidates. So putting up literally thousands of advertisements does little.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is a fine thing that people in Taiwan can now vote freely; it is sadly somewhat of a rarity to be able to do so in Asia. However, there needs to be a little tact and self control in how these campaigns are run. There should be enough advertisements that the average citizen can think, "Well, look. Mr Wang is running for City Counselor. Fascinating," and then be able to go on with his day in peace.

The way it is now, people on the streets are constantly bombarded by a campaign that serves only to annoy.

The greatest tragedy about it all is that these candidates claim to care so much about this city, yet are willing to desecrate it using political tactics that do little to serve their purposes.

It would serve the candidates and, most importantly, the citizens of Taipei if the city government would establish zoning laws about where candidates can and cannot place their ads.

This would serve the candidates and the party they represent by saving them literally millions of dollars in campaign expenses. And the law would not be too difficult to enforce since candidates for opposing parties often hold press conferences decrying even the smallest infraction of the law by their rivals.

In conclusion, if someone wants to run for office, fine. But they should not do so at the expense of the city's beauty or its citizens' well-being.

Daniel Mojahedi


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