Sat, May 24, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's NewsWatch: Live! in Taipei: Inaugural fossils

"Everyone in the house say 'Hello, Ma Ying-jeou' ... Yeah, he's our xinde zongtong."

With these breathtaking lyrics from pseudo-rapper Wang Lee-hom (王力宏), our dear island this week officially drove a nail into the coffin of A-bian’s (陳水扁) sorry-ass term.

Now starts the heavily gelled era of Shuaige-in-Chief Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

It also begins my official banishment from Wellcome Supermarkets nationwide, after I tried to set fire to a stack of NT$699 “Jogging Ma” figurines stacked next to the register.

Ma mania is one thing. Being confronted with a plastic army of Hello Kitty-meets-cult-of-Mao kitsch every time I buy my weekly supply of Taiwan Beer and extra strong toilet paper — that’s another.

Every man has his breaking point.

Yes, it was the inauguration that kept on giving. And giving. I haven’t seen this much unnecessary pomp, quaint feudal rituals, gratuitous panda stunts and plastic smiles since Prince Charles and Princess Diana tied the knot.

Maybe it’s just me, but the sight of all those grisly, grizzled pan-blue camp autocrat-cum-dinosaurs (and eventually, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝)) listening to middle-of-the-road tunes in the front rows at the Taipei Arena concert brought to mind Billy Joel live in Moscow.

But first things first.

Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) started off the day with an awkward presentation of what appeared to be our sacred national name chop (imagine hauling that monster to the post office to open an account).

But Wang redeemed himself later by being the only KMT bigwig to unabashedly wave his hands along to the taike music.

Which might have been because he was in happy-land by then — blind drunk on liquid lightning gaoliang.

Next to Wang, Honorary KMT Also-Ran Lien Chan (連戰) and his wife did their best impression of Paleolithic fossils. I almost called them trilobites, but that would be an insult to trilobites.

Incoming Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) had perhaps the most embarrassing moment of the day. In a tumble worthy of former US president Gerald Ford, he tripped over himself and hit the floor for no apparent reason during one procession — an inauspicious start for the incoming Cabinet.

True to form, the media ran breathless reports on the three outfits worn by the first lady (stop the presses — she wasn’t wearing her usual tattered Cindy Lauper-era jean jacket!), how many drinks Ma had and whether he can hold his liquor (a serious concern ever since his infamous, swooning “meiyou la” moment after a KMT team-building banquet last year), how many minutes Ma’s morning swim lasted the next day, and — lest we forget — the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel service accorded the King of Swaziland.

According to one cable TV station, the hapless Taiwanese hotel staffer tasked with serving the king had firm instructions to bow and crouch when entering and leaving the room so as never to appear higher than His Majesty.

No problem: There to give pointers on the art of comprehensive self-abasement was Lien Chan himself, who perfected his skills during many trips to Zhongnanhai.

Meanwhile, pretty boy Ma had his first case of diplomatic sticker shock, courtesy of Gambia. Our dear African ally wasted no time in hitting up the new Prez for money, asking Ma for aid and a delay in paying back debt, according to the United Daily News and other outlets.

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