The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has a lot to thank the Control Yuan for. If Control Yuan members had not instructed the party to return the piggy banks donated to DPP Chairperson Tsai Ying-wen’s (蔡英文) presidential campaign by three young triplets because they violated the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法), the party would never have hit upon the idea of a “little pigs month,” distributing piggy banks to supporters, who are then encouraged to return them filled with donations.
It has been a fabulously successful initiative, so much so that the nation’s shelves have been stripped of piggy banks by people wanting to do their bit for Tsai’s campaign.
The impact has gone beyond injecting the campaign with much needed funds; it has also created an interesting focal point, bringing the candidate and the electorate closer together.
Irrespective of the actual results of January’s presidential election, the piggy bank drive will endure as one of the more intriguing aspects of the campaign.
Think of it as Taiwan’s version of the Jasmine Revolution or the Occupy Wall Street movement. It has handed countless middle and working-class voters the opportunity to find their own voice through micro-donations, in contrast to the still fabulously wealthy Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), once the richest political party in the world. The piggy banks are a symbol that people are rejecting the KMT’s pro-big business and pro-China leanings, as well as its lack of environmental credentials.
They are a rallying point for much of the anger over social injustice and oppression that pan-green supporters have felt for some time now, as the gap between rich and poor widens, housing prices rocket and the threat of compulsory unpaid leave and potential redundancy looms.
There is much to unite these sections of society, and they now believe there is something that they can do about it. Even without the piggy bank drive, these voters would have migrated to the DPP.
Of course, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign office has complained about the DPP’s fund raising tactic, accusing the DPP of exploiting children for political ends.
Ma should instead reflect on why, after three years in office, he is unable to inspire the electorate in a comparable way. He has tried to use his success in bringing down the price of rice wine to demonstrate his empathy for the average person, but this means little given that the prices of milk and coffee are on the rise.
He has tried to revisit the success of his “long stay” initiative in the 2008 campaign, but such attempts smack more of political gimmickry than a genuine attempt to get closer to ordinary people.
The piggy bank drive would have left little impression on pan-blue supporters because the KMT has never really been about representing the vulnerable or the oppressed, and no one is going to believe that it needs any financial help.
Each political party has its own voter base, and each has cultivated its own social image over the years. The KMT ought to get over its jealousy of the DPP’s success with the piggy banks. It would do better to reflect on why it has so little to show for three years in power and absolutely nothing new to offer or inspire the electorate.
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