Lo and behold, there is a comeback on the cards.
With less than a week to go before election day, it looks like things are going to go down to the wire.
If there’s one thing that can be said about elections in Taiwan, it’s that they are never dull. An assassination attempt here, a shooting there. A threat from an authoritarian neighbor or a helping hand from Uncle Sam. There is always something going on and it is never boring.
This year we have been treated to a half-crazed, rambling eulogy for a deceased mother-in-law from a former president serving a lengthy prison sentence for corruption. You really can’t make this stuff up.
Give me an immature democracy any day.
One of the more interesting aspects of this campaign for me, however, has been the brazen comeback of former independent legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助).
As a resident of New Jack City, I was extremely surprised — and rather shocked — when I rode round a corner near my place a couple of weeks ago and was confronted by a 5m tall poster of Lo staring at me, pudgy hands clasped together in the classic baituo (拜託) position. I only just managed to keep control of the scooter.
For those unfamiliar with Lo, he is an alleged former gang leader turned legislator famed for his violent legislative antics. He is fondly remembered by many for beating up the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) former legislator for the US Diane Lee (李慶安) during a legislative session, after she branded him a “gangster.” My favorite bit of Lo trivia, however, is a quote attributed to him in 2000: “When I beat people up, it’s because I’m trying to get legislation approved.”
Say what you will about Lo’s character, but he still has extensive connections at the local level and has infinitely more in common with the majority of constituents of the “city formerly known as county” than his bookish KMT counterpart Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), who probably comes out in hives at just the thought of leaving the Taipei City limits. In a strange twist of fate, Lee Ching-hua also happens to be Diane Lee’s brother.
Also surprising has been Lo’s well-run campaign, with super-slick ads on local cable TV (the bar is not set high) and legions of supporters thronging the streets waving his flags. A sharp contrast to the awkward Lee Ching-hua, who seemingly only owns one red shirt and looks to be in pain when asked to smile for his election posters.
With countless leaflets containing dozens of pie-in-the-sky promises about construction and development projects flowing through the letterboxes of New Taipei City’s (新北市) 12th district, Lo is pulling out all the stops. He could do well, as long as he is not called on to speak in public too often. When he visited our local community on the stump a few weeks ago he communicated in a series of single-syllable grunts.
Try as he might, the most probable outcome for Lo is that he takes enough blue votes off Lee Ching-hua to open the way for a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) win (that could be his aim). But if Lo were to win, and it is still a very big if, it would surely be the election comeback of the century so far.
That is unless the DPP manages to upset the establishment and pulls off what would be an even more remarkable triumph just four years after it had sunk to its lowest ebb.
Joe Doufu is a Taipei-based satirist.