I have always been skeptical that the 2016 presidential election would bring about a change of government for Taiwan. Former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush recently said at a seminar in Washington that the US government always expresses its views on Taiwan’s presidential elections and that it is set to do so in 2016. Given this, the Nov. 29 nine-in-one local elections are very important and Taiwanese really need to show their determination.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) used its national congress to put on a show of strong unity. Regardless of whether that unity is real, KMT infighting never gets to the point where party members lose their tempers with each other in public.
An especially good example of this is the race for Taipei mayor — a battle between the power represented by Taiwan’s civic groups and the slaves of the KMT elite. KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) and his camp essentially constitute the third leg in an “iron triangle” that is continuously trying to smear independent Taipei mayoral candidate and physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), so much so that Ko seems to be unable to take much more.
This iron triangle is made up of Lien and his two favorite attendants: KMT legislators Alex Tsai (蔡正元) and Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾). Lien has a very comfortable lifestyle and lacks knowledge about Taipei. If he gets elected, Tsai or Lo could become deputy mayor. Lien has no idea about the struggles of the middle and working classes. Lo likes to pride herself on being wealthier than the Lien family and Tsai has been dragged into a lawsuit over party assets. Can a team of people hell-bent on comparing who has more money really do anything to improve the lives of ordinary people in Taipei?
The public also has a lot of questions when it comes to the source of the Lien family’s assets. Lien’s father, former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), and his grandfather, Lien Chen-tung (連震東), were able to amass huge numbers of houses and other assets by merely working as civil servants. Now, at his still relatively young age, Sean Lien claims that he does not need to rely on his father anymore and has houses, cars and other assets worth more than NT$100 million (US$3.3 million).
If he were to become Taipei mayor and later perhaps run for president, his political accomplishments and wealth could be even greater than those of his father or grandfather.
In such a situation, what needs to be asked is whether the power represented by Taiwan’s civic groups can be united to defeat someone from these elite families.
That is another source of skepticism.
I support award-winning screenwriter and author Neil Peng (馮光遠) running in the elections, because if the KMT starts using the judiciary to play dirty tricks, combined with Lo’s recent accusations against Ko for corruption, tax evasion and money laundering in an attempt to frame Ko — which could lead to his arrest — those who do not support the KMT would still have another candidate left in Peng.
In addition, Ko is new to politics and far from perfect. He is not very shrewd and has said some things in his campaign that are not exactly politically correct, which is unavoidable for a person like himself.
Moreover, people always have a hard time seeing eye-to-eye on everything, but Ko is definitely not a member of the elite, nor is he a slave of the KMT’s one-party state. However, certain pro-independence forces have forgotten to keep their eyes on the prize and have attacked Ko, putting him between a rock and a hard place between the blue and green camps. Are voters really supposed to believe that Taiwan would be better off if Lien got elected instead of Ko?
Some people get very confused when faced with this upsetting situation, but once they calm down, they are able to see things clearly. However, others place their own interests before everything else and this is a direct effect of the traditional Chinese “petty farmer” consciousness, something that has been around for a long time that causes small-mindedness and drives people to place the interests of themselves, their families and even criminal organizations before everything else. Even more important than this, however, is that voters cannot afford to overlook the actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT when it comes to infiltrating pro-independence groups in Taiwan.
Recently, in one of his articles, National Taiwan University political science department former chair Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), told Taiwanese to be wary of KMT and CCP undercover agents and spies.
These undercover agents use radical slogans to create internal strife and splits in Taiwan, which easily confuses supporters of independence who allow their emotions to determine whether something is right or wrong.
Independence supporters must focus on the bigger picture instead of trivial issues and make clear distinctions of who their friends, opponents and enemies are. This is the only way that supporters of Taiwanese independence can remain united and protect the nation’s sovereignty and the long-term interests of Taiwanese.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Drew Cameron
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