Wed, Apr 10, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Will the media play ‘Pied Piper’?

By Ben Goren

So it is with Han in Kaohsiung, a rudderless hot-air balloon ascending rapidly into the political stratosphere, fueled by little more than media hype.

The businessman I spoke with liked the idea of Han’s economics-first fallacy, but when I asked him for his definition of a “good economy” his answer was “one where I can make money easily.”

Han’s campaign was tailor-made for people just like him.

It is only now that some are realizing the danger inherent if he enters the KMT’s presidential primary. The KMT appears to be concerned that if it does not find a way to shoehorn Han into the process he would not be the candidate and it might lose again, knowing full well the paucity of their other options.

Only former “eternal” legislative speaker Wang Jyn-ping (王金平) has the capacity to appeal to a wider voter demographic than the KMT’s slowly evaporating deep blue base, but the flip side of being able to make a deal with anyone is that no one trusts you.

That the KMT is entertaining Han as a possible primary candidate speaks of a desperate party that wants to win at any cost, having learned little from its 2016 defeat.

Maybe Gou, if he chooses to run, could win the primary, but the economic success of entrepreneurs like him does not automatically mean he will be a competent or honest politician.

My businessman friend agreed, worrying that Gou’s lack of principle or passion for anything other than making money, and investments in China that could be leveraged against him, made him a dangerously unpredictable and unsettling candidate for president.

For Taiwan, the elections on Jan. 11 next year could a “Brexit” moment in which Taiwanese might be given a choice of voting for a US President Donald Trump-esque “hero” who offers a snake-oil panacea for all their ills. They would be wise to exercise healthy skepticism and thoroughly interrogate the implications of handing the nation’s highest political office to the “straight-talking” charmer or the “respectable” oligarch.

It would be a decision they will have to live with for the next four years or much, much longer.

Ben Goren is an essayist, businessman and long-term resident of Taiwan.

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