EDITORIAL: Piggy banks fly as change desired

Thu, Nov 03, 2011 - Page 8

Forget about the saying “when pigs fly,” because throughout the country they are doing just that. Off the shelves, that is.

Highlighting the desire for change in the country, people are rushing to fill piggy banks and donate them to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) election campaign. And the DPP has the Control Yuan to thank for this.

The Control Yuan last month made a fuss and warned the party that its acceptance of three piggy banks donated by three-year-old triplets was against the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法). The Control Yuan said Article 7 of the act stipulates that only people of voting age and those who meet other voting eligibility rules can make political donations. However, the article is more typically aimed at preventing foreigners, especially people from China, Hong Kong and Macau who are not eligible to vote, from making donations.

Moreover, given that the triplets donated their piggy banks under parental guidance, handing over the banks on stage with their mom and grandfather by their side, it seems like a minor infringement of the act. The donations were aimed more at a nice photo opportunity than political meddling by three-year-olds.

While the Control Yuan’s move could have dampened the DPP’s spirits, it instead aroused indignation among many Taiwanese and prompted the DPP to declare this month “little pigs month,” in which supporters are urged to use piggy banks to make donations to the party.

With the popularity of the piggy bank drive taking the DPP by surprise, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) might have an even harder time understanding what all the fuss is about, given that it appears oblivious to people’s everyday struggles despite a widening wealth gap and growing social injustice. There is a latent desire for change in the country, a fact which seems to have passed by the KMT and is clearly highlighted by a groundswell of support for the DPP’s piggy bank drive.

And yet, the KMT still does not cease to amaze with its brazenness. Seeing how well the DPP’s grassroots fundraising campaign has been received by the public, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re--election campaign office recently also launched a TV campaign spot calling on the public to make small donations.

How is it that a political party as rich as the KMT — which made NT$3.5 billion (US$116.1 million) last year, NT$2.9 billion from stock dividends alone — can have the heart to urge its supporters to donate money?

The truth of matter is that what the KMT fears is not the coins and notes stuffed into the piggy banks; what it finds intimidating is the power behind the piggy bank movement — the collective disappointments felt by piggy bank donors in the face of the incumbent government’s poor performance.

It is fair to say that there is a movement building in Taiwan in which — little could one imagine — piggy banks are becoming part of the nation’s electoral lore.

Hopefully the DPP cherishes and takes to heart the message behind every dollar pushed into a piggy bank. Each and every piggy bank represents not just support for Tsai and her party, but, more than everything, a yearning for change that will see people’s lives improve in a country that is becoming more unjust and economically divided.