Mon, Jun 24, 2019 - Page 6

Han tide barreling forward

Why are local factions allying themselves with Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜)? It is because Han has a relatively good chance of winning next year’s presidential election, so they want to get in early and declare their support for him ahead of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) primary election.

These activities are also a warm-up exercise for the factions’ favored candidates in the legislative election, which will be held on the same day as the presidential vote, but the main purpose is to pressure the KMT’s central leadership into heeding the local factions’ voices.

Local factions became marginalized after the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) started his two-term presidency in 2008. The succeeding Democratic Progressive Party government’s plan to scrap elections for officials of irrigation associations and local farmers’ associations, and turn them into government appointments has put local factions under unprecedented pressure over the past two years.

When the Monkey King Sun Wukong (孫悟空) caused havoc in heaven, he roundly defeated the generals and soldiers of the south gate of heaven, so why did he have so much trouble fighting the minor ghosts and demons that he encountered on his way to collect the Buddhist scriptures, to the extent that he had to beg someone to rescue him?

Some say it was because heaven’s generals and soldiers are paid a salary, and even if the heavens collapse, the Jade Emperor will still be there to hold it up. The ghosts and demons have a different motivation. Although they do not have many magical powers, they are freelancers, so if you tread on their patch, they have to fight you with all their might.

This may be what explains the tide of support for Han. Why do Han’s fans stick so closely together? Because the interests of these people, who mostly belong to local factions or are retired civil servants, military personnel and teachers, have been badly eroded. They all know that if they do not fight fiercely, they are the ones who will go under.

As for Han himself, as well as facing the challenge of the presidential election, he also faces a tide of calls from within Kaohsiung for him to be removed from office by a recall. Even if the recall bid fails, the Kaohsiung City Council will not just give up, so, having announced that he will stand in the KMT’s presidential primary, the only way Han can go is full steam ahead.

Local factions do not talk about their vision for the future. All they talk about is how you will make loads of money if their favored candidate is elected. They might not be good at policy debates, but their enthusiasm and determination are streets ahead.

They do not care about attracting young voters or about how swing voters feel. A drowning man will desperately try to swim to safety. Even if he kicks someone else who has also fallen in the water, he will be too busy to worry about it.

There is no turning back for the “Han tide.” Are all the candidates ready for what comes next?

Chang Hung-fu