2012 ELECTIONS: ‘Robin Hood’ label stokes Ma, Tsai war

ROBBING THE POOR?:Ma derided comparisons between Tsai and the Sherwood hero, while Tsai said there’d be no need for a ‘Robin Hood’ if Ma was taking care of the poor

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 - Page 1

The war of words between Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) got even more heated yesterday, this time turning to foreign media outlets who have characterized Tsai as Taiwan’s “Robin Hood.”

Ma over the weekend mocked comparisons between the DPP presidential candidate and the popular folk hero.

“The foreign press has described Tsai as a Robin Hood-like heroine, but to my understanding Robin Hood should fight for justice, rather than spread rumors and set up decent people,” Ma said on Saturday.

Tsai was likened to a modern-day Robin Hood mainly because of the DPP’s piggy bank fundraising drive, while some have likened her election campaign to a Jasmine Revolution-type movement.

In response to Ma’s remarks, Tsai told a campaign rally in Greater Taichung yesterday that the heroic outlaw “only appears in times of failed governance.”

“People only look forward to the emergence of a Robin Hood-like figure when a leader is failing miserably,” she said.

It is not unusual for foreign news services to pay attention to Taiwan’s presidential elections, she said, as they have been monitoring every step of Taiwan’s democratization through the years.

The reason foreign journalists chose to characterize the presidential election in terms of “Robin Hood” and the “Jasmine Revolution” probably suggests they sense the change that has taken place in the country during the election campaign, Tsai said.

The “Three Little Pigs” campaign encourages participatory democracy — voters do not just blindly cast ballots, but think about social justice and speak out if they find something needs to be done by the government before they make their choice at the ballot box, Tsai said.

The changes represent the maturity and the positive evolution of Taiwan’s democracy, Tsai said, adding that she did not understand why Ma was so concerned by the foreign media’s observations that he had to bring them up repeatedly during Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rallies.

The piggy banks symbolize the “collective will” of Taiwanese to change the country, she said.

As for the Robin Hood description, Tsai said Ma should ask himself why people would look forward to the emergence of a “modern-day Robin Hood.”

“That’s because the government has failed to care for the poor and the underprivileged,” she said. “Instead, the government has spent too much money on meaningless projects.”

Tsai also denounced Ma’s shadowing strategy of imitating the DPP’s every move. She said there should be a change of government because the current leader does not know how to make his own decisions.

Ma visited the eastern county of Taitung, where local agriculture has been hit by week-long rainfall, on Saturday night after Tsai had visited the county earlier the same day.

The Ma administration also decided last week to overturn its previous proposal to raise the monthly farmers’ subsidy by NT$316 and opted to raise it by NT$1,000, which the DPP had proposed in a move that had been blocked by the KMT in the legislature.