A 45-year-old radio host set his studio alight and burned himself to death a week after his beloved Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost the presidency to its Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rival. The suicide of Liao Shu-hsin (廖述炘) attracted considerable attention as both supporters and detractors of president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) are carefully weighing the impact of his victory over DPP candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in the March 22 poll.
Liao’s friends at Voice of the Ocean radio station in Sinjhuang (新莊), Taipei County, said they were convinced that he killed himself out of despair over the election result, and its dire consequences for the DPP and the nation’s sovereignty.
“He felt depressed because Taiwanese elected a Chinese as their president,” colleague Chang Chih-mei (張志梅) said. “A Chinese for him is actually a foreigner.”
Chang said that Liao had also been unhappy with the National Communications Commission, which since last year has been continually confiscating equipment from the Voice of the Ocean’s stations in Taipei, Taoyuan and Taichung.
Throughout the election campaign, Voice of the Ocean and other DPP-allied underground stations beat out a constant drum roll of anti-Ma rhetoric, accusing him of being a pro-China politician ready to sell out the nation’s interests to Beijing.
They were particularly incensed by his support for closer economic ties with China, seeing it as the opening gambit in a carefully planned campaign to bring about unification between the sides.
Ma has said that expanded trade and investment are necessary to help jump-start the nation’s economic engine.
He insists hower that he will not discuss unification during his presidency.
Former DPP legislator Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said that the party was at a crossroads and that if it wants to return to power, it must moderate its pro-independence message to win the allegiance of key centrist voters.
Chuang and other DPP lawmakers have called for outgoing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Hsieh to make way for a new generation of reformers, who would maintain the party’s emphasis on Taiwanese identity, while developing practical solutions to boost economic performance.
National Taipei University political scientist Hou Han-chun (侯漢君) said that Hsieh gave a hint of this during his campaign, echoing Ma’s calls for greater economic engagement with China, while insisting he would limit changes to safeguard the interests of economically vulnerable farmers and workers.
Ho said that the president-elect was now faced with the challenge of either improving the economy fast or being punished in four years in the next president election.
“Voters don’t have great patience,” he said. “If the Nationalists [KMT] fail to improve the economy quickly, they will switch to the DPP.”
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