Politics in Taiwan have been boring and full of meaningless rhetoric for far too long and it should be a combination of humor and seriousness, highlighting grassroot voices, award-winning writer Neil Peng (馮光遠) said yesterday at a press conference announcing his bid for the Taipei mayoral election.
“Humor has been one of my most distinctive characteristics. I was able to use it to comment on politics and politicians even in a time of wrath and an age of dirty politics. With that, I am able to see things in a different and clear perspective,” Peng said.
The 61-year-old, known for political satire in his columns and blog posts, particularly targeting President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), as well as for one-liners, said he would run as an independent and would not drop out of the race regardless of how his campaign fares.
Citing the example of former New York mayor Ed Koch and London Mayor Boris Johnson, Peng said the element of humor would complement democracy well and, in particular, help elevate Taiwan’s democracy to another level.
However, Peng is to make sure his campaign means business and is much more than making jokes, saying that he and a mixed group of academic consultants and social workers had engaged in serious discussions about every policy area of the city during the past two years.
Peng said he was disappointed that there have been no aspirants talking about city affairs and most people only paid attention to verbal attacks and political maneuvering and calculations, vowing that he would not do the same thing.
“We do not want gossip and wars of rhetoric you’re now seeing on television news every day. We are promoting new politics, which highlights a bottom-up process and US-style town hall meetings with constituents — a grassroots movement, you may say,” he said.
The former journalist could not help taking a jab at potential KMT nominee Sean Lien (連勝文), son of former vice president and former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), saying that his bid intended to prove that the rich and the powerful could not dominate politics forever.
“I heard that [Sean Lien] described his legal team of several dozen lawyers as the ‘aircraft carrier team’ of his campaign. I have bad news for him because I have a team of voluntary lawyers, too. And they don’t cost me a penny. I would like to call them the ‘submarine team’ of my campaign,” Peng said.
Peng declined to comment on the ongoing turmoil in the pan-green camp surrounding another independent hopeful, National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), saying that he does not know much about Ko and he preferred to focus on his own campaign.
His campaign theme — “Little happiness, large right and wrong” — refers to a government refocus on doing the little things that would improve people’s livelihood and insist on upholding integrity, he said.
Ko’s leave of absence from the hospital took effect yesterday, meaning he will be able to work on his campaign full-time.