Sun, Dec 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Academic reflects on the implications of the elections

The results of Nov. 29 elections are a reflection of the change in public thinking about national politics, a silent revolution where the voters expressed their sentiments on being anti-political families and corporations that are pro-China, said Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology chairman Michael Hsiao in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Tzou Jiing-wen, adding that it seems to be public consensus to teach the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) a lesson through the elections

One could say there are no advovates for reform within the party, those who are capable of imagining it are unwilling to propose it. [New Taipei Mayor and KMT vice chairman] Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) tactics were seen through, while Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) plays the victim card as long as Ma is in power. Neither former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), [former KMT Secretary-General] Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), or [outgoing Greater Taichung Mayor] Jason Hu (胡志強) are reformers, they simply wish to replace Ma, but are unwilling to promote large-scale reforms.

From the outlook, it seems like the nation is undergoing a quiet revolution, beginning in the cities and counties. From the party’s post-election statement, reactions and setting up of barricades in front of party headquarters — unnecessary and a situation that need not have happened — it seems like the KMT has not yet learned its lesson after losing the elections.

Even if Ma said he has heard the people, it seems that what he heard was quite small and weak. He has demonstrated absolutely no sincerity, even less than Chu.

I believe that the increased number of young people voting in the elections also triggered more women and the elderly to vote. With the inclusion of civic activists, the ordinary citizen and netizens, it is a demonstration of the public’s power.

While such power was made manifest in the elections, at a certain level this is still very limited to the local elections which would not affect the greater plan. However, if the nation begins to slowly acclimatize to such forms of elections, it would be of great help for future elections with far-reaching scope. It is a step towards building up democratic momentum.

It is interesting to note that in this election, the animosity against political families was already at work at the local level. Take the Wu family [Taoyuan County Commissioner John Wu (吳志揚)] in Taoyuan County for example. In the past, no one would have said that [Wu’s DPP opponent] Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) could win the election. We also saw Chu only start to make a comeback in the third hour of ballot counting.

Both Chu and Wu come from politically established families, and there is no doubt regarding [KMT Taipei mayoral candidate] Sean Lien’s (連勝文) background.

All three are political families that have benefitted from KMT rule in Taiwan. They are not local factions, and they all hoped to chip in and get something while the KMT is on the decline. The voters saw this and thought such actions were problematic — voters are not stupid.

In other terms, the attempted succession from a declining KMT to politically established families — who have benefited from the party, but have failed to prove their worth — is only an exchange of who is in power, and not using that power for reform.

The people are also beginning to foster distrust against corporations that are overtly pro-China.

Meanwhile, the so-called playing of the “construction card” also failed in the elections. Every time I visit Greater Taichung, I always think of it as being a colony, as you see plots of land being walled up for construction. The Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project goes one step further, as it walls up the plots of land with steel barbed wire. Some of these plots of land once belonged to families, then the government expropriated the land for construction use. However, the benefits of the land are enjoyed solely by the corporation that builds on it. The people get nothing.

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