Former premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s (劉兆玄) new book, Phantom (阿飄), marks the politician-writer’s first foray into science fiction and takes readers to “the dark side of Taiwan’s politics,” he said.
Liu has written several martial arts fiction series under the pseudonym Shang Kuan Ting (上官鼎).
“Having such topics introduced by, or in the presence of, an alien being, which represents a civilization with greater technology, can help with the delivery of otherwise sensitive information,” Liu said of his new book on an episode of CTV’s Change that aired yesterday.
He chose the book’s title hoping to match the “vibe” of the younger generation, so that they could reflect upon society instead of being politically apathetic, Liu said.
The book uses Liu’s experiences as premier from 2008 to 2009 under then-president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and takes the reader through “the dark side of Taiwan’s politics,” the Chinese-language China Times quoted Liu as saying.
At its core, Phantom addresses concerns about the democratic system of governance.
“We as humans need to consider certain problems that come with the embrace of the democratic system, and the novel hopes to achieve that goal,” Liu said.
The loss of neutral voters’ rationality leads to a bipolar society of clashing populism, he added.
“What causes such bifurcation of society? Votes. The most effective method to bring about votes is money. Where does money come from? The last election?” Liu said.
Democracy has become a vicious cycle of voting and wealth, he said.
The biggest problem facing Taiwan’s democracy is “ballots in exchange for money, and money in exchange for ballots,” he said.
The characters in the novel are not meant to be an otherworldly reflection or shadow of actual politicians; rather, the familiarity of the characters is intentional, Liu said, adding that it makes for a better read as the disturbing aspects of reality that society takes for granted can be reflected upon.
Separately yesterday, an anonymous member of the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee said that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ill-gotten assets were the same as the “money in exchange for ballots” that Liu lamented in his book.
After the KMT’s retreat to Taiwan from China in 1949, its acquisition of assets formerly owned by the Japanese colonial government was what enabled the party to engage in the practice of “money in exchange for ballots,” the member said.
The KMT’s ill-gotten assets have tainted the nation’s democratic system of government and should be returned to the state as soon as possible, the member added.
Additional reporting by Chen Yu-fu
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