The three vice presidential candidates acted as expected in a televised debate on Jan. 1, and completely in line with the characteristics of their positions and backgrounds.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) played it safe and made prompt and flexible responses when challenged, judiciously avoiding traps and calmly restating her stance.
Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) performed better overall than in the previous vice presidential debate, but her contradictory and unfounded statements about the cross-strait service trade agreement proved the TPP’s intention to restart the talks.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice presidential candidate Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) took center stage at the debate. Jaw, as the KMT’s famous pundit and head of the “blue fighters” faction, continued to play his role as the irresponsible host of political talk shows.
According to the Asia Fact Check Lab, some of Jaw’s claims did not reflect reality. He said that residents in the neighborhood of a nuclear plant are happy to receive radioactive waste and that Taylor Swift turned down the offer to perform in Taiwan due to geopolitical risks.
Jaw made use of one-sided information and not-evidence-based statements to manipulate public opinion. That is a common dirty trick of the KMT: throwing mud at their opponents.
Rumors out of thin air go viral with the help of pan-blue media and social media platforms to influence the target audience’s opinions. Falsehood disseminates widely and finally escalates into more extreme and polarized debate.
The DPP is thus asked to spend time on making clarifications in response to the disinformation prior to tackling more urgent cases. The process is a waste of time and resources, and drags people into endless mudslinging. Such mudslinging is why young people have got sick of politics.
The mud finally turns into the soil in which TPP Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has flourished.
It is not true that the KMT and the DPP are rotten. Considering what Ko has done and said, he never contemplated creating new, clean politics.
Instead, he picks up the pan-blue camp’s propaganda tools, well-packaged and transformed to expand the size of the mudslinging. Ko, being questioned, beats around the bush and even throws mud at others to start a new fight and to divert attention from himself.
With widespread use of the Internet, the blue camp and the white camp have targeted satellite media rather than terrestrial media. The mudslinging used to occur in traditional media, television and broadcasting now extends to the Internet.
That has a profound effect on Taiwan’s future and is a problem that the pan-green camp should seriously consider and confront.
Hong Tsun-ming, originally from Hong Kong, is a specialist in the Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s international section.
Translated by Hsieh Yi-ching
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