"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Taiwan's legislative election

We interrupt our regularly scheduled shootdown of "Bulletgate"

Oh, hell! The pan-blues got their majority.

According to the latest info I saw on TV, the pan-blues got at least 113 seats (some channels are reporting 114 or 116) compared to the pan-greens' 101. 113 seats were needed for a majority, and the remaining seats have already been called for smaller party and "independent" candidates. From what I can see, the winners list is replete with insane individuals and criminals involved in "black gold" (hei jin, or bribery and graft) and people from the "black way" (hei dao, or gangsters). In fact, one candidate from Miaoli, who recently fled to China to escape prosecution, was elected to office again today.

Somebody get me a (spin) doctor!
But I also notice that comparing the numbers of winners from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with those from the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT), you get a different picture. The DPP won 89 seats, but the KMT won only 79 or 80. The remaining votes were picked up by the pan-green Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU, 12 votes) and People First Party (PFP, 34 votes), respectively.

There has been rapid deterioration of the already troubled relations between the KMT and PFP recently, so we'll have to wait and see if they continue this in the legislature to determine if there is a "true" pan-blue majority. Unless they're able to act in perfect synch, the pan-greens may still have power against them.

Can you say "Explosiongate"?
Two days before this election, a van packed with gas canisters was lit on fire near the Taipei Railway Station, setting off an explosion which destroyed the van and two other vehicles. The police released video footage caught by a security camera at a nearby convenience store as the suspect gave two letters to a FedEx courier to deliver to TVBS and TTV, and a reward of NT$1,000,000 has been offered for information leading to his arrest. The letters contained threats to set off four more explosions before election day.

Lien Chan said things on yesterday's TV news that could be taken to mean that the explosion and threats were actually a "show" by the DPP. It was therefore no surprise when a pan-blue supporter I talked with earlier today repeated the charges as if that were exactly what he said.

More from the darker side of this election
My wife tells me that members of her own family and the family of at least one of her associates have collected money that was promised in exchange for their votes for candidates surnamed Lin and Chen. (Without more direct evidence, however, I won't give their full names.) Her associate's family alone, with at least six voters receiving NT$2,000 each, collected at least NT$12,000. At the polling station where my wife voted, she was witness to her mother's neighbors exerting strong "influence" as she entered to cast her vote. The way it was described sounded rather like voter intimidation.

RAPID UPDATE: Before I have even finished checking all of the details and proofreading this post, President Chen Shui-bian, who is also chairman of the DPP, was on TV giving the kind of speech Lien Chan should have given on the evening of March 20, 2004 when he lost the presidential election. (This just after TVBS said in their scrolling newsbar that Chen was "too embarrassed" to show his face!) Chen congratulated all of the winners and put out a call for unity. Unlike me, he's not mentioning the bad stuff. I admire him, because it's something I don't think I could ever do.

I'll probably get back to the "Bulletgate" shootdown on Monday. Stay tuned.
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