KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou won the election. I didn’t vote for him. I didn’t vote for his opponent, the DPP’s Frank Hsieh either. From 7h00 morning of elections, I was posted where Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh’s was expected to come to vote. Although he is an academic, but because he often makes very bold political statements, his actions in public are closely watched. In the afternoon, I was sent to Ma Ying-jeou’s residence to film neighbors setting off firecrackers in celebration, and was there until after 20h00. Honestly, if I had the opportunity to vote, I think I would have cast an invalid ballot in protest of how politics in Taiwan is conducted.
Events leading up to the elections were quite exciting. First, a KMT legislature stormed the DPP candidate’s campaign headquarters, causing a ruckus and nonstop apologies from the KMT candidate the next day. The DPP camp had a field day with this. The legislator resigned and held a press conference saying that he would consider ending his life if this caused the KMT candidate to lose. Then the secretary general of the ministry of education publicly accused the KMT candidate’s late father of being promiscuous, saying instead of having a god-daughter he was having a f***-daughter. While the sec-gen did have a reputation of being a potty mouth in public, this was way over the edge. He resigned from his post that night via telephone. (His boss, the minister of education did not know of any of this until the sec-gen rang him. I wonder how he explained what he did and what he said.) Polls showed he caused a 6% slide. Then violence breaks out in Tibet, again becoming ammunition for the DPP, saying that this is what will happen if you vote for the pro-unification KMT. The media, however, commented that the DPP would have needed China to squash out the Tibet uprisings three times over to make up for the damage the sec-gen caused.
Although not one person or factor caused the DPP to lose hold of power, the general sentiment was that people felt disappointed by the corruption associated with the DPP (especially with President Chen Shui-bian’s family) over the past eight years and wage stagnation since the DPP came into power.
My feeling is, Chen and his DPP worked hard to give the Taiwanese people pride and identity. They wanted to be recognized as the independent country “Taiwan” in the international political arena. They wanted those divorce papers signed and be legal and put an end to the mess. During this process, the DPP tried to convince people that they need to be a part of this action, and to join the effort. This effectively turned everyone into political activists. In general, young political activists who are successful turn into rich politicians, and the other political activists (which make up the vast majority) continue to be starving students, still angry and still sitting in the cold and still going nowhere underneath that 大中至正 or 自由廣場 sign. Metaphorically, the Taiwanese have become those starving, angry students who have not gone anywhere and are still going nowhere. I think in addition to the Chen family’s corruption, people are tired of being hungry and going nowhere, and thus turned to the smooth-talking Ma Ying-jeou, who may not seem the brightest person, but decent enough to give a chance to.