Daily Archive for March 20th, 2004

It’s only just begun…

My Dad called me earlier this afternoon… it was 4am in Taiwan.

President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu announce their victory in yesterday's presidential election at the Democratic Progressive Party's campaign headquarters in Taipei last night.
Notice how they are standing behind a bullet-proof protector in this photo.

As you can see from the AP headline:
Taiwan President Narrowly Wins Re-Election [full story]

The Taipei Times headline:
Controversial victory for Chen [full story]

Even in a photograph, it is a stunning and moving sight. To see the streets filled with thousands of Taiwanese individuals, celebrating as the baby steps of the burgeoning democracy take them another step toward independence. Think about it and put yourself there. Wow.

But it’s not over yet. The election was extremely close, the margin of victory was less than 30,000 votes. Evidently, the losers (presidential candidate Lien Chan of the KMT & and veep candidate James Soong of the PFP) are mad and throwing out all kinds of allegations that the election was “unfair.” Adding more fuel to the fire, the challengers question the narrow margin of victory because there were over 300,000 ballots which were ruled “invalid.”

Why are there so many invalid ballots? Without speculating on the pending investigation, you should know that another aspect of this election is that there people in Taiwan who aren’t happy with the two presidential candidates (liken them to the Nader supporters in our last election). The Alliance of One Million Invalid Ballots, was urging people to cast invalid ballots. You won’t find this written up in a lot of the reports, but knowing that this is puts that large “invalid” ballot count & “unfair election” accusations into perspective. I expect that a large number of “invalid” ballots cast were, in actuality, intentional.

Protesters from the Alliance of One Million Invalid Ballots, symbolizing their unhappiness with the two presidential candidates Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and opposition leader Lien Chan, push rotten apples with their noses in front of the presidential palace in Taipei March 14, 2004 . The group has launched an islandwide campaign urging voters to cast invalid ballots on the March 20 presidential election. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The challengers will be filing a lawsuit with the election officials… but until then, rather than respecting the democratic system that so many fought to have in Taiwan, Lien Chan and Soong have not asked their supporters to “calm down” and respect the recount process. They have been leading ‘demonstrations’ and ‘sit-ins’ and basically fanning the emotional flames of the people… they may as well be inciting their supporters to riot. Unfortunately, the rioting has already begun.

My Dad called to give first-hand update on what he was seeing at home on the Taiwanese news… news he knew that I would not be able to find in English anywhere else, even on the internet. Of course, he’s concerned about the safety of the people and hopes that the violence and unrest will not cause people to fear the democratic process. From someone watching from across an entire ocean, I know I am concerned, too.

And with any close election, comes controversy…

While I can understand the concerns both sides have whenever there is a close election, I can’t believe some of the allegations on the so-called “unfairness” of the election. So far, Lien Chan has made speeches saying the election was “unfair.” What was unfair about it? I have no problems with the challengers’ desire to have a recount, but a close election is not the same as an unfair election.

There are even allegations that the assasination attempt on Taiwanese President Chen and VP Lu was ‘staged’ for ‘sympathy votes.’

Check out this excerpt of an AP article:

Before the election, challenger Lien Chan said he trusted that Taiwanese voters would be rational and not let the shooting cause them to cast a sympathy vote for Chen. But after he lost the election, Lien changed his mind.

“This was an unfair election,” Lien told a crowd outside his campaign headquarters.

Some have suggested that Chen’s shooting was staged to swing the election in his favor.

“The gunshots looked very fishy,” said Su Chi, a senior campaign official.

Lien did not go that far, but he demanded a full investigation of the attack’s effect on the election. He also said 330,000 invalid ballots should be inspected. [full story]

Why did Lien change his mind? Because he lost. Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.

If you saw the video of the shooting, clearly, President Chen didn’t even know that he had been shot. In fact, he continued campaigning and didn’t even know he was gushing blood until he looked down and saw a bullet hole in the windshield. Thankfully, it was not a serious injury, but the jeep was traveling at a high velocity and had the bullet been any higher, the headlines would be quite different today. I can’t believe A-Bian or his supporters would risk *killing him* to stage a shooting for sympathy votes.

If you think that Taiwan is a tiny little island and that what happens there doesn’t affect you, then I challenge you to stop and think about your history lessons and think about how many wars (WWI, for example) were launched over the assasination of a leader. Had A-Bian been killed, it could have set into motion a huge chain of events in Asia… in which the United States could very conceivably be sucked into. That being said, I need stop and say that I am only glossing over the tip of the iceberg and that this is a much deeper and complicated issue than what I have time for.

I really need to stop my political rants and keep this blog my “happy fun” place and taking my Taiwanese political rants somewhere else. Until then, read, gloss over, skip these posts if you’re not interested. I will also be happy to write up a “layman’s” history lesson about Taiwan and what the issues are and why they exist. Unfortunately, my plate is rather full right now. So, if you are interested in learning more & discussing at a later point, send an email to taiwan@ jozjozjoz.com.

If I find good reading along my journey, I will definitely let those interested know… for starters, check out the Yahoo News photo slideshow.

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