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Anewkindofbeautycontestistakin

2020-08-12 14:37:36 来源:H生活史 浏览:993次

I was in Carbondale, Illinois, when the presidential election of 1964 took place.President Lyndon B. Johnson handily routed Senator Barry Goldwater.On the night of Election Day, I met a number of young Students for Democratic Society at a small beer party to talk about the Vietnam War.One graduate student said with a shrug, “Well, oneis a crook and the other is a mad dog.We have no choice.”The crook was Johnson and the mad dog, Goldwater.Turnout was very low, of course.

We have little choice in the coming presidential election in Taiwan either. The two candidates are both suspected of corruption.

Ma Ying-jeou, who had to step down as chairman of the Kuomintang when he was indicted for embezzlement on February 13, is standing trial.He was charged with misusing his expense account while he was mayor of Taipei from 1998 to 2006.He may be convicted, and if the ruling Democratic Progressive Party had its way, he could be disqualified as a candidate for president in March next year.

His DPP rival, Frank Hsieh, is likely to be similarly indicted.Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen who indicted Ma is investigating Hsieh’s account misuse case.If Hou applies the same yardstick to measure how Hsieh spent his expense account allowances as mayor of Kaohsiung from 1998 to 2005 and later as premier, the indictment is a foregone conclusion.Moreover, Kaohsiung district prosecutors are concluding a political contribution scandal involving Hsieh.In fact, one prosecutor, who had to turn over the investigation to his colleagues, wrote in a memorandum Hsieh’s “crime” is “clearly indicated” and “indictment” has to follow.

The only comfort we can take is our court of law is notoriously slow in dispensing justice.Otherwise, we might have to face a very strange embarrassment of finding a candidate running unopposed when we go to the polls.Fully aware that prosecutors and judges are taking it easy, both Ma and Hsieh with their honesty and probity questioned have to battle it out in a new arena.They are taking part in a popularity contest.

It’s going to be a neck and neck race.Ma Ying-jeou is more popular than Frank Hsieh.But the Kuomintang candidate, a mainlander born in Hong Kong who came to Taiwan as a little child, is handicapped.He can count on support of practically all mainlanders, who, however, are a minority.At least a third of Taiwan’s Hoklo majority – six out of every ten people on the island are Hoklo – will vote for anybody but a mainlander.Middle-of-the roaders used to support him because they thought he was lily white. They are having a second thought, now that his Mr. Clean image has been tainted.

Ma has another disadvantage.Prosecutors may be selectively slow, and he may be convicted long before his adversary is indicted.Even if he is indicted today, Hsieh still enjoys a large headway in the popularity test over Ma, who may be convicted before the end of this year at the latest.It is virtually impossible to convict the DPP standard bearer before Election Day.Ma is crying foul.

One way to get a candidate more likable is to go out to meet more people, shake their hands, talk to them.That’s what Ma Ying-jeou has started doing and will continue to do as long as it takes to get him accepted by the Hoklo majority as “one of them” rather than “one of the hated mainlanders.”He just completed a 10-day bicycling tour from the southernmost tip of Taiwan at Olanpi to its northernmost tip at Fukweichiao along the west coast, stopping over whenever and wherever possible to rub shoulders with local residents.The strenuous and exacting trip wasn’t trumpeted by the media, and his spin doctors are ready to come up with a better scheme to make their candidate look more likable, lovable and desirable.

Hsieh has yet to join in the fray in earnest.He needs time to heal the wounds the ruling party sustained in its divisive primaries, which were in effect a popularity contest between him and lame duck President Chen Shui-bian.Hsieh was the lone proponent of détente with China and won the primaries despite Chen’s tacit support for Su Tseng-chang, who resigned as premier a week later.The president is trying to whip his party’s candidate into line by establishing a rigid party platform for independence, though openly endorsing improved relations between Taiwan and China.

As soon as the grievances have been ironed out, Hsieh has to plunge headlong into the likability race.He can’t engage Ma Ying-jeou in debate over relations across the Taiwan Strait, because they both profess Taipei has to have a better relationship with Beijing.Hsieh can’t advance his vision for Taiwan independence, because he wants a “symbiosis” with China.Character?Hsieh is a disciple of Sung Chi-li, a dubious geomancer who was once convicted of fraud for claiming he has the power of levitation.Hsieh begged on his knees for the blessing of the guru for his election victory in 1998.He won, thanks to the timely airing of a doctored tape exposing a non-existent extramarital affair of his Kuomintang rival Wu Deng-yih.In fact, Sung even claimed he took Hsieh along to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, while both of them were in Taiwan.Strategic thinking or how to get Taiwan out of its economic doldrums is out of the question as an issue for the election.The only option open to Hsieh is to consolidate the support of independence activists and compete with Ma in looking more desirable to median voters.

The stage has been all set for the new kind of beauty contest between Hsieh and Ma.They will try what they can to appear like next-door neighbors to practically everybody in Taiwan, for they know full well it is a key test for a very large segment of eligible voters who have little party preference.Such voters account for close to 40 percent of the electorate.Most of them plan to stay away from the polls.

Like it or not, both candidates will have to focus on their popularity poll ratings and their own image as lovable pals in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election rather than on what really matters to Taiwan in the years to come.It’s a beauty contest between the two male candidates.

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