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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Taipei can break free from the KMT today

Taipei can break free from the KMT today

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This time the Taipei mayoral election is different, defying the established logic of party politics. It is a highly symbolic local election, in which people really can make a difference.

On the weekend before the election, both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) and independent mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) held major campaign rallies. They chose very different routes, traveling in opposite directions. Lien walked from the Taipei City Government to the Presidential Office Building, while Ko marched from Liberty Square to the Taipei City Government. From the sound coming from the different rallies, it was clear that there was also a very big difference in what they represented.

Lien’s father, former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), attended, and was full of fire and brimstone. Former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) was present, too, effusing the attitude of a colonial master, and not without reason. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was there helping out with a big grin on his face. What a sight it was to behold.

Sean Lien and Ko are about as different as they can be. They represent different political mindsets, different cultures, and different socio-economic backgrounds.

The first distinguishing feature was the range of political affiliations of those present at their respective rallies. Ko’s rally was joined by people from a variety of political backgrounds, including those from the pan-blue camp, while Sean Lien’s ranks were almost entirely one-dimensional.

The second feature was that of optimism versus concern, or perhaps you could say of happiness compared with sorrow. The KMT regards Taipei as the capital of its fictitious China and would be mortified should Sean Lien lose. Ko, on the other hand, is far more positive, with a feeling of optimism for the potential for reinventing the city.

Third, there is the opposition of ordinary folk versus the rich and powerful. Ko comes from the masses. Sean Lien was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. One is the counterbalance of the other, a desire to challenge the stranglehold officials have on power compared with wanting to maintain a system of privilege. It is informative to see senior officials and political heavyweights around Sean Lien, compared with the ordinary citizens Ko surrounds himself with.

Then there is the progressive versus the reactionary. Ko symbolizes reform, Sean Lien represents holding on to the old way of doing things. The old way of doing things is to keep Taiwan engaged under the party-state system, which means that the KMT must be in power, regardless of what this might mean for democracy. Progress, on the other hand, seeks out the hope that change brings.

Finally, there is the contrast of youth versus age. Sean Lien is actually younger than Ko, but the youth support is firmly with Ko. The Ko march was more like one long carnival parade — Love: Embrace Taipei — while Sean Lien’s parade was dictated by the senior party figures presiding. Some people were even weeping.

The KMT has a sense of entitlement when it comes to ruling Taiwan. It sees the country as its own. Taiwan is not that, nor is the capital the exclusive preserve of the party. The election of its mayor concerns whether the city’s residents have the power in their hands.

This election, in which the young generation are actively participating, will bring change after the long, drawn-out malaise under which the city has labored, after eight years of former mayor Ma and another eight of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

It will bring change with friendship, courage, passion, creativity, freedom, enterprise, equality, tolerance and aspiration, and move toward a brighter future for Taipei.

Lee Min-yung is a poet.

Translated by Paul Cooper


Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2014/11/29



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Photo courtesy of the Representative Office in Moscow

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