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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Elections are not a clowning spectacle

Elections are not a clowning spectacle

We are now in the countdown to next year’s presidential election, which is to be held on Jan. 13. The candidates are striving to make their voices heard and jockeying for a lead position in opinion polls to avoid being dumped by tactical voters, and that is all fine as long as they stick to legitimate methods rather than anything too ugly.

While Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the candidate nominated by the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has been proposing his political standpoints one by one, the two opposition party nominees — New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) — have not been using policy proposals as their main talking points.

The opposition parties started out by sloganeering about “taking the DPP off the shelf,” but without presenting any attractive goods to put in its place. This absence of tangible proposals was enough to make people shake their heads in dismay.

Later, when the issue of an electoral alliance between the “blue” KMT and the “white” TPP came to the fore, the two candidates proceeded to openly squabble about which of them should stand for president and which for vice president. Ko told Hou that “Even if I give way for you to stand for president, you will still not be elected.”

The 66-year-old Hou responded to this barb by asking with a creepy wink, “Are you sure I am the one you want to marry?”

In his turn, the 64-year-old Ko rolled his eyes and chided the KMT, saying: “This feels like the bigger party squeezing the smaller one — it is just like a forced marriage.”


If such a scene were to take place on the TV dating show Love Match (我愛紅娘), it would be enough to put viewers off their dinner, but to put on such a show of cheeky banter and flirting in the run-up to a presidential election turns the election into a variety show, and a childish one at that.

Just imagine what would happen if these second-rate political clowns, who cannot tell the difference between humor and nonsense, were to engage in such vulgar and corny repartee while representing our country on diplomatic occasions.


It is sad to see how the right to elect a president, for which so many democracy pioneers struggled while sacrificing their lives, freedom, youth and property, is now being trampled upon by Hou, Ko and the parties they represent.

Elections are not carnivals. In a democratic country with no foreign enemy looming over it, it would not be so horrifying for an election to turn into a variety show. At most, it would result in harm to the economy and the public’s livelihood. However, that is not the case for an election in Taiwan, with its archfoe China watching from the sidelines like a hungry tiger.

Taiwanese voters face a choice between a candidate who follows a Taiwan-themed democratic path and his opponents who are fellow travelers or agents of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party. It is a stark choice between life and death for Taiwan and its democracy, and it leaves no room for fooling around as if it were a carnival.

Instead of filling the pages of the media with their views about what they would do and what they would change if voted into office, Hou and Ko have nothing more to offer than silly remarks. Clearly, they are both far from ready to take on the onerous duties of president and vice president.

Chang Kuo-tsai is a retired associate professor of National Hsinchu University of Education.

Translated by Julian Clegg

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/10/30

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Taiwan Referendum Alliance convener Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) yesterday criticized the police for fining him for violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) when he walked around outside the Presidential Office with a donation box and some supporters on Wednesday.

Tsay went to Zhongzheng First Precinct police station on Wednesday to pay the fines he had previously received for violating the Act. Tsay had received tickets totaling more than NT$800,000 because he has been conducting a sit-in demonstration against the Assembly and Parade Act outside the Legislative Yuan since October 2008.