just for fun

I’ve written enough serious stuff lately. Today is a day for light-hearted fun and gentle ridicule. Fortunately, there are three stories just crying out for a few groans.

First up is a story that my wife has been complaining about for the past few days. Eric Chu claims that his candidacy is causing marital tensions. Apparently his wife did not want him to run for president, so she is unhappy with him. He has apologized to her [Aside: has anyone ever launched a presidential campaign with so many apologies?] and suggested that maybe in her next life she will not want to marry him again. Oh, there’s a raging cold war in the Chu household!

Mrs. Garlic is not impressed. What? Another KMT candidate who has to override his wife’s objections to run for office? Just to name the most famous cases, Ma Ying-jeou, James Soong, and Jason Hu’s wives all opposed their advancement in politics. Hu publicly begged his wife before every campaign to “donate” him to the public for another four years. What is with all of these spouses who want their husbands’ political careers to stagnate? Maybe Chu’s wife wishes he could just go back to being a professor at NTU and enjoy life on a (lavish!) professor’s salary.

I wish we could dispense with the rituals of reluctant acceptance of power. It’s ok to be ambitious. Actually, democracy is more robust with leaders who want to change the world for the better and will dedicate their lives to winning office so that they can do that.

One more thing. Chu’s father-in-law must not have been at the family meeting where they decided to perform this play. When a reporter asked him about his daughter’s opposition, he answered, “What do you mean? Everyone in the family supports it [Chu’s decision to run].” Oops.

Second, Eric Chu is also complaining today about another topic. Some green camp figures wondered whether he had offered anything to Hung Hsiu-chu to entice her to withdraw. If there was an explicit quid pro quo, it technically would have violated the Election Law, which makes it illegal to bribe another candidate to withdraw. [Note: I have serious doubts about whether it would have actually been illegal even if he had offered her a sinecure in some party company. No one has registered as a candidate yet, and parties often coordinate nominations by offering positive sanctions.] At any rate, the green politicians insisted that the Special Investigations Division investigate any possible payoffs, so Chu had to answer a summons today. Afterward, his side about how the green side is abusing the judicial system for political gain.

On the one hand, this is all political theater. I accuse you of looking suspicious. You complain that I am making baseless accusations. Both of us look indignant for our supporters, and nothing comes of it. That’s the standard script.

On the other, the KMT is complaining about the DPP abusing the judicial system?? Chu does realize that his party is the governing party, doesn’t he? He does remember the cynical abuse of that power in 2012 to investigate allegations that Tsai had done something wrong in the Yuchang Biologics case in the last few weeks of the presidential campaign, doesn’t he?

Look Eric, these sorts of complaints will work with the deep blue people who staff your campaign and party machinery, but the rest of us vaguely remember that the KMT has a long, long history of abusing power. When you warn against the abuse of the judicial system or that unchecked one-party rule might endanger free speech or academic freedom, you aren’t really helping your cause. You might want to tone it down a notch.

The third story is the best, and it comes to us from our good friends across the Black Ditch. This year’s Confucius Peace Prize winner has been announced, and it will be awarded to a tireless champion of basic human dignity, luminary of economic development, and model among aspiring nation-builders. Yes, the Confucius Peace Prize will be awarded to Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe.

It’s hard to think of a person who better embodies the ideals that China wishes to promote to the rest of the world.

Actually, I was talking to a reporter today about why most citizens here identify as exclusively Taiwanese. Here is another example. I’m fairly sure that the twisted values that most Taiwanese hold dear would make it impossible for them to understand that Mugabe (like previous honorees Vladimir Putin, Fidel Castro, and Lien Chan) is deserving of the highest accolades. Most Taiwanese would improperly focus on Mugabe’s frequent use of violence to intimidate the population and ensure the proper outcome in several presidential elections. However, that is obviously wrong. Mugabe has done what was necessary to preserve order, and for that he is worthy of our respect and praise. Social stability is, after all, the highest of all Chinese values.

[Really? Zimbabwe has social stability? Maybe they should do a bit of background research before they award the next prize.]

[I wonder if Mugabe recently signed his country’s natural resources over to Chinese interests.]

[Honestly, the organizers immediately delegitimized their own peace prize by awarding the first one to Lien Chan, a choice nakedly inspired by their own self-interest. In retrospect however, I have to admit that Lien is still the most deserving recipient of the award. This thing gets more cartoonish each time. How are they going to top this next year? Assad? Khameinei? Cameron?

11 Responses to “just for fun”

  1. Ben Goren Says:

    Cameron. For paying excellent tribute on the occasion of the Emperor’s visit to his European Satrapy.

  2. Alex Shi Says:

    Other Confucius Prize winners are
    2012 Kofi Annan and Yuan Longping (famous agricultural scientist)
    2013 Yi Cheng, Zen Master and chairman of the Buddhist Association of China

    • frozengarlic Says:

      Ok, maybe I should do more background research for posts in which I tell other people to do more background research. Those are clearly less objectionable choices than Lien Chan, much less Robert Mugabe.

  3. nospamthanks@gmail.com Says:


    Why not Merkel? 😉

    I doubt the leader of a democratic state like David Cameron would ever accept such a tainted “prize”.

  4. frozengarlic Says:

    Nah, Merkel is accused of meddling in the affairs of another sovereign state. That is a clear violation of core Chinese principles. (Also, by getting Europeans involved, Merkel is denying China an opportunity to bail out Greece and thus become major power players in Europe.) As to Cameron, read any newspaper today or just refer to Ben’s comment above. (Remember, he doesn’t actually have to “accept” the award for them to bestow it on him. I don’t think Lien ever formally accepted his prize.)

  5. nospamthanks@gmail.com Says:

    Not sure I agree, Germany has generally been more pro-China than anti. Like on arms for Taiwan, the most Germany has done is sell some diesel engines for the ROCN’s fast attack boats. Whereas BAE (UK company) helped upgrade the IDF’s avionics – far more significant.

    As for Cameron, I think the criticism of him is a bit childish. Plenty of countries like France, Germany and the US have given the Chinese a warm welcome in the past. Is the UK different somehow, or is it because their warm welcome was a bit more flashy?

    “Remember, he doesn’t actually have to “accept” the award for them to bestow it on him.”

    Offering it to him would be a snub given the prize’s reputation, so I don’t think they’d do that.

  6. Greg (@greghao) Says:

    Not that I agree with that canard about how Chinese/Asian are unsuited for Democracy but naked ambition does sort of run counter to the whole Asian ‘thing’ don’t you think?

    • frozengarlic Says:

      Culture is flexible and ever-changing. To give an example, attitudes toward gender have changed dramatically during my 25 years in Taiwan. Anyway, the DPP doesn’t have much of a problem with expressing ambition, so it isn’t obvious that the other main party in Taiwan should be allergic to it.

  7. Zla'od Says:

    Kim Jong-Un. You know they’re thinking about it.

  8. ジェームス (@jmstwn) Says:

    I’ve noticed Taiwanese presidential polls always have a 3% margin of error but the margins of error for current US presidential polls are often 5-6%. Are the Taiwanese companies being more thorough?

    • frozengarlic Says:

      In the random sample surveys that are standard in Taiwan, sampling error is simply a function of sample size (n), with the formula being error=1/(squareroot(n)). If n=1067, you will have an error of 3%, but anything near 1000 will have roughly the same error. I don’t know what is going on in the USA. It could be that they are using smaller samples, or it could be that they have gone away from random samples. Most of the Yougov polls are now internet polls that using matching techniques. I have no idea how the sampling error is calculated for those types of samples. When it comes to surveys, I’m a grumpy old man. I trust random samples with live people on the other end of the phone.

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