Posts Tagged ‘Lee Ching-hua’

Lo Fu-chu? Liu Wen-hsiung? Probably not, but just maybe…

November 18, 2011

There have been a couple of intriguing stories published in the China Times in the past couple of days dealing with candidates who may or may not jump into a legislative race.

Yesterday, there was a story about Lo Fu-chu 羅福助, who may be considering a run in New Taipei 12.  (New Taipei 12 is centered on the Xizhi district.)  Lo is one of Taiwan’s most infamous citizens.  He is widely considered to be one of the top figures, perhaps THE top figure, in Taiwan’s organized crime landscape.  Lo previously sat in the legislature, winning in 1998 and 2001.  His tenure in the legislature was marked by controversy, to say the least.  He was often verbally attacked by other legislators who wished to grandstand as being against organized crime.  Lo did not always react with restraint.  In one case, Liao Hsueh-kuang 廖學廣, a colorful legislator in his own right, locked horns with Lo.  A few days later, Liao was abducted.  He reappeared naked inside a dog cage next to a road a few days later.  Maybe this was just coincidence; maybe it wasn’t.

His son, Lo Ming-tsai 羅明才, entered the legislature in 2001 and is currently running for his fourth term in New Taipei 11 (Xindian).  Whereas his father has always run as an independent, the son has always represented the KMT.

Anyway, Lo Fu-chu is apparently considering running in New Taipei 12.  This is a very blue district, and the incumbent, Lee Ching-hua 李慶華, has been in the legislature since 1992.  (Lee is an ROC aristocrat; his father, Lee Huan 李煥, was one of Chiang Ching-kuo’s most trusted lieutenants and rose all the way to Premier.)  In a straight KMT-DPP fight, Lee’s re-election is a foregone conclusion.  However, if Lo jumps in, things might change.  The fascinating thing about Lo Fu-chu is that no one quite understands how he wins votes.  His organizational network is unlike anyone else’s.  In a single seat race, he might have no votes at all, or he might shock everyone and win 20%.  One thing I’m pretty sure of is that his poll numbers will be close to zero, even if he ends up winning 20%.  So if he does run, we will have no idea of his impact until the votes are counted on election night.  However, if he does end up winning 20%, you can bet they will mostly come out of the blue pool of votes.  This could throw the race to the DPP’s candidate, Shen Fa-hui 沈發惠.  I don’t think Shen will end up winning, but now there is a plausible script that ends with him in the legislature.

Why would Lo try to take out Lee?  According to the report, the two never clashed personally, but Lo did have a confrontation with Lee’s sister, Diane Lee 李慶安.  If I remember correctly, Diane Lee ended up in a neck brace after a scuffle with Lo on the floor of the Legislative Yuan.

If Lo does run, there is a chance that his presence could spill over into other races.  Of course, his son would have to fend off a lot more questions about organized crime.  And if any upper level KMT figures are stupid enough to get on a stage with Lo Ming-tsai and publicly praise him as an upstanding young man while his father is drawing our attention back to the connections between organized crime and politics, there could be a disaster for the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou.  Admittedly, the chances of this happening are remote, but it’s fun to speculate recklessly!

Two days ago, a story in the China Times noted that former PFP legislator Liu Wen-hsiung 劉文雄, a longtime member of James Soong’s inner circle, transferred his household registration from Pingzhen 平鎮市 to neighboring Zhongli 中壢市.  The critical point is that he just met the deadline for transferring registration in time to be eligible to run in his new district.  So before, he was eligible to run in Taoyuan 5.  Now he is eligible to run in Taoyuan 3.  And interesting things are happening in both of these districts.  Liu might be planning to run, or he might not.  If he is, things just got even more complicated.

In many ways, these two districts are very similar.  Both have overwhelming blue camp majorities, a Hakka majority, and a heavy military presence.  They also both had contentious nominations.  In Taoyuan 5, seven term incumbent Chu Feng-chih 朱鳳芝 lost to the mayor of Pingzhen City.  He was promptly convicted of (something) in a court case, and became ineligible to run.  So his wife ended up winning the KMT nomination in a second primary.  Chu did not compete in the second primary.  She told the KMT to either unconditionally give her the nomination, or she would not run.  They declined.  The underground assumption was that she instead would be given a spot on the party list, and she might even contest the vice-speaker election.  However, when the list came out yesterday, she was not on it.  Apparently, her tenure in the legislature is coming to an end.  Meanwhile, the KMT’s race is not going smoothly.  At least two local politicians from the blue side are planning to run as independents.  This looks like the perfect place for the PFP to jump in and steal a seat.  The KMT candidate is quite flawed, the KMT vote is horribly split, the DPP is weak, and a PFP candidate with the stature of Liu Wen-hsiung should be able to do quite well.  However, it looks like the PFP has decided not to go in that direction.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Taoyuan 3, the seat is actually currently held by the DPP.  I still can’t quite believe it, but the DPP managed to win a by-election last year.  The KMT nominated Chen Hsueh-sheng 陳學聖, an interloper who originally thought he might become the mayor of Taipei and then shifted his focus to Kaohsiung.  When he figured out that Kaohsiung wasn’t going to make him mayor, he tried Taoyuan.  Eric Chu 朱立倫 gave him a post in the county government, and Chen managed to win the nomination for the seat in Taoyuan 3.  However, the locals weren’t too happy about an outsider getting their seat, and a couple ran against him.  This split the vote just enough to allow the DPP to miraculously steal the seat.  However, the blue camp holds a 20% advantage, and they should be able to retake this seat without much trouble.  They should, but they won’t.  There will be trouble.

The KMT has nominated Chen Hsueh-sheng again, and once again, there is opposition from within the blue camp.  Cheng Chin-ling 鄭金玲, who like Chu Feng-chih came up through the KMT’s military Huang Fu-hsing branch, has been in the legislature since 1998.  Before that, she was in the Provincial Assembly, and before that she served three terms in the county assembly.  So she has been winning elections for three decades.  She is currently on the party list.  She decided to run for the Taoyuan 3 seat this year, but she lost the primary to Chen Hsueh-sheng.  Like Chu, she hoped she might get a spot on the party list but the KMT apparently never seriously considered this.  She responded by announcing that she will run as an independent.  Chen should be terrified.  Cheng has deep local roots and a hard core of support in the military system.  Chen is still a relative outsider.  He doesn’t have military connections, and he isn’t a Hakka.  The support of the party machinery got him through the primary, but it might not be enough to win the seat in the general election (again).

So where does Liu Wen-hsiung come in?  Well, Cheng Chin-ling was one of those people who jumped onto the PFP bandwagon in 2001.  In 2008, she was one of the PFP people who entered the KMT and got on the party list in exchange for the PFP not running its own list.  I assumed she maintained close ties with Soong and the PFP.  However, she has announced she will run as an independent and will not rejoin the PFP.  Liu Wen-hsiung looks for all the world like a designated PFP assassin, sent in to decimate Cheng’s support.  I wonder if maybe there were hard feelings in the PFP about her reunion with the KMT.

Somewhere Huang Jen-chu 黃仁杼 is keeping his head down, quietly collecting DPP support, and wondering if he just might luck into another improbably victory in Taoyuan 3.

Of course, Liu probably won’t run.  But this wouldn’t be the first wild conspiracy theory I have spun involving Cheng Chin-ling, Chen Hsueh-sheng, and Taoyuan 3.  That first one seems pretty plausible today.  And even if Liu does nothing, the chaos in the blue camp in both Taoyuan 3 and Taoyuan 5 makes for a couple of pretty interesting races.

from the campaign trail: a small event for Chu

November 8, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, we walked from our apartment in Nangang across the little river to Xizhi to see a campaign event for Eric Chu.  The event was billed as an “evening rally” even though it ran from about 4:00 to 5:00.

There were probably 300 to 400 people at the event.  It didn’t look to me like the crowd was mobilized, though perhaps a fourth of them were working for one of the campaigns.  In addition to Chu’s campaign, two of the four KMT city council candidates showed up, and a third was represented by his wife.  I would assume that the fourth, Huang Jianqing 黃建清, is incompetent, but he is the incumbent mayor.  So I guess I’ll assume that he is overconfident.

There was a lot of fluff to the event.  One city council candidate would speak for a few minutes, and then they had a celebrity sing a song or two.  Both the hosts were (minor) celebrities, rather than the (minor) politicians you usually see in that role at DPP rallies.  This is not unusual.  The KMT has a very different rally culture from the DPP.  I think this must go back to the martial law era.  Opposition rallies were exciting, fun, and potentially dangerous.  You might see violence, and at the very least you got to hear someone daring to call the government nasty names.  KMT rallies must have been a lot less interesting.  During the democratic transition, the KMT often had to mobilize a crowd with free food and travel money or they simply wouldn’t have an audience.  To keep these crowds awake, they had to put on a show.  Fortuitously, most of the entertainment world is in the KMT camp, so they had a nice pool of celebrities to draw on.

Probably for a similar reason, there aren’t quite as many young men chewing betelnut and smoking cigarettes at KMT rallies.  (You know the type I’m talking about: the type that allowed the KMT to paint the DPP as a party full of thugs and always ready to turn any march violent.)  Young men looking for excitement would not have gone to KMT rallies.

But I digress.

Eric Chu is a pretty low key guy, as far as politicians go.  He showed up, we had a few “dong suan” cheers, and he spoke for about ten minutes.  His main message was that he wanted to work for the people.  If he had wanted to make money, he would have gone to Wall Street after college.  If he had wanted to be a famous professor (is there such a thing??), he would have stayed at National Taiwan University where he was already a full professor over a decade ago.  If he had wanted to be a powerful official, he would have stayed in his post as Vice-Premier.  But he wanted to serve the people, so he is running for mayor.  And this is an important election, being the first Xinbei City mayoral election.  So it’s important to vote for him.

I would note that he didn’t really mention much concrete that he wants to do.  The only thing he said was something very local.  Since this neighborhood is right next to Taipei City, he had convinced Mayor Hau to promise that Xizhi residents would be able to use Nangang facilities, such as the sports center.  If I put on my sarcastic hat, I would rephrase this as, “if I am elected, Mayor Hau will work for you.”

Actually, the most policy oriented speech came from the local legislator, Lee Ching-hua 李慶華, who spoke for 10-15 minutes on things such as building a new on and off ramp to the freeway and closing down a dangerous factory in the neighborhood.  This was unexpected.  Every time I’ve seen Lee speak before (and we’re not just talking about once or twice), he played the role of the clown.  Lee previously belonged to both the New Party and PFP, and he specialized in zingers about Lee Teng-hui.  In other words, he was the guy who threw red meat to the lions.  So it was strange to see him as the serious policy guy.  To be fair, he was reading from a piece of paper, and it seemed that he didn’t know these policy points very well.

Chu ended the rally before 5:00, mentioning that he still had five more events to go to.  (This was his tenth event of the day.)  He walked out into the crowd, shook everyone’s hands, gave a quick TV interview, and left.  As we left, a magician had taken the stage and was doing tricks with ropes to entertain the rapidly diminishing crowd.

All in all, I would say it wasn’t a bad event, though I wasn’t overwhelmed either.