It seems that the descendants of Sun Zi and followers in Taiwan know this very well. As an illustration, there are two blogs in Taiwan that got the essence of Sun Zi.
Background (Also here, and update here)
While Jujuflop pointed out the potential 'legal' mess in a non-confidence vote in Taiwan, there has been more innovative solutions proposed around the internet.
Before we go into it, let's clarify a few minor points
- Let's note Chen himself is not guilty nor even charged at this point. Chances are that he is clean himself. Whether he silently permitted the alleged corruption or secretly conceal the alleged crime (of his wife and son-in-law) is anybody's guess. However, his inability to smell the fishy signs and act proactively before the media caught them is not something any politician should be proud of, given various allegations and rumours preceding the explosion of the scandal and how wide-spread the charges are.
- The great Kim Dae-Jung of Korea, who had not only led Korea out of the Asian Financial Crisis, but emerge even stronger, had to resign when his sons got into similar corruption scandal. Note Kim resigned only after the sons were sentenced. Chen's son-in-law is still "presumed innocent". Note also that there is no material difference in whether 'son-in-law' or 'son' commited the crime. They both used their relationship with the president for profiteering. It is how the 'leaders' act and react that alters the voters' impression.
- Let's also note even the son-in-law, though very likely to be convicted of multiple crimes, is still waiting for a verdict. Even though there are theories speculating that it is hard to convict him of these kinds of crimes in Western legal systems, in Asian courts OJ Simpson will not get away, same can be said about Chao
- "Keywords" posted a nice critic on the notorious partisan media in Taiwan. See how far the partisan editors are willing to twist facts for their own political agenda. (The majority of "English teacher blogs" in Taiwan are even worse, but they are blogs that represent personal opinions, not MSM.) This is why Taiwan's road to practicing democracy still has a long way to go.
Therefore, all we are talking about is whether "no-confidence vote" is a valid tactic or not. Because whether it is right to do so is up to the decision of every individual voter, not the politicians, nor commentators like us. And they will tell us with their votes.
- Some argue that it may not be, because it is extremely unclear whether Blue will get 2/3 seats in such scenario, though it is sure that PFP will be further marginalized
Now, Let's go back to the 2 case studies. View these as purely academic cases, not as my endorsement to their causes.
1) Another approach: choose the battleground to fight
A deep Blue (be warned) blogger Pifeng proposed recalling the Legislative Yuan members in northern Taiwan, where Blue voters are dominant. He noted that
- It only takes 20,000 signature to recall a LY member
- And if they chooses the battleground carefully, i.e., in Blue strongholds in the north, then all the Green LY member might be recalled
- Once about 25 pro-Bian legislators are out, it is then very likely for the anti-Bian team to gather over 2/3 votes in LY.
- If such approach is voiced as a credible threat, some of the LY members in question might switch side, hence saving the troubles of the recall actions
The assumption here is: people are firmly behind the recall, which seems to be very unclear as now it has been turned into a partisan fight. I am still not quite sure what the real poll data look like yet. The other issue is that the Green camp may do the same in the South, though they may not get votes from the centrists this time. And if they do it, it is precisely the situation a 'no-confidence' vote would lead to.
2) Leveraging: get the middle and light green
A classical story of leveraging is "Borrow the Eastward Wind and Borrow Arrow Legends" in Romance of The Three Kingdom.
This is from a (self-claimed) centrist who has been critical of both Green and Blue. He is as critical on Soong as he is on Bian. However, today the deep Green may label him 'light Blue' because he is definitely a supporter of 'recall'.
His ideas essentially take the centrist path, maximizing support from all camps and turning DPP's weapons against itself. To maximize support, he argues Ma needs to leverage support from the middle and light green like himself and those slightly (or considerably) greener than himself. The key insight (surprise!) is that Ma does not need to care about the deep Blue and should not be bothered about short-term dip in poll. What he lost in these polls are the deep Blue supporters who would vote for him in 2008 blindly. Therefore, Ma made a big mistake when he danced to Soong's tunes. Instead, Ma should switch back to the color-indifferent (or "purple") appeal, and find common ground with these people. To turn DPP's old tricks against itself, he proposed the China card, i.e. neutralize DPP's usual divisive China threat tactics and compare the scandal with that of the mainland in 1989
In fact, the mainland government has been very cooperating these days. e.g., by staying away from the politics on the island, and even go as far as censoring reports and commentary about the scandal in mainland. (I believe many observers mis-read that as fearing democracy and criticism on its own corruption).
The last lesson on strategy, it helps one to see the big picture if one can step back and take a by-standers' point of view. Because it is usually the neutral parties who are able to think rationally. The centrist/light-Blue blogger is able to see this because he can observe objectively.
(Update) Wow, this is fun. Great drama to watch. Chen Shui Bian has just opened a new can of worms. He said, "I did not have sexual relatioship with that woman". Sorry, what he actually said was,
- Mr Chen claimed the First Lady had never directly received gift vouchers in exchange for support in a struggle over the management of the Sogo department store as alleged by the opposition.
- He also said "I asked her again if she has met with merchant Chen You-Hao and her answer was negative". (The allegation of meeting Chen You-Hao is a separate case of political contribution) The remark drew immediate response from DPP legislator Shen and Chen YH himself.
- Chen also chose to speak Minnan dialect in his speech, wooing deep-Green audience who are already supporting him without reservation, but alienating the middle Hakka voters. A decision he will regret in future.
Update 6/21 It is hard to find neutral commentaries in the polarized media in Taiwan. Apple Daily and Jiang Chunnan are the rarities. But it seems Jiang is on vacation or Jimmy Lai has received some instruction from his higher-up again (I hope this is only a joke).
Anyway, I will make compromise by looking at the dissenting voice within the 2 camps. Here is from DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (more radical than CSB in promoting independence. e.g. He tried to lay all the blame of the scandal on the (alleged) strategic mistake of the Blue camp. He also denied it was the ethnic divisive drive DPP took that "eased" CSB's crisis. So keep in mind his deep green biase and his conflict of interests in intra-DPP power struggle). But interesting to read and to see the other end of the spectrum.
click to read full article cached
罷免總統，動作雖然大，但是卻是體制內的行為，體制內的國會既已經在處理中，若要動員當在立法院通過後，為什麼就大張旗鼓舉辦一連串的群眾動員，藍軍的解釋是要鼓舞社會對罷免案的支持。假使目的真是如此的話，那麼從民意的變遷來看，效果其實適得其反。在趙建銘收押時，罷免的支持度最高，有4成5，但目前反而略略下滑到4成出頭；相反的，反對罷免的由3成出頭上升到4成，雙方旗鼓已經快相當了。 (Not sure where the sources are. China Times poll has 43% for recall vs 34% against)
根據最近一項政大作的民眾認同調查，認同自己是中國人創新低只有5.1％，這可算是統派的基本教義派；認同自己既是台灣人也是中國人的43.5％，算是不統不獨的中間派；認同自己是台灣人的高達46.4％。但這些恐怕不能認為都是基本教義派，基本教義派大抵接近3成。 (Again, there is probably minor biase in these numbers. But the trend he quoted is quite true)
(One thing I agree with Lin, is that Ma's failing to detach himself from corrupted factors in KMT, e.g. Taitung, backfires)