2006-06-21

Case studies on strategy: Another approach to the Taiwan scandal/presidential recall mess?

One of the key tools in strategy formulation is 'leverage'. Leveraging means mobilizing resources that you would not normally be able to command, or even your enemy's resources, to achieve your objectives. The other is to choose the battleground where you are most likely to win, by tricking or forcing the opponent into there.

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.
In view of this, the recall is widely considered as immature from a tactic perspective for opposition KMT. However, it can also be viewed as a prelude to the non-confidence vote of the cabinet, and hence an integral part of that grander manuever (which makes more sense). In any case, one should not let the complication of the process stop him from doing the right thing (assuming it is a right thing). Therefore, I would argue that the legal complication jujuflop introduced is an issue independent of whether KMT should go for "no-confidence" vote. Because, if, hypothetically, Chen himself is involved in corruption, and still manages to make that a case of Blue-Green duel, shall KMT go for no confidence vote (or consider the same question if switched the role of Chen with Ma and Blue with Green)?

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
By choosing the right battleground, the chance of getting the required 2/3 vote is greatlky enhance (vs a general LY re-election)

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
  • 大家再想想,每次選舉時,陳水扁都是用哪些策略來打擊泛藍?第一,黑金牌:指的就是兩蔣時代留下的國民黨黨產,以及李登輝時代以劉泰英為掌櫃,至今仍逍遙法外的黑金集團。第二,愛台灣牌:用出生地來分化族群,用外省人當原罪來打擊對手。第三,中共牌:抹紅對手為中共同路人,把所有對他不利的事實都塑造成是對岸的統戰陰謀。這三張王牌自陳水扁當年從諸位泛綠大佬出線以來,每戰必用,每用必勝,已經變成他私人調兵遣將用的「兵符」了。陳水扁之所以還能再度發起本土政權保衛戰,手上靠的也就是這三支能替他招來群眾的兵符。...
  • 最後是「中共牌」。長久以往,民進黨就處心積慮地要讓國親和中共扯上關係。而泛藍從來也沒有辦法成功地反擊這張牌,充其量只能冷凍這張牌,不去回應。現在大好的時機來了。我建議泛藍上街時,請務必打出悲壯的六四天安門紀念主題曲,因為我們每個人都是貪污扁政府下的「民主烈士」。這首歌曲實在非常應景,面對全台大爆料,我們可以看到泛綠政客的反應,的確就是:「

    蒙上眼睛,就以為看不見(貪污);
    摀上耳朵,就以為聽不到(抗議);
    而真理在心中,創痛在胸口;
    還要忍多久?還要沉默多久!!!

    這首歌在全球華人的記憶中,所唱出的都是足以讓人握拳到滲血的憤怒,如果能打造新裝與罷免活動相結合,遊行的時候播放也好,當成揭發弊案廣告短片的背景音樂也好,那麼所產生的效應將是排山倒海。因為扁政府一旦與共黨政權畫上等號,這道兵符將會乖乖地落到台灣人民的手中,回頭全部起來造他的反!

  • ...如同馬主席所言。罷免案,我們要的只是要陳水扁下台,呂秀蓮繼任,我們不是要清光民進黨,更不是要搶奪政權,沒有必要發起台灣藍綠人民互相對抗的焦土作戰。我們要的是更多曾被阿扁愚弄的人民與我們站在一起,而不是為了激起更多含淚保衛貪污政權的台灣人民來與我們對立。三國演義中,曹操兵矢連營數十里,孔明草船借箭,不費吹灰之力得矢十萬,利用曹操的箭來回擊曹操,成為佳話。馬主席、宋主席,現在東風已起,你們準備好去接收陳水扁的那三道兵符了嗎?

To be fair, the corruption (and the reluctance to tackle corruption) in mainland 17-20 years ago was definitely a lot more serious than what Taiwan faces today. So I am not sure if many will take that analogy. But it is a good trick. More importantly, his ideas of leveraging are good demonstration of what good strategist should be thinking about.

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.
The recall tactic alone might have caused more damage than we had thought.

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.

大廝殺 只問陣營不論是非
林濁水

為了一個一定不會通過的罷免案,朝野動員群眾大對決,整個社會陷入歇斯底里的對立之中。
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)

台灣意識成社會主流
對這現象,一種說法是扁嫂病危,陳幸妤思夫、小安安想爸爸...等親情牌奏效。不過這解釋是有問題的,因為在這一段期間,社會對第一家庭有不好印象的,大幅上升到近6成。
另一種說法是,本土社團強烈打本土牌,訴求保扁才能保護本土政權,鞏固了基本教義派的支持,但這種說法的弱點也顯而易見,因為本土台灣主體意識雖然已成為社會主流,但基本教義派群眾目前還沒高達4成。
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)

民調映民眾矛盾心理
不久前對陳總統和民進黨的支持度掉都掉到兩成,這可以說連基本教義派都流失了,但在和最近罷免案一起做的民調中,陳總統的支持度已經拉到近3成,對備受批評的第一家庭有好印象的也近3成,兩個相當的數字都說明基本教義派民眾回頭來支持扁,但其實從在扁滿意度只有兩成時,反罷免的仍有三成,表示基本教義派再不滿意扁時的3成比目前反罷免的仍少了1成。由此可見反罷免的不只是基本教義派,連相當比例的中間人士都反罷免了。罷免和反罷免加起來高達8成,可以說台灣民眾高度向兩方集中的現象,而其餘不表態的只剩不到兩成,這些與其說主要是中間派,不如說多是對政治素不關心的人士。
反罷免的人遠多過滿意扁的,而且成上升趨勢,說明了民眾的矛盾心理,不少人既不滿阿扁,但對藍軍的罷免也反對。這些人除了不希望罷免帶來政治的不安之外,恐怕不少人是不能接受藍軍以清廉、正義自居。尤其在馬英九透過藍軍立委和縣市長發動罷免更令人側目:這些人中不少自己有案在身,是弊案主角,卻倒過來指控阿扁,而扁並非自己涉案,涉及的是家屬、親信。
對本土基本教義派訴諸「本土政權」最有動員力,至於對中間人士,恐怕藍軍愈動員,愈顯得雙重標準才是他們反罷免的理由。對他們最犀利的廣告是在電視上不斷重播馬統帥替台東縣長助選說的一段話:「罪不及妻孥,道理就這麼簡單」。為了鞏固自己的政權,「罪不及妻孥」講得理直氣壯,為了打擊政敵,動員前是說等到扁有直接證據,動員後則說不必有直接證據;動員前對趙建銘案說要哀矜勿喜,動員後則說要給他死得很難看。這種做法無非是只論陣營不論是非,也談不上前後一貫,中間人士當然怕怕,所以愈動員效果愈反動員。
(One thing I agree with Lin, is that Ma's failing to detach himself from corrupted factors in KMT, e.g. Taitung, backfires)

冒進代價是藍軍受傷
罷免是宋先發動的,宋目前的作戰目標在搶奪深藍基本盤,取得基本盤才能在藍軍中立於不敗地位,至於淺藍、中間的流失不是目前計較的。深藍既被挑動,馬感到威脅,於是兩人比冒進。其代價則是整體藍軍受傷,這猶其次,怎樣冷卻社會陷入歇斯底里的對殺,才是目前最重要的課題。

Categories:

19 comments:

David said...

Therefore, I would argue that the legal complication jujuflop introduced is an issue independent of whether KMT should go for "no-confidence" vote.
I've got to disagree with you there - I think it would be *massively* irresponsible of both the LY and CSB to cause a new LY election without any rules. A LY whose legality is in doubt is really the last thing Taiwan needs.

The responsible thing to do would be to pass the rules for elections first, and then push for a no-confidence vote afterwards. It might delay things a month or so, but that's a small price to pay.

Sun Bin said...

Doesn't the fault lie with the failure to get the new rules passed (whoever that is at fault, LY or EY)? Not the one who tries to use?

i.e. I tend to think the LY+EY are the utilities companies, and CSB/DPP/KMT the consumers who has some service agreement. It is never the consumers' fault.

I guess it is not a matter of choice. Because, realistically, do you believe it is 'a month or so'? If I were DPP, I would make sure the rule will not pass. e.g. by occupying the stage in LY, or refuse to cooperate in EY.

Sun Bin said...

David,

what do you think about the "Legislator recall"? Is it realistic at all. It sounds fishy but I do not know enough of the processes/rules.

David said...

Well, the CEC (who are under the EY) have made their proposals to the LY, so it is only the LY holding things up at the moment. [It's actually a bit unfair to say that it's anyone's "fault" as they were working under the reasonable assumption that they had another year to agree the rules.]

Thus the LY is both the provider and the consumer, so their fault either way! Even if that weren't the case - I'd say you have to balance the two arguments: Which is worse, an illegal LY or a delayed no-confidence vote? In my mind an illegal (or highly dubious) LY is close to a worst case scenario.

It should be noted though that CSB doesn't have to dissolve the LY after a no-confidence vote. He'd be equally to blame in my view if he did.

You're right that the DPP could block the rules being passed (but not for ever - the pan-Blues have a majority after all), but so what? Can you imagine the level of negative publicity the DPP would get if they obviously did that? I'd guess the KMT strategists would just love for the DPP to deliberately block the rule change ...

As for the individual legislator recall idea - i think it's technically possible but not really feasible. I'll admit that I don't fully understand the reelection rules: if you have 6 people elected from one district, and one of them is recalled there is no way you can fairly hold a reelection (you can't only allow people who didn't vote for the other 5 candidates to vote). However, you're going to start getting massively unpopular with the electorate if you use this strategy - and sympathy for the KMT/support for the recall would diminish with each pan-Green legislator that was targeted for recall ...

Michael Turton said...

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.

You mean it wasn't a partisan fight before? It always was, is, and will be, about the Blue strategy to paralyze the island's governance and throw the blame onto Chen. It has nothing to do with corruption, or the Blue camp would all be arresting each other. It is all about the obsessive hate of Chen by the Blues -- they just couldn't stand watching all those nice deals they had set up with China in 2003 get flushed down the toilet when they blew a 20 point lead in the electorate to Chen in the 2004 election.

Bifeng's idea won't work. Northern Taiwan voters have already shown the ability to vote on merit -- Premier Su ran Taipei County, and ran it well. Voters don't like being scammed, either. I think your objections are excellent:

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.

Another problem is election fatigue -- the public is tired of elections, and party coffers are hard hit. And too, the more time the Blue camp wastes on this frivolous recall -- pushing needed legislation aside -- the more the Blues risk being spotted as the actual problem here. Even with the media as pro-Blue as it is, it is possible that local electorate may turn on the Blues. I don't count it as a great possibility, but it does exist. Ma too, puts himself at risk. He's an ideologue pretending to be a moderate, and that mask can come off at any moment.

And don't forget, the more instability the Blues induce in Taiwan, the more likely it is their old friend the US will begin to understand what a bunch of empty-headed radicals they are. Right now, as authoritarians, the Blues get the advantage of being seen as the System party, the stability party. They are putting that at risk as well.

There is a lot riding on the roulette wheel here. It is more likely that the Blues will simply drag this out rather than force it to a conclusion, while coming up with more distractions for the voters.

Michael

Sun Bin said...

David,
I see where you are coming from, you are more concerned about not acting by rules. I agree it is not a good thing. But if other structural flaws in the rules surface in future (and there may be more cases as the original drafters are only human), i.e. emerged but not triggered by anyone, what should we do?
It is probably to late to talk about what has already happened. But whoever proposed the new rule should have proposed an amendment that the old rule persists until new rule comes into effect.

re: 'negative publicity'. i actually don't think there is any material impact. eg have the 50+ times of re-proposing and re-hrejecting arms deal further hurt either party? :)
plus: could the Exec Yuan/CEC stall it?

re: individual recall, thanks for your insights. this seems to be another 'flaw'? (the blogger seems to think the re-election will be based on 'universal' vote. then the system can effectively be tweaked into one-district one-vote.)

Sun Bin said...

michael,

We know both Blue and Green in LY care about partisan fight more than what they are elected for. but you over-simplified "Blue strategy" with your conspiracy theory:) They (blue or green) only stall the bills in retaliation when the bills they propose are obstructed by their opponents in LY and Exec Yuan. There are cases (though not often) rare that they reconciliate with each others.

re: bifeng. i don't know how people will vote. i am just curious on the technical feasibility.

1. i am very skeptical about the Blue assumption of getting 2/3 seats, given the voters are so partisan.
2. i thought the current taipei county mayor is KMT? Su was for quite some time ago?
3. election fatigue and election coffer: well, recalls in a few northern districts cost less than a general re-election, hence a lesser 'evil'?
4. 'instability'? that is what CCP would label. :) i think taiwan is quite stable through all these. as can be seen in Keywords' critic, there is really not much difference between Taiwan and US politics, esp Republican politics, is there?

Michael Turton said...

We know both Blue and Green in LY care about partisan fight more than what they are elected for.

No, we don't. I know lots of Greens personally and know they care very deeply about Taiwan. I also know Blues who want the country to move forward. Being Blue is not the same as wanting to destroy Taiwan. That is only the position of the top pro-China types. The KMT and PFP may be pro-China parties, but it does not follow from that that all Blues are pro-China.

but you over-simplified "Blue strategy" with your conspiracy theory:) They (blue or green) only stall the bills in retaliation when the bills they propose are obstructed by their opponents in LY and Exec Yuan. There are cases (though not often) rare that they reconciliate with each others.

What "conspiracy theory?" There's nothing conspiratorial about what the Blues are doing to Taiwan! They are quite open about it -- like just the other day, when they shut down the legislature to talk about the recall instead of working on the flood control bill, which the country needs (we're coming up on typhoon season here). At the moment there is a whole slew of bills waiting for movement in the legislature. The Control Yuan and Examination Yuan no longer function. The nation's top prosecutor, last time I checked, was still an empty post.

It's clear what the Blue strategy is.

re: bifeng. i don't know how people will vote. i am just curious on the technical feasibility.

1. i am very skeptical about the Blue assumption of getting 2/3 seats, given the voters are so partisan.
2. i thought the current taipei county mayor is KMT? Su was for quite some time ago?
3. election fatigue and election coffer: well, recalls in a few northern districts cost less than a general re-election, hence a lesser 'evil'?
4. 'instability'? that is what CCP would label. :) i think taiwan is quite stable through all these. as can be seen in Keywords' critic, there is really not much difference between Taiwan and US politics, esp Republican politics, is there?


1. I am skeptical on them getting the 2/3 as well.

2. My point is that with Su northern Taiwanese voters have shown they are willing to pick merit over political identity, or else he never would have gotten in at all. bifeng's scenario is interesting, but I think the voters will defeat it. It might work in Taipei, where the voters went with Ma because he was a mainlander, not because he had any skills or success.
3. True.
4. There are some big differences between Taiwan and US politics -- neither the Dems nor the Rethugs want to annex the US to another country, for example. Nor is there any evidence that the Blues have taken over the election system in many states as the Rethugs have in Ohio and Florida (and other places). And in the US while the papers of record are Establishment papers that tend to be pro-Bush, there is a vast and effective independent media. Here the media at all levels is awful. The level of partisanship there and here, though, I suspect reflect similar deep changes in economic structure -- in the US the middle class is slowly being destroyed, partly by deindustrialization, partly by Republican economic and tax policies. Similarly, in Taiwan, while the economy as a whole is doing well, income inequality is worsening over time and the middle class is not doing as well as it would like. When the economic middle vanishes, the political center often does too.

At the moment the Blue strategy is fomenting instability on the island -- what else do you call it when you paralyze the government and try to bring down the President? That may not be their goal, but that is the outcome of such behavior. What perception do you think the rest of the world will have when a political camp paralyzes the government to engage in a recall motion that it can't win? When it destroys branches of the government so that technically Taiwan has no government at all (last time I checked the Control Yuan backlog was 20,000 cases, it will take years to clear)? Blue strategy is quite clear, and quite effective.

The Blues are risking much here. When do you think they will stop? I don't see this as part of a grander strategy. It looks to me like a cart rolling downhill towards -- ?

Michael

Michael Turton said...

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.

That was my reading too -- made that argument before. The Deep Blues are going to vote for Ma no matter what he does, because they always vote Blue no matter how badly they get screwed. Ma would have looked a lot more Presidential, and a lot more leaderly, if he had stood up to this recall.

David at jujuflop argued, however, that Ma is going along with Soong because his recall strategy is aimed at getting the PFP -- who are largely Deep Blue -- back into the KMT, where they can form part of the power base he is building against the KMT Party Machine. In this scenario Ma's goal is to minimize differences between his party and the PFP as a strategy to bring those people back into the KMT.

Even if that were true -- and I have my doubts -- it still looks like Ma is sacrificing one goal to get another, when he can have both. The PFP is a fiefdom of Soong and lives or dives with him. There has been a steady trickle of PFPers back to the KMT anyway.

Bottom line, I still think Ma is better off personally taking the high road here. Unless they are thinking that if they give the Presidency to Lu she may attempt to run in 2008, thus dividing the DPP into various pro-Lu, pro-Su, and pro-Yu camps. Or, if she wins, they think they can beat her.

Their strategy has several forks. With the media paralyzed and Chen on the defensive, how will they handle things? It will require careful management not to go too far.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

Sorry to comment so much, but it should also be recalled that the KMT is 80% Hoklo and that by galloping after Soong, Ma risks alienating those people as well. They are already deeply unsatisfied with him over the ascendancy of Ma-faction legislators in the legislative Yuan.

Michael

Sun Bin said...

There is never commenting too much. :)

1. you mean 60% hoklo? it can't be higher than the population average, which is around 70%.
2. i don't think Ma should go after soong. if that is the reason then it is a big mistake. so the only rationale/motive for Ma is to eventually go for no-confidence vote and further marginalize soong. (some resistance within KMT, but that does not mean much at such early stage)
3. bian is also appealing the fundamentalists in the green end. esp by choosing to speak Minnan. but he does not have to worry about 2008, all he cares is how to replace lee tenghui. or for more short term purpose, to defend his position inside DPP. this shows that he knows he is quite weak and he gave up the centrists already.
considering this, i now agree that it is best for Ma in 2008 if Bian stays in power.

Sun Bin said...

Ohh..I think I said this before.
The best option for Ma (though too late now) about the recall, is to invoke the 'democratic rule' for Mayor candidate nomination.
30% KMT, 70% Poll.
Let the result decides.

The same shall be said about no-confidence vote (this is not too late).

If the test is passed, he is assured of popular support and it is a great argument against Green's accusation.

Michael Turton said...

1. you mean 60% hoklo? it can't be higher than the population average, which is around 70%.

I think it is more Hoklo than the average. I recall reading that figure in a study. In any case, we can agree that the KMT is not a monolithic mainlander party!

2. i don't think Ma should go after soong. if that is the reason then it is a big mistake. so the only rationale/motive for Ma is to eventually go for no-confidence vote and further marginalize soong. (some resistance within KMT, but that does not mean much at such early stage)

My bad language. That is the kind of move I was thinking of, marginalizing Soong. The papers today had several comments from KMTers unhappy with Ma's pandering to Soong. I don't think it is a trend, but it is indicative. Soong, as you have noted, has been a huge boon to the DPP. Here he is again. Hey, he did argue for LTH when the Deep Blues didn't want him to become President way back when. Maybe he's really a secret Taiwan nationalist. :)

3. bian is also appealing the fundamentalists in the green end. esp by choosing to speak Minnan. but he does not have to worry about 2008, all he cares is how to replace lee tenghui. or for more short term purpose, to defend his position inside DPP. this shows that he knows he is quite weak and he gave up the centrists already.

I am wondering about that whole Minnan thing. He's already hammered out an agreement with the DPP to close ranks behind him and he's adept at playing the identity card to shore up his political position. It's easy to read this that way (and I agree it is not a wise move). But I wonder also if he is attempting to signal the Hoklos inside the KMT. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction among the Southern Taiwanese with the Ma era.

considering this, i now agree that it is best for Ma in 2008 if Bian stays in power.

Here I don't agree. In power, Bian is a lightning rod for Blue attacks. They hate him obsessively, for beating them twice. Have you noticed how low a profile Su and Yu have? Nobody has attacked them. Meanwhile Ma is associating himself with disgusting partisan politics, saying unwise things that he has to apologize for, and generally get mud on himself. That tends to work to the benefit of Su -- who, like Ma, has considerable cross-party attractiveness as a competent administrator. IMHO the KMT may be too focused on Chen for its own good.

Michael

Anonymous said...

On Taiwanese--realize that there is a significant segment of the population that does not speak ANY Mandarin and only marginally literate? The majority of this group speaks Taiwanese. He definitely is going for "extra points" with the Min-nan deep green, but you can't deny that there is no good way for these people to understand the speech unless he gives it in Taiwanese. Many of those who don't speak Taiwanese understand it and most everyone else can read it in print. There is one group that this is troublesome for and that's Hakkas of the same age as Min-nan that don't speak Mandarin AND lived in Hakka only communities. I don't know that there's a good solution for this except that there could have been translations either by the news stations or provided by the presidential office and broadcast through the government funded Hakka station. Taiwanese was never an official language, but it was what the majority spoke, so people of the older generation, if they didn't live in homogenous communities, often just picked it up, including aboriginals and Hakkas.

Sun Bin said...

anon,

i guess it comes down to stats in a general approach
A. # ppl who understand mandarin but not minnan
B. # ppl who understand minnan but not mandarin
if TV/radio can be used as indicators, it contradicts what you claimed. because, mandarin is taught in school so most hoklo (except) the very old speaks mandarin well. in addition, i guess many older hoklo might have learned good enough mandarin after years of media immersion. OTOH, there must be some younger waisheng/hakka/aborigine who cannot comprehend minnan, even though many can as you said.
but i do not have the stats so you may be right.

---
then if one look at this 'strategically', per michael's and my hypothesis of trying to convert (vs strengthen the die hard supporters). then it is about # people bian can covert by his choice of dialect
1. potential convert in group A (exclude those who already made up their minds)
2. potential convert in group B
3. more importantly, how many would be annoyed and offended by bian's choice of dialect (wouldn't it be safer by following the 'tradition'?)

---
then it comes to bian's final motive. based on above, it is quite likely that this speech is not about the recall. as we all know what the result will be. 2/3 vote cannot be reached.
so bian is just pursuing his own agenda of 'localization' and shifting to 'fundamentalist'.
the TV defend is a decorative answer to the LY, he does not care about it at all.

Sun Bin said...

poll data from ESWN. note it usually does not take 2/3 vote to get 2/3 seats as the relationships is not linear (expoenetial right after the 50% threshold)

Anonymous said...

Sun Bin, I appreciate that your honesty in not knowing about the linguistic situation in Taiwan. That said, I'm going to go ahead and clear up the misconceptions:

1) There aren't just young waisheng/hakka/aboriginal that can't understand Taiwanese--there are many bensheng that don't understand Taiwanese.
2) The lack of Taiwanese media for 50 years was useful in keeping people who were schooled in Mandarin from reverting to Taiwanese or Hakka outside of school, but it has not been useful for teaching Taiwanese only speakers Mandarin. By the time TV was common in Taiwan, it already was too late for them. I think it's unlikely that anyone ever learns a language just from listening to the radio.
3) You missed my point. My point is those that understand one language but not the other AND have no other good or easy way of accessing the contents of the speech. Thus, the group that does not understand Taiwanese is actually quite large, but after you subtract the literate from that group, it's definitely smaller than the group that only speaks Taiwanese.

On strategy:
"Potential converts" is the right way to think about the problem, but to me, it's completely obvious that talking to your base and shoring up support is a lot easier than talking to people that are ideologically Japanese-haters/China-lovers. You'll never convert them.

I don't know what you mean by tradition. The DPP got elected in the first place because there was something obviously very, very wrong with "tradition" in Taiwan.

All of this ignores the role the media's played in framing speaking in Taiwanese as a "divise" tool, since the Legislative Yuan speaks in Taiwanese all the time, and no one ever complains.

Sun Bin said...

anon,

i think your 1-3 makes sense. the only question is the quantification at the end of (3). i.e. why do you have to subtract the 'literate'? do you mean they can watch subtitle (and is there)?
(i guess the assumption here is also that those who only speak minan/taiwanese are mostly illterate?)

on converts: i think we agree nothing can change the fundamentaliat on either side. it is the centrist i wa referring to as potential convert. but then the assumption here is CSB knew his speech does not appeal to the centrist anyway (see ESWN's poll)

by 'tradition' i mean the 'convention' that most peole are used to. regardless the right or wrong, people tend to not notice if you stick with the convention. you can try to change it, but there is a lot of uinknown about how it would be received, and i wouldn't choose such timing.

'divisive': yes, i think it is divisive. it is as divisive as the enforcement of mandarin around 1950. (i am sure there was discontent back then). it is always divisive to pick one among an population with different dialect groups, i.e the attempt to implement change.
that is why singapore chose english as the common medium, despite its 70%+ population who would prefer chinese (and the different dialect groups have no problem agreeing on mandarin).

Anonymous said...

The reason I subtract in the end is because you have to consider in the end how they can receive the information in the speech. If you're a Taiwanese only speaker and not literate, how would you receive the information in the end? On the other hand, if you're a Mandarin only speaker, you are highly likely able to read a newspaper or even better, the news programs are mainly Mandarin and will talk about the speech to death for the 24 hours after it was given.

I doubt centrists have a strong problem with him using Taiwanese. Some might be considerate of groups that don't understand, but that's a secondary effect. Most centrists probably understand Taiwanese.

To call it tradition is merely to hide behind that it was done in the past. So Taiwan wasn't democratic previously, do they follow "tradition" and don't hold elections? I don't get your appeal to tradition, especially since as you admit, there is a huge backlash evident today against the Mandarin-only language policy.

If we call it convention, the convention under the CSB administration has been Mandarin in any state/formal situation and Taiwanese in more informal speeches. Remember that CSB claims his speech isn't an official response to the Legislature, so under his conventions, he is following the norm. Remember that there's only one other democratically elected president who we can get a data point for and he LOVES speaking Taiwanese.

Let me ask you this. You pull up Singapore. Fine. But in Hong Kong, many Chinese who speak languages from Fujian/Shanghai/other incompatiable areas of Guangdong come to HK and they speak Cantonese and they don't think anything of it. What's the deal with 10% of the population absolutely refusing to give any recognition to the language that the majority of the adult generation in Taiwan speaks?

I know this doesn't compute from a "business plan" point of view, but what CSB did by speaking Taiwanese isn't just analyzable from "how much support he can pull". Speaking Taiwanese for six years has created recognition for Taiwanese that after many years of repression, that, yes, Taiwanese isn't just a "street language" or a "home language" or "unofficial" (in the Chinese sense of unofficial). It legitimized Taiwanese and even within Taiwanese, you see the effect in the rise of Tainan in Taiwanese society with the Tainan/southern dialect of Taiwanese becoming the prestige form of Taiwanese. For the president to consistently speak Taiwanese and speak it often (but he still respects Mandarin as official in any state situation), he has helped create a cultural phenomenon (he's of course just a part of it, but as I am saying an important part), that has legitimized Taiwanese.

The problem with your Singapore example is that English would be seen as neutral in Singapore while Taiwanese and Mandarin are seen as opposing and that's behind a backdrop of Mandarin having been forced on the majority of the population and Taiwanese, in some cases, literally being "beaten" out of people. It's not a relevant example.