Taiwan myth: why DPP stuck with Ah Bian

Paradoxes and contradictions, unbelievable, politics in Taiwan defy our intuition. Ideology, ethnic division often overshadow rationality. They are always myths to the outsiders. Even for people who are familiar with Taiwan, it is a non-trivial task to understand the going-on in Taiwan.

In an interview to Phoenix TV in HK a few weeks earlier, Shih Ming-Teh, the leader of the Red-shirt anti-corrption movement, was puzzled at why Chen Shiu-Bian chose to do what he did. Shih said, "If I were Bian, and suppose Bian is innocent, there is really no reason not to step down while the investigation in under progress. Because, even if Bian is cleared of the corruption charges, because he is still in power while the investigation is in progress, the opposition will find an excuse to accuse him of influencing the investigation. Instead, if he steps down temporarily, and emerged as innocent, he can really prove himself to be clean."

Meanwhile, Ma Ying-jeou is no better. Caught in a similar, although milder, case with Chen's Special Budget mis-use, Ma, a Harvard-trained lawyer, had found the "Anthony Leung wisdom" of thinking that aftermath donation will prove himself clean.

Another myth is about why DPP is willing to bundle itself with Ah Bian and sink with him, and why CSB chose to give up the center and appeal to the deep Green who are his supporterd no matter what. This has puzzled me for a while, until I read this New News article (初選制度,害民進黨變一言堂), the answer lies in DPP's primary nomination system.
  • 一向大鳴大放的民進黨,成為一言堂,貪瀆的人沒事,批評貪瀆的人反而要被移送中評會,民進黨到底為什麼變成這樣?又怎麼連反都不敢反?有人說,「黨沒有分裂本錢、天王間的恐怖平衡,保住了扁的地位。最佳切割點應在年底北高選舉後。」立委黃偉哲表示:「病人在病重時,是否適合再做大手術?」
  • 但其實,追根究柢起來,明年的「立委初選」就是他們自我閹割的癥結。一位同樣不願具名的南部立委不諱言地表示:「黨內各個有意參選的人,為了順利爭取提名出線,現在的﹃不語﹄是理所當然的。因為他必須考慮到後果,如果得罪了深綠選民,絕對在初選中討不到便宜。」民進黨的初選制度,是採三○%的黨內黨員投票;加上七○%的民調為基礎來決定候選人。
  • 不過,如果是考慮初選,由深綠主控的黨員投票目前祇占三○%;具決定性的還是七○%的民調,雖然淺綠與中間選民已傾向不表態,又為什麼沒人考慮「造反」,以呼喚出這群不表態的選民衝高民調數字呢?
  • 最主要的原因是,民調公司的尋找和題目的設計、訂定,都由黨中央決定,而黨中央一片保扁意識,與黨中央作對會有什麼下場?再者,民進黨前民調中心主任吳祥榮表示,今年的全代會確定明年立委初選的民調採用新的方式,也就是「排藍式民調」,亦即,會在題目中設計一題題目,問受訪者的政黨傾向,如為支持泛藍者,就不予採用,這是「為了確保初選勝出的候選人,確實受到民進黨支持者的認同。」他曾說:「以往沒有將支持藍軍的樣本數排掉,容易造成選出來的代表有代表性不足的問題。敵對方會刻意在民調上支持某人,但此人在真正代表民進黨出來參選時並不會當選,所以現階段的民調方式需做改變。」
  • 但這樣的改變雖使得提名人更為「正綠軍」,卻也使得板塊不大的深綠選民,除了穩穩控制住黨員投票這一部分的結果外,也可以將力量延伸至另外的七○%,這也就是為什麼,陳水扁與保扁的黨中央都清楚,祇要控制深綠,就扼制了派系與有意參選公職的人的咽喉。這樣的邏輯,就可以理解為什麼民進黨這次會如此表現。
Basically, the reasoning goes, everyone who wants the party resources in his next election has to stick with the party line (i.e. CSB apologetic). Because the deep Green determines whether you would get the party nomination or not. Although the DPP nomination takes 30% party votes, and 70% public opinion poll, the public poll design is flawed, and rejects any sample from Blue-supporters, and defeats the purpose of being a poll for supports from voters outside the party. Hence, in reality only deep Green opinions were counted. Hence, CSB chose to speak Taiwanese dialect instead of Mandarin which has much wider audience. All senior DPP members chose to sink with Ah Bian even though that alienates themselves with the central voters and guarantee election defeat, because they would not even obtain party nomination otherwise.

1) the reason for excluding Blue samples is to prevent Blue-supporters from influencing DPP into picking the 'wrong' candidate -- but the logic is flawed, since the true conspirator will not reveal that he supports the other party in such polls. A better approach is probably to employ a neutral party for the survey or do not reveal the purpose of the poll
2) KMT has adopted a similar nomination mechanism, with 30% in party and 70% public poll weights. But I do not know if the so called "public poll" deliberately exclude some people


Michael Turton said...

What "anti-corruption movement?" The Red Shirts are happy to accept any corruption, so long as it comes from their own side, the Blues. Or perhaps you missed the times that the Red Shirts were addressed by James Soong and other well-known and highly corrupt Blues. They weren't too concerned about Shih Ming-te's links to one of Taiwan's biggest embezzlers, either. Nor did the presence of known gangsters supporting the event bother them either.

In any case, it will be interesting to see what happens now that the slush fund scandal is touching everyone, including the Great White Hope of the KMT, Mayor Ma. Will the whole investigation into slush fund abuse be slowly shut down, when faced with the choice of destroying many politicians and forcing the system to reform? Very interesting to see how the System will defend itself against the crying need for change.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's interesting to see what's happening here in Taiwan and the parallels that might be drawn between what happened 1 1/2 years ago in Canada with the sponsorship scandals. The Liberals were decimated (well, not as much as the Tories were about 12 years ago) in the last election.

Note how the Conservatives have not appeared appeared much better, ethically speaking, than the Liberals did in their time in power. Canadian politics are dismal indeed.

Will politics in Taiwan become very similar during the next series of elections? Hmm. Probably. Sad, eh?

Sun Bin, I'm sorry, but I think Michael is right. Ethics have to improve across the whole system. How does one does that? Maybe it starts with childhood? Maybe bushibans are our future?

Just kidding.

Sun Bin said...

1) i don't where Michael get the facts, AFAIK his allegation are unproven speculations. More importantly, even if what he said is true, it is unreasonable to ask the Red to turn down others who show up to show support, even if these other might be of questionable character. It is simple irrational and unfair -- they are as logical as CSB's Tiffany ring story.

2) If shutting down the 'slush fund' is the right thing to do, then whether it is Bian or Ma who would be affected, or it will be all the 600 mayors, it will be neccessary for it to get done. Anyone who has violated the laws should be appropriately punished, Blue or Green, Bian or Ma.
However, there is probably more to be implemented for a full solution, e.g., I do think the pay for President (NTD300k/month?) and Mayor (NT$170k/mon=US$6k) is too low and need to be at least doubled.

3) See this discussion (in Chinese), where the "3rd power", i.e. the light Green voters who do not tolerate Bian corruption is crucial for the next election. It analyzed very well that they are incompatible with the Lee TH faction, or Shih MT faction, nor KMT/PFP. In the analysis it explained very well that the million of red shirt demonstrators went out to the street to vent out their dissatisfaction with DPP's complacency on corruption, they are not manipulated by Shih ot Soong, nor would they become Shih's supporter in future voting. Shih just happened to have provided the platform for them to show what they think.

4) Thoth, I think it is very hard to change 'ethic', simply because it is too abstract and hard to define and implement. We just need to implement tha appropriate system and incentives. (Also important is to make the official's live well-off enough so that there is excuse to look for extra wealth - as mentioned above). Overall, I am generally optimistic, and I think what happened in the past 12 months will have positive impact on Taiwan's future.

ESWN said...

"the reason for excluding Blue samples is to prevent Blue-supporters from influencing DPP into picking the 'wrong' candidate"

I think there is a different reason. in history, true-blue will vote blue 90%+ of the time and true-green will vote green 90%+ of the time, irrespective of the candidates. the place is about 35% blue, 20% green and 45% independent. the 35% blue and 20% green votes are stuck. any election will be won thru the independents. there is no point in asking any blues about their preferences among green candidates. whether they answer honestly or deceptively, they will never vote for that best green candidate. so you might as well as restrict the question to the 20% green + 45% independent. this is where the election can be won.

Sun Bin said...

I think I would largely agree to this.

But viewing the behaviors of DPP and CSB recently, one has to suspect that somehow the mechanism excluded opinion from the 'independent/center'.

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