Comments on 2006 muni elections

A friend of mine who writes on various Asian political science issues asked me for my view of the December 2006 muni elections in Taiwan. Here is what I am intending to tell him, but before I do I want to check my facts with the Forumosa pundits to see what they say.

In rough outline are the facts (not the critiques, but the facts) basically accurate? (I realize “facts” about Taiwanese elections are fairly scarce–but anyway)

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but I wanted to talk with a prosecutor friend of mine who is down in the Kaohsiung District Court about the 2006 city elections before passing my thoughts along to you. Truth be told, since all Taiwanese elections are marked by some form of shenanigans, after awhile it becomes hard to remember who stole which election! Such is life in a developing democracy. And also today I had a chance to talk with an attorney friend of mine who is also a minor “mover and shaker” in the KMT.

What I would say is this:
I am limiting my comments to the criminal law aspects of things. And my comments are more about the Kaohsiung mayor election than about the Taipei. From a criminal law aspect not much happened in the Taipei City elections. From a historical standpoint the Taipei city elections had one bit of historical trivia; it was the last election James Soong ever ran in. So it marks the official end of James Soong (you won’t have Jimmy Soong to kick around anymore—wait, I am getting my corrupt politicos mixed up, that was Nixon, not Soong.) Well, the Taipei city elections do have that historical footnote.

Now, laying aside Taipei and turning our attention to Kaohsiung city elections. What you ended up with were two major court cases coming out of that election. First by way of background, as you maybe well aware the Kaohsiung election was very close, the DPP lady, Chen Chu (who was a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscious, just like V.P. Annette Liu) won by only 1,114 votes. A very thin margin by big city standards (around 1,140,000 ballots were cast in that election).

The first of the court cases involved a video that Chen Chu’s camp took showing a guy on a bus buying votes ($500NT each) for the KMT mayor candidate. The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors office (including my friend) opened an investigation. This was early December, before the election day. Sure enough, a number of people on the bus confess to selling their vote. They catch the vote buyer, he too confesses. But—no link showing that the candidates actually knew this was going on.

What it amounted to was a pre-election publicity stunt for the Chen Chu camp; my prosecutor friend and I agree on that. It was kind of clever; put two of your guys on a bus rented by the other guy taking his guys out to a banquet while hitting them up to buy their votes. Have your guys secretly film it with their cell phone video cams and then throw a fit about it a week or so before the election. Prosecutors catch a couple of very small fish, you get to bemoan the state of Taiwanese democracy and portray yourself as the good guy trying to root out corruption. But this is a wee bit of hypocrisy as the DPP down in the south is well known for its vote buying acumen. So it is the pot calling the kettle black. But, it does provide a historical footnote; when playing Taiwan Politics Trivial Pursuit you can ask the other players; “what is the oldest film footage of an actual vote being bought in a Taiwanese election?” And the correct answer will be: “Kaohsiung city elections, December 2006”.

The other court case came after the election. Due to the narrowness of the loss the KMT candidate of course files a suit. It is a combined private criminal lawsuit/civil suit. The claim was unspecified election illegalities and invalid ballots. (here in Taiwan on these kind of election suits the plaintiff does not really have to specify why they think the election was invalid; “losing” the election seems to be the “legal basis” for the cause of action!—that is true, I have asked my judge students what specifically is the basis and that seems to be it)

And what the whole thing amounts to is a hand recount by the court staff. Yes, judges, clerks and court bailiffs all devoted a couple of hours a day to hand recounting all the ballots. The recount took a solid week. But in the end it ended up widening the margin for Chen Chu. Nobody seems to know exactly what the final result of this court case was or is but everybody basically agrees Chen Chu is the victor and for all practical purposes the election is settled.

A couple of non-criminal justice aspects that I heard at lunch just now with my KMT attorney friend:
Item one: When James Soong quit the People’s First Party after the party was in quite a bit of debt. My attorney friend did not specific a figure but I presume he means millions of NT worth of debt. I should be quick to add, that is not unusual for Taiwanese “foundations” (political parties in Taiwan are types of nonprofit foundations). Most Taiwanese foundations (be they political parties, think tanks or whatever) are running way in the red. The banks/donors simply eat the loss as a kind of bad investment.

Item Two: About Frank Hsieh. As you know Frank ran in the Taipei mayors election and lost. As you also maybe aware, yesterday Frank won the primary election to represent the DPP next year in the presidential elections. I asked my KMT attorney friend about this.

He said it was an interesting story. Frank Hsieh and Chen Shui-bian despise each other and have been in direct competition all the way back from the time they were working as defense attorneys in the old Kaohsiung 8 trial back in the martial law days. After Frank Hsieh is fired as Premier, he is sent basically off to die in a hopeless battle, i.e. the Taipei mayors election. The KMT has Taipei city basically locked up. The KMT campaign and election machinery runs quite well in Taipei, and Ma Ying Jou is still the powerhouse there. So the DPP candidate is basically viewed as a “throwaway”, sent to die so to speak.

Well, what Frank Hsieh is able to do is very, very remarkable. And it really shows his political skills. Although he does lose the Taipei mayor election he does not lose badly—it is not a slaughter like the experts (including me) were predicting. Instead Frank is able to hold on to all the available DPP votes (i.e. very few DPP voters voted KMT or for independents.) and came out of it looking like a Rocky Balboa type survivor. Frank Hsieh showing so impresses the DPP movers and shakers, as well as the rank and file, that he gets picked as the DPP candidate for the next presidential election despite the fact the incumbent DPP president (Chen shui bien) can not stand him and the fact he lost the last election he was in and was fired as Premier.

All he needs to do now is run up the long flight of stairs in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts and starting pumping his fist in the air while a ‘70s disco song plays and he will be the next Taiwanese president….well maybe.

Hope these comments help. I look forward to reading your piece.
Take care,

If I recall correctly, it was actually the day before the election, the video was run over and over by the Chen camp both election eve and election day. Not surprising and hardly original; Frank Hsieh did the same thing to then-incumbent Wu Den-yih, accusing him of improper relations with a reporter just before the elections, swinging the vote and winning what was expected to be a KMT victory, just as Huang was widely expected to win over Chen Chu. It doesn’t matter if the allegations are true, they do their damage, and if they’re made close enough to the election, proving them wrong or questionable will have not decrease their effectiveness. Chen, people forget, stepped down as CLA chief to “take responsibility” for the worker riots, and vehemently denied that she was doing so just to run for mayor. Who replaced her? Lee Ying-yuan, the poor schmuck told to run against Ma Ying-jeou in Taipei, and whom everyone points to to claim that Frank Hsieh did a good job in the last Taipei mayor elections.

Super, thanks Poagao, that is an important correction because if you “spring the trap” with super short notice (i.e. the day before and that day) then obviously it gives the other side zero time for damage control.

What? Poagao whining again? Huang may have been expected to win in the fantasy world of Blue polls, but things were hardly so clear in reality-based community. That election taught me quite a bit.

In any case, the vote buying case you refer to was organized by Su Wan-chi, who ran Huang, the KMT’s candidate, a nobody whose previous administrative experience consists of running a mediocre college in southern Taiwan, and who is unknown outside the area. Su admitted that he got Yang to organize a voter drive

[ul]Su Wan-chi (蘇萬基), the executive of the KMT mayoral candidate’s campaign team, admitted that he had asked Yang, who also is from Yunlin, to help mobilize support for the candidate. But did Su give Yang NT$60,000 to pay voters to participate in rallies? If he did not, then where did the money come from?[/ul]

The idea that Chen Chu organized a vote buying campaign to undermine Huang is on par with the claim that Chen had himself shot. This is UFO abductee stuff that has no place in serious analysis. In 2002 and 2006 the Green camp got exactly the same number of votes, 386K. Chen Chu would have won handily by 8,000 votes if there had been no TSU candidate, and you two have to find something else to whine about. The election was close because the TSU candidate poached votes from Chen Chu, not because Huang was the superior candidate (don’t make me laugh). Try looking at all the numbers, instead of citing KMT conspiracy claims as if they were actual analysis. Fundamentally, the KMT claims conspiracy! after every loss, to prevent their own people from noticing how awful their candidate base is, and how hopelessly corrupt and incompetent they are.

I have a long post on the issue on my blog … ng-in.html

The story did break on Dec 8, the day before the election. If you’re dumb enough to get caught vote buying, you can’t blame the other side for slitting your throat at the proper moment. Moral of the story: don’t do it! And if you do it, don’t get caught! And if you get caught, for fuck’s sake don’t get video’d!

Brian, the actual number of votes cast in the Kaohsiung mayoral election was less than 800,000, not 1.1 million. Also, it is prisoner of conscience, not conscious.

BTW, Poagao, the 1998 defeat of Wu Den-yi was also due to KMT incompetence. Believing their own propaganda, they were so sure Wu would win that they shifted resources to the Taipei campaign, where all they succeeded in doing was pushing Chen out of office and into a presidential campaign, which he won. Wu’s campaign has hindered by his own reluctance to continue in office, and the fact that a number of people were competing with him for the candidacy. Once again, you use conspiracy to avoid facing the very serious problems with the KMT’s electoral machine.


And don’t forget, Hsieh was the lawyer of Pai Bing-bing’s killer. Wu den-yi viciously attacked him for that, distributing thousands of videos. The use of video and audio appeared on both sides. But having a mistress is a lot worse than defending a killer, morally.

Wow. Seems we’ve touched a nerve here. Avalanche!

Yes, because Hsieh has made a career out of defending people who were the “enemies of society.” Hsieh has demonstrating character, and fulfillment of his oath of public service. And making some good publicity for himself too. Hsieh was doing his job…whereas Wu was simply demonstrating that he was just another hypocritical woman-using shit. The moral commitment to defending even the total animals like that killer is the very definition of a democratic society where rule of law and due process prevail. And having a mistress would demonstrate what key ethical stance…?


Wouldn’t that be the filmed footage of vote-buying in the 2005 Taipei County elections when the KMT claimed Su was buying votes on the eve of the election? That’s older.


Vorkosigan, you got that one wrong

That one was a “staged” vote-buying, as only the bus driver admitted the accusations - and let us not forget that he is actually working now in the Taipei County office…

no rebuttal to michael? we need more of those avalanches…:::::::!!!

Thanks for the help folks. I will make the corrections in the numbers and the spellings.

That’s a huge, bottomless hole to jump into, trying to rebut a slew of largely emotional arguments that don’t address the original point from someone who posts reams of material daily expressing his point of view on the subject and calling anyone who brings up facts he find distasteful “whiners”.

Actually, I think I just summed up Forumosa in one sentence there. Jeez, why am I wasting time in such a place? Surely I’ve got better things to do. I’ll just express my views come election time.

Is there any type of evidence that shows that something idiotic and petty like that vote buying video - fake or not - actually sways anybody to change their vote from green to blue or vice versa, or cause somebody to get out and vote in retaliation who was not originally planning to vote in the first place???

How many laws does one need to break to conduct this study? :laughing:

poagao, michael thanked you and other bloggers on his anniversary blog post- so he must respect your input at least some of the time. i think he was being a little too karl rovish with the ‘whiner’ comment myself. can’t you pick apart what he said, like tigerman does? that’s why calling someone a whiner is counterproductive- it shuts down the conversation. then again, if you are really interested in the conversation, you can’t be put off by such comments. i’ve had ac and cctang say petty things to me and i to them, but i was still interested enough to keep posting to them. of course if you have others around to engage you in lively debate about taiwan politics, you perhaps are wasting your time here. as for me in good ole nj, i don’t have those people handy…so as long as my interest in taiwan continues, i’m stuck :braveheart:

[quote=“Poagao”]…a slew of largely emotional arguments that don’t address the original point from someone who posts reams of material daily expressing his point of view on the subject and calling anyone who brings up facts he find distasteful “whiners”. [/quote] As we know, everyone’s got diverging views of what is best for Taiwan. That being said, there are very, very few people who put in the amount of time and effort as Michael does to bring Taiwan to the world. I also give him credit for welcoming and even seeking out opposing viewpoints for the sake of meaningful debate. In fact, I had seen where he had posted on your blog (the Immigrant in Taiwan blog - assuming that was yours…) asking where you had been and encouraging you to post more. As V pointed out - there’s no reason to be put off by anything he has said. Everyone here values the unique perspective you bring to the table. So,… let’s hear it…!!

That’s a huge, bottomless hole to jump into, trying to rebut a slew of largely emotional arguments that don’t address the original point from someone who posts reams of material daily expressing his point of view on the subject and calling anyone who brings up facts he find distasteful “whiners”. [/quote]

There is nothing I posted on above, Poagao, that you could not have found with two minutes work.


[quote=“mr_boogie”]Vorkosigan, you got that one wrong

That one was a “staged” vote-buying, as only the bus driver admitted the accusations - [/quote]

I didn’t say ANYONE admitted the accusations. What I pointed out was that Huang’s campaign manager admitted having a connection to the vote buying case, which Poagao claims is a conspiracy by the dastardly Chen Chu. You know that DPP, which , according to the KMT, can’t tie its shoelaces without creating six knots, but has no trouble handling complex conspiracies with smooth brilliance.

Here is the original TT article that sketches the various interrelationships between the participants. … 2003341780

As the article itself asks:

[ul]If Chen Chu really made up the case as Huang’s camp claimed, how did her camp collude with Yang, Ku, Tsai and the middle-aged woman on the bus to set up a secret relationship that was so systematic and sophisticated?[/ul]

All you have to do is quit with this conspiracy thinking crap and run down the facts. The vote buyers were connected to the Huang campaign, that’s a fact admitted by Huang’s campaign manager. Whether they got orders to distribute money, or did it on their own, is anyone’s guess. As Taipei Dawg pointed out, no one has any evidence that the vote buying influenced that campaign, and the fact that the Green vote remained the same from 2002 to 2006 is evidence that it didn’t. In fact the KMT made a huge increase over 2002, further evidence against the vote buying having an effect. But in the don’t-confuse-me-with-facts world of KMT conspiracies, numbers are of no relevance. In fact, Poagao says that they are “emotional arguments.”

You mean the Taipei County now run by the Blues?


as you can read from a post on poagao’s website, he considers posting in this forum a waste of his time. it’s a loss as he has a unique perspective, as does brian kennedy. i was hoping poagao, brian, and michael could all agree on certain points after debate. too bad 2 out of 3 ducked out.