Taiwan, As the World Turns in February, Chou Hsi-wei Breaks down in Tears

  Previous  |  Next  

Tuesday February 23, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

It was another dramatic Taiwan Kodak moment and Chou Hsi-wei was there in the midst of it. After many years of incompetent rule, this Mayor of Taipei County with his flair for grandiose drama tearfully announced that he would not run for re-election. Why? It wasn't that he did not want to run; it was that his party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politely refused to let him. Five crucial elections are coming up in December and the Mayor of the newly formed Sinbei City where Chou would run is one of them. The KMT cannot afford to lose any one of the five, but Sinbei City is one of the more crucial.

Why did the KMT turn against their incumbent mayor? It wasn't that he was not loyal, he was just plain incompetent and unpopular. In polls pitting Chou against any of a half a dozen potential rivals, each of them beat him hands down. His approval rating in the county was one of the lowest ever. People are hard-pressed to point to anything of value he has done in his years as mayor. Yet there was Chou in tears, wondering why the party would not let him run.

This wasn't Chou's first dramatic moment. Anyone who has watched Taiwan politics over the years would remember well his embarrassing TV appearance in 2004. Immediately after the assassination attempt on Chen Shui-bian, Chou appeared on public TV along with a woman who refused to let her face be seen. They boldly declared that it was a fake. Chou was absolutely sure the bullets had come from inside Chen's jeep and not from without. He and the woman had watched the video replay some 500 times and they finally noticed that one of the guards in the back of the jeep had a shoulder movement. That was the fatal give-away said Chou; that man fired the fake shots.

Of course a short while later, the forensic expert Henry Lee proved that the bullets not only came from without but demonstrated the trajectory and location. Yet even without Lee's elaborate demonstration, even the simplest of people looking at the way the bullets made a hole in the glass, could tell they came from without. Only an idiot would think otherwise, but when did that ever deter Chou.

The drama was not over however; the final touch was made by Ma Ying-jeou (a.k.a. the phony pony). Ma is not only president but Chairman of the KMT and yet in his true I-can't-be-responsible-or-blamed-for-anything style he claimed he knew nothing of Chou's not running until he (Ma) read it in the paper. Vanity of vanities, and duplicity of duplicities, will someone take responsibility for once? So the world turns in Taiwan.