Taiwan Voters Face Interesting Challenges

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Thursday, November 24, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Taiwan has a hard won democracy, but that does not automatically mean it will last. Citizens must constantly vet those seeking office. Do they walk the walk as well as talk the talk? Perhaps more importantly, what exactly are they talking about?

The past provides cautionary examples. A prime one is the chameleon, former Democratic Progressive Party (OPP) chairman Hsu Hsin-liang. In the 1970s, he served in the Taiwan's Provincial Assembly for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KM1), After the Jhongli Incident, he ran as an inde­ pendent and won the Taoyuan County commissioner seat only to be impeached for "anti-government activity.•

A decade of self-imposed exile and fund-raising in the US followed before he would return, be pardoned and then serve as chairman of the newly formed OPP.

Hsu proved to be the kind of person who needs to be at the front of the parade no matter who the procession is for.

In the following years, he so frequently switched sides-aligning with the OPP, KMT, New Party (NP) and even running as an independent-that people would ask: "Who is he with this year?"

Totally different has been former KMT legislative speaker and presidential candidate, Hung Hsiu­ chu.

Sheserved the party well and loyally over the years. However, so strong was her pro-China unifi­ cation talk that even the KMT felt compelled to pull her from the 2016 presidential race and re­ place her with KMT Chairman Eric Chu in his first stint as party chairman.

Then there is former Kaohsiung mayor Han Guo-yu. Elected in 2018 on the promise of making everyone rich again, he quickly decided that he could run for president using the same message.

He lost and to the credit of the citizens of Kaohsiung, suffered the ignominy of losing in a recall by more votes than he had received in his original mayoral run.

Against that his1orical backdrop, the controversies in the upcoming nine-in-one mayor elections add grist for the mill.

In Taipei, KMT mayoral candidate, Chiang Wan-an, appears to have been hoisted on his own petard.

He touted his expertise in international business and law only to have the opposition point out that he was suspended from practicing law three times and that the "international company" he had worked for was a small firm that dealt with China.

The main spotlight shines on the Taiwan People's Party's(TPP) candidate for Hsinchu mayor, Ann Kao. Her background reads like: "What could go wrong n a life of privilege is given control of the gravy train?"

Kao is a TPP legislators at large. which means she got the position as a reward and not through an election. So what did she do to gain that privilege?

When working on her doctorate at the University of Cincinnati, she received financial aid from the Institute for Information Identity, which expected her to work for it when she finished.

No sooner did she complete the degree, than she met with Hon Hai Precision Industry founder Terry Gou and took a job at his company. This forced the Institute to bring up related issues and say that she plagiarized her dissertation from work done within the non-governmental organization.