Daily shorts Dec 23

An alleged leaked document from DPP HQ lists businessmen returning from the mainland, undecided voters, and defectors from the Soong camp as areas of vulnerability. Did we really need a leaked document to tell us that? The fundamental strategy in the run up to the election is to play it safe– “The last thing you want is to win 1 per cent of support and lose 3 or 5 per cent for a stupid mistake, such as a careless comment.” But they do plan to stage 40 huge rallies before the elections. Meanwhile, Ma’s campaign promises to focus on addressing tough policy issues: “Explaining government policies and goals will continue to be the core of our campaign. People want to hear more details about candidates’ platforms and want to know which candidate would solve problems for them”. The KMT’s alleged smear campaign has backfired according to this article, and their excessive negative campaigning demonstrates a lack of positive achievements. Perhaps that’s why they have shifted focus to Ma’s wife.

Michael Turton discusses how Ma is trying to elevate the stock market prior to the election. Ma also pledges more support for farmers and agricultural exporters. Is this what they mean by ‘vote buying’? Ma spent the night at a fruit growers house  – “I’ve become friends with most of the families I have stayed with during the long-stay trips and home stay is a great way to better understand local issues,” Ma said. However there’s at least one sector not feeling the KMT love, as aboriginal groups demand an audience with Ma having been denied access to recent debates. One group spreading the love KMT message is the Straits Exchange Foundation, who’s Chairman urged Taiwanese businessmen working in China to “make the right choice” and support the KMT. It doesn’t say whether he was wielding a baseball bat and electrodes at the time. Ma touts his success in getting agricultural products into the Chinese market, but the Taipei Times says the KMT’s boasting about its economic achievements is flawed, given the impact of greater economic integration with China. They also dismiss Ma’s claims to being “thrifty” given his enormous personal wealth and willingness to part with tax payers’ money. The Tsai campaign is focusing on small and medium sized enterprises as key to increasing competitiveness, and pledges to increase ICT investment so that Taiwan is on a par with Korea.

This China Times editorial discusses how DPP spin doctors are seeking to protect Tsai by covering up the truths of her involvement in TaiMed. The alterations of the TaiMed documents led the DPP to accuse the KMT of falsifying evidence. The prosecutor argues there is no bias in his investigations into the recent scandals. This piece discusses the irony of Ma and the KMT in attacking Tsai given Ma’s own previous involvements in alleged scandals. Speaking of which, the DPP continues to pressure Ma over alleged connections to the Fubon banking group. But Fubon Group says Ma rejected their financial donations and Ma denies any conflict of interest. Feeling left out (it must be a weird feeling for Soong not to be under attack) the PFP gets involved  by accusing Ma of taking unlawful donations in his 2008 election bid. Both Tsai and Ma say they have sufficiently explained away their recent scandals. But here they are accusing each other of being unethical and manipulative. The Academia Sinica President says the Yu Chang controversy  saga needs to end already. Are the recent scandals evidence of how the blue/green battle has become a divide between classes? (Me either, but read it anyway).  The TaiMed scandal continues to backfire against the KMT says Michael Turton. Scandals are dominating the news and directing attention away from more important policy issues—has it ever been any different?

Legislative candidates have picked their running numbers while some thought it was cosplay day. Jerome F Keating predicts a big shake up in the legislative Yuan as a result of the election. Not so fast, says the KMT, who reckon they’ll get 60 legislative seats and thus still have a decent majority. Pundits are not impressed by the performance of the legislative Yuan and argue it can only be reformed if the KMT loses its majority. Former President Chen Shui-bian doesn’t want a pardon from the DPP if they are elected; he just wants all his money back (sorry, he wants a retrial). Like every financially pressed university chancellor in the world, Ma promises to increase the number of Chinese students attending Taiwanese universities. With impeccable (and in no way contrived) timing, KMT Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, announced his highest approval rating to date in five years on the job. The DPP attacked Ma over his comments that he was surprised to see a decline in the rate of suicides; the ever self-deprecating President expected it to be much higher. In related news, Ma says that Kim Jong Il’s death is of no significance to Taiwan.

New Straits Times discusses how PRC citizens are proud of Taiwan’s elections. At least one professor is optimistic that the Taiwan election may serve as a beacon of democracy for democratization in China ::awkward silence, people shuffling towards the door:: Speaking of profs, the folks at James Town Foundation finds there is little difference between the two parties cross strait policies and that neither independence nor unification are likely in the near-term. And if you didn’t see this already, the Wilson Centre panel from a couple weeks back is worth catching (with Karl Ho, Dafydd Fell, Cal Clark and John Hsieh).

And finally, Soong’s running mate is going to visit Bhutan in order to understand how their happiness index is so high despite limited resources. What would this campaign be without the eccentric electromagnetic wave attracting man?

Mail me at jonathan.sullivan@nottingham.ac.uk, follow me on Twitter @jonlsullivan, or access my papers at http://jonlsullivan.com