Daily shorts Dec 28

Ma’s history of underachieving is good reason for him not to be re-elected for another four years, so says Jerome F Keating. He also discusses how leaks from the US and its recent emphasis on the visa waiver programme demonstrate it is meddling in the election. Michael Turton weighs in on the US interfering in the election. Taipei Times editorial discusses how the timing of the US visa waiver announcement is very bad, as is the timing of unprecedented visits from US officials. In similar non-interference vein, a Chinese official urged the port city of Xiamen to make more effort to strengthen ties with Taiwan ahead of the election.

Having made their plays for independent voters, the candidates now turn their attentions to the base (although if you need to shore up the base at this stage, its probably a bad sign). According to Michael Turton’s discussion of the discrepancies in the latest polls, targeting the base might be a really good or a really bad idea, but frankly, no one knows. For the record though, the latest China Times poll puts less than 5% between Ma and Tsai, while the TVBS poll has 6% between them. Apple daily puts 8% between them. In each case, Ma has a handy lead. The DPP plays down the latest Apple Daily poll.

This Taiwan Thinktank poll has Tsai trailing by 0.4 percentage points, with James Soong being the deciding factor in the overall outcome – “I believe that if we voted with the current figures, Tsai would win but not by a large margin. The first factor is the shift in James Soong’s votes. The other factor is votes from those who live overseas. But the bigger factor is still Soong.” Soong is down with that, averring that if he wins 5% of the vote then the KMT will lose. A more believable poll shows that young people are worried about their futures, particularly in regard to future job opportunities. Having courted them by dressing up their platforms up with social media flim-flam, will the parties actually come through for this cohort?

United Daily News scrutinizes the four qualities that Tsai has emphasised about herself: “ability to maintain a manner neither self-effacing nor overbearing in facing China; ability to engage in humble soul-searching in facing the people; ability to grasp the international situation facing the world; and ability to keep up with the times. The bit-chomping author blows up each claim as soon as he (I bet it’s a man) has listed them.

Ma cites how improved relations with China has provided Taiwan with a new line of defence.  Ma also responds to Tsai’s allegations that he has sacrificed Taiwans’ sovereignty. From the same piece, Ma harrumphs, “Maybe the milk fish farmers in Tainan, southern Taiwan, will still vote for the DPP as they usually do, but they have acknowledged that being able to sell fish to China is a good thing.”

All three candidates are campaigning hard in their latest stops on the trail (Tsai to deliver an important cross-Strait relations talk in Kinmen). Tsai and Ma continue to exchange words following their presentations last Friday over the issues of national identity and democracy.

Peng Ming-min has a long interview piece in the Taipei Times relating to his role as Chairman of the International Committee for Fair Elections. Peng is a smart guy with pro-democracy bona fides, but he’s also one of the fathers of the Taiwan independence movement. Saying that ‘the committee is neutral and non-partisan’ doesn’t change the fact that their judgements will instantly be written off as partisan prejudice.

Tsai discusses how democracy has become more constrained under the Ma administration. I just finished reading this article that says the same thing about Chen’s administration. So do we now consider LTH as the paragon of democratic values?

President Ma had a simply wonderful Christmastime, visiting several locations on Christmas eve. Dressed for the occasion in a spiffy white jumper and down-to-earth-just-like-you-and-me blue jeans, Ma did carol singing, gift giving, board playing and attended Midnight Mass.

Finally, the Taipei Times has an article based on the post that Bonnie Glaser made here just before Christmas. Alas, your favourite Taiwan 2012 election blog did not merit a mention, forever doomed to anonymity by the callous indifference of the descriptor “an online article”.

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