Sunday, January 9, 2022

Three great pieces (and one important take) on today's votes

I've been busy. So busy that while I've had time to follow the Freddy Lim recall vote or the Taichung 2 vote, I haven't had time to write about it. There's no point now, when there are so many good takes to be had elsewhere. 

Pretty much all I can add is that I hope, as these two votes are going on, that the consistent refrain I hear from friends and acquaintances hold: since the Chen Po-wei recall and the failure of the four referendums, a lot of people I know are getting fed up with the KMT's waste of the government's time and resources in pushing boring, hypocritical issues and a series of revenge recalls. This is all anecdotal: I didn't do a formal poll or anything. But most locals I know seem sick of this massive, harrumphing frippery and want it to stop. 

I don't know how many people in the two districts voting today feel that way, but I can imagine some of them do. 

I'd also like to note that despite Chen and Lim both being non-DPP (Chen is from a newer, small party and Lim is currently independent) and not having access to DPP resources, the DPP seems to have pulled out every stop they could in supporting them. Lim especially has had DPP heavyweights fighting for him for some time. Whatever resources he's not getting from the DPP, he sure is getting their time and manpower. 

I did pop by Freddy's pre-vote rally last night, but sadly had to leave before it got started to attend a work event (I could have skipped the work event but honestly did not want to. They put on a good spread). A quick scan of his Facebook page shows that the DPP turned out in force for him, with President Tsai and DPP Deputy Secretary (and former Sunflower Movement leader) Lin Fei-fan both speaking for him. Huang Jie, also formerly of the NPP and councilor who survived her own recall in Kaohsiung, showed up, as did rapper Dwagie and more. And this isn't the first time some of them have appeared with him.

Beyond that, though, it's a better use of everyone's time to point out some of the other useful and intelligent discourse that's already popped up around these two elections rather than repeat the same takes I agree with. 

First up is a backgrounder on the two districts in question, from Frozen Garlic. 

He gives Taichung equal time to Taipei, which few others are doing. I appreciate that -- Freddy is very interesting, but so is watching the Yen clan get pummeled by the media. I tend to agree with FG that Lim will probably survive the recall, and I'd rather be Lin Ching-yi than Yen Kuan-heng...both in general (because Yen is gross) and in this election. 

You may remember Lin as the idealist who resigned as the Tsai campaign's spokesperson after she said advocating unification is tantamount to treason. It seems the DPP needed to politically exile her for awhile, but was never really all that mad about it. She also resigned from an appointment at the Executive Yuan because she couldn't stand seeing the aftermath of the Sunflowers who were beaten in the street after attempting to occupy the building. She was criticized over some moves during the labor reforms of the first Tsai administration, though I bet most people don't remember that about her.

Yen Kuan-heng, on the other hand, is the son of Yen Ching-piao and I will forget his name (again) as soon as I publish this.

Next, a good piece in VOA from Erin Hale. This one focuses on Freddy, but has a lot of great background on the revised recall procedures and the nature of the "revenge recalls", as well as pointing out what makes Freddy unique (and, I think, likely to survive this). Pay attention to the quote at the end from Wen-ti Sung, which I think captures the heart of the issue perfectly. It ends the piece on a bang, and is by far the most important takeaway.

It's worth pointing out that while it can be said Freddy is one of the few who advocates obliquely for Taiwanese independence, whether others do as well is based entirely on how you define "independence". If you define it as "only a formal declaration and change of name constitute independence", then yes, Freddy is a rare gem. If you define it as "any status in which Taiwan is not governed by the People's Republic of China and does not wish to be", then we already have independence, and Tsai herself has said so -- calling Taiwan "an independent country with the name 'Republic of China'". I happen to hew to the latter definition. I'd like to see a name change, but it's not urgent.

Even so, Freddy is still a rare gem. Just for other reasons!

Finally, Taiwan Report has done some fantastic podcasts on these campaigns. They point out the newly-invigorated reporting on the corruption of the Yen clan of Taichung, the fact that unlike the other legislators targeted for recall, Freddy has won re-election already and the scandals surrounding him are fairly minor, and otherwise predict at least one win for the DPP. I also appreciate that he spends as much time on Taichung as the Freddy Lim recall, choosing to do one podcast on each. Taiwan Report spends a lot of time on factional politics and the corruption of the Yens.

Here, all I have to say is that I agree: Freddy will probably survive. I personally think the DPP will win in Taichung but I am not quite as sure. 

To round this off, check out John Feng's tweet about how the outcome of these votes could affect the Foreign and National Defense committee. Click through to read the whole thread.

Alright, that's about it. I need to get out and do something productive. Sitting at home hearing about local COVID cases on the rise and waiting for votes to come in isn't fun.  

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