Tsai Ing-wen for 2012

After revealing her intention of running for the president two days ago (3/9), DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) delivered a speech, titled "I heard Taiwan's voices - Tsai Ing-wen for the DPP presidential primary" in a press conference today to make the formal announcement, becoming the 2nd to roll into the race - after former VP Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

It probably took many by surprise, cos judging from the behaviors of all potential runners in the past, people might expect that Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌) would have made his announcement before Tsai did. Su managed to put himself into the spotlight again and again with activities one after another - music concert, book publishing, photo exhibition, etc, since his a-bit-embarrassing loss in Taipei mayor election last year (Nov, 2010) -- an election in which he behaved in a not-very-glorious manner of total disregard on the power and responsibility structure of the DPP. Not following the nomination process, he made a public announcement of his intention to run for the Taipei mayor at a time of turmoil when the DPP was suffering the possibilities of splitting and losing in the two southern cities, Tainan and in Kaohsiung. His move forced Tsai and the nomination team of the DPP to face a choice of either accepting his term unconditionally, or suffering a storm of yet another splitting on the north if they opted to pick a candidate of their choice to run for Taipei (not Su) by following the nomination rule. That wasn't really a choice for the DPP, 'cos they couldn't possibly afford to having another splitting impact. As a result, Tsai and the nomination team were forced to bend the rule for Su. Su's move was considered a power-grabbing one, made at the cost of his own party and comrades having to give away their power of determining candidates. Since Su wasn't in any party staff or official, it became that he took the power that was not followed by responsibilities. It apparently angered many green supporters.

With that inglorious history, as well as some very questionable moves he made in the past, it's natural for people to expect him to behave the same way to make an early announcement.

But the DPP's president candidate is to be decided solely by public opinion polls in which Su doesn't seem to get an edge, albeit the continuous effort of the Liberty Times to promote him by (systematically) filtering out positive news about Tsai Ing-wen -- sometimes you have to go to the pro-blue media, or even China Review News, to see important news about Tsai. Last week, when reporting an article of aiming at criticizing Tsai and promoting Su, the Liberty Times deleted a sentence, "(Su) himself voluntarily told DPP legislators that his support in polls was advancing" (告知自己民調逐步攀升的訊息), which (accidentally) revealed the secret of whom might have been behind a recently circulated rumor that Su was leading in DPP's internal polls (the DPP denied any internal poll was ever conducted). It doesn't look good for Su. The LT reported everything else (criticizing Tsai and promoting Su), but this sentence was deleted. Other media - if they do report it - reported that sentence faithfully. The most recent filtering of Tsai's news was a speech, titled "Dynamic new world - the young generations and the future" (變動中的新世界-青年世代與未來), given by Tsai to university students. The speech is an important one to show Tsai's vision on future generations and is a prelude of her speech today. It can be found in many media but not the LT.

And these are just a few of many many examples. The LT has been criticized to operate like Su's personal advocating organ ever since the infighting between Hsieh and Su for the previous presidential primary way back in 2007. For its bravery of continuous flattering Su albeit years of complaints, the LT (自由時報) has earned itself a nickname "自由蘇報", where 蘇 stands for Su.

So it makes no surprise that the LT continues its tradition of blowing Su's popularity out of proportion, which would mislead its readers into believing that Su is in the lead. But all that efforts don't seem to make a significant achievement this time. The following are some quick pointers of support rates (in percentage) between Tsai and Su:

2/1281%5%Black Rain blogOnlinegreen~blue
2/2442%23%Apple DailyCallsgreen~blue
2/2573%13%Boss TalkCall-inDeep Green
3/165%31%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue
3/869%30.6%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue
3/973%25.5%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue #
3/1177%19.5%Future MarketMarketgreen~blue @
* Comp in Type: means the data was collected as a comparison against Ma Ying-jeou; ^ "Stance" on the right column displays my opinion on which political stance each host holds. green=pro-Taiwan; blue=pro-China; red=China (note: some consider the "Black Rain Blog" deep-green); # collected from the Future Market website about 12~16 hrs after Tsai's running intent was reported, showing that the gap between Tsai and Su was enlarged significantly; @ collected 2 hrs after Tsai's announcement speech, with even bigger gap. Now Su's support drops down to about 1/4 of Tsai's.

One thing noteworthy is that the only host media reporting Su is barely winning over Tsai is TVBS, which aligns very well with the "promoting Su, denouncing Tsai" phenomena seen in the blue camp. All the other available data - except that of udn, which happens to be a pro-blue media - shows that not only is Su losing to Tsai, but also he is losing big. At best, Su can only get half of what Tsai has. The report (on 3/8) of Tsai intents to run boosted Tsai's support by 4% and lowerer Su's by 5.1% (a 9.1% gap), and the formal announcement today (3/11) put another 10% gap between them, making Su's support barely higher than 1/4 of Tsai's.

Not only so. Even before Tsai expressed her intent, there are groups of different stances formally expressed their endorsement on Tsai: domestic and oversea scholars and researchers, WUFI, students and The Formosan Statehood Movement. I haven't seen any group come out to endorse Su.

With the huge odds against him, Su's only chance is to "bypass the game rule" again, by pushing a coordination process in which a consensus might be reached in a closed door manner, with the endorsements from several DPP old guards who are supporting him and/or against Tsai.

He first made a move to have a so-called secret meeting - a secret meeting that was all over the news immediately - to initiate a talk with Tsai, such that "Su is the one who is seeking consolidation but not friction."

About a week later (3/6), a more formal meeting, consisting of all those important DPP big heads, was held. It was said that a consensus was reached -- on the sense of the necessity of consolidation, but not the sense of who should be the one.

Tsai's sudden announcement came two days after that meeting. Something probably happened - or should have but did not - during that meeting, pushing Tsai to think that it's the right time for her to come out. One explanation is that those old guards in the DPP attempted to enforce a "Tsai-Su" pair or even "Su-Tsai" pair, bypassing the polls entirely. The attempt might have been sensed by Tsai, and a quick decision to announce her campaign was needed to stop the manifestation of that attempt.

There's another explanation that Tsai has got everything set in the party, in such a way that if she leaves the chair position now, the party could move forward smoothly for the future duties.

Tsai will take a leave from the chairperson post. It was originally circulated that Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) could be assigned the acting chairperson to perform the party duty. Hsieh has done an excellent job organizing the campaign for the DPP in Taichung last year during the Five-City election, and has maintained good relationship with Tsai and her team. Surprisingly, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) was picked as the acting chairperson instead. It was said that Tsai wants to avoid the impression of a Tsai-Hsieh alliance that could potentially intensify the conflict of sector fighting inside the DPP.

Tsai has already organized part of her campaign team, some were party staff, resigned from their posts to follow her. It fits well with her style -- everything thoroughly thought and well planned before making a move.

In the mean time, a Central Standing Committee meeting held on Wednesday (3/9/2011) decided to assign 5 people as members of Polling Committee (民意調查委員會) to operate the upcoming polls for nomination of candidates.

The committee will decide 5 organizations on 4/25 to carry out the polls for the president primary, with 3000 valid samples in each poll. The primary process is scheduled as follows:

3/17: announcement of primary process
3/21~3/25: registration
3/31~4/22: speeches for each runner
4/25~4/29: polls
5/4: announcement of presidential candidate


Tsai Ing-wen is now the focus of both support and defaming

There have been quite event-packed lately, especially on the DPP side. A lot of debates about the nomination processes of the 2012 legislator and president elections, a lot of noises about who should be the president and vice president candidates, followed by moves made by all potential ones -- Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) announced "Constitutions with different interpretations" (憲法各表), Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced his new book 超越瞬間 (means "Surpass the Instance") and "Taiwan Consensus" (台灣共識); Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the establishment of two DPP's think tanks (Security and Strategy Research Center 安全與戰略研究中心 and Economic and Social Affairs Research Center 經濟與社會研究中心) , and her view on Taiwan's future (和而不同); Former VP Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), too, extended her own think tank to include a China research division, and after weeks of attacking Tsai in very sarcastic manners - even compared Tsai to Chiang Kai-shih and Hitler -- announced her intention of running for the president, which is followed immediately by an anti-Lu-running-for-president facebook group established by facebookers. Supporters of Su coined a story that a DPP internal poll says Su has a higher support than Tsai has, followed by a rebuke that the DPP has done no internal poll so far. At the mean time, endorsements for Tsai to run for the president seat are coming out one after another from different groups (note that she hasn't expressed intention to run yet): scholars, students, WUFI (台獨聯盟) and The Formosa Statehood Movement (建州派)。Among all these, Su went to talk with Tsai for an hour in a supposedly "secret" meeting, allegedly talked about the presidency candidate race, but Tsai denied.

With so many election-related activities on the DPP side going on within just a short couple of weeks -- many could be critical enough to steel the direction of history in some way -- it is a bit surprise when blogger Frozen Garlic -- a researcher in the Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica -- said in his most recent post yesterday that nothing significant on the DPP side in the past 2 and half months --- while he did talk about what happened on the KMT side - like Ma will be the man and speaker Wang has no chance, etc, which is indeed "nothing significant". It continues with:

Tsai is probably ahead now, but I think she damaged herself by overplaying her hand in the battle for the nominations process. The DPP will have its presidential nomination in late April. (Why the rush? The election isn’t for another 11 months. Of course, as the leader, Tsai wants this decision made as soon as possible before anything happens to change the race.)

There indeed are arguments saying that deciding the DPP president candidate earlier would favor Tsai. But as far as I know, Tsai didn't express what she wants on this. In fact, whoever pays attention to Taiwan politics would have known that Tsai has always been tight-lipped on everything. It would be out-of-character for Tsai to express a self-favoring statement like that. It makes me wonder if Forzen Garlic's statement is substantiated by facts, or it is a biased impression expressed as a fact.

But real surprise came when DPP's nomination processes were distorted to vilify Tsai:

Tsai also got her way in the legislative nominations. She wanted the district nominations to be decided by telephone survey, with no party member voting component, and she wanted the party chair (herself!) to completely decide the party list. The latter, especially, is where I think she went a bit too far.

This is entirely wrong. The "telephone survey without party member involvement" was decided by the majority of central committee, not by Tsai. It was then passed in DPP's  National congress with landslide majority. And the the party list of candidates will be decided through free registration of whoever interested and then coordination. Only if the coordination fails, then the phone survey will step in (see here).

That is, in nowhere is Tsai authorized with the power of determining any candidate, let alone "completely deciding the party list." It is obvious that either Frozen Garlic is unaware of what he was talking about, or he simply came up with an untrue story to put blame on Tsai.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, the DPP announced that it would forgo any nomination process in “difficult” districts, and the party would simply draft candidates for these districts. The problem is that their definition of “difficult” is so broad that it encompasses 40 of the 73 districts. In some of these, the DPP should probably be favored to win. This is ridiculous and simply a clear power grab. So much for the institutionalization of the rules of competition.

The draft process he described can be found here. He forgot to tell readers (or maybe he didn't know) that the draft in each difficult district will be carried out by DPP's core members from all sectors, but not by Tsai. Some of the responsible members are strongly against Tsai in many aspects, the nomination process included. A design this way would facilitate the "power distribution" among all sectors in the DPP, in effective reduces the power of chairperson. How would that be ridiculous and how would that be a "clear power grab?"

The lack of knowledge about the subject he studied and the way that the truth was presented in a distorted way to fit the context of "Tsai grabbing power" are quite a surprise, judging from the quality of his blog in the past.

Ever since Tsai gained more and more support, there are forces of all sorts trying to defame her. Some because of fear -- for example, Ma Ying-jeou refused to say her name but used "she" instead, admitting that saying her name will help put her in the spotlight and boost her fame. Some because of hatred -- a hidden hatred that you just can't rationalize, as revealed in some pro-blue (and some deep green!) supporters. I can't judge what category Frozen Garlic falls into, but I sure hope that his blog can go back to the usual quality asap.

Note: ironically, the title of his article is "catching up." Wish he has done that for real.