MA YING-JEOU WINS TAIWAN 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BY A LANDSLIDE
In March 2008, Ma Ying-jeou surged to a landslide victory in a presidential election dominated by concern over the economy and hopes for better ties with China. “This is a victory for people who hope for change and openness and reform,” he told his jubilant Kuomintang (KMT) supporters after trouncing ruling party chief Frank Hsieh by almost 17 percentage points. [Source: AFP, March 23, 2008]
AFP reported: “Final official figures by the election commission showed that Ma won 58.45 percent of the vote, and Hsieh 41.55 percent. “Your voices are heard. People have the right to demand a better life. Only change can bring hope, only change can provide opportunities,” Ma said as his supporters partied with songs, dancing and firecrackers. At the same time, Hsieh conceded defeat in front of despondent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters at his own headquarters. “We accept defeat. It”s my own defeat, it”s not the defeat of the Taiwanese people. Please don”t cry for me,” he said.
The China Post reported: “Fireworks lit up the sky over the headquarters, as supporters put up victory signs.Ma said voters had used their ballots to demonstrate their will against corruption, and their desire for stability. Voting went through peacefully yesterday, with only a few reports of voters ripping up ballot papers. KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung said he hoped the confrontations created between the opposing camps during the election could now end. Wu, greeting James Soong, chairman of the People First Party who arrived at the KMT campaign headquarters to congratulate Ma, said his party would seek to open merger talks with the ally as soon as possible. [Source: China Post, March 23, 2008]
Ma formally took office on May 20, 2008, when Chen stepped down after serving a maximum two terms. His vice president was Vincent C. Siew. Ma’s victory gave the KMT overall control of the nation, as they had also crushed the DPP in parliamentary elections in January on the back of economic malaise and weariness at the strained relations with China.
Voting and Issues in the 2008 Presidential Election
On election day, Benjamin Yeh of AFP wrote: “Under relentlessly grey skies and tight security, Taiwanese voters electing a new president Saturday said they wanted bread-and-butter change — and Tibet was too far away to matter. Many people rose early, queuing as soon as the polling stations opened at 8 a.m. to cast their ballot. Elderly people in wheelchairs or using walking sticks chatted easily to one another while waiting in line, while many younger voters appeared somber. [Source: Benjamin Yeh, AFP, March 23, 2008]
Analysts predict victory for the opposition Kuomintang’s Ma Ying-jeou, but say pro independence ruling party chief Frank Hsieh will likely have made some inroads by warning Taiwan under Chinese rule might end up like Tibet. Or perhaps not, if fast food worker Chen Che-yu is anything to go by. “I hope the person I voted for will bring change to improve the economy and restore social harmony,” he told AFP as he rushed off to his waiter job. “What is happening in Tibet is too far from me and I am not interested in one-China or common market, I just want a better life.”
The slowing economy was a common concern. “The economy was terrible in the past eight years and I think whoever fails to perform well in office should be replaced,” said retired civil servant Yuan Hsin, 53. “Only change will bring hope,” he added, saying he hoped a new government would relax rules on trade ties with China to stimulate the economy. “I am afraid of not being able to land a job after graduation because the economy has been so bad,” said Angela Lin, a 20-year-old student.
Shih Han kuang, a 44-year-old construction company manager voting with his wife, said he was more worried about economic issues than Ma’s proposal for a common market with China or the unrest in Tibet. “Taiwan used to have strong economic competitiveness but now that is gone, and we are lagging behind the other Asian ‘tigers’,” he said. “Still, I believe we are able to catch up again as Taiwan people are well educated. But then again, we need to choose a good leader to that purpose.”
He said he had voted against the Kuomintang for president in 2000, when it lost power for the first time in half a century, and again four years later. Now though, he was abandoning Hsieh’s Democratic Progressive Party. “Just look at what we have now and where the DPP has led us. They are as corrupt as the KMT, and at the same time they’re not as capable in ruling the country.”
Taiwan’s 17.3 million voters were also being asked to vote on two rival referendums on joining the United Nations. The island lost its seat to mainland China in 1971 and has been blocked from returning ever since. Neither is expected to reach the required turnout threshold, and there did not appear to be too much enthusiasm at the polling stations. “They’re useless,” one man in his 70s was overheard saying. “Whether they pass or not there is no chance of Taiwan joining the U.N., so why bother to vote?”
Kuomintang Wins Big in 2008 Legislative Elections
In legislative elections in January 2008, Kuomintang (KMT) secured 72 percent of the seats in the 113-seat chamber, beating President Chen Shui-bian's party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chen Shui-ban said he was "shamed" by the result and resigned as chairman of the DPP. The elections were seen as a barometer for the presidential poll in 22 March. With all the votes counted, the KMT secured 81 seats, Taiwan's election commission announced. The DPP got 27 seats (24 percent), while smaller parties won five seats. [Source: BBC January 12, 2008 ==]
Taiwan's Poll Results: KMT - 81 seat; DPP - 27 seats; other parties - 5 seats. The BBC reported: “Under a new electoral system, the number of seats in Taiwan's new parliament has been cut from 225 to 113. The change was adopted in 2005 to reduce corruption and improve efficiency but observers say the new system may marginalise smaller parties in favour of the DPP and the KMT. A new voting system was also introduced whereby voters cast ballots for both a party and a particular candidate in their constituency. Seventy-three seats were contested by a total of 296 individual candidates representing 12 parties, while 34 seats were to be allocated on a party list system. A further six seats were reserved for ethnic minorities. ==
“BBC China analyst Shirong Chen says the two main parties concentrated on local issues and shied away from discussing China in the run-up to the vote, a tactic the Chinese government has also adopted. Beijing has learned from its past misadventures during Taiwanese polls that verbal warnings and missile tests would backfire in favour of candidates from the pro-independence DPP.” ==
Tibet and Ma Ying-jeou’s U.S. Residency: Issues in Taiwan’s 2008 Presidential Election
China's military crackdown on Tibet in 2008 occurred just as Taiwanese preparing to vote in the 2008 presidential elections. Candidate Frank Hsieh warned that if Taiwan fell under Chinese rule it might end up like Tibet. Ma had a 20 percentage point lead in the polls before the Tibet crackdown. Analysts said China's response to the unrest in Tibet enabled Hsieh to close the gap on Ma by hammering his proposals for a common market and peace treaty with Beijing. [Source: AFP, March 20, 2008]
Ma Ying-jeou’s effort to become a permanent U.S. citizen—and the questions it raised about Ma’s loyalty to Taiwan—also became an issue. Associated Press reported: “Ma Ying-jeou did not tell the whole truth about his efforts to secure permanent U.S. residency for himself and his family, the camp of ruling Democratic Progressive Party candidate Frank Hsieh claimed.” Earlier Ma acknowledged that he and his wife once held permanent residency status in the U.S. but insisted it had since lapsed. He said it did not affect his loyalty to Taiwan and was obtained in 1977 to give him the opportunity to work in the United States. The admission came after Ma had earlier declared that he did not have a U.S. residency card. [Source: Associated Press January 30, 2008]
Hsieh spokesmen Sky Chao accused Ma of not telling the complete truth and of planning to seek U.S. citizenship. Obtaining permanent residency status "is the prelude to becoming a U.S. national," he said. "Why did he obtain (the status) when the country was at a critical time?" Chao was referring to Taiwan's delicate diplomatic situation in the late 1970s, just before the United States transferred its official recognition from the island to mainland China, from which Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949. Responding to Chao's comments, Ma said that although some family members -- including his sisters -- had U.S. citizenship, his own feelings for Taiwan remained strong. "Although (my sisters) have U.S. passports, they love Taiwan," he said. "My own loyalty to Taiwan does not have a problem."
On the campaign trail, Hsieh accused the KMT of buying votes with a scheme to hire polling booth monitors and mobilise voters. Hsieh won the endorsement of Taiwan's first democratically elected president, Lee Teng-hui. Still he lost the election by a large margin.
Analysis and Impact of Ma Ying-jeou Winning Taiwan’s 2008 Presidential Election
Edward Cody wrote in the Washington Post, “Ma Ying-jeou, who advocates better relations with China, was elected president of Taiwan by an overwhelming margin, opening the prospect of lowered tensions in the volatile Taiwan Strait. Taiwan's 17 million eligible voters also roundly defeated a referendum measure asking whether the government should apply for U.N. membership under the name Taiwan, a proposal sponsored by the independence-minded government of President Chen Shui-bian and condemned by the Bush administration as a futile provocation of the mainland. [Source: Edward Cody, Washington Post, March 23, 2008 ***]
“The results were likely to be greeted with a sigh of relief in Beijing, which claims this self-ruled island as a part of China but is eager to avoid a showdown that could lead to military conflict. They were also seen as welcome news in Washington, which has pledged to help Taiwan defend itself but would be reluctant to confront a crisis in Asia at a time when it is absorbed by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. ***
“Chinese and U.S. officials had grown increasingly impatient with Chen's single-minded determination through two four-year terms to inch toward formal independence, even at the risk of a reaction from the mainland. To their satisfaction, Ma has declared he will seek instead to prolong the status quo -- self-rule, but without formal independence -- and concentrate on steps to improve economic, human and diplomatic ties with China.”***
“The decisive votes signaled the end of an eight-year period in which many Taiwanese seemed to be swept up by Chen's pugnacious nationalism and emphasis on Taiwanese self-identity. His relentless campaigning -- and the tension it caused in China and the United States -- created a sense of fatigue among Taiwan's 23 million inhabitants, analysts here said, and gave Ma an opportunity to ride to victory on his message of cool pragmatism toward China and renewed focus on the slipping economy. ***
“In addition to the disenchantment with Chen, Hsieh's chances at the polls were dimmed by a lackluster campaign and a bland personal image. The Taipei Times, normally a strong backer of the Democratic Progressive Party, suggested in an editorial Saturday that its readers should vote for Hsieh as "the lesser of two evils." The violence in Tibet generated speculation here that images stirring up fear of China could throw votes to Hsieh at the last minute. At one point, Hsieh even suggested postponing the election because of the rioting in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. Ma, not to be outdone, urged an Olympics boycott. But despite all the talk, the voting proceeded more or less as polls had predicted. ***
“The slump in support for the Democratic Progressive Party also reflected public dissatisfaction with the corruption scandals that erupted under Chen, particularly in his second term. His son-in-law was convicted of insider trading and his wife was put on trial on charges of diverting public funds to her own use. The defense minister recently resigned under a cloud, and Chen, a prosecutor said, could face charges once he is out of office. "Chen was always doing something wrong," complained Li Pinshen, who runs a little sidewalk restaurant in central Taipei and voted for Ma. "It was time for a change." ***
Ma Ying-jeou’s Domestic Policy and Politics
In May 2008, a few days after Ma Ying-jeou was inaugurated President of Taiwan, authorities reopened Chiang Kai-shek's mausoleum, which had been closed under Ma’s precessor Chen Shui-ban . Associated Press reported: “The then-ruling Democratic Progressive Party said the democratic island should stop honoring a dictator when it closed the mausoleum in December, 2007. Taoyuan Magistrate Eric Chu says he hopes controversy surrounding Chiang's legacy will end and Saturday's reopening can help boost local tourism. [Source: AP, May 31, 2008]
In July 2009, Ma was elected as chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) by a landslide win of 93.87 percent of votes. Xinhua reported: “About 56.95 percent of the voters turned out in the election and Ma won 285,354 valid votes, according to the KMT Central Committee. Ma told reporters after the election that relations between the mainland and Taiwan have seen "twilight of peace" as the two sides resumed negotiations since last May. [Source: Xinhua, July 26, 2009]
The Beijing-run China Daily reported: “Ma Ying-jeou's election as chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) yesterday is set to inject a new momentum into the developing relations between Taiwan and the mainland. Hopes have grown for him to do more and move further. And doubling as chief of KMT and island leader, he could draw more support for his cross-Straits policies and implement them more effectively. Cross-Straits relations have improved dramatically since Ma became Taiwan leader in May 2008 after the ouster of Chen Shui-bian, who had pushed for the island's independence during his eight-year rule. Within two months of Ma assuming office, the two sides agreed to launch weekend charter flights. Ma's efforts have paid off both economically and politically. Nearly 400,000 mainlanders have visited the island so far, earning $768 million in revenue for the local tourism industry. And Ma's success has helped raise his popularity rating on the island.[Source: China Daily, July 27, 2009]
John F. Copper wrote in the Taiwan Review, “ Pundits have long said that Ma is “too honest.” Indeed, because of his high standards of propriety, the KMT has had to disqualify some otherwise very good candidates from running for high office. In fact, the KMT has lost a number of local election races because they could not field strong candidates as a result of Ma’s strict principles on clean government. Though this arguably was bad for the party in the short run, Ma’s clean image played very well to the average citizen and especially to the young and the idealistic voter. Underscoring Ma’s honesty, during this campaign the public heard many news reports of venal politicians elsewhere in the world and were proud that a number of international groups released improved ratings for transparency and lower rates of corruption in Taiwan. [Source: John F. Copper, Taiwan Review, April 1, 2012. Copper is a Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Taiwan: Nation-State or Province?, which is in its fifth edition, and Taiwan’s Democracy on Trial, which was published in 2010. =\=]
“Ma is also viewed as a scholar. The scholar-official class that ran China’s government historically, some say, is and should be gone. Others say Ma is not aggressive enough as a leader because of his scholarly bent. Yet the ideal of an intellectual leader survives in Taiwan. In fact, the voters in Taiwan as in many other countries have come to view as unattractive politicians who say what the polls tell them to say and otherwise seem empty-headed. =/=
There were periodic demonstrations throughout Ma’s tenure, mainly over his efforts to forge closer ties with Beijing.
Ma Ying-jeou’s Poor Showing in By-Elections and Local Races
During the two years after losing the presidency to Ma in 2008, the opposition DPP has won six out of seven legislative by-elections and scored important gains in a series of local polls. It hoped to use unhappiness over Ma's China policies — particularly the trade pact — to achieve bigger gains in bigger elections. [Source: Associated Press , June 26, 2010]
In December 2009, Cindy Sui wrote in the Asia Times, “Elections for county magistrates and city mayors in Taiwan might seem insignificant in terms of major international news, but polls in Taiwan are often more than meets the eye and the weekend's local-level elections were worthy of watching in terms of the consequences not only for local politics, but more importantly, on the capability of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party to hold onto its grip on power and on the island's relations with China. The results on the surface show the KMT winning - it grabbed the top posts in 12 out of the 17 counties and cities where magistrate and mayoral races were held. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won only four of the local areas, while an independent candidate won the remaining area. The KMT also enjoyed an overwhelming victory in elections of county and city councilors and township chiefs held on the same day, securing a much larger number of seats and percentage of votes than the DPP. [Source: Cindy Sui, Asia Times, December 8, 2009]
“Yet, the KMT and President Ma Ying-jeou are widely considered to be the losers. Although the KMT managed to maintain its hold on a majority of the 17 counties and cities in winning the magistrate and mayoral positions, the DPP gained one more county than it had before and more importantly, it won 45.32 percent of all votes cast for county magistrates and city mayors, up significantly from the 41.95 percent it had in the last local-level elections held four years ago. The ratio of overall votes cast in county and city leader races won by the DPP was just short of the KMT's 47.87 percent. The ruling party, in fact, lost in terms of percentage as it had a much higher percentage - 50.96 percent of the votes in 2005. Speaking at a news conference after the final election results came out, Ma admitted that the results "did not measure up to ideals". Factors that may have hurt the KMT's performance include the global recession, Typhoon Morakot, the administration's recent lifting of a ban on US beef imports, and to some extent fears over a free-trade agreement Ma's administration plans to sign with mainland China, Kou and others said.” [Ibid]
Ma Ying-jeou Criticized for His Handling of Typhoon Morakat
Ma’s administration was sharply criticized for sluggish response and poor handling of Typhoon Morakot disaster that struck island in early August, 2009. The worst typhoon to in half a century killed more than 600 people. According to the Asia Times: “Although local government officials were also at fault, Taiwanese people expected stronger leadership from the top, and had been disappointed by various top government ministries' and departments' blunders - including not sending out soldiers early enough, not evacuating people living in dangerous areas before the typhoon hit, and initially rejecting foreign aid.” [Source: Cindy Sui, Asia Times, December 8, 2009]
Reporting from Chishan in one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon, Polly Hui of AFP wrote: Ma traveled “to a village where hundreds are feared to have died in mudslides, as his popularity sank to near-record lows due to his handling of Typhoon Morakot. Ma’s approval rating dropped to 29 percent in a poll for the United Daily News, while 46 percent of respondents said they had no confidence in the government's ability to handle reconstruction efforts. Ma and senior officials began a news conference on Tuesday by bowing in what he said was a symbolic apology to the Taiwanese people for not doing more immediately after Morakot slammed into the island on August 8. [Source: Polly Hui, AFP, August 18, 2009]
Stephen A Nelson wrote in the Asia Times, “There has been considerable, pointed criticism in the press, especially over the typhoon's unusually high casualty rate. The critics argued that: - The government had failed to order evacuations before the storm hit. - People were not given enough warning to get out of the way of the mudslides. - The government was not prepared, even though typhoons and mudslides are a regular occurrence in Taiwan. - The government refused offers of aid from foreign countries because it didn't want to look like it was acting like a real country that was separate from China. - When the aid did come, it was too little and too late - especially when compared to how quickly and easily Ma's government got aid to their "Chinese brothers" after the earthquakes in Sichuan province last year. - Responding with "shock and awe" tactics, the KMT's solution has been to set up a commission--composed of central government officials and representatives of powerful corporations, without a single aboriginal member--to oversee the move of aboriginals off their ancestral lands and "voluntarily relocate" them to other, safer locations that are less prone to landslides. - Most of all, Ma and the KMT have been unfeeling, uncaring and petulant toward southern Taiwan and the people - mostly ethnic Taiwanese and aboriginals - who lived there. [Source: Stephen A Nelson, Asia Times, September 16, 2009 <->]
“Jerome Keating, author of Taiwan, the Struggles of a Democracy, said this came as no surprise from a president whom Keating claims had constantly passed the buck. "A week after the destruction of the typhoon with the yet to be realized response of Ma's government, Ma had resorted to the blame game. First it was the Central Weather Bureau's fault for not giving a strong enough warning to prepare for the typhoon. Then it was the local magistrate's fault for not solving the problem, despite the fact that they had had no budget from the central government. Then it was the people's fault for not getting out of the way of the floods," Keating said. "The people - in Ma's words - were not as 'fully prepared' as they should have been. In the end, it was just about everyone's fault except Ma's. After all, he is only the president," Keating said. <->
Political Fallout of the Poor Handling of Typhoon Morakat
As the political fallout from the typhoon continued, the island's defence minister and the cabinet secretary both offered to resign over mistakes committed during the response to the natural disaster. Defence Minister Chen Chao-min and Cabinet Secretary General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan, who is responsible for coordination between ministries, cited the slow emergency response when resigning, the official said.Acknowledging his government could have done more, Ma also defended its actions on Tuesday but said he would not resign over the events. He said the torrential rain accompanying the typhoon made operations dangerous in the first few days -- one rescue helicopter crashed, killing three -- and that rescue operations only reached full strength after the rain ended.
Taiwan will overhaul its emergency operations by creating a national disaster prevention agency and reorienting its military to have a greater focus on search and rescue operations, he said. "Their main job, of course, is to defend Taiwan. But now our enemy is not necessarily people across the Taiwan Strait, but nature," Ma said, referring to neighbouring mainland China. Ma promised an investigation into mistakes made in the typhoon's aftermath and vowed to punish officials who were found to have been negligent.
Typhoon Morakot dumped more than three metres (120 inches) of rain on the island, triggering floods and mudslides which tore through houses and buildings, ripped up roads and smashed bridges.It was the worst-ever typhoon to strike Taiwan, the president has said, saying the scale of the damage was more severe than a 1959 typhoon that killed 667 people and left around 1,000 missing.
In September 2009, Taiwan’s prime minister Liu Chao-shiuan, resigned to take the fall for the government’s response to Typhoon Morakot. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “The announcement came as a surprise, even though the government had come under intense pressure for what many Taiwanese called its inept handling of the response to Typhoon Morakot. Mr. Liu’s resignation is the most serious political fallout yet from the typhoon. “I believe because so many people died, someone must take responsibility,” Liu said. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, September 7, 2009 >>>]
“Critics of the government say that, among many other things, Mr. Ma and other leaders should have evacuated residents in vulnerable areas before the typhoon hit and accepted foreign aid much earlier. J. Bruce Jacobs, a scholar of Taiwan at Monash University in Australia, said that he was surprised to hear of the change, but that Mr. Liu deserved to be held accountable for the “disastrous” government response to the typhoon. >>>
In the Ma himself said he would not resign over his government’s response to Typhoon Morakot, but apologized for any shortcomings. “I will not run from my responsibilities,” Ma said. “I know there are areas to improve and as president, I have to shoulder the responsibility for [victims’] relocation and resettlement in the future,” he said. “I cannot escape my duties.” Ma had apologized for the pace of rescue efforts, but blamed the weather and road conditions. Ma said yesterday that had it not been for bad weather, the rescue efforts would have been better and started earlier. Ma also apologized for “improper” remarks he made during inspection trips to disaster areas, saying the way he expressed himself had mistakenly caused people to think he was arrogant and aloof. He blamed the public impression of the “slow” and “disorderly” relief efforts on “poor communication.” [Source: Ko Shu-ling and Meggie Lu, Taipei Times, August 19, 2009]
KMT Wins Tight 2010 Mayoral Elections
In November 2010, Taiwan's ruling party has won three of five seats in mayoral elections, signifying support for President Ma Ying-jeou's pro-China policies. The ruling Kuomintang won in Taipei, Sinbei and Taichung, while the opposition Democratic Progress Party won in Tainan and Kaohsiung. The vote came after Sean Lien, son of the former vice-president Lien Chan, was shot and wounded while campaigning for the KMT. ''The win by the KMT means they will continue the pro-China policies to gain more votes in future elections,'' said Monika Yang, of Hamon Asset Management in Taipei. Analysts had said a good performance at the polls by the DPP could set the scene for its return to power in the 2012 presidential vote. The DPP is campaigning on a platform of more competent leadership. The elections took place at a time when the economy is improving and ties with China are better than ever.[Source: Sydney Morning Herald, November 29, 2010]
The “election was a midterm exam for the Ma administration and the KMT’s falling support reflected public dissatisfaction with the economy and performance of the central government,” Shih Cheng-feng, a political analyst from National Tunghua University, told the Taipei Times. Although no major shifts were made in the five metropolitan cities in terms of the overall political landscape, the KMT retained Taichung with an unexpectedly thin margin. [Source: Mo Yan-chih, Taipei Times, November 29, 2010 <<>>]
Jason Miks wrote in The Diplomat, “Taiwan’s ruling KMT may have won three out of five mayoral races, but the victory is sounding a little hollow. Scratch a little beneath the surface and the picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for the KMT. According to the commission’s latest results, the DPP's overall share of the vote for the five contests was 49.9 percent, compared with 44.5 percent for the KMT. The DPP’s share—which saw it secure an about 400,000 majority in the popular vote—is a marked increase from the 43 percent it received in the same five contests in 2008. [Source: Jason Miks, The Diplomat, November 30, 2010]
Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times, “Despite their anti-China rhetoric, the Democratic Progressives have themselves begun to warm to Beijing. Although the party opposed the trade agreement negotiated by Mr. Ma, it has muted its criticism in the face of the accord’s broad popularity among ordinary citizens. The party’s popular mayor of Kaohsiung, Chen Chu, broke the ice with mainland leaders in mid-2009 by visiting Beijing to promote an athletic competition in her city. More recently, the party’s chairwoman expressed willingness to start a dialogue with Beijing, according to Lin Chong-Pin, a former deputy defense minister who is now a professor at Tamkang University. [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, November 26, 2010]
KMT Politician Shot in the Face Before the 2010 Elections
Lien Sheng-wen, a KMT politician also known as Sean Lien, was shot in the face as he spoke at a suburban Taipei rally in support of a Kuomintang candidate for city council. His father, Lien Chan, widely reported to be one of Taiwan’s wealthiest people, was Taiwan’s vice president from 1996 to 2000 and the party’s losing presidential candidate in 2004. The motive for the shooting on Friday was unknown. The Associated Press quoted a Taiwan television report as saying that a suspect apprehended by the police was nicknamed ‘horse face,’ suggesting a link to Taiwan criminal gangs. [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, November 26, 2010]
The Taipei Times reported: Sean Lien was shot in the face when campaigning for a KMT Sinbei councilor candidate in Yonghe , Taipei County. He was rushed to the hospital and survived the accident. It is believed that the incident help prompted some swing voters with pan-blue leaning to give their votes to the KMT candidates, especially in Taipei City and Sinbei City, where the candidates from the two parties were fighting a neck-to-neck battle. Political analyst Ku Chung-hwa of National Chengchi University said the accident helped Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and Sinbei mayor-elect Eric Chu win the battles against strong rivals, DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang and DPP Sinbei candidate Tsai Ing-wen, who threatened the KMT candidates throughout the election campaign with high support rates. <<>>
The BBC reported: “Medical officials said Lien Cheng-wen was in a stable condition. He was speaking at an election rally on behalf of a ruling Kuomintang party candidate in suburban Taipei when a man approached and shot him, reports said. A suspect was arrested at the scene of the attack on Mr Lien with a gun and 48 bullets, a local police official said. Another man was hit, reportedly by the same bullet that struck Mr Lien, and killed. Hospital officials said the bullet struck the left side of Mr Lien's face and exited from his right temple. A Kuomintang party spokesman said Mr Lien's brain had not been damaged. [Source: BBC News, November 26, 2010]
Associated Press reported: “Police said Lien Sheng-wen, son of former Vice President Lien Chan, and another man, surnamed Huang, were hit when the assailant rushed the stage at an elementary school in Yung Ho, on the outskirts of the capital. A candidate for city council was apparently the intended target of the attack. Hospital officials said that though he was shot in the face and temple, Lien Sheng-wen's life was not in danger. Huang, however, succumbed to his wounds. Former Vice President Lien Chan and his 40-year-old son are both members of the ruling Nationalist Party. [Source: AP, November 26, 2010]
“A police official from Yung Ho, who asked not to be identified, said the suspect had 48 bullets in his possession when he was taken into custody. Taiwanese TV stations reported that the suspect is nicknamed "horse face," a sobriquet that would likely indicate his membership in one of Taiwan's criminal gangs. After the attack, President Ma Ying-jeou rushed to Taipei's National Taiwan University Hospital, where Lien was being treated. "Taiwan is a democracy," Ma told reporters there. "We will not tolerate such violence." Hospital spokeswoman Tan Ching-ting said Lien was conscious when he was brought to the facility just before 9 p.m. "His wounds are in his left part of his face and his right temple," she said. "He is now in surgery." [Ibid]
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated June 2015