Lien Sheng-wen has already played his Trump Card. Now What?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 16, 2014
Summary: Election day is only four months away. Lien Sheng-wen must ensure that Taipei remains solidly in the blue camp. Time is running out. He must let people in Taipei to see his vision for the future as soon as possible, He must prove that he has the ability to be the "CEO of Taipei."
Full Text Below:
For two straight days, President Ma Ying-jeou has appeared at campaign rallies held by KMT candidate for Taipei Mayor Lien Sheng-wen. He has shown Lien how to wave a banner. He has even urged Lien to practice his campaign song. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin also attended these rallies. The onstage scenario showed that the KMT is fully backing Lien Sheng-wen.
Lien Sheng-wen even wore the vest that he had on when he was shot, saying that he was "once again donning his battle dress." He wanted to remind people of the shooting incident that happened four years ago.
One could say the blue camp has done everything in its power to reverse Lien Sheng-wen's increasingly unpromising political fortunes. That includes healing the rift between him and Ting Shou-chung. That includes Eric Chu continuing his campaign for Mayor of New Taipei City. By now, Ma has helped the Lien campaign twice in two days. The KMT is eager to dispel outside rumors of a grudge between Ma and Lien. So far the blue camp has made every effort to ensure a united front. Observers have no reason to fuss over imaginary grudges or conflicts. But the rumors also serve as a reminder. Can Lien Sheng-wen hold down Taipei for the blue camp? That will depend on him and him alone.
Put bluntly, no election campaign can rely entirely on party unity to generate momentum. No election campaign can rely entirely on backing from high officials to ensure victory. These factors are merely icing on the cake. They are unlikely to determine who will win. Therefore when observers exaggerate the political impact of Ma, Hao, and Lien standing shoulder to shoulder on the same dais, the Lien camp has no reason to get excited. After all, this is only July. The official campaign has yet to kick off. Usually those who rely on political endorsements, especially from the president, wait until the final stages of the campaign. Only then do they take center stage. This is merely the warm-up phase. Yet the trump card whic should have been saved for last, has already been played. Doesn't this amount to an advance admission of panic?
In the final analysis, it is the same in any election. The voters will choose the most suitable candidate. Which candidate has the most solid party backing is not the deciding factor. Still less is public endorsements from political big shots. The larger a candidate's campaign committee, the more star-studded the candidate's rallies, the less the spotlight will be on the candidate himself, in which case all those efforts will be for naught.
Furthermore, do not imagine that getting shot by an assassin while endorsing another candidate, will jog voter memories. Such non-essential factors will have little impact on the campaign in Taipei.
Taiwan's democratization involved three key presidents: Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and Ma Ying-jeou. All three served as Mayor of Taipei. Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou competed fiercely for the position. The Taipei mayorship is a key position. To term it a stepping stone to the presidency is not an exaggeration. Therefore Taipei voters have good reason to be pickier and less forgiving than voters in other districts. They have been through many high-profile election campaigns. How can anyone expect them to uncritically vote the party line? How can anyone expect them to cast their ballots on the basis of who stood on whose dais during an election rally? Such expectations are simplistic. Worse, they insult the electorate in Taipei.
The answer is actually quite simple: back to basics. Lien Sheng-wen would do well to contemplate the following. He wants to be the "CEO of the nation's capital." But what what kind of vision is he offering citizens of Taipei? What does he intend to offer the voters of the nation's capital over the next four years, perhaps even the next eight years? Is he offering them a "new Taipei"? Is he better suited than his opponent to govern Taipei? These questions may seem simple, but in fact they are not. These are questions that Lien Sheng-wen must consider on his own. He cannot rely on his campaign committee to ghostwrite his answers. Otherwise, the first press conference, the first debate, or the first campaign speech that comes along, will let the cat out of the bag. The voters are not blind. They will not vote for a candidate who merely reads what his aides wrote on his behalf. They are even less likely to vote for a candidate who is unfamiliar with the administrative districts of Taipei. They will vote for someone with convictions, and who can actually implement his policies.
Over the past few years, in keeping with globalization, Taipei has been promoted as a major world-class metropolis. Several mayors have worked hard to establish Taipei's brand and status. By any number of criteria, including tourism, housing, environmental protection, transportation, and medical care, Taipei ranks near the top. In recent years, many important international events and activities have been held in Taipei. Taipei has its own fascinating urban style. People in Taipei are well aware of this and proud of it. Naturally they want a mayor who is up to the task. Over the next few months, voters will be subjecting Lien Sheng-wen and Ko Wen-je to the same acid test.
Election day is only four months away. Lien Sheng-wen must ensure that Taipei remains solidly in the blue camp. Time is running out. He must let people in Taipei to see his vision for the future as soon as possible, He must prove that he has the ability to be the "CEO of Taipei."