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[Editorial] Too many bad losers

Politicians in Taiwan are bad losers. They won’t take their losses lying down. They will whine, complain, protest, and go to court, even though they know they were beaten in elections fair and square. Tsai Ing-wen, chairperson of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, has joined their ranks after she lost the mayoral election in the special municipality of New Taipei City a little more than a month ago. Remember it’s the first election she ever ran for. Many people thought she wasn’t a politician. She is.

Her two fellow losers are politicians in every sense of that word. They, together with Tsai, filed lawsuits with the district courts in Taipei, Taichung and Banqiao last Friday (Dec. 31), demanding that the three mayoral elections they lost be invalidated. Litigation like this is rather common in Taiwan, but what’s extraordinary is how they justify their complaint.

The losers believe the shooting of Sean Lien, a son of former Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan, on the eve of the elections was orchestrated by the ruling party to its advantage. A member of the Kuomintang central standing committee, Sean Lien was shot in the face when he was about to endorse a candidate for New Taipei City councilor in the latter’s last minute campaign rally at Yonghe. The man who shot at him was arrested on the spot. He refused to tell the truth and the investigators have concluded the shooting was not politically motivated. But Cheng Wen-tsang, spokesman for the Democratic Progressive Party, said Kuomintang campaigners either hinted at the rallies or on television that his party was behind the shooting and called on voters to boycott its candidates. Their comments, Cheng claimed, must be regarded as an attempt to manipulate the elections by sending voters incorrect messages.

As a consequence, voters turned out in droves to cast sympathy votes for the three Kuomintang candidates, Cheng charged. He urged the courts to revoke the elections of Hau Lung-bin, Eric Chu and Jason Hu as mayors of Taipei, New Taipei City and Greater Taichung. They defeated Su Tseng-chang, Tsai and Su Jia-chyan, respectively.

Earlier on Thursday, the opposition party called for the creation of a special counsel to find out the truth about the shooting on Nov. 26. Its lawmakers also urged their Kuomintang opposite numbers to support their bill to create the special council like the one launched after President Chen Shui-bian was shot in Tainan on March 19, 2004. Chen and his vice president Annette Lu, both aboard an open jeep on a campaign cavalcade, were shot at by a gunman on the eve of the presidential election more than six years ago.

Subsequently, the Kuomintang-controlled Legislative Yuan created what is popularly known as the Truth Commission for an independent inquiry to find out who tried to kill President Chen. Investigators failed to find the truth, and the police, who could not arrest the gunman, concluded that he was an unemployed sports coach who had personal grudges against Chen, bought a homemade gun, fired at the president, disappeared in the crowd, and committed suicide by drowning himself in a Tainan canal in repentance. The gun was not recovered. The police said there were suicide notes, which, however, were destroyed. His wife was forced to appear to make a public apology for her husband’s crime. The case was thus closed.

As a matter of fact, the litigation is a follow-up on the move to create a new truth commission. Opposition party leaders know full well that they won’t win the suits they have filed. But they are sure their one-two punch, which would get nowhere, will help them win the coming elections. Eligible voters will go to the polls to elect a new Legislative Yuan at the end of this year and their new president in March next year.

Everybody knows no truth will come out in the Nov. 26 shooting like the mystery-shrouded attempt on President Chen’s life. All opposition politicians want is to keep reminding their supporters that the ruling party might have stage-managed the shooting at Yonghe to win the three special municipalities, just as Kuomintang supporters still suspect Chen had someone shoot at him to get reelected. But the truth is that no sympathy votes can give Chu a winning margin of 11.84 percent over Su Tseng-chang. Tsai lost by a margin of 5.22 percent. Even Hu won 30,000 votes more than his opposition party rival in Taichung, 8,000 over what President Chen won nationwide in 2004.

But the continuous reminding is totally unnecessary. Hardcore supporters will support the Democratic Progressive Party, rain or shine. On the other hand, what the opposition leaders believe is a sure-fire election campaign gimmick may backfire. They may alienate sway voters who believe opposition party leaders are bad-loser politicians.

(The China Post)

(Asia News Network)
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