Agence France Press has an interesting article out today on the made-for-media event taking place in Taipei.

Around 3,000 demonstrators braved the cold and rain overnight in the Taiwanese capital, some of them sleeping rough on the streets, as they sought to maintain pressure on Chen, who has been dogged by allegations of corruption.

But, as the rain continued through Sunday, few more people appeared and there were signs that the campaign might be losing momentum after a first day when tens of thousands took to the streets.

Campaign leader Shih Ming-teh issued a rallying call to his supporters, huddled outside the presidential office in raincoats, urging them to turn out in their droves and not to let up despite the weather.

“There could be more rain today and tomorrow. But here I want to implore you not to be absent from this historic moment. I hope you can bring your friends and family here,” Shih told reporters.

Reduced numbers were inevitable, given the proposed duration of the “protest” and the fact that it is highly unlikely to be successful. Organizers blamed the rain for the pathetic turnout, but they also revealed something very interesting:

Campaign spokesman Emile Sheng laughed off Huang’s remarks, saying the numbers were impressive especially given the fact that no buses had been laid on to bring people in as had often been the case in the past.

“The day one number may not be as high as we had previously forecast, but if the fact that not a single bus has been mobilized is taken into consideration, the public’s response was as strong as we had predicted. Our supporters are spontaneous,” he said.

Can a Blue protest be sustained if the protesters don’t get paid and transportation isn’t provided? Apparently not. If numbers continue to dwindle, what stunt will Shih think of next? Today someone shouted at him that he ought to call a general strike, and he replied that it was not impossible. I can just imagine what that will look like to all the local bosses…..

BOSS: You want to do what?
WORKER: (earnestly) I’d like to go out on strike. To protest A-Bian.(thinking) Great! A day off! I’ll just go home and play mah-jong with Second Auntie.
BOSS: (thinking) Great! A day off! He’ll just go home and play mah-jong with Second Auntie. Protest A-Bian on your own time!

Meanwhile the AFP report also noted:

Organizers of the anti-Chen campaign put Saturday’s attendance at around 200,000, though police reportedly estimated the turnout at 90,000. Shih had said in the run-up to the protest that he hoped 300,000 would turn out.

Estimates as low as 80,000 for Saturday are now being booted about. It’s pretty clear that Saturday’s protest numbers were nowhere near the turnout claimed by organizers. Ugly rumors abound — the papers here have suggested that Shih might commit suicide at the end of the campaign, also a hot topic of conversation among locals.

The writer of that report should be commended for calling it the “anti-Chen” campaign, and not the anti-corruption campaign, as the Blue papers are calling it. Apple Daily, supposedly non-partisan, also referred to it as an “anti-corruption wave” in its headline on the first day of the protest.

All I can say is that I sincerely hope Shih winds it up quickly and — alive.

Don’t miss: Oiwan has translations of blogposts from Taiwan. Thanks for the link to me, Oiwan