FAPA press conference

Big News today: Lee Teng-hui convened a press conference this afternoon to announce that he was giving his vote to Frank Hsieh. Finally. As I sat in a taxi listening to him on the radio speaking in gruff Mandarin, the taxi driver bluntly informed me that Lee would have no effect. That led to a long political lecture by the driver on the rising prices and our failing economy. “People have no money in their pockets!”

This one is going down to the wire….

Jonathan Adams has a piece in the International Herald Tribune on the youth vote. It’s up at Thirsty Ghosts:

In the 2000 and 2004 elections, the youth vote helped propel the DPP into power. It may have been critical in 2004, when Chen Shui-bian won the presidency by fewer than 30,000 votes.

That year, nearly 60 percent of voters aged 20 to 29 favored Chen, who was seen as promising a fresh start after more than half a century of rule by the corruption-tainted Nationalists, or Kuomintang. But this month a United Daily News poll found a reversal, with more than 60 percent of prospective voters in their 20s now supporting the Nationalist candidate, Ma Ying-jeou.

The DPP’s own corruption scandals have been one source of disenchantment. Another has been concern that the party’s often strident emphasis on Taiwan’s independence from mainland China may be hurting the island’s economy and costing it jobs.

My own experience is that it is automatic among the young to say they have no political affiliation, and one has to dig a little to find it. They are very cagey about revealing their political preferences. Note that the poll Adams quotes is a UDN poll — a KMT paper. Yet I have heard many knowledgeable people say that the DPP thinks it will be lucky to get half the youth vote. The KMT’s strategy of impoverishing the island to bring down the Chen government has been very successful.

Speaking of youths, I stopped by the Overseas Student Association Press Conference in Taipei to see what they had to say. Representatives from Taiwanese student organizations from all over the world were there. Unfortunately the media wasn’t, since Lee Teng-hui was putting his foot into the race at that very moment. The kids made some good points, but no one was there to listen.

At 3 I dropped in at the FAPA press conference. Lots of local press there. No foreign press. The speeches were delivered in Taiwanese, although the sign pictured above was in English. There was a video in English with various US Congressmen speaking on Taiwan, though, in English. The press conference appeared geared toward the local media….

Frustrating experiences: people complain that there are too many white foreigners speaking for the Taiwanese — and it is because of the bu hao yi si problem. Taiwanese need to speak out more! Case in point: I got a call today from a reporter for an international publication. He’s in Taichung and wants to talk to some Greens — Taichung being a fairly Blue city. It just so happens there’s a planeload of locals in from overseas, all originally from the area, and they have with them a leaven of locals who live there. Interesting people with roots in the area going back a couple of hundred years, and they speak English. Perfect for what he needs! So I swing into action to set it up….only they won’t talk to the reporter — saying they were afraid their English isn’t good enough. Really, it seems they are just too shy to talk. But ultimately, if Taiwanese won’t talk for themselves, no one will want to speak for them.