Riding through Taiwan 2016

Written by Michael Turton.


Two of Taiwan’s most popular stimulants, betel nut and pigeons.
Photos of candidate posters and banners along roads in Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, and Chiayi taken on a bicycle ride through the area, plus commentary and translation. To see any photo in detail, just click on it.


In my district, Tanzih in Taichung, Hung Tz-yung of the New Power Party is running with the support of the DPP against a strong KMT candidate, signaled by the presence of DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen on the sign. Her slogan blasts out: “This vote! Has a different meaning!” The New Power Party is fronted by Freddy Lim, the leader of the metal band Chthonic and longtime supporter of progressive politics, democracy, and ear splitting music about orcs and stuff.

Here is Hung Tz-yung’s opponent. Because the KMT has such trouble attracting the young, many KMT politicians deliberately emphasize their connection to youth, as in this poster, which is over the candidate’s Tanzih HQ. Note also that the KMT signifiers on this sign are tiny compared to the enormous size of the sign, and that there is not a trace of blue in her pink color scheme. The KMT brand is severely damaged and candidates are downplaying it in their presentations.


The DPP legislative candidate from Fengyuan in Taichung city. Taiwanese love a winner, and DPP Presidential Candidate Tsai shares most of the signs.


A sign for KMT Presidential Candidate Eric Chu watches an expressway on the east side of Taichung.


In Taiping, the strongly working class area on the east side of Taichung city, a KMT candidate’s sign says that he will “advance the legislature” and “promote social improvement”. Note that his sign offers a LINE QR code, a Facebook link, and a LINE ID which appears to be a phone number. The KMT is trying hard to use social media, but the internet is an arena dominated by the young and the pro-Green.


A truck for Taiping Legislative Candidate Ho Hsin-tun. Her slogan says in Chinese “Takes each step diligently!” The fine print advertizes her PHD from York University on some island somewhere.

Another poster of her, above a 7-11 facing a corner near a large university.


Another New Power Party Candidate on the east side of Taichung running in Taichung’s northern districts. Her slogan says “Bravely uphold, Speak out for you”. Her name, Ko Shao-chen, is composed of two relatively rare characters, so the pronunciations are written next to them on the sign.


Candidates tussle in Taiping. The left offers Lu Hsiu-yan, the KMT candidate, with descriptions of money for two projects. Lu’s sister is a news reporter, showing one of the hidden advantages of the KMT and PFP parties — they are able to lever family members into key media positions, to influence what the public sees, and several legislators are married to media workers. Among the items on the DPP candidate’s sign is a reference to improving food safety, an item on many candidates’ posters these days. Including KMT posters, because the KMT legislators are shocked I tell you shocked to find food shenanigans in Taiwan.


This KMT candidate, Shen Jih-hui, was the only one in Taichung to have a poster of herself with former KMT Presidential Candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (sorely missed by this blogger). This sign boldly states that the DPP will scrap the death penalty, thus “not supporting a life for a life” which is a principle with deep roots in the local culture. The death penalty is popular in Taiwan, and she proudly proclaims her support for this ancient principle.


DPP candidates in Taichung, always appear on these buildings. After a while you get to know which places will host DPP signs, and which will host KMT signs.


Here is Shen Jih-hui again proudly proclaiming her support for the faux “reforms” under which the President is supposed to report to the legislature, answer its questions, and receive its supervision. With the KMT set to lose the presidency but perhaps retain some power in the legislature, the Party has been arguing that the Presidency should be responsible to the legislature (and calling for other, similar “reforms”). The KMT has controlled the legislature since the inception of democracy, but has never carried out these reforms.


Candidates’ signs in southern Taichung. The KMT candidate Shen Jih-hui wants to get a drug war on, and calls for the death penalty for dealers. The DPP candidate calls for moving the legislature into the new era.

I couldn’t resist one more poster of Shen Jih-hui calling for the death penalty. In the center she lists three types of murders she wants the death penalty for, and on the side says that purveyors of toxic food should get life sentences or the death penalty. She’s not picky.


Just another ad shoehorned into the mess of ads.


“Choose those with ability”, says this poster for DPP candidate Chen Shih-pai, running in southern Taichung city.


“Only sweat, no saliva” says the slogan across the top of this candidate’s sign. That means that he plans to work for his people, and not engage in “saliva wars” — the Chinese term for war of words.


The future of most KMT legislative candidates after this election.

“Choose one with ability” — the vacuity of these platitudes contrasts with the concrete references on many KMT signs.


Here Yen Kuan-hen has the Chinese characters for “sincerity” and then the Taiwanese for “Your good neighbor.”


DPP ads near a major intersection north of Changhua city. In Changhua the DPP candidates all appear on signs together — on the Tsai Ing-wen sign are the names of the other Changhua legislative candidates.


Independent candidate Hsu Yung-chin in purple, the DPP Changhua line-up in Green face a major road intersection.

KMT presidential candidate and Chairman Eric Chu appears on a sign with Changhua candidate Lin Tsang-min. The characters in Chinese say “brighten Taiwan” in Chinese and in Taiwanese “forward together”, along with the Chu’s “Taiwan is power” slogan at the bottom.


These banners are common. After the election they will become scarecrows in the rice fields. I mean the banners, not the politicians.


KMT candidate Lin Tsang-min’s banner offers no sign he is KMT. The slogan “forward together” in Taiwanese appears again.

I was astonished to see banners for James Soong, the People First Party (PFP) Presidential candidate, which I have seen nowhere else but here.


This PHD thesis on a sign is from the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). Sorry, but I’d have to charge by the character to translate it. It sits on a highway entrance near Lukang, probably to give the drivers something to read while they are waiting in the interminable traffic.


Banners for Soong, posters for Tsai and the DPP.


The DPP’s Changhua line-up.


In the distance, the DPP’s Tsai and its local Lukang candidate look down on the traffic entering Lukang. Let this be a warning to the reader: do not go to Lukang on a Sunday.


Wang Hui-mei, KMT candidate. The large characters say “LOCAL” and in the middle are four characters indicating she has lived her whole life in the area. The Chinese characters at the bottom should be read in Taiwanese: “working hard together with you”. Note that the sign gives no indication of her political party, except for the shirt in the image.


An Eric Chu banner forlorn on a Changhua street.


Chen Wen-bing says he’ll “stand at your side.” Few DPP candidates have signage intended to be read in Taiwanese. The fine print at the bottom advertizes that he’s a university professor and movie director (see Taiwan Take).


Here is Wang Hui-mei again. Her imagery is filled with children, probably because the only way the KMT can get the young to follow them is if they are too young to know better.


Wang Hui-mei with Eric Chu. Loved the BOSS sign intruding next to them.


Chen Wen-bing again. His sign only says he’s a prof and a movie director, I guess because directing fiction makes you ready to handle the legislature.


KMT candidate Cheng Ru-fen. Her slogan is “For the next generation, I had to stand up!” Note the use of yellow, which may confuse voters into thinking she’s from the New Power Party. I’m sure it’s not deliberate or anything.


James Soong with the PFP candidate, whose lovely slogan is “Together we’ll find the way.”


Here is Cheng Ru-fen with Eric Chu. The sign says “Go all out for the future!”


Tsai Ing-wen banners line a street. Note that cute representation of her at the top.


Like other politicians, this one has the phonetics for the final character of his name. The bottom is a punning reference to the fact that his seat is key (as are all seats, but never mind that).


Going all out for the PFP candidate.


A local KMT headquarters.


A Cheng Ru-fen sound truck.


Tsai ing-wen banners like this lined the road: Light up Taiwan! Light up Changhua!


Another Cheng Ru-fen sign. This corner always hosts a KMT sign.


Another Cheng Ru-fen sign. This one says “creating a new future for the people is my responsibility”.

This purple Tsai Ing-wen sign says “Creating a new age for the people, bringing Taiwan into a new future”.


A sound truck. I look forward to the new era when they are banned.


This sign, occupying a key spot at the end of the famous red bridge into Xiluo, is always DPP.


A DPP candidate’s office in Xiluo.


A roadside banner in Changhua.


Love and Young in Huwei. Above the English is “Youth as the base for reform”.


Want people to come into your HQ? Offer them coffee and Wifi. This man is ahead of those merely posting Facebook links and LINE IDs.


A collection of banners in Tuku. As we turned off the major four lane roads onto the 145 just north of Xiluo, the number of posters and banners fell dramatically. There was almost nothing south of the Changhua-Yunlin border, probably an indication of DPP strength there, with both parties sending resources elsewhere.


The big characters on DPP candidate Tsai Yi-yu’s sign say “Professional Legislator”. The small print avers that he has a law degree from NTU and is a human rights lawyer.


Take a great step forward! Light up Taiwan! We’ll just have to see whether that will actually happen.

Michael Turton is a long time analyst based in Taiwan, and owns the indispensable blog The View From Taiwan

Categories: TaiwanTags: , , , ,

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