Written by Solidarity.tw.

With the KMT’s approval ratings at rock bottom, none of its legislative incumbents are completely safe, and all of them are working hard to save their jobs. This is visible not only in their spending on advertising all over Taipei but also in their campaign platforms, where they are focusing almost exclusively on social welfare issues with mass appeal. Last week on Solidarity.tw I shared the social welfare-focused platform of KMT Taipei 6 incumbent Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛), who won with 60% in 2012 in a district Ma where got 63% of the vote in 2012. In this post I analyse the campaign materials of KMT Taipei 8 candidate and legislative caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), who won with 63% of the vote in a district where Ma won 66% in 2012, in other words a “safe seat”.

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Here’s the front page of Lai’s pamphlet. It notes he, like many other Taiwanese politicians, that he has a Ph.D. He also remarks that he’s the KMT’s only endorsement for the district. Of course he is—it’s a single-member district—but it sounds nice to say that and people are used to hearing that kind of appeal because legislative districts used to be multi-member.

Lai has said on many of his ads around the district that he’s always graded the best legislator in the entire Legislature, and here he says the same thing. Who is giving him this appraisal, most of the ads don’t say. This pamphlet gives us more details.

  • 4th congress (1998-2001): Rated #1 legislator by the legislative press corps (澄社 – Taipei Society)
  • 6th congress (2004-2008): most interpellations (The Journalist and TVBS)
  • 6th congress: Top 50 Legislator (Business Weekly)
  • 7th congress (2008-2012): Top 10 best-performing legislator (legislative oversight fund)
  • 7th congress: Best legislator on financial policy (legislative oversight alliance)
  • 8th congress (2012-2016): Top 5 legislator (21st Century Foundation)
  • 8th congress: #4 best legislator (21st Century Foundation)

Many of these are centrist organizations, but the 21st Century Foundation is an outlier. Though a nonprofit dedicated to sci-tech development, perusal of its Facebook page also reveals it is deep blue.The DPP caucus just lastweek accused it of allowing China to steal agricultural technology from Taiwan via an institute it established with the PRC’s CAAS; the foundation retorted, “Does Tsai want to prohibit all cross-strait exchange?”

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On page 2 we see Lai’s platform, which is reinforced over the rest of the pamphlet. His views:

  1. Promote peaceful cross-strait development on the foundation of the 1992 Consensus of One China, Different Interpretations.
  1. Promote switching to a parliamentary system (內閣制), and restore the mandate that the Legislature must approve the appointment of the premier. (Note: This would increase the KMT caucus’s power.)
  1. Promote reform of the Legislature: make inter-caucus negotiations transparent, raise legislative efficiency, and make the Speakership neutral. (Note: This would increase Lai’s power.)
  1. Establish a special committee for monitoring cross-strait agreements.
  1. Actively promote membership in international organizations: first the TPP, then the RCEP.
  1. Fight for workers’ welfare; raise the minimum wage; make the upper limit for the labor insurance premium more generous.
  1. Promote Fintech (Financial Technology) 3.0, such as online banking and third-party payment, and raise the financial sector’s overall competitiveness.
  1. Make international strategic investment sound. Push for the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund.
  1. Ensure students’ right to study, such as by granting 5-year extensions on student loan repayments, raise students’ parents’ representatives to one-third (Note: of relevant committees, I think) for participation in national educational policymaking.
  1. Continue accelerating development of the southern ring MRT line.
  1. Promote a new era in smart food safety systems, like food safety clouds.
  1. Improve the environment for youth entrepreneurs, and increase the scale of the angel investor fund to NT$10 billion.
  1. Promote long-term care insurance legislation.
  1. Steadfastly oppose abolishing the death penalty or Article 227 of the Criminal Code.
  1. Promote an addition to the basic labor law to protect the rights and interests of doctors doing residency.
  1. Promote taxing the wealthy to implement distributive justice.

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The following page shows you all the (KMT) Taipei city councilors who endorse Lai.

This two-page spread talks about “legislation you can feel” that Lai has promoted. My translation is as follows:

  • Smooth passage of the long-term care act, lightening the caregiving burdens of 1 million heads of household.
  • Strengthening insurance trusts to protect disadvantaged beneficiaries. Handicapped insurance beneficiaries whose parents have passed away and have no one to take care of them can through the insurance trust be protected.
  • Fiscal reform, including the largest tax increase in history, which raised taxes on the top bracket—NT$10 million and up—from 40% to 45%, increasing national tax revenues NT$10 billion and lowering the tax burden on average people.
  • Amended the company act so that publicly traded companies must share their excess profits with workers. Taiwanese wages have stagnated at the same level for 15 years, worsening wealth inequality. This is the first step to distributive justice.
  • Amendments to track ingredients in food products to their source, strengthen food safety control, and increase penalties for companies that violate food safety laws.
  • Proposed a bill to allow college graduates to serve substitute military service in research and development.
  • To facilitate long-term care, pushed to allow senior citizens over age 85 to ride the bus for free and make the rules for applying for such privileges more generous for those over age 80.

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This is followed by a series of 2-page spreads showing citizens in great distress who received succor from Lai’s bold acts of legislating, or bad citizens who were stymied by Lai’s chivalrous deeds.

The top right corner of each spread features a ruling party minister or blue media personality who endorses Lai. Note he avoids featuring the highest-profile KMTers of all, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫), who are both deeply unpopular with the general public. Nor does he have a blurb from the person he works with the most in the Legislature, Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is unpopular with Lai’s deep blue base which considers him the second coming of Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). Lai signals his Chinese nationalist ideology to his supporters by featuring New Party stalwarts who aren’t in the public eye as much these days, 1994 mayoral candidate Chao Shao-kang (趙少康) and current NP chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明). (Lai was a member of the New Party before switching to the KMT in 2004.)

 

This 2-page spread about Lai’s pivotal role in pushing for the southern link MRT line (approved September 22, 2014 and still years away), featuring the former transit minister and Taipei mayor, doubles as one of Lai’s campaign billboards.

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In this picture, Lai advertises that thanks to his efforts a big electricity tower in the district will be removed by June 2017, improving the scenery.

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Finally, the back cover shows Lai jumping with young people. As Michael Turton pointed out here last week, this is likely a response to the KMT’s weakness with this demographic. The reason Lai appeals to youth, he says here, is his support for science and technology as well as innovation.

He also gives you his contact information and his resume:

  • Presently legislator and chief of the KMT policy committee
  • Formerly NCCU management school professor and dean, Taipei City Government consultant, and National Assemblyman
  • USC industrial and systemic engineering master’s degree and doctorate, NCCU MBA, NCKU bachelor’s in engineering

Lai’s highest-profile challengers are the independent Taipei city councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元), who left the KMT (and was ejected from it post facto by the party) last year out of disgust with its failure to reform, and fiery Social Democratic Party nominee Miao Po-ya (苗博雅). The DPP and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) have crossed the blue-green ideological divide to endorse Lee, who is focusing strongly on food safety and social welfare issues (his active campaign Facebook page is here. Lai’s response to Lee’s strategy is to do the same thing but louder. Despite the KMT’s unpopularity, Lai is still expected to win re-election, and if he does his past constituency service and campaign themes could be the reason why.

Solidarity.tw is an indispensable blog on Taiwanese politics.