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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Election Day 選挙の日

It's election day in Taiwan. Voting was held between 8am and 4pm for seats in the newly-revamped legislature 立法府, and ballot counting is already underway as I write this. My wife did her civic duty this afternoon at a local elementary school 小学校 in Shenkang (Shengang) 神岡, while my daughter and I took a walk through the school grounds. Today's online edition of the Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売 has an article on the elections depressingly entitled "Pro-China party leading Taiwan poll/Opposition Kuomintang may gain single-party majority in Saturday's election". The story begins by saying:

"Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party 中国国民党...has maintained a lead over the ruling Democratic Progressive Party 民主進歩党 in the run-up to Saturday's legislative election, raising the possibility it could scoop a single-party majority in the 113-seat parliament. The poll is viewed as an indication of the mood of the electorate just ahead of the island's presidential election scheduled for March. By criticizing the government's economic policy missteps and corruption, the KMT (Kuomintang/Guomindang) tapped into voter discontent with DPP President Chen Shui-bian's (Chin Suihen) 陳水扁 eight-year rule. The DPP is facing a tough campaign even in its traditional strongholds in the southern part of the island."

The article also provides an explanation of the new look in this round of balloting:

"For this election, (Taiwan) has introduced a system that combines single-seat constituencies with proportional representation, with the number of seats to be contested almost halved to 113 from the previous 225. The DPP set its victory or defeat bar at 45 seats, a number that represents about half of the 89 seats won by the party in the previous legislative election in 2004. However, some observers expect the party will not even reach 40 seats."

The KMT, smelling blood, has:

"...intensified its campaign in the central and southern parts of the island, where the so-called Taiwan natives, who commonly vote for the DPP, hold a majority, in an attempt to win the 57 seats needed to achieve a single-party majority."

In all likelihood, the KMT will gain an overwhelming majority in the new-look legislature, and the momentum may carry its presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou (Ba Eikyū) 馬英九, to victory in the presidential polls in March. If the voters of Taiwan want to put in power an authoritarian party with strong ties to gangsters 暴力団 that will work to end Taiwan's existence as an independent political entity, that's their business, and they can live with the consequences of their collective decision. However, at the first sign of a rollback in Taiwan's hard-earned democracy, and/or its deliverance into the clutches of the Chinese government (as long as the latter remains an authoritarian one-party dictatorship), I will take my family and get the hell out of Dodge.

Looking on the bright side of things, though, I did have the day off from work because of the election. In addition to going out to vote, we also stopped off at my in-laws' 姻せき home, where I took my daughter Amber to play at a nearby park. Here are some photographs I took while we were outside today:

I'm in love with this (what I'm guessing is an) old Japanese-era 日本統治時代 building. It sits on the property of a large supermarket called Mega that shut its doors a few months ago, so the fate of this building is probably doomed. I wish I could somehow raise the money to buy the structure and the land it sits on, and then restore it to its former glory, but unless I get lucky and win the lottery, that ain't gonna happen.

Amber sees what my Los Angeles Angels cap looks like on her grandmother おばあさん, and enjoys herself on a slide 滑り台 in the park.

I wrote about this building a long time ago, and received one of those cowardly anonymous comments that those who are not as confident in their views as they believe themselves to be like to leave on other people's blogs. In this case, it's a local outpost of Soka Gakkai International 創価学会. Back in October 2006 there was only one SG flag flying from the rooftop. Now there are about 11. It seems that both the political party and so-called "Buddhist" group I've really grown to despise over the years are unfortunately flourishing in Taiwan.

Finally, though, some good news. We have found a cat!

Pamela brought him home yesterday from a veterinarian 獣医 in T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中. He's six months old, and by coincidence, his birthday is the same date as our wedding anniversary. He's still feeling nervous about his new surroundings, and Amber has been a little too enthusiastic about the newest member of our family, but I'm sure he will quickly adjust. One thing we haven't settled on yet is his name. Pamela is calling him "Happy", from the Mandarin 中国語 words "Heip'i (Heipi)" 黒皮, or "Black skin". I, on the other hand, want to name him "Neko", which is the Japanese word for "cat" 猫. Amber, meanwhile, has been calling him "Cleo", because in her eyes, he looks like one of my parents' cats. Any suggestions are welcome!

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