Kaohsiung is disillusioned

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Editorial

Results of Saturday’s by-election in Kaohsiung show residents of Taiwan’s largest industrial-port city are disillusioned with its dirty politics and corrupt politicians. Only 32 percent of the voters went to the polling stations to elect 18 new members of the city council, the lowest turnout in Taiwan’s elections. The ruling DPP and the main opposition Kuomintang each won six seats, while the People First Party scored no seats at all. The Taiwan Solidarity Union, an ally of the DPP, took three seats. The remaining three went to independents. With the added seats, the independents now number 15 in the council, the same as the “pan-green” block. The “pan-blue” group retains 14 seats. The ruling party has a comfortable majority. The by-election was necessary because 17 of the city council’s 44 members were stripped of their titles after being convicted for accepting bribes in the 2002 speaker’s election. One innocent councilor quit in protest against the scandal.

Nine of the 47 candidates were listed by anti-vote-buying civic groups as undesirables; three of them got elected. Obviously, the 67 percent of the city’s residents who abstained were unhappy. Five years ago, Kaohsiung was the world’s second largest container shipping center after Hong Kong. It now ranks fifth, trailing behind Singapore, Shanghai, and Pushan. This alone tells it all.