by Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: TTV/YouTube/Screenshot
THE TAIPEI MAYORAL race saw twelve candidates this year. The three serious candidates are, of course, Chen Shih-chung of the DPP, Chiang Wan-an of the KMT, and Vivian Huang of the TPP. It remains unclear as to which of them may win, with a tight three-way race anticipated.
At the same time, as the nation’s capital, Taipei often attracts a number of fringe mayoral candidates. This was no different this year, with the views of these candidates on display at the four-hour policy platform held by the Central Election Commission, in which all of the candidates were given thirty minutes to express their views.
Of the fringe candidates, lawyer Tong Wen-xun was the first to speak. Tong touted her international experience as a lawyer, comparing this to the mixed ingredients of a bowl of beef noodles, and to the diversity of various forms of alcohol. At the same time, Tong waved off that her election credentials showed she only graduated from elementary school, stating this was no obstacle to her working as an international lawyer.
Hsieh Li-kang. Photo credit: TTV/YouTube/Screenshot
The second fringe candidate, Hsieh Li-kang, claimed to have been inspired to run after watching the movie Top Gun: Maverick, and receiving divine inspiration. He claimed that Mazu was one of the guiding forces behind his running. Hsieh also brought up the Ip Man series of martial arts films and said that he learned to fight from these films, and talked about the need to exercise as his main reason for running. He further stated that he hoped to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine for Taiwan, and ended his presentation by demonstrating a series of breathing exercises.
Another candidate, Zheng Kuan-yu, touted his global perspectives by speaking in English and Japanese throughout his presentation. Claiming that it was the responsibility of independent candidates to end policy presentations with a song after Wu E-yang’s rise to fame in 2018 by singing a song, he also did the same to close his presentation. Candidate Shih Feng-xian, on the other hand, had a single policy plank, which was to promote the use of seawater for hydropower.
Tang Xin-min. Photo credit: TTV/YouTube/Screenshot
The most unique candidate of all, however, may be Tang Xin-min. During his presentation, Tang claimed to be the Son of Heaven, as well as Chiang Ching-kuo’s successor. Tang asserted that Chiang was in a secret conflict with the Freemasons and was murdered by Ma Ying-jeou, as well as that Chiang Wan-an was a fraud sent to prevent Tang from winning. Tang claimed that Taiwan would see a catastrophic volcanic eruption in 2023. Tang’s presentation was conducted entirely behind a series of posters that he flipped through while speaking, obscuring his face for much of his policy presentation as he shouted loudly. Otherwise, Tang stated that he would usher in another age of development for Taiwan through infrastructure projects, and claimed he was an avenging angel–something he claimed to be an ominous harbinger, rather than anything fortunate.
It is possible to become a mayoral candidate as an independent if one pays an election deposit of 1,500,000 NT. As such, fringe candidates sometimes run for mayor simply to have a platform for their views, if they have enough money to spend on the endeavor. But ironically, one can see the same issues that preoccupy mainstream candidates are refracted through a distorted lens with fringe candidates. Certainly, they prove memorable.