Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Taiwan, where are you going?

1/17/2012 Taiwan Explorer
The Taiwan election is over, a lot of heads are sober... again. The incumbent won and I have to say a lot of my Taiwanese friends are disappointed. Very disappointed. It's not easy to see their dreams shattered, but this is part of a democracy. You have the right to vote, but you don't have the right to have it your way. You can only hope, that the majority's hearts beat the same as yours. These days I'm hearing lots of rumors about how some Southerners literally sold their votes to the ruling party, how some young people, who's families are traditionally green, still voted blue, because they benefited from the current government in some way, usually related to jobs, taxes or money in general. It seems that this election was more about heart vs. brain and brain won - pragmati$m prevailed. The most angry voices claim, that "some sold Taiwan for a little money" and they have completely lost hope for their country's future. When I heard the official results, I had mixed feelings. I knew that whoever would win, the future of Taiwan would be uncertain in many ways - the campaigns were about fear, not hope. Maybe it was good for me to be in Germany during this time, because I saw how the world completely disregards Taiwan's democracy. In Germany, almost nobody cared about the election in Taiwan - there were no reports on TV - nothing. Instead, a sunk ship in Italy was nonstop in the news. Same goes for my home country and probably most Western countries. Nobody gives a rats ass about democracy anymore. We're bitter and self-absorbed, because we saw how governments change, but everything remains the same. It's not like we want to have dictatorships back, but the feeling of pure enthusiasm for political convictions are over - cynicism prevails these days. I'm not really bitter, but not happy either. I'm confused about Taiwan now, I have no idea what the voters really wanted to say with this result and I'm not sure, where this country is sailing to in the next four years. I will try to figure this out, when I'm back, but I think it must be very hard for some foreigners, who were there last Saturday. I'm thinking about those, who were so passionately campaigning for the opposition in the recent months; those, who were blinded by their own idea of what Taiwanese want. There was so much nonsense written on expat political blogs in the past, that completely distorted the reality on the ground. Some people got so caught up in their ideas of good and bad, that they completely forgot, that most Taiwanese live with a very complex reality and try to find the middle way to survive (or at least what comes the closest to that). I've never seen any society so full of contradictions, yet functioning so well. Try to work for a Taiwanese company and you will know what I mean. I hope that we will hear more moderate voices and balanced views from those, who spend so much time blogging about politics in Taiwan. If they still want to be taken seriously, there is no other way - or they will burn out like camping fire after the rain. Some already did. In my case, I'm in Germany and I have a lot of personal stuff on my mind, that bothers me more than this election. I guess I'm not the only one. Let me give you a tip: If your candidate loses, the world doesn't end. Maybe for a moment - but then you gotta move on.

Taiwan, where are you going? I don't know. Nobody knows.