9-in-1 elections: A candidate who won’t win, and a plea for candidates who might

Next Saturday, Taiwanese will go to the polls in local elections for a record number of posts: over 11,000 nationwide. Since nine categories of elected offices (from mayors down to village wardens) make up the 11,130 open posts, the elections have been termed the 9-in-1 elections.

Mr. Chao Yan-ching is running for Taipei mayor. He hasn’t a prayer of winning an ugly, difficult race.

This is the story that introduced him to me:

Spending NT$2 Million to Tell a Story

via Thinking Taiwan

Mr. Chao was born in Shandong in 1936 and arrived in Taiwan as a teenage orphan in 1949. He lives on a military pension and supplements it by collecting and selling recyclables.

The story in the link above is not fully factual, but it is true to a number of tragedies in the histories of people who call Taiwan home in 2014. I really recommend that you read it.

This man is part of Taiwan’s story. He is Taiwanese too.

The piece linked above includes an editor’s note linking to analysis and an interview with Mr. Chao about his past. In Mr. Chao’s own verson of his past,  he was forced to be a child laborer by the Communist Eight Route Army, not the KMT, then escaped and ended up in Penghu but was too young to be forced to be a soldier by the KMT when they came and abducted students in 1949. The incident must still have been traumatic, but not in the same way as the linked story above implies.

The Chinese-language article linked to by the editor reminds voters not to waste their votes in the contentious Taipei mayoral election by voting for this man out of pity. Instead, the writers hope that voters will choose the candidate who will do the best job of caring for people like Mr. Chao who need their stories heard and redressing the sins of past regimes.

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