選舉

我在台灣沒有投票權,跟政治人物的接觸也頗為有限。我們里的里長出來拜票的時候,看到我,一直貼在嘴巴上的僵硬微笑會一時鬆開。有時候某些候選人一不留意就會伸手過來要跟我握手,一抬頭看到我的白臉就會立刻把手收回來。但是當一個外來者也有好處。其一是朋友之間或在工作場合,不用跟人表達你家的政治立場,就算你想要告訴別人,也沒人要聽;同時你的政治立場也不會在潛意識的層面上,被同事或朋友察覺出來。簡而言之,台灣人不會以他們一般的標準來對待你,因此你可以很自(白)由(目)地詢問他人的政治色彩。不過久而久之,你不用問也多少會感覺到。

 

講到這一點也不是很準確,因為你可以大概從一些細節,猜測他人的家庭是藍是綠是紅,但這也不代表在投票箱前,他們就會聽話地投給父母要他們投的那位候選人。我待過不同「顏色」的學術和工作單位:藍的綠的大學、綠的科系、紅媒體到白的公司,後來也算是回到一個(還帶一點藍的)綠色單位。在每個單位都需要看很多宣傳品,也因此很容易被洗腦。在藍的單位時也許會覺得綠營做事不踏實,不懂得妥協;在綠的單位時也許會覺得藍營只有在看錢、沒什麼原則。可能都有;可能都沒有,不過也許都是因為我們以不同框架看,所以會有不同的印象。

 

講到框架,我以前一直對柯文哲有一種說不太出口的反感,可能是略受媒體的影響,說他恐同、親中、自我感覺良好等等。媒體最近也有報導他父母在最後時刻替他到中選會登記連署,最後卻遲到了。媒體報導這則新聞的大方向帶有一點幸災樂禍的意味。但就算深綠的人看到這則報導,儘管讀起來很爽,應該也很清楚這大概不是真相。柯文哲若真的想選,不會拖到這時候,還派老人家幫他登記。剛好我最近在看柯文哲寫的《白色力量3》,柯P對民進黨很失望不是因為民進黨對他的直接攻擊,而是他們在明明知道一個污衊他的假新聞報導是偏頗的情況下(如器官移植的葛特曼案),還去煽動爭議。 

 

也許當一個選民最重要的,是能夠離開同溫層,用不同的框架反省政治立場。

 

ㄟ對啊,我忘了……你上次總統大選是投哪一位?

The Control Yuan vs Getting 3 Meals a Day 「逐工就是顧三頓」

shabu-shabu-foodTVBS’s ‘The Situation Room’ has returned to talking about the impeachment proceedings launched by the Control Yuan against National Taiwan University President Kuan Chung-ming after he’d been in the post just a week. The discussion reveals a lot of interesting theories about the role of the「獨派」, or ‘pro-independence’, faction within the Democratic Progressive Party, who President Tsai is said to have appointed to the Control Yuan as a compromise, but who are now allegedly going rogue.

Kuan has been accused (so far) of having a second post while being an official, writing editorials in Yizhoukan (一週刊), although there is a lot of debate as to whether or not this constitutes a second post, as contributing to magazines and newspapers is quite a common practice among officials.

In the course of this debate, Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) used a Taiwanese phrase *09:50* to try and communicate what she feels is the disconnect between the priorities of the DPP and of the public:

老百姓(in Mandarin) 逐工著是顧三頓爾(in Taiwanese)

逐工 ta̍k-kang 就是 tiō sī 顧三頓  kòo-sann-tǹg 爾爾 niā-niā*

逐工 ta̍k-kang is equivalent to 每天 in Mandarin (every day)

就是 tiō sī is the same as Mandarin (are just)

顧三頓 kòo-sann-tǹg is equivalent to 顧三餐 in Mandarin (to concern oneself with getting three square meals)

爾爾 niā-niā is equivalent to 而已 in Mandarin (and only that)

*I’m not sure if she says niā once or twice here. 

From the context of her comments, we can guess why she chose to use a Taiwanese phrase. She’s talking about and appealing to the common man who hasn’t got time for politics, and Taiwanese is a way of appealing to this Taiwanese everyman.

Interestingly in the 五月天 (Mayday) song ‘I Love You無望’ both the phrase 逐工 ta̍k-kang (0.20), and ‘每一工’ muí tsi̍tkang (0.31) are used, to mean “every day”. In Mandarin 逐日 is more formal and is closer to on a daily basis, whereas 每天/每一天 is less formal. I’m not quite sure of the differences in Taiwanese, although one Taiwanese friend suggested that 逐工 can mean “the entire day”.

 

An Overbearing Duck? 「鴨霸」

ducks-3826244_1920Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), a KMT legislator-at-large, is another regular on TVBS’s political panel show ‘The Situation Room’.

In an interesting discussion on the long delay to Kuan Chung-Ming’s inauguration as President of National Taiwan University, she used the Taiwanese term 「鴨霸」(ah-pà) in the middle of a Mandarin sentence on political panel show ‘The Situation Room’, as follows (from roughly 5:29):

他為什麼會被卡

Why was the inauguration unable to proceed?

就是因為全面執政太鴨霸

Because the ruling party has been too overbearing about it all

 

According to the information I can find, it’s unlikely that 「鴨」(ah)  is the original character in the expression, and it’s likely used as a stand-in for either 「」(a) (as the original form of 「惡」 or「」(ah) (according to the Ministry of Education dictionary). The nearest Mandarin equivalent is probably 「霸道」, although 「鴨霸」 can also be used in Mandarin.

For another duck-related phrase, you might want to check out my previous post here.

Xi Jinping Breaks his Bowl: ‘More speed less haste’「食緊挵破碗」

3203291222_c0fe41d465_oOne of the great things about living in Taiwan is that when political leaders make speeches, like the speech made by Xi Jinping on Jan. 2, there is a flurry of discussions and critique on political panel shows and on social media, and people aren’t scared to express their own opinions on them. This is also a great learning opportunity, as people are more likely to come out with an interesting turn of phrase when they’re not being overly careful about what they’re saying.

One, such political panel show that I’ve grown fond of over the years is TVBS’s political chat show ‘The Situation Room’. Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文), a politician and broadcaster previously aligned with the Democratic Progressive Party but who later became a Kuomintang member and is now the KMT Vice Secretary-General, is a regular on the show and is one of the more humourous panelists.

In critiquing Xi’s speech in which he proposed a “one nation, two systems” approach to Taiwan, she said that he’s trying to push cross-strait relations forward at such a pace that he risks not getting anywhere at all. She used a Taiwanese phrase similar to “more speed less haste”, 「食緊挵破碗」(lit. eating with such haste that you break your bowl), which is pronounced “Tsia̍h-kín lòng-phuà uánn“:

 

You can hear her say this phrase in Taiwanese while she’s primarily speaking in Mandarin at 5:27.

Photo by timlewisnm, licensed under Creative Commons.

 

Big in Taiwan: Bobby Hill – 佛系[Insert your job here]法

Recently I’ve started to hear the term 「佛系……法」 a lot. The term plays with the Buddhist concept of noninterference, essentially suggesting that instead of trying to follow your boss’ direction/ study in school/encourage internet users to Like your page/earn money etc., you should just resign yourself to the fact that things are beyond your control and that if what you want is meant to be, it will happen without any effort from you. In one sense it can be used as an attack on the perceived lack of a work effort among millenials, suggesting that they think they deserve to get their dreams served to them on a plate, while millenials themselves have adopted it to counter this narrative, as an expression of their cynicism at how much of a difference they can make by following the rules. Different verbs or job titles can be inserted into the blank depending on what the author is describing.

The first time I saw it was when a friend sent a meme featuring a familiar cartoon character, Bobby Hill from King of the Hill. Although my friend had no idea who Bobby Hill was, the meme featuring him meditating while incense burns in the foreground seems to have caught the Taiwanese imagination. I’ve put some examples of the use of the meme I found on the internet below. There was one example I saw of an English use of this meme, but it doesn’t seem to have caught the imagination of the English-speaking world quite so much:

48aeb312-8b5d-4a64-9915-1f9484d82fe4_m

Source: https://dailyview.tw/Popular/Detail/1656

 

Continue reading

‘When you can’t fatten your pig, but your dog is ballooning’ 「豬不肥,肥到狗去」

未命名

A friend of mine posted a Taiwanese phrase in a Mandarin-language Facebook post recently that caught my eye:

「人生第一次抽中1元飲料,居然是幫[某某人]買咖啡,這就叫豬沒肥,去肥到狗~~」

The post translates roughly to:

For the first time in my life I got a drink for NT$1 in a lucky draw, and it turned out to be when I was buying a coffee for [name omitted], isn’t this what they call [lit.] the pig not getting fat, while the dog balloons.

There seems to be several variations of this phrase, including the one above, the version my colleague suggested 「豬沒肥,肥到狗」(ti bô pûi, pûi tio̍h káu) and the one listed on the Ministry of Education dictionary 「豬毋大,大對狗去」(Ti m̄ tuā, tuā tuì káu khì (Click link for audio)). A literal reading of the phrase is someone being unable to fatten their pig for market, while the dog, which is meant to serve as a guard dog, and should be agile, is getting fat instead.

One explanation of this phrase I found at this blog, suggests that it was originally quite a misogynistic phrase, as it could be used to describe a situation wherein the son of a house, who would actually benefit the family if he got a good education, gets bad grades in school, while the daughter, who wouldn’t benefit the family with an education, gets good grades:

未命名1

A very horoscope-heavy profile on Weiling Chen (陳慧翎), the director of the Taiwanese drama On Children (《你的孩子不是你的孩子》) and the actor in the recent first episode, Ivy Yin (尹馨) makes reference to this interpretation, when the director (Chen) mentions that her mother once used the phrase, comparing her and her younger brother:

雙魚座的陳慧翎成長壓力來自不被了解,難忘媽媽說過「豬不肥、肥到狗」,意旨為何她比弟弟優秀。

“Piscean Chen Weiling’s pressure growing up came from not being understood. She always remembers when her mother said, “the pig won’t get fat, while the dog gets fatter,” questioning why she was more brilliant than her little brother.”

It does seem to have a wider application, however, as both the poster and the subject of my friend’s post were male. In this context it’s kind of a mixture between ‘casting pearls before swine’ and a bitter cry of ‘why do some guys have all the luck.’ My friend is suggesting (jokingly) that he deserves good luck, but instead it’s being wasted on his friend.

A report in the Liberty Times used the phrase in a political context too, although the fact that Tsai Ing-wen is a woman may make the use of the phrase more natural. If you couldn’t tell from the subtle objective tone below, Liberty Times is not a big fan of the KMT:

國民黨一向認為兩岸關係為其強項,其領導菁英都想跑北京領命,現在恐怕成了選票毒藥,致英雄無用武之地。

在這樣的情況演變下,如果蔡英文不犯錯,十一月的選舉大勢不難推估,唯有執政黨穩固了這次中期選舉,才有可能促使北京重新考慮其對台對口的設定,兩岸在明年才有機會鬆動緊繃的局面。不過,中國到頭來肯定會發現竟是「豬不肥,肥到狗」。這樣的辯證關係,豈不是很好玩嗎?

“The KMT has always considered cross-strait relations its strength, and its leading elites take their orders from Beijing. Now, it seems, this has become toxic to their election hopes, so these heroes are unable to make use of their skills in this department.

As the situation continues to evolve, if Tsai Ing-wen doesn’t make any mistakes, the overall trend of the November election isn’t hard to guess at, as only the party in government will be sitting pretty in the mid-term elections. It’s only this situation that will drive Beijing to reconsider their stance on Taiwan. Cross-strait tensions are unlikely to ease until next year. However, China, in the end, is sure to discover that “the pig isn’t getting fatter, while the dog is ballooning”. Isn’t this dialectic quite good fun?”

This suggests that China will end up working with the DPP (the fat dog), rather than the KMT (the skinny pig), despite its idea of which party should be the best for it to work with.

Reichmark Bond Protester Giving Up?

Outside 101 is a bit like Hyde Park Corner in London. Lots of “interesting characters” on soap boxes. This man was previously pictured protesting Germany’s alleged refusal to reimburse Reichmark bonds issued in Taipei by Japan in the 1920s, with the Japanese reportedly forcing many Taiwanese to buy them against their will. He’s actually posted screen shots from the European Press Photo Association on another placard beside him. He was suggesting their refusal constituted being Nazis again and his placard still says “Hitler Resurrected”. He’s resorted to passive aggression now, stating in English and Chinese that given Germany’s failure to address or engage with the argument and that “they can’t afford it anyway”, he was giving the bonds as a gift to Germany. For more info you can check out their Facebook Group The Old German Mark Association. Looks like he’s had some abuse about his use of the Nazi flag, as he or someone else has crossed it out and drawn a thumbs down on it. Lots of media coverage on his protest, so maybe that’s what has led to his change of heart.

Forget Chiang Kai-shek’s Progeny – Shit Hits the Fan for Hongwu Emperor Scion

29339872_10103778881070819_7716906575541043200_o-e1521423475983.jpg

Saw this poster on a traffic box on the way to work. Someone went to a lot of effort just to mock this guy.

The picture on the top left is the Hongwu Emperor (朱元璋) and the one on the right is the former head of Da’an’s Guangxin Li (smallest administrative division in Taiwan) Chu Hsueh-chang (朱雪璋) who claims to be the great^19 grandson of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of China’s Ming Dynasty and his wife Wu Pei-hua (吳佩樺).

(Guangxin) Li Head Chu Hsueh-chang is the descendant of an emperor! So he can’t be guilty~! There is nothing wrong with protecting your wife. Chu Hsueh-chang is innocent

After the”not guilty”, “喔!” an empty particle used to add emphasis, and which is often used in advertisements in Taiwan, is repeated six times, which adds to the sarcastic tone of the poster.

He was sentenced to six years (105,訴,207) for “Destruction of or serious damage to the function of one or more limbs” (See Criminal Code Article 10 Clause 4), when he and a group of other men allegedly assaulted martial artist Kenny Wang and two other men. Chu was the manager of the Tiger Martial Arts Fitness MMA Club. The alleged events, according to the court documents are as follows. In January of 2016, Kenny Wang (王毓霖) and Tsai Chao-chuan (蔡櫂全), both of whom were martial arts practitioners, live-streamed themselves outside the club picking their noses and sticking up their middle fingers on Facebook. Chu was angered, and under the pretense of inviting them to compete in a martial arts match, he invited Wang and Tsai to the club on February 16, 2016. Wang and Tsai arrived with a referee they’d designated for the contest and some friends. The door was then locked from the outside. When Wang, Tsai and the referee entered the club their phones were taken by force. A gang of men entered from the fire escape and beat the three men with a range of weapons, including aluminium bars, wooden bats, as well as with punches and kicks. Chu has appealed the verdict to the High Court.

It’s not the first time Chu has been in trouble. During a dispute over parking in Danshui, he got into a scuffle with a crowd of onlookers, after which nine people were hospitalized. After being arrested, he’s reported to have told police “I know Hung Hsiu-chu!”, referring to the then vice president of the Legislative Yuan, now the KMT chair (and who was briefly the KMT candidate for president in the 2016 election before being replaced). He’s also alleged to have been involved in other unsavoury incidents, including a dispute with a resident of his li, an incident where he “confiscated” the passport and mobile telephone of a Thai Muay Thai (Thai boxing) coach.

Posters Surrounding the Abandoned Taipei Dome Construction Site

Ko Wen-je still seems to enjoy quite a lot of popularity as Taipei mayor, despite being increasingly distant from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which did not nominate a candidate in the mayoral election in which he was elected. There has been talk this time round of DPP politicians running against him, but Ko has so far come out on top on polls (reference).

Ko’s reign as mayor has not been all smooth sailing by any stretch, however, and one of the major controversies of his term is still in evidence at the abandoned construction site of the Taipei Dome where posters denouncing Ko can still be found plastered over the walls of the site:

28822874_10103761779063379_1977238668_o

(Top) “Protect old trees before the election
Move old trees after the election
‘Making Real Change’ (from the title of Ko’s second book White Power 2: Making Real Change)
Start with changing yourself”

(Bottom) 7 Questions for Ko Wen-je
Mayor Ke Wen-je, Are you going to let the construction of the corrupt landmark restart?
1. Have you completed the renegotiation of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Contract?
2. Have you dealt with FarGlory’s illegal breach of contract?
3. Have you dealt with the controversy surrounding the Taipei Dome scandal?
4. Did FarGlory complete the implementation of the seven public safety standards?
5. Have you passed the changes to the Urban Design Review, the environmental impact assessment and the building license?
6. Have you realized the concept of “lining roads with trees” (a campaign slogan)?
7. Have you dealt with the impact on traffic after the capacity was dramatically expanded?

28879366_10103761779068369_1804018592_o

Here the Chinese for Songshan Cultural and Creative Park have been defaced to read “Songshan Logging Park”. Under this is a another poster, which reads as follows:

“The Big Scandalous Egg (a corruption of the Chinese for Taipei Dome) is facing a lawsuit for profiteering, we ask that the administration of Mayor Ko Wen-je end the contract and revoke the construction permit.
Don’t exchange fairness and justice for money, don’t renegotiate the contract for the flawed scandalous egg (Taipei Dome), cancel it.”

28811003_10103761779078349_1140766829_o

(Top right) Ko Wen-je and Farglory are both telling lies, until the public safety appraisal has been completed, plant it with trees.”
(Bottom) “The scandal hasn’t been cleaned up, cancel (the project) and put trees in its place.”

28876517_10103761779058389_1520583611_o

This piece of graffiti has a more interesting story behind it. It reads, “The purity of youth has fooled the whole country to their deaths.” This sounds like something reminiscent of the criticism of the Student Sunflower Movement. However, according to a news article, a man in his 50s went across Taiwan graffitiing this message on a range of different landmarks in 2016. There are picture of him in action here, although I’m not sure if this is a copycat or an original creation.

For an interesting explanation of Wayne Chiang’s recent decision not to run in the mayoral election, check out this Frozen Garlic update.

Punning with Shrimp and Fish 「蝦不掩魚」

There is a great columnist in Taiwan, Chou Wei-hang, who goes under the nickname 「人渣文本」 (Scum Text), often featured in magazines in Taiwan. Always a column to look out for. I was reading a particularly scathing article he wrote ripping into Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), when I came across this cool pun, which harkens back to one of my previous posts 「無魚,蝦也好」:

何煖軒用有損華航形象為由幹掉一位工會空姐,新潮流覺得這樣做很好嗎?段宜康覺得這樣做很好嗎?鄭文燦覺得這樣做很對嗎?鄭運鵬你也力薦何煖軒啊,要不要評價一下他上任的表現?瑕不掩瑜?蝦不掩魚?又愚又瞎?

Ho Nuan-hsuan fired one of the union air hostesses for damaging China Airlines’ image. Does the New Tide faction (within the DPP) think that he did a good job?  Does Tuan Yi-kang (DPP Legislator) think he did a good job? Does Cheng Wen-Tsan (Taoyuan Mayor for DPP) think he did a good job? Cheng Yun-Peng (DPP Legislator), you highly recommended Ho Nuan-hsuan (as chairperson of China Airlines), why don’t you evaluate his performance after taking the job? A small blemish doesn’t spoil jade? Shrimp doesn’t spoil fish? It’s both foolish and blind?

The author takes the common idiom 「瑕不掩瑜?」 (xia2bu4yan3yu2), meaning literally that “one blemish doesn’t spoil the jade” and figuratively that just because there are disadvantages to something, doesn’t mean that they aren’t great overall. He then substitutes the 「瑕」(xia2) meaning “flaw” for 「蝦」(xia1) meaning “shrimp/prawn”, and 「瑜」 (yu2) meaning the “lustre of jade” for “魚” (yu2) meaning “fish”.

Now the phrase reads, “shrimp cannot spoil the fish”, and this is a nod to the Taiwanese phrase 「無魚,蝦也好」 (bô hî, hê mā ho):

Although this phrase was originally used to indicate “Something is better than nothing”, here it is used to mock the idea that you can replace something good with something lesser and still claim to be great overall. Here it particularly refers to the way politicians and others step down from their campaign promises with less appetizing versions of policies. This is a similar usage to the one I pointed out in Li Ang’s novel chronicling the breakdown of idealism and misogyny of the opposition activists that eventually formed the DPP:

陳英俊因一般女性仍不敢靠近,基本上沒有太多的選擇,加上林慧淑頗具吸引力的姿色,很快的確定了兩人的關係。

As no normal women [Lin Hui-shu is the product of a mixed marriage between a mainland soldier and an aboriginal woman] dared to be associated with Chen Ying-jun, he really didn’t have much choice, and as, Lin Hui-shu was really quite attractive, the two quickly entered into a relationship.

雖然偶有政治犯同學戲稱他無魚蝦也好,但多半是羨慕又帶嫉妒。

Although some of his political prisoner comrades joked with him that he was really scraping the bottom of the barrel, most admired him with a little bit of jealousy mixed in.

Riffing again on the “yu2” and “xia1” sounds, he adds the phrase 「又愚又瞎」, where 「愚」 (yu2), meaning “foolish”, is a homophone of 「魚」 (and 「瑜」) and 「瞎」(xia1) is a homophone of 「蝦」 (and a near homophone of 「瑕」xia2).