Monday, September 21, 2015

Hung Hsiu-chu’s Crusade Against Populism

Given her tendency to demonize civil society by constantly comparing it to Middle East-style terror organizations, we can only imagine how activists would fare under President Hung 

Seemingly incapable of coming up with a campaign platform that can resonate with the general public, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has instead turned her rhetorical guns on the very thing that on Jan. 16 will decide who Taiwan’s next president will be: the people. Besides being a stunningly poor decision on the part of her advisers (if Hung listens to them at all), her fixation on “populism” as a supposed cancer eating away at Taiwanese society bespeaks a darker streak in the candidate’s personality — authoritarianism. 

Hung’s definition of the word “populism” has an irremediably negative connotation: Whoever disagrees with her views and policies is “irrational” (an old KMT trope) and does so because he/she has been influenced by “populist” ideas. Included in that category is anyone who has participated in civic activism to challenge the authorities. In fact, by repeatedly comparing Taiwanese activists to Islamic State and the Red Guards, Hung co-equates “populism” with terrorism and extremism as a not-too-subtle way to further discredit her many opponents. 

My article, published today in Thinking Taiwan, continues here (photo by the author).

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