Thursday, March 18, 2004

Update on Taiwanese election, still teeteering on the edge

MSNBC reports that the Taiwanese President and Vice President leave the hospital:

TAIPEI, Taiwan - President Chen Shui-bian and his vice president survived an assassination attempt Friday while campaigning on the eve of a closely fought election focusing on the military threat from the Chinese mainland.

In a videotaped message hours after being grazed in the abdomen by a bullet, Chen looked stiff and tired but reassured viewers about his health and Taiwan’s security....

Police had no suspects in the shooting of Chen, 53, and Vice President Annette Lu, 59, who was hit in the right knee, as they rode in an open Jeep along a street jammed with Chen’s supporters in his hometown of Tainan.

At least two shots were fired, and there might have been more than one gunman, said Liu Shih-lin, deputy chief of the National Police.


The BBC has additional coverage, including a gruesome picture of the Taiwanese President's stomach wound:

Correspondents say it is the first such attack on a president in Taiwan and may well affect Saturday's voting in what had already been a close race.

Some experts predict Mr Chen could benefit from a sudden wave of public sympathy though his opponent, Lien Chan, said he did not think the shooting would be a factor for voters.

The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Taipei, says the outcome of a race that was already too close to call is now almost impossible to predict.

He adds that on policy, there is little to separate Mr Chen from his opponent, apart from their attitudes to China.


If you ask the oldman, showing pictures of the stomach wound of your President is a little bit too much information. However they seem to be less shy and retiring about the public modesty of all public figures in Asia and to a lesser extent Europe. In the United States the dignity of the office would prevent such dissemination of information. Personally, the oldman thought it was gauche when the dress of Monica Lewinksy with its "stains" was personally presented, much less an 11 cm (~5 inch) raw red wound presented (with accompanying middle-aged male belly bulge).

That's just the oldman's opinion however!

GEOPOLITICAL STAKES

This election is essentially a referendum on the future of Taiwan, and while there may or may not be a sympathy vote factor, this is the second recent election where we've had a last minute "surprise" to liven up things. For the record, the oldman thinks it's too close to call reliably, but forced to put his two bits down on one horse or another ... the oldman "predicts" by guessing that Chen the incumbent will win electoral victory. Read more here about the background of the situation through a Washingtonpost story via the MSNBC portal.

While this story has gotten little coverage other than streaming headlines in the States, it actually has greater implications for the national security of the United States of America than the probable non-capture of Al-Zawahiri in Pakistan. First of all, they're probably not going to get the guy and the reports aren't credible because they have no way to know that he's in the fighters they've cornered. Second of all, they're playing a very dangerous game over there and this could backfire. Third of all, even if Al-Zawahiri were captured they'd just promote a new bad guy to be head boogie man under UBL.

If Chen wins the elections, we could be staring into the teeth of a dillemma more dangerous to the United States of America since the Cuban Missile Crisis! (See this Game Theory discussion of the former crisis).

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