This is Part IV of a series, for Part I “Taiwan’s Unpredictable Elections 9 in 1: KMT chickens and a curiously popular president.” Part II, “If this year’s elections in Taiwan were normal, the KMT would win big, but this year is strange.” For part three, “the Chinese threat becomes a factor in Taiwan’s election campaigns”.
TAICHUNG (Taiwan News) – Unprecedented and unpredictable factors abound in this year’s 9-in-1 local elections to be held on Nov. 26, which will see positions filled for everything from local ward heads to county commissioners and mayors – including special municipalities of the “big six”.
As this series has examined, based on “normal” factors, the Kuomintang (KMT) enters this election looking strong, and it might still get a good result. Local elections, like midterm elections in the United States, typically see an increase in support for the opposition party.
The KMT has the advantage of occupying most of the 14 key positions it holds in the current 22 major elections. Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is losing key politicians to term limits in major races.
We are only just beginning to enter the period when the elections are starting to heat up, and it will only be a few weeks, maybe more than a month, before the strange factors at play in this election start to show up in the trends. . They will also likely be difficult to disentangle or clearly identify individually in polls.
So far in this series, we’ve looked at three of these factors. There are five in total.
Factor four: The plagiarism election
If this trend continues, going forward, we’ll likely look at this year’s cycle as the “election of plagiarism.” We looked at this in a previous column on a handful of cases involving theses, but since then the problem has exploded in size and scope.
Certainly, there are several “normal” criminal scandals.
Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tzu-miao (林姿妙) of the KMT, her daughter and 13 others were charged with corruption in August. She maintains her innocence and insists it was politically motivated government blockbuster work, and in two polls (here and here) taken before the official indictment, but when the investigation was widely known, it remained well ahead.
Then there is the curious case of Miaoli County Council Chairman Chung Tung-chin (鍾東錦), who held a press conference to announce that he was not in fact a murderer and rapist. as the rumors said, but that he had “merely” stabbed a “friend” and committed criminal adultery. He’s since been expelled from the KMT for running against their candidate, but Chung has consistently held the lead in one poll and essentially tied for the lead in another.
On the DPP’s side is former presidential spokesperson and current candidate for Hualien County Commissioner Kolas Yotaka, who has had a criminal record for drunk driving since 2014. The DPP’s curious defense is that at the time she wasn’t a member of the party…like that was the only important factor, and she wasn’t a whole person before she joined the party.
No polls have been released since that revelation, but drunk driving has already claimed the life of a DPP candidate for Taichung City Council, who had to withdraw from the race and quit the party. How much of an impact this will have on his already lengthy campaign remains to be seen.
It started with theses
It is plagiarism that holds this election in its grip. However, it started with theses but has now spread like a virus to any other potential form of plagiarism.
There are so many thesis allegations out there that it’s now hard to keep track, but as of writing a previous column on the subject, the list included: Former DPP mayoral candidate Taoyuan Lin Chih-chien (林智堅), KMT candidate for Nantou County Commissioner Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華), KMT Nantou County Council Chairman Ho Shang-feng (何勝豐), and TPP legislator Tsai Pi -ru (蔡壁如).
Since then, allegations have been made against TPP mayoral candidate Hsinchu Ann Kao (高虹安), KMT mayoral candidate Hsinchu Lin Geng-ren (林耕仁), DPP mayoral candidate Keelung Tsai Shih- ying (蔡適應), KMT mayoral candidate Keelung Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑), and Taoyuan independent mayoral candidate Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬). And these are just the top candidates, the downline candidates are also under fire.
Each of them insists that he is innocent. So far, the only one who has been cleared is Hsinchu City Councilor Lin Geng-ren (林耕仁), but this is only one of two cases against him, the other is still pending.
It is impossible to predict how many of these people will be exonerated and how many will be found guilty at this stage. However, several university professors have told me, off the record, that plagiarism in theses is common, so it’s likely that it’s not all just baseless political libel.
Taoyuan: Ground zero
So far, the damage has been mostly on the DPP side. Lin Chih-chien (林智堅), now a former Taoyuan mayoral candidate and popular mayor of Hsinchu, was forced to drop out of the race following allegations that dissertations submitted to two universities had been plagiarized, and the two universities confirmed this after investigation (although it is appealed to the Ministry of Education).
This is a serious headache for the DPP, as it appears to challenge the personal judgment of party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and also entrap Lin’s thesis director, the general director of the Office of National Security (NSB), Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) . For more analysis on how this is a potential disaster for the DPP see this previous column, although so many other cases of plagiarism have surfaced less attention can be paid to this issue on polling day.
Since this article was written, things have gotten even worse for the DPP in Taoyuan. The party rushed to find a replacement, quickly settling on DPP lawmaker Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬), who had strongly supported Lin.
This infuriated former DPP deputy Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清), who had not supported Lin and was not consulted or considered a possible candidate. He decided to run as an independent, potentially splitting the Pan-Green vote, and has since been kicked out of the party and, ironically, given his refusal to defend Lin, now faces allegations of plagiarism of his own thesis. .
After a series of blows to the DPP in Taoyuan, accusations of plagiarism went beyond theses and ensnared KMT’s Taoyuan mayoral candidate Simon Chang (張善政). He allegedly plagiarized large chunks of a research paper as part of a project he applied for with the Council for Agriculture (COA) when he was Vice President of Acer Inc., with a total budget of NT$57.36 million.
He claimed that the project was to research subjects overseas, so including the material was acceptable. Then, curiously, he declined to speak to the press any further, citing a nondisclosure clause in the COA contract.
This non-disclosure clause surprised the ACO, for the simple reason that it did not exist. This lie on Chang’s part could end up hurting him more than the initial controversy.
The COA released a preliminary report, noting that there were many alleged copyright infringements, and is awaiting responses from Acer and Chang, which they will review before issuing a final judgment. They noted that if it was determined that there had been copyright infringement, he would seek compensation from Chang and the company and demand that Acer reimburse them the money.
Anything can be 'plagiarized'
The theme of plagiarism continues to spread, with the KMT accusing the DPP’s Yilan county commissioner candidate of “plagiarizing” his promise to introduce free nutritional lunches in schools. This was followed by the KMT accusing DPP candidates for Taipei Mayor Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and New Taipei Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of “plagiarizing” political positions and using images copied. Copying political ideas is as old as politics itself, so it just jumps on the plagiarism bandwagon.
Like the other three factors examined in this series so far, it is very difficult to predict the impact this wave of plagiarism allegations will ultimately have. Everything will depend on the results of the investigations into these allegations and who will be exonerated and who will not.
It may also be that there are so many culprits that the electoral impact is weakened. Or it could turn into a wave of candidates being forced to drop out or killed at the ballot box, and a real culture shift against accepting or excusing plagiarism occurs.
It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.
Courtney Donovan Smith (石東文) is a regular columnist for Taiwan News, the central Taiwan correspondent for ICRT FM100 Radio News, co-editor of Compass Magazine, co-founder of Taiwan Report (report.tw) and former chairperson of the Taichung American Chamber Trade. Follow him on Twitter: @donovan_smith.