Recently, on January 26th, Su Beng was interviewed at his home in Sinjhuan, Taipei by Samuel Lee of LATWTV. He talked with Mr. Lee about his observations in the months leading up to the Presidential election in Taiwan. For about 2 months prior to the (January 14) Presidential election, he and his Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade traveled around the island of Taiwan in an effort to get out the vote for Democratic Progressive Party Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen.
UPDATE (February 29, 2012): Here's the first 20 minutes or 1/3 of the interview (conducted in Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese) with Su Beng. The translation (from 0:00:00 to 0:19:42) appears below. *Special Thanks to Professor Ching Lee for his invaluable assistance with this and future translation of this interview.
Stay tuned for translation of the second third of the interview.
SL: Good day everyone, my name is Samuel Lee of LATWTV in the U.S. I am now in a suburb of Taipei, Sinjhuang, at Su Beng’s residence reporting. As you know Taiwan, the Republic of China, recently held Presidential elections. Su Beng he himself has always worked outside of the [political] system, he believes in working outside of the system rather than within the system. He has a motorcade with 5 trucks; the trucks have all different sorts of signs on them. They [the motorcade] started out from Sinjhuang and made their rounds all around Taiwan. But there was nothing that I have personally seen that has been reported about this in the overseas news [on this]. No one has specifically reported about Su Beng and his work. Can you imagine the nearly 97 year old Su Beng, at this age still traveling around with his motorcade expressing his views?
This time around with this major Presidential election, he endorsed Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. However when he came to Los Angeles [last summer] I didn’t specifically ask him to talk about why he would endorse Tsai Ing-wen, who hasn’t taken a firm stand on the issue of Taiwan independence. Su Beng told me that we should just get her elected first and then decide what to do next.
Su Beng who is now up there in age, is still working so hard for Taiwan.
So today I made a special visit from Taipei to Su Beng’s residence.
As he was going all around Taiwan with the motorcade [recently] making its rounds with all the wind and the cold, he got a bit chilled and he ended up in a hospital because he wasn’t feeling quite well [he was a bit exhausted].
So now in the new year, he is feeling well enough to give an interview and I thank him for that. So dear viewers, during the interview keep in mind that every word, every sentence that he [Su Beng] says has a deeper meaning. When you listen to what Su Beng is saying you can’t just listen what to he says on the surface, you need to listen to the deeper meaning behind his words. He insights are valuable treasures for Taiwan. His viewpoint serves as a guidepost and is the cornerstone/foundation of theory [of Taiwan’s independence]. So for all of our friends whether you are in Taiwan or abroad, I feel that this is quite a valuable interview, a sort of reference material for you. If you find it interesting, I invite you to download it and save it as an important conversation.
Every foreign media outlet has reported that Taiwan’s election was successful, and that Tsai [Ing-wen] is a good model [for democracy]. However, on the inside there really were problems. On the surface it [the election] looked successful, [but] underneath the undercurrent [is that the] goal to pursue independence seems to be diminishing and under a drunken spell [like a drunken stupor and this] is a very serious problem. So in a moment I invite everyone to listen and learn from Mr. Su Beng [as he] talk[s] about his activities, perspectives and opinions as they relate to the election.
Ojisan*, how are you? So now the Taiwan Presidential election is over. We know that Ojisan, your motorcade has been working hard [...], continuously circulating the countryside. But we don’t see any reporting on this in the media. I’d like to ask you, on behalf of our listeners and friends, could you tell us during the Presidential election, while you and your motorcade drove around [Taiwan], what is it that you saw? And how did you run the motorcade?
SB: During this election, for about 2 months before the election, for every day, I circled around all of Taiwan with 5-6 propaganda trucks. In Taipei we circulated for about month [before]. When I’m in Taipei, I don’t really know about the circumstances in all of [other parts of] Taiwan but when I left Taipei and went to other places like central, eastern and southern Taiwan, or went the east, I was then able to see what was going on with the people of Taiwan and of course also the circumstances surrounding the election.
In the midst of all these things what touched me the most [left an impression on me]... Well this time of course [with] every place I went to I didn’t know about the legislative elections [or legislative candidates] or have any dealings/involvement with them.
The major purpose [of what I] was doing was for Taiwan, was for Tsai Eng-wen, to get her elected. [I felt that] this time if Tsai Eng-wen didn’t get elected, and if the KMT got into power again, China would keep pressing closer, [then they would] come dressed in suits. With their growing population, they would use [tactics of] penetration and infiltration of Taiwan to unify and I am against this circumstance [happening]. If that happens then Taiwan’s future would be very complicated.
When I went to the countryside [with the motorcade], I would leave from Taipei, Sinjhuang then to Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, then to Kaohsiung, and then from Kaohsiung we would drive over to Taidong, and then from Taidong we’d go to Hualien, we’d go return and then follow this route again. We did this twice, and it was tough for everyone. All in all we had about 20 to 30 people. Every day everyone worked hard, toughed it out and felt tired, [but] in the end everyone did a good job.
The thing I noticed [about] the Democratic Progressive Party, during the election, well in Taipei you couldn’t tell, but if you went to the countryside to take a look, the focus was all on [promoting] the local legislative elections.
So the situation was like this, if you went to the countryside, each place had an election headquarters [for legislative candidates], sometimes you’d also see the Democratic Progressive Party had their own party headquarters/election headquarters, some places had an election headquarters for Tsai Ing-wen, but in looking at the overall circumstances in the countryside, you’d see that it was all signs for the Kuomintang, with photos of Ma Ying-jeou [the Kuomintang Presidential candidate], there were a lot of signs with his photo posted [around], and then there were photos of [candidates] who were running for the Legislative Yuan. I kept looking around for Tsai Ing-wen’s photo [signs with her photo as the Democratic Progressive Party Presidential candidate] and there really just about weren’t any.
SL: There weren’t any at all.
SB: Right. For example, if I went to Chiayi, Chiayi city, there would be signs for Tsai Ing-wen and those running for the Legislative Yuan. There was a sign of the two [Tsai and the legislative candidate] standing together there, but you didn’t see any photos [of Tsai by herself].
So when I went to the countryside the first thing you’d see was that the Kuomintang was running [for the Presidency] and the second [impression] is that there’s a local election [going on]. As for the Presidential elections, very few people mentioned [or discussed] it. That was the situation. I was worried about this. Democracy is something that everyone has to agree to [participate in]. Even Ma Ying-jeou needs to get votes. Most of the common people live in the countryside, and in the countryside if you don’t put [all] the signs for [all the candidates of] the Presidential election out front, I’d say that that’s a huge injustice/wrong. That was the result.
SL: Ojisan, I see that you made little flags for Tsai Ing-wen.
SB: Yes, yes.
SL: So you went around distributing the flags in the countryside?
SB: When I went to […] the east or west [coast], if I was in larger cities, I didn’t hand them out, giving them out in larger areas wouldn’t really have as much effect. I’d give them out when I was in the countryside, for example in Hsinchu or Miaoli, or the countryside of Chayi or Hualien, like the route from Taidong to Hualien [which] was all small villages. I went to each one, one by one [and gave out the flags]. When we went there [to those areas] we would first drive around the main roads, and we had people yelling slogans like “Taiwan and China are not the same. With this election you must vote for Taiwan.” And we’d give out the flags.
SL: In the beginning did people take [the flags]?
SB: In the beginning [people] didn’t really dare take them. In the beginning sometimes I didn’t dare distribute [the flags]. I’d distribute them and they’d [people would] just leave them, they wouldn’t take them, and then I’d have to pick up and collect them back one by one. I’d stay 2-3 days in each place, […] the second time I went [and drove through a village], then everyone would take them [the flags], and sometimes they would be fighting to grab one. That’s what it was like. In the beginning they didn’t know what propaganda truck it was [didn’t know what our propaganda truck’s message was].
SL: I see.
SB: You see we had two trucks with such big words written [on the side of them]. So everyone should’ve known but in the beginning they [people] didn’t know much about the President[ial] [election], so they didn’t dare take the flags.
SL: So those flags, all in all, how many did you make?
SB: All in all we made about 20,000 [flags]. In the end we only had these 2 left.
SL: Only these 2?
SB: In the end everyone was fighting for one [of the flags].
SL: Oh I see. So it seems that the Democratic Progressive Party, at the local level, seems like they put less effort on the [promotions for the Presidential] election
SB: The gap between Taipei and the countryside was too great. For example, Tsai Ing-wen had a headquarters in Banquiao. When she had meetings I’d attend and there were I’d say there were about 4000 to 5000 people there and up to 10,000 sometimes. You could see [the people were there] for [her] election. But if you went to the countryside for example, you wouldn’t see that [many people] and another thing, if [the candidates running for] the Legislative Yuan spoke publicly, they didn’t talk much about the President[ial] [candidates], they pretty much didn’t touch on that. At the end [of their speech] maybe they’d only say a few words saying please vote for [our] Presidential candidate. They had spoken for about 40-50 minutes [but] about their own personal items.
SL: Oh I see, so the news outlets didn’t report [on this].
SB: Very early on I’ve said that the media, on the outside seems pro-Kuomintang, but on the inside is really mostly Chinese. For example the China Times and Liberty Times [newspapers in Taiwan], the CEO may be a Taiwanese person, but the roots [of the organization] were from China. Since the election, up until now, there hasn’t been one [newspaper] that wasn’t [affiliated with the] Kuomintang. The Liberty Times, which is the one [newspaper] that leans most closely to the Democratic Progressive Party doesn’t dare raise any issues [relating to Taiwan independence]. [For example] whenever I raise the Taiwan independence issue they don’t report on it.
SL: I’d like to ask, you’ve gone all around Taiwan. Have you heard that the Kuomintang bought votes?
SB: Oh that [vote buying]. Yes. I did. It happened all over the place. For example in Hsinchu, Taidong, Chiayi or Kaohsiung, there were Taiwan Independence Association members [there], and if you listened what they [the members] had to say in terms of vote buying, it was not just the Kuomintang, but there were also some independent business persons who bought votes. Those were [the ones] bought by the Chinese Communists.
SL: So those were representatives of the Chinese Communists buying votes in Taiwan?
SB: They didn’t actually say anything about the Chinese Communist party, but they said here’s some money for you know… That is to say that other than the Kuomintang, there were some other free agented people who bought votes.
SL: So hearing you say this, that the Kuomintang helped the Chinese free agents, telling them where to buy votes. So they [Kuomintang and Chinese Communist Party] cooperated.
SB: They were secretly working together [on the same assembly line] toward the same goal. So this is to say that Taiwanese people who have money are more or less looking toward China [for opportunities].
SL: Oh so speaking of this, people who do not have a strong a sense of “Taiwaneseness” (with only a budding sensibility of Taiwanese identity and independence) themselves, they could be easily be bought and then that would be a disaster.
SB: Right, and the Taiwanese people, truthfully speaking, you know, after World War II they were ruled by the Kuomintang. At the time the Kuomintang suppressed education, the youth and the society. They used their gestapo to suppress/control [people]. To manipulate the opinions of the Taiwanese people they not only used cultural, but political oppression, pressure from the secret police, [they did this] without people’s awareness [of it]. So the Taiwanese were brainwashed quite thoroughly by them.
And so now although we have a democracy, however, Taiwan’s democracy has now become like an ideology of a state without a government [i.e. no rule of law]. There’s no central core value. As a result everyone says [thinks] there’s democracy everywhere, [because] we can talk about what we want, everything can be talked about, but there is no main focal point. Consequently, Taiwan’s current situation is not that much different than when it was under the Kuomintang. The elections are elections for elections sake. It is not about what is good for Taiwan, how to improve for Taiwan’s future, or how to improve overall. It’s not like that, but for this election it’s been more about the party’s interests [and not about the betterment or future of Taiwan] and about which side is more advantageous.
SL: After this election you can see that media from all around the world have lauded Taiwan’s election, saying it was successful and that its democracy is a success. But this is like being under some sort of a “drunken spell” that covers up the true issues happening in Taiwan.
Another point I’d like to ask you about now is that those opposing the Kuomintang, are [mostly] focused on criticizing the weakness of the Kuomintang. It’s like when you have an illness and you are given antibiotics [as treatment] and get better but then you didn’t really improve your health. [It seems like] the Democratic Progressive Party has lost the soul of their party [or guiding mission] and the Kuomintang has lost the soul of their party.
SB: The Democratic Progressive Party, in my view, is an organization but it is lacking a great deal compared to the Kuomintang. Although the Kuomintang is a bad organization, they have 60-70 years of foundation. So for example, if you look at the [Kuomintang] party headquarters in more remote areas, their interactions/relationships with the people in the community is quite deep and long standing. [The relations between the central and local organizations are very close.] If they want to mobilize the people, they have their channels and they can go to the district wardens [who are affiliated with the Kuomintang]. Three quarters of those in local office are Kuomintang. The Kuomintang has a principle, which is “we represent the Republic of China” and their position is very clear, it is to rule Taiwan. Their strategy is that the Taiwanese will always be their peons and slaves.
As for their war tactics, there is a huge disparity between the Democratic Progressive Party, compared to Kuomintang.
What does the Democratic Progressive Party need to do, in my opinion? Their [party’s] ideas are not unified, so they have a lot of different factions. So if there are a lot of factions, when trying to mobilize people, they [the people] won’t work together.
This is something that I saw happen first hand.
SL: Ojisan, may I ask what factions or lack of cooperation?
SB: They were just not cooperating. For example, in this village if there was someone from [group] A, then someone from [group] B wouldn’t [work with them]. So to electing the President wasn’t possible, they [Democratic Progressive Party] were only focused on getting their own legislative yuan representatives elected.
*Oijisan is a Japanese term which means uncle