Just like March 8 would go down in the history of Malaysia as a watershed year marked by a swift change in the political landscape described as tsunami-like, March 22 holds a similar significance for the people of Taiwan too. In the local parlance, the blue sky has prevailed, blue being the official color of the Nationalist (KuoMing) Party, which would assume the helm of the island state after a hiatus of eight years in the political wilderness, so to speak.
It was a decidedly clear victory, epitomizing the power of the people to collectively decide their political future, democracy at work.
Any transition is always tough, let alone a political one where political patronage sometimes outweighs the caliber of the political appointees in putting national interests ahead of personal gains, a reward system that has yet to be replaced, only the imbalance diminished.
Sometimes a new guy at the helm may be overzealous in finding faults of the previous administration rather than embarking on planning anew. After all burying the hatchet and letting bygone be bygone are easier said than done. But a forward looking stance they must embrace, for that's what they venture into the political arena for (I might be guilty of naivete here), to carve out a bright future for their countryfolks.
I just learned that the winner of the presidential race in Taiwan will take his office on May 20, exactly three months after the election. In the meantime, the incumbent, Mr. Chen, is still addressed as the President. However, in Malaysia, the transition of the political helm takes immediate effect. But the actual handing over will likely stretch over several days.
Consequently, there were reports of the winning parties guarding the government offices lest the losers cart away important sensitive documents that would ostensibly implicate the previous administration of any wrongdoing. In Penang where the ruling parties lost, the Chief Minister was seen packing his things on the very day, thus effecting a smooth transition to the incoming Chief Minister.
That leaves US in my trilogy of Elections 2008. The democrats are still mired in a long-drawn tussle to nominate their presidential candidate. I read of another possibility to the projection that the Republicans, having settled on their candidate, can turn to the important task of winning the race and gaining a vital headstart over the Democrats in the race that counts. That is, so much attention has been focused on the daily exchanges between the two Democrats camps that the Republicans are forced to watch at the sideline, unable to attract the news media who thrive on antagonism that sustains the feeding frenzy of the public at large.
The latest development seems to swing toward Obama, after garnering pledges of support from several super-delegates, despite the furor over the fiery speeches from his priest-cum-mentor. Increasingly strident calls for Hillary to throw in the tower have also surfaced. Some have even claimed she was merely clinging to her fast dwindling hope out of pride.
Such is life in the political arena, which is akin to Jiang Wu, a Chinese street-wise term used in martial arts novels and movies to mean the jungle out there where only the fittest survive, as opposed to the neatly circumscribed world of the government sector that features another rule of survival dictated by tradition laden hierarchy. I was reminded of the term when I was watching a rerun of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon directed by Ang Lee (the movie image is taken from here). (A worthy note here is that the heroine was played by Michelle Yeoh, a former Miss Malaysia-turned-kungfu actress from Malaysia). The hero wanted to wash his hands of the worldly affairs, to hang up his sword as a symbol of quitting Jiang Wu as the saying goes. But the Jiang Wu just would not let him. Hence, the refrain: Once in Jiang Wu, your movement is no more yours to decide.
Isn't that an apt description of a politician?