Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 11 2006

It’s been pouring rain every day recently, making …

It’s been pouring rain every day recently, making any plans for travel or outdoor exercise impractical this weekend. Although the rain brought with it a pleasantly cool breeze wafting through my apartment, the thought of all that shiny wet pavement lying unphotographed was too tempting, so I got on the train out to the new section of the Banqiao MRT line to do some exploring.

After I got off at Yongning Station, the end of the line, however, I was faced with a solid wall of wet people huddled at the station exit. Beyond them was only more wetness, a wet street, splashing cars and not much else in the darkness. I exchanged my old broken umbrella for a new one at the 7-Eleven across the street and started walking around the neighborhood, but it quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to get anything good under those conditions, at least not without getting my equipment soaking wet.

Depressed, I went back and got on the next train back to town, and then getting off at Banqiao Station to see what they’d done to get ready for the impending opening of the High Speed Rail system next month. Banqiao Station is quite large and grand, but strangely unadorned. The HSR ticket counter looked alarmingly small. I wandered through the warren of tunnels in the complex and then around the exterior, taking shots here and there of various wet, shiny things. Not many came out. It was disappointing. I got back on the train.

As we neared CKS Hall Station, I noticed an abundance of people wearing red shirts, and recalled that the Anti-Chen Shui-bian sit-in, instigated by former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Shih Ming-te, was starting that day, so I got off there and went up to have a look. The halls were filled with red-shirted people, and I ascended the stairs to find that the streets had been closed off in front of CKS Hall. A few small stages had been set up with bright lights, surrounded by people chanting “Chen Shui-bian Step Down!” both in Mandarin and Minnan. On the other side a small psuedo-shrine had been set up next to a poster with “Conscience Revolution” written on it.

I proceeded to the East Gate, where people were milling around under several balloons with slogans written on them. The main demonstration stage was between the East Gate and Gongyuan Road, and a great number of people were crowded into that stretch of Katagelan Boulevard, with a large stage and a fleet of media vehicles behind it.

“The whole world is watching!” the woman on stage was saying. “Let’s say our slogans in English! Everyone repeat our demand that Chen step down in English after me, like this: ‘Chen! Depose! Chen! Depose!'” Each slogan was followed by a loud amplified BOOM! and the drawing of a hand, thumbs-down, on the giant screen. I wondered if I should go tell them that their English could stand some correction, but I couldn’t get close enough to the stage to talk to anyone who would be able to pass the word along, so I abandoned that idea.

Behind the stage were some reporters and a handful of policemen standing in front of a single barrier across the road to the Presidential Office. I circled around the other side of the rally back to the East Gate, taking a few more pictures, and then back to the MRT. Some friends of mine said I should be careful at the rally, as they’d heard that the DPP was planning to start something, but it all seemed under control, peaceful, even cheerful and optimistic. Many people smiled at me, and nobody seemed even close to violence. Not long ago one DPP lawmaker said he wished Shih had been killed in his activist days, and lots of stories about his various character flaws, most notably from his ex-wife Linda Arrigo, have surfaced since he started the campaign. It’s not surprising; I would expect the same thing to happen to anyone in Shih’s position. I was half expecting Shih to do a 180 after all the arrangements had been made and turn it into a pro-Chen thing, but he’d have to have a terrific exit strategy if he pulled that now.

Someone told me James Soong was there, but I didn’t see him. Soong seems to be pushing Ma Ying-jeou to join in their campaign, but Ma, caught between the more radical and the more moderate camps of the opposition, doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about it. He apparently doesn’t see any reason for Chen to step down, and frankly I agree. I also suspect that most of the protesters didn’t actually expect the president to step down and were just trying to express their dissatisfaction with him. If Chen steps down, they’ll have dealt the DPP a serious blow. If not, they’ll have made their point. We’ll see how things work on, but while 2008 is still a ways off, I don’t see the point of spending that time under Annette Lu’s leadership rather than Chen’s.
This might not be about the current president, however. One person to watch in all of this is Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who could be in line for a premiership if Su is taken down, either as a result of Chen stepping down or a concession if he doesn’t. Wang, who has the backing of not only Soong but also former president Lee Teng-hui, has never liked playing second fiddle to Ma, and some reckon he might make his own run for the presidency in 2008.

All of this, however, depends on what happens in the next few months.

The rain continued on Sunday, and I spent the afternoon drinking tea at the Wistaria teahouse with Prince Roy, his wife and her friend, and Wayne, who showed up soaking wet with his Canon 30D not recognizing his lenses for some reason. He fiddled with the equipment, trying to get it to work as we chatted over a couple different kinds of teas and listened to the driving rain outside. As usual, the mixture of Chinese and English at the table left me feeling slightly sub-par in both languages. I usually try to stick with either one or the other. This is probably a habit leftover from when I was studying Chinese and refused to allow myself to lapse into English when I encountered an idea or term I wasn’t familiar with. Instead, I would force myself to think of a way to explain it in Chinese without actually using the term I didn’t know.

After the tea, PR and I got some sandwiches, and I trudged back to the station through the ankle-deep puddles. The band was practicing at the Sandcastle, and I didn’t want to be late. It turned out I was earlier than everyone except for David. The rehearsal went well, though we had to stop too soon, just as I was working out some nice harmonies with Sandman on one song. Ah, well, next time. I think our next gig is the Daniel Pearl Day party at Treasure Hill on the 30th. See our website for more details when we know more.

posted by Poagao at 3:36 am  


  1. I don’t know, I kind of like switching back and forth between Chinese/English as the mood strikes me. It feels vaguely more democratic somehow. I hate language nazis, and even more so the fact that I’m probably one myself.

    Yet again, I could not control myself from taking pics of waste tea leaves soaking in water, and once again, no keepers in the bunch. The tea tin pic came out pretty cool. I took your advice and went b/w.

    That was a pretty decent sandwich, btw…

    Comment by Prince Roy — September 11, 2006 @ 6:44 am

  2. I’d like to be able to switch better; I’m just not very good at it as I find, in the weird mess that is my brain, that doing so tends to compromise both languages.

    You should try the veggie meat sandwiches; they’re pretty good. I’ve always liked Subzone better than Subway, pretty much for their bread and the real turkey.

    There will be good tea photos eventually; we just have to keep trying.

    Comment by TC — September 11, 2006 @ 7:20 am

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