Writing is on the wall for Shen
Since its defeat in the March presidential elections, the pan-blue camp has lost much of its momentum. It has fallen to Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), a DPP legislator now on the fringes of his party, to enliven the summer -- traditionally the low season for politics -- by drawing public attention and giving the blue camp some impetus. It seems that this month Shen has taken on the role of spokesman for the blue camp, leading the pro-unification media like the Pied Piper.
The quarrel between Shen and a well-known talk show host, Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖), has made him a focus of media attention. Moreover, Shen launched his new book, Always Upbeat: The Elated Life of an Outspoken Man, last Thursday. During the book launch, he recited a poem, The Heart is Dead, to symbolize his political funeral.
Shen has long been regarded as one of the brightest lights in the nation's politics, and his oratorical skills are especially esteemed. There is no other politician in the arena today who can beat his eloquence.
But since his return to the country to enter politics, he has abused green voters to their face, and gone from being one of the country's most highly praised politicians to being denigrated by politicians in both blue and green camps. Shen's rapid rise and recent downfall can be put down to his addiction to political intrigue.
The reason why Shen has moved towards the middle, and even sided with the blue camp, is because he does not want to offend blue voters. At the same time he doesn't want to lose the green vote. This two-facedness is a character flaw that has led him to being branded a traitor. Now, neither blue nor green voters like him.
In his first campaign for the legislature in 1992, Shen, representing the DPP, beat the other 38 candidates in Taipei City's southern constituency, winning his seat with 73,000 votes. He was viewed as a political star and the best debater in the party. In the 1995 legislative election, the success of the four DPP candidates in his constituency sent him to the height of his career.
Yet when the DPP took power in 2000, he was not assigned to the post of director of the Department of Health as many had expected. He was also not nominated by his party to run for Taipei mayor in 2002.
Then he became embroiled in the controversy caused by fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) on the eve of this year's presidential election, when Chen accused the first lady of accepting a donation from him, and named Shen as a witness to the transaction. Most green supporters still cannot forgive Shen for lending credence to Chen's claim. His change of political stance showed that he sold his soul for the applause and recognition of the opposition camp.
Many people know that Shen was tarnished by the Chen Yu-hao incident prior to this year's presidential elections. Fewer people know that when Shen was selected as the DPP campaign manager for Taipei City, the DPP Taipei office established a pro-Chen campaign office that was separate from Shen's. It was because of this parallel structure that, despite Shen's half-hearted performance in campaigning for the president and the taint of his association with Chen Yu-hao, Chen's campaign did not suffer too badly in Taipei.
In fact, from Shen's repeated failure to obtain high office, we can see that the DPP mainstream now regards him as an untrustworthy traitor.
In Shen we can see someone who has lost all sense of proportion due to their arrogance and self-aggrandizement. In all times and all places, traitors are rarely, if ever, forgiven. While Shen may be able to deceive voters sometimes, he can't do so continually. During the process of democratization, those politicians who have changed their political stripes have more often than not been rejected by the electorate and forced out of politics. Shen can probably see the fate that awaits him -- which is why he has taken the initiative in holding his own political funeral.