English /// 中文
Translator: Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Hung Tzu-Yung
The Hung Chung-Chiu Incident changed Hung Tzu-Yung’s ’s life plans. After Freddy Lim’s tireless recruiting efforts, Hung decided to join the New Power Party. She hopes to avoid the the major parties’ regulations and work with her partners to create an ideal environment. She is running for legislator in Taichung District 3. The following interview was originally conducted in late October.
Hu Yung-Ching: When did your political awakening start?
Hung Tzu-Yung: At first, I almost never thought about politics, it was all just an impression to me, and I did not read up on political view points. After what happened to my family, I began to become interested in politics. It was then when I started thinking, “What is the government doing? Why is it this way?” So my political awakening started in 2013.
As you know, if you do not look for politics, politics will find you. This generation’s young people have myriads of complaints, and they complained a lot online, but it is difficult to step outside and make a difference. The decision to do this was very difficult for me to make for me. There are many sacrifices—when you are a public figure, you are not as free, and you have to be very careful when you speak.
I was not used to it in the beginning of the campaign, and I remember when I misspoke one time. I remember visiting a small town mayor, and the mayor said, “It is really tough to get elected in this district.”. At the time, I was with a DDP legislator, who was going to run, and I responded to the mayor, “I am running precisely because it is difficult.” However, what I really meant was, that this has been a difficult district, and the opportunity was there for me because of the councilperson’s “polite withdrawal”, and the fact that I was able to win the nomination as a result of the greater contrast with my opponent. I had an opportunity in this district because of many factors, not because of my own personal strength.
HYC: Speaking of the Hung Chung-Hsiu incident, can you talk a bit about how you felt then, and how you overcame this?
HTY: I actually have always seen myself as a simple person. I did not think about it too much. When one encounters such things, you have to face it, manage it, and then let it go. This has much to do with my professional experience. As I was a project manager. I tend to set aside emotions, focus on the problems at hand, and resolve the issues. At the time, I did not do anything special, but because of my personalty and job training, I was able to focus better and solve problems. I have always felt being emotional will not resolve any issues. . For example, would it make things better to be a pallbearer, or burn spirit money? I know it would not, but once you realize that even when you speak reasonably with the officials, and they still are unable to do the right thing, you know what kind of government you have. You realize that the Ministry of Defense’s official stance could not persuade people at all, and it is not because of people have exceedingly stringent standards. And it is because they, the Ministry of Defense did not do their job.
HYC: Why did you choose to join the NPP?
HTY: We all know each other from the Hung Chung-Chiu incident. NPP was organized by people who knew each other already and helped very much at the time. Once I was approached, I considered it for a couple of months before I decided to join. For me, it was not an easy decision. A career in politics was never in the blueprint of my life planning. When they first invited me to join, I declined.
I thought I had always been in the business world and would work at the same capacity. I would be able to steadily develop. I also did not know if politics was for me, so many things have “question marks” after them.
Freddy treated me like a younger sister and he would call regularly during each daily meal time to persuade me. He persuaded me with his entrepreneurial spirit. For them, scouting for a candidate is quite difficult. He was very sincere in terms of wanting to find partners to work with. Freddy has his own music career, his family was against his decision, but he still has so much energy to encourage others.
HYC: Did the DPP ask you to run?
HTY: The DPP, in fact, asked. However, I think my decision has much to do with my personality. I don’t like to stay in big corporations, and I prefer a start-up with the partners I like, to create an ideal situation, as opposed to being “tied up” by big corporation’s regulations. If you are in a big corporation, you can only follow the rules, and opportunity to do more is smaller.
At first, there was a DPP legislator who was running. When I announced my candidacy, it was also when they wanted to run as a DPP candidate. We all understood that if DPP also had a candidate, we would both lose the election.
They studied the surveys in this district, and our numbers were similar. However, everyone felt, a new face might have more potential. DPP gauged that while the competitor has won 5 successive elections, me being a new face with very different qualifications in different areas can enhance our contrast. So in the end, they decided not to run in this district and let the newbie try. [Laughs]
New to politics, Hung Tzu-Yung’s national recognition is not necessarily advantageous in a local election, especially with the disadvantages in funding and political contacts from being a Third Force candidate, as opposed to a candidate from the two major parties. She is well aware of the difficulties, but believes in the values generated during the electoral process.
HYC: What is a challenge of competing with a traditional candidate?
HTY: My competitor has the advantage of being an incumbent. She also has a lot of resources. There is only one legislator in this district. If she was not doing her job, then who would? [Laughs heartily]
The KMT’s election strategy is to spend a lot of money to gain political contacts. We are not able to use this formula, with an existing structure at the grassroots level. Our district is more rural, and people care more about interpersonal relations. For them, the act of voting is to show a sense of traditional emphasis on interpersonal relationships. It is not easy to change this pattern of voting. I feel this is the greatest challenge in this district.
The characteristics of the constituency are just very different from the north. In the north and in more urban areas, voters look at principles and policies, but in an old area like this, people care about their existing interpersonal relationships. This district is more disadvantageous to young folks.
HYC: Is fundraising difficult without a major political party’s support?
HTY: We try our best with small donations, utilizing election activities and internet promotion. This is very difficult. Young people do not have political contacts nor money, so it makes it exceedingly difficult. We try our best to be economical in our operations. We put in a lot of effort on social media because small donations require a big volume, as each donation is only a small amount. When Ko Wen-Je ran, he only received 30 million NTD, and he had tremendous volume. So for a campaign like ours, it is even more difficult. In a traditional election, money and contacts are both very important.
Fortunately, many of my friends are willing to help. Fortunately, many people have supported us, so we can persevere. We will also have fundraisers later on. In the future, when we have to spend large sums of money, it will be even more difficult. Fortunately, there are many supporters whose actions have been very touching. Some bring bags of coins to donate, and you feel their sincerity.
HYC: How is the NPP different than traditional parties in elections?
HTY: Because of our lack of resources—large political parties would run their campaign through their organization, without the resources, we can only rely on “air” campaigns. Huang Kuo-Chang and Neil Peng are both following this strategy. [Editorial note: “Air” campaigns refers to media campaigns. The interview was also conducted before the withdrawal of Neil Peng as a legislative candidate of the NPP.]
Grassroots campaigns take a lot of time and energy and can not be done within a short period of time. However, the difficulty with “air” campaigns is that you have no idea where the votes are. Ko P could do it in Taipei, but with our traditional district, air campaigns are very difficult. In rural areas, people care very much if you have seen you, if they have shook your hand—once seen, you exist. In our district, we must have this kind of campaign in order for people to trust you.
HYC: How will you overcome the dilemma in your district?
HTY: ”Air” campaigns are difficult in rural elections. This is something young people are good at, and we do work on such campaigns to maximize exposure. However, what is more often seen here is the traditional “organizing campaigns”. In regards to this, we need to work more with the DPP, in conferences, town hall meetings, and now with five-person living room meetings. These living room meetings look to break through, finding people who would not vote for you otherwise.
In fact, many people do not care much for politics, or they are disappointed with politics. Our goal is to hopefully find these people and use small groups to raise their concerns about political issues. The base can be then expanded.
New people are more willing to listen. They may not support you right away, but at least, you get an opportunity to speak to them. It may not seem effective, but we can try to broaden our reach. We are willing to do projects that require a lot of work.
HYC: Have you seen anything fun or unpleasant in living room politics?
HTY: When they are willing to share their disappointment with politics, you will gain a lot. Someone said, “I only voted once in my life, I voted for Chen Shui-Bian, but his performance disappointed me.” In response, I said, “It’s OK. I myself have only voted only once, and I voted for Ma Ying-Jeou, and he also disappointed me.”
So we must still remain hopeful with politics and put in the efforts. It’s great that they are willing to share their experience, but we still have to do our best to persuade them. When the leadership has a different mentality, we will have different results. I also share my own experiences with them. After all, sharing our own experience with injustice will slowly influence the voter.
I myself feel that even if we do not win this election, it is worth it as long as you are able to call on people to care about politics, understand that our relationship with politics, and slowly make injustice disappear. An election is not only about winning and losing—it is also about what you create out of the process.
If the campaign is successful, Hung Tzu-Yung sets her goal at environmental protection and justice committees. She also believes that post-election NPP needs to start thinking about how to have a “sense of existence.”
HYC: If you actually win the election, which committee would you be interested in?
HTY: Before the election, we had internal discussions. Many people feel that because of my personal experience, I would, of course, enter the National Defense Committee, as I would care more about this topic and try to reform related issues. However, because defense and diplomacy is tied up together, this part is difficult for me. But if I was actually elected, I would set my goals on environmental protection and the justice system. We have gone through many legal proceedings, and we know the difficulty of the process, and we ourselves know where you could reform because of our own first hand experiences.
These are the choices I would prefer, but as to what committee, it would really depend on NPP’s election results, it would depend on what policies we would like to work on within the party, and there will be holistic evaluations to consider as well.
HYC: As to Third Force collaborations, is there any compromise that needs to be made?
HTY: Not so far. We are an independent party, not a coalition. So far, we still have autonomy and our own space.
Having a sense of existence from DPP/KMT bipartisanship transcendence is pretty difficult. We hope to establish a new political platform for young people, and we hope that in the future, young people who care about public issues will be willing to participate and change the future. If you are not happy with DPP or KMT, you know you still have other choices. We want people to know that the Third Force are parties that “walk the walk”. There have been many small parties in the past, and many are bubbles. I feel, after this election, NPP should seriously consider how to have a sense of existence.