Welcome to Ketagalan Media’s 2016 Taiwan Presidential Inauguration Live! KM contributors Kevin Hsu, Gwenyth Wang, and William Yang will be commenting live on the inauguration of Dr. Tsai Ing-wen as the Republic of China’s 14th President.


We’ll be posting comments and photos from the event. There may be some delay between the event and posting times. Update: see video of the event in the embedded YouTube link.


GwenWang [9:02 AM]
At 9 a.m. sharp, the 14th presidential inauguration officially begins. Ex-President Lee Teng-hui also attends the inauguration, sitting next to outgoing Vice President Wu Den-yih.

albert.tseng [9:12 AM]
And it’s official!

GwenWang [9:15 AM]
At the inauguration ceremony, both outgoing and incoming Presidents sang the national anthem. Tsai Ing-wen sang the whole song, including the two words “吾黨” (literally “our party”), a reference to the Kuomintang (KMT).

albert.tseng [9:17 AM]
I wonder how the ceremony might change, such as the staged intonations of the announcers, as members of the younger generation grow into formal roles in government and politics.

albert.tseng [9:20 AM]
I may be projecting, but as a Taiwanese American, I’m impressed by the clean style and state of the proceedings. I also appreciate the civilian attitude Tsai exudes, demonstrating the “civilian government” of a liberal democracy.

As President Tsai and Vice President Chen shake hands with dignitaries inside the inauguration hall, performances begin outside the Presidential Office:

kevinhsu [9:33 AM]
Now presenting Taiwan’s history.
Taiwan, an island. Not the history of the ROC.
They are first highlighting the discovery of the island of “Formosa” (美麗島).

albert.tseng [9:34 AM]
William, that last shot with the blue cloth (representing the ocean) looks similar to something else!

kevinhsu [9:35 AM]
Now they are listing all the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. Then various attempts by the Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch to colonize the land.

kevinhsu [9:37 AM]
A few oddities, such as describing the aboriginals as 純真 (innocent), or claiming they like to 唱歌、跳舞 (dance and sing). Way not to essentialize indigenous communities, sigh … nevertheless, still a very proud moment for all tribes to join in and be represented on stage.

williamyang [9:38 AM]
It’s interesting to see how the performance dedicates a significant part to the importance of aboriginal culture to the birth of Taiwan.

kevinhsu [9:40 AM]
Here comes the Qing Dynasty! In this narrative, Taiwan becomes a colony (殖民地) for the Manchus, literally galloping in on horseback. This is the first mention of “Mainland” China (大陸) entering the story. The skit cleverly describes “Mainland” culture using lion dancers, dragons, and dancers on stilts. At this point, the Hakka people enter the story as well.

kevinhsu [9:43 AM]
They are pointing to Matsu as the most important deity of Taiwan, refocusing the narrative on the island and its history again.

williamyang [9:45 AM]
The emphasis on the unique religious and cultural traits of Taiwan seems to reflect the new administration’s determination to focus more on the Taiwanese identity.
kevinhsu [9:47 AM]
Very interesting combination of traditional Chinese customs and identity markers that people in Taiwan recognize and believe in, while also centering these traits in the narrative of Taiwan as a multicultural entity. This includes the aborigines, the Hoklo-speaking majority, and the Hakka, who each have their own segments—in their own languages, with their specific costumes and performances.
kevinhsu [9:47 AM]
Taiwan and Penghu oppressed by the Japanese after 1895. This is NOT a laudatory, rosy-eyed look at the Japanese era. KMT veterans will be satisfied.
williamyang [9:51 AM]
As a Hakka, I appreciate the effort to put in to highlight our culture, but perhaps they can do more than just project stereotypes of Hakka culture.
kevinhsu [9:51 AM]
Now discussing the cost of war and violence on the civilian population at the hands of the Japanese troops. I’m curious to see what will come 1945 … The Taiwanese “persevering” after half a century of pain and struggle—I sense a theme here.
kevinhsu [9:53 AM]
Now it’s the end of World War 2! The Taiwanese welcome in the Republican government. Nationalist troops are marching in. (Or do we call them ROC troops?) The white sun, blue sky, and red earth are flying over Taiwan now.
2-28 now highlighted, described as frustration over the Republic’s governance boiling over. Actors in this skit are speaking in Taiwanese.
First mention of the KMT/Nationalists! As in “KMT troops rounded up people”—they are now shooting civilians.
williamyang [9:55 AM]
This is probably a part of history that has never been given the significance that it deserves in the past few years.
kevinhsu [9:55 AM]
Very powerful and moving imagery here: civilians falling down after being executed with a bullet to the head. This is the White Terror in full swing.
The 2-28 Incident and subsequent White Terror period are being commemorated by white lanterns. Some people in this crowd have lived through that.
kevinhsu [9:58 AM]

The major narrative arc is the perseverance and hard work of the Taiwanese people. Now in the era of development, having survived the White Terror, the focus is on development, as represented by farmers and water buffalo. Next, it describes going from farming to industrial development. I think this is my parents’ era. The folk song they are singing (民歌) sounds familiar.

williamyang [10:01 AM]
The folk song era represents the first wave of civil awakening in Taiwan! The songs are a way for educated Taiwanese youth to voice their opinions.
kevinhsu [10:01 AM]
Baseball and sport as a gateway to the world—with the subtext being Taiwan’s international isolation, as a certain large power has squeezed it out of representation in global institutions. International sporting events are no small deal, given the few channels available for international participation—the winning baseball game is still on the 500 NT bill.
Note on inauguration schwag: They’re throwing baseballs out to the crowd. That’s going to be a collectible in the future.

kevinhsu [10:04 AM]
New immigrants from other nations as workers and brides. Very cool that they are getting a mention, in keeping with the progressive platform. They are portrayed as part of the body politic too.


kevinhsu [10:06 AM]
Song is in Vietnamese. Dancers in traditional Vietnamese dress performing as well. This all fits into the theme of Taiwan as an amalgamation of many groups. Curious to see how it ties together with a Taiwanese identity at the end?


williamyang [10:08 AM]
The new administration is trying hard to reach out to the new immigrant community and showing that they will be given more attention.


kevinhsu [10:09 AM]
Kuma Bear, Tiger, Taiwan Deer [Formosan sika deer] and Fish as symbols of the country. Among the traits listed: glorious natural scenery, innovation, warm and friendly people. “Taiwan is small, but it is beautiful.” These are elements that describe Taiwan today—all of Taiwan, including all the groups above. It’s a unifying move, as these are all come together as 台灣之光.

williamyang [10:10 AM]
Again, the wrap-up shows how the Tsai administration wants to set itself apart from the more “imperial” and distant image of KMT. They are associating with the Taiwanese civilians and emphasizing how it is the contribution of common people that make Taiwan how it is today.

kevinhsu [10:12 AM]
“If every Taiwanese person puts forth effort” this story will continue. The binding agent of “Taiwanese-ness” yields 台灣之光. There may be more place for all these minorities and groups within an inclusive Taiwanese national framework, compared to a Han chauvinist national framework [as had been promulgated by the KMT].

GwenWang [10:15 AM]
Back to the Presidential Office, Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chien-jen are greeting foreign delegations from over 59 countries. This year’s inauguration sees the largest-ever number of foreign guests, so it might take them a while to shake hands with over 700 people.

kevinhsu [10:16 AM]
“This island we call home.” “Democratic, economically developed, multicultural society.” These are the themes being repeated. “This country is only great because of you.” “Together we are the pride of Taiwan.”
kevinhsu [10:16 AM]
The Vatican rep just shook hands with Tsai. Hello, Nuncio!
There are three languages used by the official hosts: Mandarin, English and sign language. They are well aware that this is being watched by an international audience. For specific performances, Taiwanese, Hakka and Vietnamese are among the many languages used in dialogue, narration and song.


williamyang [10:19 AM]
Now it’s a series of performances emphasizing the importance of democracy and how Taiwanese people from all walks of lives and cultural background fought for freedom and help to lay the foundation for the freedom, liberty and rights that Taiwanese are able to enjoy today.

kevinhsu [10:23 AM]
Another inauguration schwag alert: now the people in farmer garb are handing out radishes.

williamyang [10:31 AM]
Now a Golden Melody Award-winning Hakka singer is dedicating his song to a stronger and more prosperous Taiwan. [Editor’s note: The Golden Melody Awards are the Grammy awards for the Sinophone world].

kevinhsu [10:31 AM]
Will any pop stars with a large following in China as well as Taiwan perform? Will Beijing throw a tantrum and ban any of them? #amei

kevinhsu [10:34 AM]
Love the giant floats, the banners, the costumes and lively folk music. This isn’t all pomp and circumstance—very in keeping with Taiwan’s “cute” and friendly image as an island nation.

williamyang [10:35 AM]
So far most of the performers are representing different ethnic groups in Taiwan, and none of the mainstream artists have shown up so far. It’s rather refreshing to see how the idea of “cultural blending” is being highlighted through these performances.

kevinhsu [10:38 AM]
As this segment on sustainability comes to a close, they mention “a sustainable homeland, a nuclear free homeland.” The administration’s policy is clear.

kevinhsu [10:42 AM]
Extremely moving to see all these senior citizens, so joyous and cheering. The look on their faces says, “We made it! We really made it!” They lived through this entire democracy movement that is being commemorated now.

williamyang [10:44 AM]
FireEX now live performing the song that moved so many of Taiwanese during the Sunflower Movement.

kevinhsu [10:45 AM]
Major protests, events, demonstrations, movements are being commemorated. Sunflower is up there too, under a democracy symbol. It’s a major shout-out to the island youth who are tapped as part of this legacy.

williamyang [10:47 AM]
And of course, they don’t forget to encourage Taiwan and remind all of us that we should not forget the spirit that emerged from Sunflower. FireEX continues to represent the voice from the street.

kevinhsu [11:00 AM]
President Tsai has arrived.

kevinhsu [11:02 AM]
Singing the national anthem: elementary school students, aboriginal choir and tug of war team. But beginning with an aboriginal chant, prefacing this as a song for Taiwan. No one is getting banned from China for this, yet the statement that “this is coming to you from Taiwan” is incredibly clear.

williamyang [11:05 AM]
A newly arranged National Anthem that focuses on Taiwan’s diversity and the Taiwanese identity, but not just about the “party” anymore

williamyang [11:08 AM]
Tsai is emphasizing how she will be determined to solve the problem and live up to people’s expectation for her to lead Taiwan out of its current dilemma.

kevinhsu [11:10 AM]
Tsai showing leadership,  graciousness and conciliation. “Presidents don’t only unite their supporters, but the whole country … Please give this country a chance. Let’s put down” past conflict “and “take on the new mission of this era.”

williamyang [11:11 AM]
Change is the theme of her speech, and how to break free from the current stagnation will be key to her administration.

kevinhsu [11:12 AM]
Mentions of aging, population, sustainability, economic opportunity, food safety, inequality gap, broken safety net so far. Very much a social agenda.

williamyang [11:13 AM]
And now she points out the problem of low wage and how that will contribute to the loss of talent of Taiwan. She is determined to fix these problems for the Taiwanese youth

kevinhsu [11:13 AM]
Shout out to the youth. “This is what I want to do for the youth.” Asks for patience, asks them to join her on this road.

kevinhsu [11:14 AM]
It gives me shivers every time she mentions 這個國家 (this nation).

kevinhsu [11:15 AM]
Glad that environmentally sound development policies are getting a mention. I like the use of 永續發展 for “sustainable development” rather than the awkward 可持續發展 used in some other circles.

kevinhsu [11:17 AM]
“Economic development : a new model, new approach. In addition to opportunity, also protecting workers and their rights as part and parcel of a greater economic development strategy. Not forgetting sustainability. Mentions of local government and land use policies, environmental quality and health. Using sustainable energy strategies. We have only one earth, one Taiwan. ” The social-green agenda has been clearly highlighted as well.

kevinhsu [11:19 AM]
She linked 心理健康 (mental health) and 社會安平 (society being at peace) as well. Will there be more focus on mental health? Asians are notoriously bad at confronting psychological health due to social stigma

williamyang [11:20 AM]
She will also initiate the pension reform to prevent it from going bankrupt. She wants to guarantee the life quality after retirement for all Taiwanese.

kevinhsu [11:21 AM]
All the senior citizens applauded when she raised issues of retirement and care for the elderly. I appreciate that she talked about “aging in place” and the government’s responsibility in caring for seniors, in addition to it being a family duty. I suppose Taiwan (and Japan and South Korea) will really need to manage this in coming years.

kevinhsu [11:23 AM]
Acknowledging past history: she just announced the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so that all Taiwanese people understand the mistakes of the past. Interestingly, it is intended to be a source of unity, not division, so we can all look together at the past and never repeat those transgressions. It’s a smart way of framing it—and hopefully it will be accepted as such.

williamyang [11:24 AM]
Her administration will also be determined to revisit some traumatic period of Taiwanese history and help to heal the wound, clarify the responsibility, and take it from there to move forward as one united country. It’s clear to see how her administration will try to avoid adopting any type of oppressive approach.

kevinhsu [11:26 AM]
Tsai speaking of “regional development” and “regional affairs” as she begins her foray into foreign policy. We have both “risk and opportunities.” In particular, “focusing on the many countries in Southeast Asia” with which Taiwan has trading relations, people flows, capital flows—it seems the entire first foreign policy section is about this.

kevinhsu [11:26 AM]
The first mention of 對岸! (literally, “the opposite shore” or the other side of the Strait, i.e. China). Now she is launching into “兩岸” (the two shores, or two sides of the Strait) issues.

Note: Describing Taiwan as a “staunch defender of peace” 「和平的堅定維護者」.

williamyang [11:28 AM]
She is hinting that her administration will take a more progressive approach to establish regional partnership and rejuvenate Taiwan’s regional development. Collaboration with SEA and China will be key to Taiwan.

kevinhsu [11:28 AM]
Now describing Taiwan as a “peaceful communicator” (which could potentially be translated as partner in peaceful dialogue?) Her point: let’s take care of issues of mutual concern.

kevinhsu [11:29 AM]
She has now brought up 中華民國 in terms of her constitutional responsibility and defense of this sovereignty. The 1992 dialogues taking place: “I respect this history.”

williamyang [11:30 AM]
Tsai once again, shows her determination to solve problems peacefully while not sacrificing its autonomy. The two parties from both sides need to begin a positive dialogue that will benefit citizens from both sides.

kevinhsu [11:30 AM]
“It is a historical fact that they [the two sides of the Strait] met in 1992.”

kevinhsu [11:32 AM]
USA, Japan, and Europe (in that order) 美國、日本、歐洲 get a specific shout-out, as numbering among the larger democratic family of nations with which Taiwan will strengthen relations.

williamyang [11:33 AM]
Taiwan will conduct regular internal inspection on green house gas emission to ensure that we are sticking to the consensus reached in Paris [at the COP21 global climate change accords].

williamyang [11:36 AM]
Her administration is determined to advance Taiwan’s democracy to the next level. It is no longer about elections, and the clash of two different perspectives. The key for Taiwan’s democratic future is citizen’s welfare and how different perspectives are engaging in dialogue.

kevinhsu [11:36 AM]
She is now tying democracy to the ability to “solve problems” and individual responsibility of all citizens. According to Tsai, the old style of democracy that came before was about elections; now it’s about people’s well-being. It used to be two opposing ideologies, now it’s “many viewpoints in dialogue.” She is pushing for inclusion and civil discussion. It’s a very open-hearted approach that leaves space for many to participate.

“Defending democracy, freedom, and the people of this country.” 維護民主、自由、國家. Or specifically, 這個國家的台灣人. So to put it more finely, “the Taiwanese people of this country.” Does this have meaning?

kevinhsu [11:38 AM]
“Hundreds of years” of Taiwanese history is where it’s returning to again. No mention of the 5,000 years of civilization.

williamyang [11:39 AM]
Ending her speech with the theme of change. Again, this is a historic moment that the world will remember how Taiwan is able to change. This will be a new era for Taiwan.

kevinhsu [11:40 AM]
We should drink every time the announcers say “democracy.” It’s actually a smart strategy to emphasize this aspect of Taiwan.

kevinhsu [11:43 AM]
Another inauguration schwag alert: a towel in your tote bag for “mopping your sweat,” because so much sweat has poured from so many brows “on behalf of democracy.”

kevinhsu [11:46 AM]
Fitting end: closing with 美麗島 “Beautiful Island,” a song banned in Taiwan ‘s earlier authoritarian era.

williamyang [11:46 AM]
Taiwan will part ways from its authoritarian past and let the seeds of democracy truly blossom in Taiwan

kevinhsu [11:52 AM]
“The President and Vice President will be heading into the Presidential Office to begin their first official acts.” I guess today, Friday, is a work day after all. Let’s begin.

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