Tonight I’m remembering a moment from my first year in Taiwan. It’s winter 2005. I am riding in a bus with colleagues from my university. The news program on TV shows a press conference with Condaleeza Rice.

The professor in the next seat turns to face me. ‘Men in your country don’t really listen to her, do they?’


‘Men in your country don’t listen to that woman on TV, do they?’

‘She’s Secretary of State. Why wouldn’t they?’

‘I know, but she’s a woman. Men in your government... they don’t really take a woman seriously as their boss?’

I’m startled, but the answer is immediate. ‘They do if they don’t want to get fired.’

My colleague’s expression turns grim. He sits back. The rest of the ride is quiet.

Tonight I am thinking of that conversation. I wonder where that man is now, what he makes of today’s events in his own country. The times are a-changing . . . ah, but aren’t they always.

Congratulations to my Taiwanese neighbours of all political loyalties. You’ve again achieved the kind of peaceful transfer of power that for many people in the world remains a distant dream.

Congratulations, Dr Tsai Ing-Wen, president-elect of Taiwan. You won the confidence of millions and, in the process, realized a dream of your own.

And to all the young women I’ve seen brandishing banners in recent weeks for your Mingkuotang and your New Power and your People First and your Democratic Progressives and your Nationalists and your Taiwan Solidarity . . . congratulations to you, too.


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