Top student short
story inspired by Ma’s handshake
FATAL CONTACT: In the short story, Ma has been
possessed by Death, and channels his powers to give people the ‘kiss of death’
with one handshake
By Wu Wei-kung and Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter, with staff writer
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) handshake jokingly dubbed by netizens as a
“death-grip” handshake inspired a high-school student to create a fantasy short
story that won him third place in a national student writing competition.
Netizens, known for their sarcastic commentary focused on politicians, have
described shaking hands with Ma as bringing bad luck, citing a number of famous
athletes who lost crucial games following a handshake with the president.
In the fiction piece authored by Chung Chih-hsuan (鍾智軒), a second-year student
at Yunlin County Huwei Senior High School, Ma is portrayed as someone whose soul
is possessed by Death after suffering several car and near-drowning accidents as
The possession allows Ma’s right hand to take on Death’s power to bring
misfortune to whoever shakes it.
The magical power of Ma’s handshakes then draws the attention of a religious
cult, the New Religion of Taiwan (台灣新教), which kidnaps Ma and brainwashes him
into helping it dominate the world.
The plot of Chung’s fiction piece, includes the story of how Ma became the
president and a description of him traveling to the Vatican where an attempt to
take down the pope with a handshake fails, with the religious leader managing to
withstand Ma’s “kiss of death.”
Chung’s work stood out among the more than 100 entries in the fifth National
Student Fantasy Writing Competition held at Chang Hua Senior High School.
The competition is the only student-writing contest in the nation that centers
on the fantasy genre. It requires contestants to pick a real-life Taiwanese
figure as the lead character of their works.
The award presentation ceremony for the contest is to be held on Thursday next
Chung said while reading science fiction had been his childhood passion, he
found much more joy in writing.
“I learned about the competition on the Internet. The reason I chose Ma as my
story’s main character was because both my friend and I found the president’s
handshake curse to be intriguing,” he said.
Asked if he was worried about the “possible repercussions” of writing about a
politically sensitive figure, Chung said: “Not at all. We are living in an open
society and I doubt the school will put me on special watch just because of my
Chung added that his story was meant to amuse readers and not to belittle the
Taiwanese author Chen Su-hsien (陳思嫻), who served as one of the judges for the
contest, said Chung’s creativity and writing skills were commendable and that
the judges took into account nothing other than the quality of the submitted
Other judges said that students’ freedom of writing should be respected and that
nothing should prevent Chung from being awarded for his fine work.
The Presidential Office has declined to comment on the matter.
Additional Reporting by Peng Hsien-chun