Taiwanese cosplay candidate, Sunflower Movement activist wins legislative seat

Cosplayer, Sunflower Movement activist goes from occupying Legislative Yuan to taking seat as lawmaker

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Lai Pin-yu in costume at rally. (Freddy Lim campaign office photo)

Lai Pin-yu in costume at rally. (Freddy Lim campaign office photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Sunflower Movement activist and avid cosplayer Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a hotly contested race for New Taipei City's 12th District on Saturday (Jan. 11).

Lai, 27, defeated her Kuomintang (KMT) opponent, former Taipei City Deputy Mayor Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), by 2,780 votes with a final count of 84,393 to Lee's 81,613. Lai also vanquished five other opponents who were vying for the seat.

When Lai was certain of her win on Saturday, she took to Facebook at 8 p.m. to write: " Hello friends, I am Lai Pinyu, lawmaker of New Taipei City's 12th District. Please give me your feedback over the next four years." In her post, Lai included a photo of herself dressed as Sailor Mars from the "Sailor Moon" Japanese manga series, gaining her 30,000 likes, 2,800 comments, and 2,200 shares within 12 hours.

Lai graduated with a bachelor's in law from National Taipei University in 2013. During her college career, she participated in many student movements, most notably becoming a member of the Black Island Youth Front who occupied the Legislative Yuan in 2014.

During the protest, Lai was arrested for chaining herself to other demonstrators to block traffic. In 2016, Lai served as a legislative assistant at the office of Freddy Lim (林昶佐), who was a key figure in founding the New Power Party (NPP) but who has just re-elected as an independent.

In September of 2019, Lai entered the race to represent her home district, facing opponents such as Lee and Lai Chia-lun (賴嘉倫) from the NPP. Ironically, six years after staging a sit-in inside the Legislative Yuan, Lai will now take a seat within the chamber as a lawmaker.

Photo Lai posted after her victory was confirmed: