Saturday, August 15, 2009

Morakot: Ma Ying Jeou Doesn't Care About Taiwanese People

What started out as a disaster is quickly snowballing into a monster that Ma and his administration cannot control. With the official death toll of Typhoon Morakot now at 121, and expected to reach over 500, questions will eventually need to raised about the response and efforts of Ma Ying Jeou, his administration.

Let's just first lay out some groundwork from where questions can be raised:

Aug. 7th, the morning before Typhoon Morakot was about to hit, the Central Weather Bureau [CWB] issues warnings for northern and northeast Taiwan about torrential rains and powerful winds. Nowhere in the warnings are southern and southeast Taiwan included. Is the CWB really that bad, or is there something else at hand here?

That same night that Morakot was just about to start hitting Taiwan, Ma Ying Jeou was at a wedding reception, have[ing] a good time like this reunion, and drink[ing] wine like its Communion. Should not the president of Taiwan be in some sort of national security meeting, with advisers on how best to prepare and respond to the impending typhoon?

Aug. 8th, as Morakot started hovering over Taiwan, Taipei City/County issue last minute "Typhoon Day" announcements. With the advance knowledge of the impending Typhoon, many of the counties and cities were flip-flopping back and forth between declaring a "Typhoon Day" or not- irritating many residents. Again, the CWB raises warnings for northern and northeast Taiwan for flooding and potential landslides. Warnings for southern and southeast Taiwan? Still nothing.

Aug. 9th, with Morakot making its last impressions on Taiwan, the "surprise" out of Taiwan is that southern Taiwan had been pummeled by Morakot overnight. Floodings and mudslides were noted as major problems in southern Taiwan- the exact warnings that the CWB gave for northern and northeast Taiwan:
Mudslides were reported in mountainous areas in the counties of Nantou, Pingdong and Taitung, forcing the closure of some bridges during the storm.
As Ma made his way down to the areas that were hit hard, instead of showing that he's in control and giving confidence to the people, he shows indifference and sarcasm in his words towards the victims. In one event, Ma Ying Jeou was told by a man that "we all voted for you, why did it take so long to see you, why is it so hard to see you when we need you the most?" In response, Ma stated, "I didn't know you were looking for me, am I not here now?" The words that articles have used to describe Ma during his visits are clearly "irritated and impatient." Is this truly how Ma is all the time? I doubt it, this type of irritation and impatience would not have gotten him into office last March, nor would it be the type of personality he would show to his beloved Hu Jintao.

Aug. 10th, the south still under distress. At this time, one KMT official decided it would be best to continue working on campaign activities for the upcoming local elections, and put on an event for the local KMT candidates. The KMT party, rightful in doing so, banned Fan Heng-chih from the party. Despite the restriction from participating in campaigning activities, it is noted in the article:
Cheng said most of the KMT members who went to survey the affected areas with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) were the party’s nominees for the year-end local elections, not incumbent county commissioners.

This shows that they were there simply to rally support for their candidacy, Cheng said.

Aug. 11, the international community steps up to help-- but the Ma administration/MOFA decline, citing that they have efficient resources to take care of the situation:
The deputy spokesman said the Foreign Ministry appreciated the U.S. and Japan's offers to help but indicated that Taiwan would not request foreign assistance at present because there are sufficient recourses and the disaster relief mechanism is working well.
At the same time, Ma starts the blame game, rather than taking responsibility for the situation. First, Ma blames the Central Weather Bureau for the damage caused by the Typhoon. What? Yes, confusing, but he does it (this is not to say that the CWB probably does need additional funding to improve their weather casting).

Aug. 12, the U.S. still has the offer open to send supply help, in addition to monetary help-- still no response from the Ma administration/MOFA.
“MOFA said ‘no’ to the international community on behalf of the Taiwanese people, but the people never said ‘no,’” Lo said.
It should be no surprise actually, since Ma and his KMT buddies have been doing this all along, disregarding what the people want, and are planning on continuing to do so with the ECFA. So far, Ma has stated that he plans to push through an ECFA, regardless of public opinion.

Around this time is when the media, especially international outlets, including the NY Times and WSJ started catching onto the anger by the victims against Ma Ying Jeou's lack of proper reponse to the situation, which included the decision to not declare a state of emergency despite the fact that this is the worst typhoon in half a century to hit Taiwan.

Critics focused on the Ma administration's decision to refrain from issuing an emergency order that would give the government greater power to requisition personnel and equipment. The government has also declined to ask for assistance from international organizations.

The government said both steps were unnecessary. Presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said legal changes made after a 1999 earthquake gave the administration enough power and flexibility to deal with the catastrophe. "The rescue needs to be improved, but we don't think issuing an emergency order would help," he said.

Note here that the government sees the state of emergency declaration as unnecessary because the administration already "has enough power and flexibility to deal with the catastrophe." Is this true? From the looks on the faces of the victims and the flood of calls on the internet for more help, I would beg to differ. Again, this goes along with the theme here: the Ma administration continuing to do how they see fit, instead of listening to the public and victims.

Aug. 13, Ma confirms their decision to not declare a state of emergency. The question here is not, why should Ma declare a state of emergency, more so, it is why should Ma not declare a state of emergency. Doing so would give the government more power and access to emergency responses to handle the situation better. At the very least, doing so could possibly be a morale booster. As this editorial points out:
Arguments over the reach of the law and the utility of a presidential emergency decree will continue for some time, but for the moment, it is dumbfounding to recall that the president, speaking at the Central Emergency Operation Center on Saturday, shifted responsibility to local governments. He said it was those governments that should act as prime movers in rescue work and that the central government would act as an auxiliary. Given that local governments enjoy no authority to deploy military resources, Ma’s little lecture was as nonsensical as his verbaling of the Central Weather Bureau for failing to predict the enormity of the disaster.

Cabinet Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) on Sunday said the scope and speed of the central government’s rescue work had exceeded that of the 921 Earthquake almost 10 years ago.

But a cursory comparison suggests this is not the case. Hours after the quake struck on Sept. 21, 1999, the Hengshan Military Command Center ordered the deployment of forces to disaster zones and commenced rescue work. Within a day, more than 15,000 personnel were stationed in quake-ravaged regions and advanced helicopters such as the OH-58D, which carries laser range finders and thermal imaging sensors, were deployed for rescue operations.

How ironic it is that a large number of the nation’s military bases are in southern Taiwan, yet three days after Typhoon Morakot slammed into the area on Friday, the military had deployed a mere 8,500 personnel to stricken areas, and without provision for advanced aircraft.
The Ma administration believes it is acting and responding faster to the situation than the government did back in the 9/21 earthquake, despite what the facts say. 15,000 personnel were activated in one day for the 9/21 earthquake, while thus far only 8,500 have been deployed after 5 days.

I've also heard that many military personnel stationed were in "ready" mode to be deployed to disaster areas, but they were simply waiting for the command to come down to move out. Either there's a communication problem, or Ma is really dropping the ball here and thinking that their response has really been adequate.

Aug. 14, the Ma administration "flip-flops" and decides it actually does need help from foreign countries. Once again, Ma Ying Jeou denies that he ever declined foreign aid, despite the evidence of doing so (see Aug. 11). MOFA then goes on to say that it was a "typo," and that they never meant to actually decline foreign aid. Tell me you aren't naive enough to believe that.

That same day, a report comes out of China from one of their experts on Cross-Strait Economic Exchanges, citing that an ECFA between China and Taiwan would greatly advance the peaceful unification of China and Taiwan. This goes in contrast to what Ma Ying Jeou has stated.

Aug. 15, the MOFA comes out and says they are sorry over not receiving foreign aid earlier, but denies that it was a mistake. Now, instead of it being a mistake, the word "carelessness" is being used. Now we are starting to get a better idea of what Ma and his administration have been doing all this time, busy with word games over how to best phrase things so they don't sound like complete idiots. A simple sorry and then how they are going to quickly get the aid out there would have been much more effective and appropriate.

This same day, reports also come out from Tainan and Taitung that on visits by Ma Ying Jeou to Tainan, and a visit by the Minister of National Defense to Taitung, volunteers and military personnel (respectively) were ordered to stop their relief work in order to make space for Ma Ying Jeou, or in the military case, to stand in line and salute their Minister of National Defense.
On Wednesday at 10am, while the troops were setting up the steel frame, their commander ordered them to stop work and stand in formation to welcome Chen, who spent 40 minutes listening to briefings and talking to the press.

One witness said many of the soldiers had complained privately that they would have rather worked than stand and listen to the defense minister
Taiwan's military being very efficient, right? That's whats left of the the government after Ma has been on a political witch-hunt, purging many Pan-Green officials in all levels of the government, including the military (Sorry, can't find the link for these right now, but if you search hard enough, they are there).

There's no denying that a large constituency of Pan-Green voters lie in the south. Is this niggardly response by Ma Ying Jeou to the disaster because the south is Pan-Green? Is Ma simply taking a back-seat because he is assuming the Taiwanese have already bent-over and are unwilling to stand up against his injustices? Did Ma ignore and decline help from outsiders because he fears they will see how inefficient and irresponsible he has handled the disaster, as well as the fear that the international community will actually find out that there is a large % of Taiwanese upset with his performance (Note, this is the first time that Ma has received negative press on the international level)? Is Ma too concerned with image, so much concerned at the cost of lives being saved?

The point of all this? To make my point crystal, clear. And I do mean, crystal-clear. Ma and his buddies up in their comfortable seats in the government have done a half-assed job at responding to Morakot. Can Taiwan really afford to let Ma and his administration along with many of his KMT buddies, continue to do a half-assed job running the country of Taiwan? If you haven't been paying attention, the only thing that this administration has been good at since coming into office has been kowtowing to Hu Jintao, Communist China, and the CCP. We need to ask ourselves, is Ma really the president of Taiwan? If so, is he acting in the best interests of Taiwan? Or is he acting in the best interests of someone else.

Perhaps a comparison of the donations he has made to the Sichuan earthquake in China to the Morakot typhoon will shed some light. Ma Ying Jeou (along with Chen Shui-bian (ex-president, DPP) and Tsai Ing-wen, DPP Chairwoman)) all made donations of $6,500USD to relief efforts of the Sichuan earthquake. This time, Chen Shui-bian and Tsai Ing-wen have both made donations of $30,000USD towards the relief efforts of Typhoon Morakot. How much has Ma Ying Jeou donated? Nothing. I think it speaks volumes when Ma Ying Jeou was so quick to donate and man the phone-lines for call-in donations for the Sichuan earthquake, and for supposedly his "own" people, nothing of the same magnitude. It is of note that Ma Ying Jeou was quoted as saying something along the lines of, "we should help [them], because they [Sichuan earthquake victims] are our Chinese brothers." So I guess the real story here is that Taiwan's own president considers himself Chinese, because he definitely is not helping out the Taiwanese- after all, he really isn't Taiwanese, rather Cantonese (born in Hong Kong).

Make no mistake, after many of the lies that Ma Ying Jeou has told, do not believe him for a second when he says he and the KMT are not planning on taking Taiwan down a path toward unification. His actions over the past week have not only highlighted the inadequacies of his leadership, but his lack of concern for the Taiwanese people.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Let's not make the same mistake again, by voting Ma Ying Jeou back into office in 2012. And you can start by voting out the KMT in the end of the year local elections. Remember 8/8, because if we don't, Taiwanese may never have another chance at "Taiwan."

I'm looking forward to the day when we can get a Taiwanese celebrity to finally stand-up and say, "Fuck the money, Taiwan is Taiwan, China is China, and Ma Ying-Jeou doesn't care about Taiwanese people."
(In reference to Kanye West).

1 comment:

Simon Owens said...

Hey Richard, my name is Simon Owens and I work for an Asian news organization. Could you shoot me an email at