When the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) took a sudden turn for the worse last week, resulting in Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital being sealed off, bickering between political parties temporarily came to a halt. But now that the government has the situation better under control, symptoms of political discord have begun to re-emerge.
Yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian (
The disease is a national security issue because of its effects on businesses and the stock market and the collective paranoia it has caused across the country.
In such trying times, everyone, regardless of which party they belong to or which part of the country they are from, must cast aside their differences and cooperate to combat this epidemic. Sadly, while everyone claims to be cooperating, some politicians just can't help being themselves
For example, neither KMT Chairman Lien Chan (
Some members of the opposition camp are not so clueless. KMT Vice Chairman Liu Chao-hsuan (
Liu is of course right. The KMT's inaction in this regard and Lien's refusal to attend the meeting with Chen reinforce the impression that the opposition is being uncooperative for political reasons.
The Chen administration, in contrast, is doing a better job about showing unity. After Vice President Annette Lu (
Today, the Legislative Yuan will vote on a draft bill designed to tackle the SARS epidemic. Although the opposition and ruling camps have fought over how to fund the NT$50 billion bill and how to ensure that the media produce accurate reports about the disease that do not engender panic, the two sides eventually reached a tentative agreement yesterday afternoon.
Whether the bill can be passed today without a hitch will be a key indicator of whether the parties are truly able to cast aside their old grudges for the sake of the country. Everyone should keep their fingers crossed.