Thu, Aug 21, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The direct-charter flight aphrodisiac

The KMT-PFP alliance has found a new excuse for demanding direct cross-strait charter flights. On Monday, KMT legislative caucus whip Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) called a press conference to announce that there should be direct chartered flights next March to facilitate the return of Taiwanese businesspeople in China to vote in the presidential election.

Lee said non-official statistics showed that there are around 1 million Taiwanese running businesses in other countries around the world. Around 500,000 of them reside in China on a long-term basis. He said plans are under way to propose a Constitutional amendment to allow absentee voting by overseas Taiwanese. However, since it will be difficult to set up the necessary mechanisms in time for the March election, the KMT called for direct chartered flights to bring the business people home to cast their ballots.

The KMT-PFP alliance will apparently use any excuse to plug direct flights or direct charter flights. Last year, KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) proposed charter flights to bring businesspeople and their families home for the Lunar New Year holiday; the government did allow such flights. When the SARS epidemic broke out, PFP Legislator Kao Ming-chien (高明見) called for direct charter flights to allow businesspeople in Beijing to return home without having to stopover in Hong Kong. Luckily for the people of this country, more rational heads prevailed and such flights were not arranged.

The notion of direct charter flights is an aphrodisiac for the pan-blue camp; nothing else can get them excited so quickly. What's next? Why not call for charters for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Tomb Sweeping Festival and the Beijing Olympics? With such easy charter flights, what would be the use of the government evaluating direct flights or trying to launch negotiations for such flights? Chartered flights could be run every day. The government and legislation could be set aside.

Taiwanese businesses which have legally invested in China have taken into account the lack of direct transportation links before making an investment. They have factored in the need to travel indirectly across the Taiwan Strait. People working in China can also make up their own minds whether to take time off to return home to vote in the presidential election -- or any other election.

Now the KMT-PFP alliance wants to bring businesspeople back to vote, using charter flights to mobilize the 500,000 Taiwanese in China in order to boost the pan-blue camp's vote count. They seem to have concluded that Taiwanese businesspeople working in China will invariably support their pro-Beijing policy. Will former Tuntex chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) and his wife -- who left massive debts behind in Taiwan and are wanted on embezzlement charges -- be among those who would welcome a charter flight so they could return to vote?

The pan-blue camp is a sponsor of thieves, thugs, criminals and collaborators. Even traitors are all right with them. Every time a Chinese spy is caught, legislators from the pan-blue camp always jump up and cry "Green terror!"

Some Taiwanese businesspeople may be unscrupulous and do not care about others, but some may also have a strong national identity despite their investments in China. Those who sympathize with Taiwan will do so even more after seeing the countenance of the Chinese Communist Party. People who really care about their right to vote and the development of Taiwan's democracy are willing to take the time and effort to return home to cast their ballots. Those who value their time and money more won't. There is no reason to spend taxpayer money catering for the second group.

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