Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Getting one's priorities right

Disastrous torrential rains yesterday meant that many people were inconvenienced and many plans had to be changed. Different people's agendas let us see what their priorities are.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had planned to hold a demonstration against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in Kaohsiung but the event was canceled due to the heavy rain in central and southern Taiwan. Apart from being based on concern for its supporters, it would also have been difficult to mobilize them at a time when many of their homes had been flooded. KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, did not rest, as he attended the People First Party's (PFP) protest in Taipei, once again stealing the limelight from PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Despite not having a permit to organize a demonstration in front of the Presidential Office, the PFP called on its supporters to gather there, and in spite of the rain. This only goes to show that in the eyes of the PFP, holding protests to demand that Chen step down is more important than obeying the law or being concerned about public misfortune.

In the meantime, Chen has for the first time since the emergence of the recent corruption scandals had an opportunity to leave Taipei. Accompanied by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), he traveled to central and southern Taiwan to inspect the disaster area and rescue efforts. Although Chen knows that as soon as he appears, reporters will ask him about the insider trading scandal enveloping the first family, he has still attempted to step from the shadows of the scandal to take practical action and carry out the duties of the president.

Several incidents involving politicians have been reported on the TV news lately, resulting in a strange political atmosphere. Normally reasonable and straightforward opposition politicians no longer seem to understand the public's antipathy toward gratuitous conflict, while Chen's political supporters have grown stronger. The activities of DPP and opposition politicians this weekend will hint at the direction of the special legislative session next week. Pan-blue legislators want to prioritize the presidential recall motion, while DPP legislators hope to review the flood control bill.

Of course, the law specifies certain procedures through which the president can be recalled. This is a political balancing mechanism. When a recall motion is supported by a sufficient number of legislators, the Legislative Yuan has to deal with it. There is nothing wrong with this. Still, at a time when both central and southern Taiwan are suffering from flooding, the opposition camp's insistence on making the recall of the president its first priority is unreasonable, as it places political struggle before local hardship.

The opposition camp holds the legislative majority, and is thus able to control the agenda. As long as it continues to push for a recall, the problem will remain. Chen is still the president and the pan-blue camp has plenty of time to recall him. But during the rainy season, people whose homes are flooded hope that prevention efforts will begin as soon as possible so that they can avoid being flooded again. This is also the nation's most urgent need. The pan-blue camp should listen to its voters so that it does not misjudge the political situation. They should place political matters aside and give priority to discussing the flood prevention budget during the special legislative session.

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