Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Find out the scurrilous plan Chen Shui-bian has for Taiwan's foreign reserves, and why readers should get up close and personal with Shih Ming-teh. Bring a helmet.

Show me the money

Dear Johnny,

Loved your bit, "Tremble in the face of Dork Power" (Sept. 16, page 8). I think that Prez Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) would be awesome, guaranteed to scare the pants of Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as well.

Did you notice that the local papers very rarely mention reports like Taiwan's international position economically? Even with SARS, bird flu, the economic downturn and constant Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) obstruction, foreign reserves have grown from US$106 billion in 2000 to US$260 billion three months ago!


Johnny replies: Yeah, and there's low unemployment, too. Still, there are problems afoot, and the issue of direct links is putting pressure on a lot of people.

But no matter the good points, someone somewhere will offer a dampener for any occasion, like: "Foreign reserves? They're being used to fund A-bian's retirement in Brazil after he flees the country! Dao Bian! Dao Bian!"

Let's join the circus

Dear Johnny,

In your reply to Simon Mitchell, who asked for Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) real title, you responded with the highly sarcastic title of Shih's imaginary organization.

I don't think I've laughed so hard about the truth in so long. As a foreigner living and working in Taiwan, I am only given an observer status to the Taiwanese political "circus," to quote a Malaysian news outlet. Nevertheless, politics here is quite amusing and entertaining -- it's like one of the badly acted dramas you can watch on local TV.

I'm certainly no fan of Chen Shui-bian, and there is little doubt that he and his family have been involved in illegal activities.

But is this any different from anyone else who has been in power in Taiwan?

Can we say the same about the former KMT regime who forged an empire in "black gold" politics and illegal activities? You are completely correct in saying that Chen should be accountable for his crimes -- only when his mandate is over.

Shih, though, would have Taiwanese believe that if Chen does not step down, the economy will crash. Yet at the same time this guy is proposing a massive work stoppage to force Chen from power.

Has he a brain in his head? Or does he enjoy excelling at being a hypocrite? What he is proposing would have negative ramifications for Taiwan's exports that would be irreparable for years to come.

Is getting rid of Chen really that important? Or is he on a mission of revenge against Taiwan for his 25 years in jail on hunger strike?


Johnny replies: "Imaginary organization," Josh? You think I'm fooling around?

Why don't you put it to the test? Put on a red shirt and go to the protest site. There aren't many people there most of the week, so you'll be able to approach Shih and ask him yourself.

He is so passionate about his work with the foundation that he'll probably lunge at you with a grimace on his face out of gratitude that a foreigner outside his immediate circle has an interest in his activities.

As for Chen, the jury is out -- except there isn't a jury. Still, until some semblance of an investigation finds he has done bad things, I am not prepared to presuppose his guilt.

And I would hope that you would offer me the same courtesy if I were in his position. Except, of course, for the fact that I wouldn't be such an idiot as to attract suspicion in the first place.

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