Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Ma Ying-jeou detractors seem to be growing in number, while a long-term resident has his say on work visas. But Johnny thinks there's more to this story.

Arise, the anti-Ma crowd

Dear Johnny,

All this talk about Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) receipts is boring the hell out of me. We wouldn't need another nuclear reactor if we could harness the energy of all this wheel-spinning. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to investigate the millions in Ma's bank account and investigate where all that cash came from? According to what I've been reading, the growth rate of his personal fortune has far outpaced the income he's earned over the same period. I smell a rat.

Torch Pratt

Dear Johnny,

Reading your column made me wonder: Where do all of Taiwan's politicians come from? Are they self-taught or educated into their immature, corrupt ways by some evil Mr Big?

It was questions like these that led me down the path of investigative journalism on one wet, windy night into a dark alley somewhere at the back of Taipei Railway Station. Glancing up, an old and creaky sign beckoned: "Harvard Cram School." Upon entering, I came across a dusty cobwebbed plaque that said "Roll of Alumni."

Reading down the list, K, L, M: Ma, Marcos, Mussolini. Realizing I had hit the tabloid jackpot, I demanded that the old crony who was watching over the place show me some previous proof of attendance. I searched in vain: Some shadowy figure had beaten me to it, because the receipts had been replaced by shoe shop slips.

So, here my story ends. Or does it? A look into a certain mayor's wife's shoe cupboard may reveal all! The mind boggles.

Pete M. Jones

Dear Johnny,

Loved the glass house analogy ("Have fun at our expense accounts," Nov. 18, page 8). I think all Taiwanese politicians now need to buy each other black kettles and pots so they can call each other equally black. Maybe they should all resign.

Mel M. Liu

Johnny replies: Just what has the good mayor of Taipei done to deserve all of this spite, my dear readers? How is it possible that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) can be subject to ridicule with Ma at the helm?

Was it not Ma who disarmed foreign correspondents with his repartee and his sexy actor's countenance? Was it not Ma who convinced the press corps in Washington that the absence of a coherent foreign policy is a virtue?

I think you're all jealous. I think you whining know-it-alls wish deep down that you could take the reins of a party once run by and for a discredited bunch of thugs and transform it into the very model of a modern democratic alliance: clean, humble, patriotic and gracious.

You should give the mayor credit for learning to love and forgive those who would put him on the rack. He's so Christ-like, in fact, that I'm surprised people don't dress up as Ma (vest and running shorts) every Easter and have themselves nailed to a cross in front of the Taipei City Government complex.

Permit me to differ

Dear Johnny,

Whilst I agree with most of the letter on work permits (Johnny Neihu's Mailbag, Oct. 28, page 8), I should point out one important error. For long-time residents married to a Taiwanese the sentence "However, for the rest of his life, if he still wants to work he has to continue to apply for work permits" is not necessarily true.

For more than six years I have had an Open Work Permit (OWP) which can be applied for after legally residing in Taiwan for five years (married) or seven years (unmarried).

The OWP is available from the Council of Labor Affairs at a cost of NT$100 and effectively changes your classification -- from a work perspective -- to the same as a Taiwanese citizen, allowing you to have one, two or more jobs legally. Most importantly, it releases you from employer control.

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