Sat, May 03, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Alas, no torch

Dear Johnny,

A few months ago I told all my friends to get ready to protest when the Olympic torch comes to Taipei, but unfortunately President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his Democratic Progressive Party comrades didn’t want to be part of the “domestic” torch relay route.

Aren’t they the party that claims the world should hear and heed our plight? How could they miss this opportunity? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) wanted it and the Chinese Communist Party wanted it. But I couldn’t understand why they would want the torch to come here, as there would be protests and demonstrations using the Taiwan ... sorry ... Republic of China ... sorry ... KMT flag, which would surely upset the People’s Republic of China — and the KMT, too. Remember when Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was mayor and disallowed the national flag at international sporting events?

Now I’m really confused, Johnny. Please tell me who’s on which side and who wants what.

Lee MacRae

Wugu, Taipei County

Johnny replies: It’s not very often that I back out of a fight, Lee. But on this occasion, I’m now kinda glad that the torch is going to be struggling for oxygen on Everest instead of plying the streets of Taipei.

Why? Normally political rallies and demonstrations here are improvised ritual. You know what people are going to say. You know what people are going to do. And so people sort of tolerate each other’s need to blow off steam.

The torch is another story. This time it’s a symbol of Chinese malevolence, pure and simple. And that brings with it unpredictability. My countrymen are not so good at handling that. I would prefer they meet such a challenge in a more practical dispute.

And Ma? I think he’ll be relieved that the torch isn’t coming, too. The last thing he needs right now is needless conflict antagonizing the pan-green camp or attacks on foreigners by pro-China cretins.

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