Mon, Jan 12, 2009 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Any slower and we’d grind to a halt

In recent weeks the government dragged its feet on a number of issues, including allegations that former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) lied about her US citizenship, toxic pollution in Chaoliao (潮寮) Village and uncertainty over the implementation of International Accounting Standards Statement No. 10.

A consequence of the government’s failure to deal with these problems promptly is that they became worse and hurt the image of the government in the process.

Let us consider the case of Lee’s suspected dual citizenship. More than 300 days have passed since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presented evidence that she is a US citizen. Lee maintains that she gave up her US citizenship upon making a loyalty oath to the Republic of China (ROC) when she became a public servant. However, her behavior was in sharp contrast with many US citizens who have returned to Taiwan to take up civil service posts in central or local governments. Unlike Lee, those people renounced their US nationality at US representative offices precisely because they did not assume that taking up an official ROC position automatically led to loss of US citizenship.

If, as Lee asserts, assuming office leads to automatic loss of US citizenship, then why was she so relentless in her interrogation of then-Taipei deputy mayor Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) of the DPP on whether he was a US citizen?

Meanwhile, the KMT and the government went against their better judgment by tolerating and protecting her. They could have forced her to follow the law and resign as a legislator. Instead, they allowed the case to drag on, sowing controversy and confrontation, much to the annoyance of the public.

As for the toxic fumes in the Tafa Industrial District (大發工業區), a visit by the Environmental Protection Administration minister failed to find a culprit. Instead, the minister threw a smokescreen at legislators — who, we must remember, were elected to monitor the government — saying it would be impossible to find a guilty party and immediately eliminate the source of the problem. Adding insult to injury, he also derided the dean of a nearby school for having what he described as overly developed olfactory senses.

The government lacks crisis management skills and fails to understand the needs — and fears — of the public.

Finally, the Presidential Office’s group of economic advisers unexpectedly and inexplicably suggested a few days ago that the implementation of International Accounting Standards Statement No. 10 would have to be delayed. Late last year, the statement was vigorously discussed in business, accounting and investor circles. It was also appraised twice by the Financial Supervisory Commission, which conducted an in-depth assessment before announcing that it should be implemented according to schedule.

The suggested postponement on the eve of implementation risks creating problems for the Cabinet, ministries and the stock market. It could also cause public apprehension and damage Taiwan’s international image.

These incidents are only some examples of the government’s delayed response mechanism and its inability to understand important issues. The government and the KMT keep harping on about public suffering without understanding the root causes of that pain or doing anything to remedy the situation.

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