Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

School days are a gas

Dear Johnny,

Regarding the gas leaks in Taliao Township (大寮), Kao-hsiung County: It blew me away when I read Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Steven Shen’s (沈世宏) comments (“EPA discusses sources of leaks,” Jan. 3, page 2). He said that since it was hard to guarantee that none of the factories around the school would emit gases harmful to health during school operations, the school should relocate or students should take classes elsewhere.

I guess this shows where the priorities are. Hey, if your kids are passing out and being hospitalized because the factories are poisoning them, they should go somewhere else. Why should the factories close, relocate or stop leaking poison when you can just get rid of the kids?

And this isn’t a factory boss speaking. It’s the head of the EPA. No wonder the environment is in such a mess.

Russ from Kaohsiung

Johnny replies: I thought the learned minister was far too accommodating of the students’ lungs and their parents’ fears. He should have ordered that any children who inhaled gases without the permission of the companies concerned be scolded and suspended from school. As for the parents, they should be fined, and then compelled to understand the meaning of environmental protection: Give each of them a stretch of road outside the headquarters of nearby companies and make sure that they collect all the litter that can be seen with the naked eye. Oh, and make sure they clean, by hand, every betel nut stain on the asphalt.

The Asia Cement facility at the mouth of Taroko Gorge is a perfect example of an industrial complex enhanced by a pristine, green road corridor. They know what it’s all about: For every aesthetically challenged industrial facility, plant a tree.

The cheek of it! Don’t these filthy little school brats realize that the Taiwan miracle was built on the backs of chemical companies, plastics manufacturers and the occasionally indiscreet disposal of necessary waste products? And don’t they realize that part of their role as students is to accept without complaint or disquiet that they are fated to join these companies or industries that support these companies’ operations somewhere down the chain?

If I were them, I would start reading the tea leaves and learn how to kiss corporate ass and kowtow to the central government at every opportunity. Whatever is happening to our education system that these kids can speak out (or pass out) without a damn good spanking?

Russ, get with the program. You can’t remake an economic omelette without breaking a few skulls — or something like that.

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