With all of the coverage of the former first family’s legal woes and the economic crisis, the basic news cycle of bio-panic and ham-fisted showboating by second-tier politicians has been severely disrupted of late.
But this week, routine made a comeback. To wit, we saw a foot-and-mouth disease scare among hogs in Yunlin and Changhua counties. So out came the hoses, masks and disinfectant.
Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) set about mugging for the camera in his own mask while painting over graffiti that a couple of foreigners thought might beautify some dreary shopfront shutters on Roosevelt Road, Sec 4. Those pseudo-artistes are now NT$6,000 poorer thanks to an aging taxi driver who remembered his Martial Law-era civics slogans: It is patriotic to inform on Communists, Taiwanese separatists, Soviet sympathizers and dickhead Canadian spraypainters.
Still, after eyeing Hau’s limp brush action, you can pretty much assume he hasn’t painted a roof or a bedroom wall in his pampered life. Memo Mayor Hau: The city needs cleaning elsewhere ... even in places the Canucks haven’t spoiled.
Dinghao square, one of the most trash-strewn parts of upmarket Taipei City, especially late at night, is one of them. You know you’re getting near it even before you see the Golden Arches: It’s close to one of the scabbiest night markets in our good metropolis (Da-an Rd, Sec 1).
I don’t expect the mayor to do any sweeping, mind you, but at least he could ensure that someone pops along every few months to tidy things up.
A militant feminist lesbian friend of mine was complaining the other evening about this very kind of selective civic duty. We were at Taipei’s lone Hooters establishment, where she often dines. I usually avoid the place, but she likes it there because she can ogle babe waitresses like Apple, Bunny and Rhea while threatening the male customers who ogle the babe waitresses.
My friend was pissed about President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) backtracking on his enthusiasm for the gay community. One minute he was Taipei mayor and you couldn’t get him off the Mardi Gras float. Next minute he’s president — and his rainbow is missing in action.
“Johnny,” she said, pupils dilating as a top-heavy waitress brought us racks of ribs, “never place your trust in someone who won’t get down and go all the way.”
After reading two US-sourced articles in the Chinese-language press this week, my friend’s demand for “full disclosure” turns out to be very wise.
Let’s recap for a moment.
About two months ago I discussed the departure of pro-Taiwan researcher John Tkacik from The Heritage Foundation, arguably the US’ pre-eminent conservative think tank (“A Heritage of non-denial denial,” Dec. 27, page 8). Sources said that something suspicious was afoot, though the only printable responses were denials or silence from the parties involved. The column led to more insiders getting in touch, but none could go on the record or supply anything amounting to proof.
So old Johnny swallowed his pride and kept chipping away.
But last week there was a new twist. Norman Fu (傅建中), that stalwart pro-unification Washington correspondent for the China Times, wrote an article on Feb. 13 that covered similar ground and contained new allegations. He said that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) forces thought Tkacik had been a backstabber for supporting the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) government, and invited Heritage president Edwin Feulner to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), where he was pressured to dump Tkacik.