Who needs foreign help?
On Tuesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman James Chang (章計平) said that “Taiwan would not request foreign assistance at present because there were sufficient resources and the disaster relief mechanism was working well.” (“Aid workers race against time,” Aug. 12, page 3). Was this true?
According to a news report by cable channel SET-TV on Tuesday evening, more than 400 victims were rescued that day, but there were still at least 57 people missing and about 700 more trapped in disaster areas. Transferring these 700 people to a safer area would take more than one day.
Keep in mind that Typhoon Morakot had hit the country four days earlier, on Aug. 7. The anxious and frustrated families of these victims have fought over being a rescue priority. The crash of an exhausted rescue helicopter mission further broke the hearts of many Taiwanese. On what basis then did the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou state that “there were sufficient resources and the disaster relief mechanism was working well?”
If Taiwan had accepted international assistance, these 700 trapped victims could get to safer ground faster; the crew members of the chopper that went down might have had time for a proper meal; and the families of the victims might be able to rest instead of fighting over assistance.
Time is running out. By not accepting the offer of international assistance, many more people are suffering and might not be able to survive.
I do not know why the Ma administration made this decision, but I do know that the victims and their family members will always wonder if things could have been better if there had been international assistance.
Once Taiwan recovers from this devastating disaster, whoever took this decision not to ask for or accept international assistance should be subject to investigation. Taiwanese will not forgive mistakes made by this inefficient, apathetic, cynical and arrogant government.
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