An idle mind is a dirty mind
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to enforce an edict banning motor vehicles from idling for more than three minutes (“Legal limit on vehicles idling set to be enforced,” Aug. 10, page 2). After reading the story in the Taipei Times, I couldn’t help but notice the many absurdities surrounding this new mandate.
The agency openly admits that “Emissions from motor vehicles are the main source of air contaminants in urban areas ... and have a severe impact on air quality and public health.” Yet, at the same time, the agency is condoning three full minutes of engine idling (unless it’s 30°C during the hot summer, during which time vehicles may idle for as long as they want to allow for air-conditioning).
Idling any longer than 15 seconds is excessive and unnecessary. Sadly, the EPA’s new mandate could be -interpreted as saying that two minutes and forty-five seconds of idling is totally acceptable. To me, this is the same as saying that it’s permissible to litter, as long as you don’t dump a whole bucket of trash on the sidewalk.
Another problem I have with the three-minute rule, which I doubt the agency has the money or manpower to enforce, is that it is aimed at the wrong target. The problem in Taipei is not vehicles that idle for three minutes or more in front of places such as convenience stores, but rather the massive hordes of scooters that idle for more than 90 seconds, multiple times, during their daily commute.
There are intersections in Taipei where, at a two-minute red light, the cumulative idling time of the waiting scooters and motorcycles is more than 150 minutes (50 times the legal limit for a single vehicle). In my own round-trip commute, I spend on average 15 minutes (five times the legal limit for a single vehicle) at red lights.
It is time the EPA made a widespread public service announcement. Rather than impose a NT$1,500 to NT$60,000 fine for these minuscule violators, why not do more to tell commuters how it is actually in their best interests to stop idling? Wouldn’t it clean Taipei’s street-corner air much faster if people were educated about idling and how this is related to their health and wallets, instead of threatening them with fines?
Apparently, the agency seems unwilling to take this path, which is why Taipei has volunteer groups, including Idle-Free Taipei. This populist anti-pollution cause even has its own civilian superhero, Captain Air. With or without the help of the EPA or some “higher power,” these groups are committed to sending a message to motorists that idling is an unacceptable, dirty and extremely unhealthy habit that needs to stop immediately.
Regarding the recent controversies in Taiwan and abroad over the death penalty, let me propose something: If a person who is executed is eventually found innocent, then the prosecutors who successfully got that person executed should also be sentenced to death.
An execution is irreversible: If prosecutors think they are better than God in determining who should live or die, then they need to be held accountable for their decisions.
If such an accountability system is established, then naturally no more executions will ever occur.
Allen Timothy Chang
For China observers, especially those in Taiwan, the past decade has brought awareness of an increasing obsession by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with control. It seeks to control not simply national policy, but all aspects of its citizens’ lives. Not a week passes without some new aspect of Chinese life being brought under CCP control. This forces obvious questions: Why this obsession? And what is driving it? When any one-party state, which already controls government, yet seeks to expand and tighten that control, it bodes ill. With a country the size of China, it bodes ill for Taiwan, Asia and the
Taiwan is now entering a period of maximum danger from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) due to an accelerating Chinese military challenge now emboldened by a shocking dive in American strategic credibility occasioned by its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan. This means there is a much higher chance that in the next one to three years CCP leader Xi Jinping (習近平) may order the PLA to invade Taiwan because he believes the PLA can win and that the Americans can be dissuaded from coming to Taiwan’s aid in time. It is still possible for Taiwan and Washington
Another year, and another UN General Assembly is convening without Taiwan. Today marks the opening of the assembly’s 76th session at the UN headquarters in New York City, with the option to attend remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which once again promises to be its main focus under the theme “Building resilience through hope.” As they do every year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and overseas compatriot groups are organizing campaigns to call for Taiwan’s participation in the global body. However, unlike previous years, Taiwan seems to be riding a higher wave of support than usual. The pandemic has exposed countless shortcomings
On Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a news conference via video link to announce a major strategic defense partnership, dubbed “AUKUS.” In an indication of the sensitivity and strategic weight attached to the pact, discussions were kept under wraps, with the announcement taking even seasoned military analysts by surprise. AUKUS represents a significant escalation of the transatlantic strategic tilt to the Indo-Pacific and should bring wider security benefits to the region, including Taiwan. At the forefront of the trilateral partnership is a bold plan to transfer highly sensitive US and