One should be wary of governments that tell the public that everything is fine and under control all the time. And yet, this is exactly the dish President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has been serving the public since it came into office in 2008.
Just as with ordinary human beings, people who claim to be right all the time, or who deny even the possibility that something may have gone wrong, reveal one of two things about themselves: Either they’re lying, or they have lost touch with reality. It’s hard to tell which is worse, but the one thing that’s certain is that danger cannot but lurk far behind.
On almost every controversy — the poor handling of the Typhoon Morakot incident, bird flu outbreaks, a dangerous China policy, the theft by the state of private property, delays in the implementation of the second-generation national health insurance program, delays in phasing out conscription in the armed forces, disproportionate police deployments, the US beef flap and recent frictions with Singapore and Sao Tome and Principe to name a few — the Ma government has shot back at critics by saying that everything is fine and that the public should have faith in its ability to manage. The closest it has come to admitting deficiencies in governance was to slap low to mid-level government officials on the wrist, a reprimand that is usually followed by the official being moved to another branch of government or the warm embrace of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
In the rare instances where the government actually found fault with its handling of various policies, top officials invariably pointed to delays in the legislature and deficiencies in the law, rather than what on some occasions was outright injustice perpetrated by the state against individuals. By doing so, the government exonerated itself of all moral responsibility and instead blamed a faceless system, as if it, too, were somehow a victim, before promising amendments that, in the abstract, will make everything all right.
In similar vein, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) late last month, following the destruction of two houses owned by the Wang (王) family in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), could not go beyond uttering that there were “some elements of injustice involved in the urban renewal project” that led to the outrage. What Lee seems to have failed to realize is that injustice either is or isn’t — there is no in--between. This is reminiscent of a US official during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 saying that “acts of genocide,” as opposed to genocide, were being committed. Ridicule aside, the official’s comments were part of then-US president Bill Clinton’s policy that argued against intervening in the country, where close to 1 million people were being massacred. In other words, this was phraseology making the case for inaction.
Taiwanese get the same kind of language from the military on a constant basis. China modernizes its military, conducts maneuvers around Taiwan, spies on its air defense systems and continues to add missiles targeting it, and yet, aside from refusing to comment on specifics, the Taiwanse military tells the public that — yes, everything is under control.
The problem with this fantasy world is that it can only work for so long. Eventually, reality will catch up with the rhetoric, and the boat captain who keeps telling passengers that the Titanic is not sinking will, like those he has been deceiving, risk his skin by remaining in his cabin.
If it truly cares about its legacy as a government for the people, the Ma administration should have the courage to admit its failures and to fix the fundamentals, rather than continue pretending that everything is fine and under control.
Ideas matter. They especially matter in world affairs. And in communist countries, it is communist ideas, not supreme leaders’ personality traits, that matter most. That is the reality in the People’s Republic of China. All Chinese communist leaders — from Mao Zedong (毛澤東) through Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), from Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) through to Xi Jinping (習近平) — have always held two key ideas to be sacred and self-evident: first, that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is infallible, and second, that the Marxist-Leninist socialist system of governance is superior to every alternative. The ideological consistency by all CCP leaders,
The US on Friday hosted the second Global COVID-19 Summit, with at least 98 countries, including Taiwan, and regional alliances such as the G7, the G20, the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) attending. Washington is also leading a proposal to revise one of the most important documents in global health security — the International Health Regulations (IHR) — which are to be discussed during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) that starts on Sunday. These two actions highlight the US’ strategic move to dominate the global health agenda and return to the core of governance, with the WHA
Just as the cause of the Kursk submarine disaster remains shrouded in mystery — the nuclear-powered Russian submarine suffered an explosion during a naval exercise on Aug. 12, 2000, and sank, killing all 118 crew onboard — it is unlikely that we will ever get to the bottom of the sequence of events last month that led to the sinking of the Moskva guided missile cruiser, the flagship of the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet. Ukraine claims it struck the vessel with two missiles, while Russia says ammunition onboard the ship exploded and the ship tipped over while being towed
The war in Ukraine continues, and lines are slowly being drawn in the sand. Nations have begun imposing sanctions; few can ignore the reality of Russia’s aggression and atrocities, especially as it edges to the possibility of making a full declaration of war. For Taiwan, this resurrects a different reality, the tangled web of its own complex past and how as a colony of Japan, it became involved with Russia, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Some role reversals are immediately evident. Taiwan is now an independent nation and the CCP rules China. The CCP indirectly