Hau needs more action
I agree wholeheartedly with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) (“Taipei mayor says he does not plan to visit Chen in prison,” Aug. 24, page 1), who said that granting former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) medical parole would “heal the wounds caused by social and political division” — a point I had also raised in an earlier letter (Letter, Aug. 3, page 8).
Hau’s call — made amid a hostile political climate because of the pan-blue and pan-green division, both at the elite and grassroots levels — reflects the magnanimity and conduct we would expect of a politician who puts the welfare of the nation above his or his party’s interests.
Hau has taken the first bold step to express his view on the issue and I urge him to further demonstrate his impartiality as a politician through concrete actions, including a visit to Chen in prison, as this will enable him to better gauge the former president’s health.
At the end of the day, Hau must demonstrate, through actions, his independence from his party on issues that are non-political in nature, as is the case of granting medical parole for Chen on humanitarian grounds.
Taiwan is facing many challenges and a humane arrangement with regards to Chen’s deteriorating health will pave the way for the ruling and opposition parties to work together to tackle the thorny issues, including economic growth, ahead.
In conclusion, I humbly reiterate my plea to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to release Chen on medical parole. This is the first and necessary step Ma must take if he sincerely wishes to reunite the divided nation. Ma’s refusal to do so will only strengthen international perception that Chen is being persecuted for advocating Taiwanese independence during his eight-year term.
And so the fig-leaf environmentalism of Taiwan’s government continues.
This time, the transformation into a “low” carbon economy will apparently be achieved through encouraging four cities in Taiwan to reduce their carbon emissions through various energy saving measures (“EPA clarifies low-carbon cities plan,” Aug. 25, page 4). While every little bit helps, it helps only a little.
Overall, these efforts are much too late, woefully inadequate and painfully unambitious.
Notice, foremost, that they are not tied to any goals of actually reducing greenhouse emissions, as suggested by my earlier letter (“Letters,” June 11, page 8). While the proposed efforts will reduce carbon emissions for those sectors where the money is spent (eg, energy-saving lights), carbon emissions may well go up everywhere else. After all, it is national policy to grow the economy (“Ma speech focuses on economic growth,” May 21, page 1), in itself a dubious goal, benefitting mostly the rich (“Sharing the benefits of economic development,” Sept. 10, 2010, page 8).
Because economic growth is still tied to energy usage, emissions will go up. So why does the government not announce that with every 1 percentage point growth of the economy, total energy consumption must decrease by 1 percentage point? By making this a national requirement, the true decoupling of economic growth and greenhouse emissions would take place (see Cents and Sustainability: Securing Our Common Future by Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Pressure).