Politics mixed with privilege
Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) is running in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative primary, and a quick glance at this candidate reveals a lot of red flags.
First, not only is his father a KMT politician, but Wan-an is a descendant of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).
Second, he works in the US. He does not have US citizenship. Does he have a green card? Does he have children? Where do they live? Sound familiar?
Enough about appearance and now on to substance. Chiang Wan-an and the rest of the KMT just do not get it. The KMT did not lose the nine-in-one elections last year because they lack young people. They lost because Taiwanese have rejected their ideas.
Taiwan is not a part of China. Taiwan does not want to be a part of China. Taiwan does not want the free-trade deal that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) wants. Taiwan does not want nuclear power. Taiwan wants democracy, broad prosperity and a green, clean, sustainable environment.
What is the KMT’s specific plan to give Taiwan what it wants? What is the Democratic Progressive Party’s plan?
Lack of road awareness kills
In his letter, Wayne Schams is right to point out the simply awful driving skills of many Taiwanese and the hazards thereof to their fellow citizens and other visitors (Letters, March 29, page 8).
However, simply increasing the severity of punishments for road traffic violations will not improve drivers’ skills, and this is the key.
In Taiwan, there is not really a driving test to speak of. You simply maneuver the car around a vacant lot for 10 minutes and — hey presto — here is your license. Most Taiwanese, I would suggest, know what the traffic rules are because they had to know them to pass a written test in which they just answer a bunch of questions about signage and driver etiquette. They never once have to show that they can successfully apply these rules in a real-life scenario.
The key to safe driving is awareness — an awareness of one’s own actions and an awareness of the presence of others. This awareness is something that can, and should, be taught and reinforced before one even takes the test.
The test itself should also be overhauled to test an applicant’s ability to actually drive on the streets rather than toddling around a deserted patch of land. The test needs to test what applicants would do on real roads, because once they receive their licenses, off they go.
People found guilty of causing injury or death through negligent or reckless driving should also be required to surrender their licenses and take the new test. Less serious motoring offenses could be subject to a points system similar to that used in the UK (www.gov.uk/penalty-points-endorsements/overview).
Finally, although drink-driving is now a lesser problem than before, this only serves to highlight the appalling lack of skills and dangerous habits of a fair number of road-users in Taiwan, and this is an issue that Taiwan’s politicians and police really need to face up to.
For the sake of their countrypeople’s well-being and quality of life, I hope they do so, and do so soon.
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