Sat, Sep 02, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Only demeaning themselves

The cheering for the teams and athletes at Taipei Summer Universiade events and the protests in and around the Legislative Yuan unfortunately drowned out another sound this week: the thunks of heads pounding against desks — or brick walls — as once again Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers raised the ghost of Adolf Hitler to criticize the president and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

While many dismiss such comments as another example of the hyperbole that has long tarnished both sides of the blue-green divide — since both are guilty of digging up Hitler — such statements should never be ignored. Such comparisons are not a trivial matter.

Just nine months ago, the Taipei Times slammed the tone-deafness of politicians from both sides who cannot resist trotting out the Nazi leader or his Reich every time they want a bogeyman to bash an opponent with, and said it was incumbent upon the rest of us to tell them to shut up every time they do.

So a “please shut up” goes out to KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), who referenced Hitler not once, but twice this week while criticizing Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan’s (蘇嘉全) handling of the voting on a budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

Lai might be considered well-educated, with a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in engineering, as well as a master’s in business administration, but he obviously failed history and political science.

A “shame on you” also needs to go out to former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who on Thursday accused President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the DPP of leading a “fascist” regime.

Ma might not have used the “H-word,” but as he made the remark during his show of support for Lai and two other KMT lawmakers who were “fasting” to protest the infrastructure program, he clearly has no problem supporting Lai’s use of the Hitler analogy.

Pot, kettle, black was the second thing that came to mind as Ma went on to lament that as the party in power, the DPP “has been persecuting the opposition and making the public foot its bills.”

This is not to say that the government, its infrastructure proposals and Su are not deserving of criticism. There are many people besides KMT members who have complaints about the program and its budgets, from the way they were drawn up to how they have been explained.

Taiwan has a mixed record when it comes to massive public infrastructure projects. While much-needed roads, freeways and rail lines have been built, the nation is also littered with badly designed, poorly built and underutilized baseball stadiums, cultural centers and other white elephants.

The central and local governments were tripping over themselves to build stadiums in the 1990s when Taiwan had two professional baseball leagues and 11 teams, but many of these venues are little more than “mosquito palaces” now that there is just one league and only four teams.

The same thing happened in the rush to build cultural centers in every city and county. Although the Chiayi Performing Arts Center in Chiayi County’s Minshong Township (民雄) is a rare example of a well-designed facility, like most of its counterparts, it is vastly underutilized.

If the central government, lawmakers or the public need a more visible reminder of what can go wrong with infrastructure projects, the skeleton of the Taipei Dome provides a daily rebuke to the hubris of politicians.

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