Fri, Jun 28, 2019 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Han administration scores own-goal

The “launch” on Tuesday of a new maritime route between Kaohsiung’s Cijin District (旗津) and Wenzhou, China, took the nation by surprise. The move constituted aggression to some and a danger to others, but turned out to be a hoax.

The creation of a new “small three links,” if it were true, would have been foolish. The idea that someone could simply create a maritime route to China without being subject to the Maritime and Port Bureau’s rules defies common sense, but apparently the firm that held the launch ceremony thought it was possible.

Establishment of maritime routes are subject to the bureau’s supervision, especially links with China, which must also conform to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).

The stunt was a direct challenge to the Cabinet of Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) — who since his first day in office has made painstaking efforts to keep African swine fever out of the nation — and a vastly irresponsible move given that the nation is just a week away from being removed from the World Organization for Animal Health’s list of foot-and-mouth disease-free zones where vaccination is practiced, meaning that Taiwan could start exporting pork again after 22 years.

Su appeared irate in a Facebook post: “No matter what political slogan you chant or what political gains you are after, do not mess with disease prevention.”

It was understandable that Su adopted a harsh tone. Anyone in his position would.

The trustworthiness of Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau Director Pan Heng-hsu (潘恆旭), who attended the launch ceremony, and Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) is to be questioned, given that they both knew ahead of time about the plan, but kept quiet about it until the ceremony.

It is not the first time that Han’s administration has kept apparent dealings with China secret. His surprise visit in March to China’s liaison office in Hong Kong, where he held a closed-door meeting with its director, created a scandal.

As government officials, Han and his bureaucrats have a responsibility to report their plans and policies to the public before they are implemented, not afterward.

An investigation by the Mainland Affairs Council found that the new maritime route was a “grand hoax aimed at creating the illusion that [Han’s slogan] ‘getting rich by shipping out goods and bringing in people’ was bearing fruit.”

The two vessels that Pan said had set sail for Wenzhou are still moored in Kaohsiung Harbor and the shipping company that was supposed to run the service ceased operations on June 12. Furthermore, no application to establish such a route has been filed with the Maritime and Port Bureau.

The affair reeks of deceit, recklessness in an area that affects national security, a lack of legal understanding, and nonchalance toward public health and the safety of the nation’s agricultural sector.

If Han’s administration continues to pursue these kinds of stunts and he continues his ad hoc management style, the questions over the nation’s fate under a possible Han presidency will continue.

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