Sat, Sep 21, 2002 - Page 8

A growing concrete mess

The Taipei City Government's love affair with concrete (Let-ters, Sept. 17, page 8) combined with its eternal quality unconsciousness are resplendent in the parlous state of the new footpaths laid down by the city government in the last few months.

The smooth concrete cross-overs between curb and path are a detritus of rubble; the painted red or yellow concrete curbs have faded and chipped; the paths have a mystical numerological script in leaden, after-the-rain chalk scrawl over them (tribute to the diligence of traffic wardens).

Nature's fallen berries and man's failing motorcycles contribute their indelible shadows to this magic industrial ambience. Scooter bays that the city government intentionally under-supplied (to encourage MRT use) are a spectacular failure; city sub-contractors have repainted momentarily illegal parking areas on sidewalks that these bays were meant to replace.

Speeding scooters and cyclists now threaten pedestrians with renewed civic sanction. The crippled are back on the roads for a smoother, safer ride.

The city's inability to build a road or footpath that will last longer than a couple of months is a testament to civic insouciance that rests not with the political stripe of the mayor but rather with the quality unconsciousness he shares with his constituency.

William Meldrum


Chang didn't look too hard

KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) said he could not find any reference that qualified Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) as a dictator, so it was inappropriate for the first lady to say such ("John Chang says grandad was a hero, not a warlord," Sept. 17, page 4). He could have found something if he had cared to look up his grandfather's entries in popular encyclopedias.

"Chiang moved to Taiwan with the remnants of his Nationalist forces, established a relatively benign dictatorship with other Nationalist leaders over the island, and attempted to harass the Communists across the Formosa Strait" ("Chiang Kai-shek," Encyclopaedia Britannica). "On Taiwan, Chiang took firm command and established a virtual dictatorship" ("Chiang Kai-shek," Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Columbia University Press).

Kaihsu Tai

San Diego, California

Naked aggression

The US has always had somewhat of a moral advantage in world affairs. The US leaned toward democracy and human rights, and against aggressors. But that advantage is now being wasted.

The CIA taught torture in Latin America and other places. When Iraq was busy gassing the Iranians, the US was silent. When the US rescued Kuwait, they restored a dictatorship rather than create a democracy. In the fight against al-Qaeda, the US does not treat their prisoners as prisoners of war, nor as criminals. Rather, they keep them blindfolded in open-air mesh kennels in Cuba. They prevent access by their consular officials or lawyers. This is all contrary to the Geneva Convention and international law.

The only white American al-Qaeda caught in Afghanistan faces charges in a US criminal court. But non-white Americans and citizens of Sweden, Canada, Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan and others are just housed like dogs.

Now the US is demanding Iraq adhere to UN resolutions on threat of invasion. But they don't insist on the same compliance for Israel, which is violating more UN resolutions than Iraq is, and already has nuclear weapons. Power has never been so naked.

Isn't it time for the US to follow its own Constitution? Isn't it time for the US to regain the moral high ground as well as the military high ground?

Isn't it time for the only superpower to become a law-abiding member of the world community?

Or will the US continue to make enemies until the whole world is against them?

Tom Trottier

Ottawa, Canada