In case you weren’t aware, today is Feb. 28 — or 228 to those in the know. The day when it’s acceptable to abuse the president in public.
But there’ll be no flying shoes from me, dear reader; I’ll be commemorating this sad day in the usual fashion by traveling down to the humble abode of my buddy “Knuckles” Chiang in Chiayi for our annual chugging of a crate of Taiwan Beer and a “deface a Peanut statue” contest.
Some people in Knuckles’ extended family, you see, were among the brave men involved in the bloody standoff at Chiayi’s Shuishang Airport, in which student militia and local Aborigines surrounded and contained a group of murderous Nationalist troops.
They don’t talk about it much anymore down there, but for his part, there’s nothing Knuckles likes better than to take out a few frustrations on bronzes of the old dictator — if he can find them.
Matsu only knows what Knuckles would do if he ever happened across the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) Statue Park in Taoyuan. All I can say is that it’s a good thing that he never ventures north of Baguashan (八卦山) — except to be cleaned out at mahjong by yours truly.
As I have no direct family involvement in the tragedy (us Neihus were a circumspect bunch), I’m more open to the complexity of it all and now prefer to say “Let history be the judge” when pressed by more emotional people for a judgment — providing such people are allowed access to the historical record and not force-fed Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) bullshit and atrocity apologia.
Talking of judgment, there were a few things this week that called into question the intellectual sophistication of some of our great nation’s politicians.
No, really, there were.
First there was that bastion of bad taste, KMT Legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), who often looks as if he borrows his clothes from a Yunlin County scarecrow.
Following stir-crazy former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) insane outburst in court on Monday, in which he alleged a DVD exists with footage of commander-in-chief Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) getting it on with a testosterone-packing former ICRT DJ, Chang leapt to Ma’s defense, telling reporters that this was not possible because the president was “too masculine” (in Chinese: “很man”).
Now I’m not going to comment on these irresponsible allegations, but as far as Chang’s assessment of Ma’s machismo goes, I’ve seen far more on show at Gin Gin’s bookstore.
Chang’s comment illustrates the lack of communication between the Presidential Office and the legislature: Quite clearly, Chang has no idea who Ma is. Either that or he is as shellshocked as he looks.
What other pearls of wisdom can we expect from Chang in the near future? That KMT honorary quisling Lien Chan (連戰) is a model statesman, or that Token Taiwanese Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) is an economic miracle worker?
On the subject of our former prez, just when you thought that irrational displays of hatred of all things A-bian had reached their peak, KMT Kaohsiung City Councilor Wang Ling-chiao (王齡嬌) scaled new heights last week when she organized a petition against the former president’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), who has moved to Kaohsiung.
Whether she plans to turn her petition into a referendum remains to be seen, but don’t hold your breath considering her party’s record on plebiscites.
I have to say that this is the first time that Ms Wang has come to my attention. But I couldn’t help noticing her bordering-on-hysteria resemblance to several other middle-aged KMT battleaxe harridan terminators, such as legislators Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔), Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) and Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), to name a few. And there are many, many other look-a-likes at the city and county councilor level, believe me.
This got me wondering. Did the KMT have a factory somewhere in southern Taiwan (it would have moved to China by now) that churned out fembot clones of Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱)?
A worrying thought, indeed.
Meanwhile, another politico whose judgment should be called into question is Nantou County Commissioner Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿), who on Monday announced that the county government was getting ready to begin construction of an 8km cable car system to the summit of Hohuanshan (合歡山), one of the nation’s highest peaks.
Now I know Nantou is a long way from Taipei, but surely Lee and his cohorts down there in central Taiwan are aware of the fate of the last and only other “cable car system in Taiwan to be built completely in a mountain area” — the Maokong Gondola.
I have riffed before on the sheer stupidity of Taipei City’s decision to build a cable car in a place that experiences frequent earthquakes, thunderstorms, typhoons and landslides — with the benefit of hindsight, naturally. But it seems, to their detriment, that Nantou County Government officials do not read my column.
Add to this Hohuanshan’s location near the Central Cross-Island Highway, a road notorious for seismic activity and being blocked by landslides after typhoons, and you have to question the motivation for the project.
But then, it appears as if Lee lost his marbles long ago. Later, when touting the benefits of the project, he claimed that the cable car would help “reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”
So would keeping his mouth shut, methinks.
The plan, as the Central News Agency so eloquently put it, is to turn the county’s Renai Township (仁愛) into a “world famous scenic destination.”
Considering Taiwan’s record of self-promotion as an international tourist mecca, the only way Renai Township will achieve global renown is if camcorder footage of a typhoon-lashed cable car system being washed down a mountainside is broadcast on CNN.
Another example that highlights the folly of construction and overdevelopment in mountainous regions, and one that Lee ought to know all too well, is Lushan (廬山), also in Renai Township. It’s only been six months since Typhoon Sinlaku wreaked havoc there, washing a couple of hotels down the river, collapsing tunnels and killing more than a dozen people in the process.
Is Lee really that oblivious, or are there other, indirectly lucrative reasons why he is persisting with the NT$2.35 billion (US$67.9 million) project?
Or maybe he is planning a presidential run, because having a record that includes construction of several costly, but ultimately useless “mosquito halls” (蚊子館) seems to be a prerequisite for a stab at the nation’s top job.
Got something to tell Johnny? Go on, get it off your chest. Write to email@example.com, but be sure to put “Dear Johnny” in the subject line or he’ll mark your bouquets and brickbats as spam.