Fri, May 03, 2013 - Page 8

Change Hsinchu stray policy

I wish to state that the Hsinchu City Government’s new policy of requiring garbage collectors to take stray dogs to the pound, where they are ultimately killed, is not only abhorrent, but inhumane and ethically wrong. Animals are not garbage.

I have lived here for more than seven years, and I am shocked about the treatment of animals. The fact that so many people buy animals because they are considered cute when they are young (imagine doing this to one’s child) and then abandoning them when they become big, or because they become inconvenient — this fact is completely at odds with any notion I have ever had of kindness and caring.

Please revoke this new policy. I suggest applying tax credits for people who adopt, neuter and properly care for strays. Have them get certificates from veterinarians who care for such adopted strays, and apply such proof to tax credits. Vets should be certified to do this, and by this, I mean vets who have been in business a long time and have a good reputation among pet owners.

In the meantime, consider the money that you would have spent or were planning on spending on the time that would take garbage collectors to “do something about” stray animals and the actual money that would be spent on killing animals in the “shelters.” Use the money instead on helping the animals find homes.

In addition, a lot of normal, well-meaning people, are pet owners who don’t care for animals the way they should. I am a cat owner, and as such, I am aware that usually, cats are better cared for, when they are cared for. However, I still have seen very sad looking strays who are suffering in the way that human beings suffer if their families have first given them care, but then kicked them out on the street. Imagine if that was done to a kindergarten student.

Large dogs are kept in cages all day by “well-meaning” people. They have no separate place to walk or to defecate or urinate. How can people have pets and just leave them in cages day after day. What is the purpose of such a life?

A plan for gradually educating people about these problems must be adopted. However, this should not be done with just government money, because of the prohibitive costs involved. Get corporate sponsorship involved and take an aggressive approach to changing the awareness about pets, animals and their importance to us.

Consider, for example, what Cesar Millan [The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel] has done for dogs. Even the supposedly dangerous pitbulls that were trained for dogfighting by abhorrent Michael Vick types can be rehabilitated.

Changing attitudes is possible. But if you kill things that never hurt you just because you deem them a nuisance, then you have destroyed your humanity. Essentially, you become sociopathic.

Revoke the policy telling garbage collectors to take street dogs to the “shelters” because it is wrong.

Thoth Harris

Hsinchu City

Human rights violated

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Ray Burghardt, was reported to have said that “he did not buy the scenario” that the human rights situation or democracy within Taiwan had eroded over the last few years (“US has never interfered in Taiwan-China talks,” April 25, page 3). I wish the reporter, William Lowther, had pressed further to get exactly what “scenario” Burghardt was referring to?

Freedom House did tout Taiwan as one of the better countries in Asia with respect to human rights.

However, I would like to illustrate several incidents in which governmental action or inaction posed ostensible human rights violations.

First, in 2008, during the visit of former Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), police brutality against Taiwanese protesters was rampant and widely reported in the media. President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration prohibited the public display of the national flag and many students were either beaten or arrested for holding the flag.

In 2009, during devastating Typhoon Morakot, Ma failed to declare a state of emergency. He not only failed to fully mobilize the rescue effort, but also initially declined foreign aid, thereby possibly adding to the numbers of casualties and deaths. He was dubbed the worst president ever by TVBS, a TV station known to be loyal to Ma.

Between 2009 and 2010, under the guise of “H1N1 preparedness,” an H1N1 avian influenza vaccine was marketed by a company that had not previously produced any flu vaccine, whose president happened to be the vice chairperson of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and under an expedited regulatory process without adequate clinical trials.

After launching a mass vaccination program, adverse events, including several deaths, were obviously higher than other countries. Government officials have consistently claimed that those were unrelated to the vaccine. However, public outrage and panic erupted when a seven-year-old boy, the son of a gynecologist, died after receiving the vaccine. Still, the government denied any responsibility, and the victims of the vaccine injury have not been adequately compensated.

In 2011, a former airman Chiang Kuo Ching (江國慶), who had been executed for an alleged murder, was exonerated. However, not one single person in the military was held accountable for the wrongful death of Chiang.

During last year’s presidential election, then-Council of Economic Planning and Development minister Christine Liu (劉憶如) altered government papers to smear the Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which was a blatant violation of the law. Yet when Tsai pressed charges after the election, Liu was quickly found not guilty.

It seems apparent to me that all of the above incidents have infringed upon basic human rights and should not have happened in a democratic society. I would like to know Burghardt’s response regarding these scenarios.

If Burghardt is interested in understanding the current situation of human rights and democracy, I could raise other examples for his insight.

Tiffany Hsiao

Rockville, Maryland