President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) comments on Wednesday about the number of suicides this year sparked a war of words between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday.
During an evening symposium with residents of Greater Taichung’s Dongshih District (東勢), Ma said that with the decline of natural disasters and man-made errors, the decline in the number of suicides between January and September of this year — 700 less than the same period last year — “surprised me very much.”
DPP caucus whips Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) and Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) accused Ma at press conference of being cold-blooded and heartless, using the public’s pain as a political achievement.
In an attempt to draw a comparison, they said if Ma could be credited for the lack of typhoons this year, how would he explain the casualties and destruction wrought by Typhoon Morakot in 2009?
Noting that a national suicide prevention center was established on Dec. 9, 2005, under the former DPP administration, Tsai and Wong said that while there had been an increase in the number of calls to the center every year since its establishment, the number of suicides has been gradually dropping year by year.
“President Ma, please stop rubbing salt into people’s wounds by talking about natural disasters or suicides,” they said.
However, KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said that the declining number of suicides was the resultof the appropriate and quick response of the government, such as the high standards asked of social workers, and hence the reduction was commendable.
Additional reporting by Chang Jui-chen