Police not above the law
Over the past few months I have witnessed a number of incidents in which police have acted inappropriately toward peaceful protesters. Some of these incidents occurred during the time of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin’s (陳雲林) visit to Taiwan, but there have been others, both before and after.
In all these cases, people were protesting peacefully. They merely wanted to express their opinions and be heard by the government. They were acting in a reasonable manner and had no intention of causing unnecessary disturbance to the general public.
Taiwan needs to put in place clear mechanisms for investigating police misconduct. Police are responsible for upholding the law, but they should never be above the law. There also needs to be an independent commission established to thoroughly investigate the incidents that happened during Chen’s visit.
I know the police do a difficult job and work very long hours. However, I would like to humbly offer some advice to them.
First, they should make more of an effort to communicate with protesters. Engaging in dialogue and negotiation can resolve the vast majority of conflicts. It also allows both sides to develop greater mutual respect toward each other.
Second, they must at all times respect human rights and the law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and chapter two of the Constitution provide the basic principles on which laws are founded. The laws provide a further framework for these rights. It is the police force’s job to enforce the law.
However, human rights should always be used as the first principle.
Sindian, Taipei County
On Tuesday, China gave two pandas to Taipei Zoo as a gesture of peace, unity and friendship in the course of warming cross-strait relations. For the past month, the media and the public have devoted much attention to the pandas. However, beneath China’s seemingly innocuous gift of the pandas lie several interesting points.
Perhaps the naming of the pandas, Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), meaning “reunion” in Chinese when combined together, which invokes the notion of reunification of the two entities on either side of the Taiwan Strait, did not come as much of a surprise. However, China did originally give Taiwan the opportunity to decide the names of the pandas and yet, interestingly, the Taipei City Government and Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh (葉傑生) renounced the right to choose names that are more tailored to the local culture.
In addition, the date of the arrival of the pandas appears to be well calculated. The pandas will make their first public appearance on the first day of Lunar New Year, which is an important holiday marked by the reunion of the family.
The international press have pointed out the underlying intention of “unification” behind the “panda diplomacy” in its reports, whereas the majority of the Taiwanese press has been caught up in “pandamania.”
The slow but steady erosion of Taiwanese cultural values may not be as far-fetched as we first thought.
Bali, Taipei County
Over the past year, scores of gargantuan Chinese sand dredgers have deployed themselves in territorial waters off the Taiwanese-administered Matsu Islands, where their activities erode beaches and ruin fishing shoals. These Chinese ships are mercenary; a small 5,000 ton ship could sell a load of sand for the equivalent of US$55,000 to Fujian construction firms — or to the People’s Liberation Army for use in building its artificial reefs in the South China Sea. They also frustrate Taiwan’s government, which tries unsuccessfully to cooperate with Beijing on environmental stewardship of their contiguous waters. Each day, Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels can
On Monday last week, a formation of 16 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes flew over the South China Sea near Malaysian Borneo and intruded into the airspace of Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. Although it was not the first incursion into Malaysian airspace by Chinese military aircraft, it was the first time such a large formation had been dispatched by China. It was yet another worrying indication that Beijing senses an opportunity to aggressively shape the post-COVID-19 world in its own image and has stepped up its plans to expand the frontiers of its empire well beyond the limits of its
With Taiwan’s COVID-19 “ring of steel” breached, the public is demanding vaccines, and politicians are calling for vaccine imports to be expedited. However, the manner in which the debate is being conducted leaves much to be desired. Some people believe that companies and nonprofit groups should be allowed to import vaccines. This is not as simple as it sounds. The mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech need to be stored at extremely low temperatures during their transportation from overseas manufacturing plants to the clinics that administer them. Regarding the BioNTech vaccine, its export from the EU requires complex paperwork and procedures.
With more controversies upsetting the nation’s fight against COVID-19, government agencies need to regain the public’s confidence. Being more transparent would be a good start. Over the past week, several politicians have apologized for failing to prevent more COVID-19 deaths, including President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中). They must be frustrated to see their globally acclaimed victory from last year being denounced. However, their apologies must ring hollow to the grieving families and those who have no access to rapid testing kits or COVID-19 vaccines. To make matters worse, a Taipei-based clinic