Just what was Ma doing?
In a recent CNN interview, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) gave yet another disturbing excuse for his apathy in responding to the typhoon disaster.
First, he again pushed the blame onto others who he promised he would punish, while a poll by CNN has shown that 73 percent of Taiwanese feel it is Ma who should resign.
Second, he explained that the rescue efforts were hampered by the poor weather conditions until Friday, Aug. 14 — almost a week later.
Having witnessed the weather over the past week, I can only view this as yet another lie. Living in Kaohsiung City, we were delighted with the sunshine on Thursday and couldn’t complain about the weather on Wednesday. Most of Tuesday was also quite enjoyable until rain fell in the evening.
Even with days of heavy rain, local volunteers and rescue teams were fighting the rain and floods to save people, risking their own lives. What was the central government doing? Refusing foreign aid? Refusing to call a state of emergency?
Despite the arrival of the typhoon, my wife, who is a doctor, went to her clinics on Sunday morning to find almost all of her patients waiting for her. Even her patient from Cishan Township (旗山) in Kaohsiung County managed to bring his child to her clinic while the typhoon was still uprooting trees.
Her patients are all from Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties, and many live in mountainous areas. On Wednesday, only five of her patients rang her to let her know they would not make it because of the floods.
If these people could get to my wife’s clinic, then what excuse does the government have for delaying rescue efforts until the weather supposedly became sunny on Friday?
The central government should be reminded that Taipei was not affected by the typhoon in the way that the south was. On TV they showed an old woman in a park in Taipei exercising under the sun with a jovial smile. Even my two friends were enjoying a nice day of shopping at the department store.
So how does Ma claim that the weather was holding them back?
What kind of weather do they need in Taipei to set up top level and central committee meetings to discuss a disaster rescue plan, as former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) did after the 921 Earthquake?
TV reports had shown dramatic weather moving toward the south. That’s when we knew that we were going to be hit the hardest, as the radar was showing the worst of the weather coming in our direction.
Did Ma not notice this? Does he not watch the news? Does he even need to as commander-in-chief? Even CNN said a destructive typhoon was about to pummel Taiwan.
But there was no sign of any government effort that weekend.
Niaosong, Kaohsiung County
The worst policies
During and after Typhoon Morakot, the approach of President Ma Ying-jeou was “local government takes responsibility, while the central government assists,” which made him fail to enact an emergency decree.
“We would rather have a corrupt president than an inept one” is a slogan included among complaints made by people quoted in a Time report.
Ma is not only inept, however. He is lacking in courage and is unsteady. A faulty policy is much worse than other wrongdoings.
Spurning foreign aid also meant delaying rescue efforts, which was another faulty policy; two wrong policies equaled the power of Typhoon Morakot.
Last year we had typhoons that caused considerable damage. This year, Ma completely failed to prepare himself for typhoon season and adopted the worst policies in response.
He is unworthy of forgiveness and should stand down.
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