As a powerful typhoon approached Taiwan on Sunday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election in January, did what any true leader would do in such a situation: He called an impromptu press conference.
However, rather than discuss emergency preparedness before the storm, which had already killed eight people in the Philippines, Ma decided to take his main opponent in the election, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), to task on a question that clearly was on everybody’s mind on such a day — the so-called “1992 consensus.”
With the mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, which left more than 700 people dead or missing in the south, still fresh in everyone’s mind, the matter of an alleged consensus that may or may not have been fabricated post-facto is evidently what any responsible president should be focusing on. Thankfully, it now appears that Typhoon Nanmadol will not cause such devastation, but the fact remains that on Sunday, there was no way of knowing.
Had entire villages been devastated by mudslides in the coming days, somehow the victims would have felt better knowing that Ma is a true believer in the consensus and that this was what he was focused on as the storm was closing in. However, any victims would not have departed this world with clarifications on Tsai’s “Taiwan consensus,” which Ma was seeking, because callous as it is, the DPP simply would not discuss the matter while the storm prepared to unleash its furies on Taiwan.
To be fair, Ma did go to the Central Emergency Operation Center and did, on his Facebook page, call on Taiwanese to show vigilance as the storm approached. That he still could not refrain from engaging in politics ahead of a potential emergency, however, is either a mark of callousness, as the DPP has described the move, or a sign that Ma’s advisers cannot get their priorities right. Either way, this hardly reflected well on the president and could have cost him points had something gone wrong after the storm hit.
Of course, critics could accuse the DPP of also using the incident for its political advantage. The party had earlier announced it would postpone its party congress scheduled for Saturday and the announcement of Tsai’s running mate because of the approaching storm — a not unreasonable move by any yardstick.
However, in refusing to answer Ma’s challenge, the DPP was also inevitably playing politics, especially when one of its spokespeople wondered out loud if Ma had “lost his mind.”
Who could blame it, though? By failing to get his priorities straight and focusing on politics when politics were the last thing on people’s mind, Ma was inviting criticism. That Ma’s campaign office would even allow for the press conference to be held demonstrates once again just how out of touch — well-oiled and financed though it may be — the Ma camp is with the realities and needs of Taiwanese.
In a way, this was reminiscent of Fan Heng-chih (范姮枝), former vice chairwoman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) branch in Greater Kaohsiung’s Jiaxian Township (甲仙), who was expelled from the party in 2009 after she violated a campaigning ban by organizing a gathering for candidates in an internal KMT election mere hours after Morakot had devastated parts of the south, including entire sections of the township itself.
The KMT did the right thing by expelling her, but look how quickly it abandoned those principles.
It is understandable for candidates to be on the offensive when on the campaign trail. However, there are circumstances when knowing when to stop is equally important, at least in the eyes of voters.
Sunday, as the storm approached, was such a circumstance.
While the nation grapples with its falling birthrate, it is also imperative to address how parents are raising their children. The phenomenon of “dinosaur parents” — who lash out at teachers, store staff or people on the street when confronted about their children misbehaving — has been an issue for a while, but there seems to be an uncomfortably high number of incidents making the news lately. On Saturday, a preschool teacher on an online forum wrote about a mother who often visited the school and screamed at the staff for various reasons — including her child being late to school
Americans tend to think of Vietnam as a war that split the US rather than as a country in today’s world. Vietnamese are of course way past that. The country does not have any US Electoral College votes, but if it did, they would be cast enthusiastically for US President Donald Trump. When I told a group of university students at a park in Ho Chi Minh City that I was from the US, they asked: “Do you know why we love Trump?” “Uhhh, is it because he hates China?” I asked back. “Yeah,” the group responded in unison. With a 1,000-year history of
Beijing’s media mouthpieces in Hong Kong last week reported that China is planning to create a list naming “die-hard Taiwan independence activists,” and that those on the list would be “severely punished” and “held accountable for as long as they live.” On Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said that “they and their financiers” and other supporters would be “cracked down on in accordance with the law,” although “the legal rights and interests of the wider population of Taiwanese compatriots” would be fully protected. With threats and division, in addition to military pressure, Beijing has now added this trick to its
According to newspaper reports, the Ministry of Education has responded to a teacher-student romance — between a 34-year-old female professor, surnamed Lin (林), and a male graduate student — that occurred several years ago while Lin was still an associate professor serving as the student’s master’s thesis adviser at National Taipei University of Technology. The ministry said the university’s lecturer evaluation committee has passed a resolution to issue a written warning to Lin for breaching her contract, and suspend subsidies for the department at which she teaches for one year. The ministry also said that the case fell under the