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 was found to have administered vaccines to hundreds of people who are not on the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) vaccination priority list. Local media reported that 1,285 people received the jabs, but how many of those were not eligible is being investigated. Some celebrities have apologized for having inappropriately received vaccinations after being exposed on a list that went viral.
The clinic is not the lone culprit. More clinics and hospitals are under investigation, including the Ministry of National Defense’s Hsinchu Armed Forces Hospital.
Whether workers in the high-tech industry should be given vaccine priority is also a topic of debate.
An allegation that the government planned to vaccinate workers at science parks to protect local chip supplies led to questions whether the lives of these workers are worth more than those of others, and if the 750,000 vaccine doses promised by the US would be used to provide tech workers with two shots each.
The science ministry on Wednesday rejected the report, saying that it would not carry out such a plan until it receives vaccines.
However, the ministry in a news release on Monday said that it has a vaccine rollout plan for more than 900 businesses at science parks, which includes setting up six vaccination stations, preparing cooling logistics for vaccines and medical personnel to assist with the rollout, and building an online registration system for workers, which seems to suggest that it might receive vaccines soon.
The CECC on Wednesday also amended its vaccination priority list to include a new category: “necessary personnel” operating key national infrastructure related to energy, water, communications and transportation. It said that agencies could provide lists of such personnel for review.
Whose work is necessary? Whose lives should be ranked lower, and how are these decisions made? Holding a daily news briefing does not mean the government is transparent enough.
More issues are testing the government’s credibility, including whether Executive Yuan political adviser Ting Yi-ming (丁怡銘) really deserved to receive a vaccination last month. Media employees who are more at risk of infection than others are not on the priority list, and at least two journalists who died turned out to have had the virus.
This wave of outbreaks possibly resulted from cluster infections among pilots and flight attendants after their quarantine rules were loosened. The privileges certain groups are given might become the burden of others.
It is futile to blame selfishness. The issue is whether there are proper mechanisms to prevent similar problems from recurring.
Instead of more apologies, the central government needs to pull itself together, improve cooperation with local governments and rearrange its forces in the battle against the pandemic so that it can lead people out of a muddle of uncertainty and anxiety.
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
In an unprecedented move, a group of democratic nations led by the US, UK and EU in a joint statement on Tuesday accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security of having carried out a major cyberattack earlier this year and stealing data from at least 30,000 organizations worldwide, including governments, universities and firms in key industries. Western officials were reportedly perplexed by the attack’s brazen execution and unparalleled scale. In an article on the attack, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera wrote: “Western spies are still struggling to understand why Chinese behavior has changed.” The attack raises the fear “that they [China]
At the conclusion of the G7 Leaders’ Summit on June 13, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who participated virtually, called for the reform of multilateral institutions as the best signal of commitment to the cause of open societies. His comments are significant in light of China’s ongoing and successful efforts to control international organizations, and, in particular, to keep Taiwan out of critical health agencies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s influence over the WHO is well known. It has used this control to deny Taiwan a place at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO. Taiwan’s absence