Taipei mayoral election campaigns have been clouded by issues concerning Taiwan’s COVID-19 response and vaccine procurement over the past two years.
As Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) was head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) for more than 900 days during the COVID-19 pandemic, his political opponents have been attacking him for what they called “poor COVID-19 responses.”
The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Legislator and Taipei mayoral candidate Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and independent Taipei mayoral candidate Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), a former Taipei deputy mayor, have aggressively and negatively campaigned against Chen.
Since Chen announced his bid for mayor in July, he has been called a “runaway CECC head,” criticized for cutting quarantine time and causing local COVID-19 outbreaks, branded incapable of securing enough vaccines last year, and accused of blocking vaccine purchases, concealing vaccine prices and wasting taxpayer money by disposing of expired vaccines.
Huang said that Chen was “murdering for money,” as she claimed the government had blocked the purchase of imported vaccines to profit from Taiwan’s homegrown Medigen COVID-19 vaccine.
Chiang also said Chen showed “disregard for human lives” and “had no empathy for the victims’ families,” while the KMT legislative caucus last week filed a complaint against him for alleged dereliction of duty in purchasing COVID-19 vaccines.
When the local outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 began in April, the KMT consistently called for Chen to step down as CECC head due to his “poor COVID-19 response,” but it criticized him for “running away” when he resigned in July after the infections stabilized. Daily local caseloads dropped to about 20,000 from the peak of about 90,000, while antiviral drug prescriptions and COVID-19 hospital bed vacancy rates were high.
The KMT legislative caucus in July 2020 urged the government to allocate more funding for domestic COVID-19 vaccine development and ease clinical trial requirements due to fears that the nation would not gain access to vaccine supplies as fast as other countries. After the government purchased vaccines, the KMT later labeled the AstraZeneca vaccine “unwanted” and dangerous, saying it could cause blood clots. It called receivers of the Medigen vaccine “lab rats,” demanded a greater supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and questioned whether vaccines had been purchased at inflated prices.
The KMT’s demands — buying vaccines before other countries at low cost, providing vaccine brand variety, revealing non-disclosure agreements, not wasting taxpayers’ money by purchasing too many doses, while also funding research for domestically made vaccines — are basically impossible.
In January last year, Israel was ahead of many bigger countries in COVID-19 vaccination rates. It paid a premium to get early Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, agreeing to provide the vaccine company with efficacy data among those vaccinated. Although its contract with Pfizer was made public shortly after it was signed, the specifics around the cost were redacted.
Pfizer-BioNTech had stated that it uses “a tiered pricing formula based on volume and delivery dates,” and the CECC has clarified that a non-disclosure agreement was signed with the vaccine manufacturers, yet the KMT continues to obscure the facts.
While many countries have reported destroying millions of expired COVID-19 vaccines, including the US, which discarded 82.1 million doses from December 2020 to mid-May, the KMT continues to attack Chen for the disposal of Taiwan’s expired vaccines.
Negative campaigning focused on previous COVID-19 policies does not improve the well-being of Taipei residents. Debates on policies for better municipal governance would be more constructive.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has a good reason to avoid a split vote against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in next month’s presidential election. It has been here before and last time things did not go well. Taiwan had its second direct presidential election in 2000 and the nation’s first ever transition of political power, with the KMT in opposition for the first time. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was ushered in with less than 40 percent of the vote, only marginally ahead of James Soong (宋楚瑜), the candidate of the then-newly formed People First Party (PFP), who got almost 37
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) has called on his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) counterpart, William Lai (賴清德), to abandon his party’s Taiwanese independence platform. Hou’s remarks follow an article published in the Nov. 30 issue of Foreign Affairs by three US-China relations academics: Bonnie Glaser, Jessica Chen Weiss and Thomas Christensen. They suggested that the US emphasize opposition to any unilateral changes in the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, and that if Lai wins the election, he should consider freezing the Taiwanese independence clause. The concept of de jure independence was first
Many news reports about the Israel-Hamas war highlight casualties, deaths, and destruction. Journalists rarely delve into how either society has responded and mobilized to deal with the war. This article provides a brief view of how Israel and Israelis have reacted to the war as individuals, groups, and as a nation. A useful template for Taiwan to prepare for a potential future conflict with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is how Israelis self-organized to deal with this crisis. Prior to the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7, Israelis were even more polarized about public policy than the US or Taiwan.
Following the failure of the proposed “blue-white alliance,” New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi named Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC) chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) as his running mate on the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential ticket, while the other prospective half of the alliance, Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), named TPP Legislator Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈). The result is a three-horse race, which is getting tighter. Hou and Ko are likely to put all their focus on being seen as the top challenger to Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate, to