More than 80 percent of respondents to an online CNN poll said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should resign over the administration’s delays in assisting victims of Typhoon Morakot.
Ma, who ruled out resignation during an interview with CNN on Sunday, said that his government did its best to deal with the aftermath of Morakot. Although he said during the interview that he would take full responsibility for the blunders and mistakes made during rescue efforts, he defined “taking all responsibility” as finding out what was wrong with the rescue system, correcting the problems and disciplining officials in charge.
In CNN’s Quickvote yesterday, 82 percent of voters said yes to the question: “Should Taiwan’s leader stand down over delays in aiding typhoon victims?”
Only 18 percent voted no.
Desperate for damage control after extensive media coverage of his administration’s alleged poor performance, Ma will hold two press conferences today with the local press corps and foreign correspondents.
His administration has come under fire since the typhoon began lashing Taiwan on Aug. 7, dropping more than a year’s rainfall in three days and triggering the most serious flooding and mudslides the nation has seen in 50 years.
Ma called a national security meeting on Friday and activated the national security mechanism, but declined to take charge of the rescue operation, saying the onus lay with the executive branch.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said yesterday that Ma would speak briefly on the government’s relief efforts before opening the floor to questions at today’s press conferences.
When asked whether Ma would apologize again today, Wang said it was possible.
Bowing to public anger, Ma apologized on Saturday for the slow pace of rescue efforts, but he blamed the weather and road conditions for hampering rescue efforts. He also said on Sunday that he would shoulder all responsibility for the shortcomings in his government’s response to the disaster, but pledged to punish officials responsible.
Amid calls for a Cabinet reshuffle, Wang yesterday said that “somebody will be held responsible,” but it would have to wait until the investigation concludes.
Wang said because the government’s first priority was disaster relief, there was no timetable for the investigation and disciplinary measures.
Regarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ rejection of foreign aid, Wang said the Presidential Office, National Security Council and Executive Yuan did not know about the ministry’s memo before it was sent out to embassies and representative offices as a “routine affair.”
“It is a question of judgment,” Wang said.
Wang also said on Saturday that the nation would not file a request to join the UN this year as the deadline for filing such a request was Aug. 15. Wang, however, said that the administration’s determination to “return” to the UN remained unchanged, but that it would adopt a more “flexible” approach.
“The Republic of China is an independent sovereignty. We are a peace-loving nation and a founding member of the UN,” he said. “We lost the UN seat in 1971, but we have been making efforts to return to the body and that resolve has never changed.”
LOYALTY: The 10 active and retired soldiers betrayed the nation and its people by leaking and passing on military secrets to China, the High Prosecutors’ Office said Ten former and current military officers were yesterday indicted on charges of spying for China, including two who allegedly filmed themselves pledging loyalty to Beijing. The High Prosecutors’ Office requested life imprisonment for the suspects in light of the severity of the crime. The 10 active-duty and retired officers included members of the 601st Brigade of the Aviation Special Forces comprising attack helicopter squadrons and elite combat units in charge of defending northern Taiwan, including Taipei. The other suspects came from Huadong Defense Command, in charge of defending the eastern coast; Kinmen Defense Command, in charge of defending Kinmen and Matsu; and one
NO FREE LUNCH: Taiwanese joining the trips to China met TAO and United Front Work officials who urged them to vote for candidates who support closer ties with Beijing The Ciaotou Prosecutors’ Office in Kaohsiung yesterday released two suspects on bail who have been accused of recruiting Taiwanese to join tours to China funded by Beijing and in which they were urged to vote for pan-blue candidates in January’s presidential and legislative elections. The pan-blue camp generally refers to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party, the New Party and the Young China Party, which support closer relations with China. Prosecutors said that a man, surnamed Cheng (鄭), and a woman, surnamed Yeh (葉), who are members of the China Pan-Blue Association, recruited Taiwanese tourists to join tours arranged
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday slammed a proposal by New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, to permit a “significant number” of Chinese students to study and work in Taiwan, saying it would be detrimental to young Taiwanese. At an event on Monday hosted by nine major industrial and business groups, Hou said that if elected, he would reinitiate cross-strait dialogue on the premise that Taiwan’s dignity would not be compromised and that the talks would be held in good faith. The talks would include lifting a ban on Chinese tour groups and
PEACE AND STABILITY: ‘Taiwan can be of tremendous value’ in building resilient supply chains, President Tsai Ing-wen said, as she encouraged closer ties with foreign businesses A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely for the time being due to the internal challenges and international pressure that China is facing, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the New York Times in an interview shown on Wednesday. “My thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them [China] to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,” Tsai said in a prerecorded interview for the DealBook Summit held by the newspaper on Wednesday. Beijing’s leadership is presently “overwhelmed by its internal challenges” on economic, financial and political grounds, while the international community “has made it loud and clear that war is