President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday denied Beijing had played a role in his decision to delay accepting international aid following Typhoon Morakot.
Ma said his administration considered international assistance humanitarian in nature, not political, adding that the country had received cash and non-cash donations from the US, Japan, Singapore, China, Australia, Germany and other countries.
“We don’t have any political sort of attitude toward these donations,” he said in English at a press conference for foreign correspondents at the Presidential Office. “They are purely humanitarian.”
When asked whether China played a role in his decision-making process, Ma said “No, not at all, not at all.”
Earlier yesterday, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) questioned whether China interfered in the government’s delay in appealing for foreign aid, asking Ma to offer a clear account of whether he had waited until Beijing agreed to donate money before he asked for international assistance.
Lu said she would like to know whether political considerations played a role and outweighed the lives of Taiwanese people and Taiwan’s sovereignty.
“If the first priority of the country’s president is to gauge the attitude of other countries, it is bitterly disappointing,” she said.
Lu said Ma owed the public an explanation on whether he accepted China’s assistance under the condition that he reject international aid and not declare a state of emergency.
Lu also raised the question of whether Washington and Beijing capitalized on the disaster to engage in a power struggle, saying that Washington conveyed via the media that the US military was ready to help as a means to pressure the Ma administration.
While Ma has become the main target of criticism, Lu said it was not totally fair to compare the performance of Ma and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) because Lee had served as president for 12 years before the 921 Earthquake happened so he knew how to be a president and commander-in-chief.
“Ma is still learning how to be a president and does not know how to exercise his power as commander-in-chief,” she said. “Premier Liu Chao-shiuan [劉兆玄] should be condemned for failing to do a better job since he has experience with relief efforts from the 921 Earthquake.”
Lu proposed postponing year-end local elections until new administrative zones are drawn. She suggested establishing a special administrative zone for the 30-odd Aboriginal villages. She also suggested the president appoint a head of the special region and the central government take charge of disaster prevention and relief work.
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