"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Another reason to distrust Beijing

Can you say "cover-up"?
With SARS back in the news, Taiwan has received another powerful reminder of why it shouldn't trust the Chinese government.

The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to Taiwan as a "Province of China," thus expecting Beijing to provide information and assistance in crises such as the SARS epidemic of 2003 and the recent recurrence of the disease.

However, during the initial SARS outbreak last year, Beijing did nothing to help Taiwan, and even blocked assistance from the WHO for two months. When SARS cases reappeared recently, Taiwan officials found out about the situation neither from the WHO nor from Beijing -- they heard it on the news. Thanks a whole lot -- for nothin'!

On a related note, a letter to the editor from a Lee Long-hwa in today's Taipei Times suggests that "we rename the 'one China' policy to emphasize its true intent. Henceforth, we should call it the 'we hope China doesn't bomb Taiwan, wipe out Tibet and turn Hong Kong into Tiananmen Square' policy."

I couldn't have said it any better.

How do you keep an "earthworm" in jail?
He's already serving a 2-year suspended sentence for "violating the Election and Recall Law last year," but People First Party (PFP) law-breaker Chiu Yi (AKA "earthworm") has finally been indicted on charges of "damaging public property" in Kaohsiung where he was videotaped riling up protesters who tried to crash a campaign truck through a gate outside the local Prosecutors' Office in the early morning hours of the day following Taiwan's recent presidential election. Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 18 months for Chiu, but I think this is way too lenient. His actions were merely the beginning of what turned into weeks of violence.

The pictures of Chiu "crying" over this "persecution" in print editions of some of yesterday's Chinese-language newspapers are ridiculous, especially when considering statements he made on April 7 in which he said he was "ready to go to jail" for his actions. (Sorry, the "crying" images don't seem to be available online. You may be able to view video of the press conference here.) It's amazing to see the difference when he's all alone facing the courts and when he has an angry mob behind him willing to use a truck to try to crash through a gate and attack police who have nothing but shields and batons at their disposal.

Then again, he did manage to stop crying long enough to slip in this barb at his press conference: "I wonder whether those (prosecutors) who drafted the indictment would not worry about being struck by lightning." Knowing the way Chiu talks, that sounds a lot like a thinly-veiled threat to me.

"Dictators" vs. "truth-seekers"
The pan-blues' violence-prone supporters didn't take to the streets yesterday, but President Chen Shui-bian held a rally last night to thank supporters in Taichung for their votes and to talk about some of the changes he would like to see in the next four years. I wasn't able to attend, but I caught about the last half hour of it on live TV. One of those changes Chen mentioned would be to prevent convicted criminals from being elected to office. Hear, hear!

At the end of the rally, Chen said "Thank you" and "Goodnight" to his supporters, and without the president even having to tell them to do so, it appeared that the celebrants all began leaving peacefully. These are people who have waited over a month to release their pent-up energy and finally celebrate victory in the March 20 election. I wonder why Lien Chan and James Soong were unable to do that for 4 straight weekends in Taipei. Maybe they didn't want to?

Jackie Chan not banned by Taiwan
At least one news source has reported that "Taiwan considers banning Chan movie." This is not true. "Taiwan" has not considered banning Jackie Chan or his movies.

There was, however, one idiot within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) -- Parris Chang -- who came up with this lamebrained idea on his own, but it was shot down immediately by the rest of his party (who apparently know how to put their brains in gear before opening their traps). Yesterday, a DPP spokesman already said publicly that Taiwan respects both Chan's freedom of speech and the rights of Taiwanese who want to watch his movies and would not take the same kind of action that a Communist government might in a similar situation.
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