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

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The President and the Premier

... or a couple of scaredy-cats?

An image from today's Liberty Times (自由時報):

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) (L) and Premier Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) (C) hold hands yesterday as they attend a ceremony for victims of Typhoon Morakot two weeks ago. -- hosted by ImageShack
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) (left) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) (middle) appear to be holding hands yesterday as they attend a ceremony for the people who died in Typhoon Morakot two weeks ago.
Photo by 黃佳琳 from the Liberty Times (自由時報)
(Click image to see the original article.)

NOTE: This has nothing to do with frequently-heard hints that Ma is gay, and I wouldn't insult gays by suggesting that either Ma or Liu are part of that community. This is about a president who tried just last Tuesday to give international media the impression that he and his cabinet are "strong leaders." Hint to Ma and Liu: You're doin' it all wrong.

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ma Ying-jeou: Worst. President. Ever.

When pro-Ma media says so, it's even worse than that!

Ma Ying-jeou: Worst. President. Ever.
Rotten to the core
(Click to enlarge)

A survey released by pro-blue, 100% Chinese-funded TVBS says that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) approval rating is now at 16 percent [212 kb Hanzi PDF file] following his inept and deadly response to Typhoon Morakot which began battering Taiwan on August 7, 2009, leaving a village with approximately 500 people buried in a gargantuan mudslide, thousands stranded -- some for over a week -- and tens of thousands inundated by deep flooding.

Pro-blue TVBS survey says Ma Ying-jeou's approval is only 16 percent
When TVBS says their own guy is doing this bad, he's doing much worse.
(Click to enlarge)

Ma took office less than 15 months ago promising "no unification, no independence, and no war" (不統、不獨、不武), but later said that the first of those actually meant that he "had not ruled out unification" [read: annexation]. Only about 10 percent Less than 9 percent of Taiwan's population support unification in any form whatsoever -- whether immediately or at some time in the future (1.2 percent wanting "'unification' ASAP," 7.6 percent wanting "status quo now, 'unification' later," for a total of 8.8 percent).

The Ma administration has also run roughshod over human rights. Last November (2008), over 7,000 police were ostensibly brought out to "protect" visiting Chinese envoy Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), but instead of merely doing that, hundreds of protesters -- most of whom were peaceful -- were brutally beaten.

That same month, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) (DPP) was detained on charges which have yet to be judged in a fair court according to the evidence. A judge (Chou Chan-chun [周占春]) who ruled that Chen could be released until such judgment was made was replaced with a different judge (Tsai Shou-hsun [蔡守訓]) who toed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) line. Chen has now unjustly been in detention for over nine months. [If you haven't done so aleady, please go sign the petition to release Chen right now.]

Ma Ying-jeou doesn't care about Taiwan's Aboriginals
Remember in December 2007 when Ma told Aboriginals living in Taipei that he "sees [them] as humans" (我把你當人看)? [at the 7:25 mark in the video]. Then, when around 500 Aboriginals may have died in the mudslide which buried Siaolin Village (小林村), he blamed the victims for not evacuating. (Important point: The evacuation centers for that area were also buried by the mudslides.)

Where is the compassion? This cold-blooded administration has absolutely none. You must open your eyes, see clearly what's happening, and tell the world all about it. Above all, you must never forget how many Taiwanese have died (and continue to do so) because of the KMT.

* While discussing Ma's actions during "the most crucial hours of Morakot," Taiwan Echo points out how everything Ma touches has ended up "a disaster." I recently dubbed this phenomenon "The 馬的斯 Touch®."

* Claudia Jean explains how the DPP tried long ago to do what the KMT is now trying to take credit for (and which the KMT repeatedly blocked, thus postponing vital action until hundreds of people were already dead).

* Michael Turton points out that "When [the pro-blue] UDN says a KMT administration is not popular -- it ain't popular."

* Over at Talk Taiwan, Άλισον wishes that Larry King would interview Ma Ying-jeou. On that show, a whole new audience would get to see Ma's incompetent and dangerous foolishness.

* Today's Taipei Times has an English-language analysis of the TVBS survey: MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Ma, Liu approval ratings plummet in Morakot's wake

UPDATE: Here are some images showing the numbers from even more recent surveys.

Ma Ying-jeou and Liu Chao-shiuan's 'satisfaction' ratings
A chart shows Ma Ying-jeou and Liu Chao-shiuan's (劉兆玄) "satisfaction" ratings.
Satisfied (L) vs. dissatisfied (R)
(Click to enlarge)

Comparison of various surveys asking if Ma should step down
Here's a comparison of various surveys asking if Ma should step down (those below the black line).
Should step down (L) vs. shouldn't (R)
It should be noted that neither CNN nor ICRT could be considered "green."
(Click to enlarge)

Talking Show's call-in survey about whether Ma should step down
Talking Show had a call-in survey about whether Ma should step down.
The final vote was: YES: 125,709 (98.214%); NO: 2,286 (1.786%)
(Click to enlarge)


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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

CNN can't decide whether to call Ma Ying-jeou Taiwan's "president" or its "leader"

They distort, you decide

Here are three screenshots which tell a story:

Most Popular on CNN: Taiwan leader takes typhoon blame
4:03 AM, August 17, 2009, Taiwan time
The most-viewed article at that time was listed as "Taiwan leader takes typhoon blame"
(and it's good to see that the readers are paying attention to Taiwan!),
but clicking that link took me to what you'll see in the next image.
(Click image to enlarge)

CNN headline: Taiwan's president takes blame for typhoon response
4:04 AM, August 17, 2009, Taiwan time
"Taiwan's president takes blame for typhoon response,"
but somebody behind the scenes is about to take the blame for the headline.
(Not that the link above appeared on the same page with this headline.)
Take a look below to see what happened next.
(Click image to enlarge)

CNN headline: Taiwan's president takes blame for typhoon response
8:30 AM, August 17, 2009, Taiwan time
Now it says "Taiwan's leader takes blame for typhoon response,"
and the first sentence of the article also uses the word "leader."
(Click image to enlarge)

Note the URL of the page calls Ma "president," but the most recent version changes "president" (in both the headline and the body of the article) to "leader," only using the word "president" in a direct quote from Ma farther down the page:
Gee, how do you think that happened?

* Luby in Wonderland: "CNN: Ma takes full responsibility, will punish subordinates, but will not resign"

* A post I wrote November 2006 shows how Ma "takes responsibility."

Square pegs: , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Impressions of Typhoon Morakot

Ma Ying-jeou's "Katrina"

Typhoon Morakot (莫拉克颱風) did extensive damage to large areas of Taiwan over the past weekend. Here in Taichung, it rained heavily from about Thursday night (August 6) until Tuesday afternoon (August 11).

Southern Taiwan experienced over 2,500 mm of rain from the storm resulting in widespread flooding and landslides which trapped thousands of residents of Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Taitung Counties. Several barrier lakes were also formed by landslides, creating the potential for even more devastation.

CNN's Guillermo Arduino gives details about Typhoon Morakot
CNN's Guillermo Arduino gives details about Typhoon Morakot
(screenshot from the video linked above)
(Click to enlarge)

As of Tuesday night, at least 62 people were confirmed dead As of 10 PM Thursday night (August 13), at least 116 people were confirmed dead (that number has probably risen since I found that report), and the death toll will inevitably rise for many days to come. UPDATE: "As of Saturday [August 29, 2009], confirmed fatalities from Morakot had reached 571, with 106 others listed as missing, the Central Emergency Operation Center said." [/update]

The response (or lack thereof) and who's to blame
In the 921 Earthquake of September 21, 1999 which happened under the watch of President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the first troops from the south (工兵) were dispatched within two hours to begin clearing roads, and within a day, 15,362 troops were dispatched during this crucial time period to assist with rescue efforts such as extracting survivors from collapsed buildings. Last Friday, people in Linbian Township (林邊鄉), Pingtung County (areas easily accessible to those with proper equipment -- boats, jet skis, etc.) who had called for help early in the morning were still waiting for that help to arrive 16 or 17 hours later.

Under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), emergency management had been improved to the point where, according to the Taiwan News, "emergency pumping equipment and other supplies or military manpower could be dispatched 10 minutes instead of hours after a [Central Operation Center] command." But after a little more than one year under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the power to make such decisions was rescinded by the central government. Yet Ma tried to shift the blame to local officials, especially DPP ones, for delaying the help.

Ma Ying-jeou hates Taiwanese people
But Ma went much further, even blaming the victims, just like the Bush administration and their supporters did following Hurricane Katrina:

1:56 YouTube video: "【莫拉克颱風】CNN專訪是否防颱不周 馬英九卸責:都是災民不走不撤離"
Translation: [Typhoon Morakot] CNN: Should Taiwan not have been more prepared?
Ma: It's all because the victims stayed where they were.

Defying common sense, Ma not only refused to declare a state of emergency -- he also refused assistance offered by Japan and the US (before doing an about-face while still trying to compile a "wish list" of what is needed).

In the meantime, rescue helicopters repeatedly passed over areas where people required help and continued focusing on the areas getting the most media coverage. The inevitable result was clashes between family members of the groups in these areas. Why didn't Ma use all the resources at his disposal and get the sick, the injured, the elderly, and those who need medication out of every area possible at the same time? Why was only one helicopter dispatched anywhere in Taiwan on the first day when so many bridges were out? (If the weather allowed one to go up, others could have gone up as well.) And why did it take until August 12 to get the big (tandem-rotor) helicopters (like the Chinook CH-47) out? The president is the one who must give these kinds of orders to the military. People will naturally come to the conclusion that most of this was the result of very ugly politics.

Chinese Nationalist Party-led (KMT) Taipei City was somehow allowed to round up 6,000 soldiers just to set up for the upcoming Deaflympics, but only 8,000 were assigned to national disaster relief in the days immediately following Morakot.

The media
While CNN was appropriately saying on Thursday, August 6 that Morakot may very well turn into a "super typhoon," Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau (CWB) was -- as late as Thursday -- "warn[ing] residents in the north and northeast [Maddog note: "especially the north and northeast," as opposed to the south, which took the brunt of the storm] that the storm was packing powerful winds and torrential rain."

On one hand, ETTV (very pro-blue) actually provided some help to people who called in. But at the same time, they were licking Ma's boots by repeatedly saying how well the government was performing and how fast they came to people's help. That's some heavy-duty spin at the very least.

On Tuesday, while TVBS was operating a phone bank to collect donations for the victims of the storm, Ma -- who (as then-president-elect) along with his wife staffed the phones sought donations for the victims of last year's Sichuan Earthquake in China -- was busy shifting the blame for the storm's devastating aftermath onto the CWB and DPP leaders. (While the CWB may have gotten it wrong, Ma -- you know, the president -- was twiddling his thumbs.)

A Yahoo poll conducted on August 10 and 11 asked 12,016 people their opinions about the Ma government's handling of this disaster. Only 4% (485 respondents) were "very satisfied." Another 10.4% (1,247 respondents) were "somewhat satisfied," bringing the "satisfied" total to 14.4% (1,732 respondents). 13.3% (1,597 respondents) were in the "not very satisfied" category while another 72.3% (8,687 respondents) said they were "very unsatisfied." That gives a total of 85.6% (10,284 respondents) who were "unsatisfied."

The aloofness
In Taimali, Taitung, Ma was met by a distraught man whose father had been washed away by floods there. What he told the man may shock you, but if you've been paying attention, it would be exactly what you should expect Ma to say.

Ma told the man, "I lost my father, too, so I know exactly how you feel." ("你的心情我完全了解 … 我父親也過世了 我非常了解這個感覺") (Listen closely from 0:53 - 1:01)

That should be all you need to know about Ma's ability to lead a country. "苦民所苦" ("I feel the people's pain"), my ass!

The resolution
This catastrophe is far from over. The Houfeng Bridge over the Dajia River -- a section of which collapsed in September 2008 during Typhoon Sinlaku, killing six people -- has still not been reopened to traffic, and at least 20 bridges are out after Morakot.

In addition, mountain roads, hotels, and many many homes (some along with their residents) have disappeared. Of the things that can be fixed, how long will it take, and at what cost?

Will this wake enough Taiwanese up? Or will they keep putting people like Ma in positions with far more power than people like himself can handle?

* Taiwan Floods on Twitter

* Taiwan Floods web site: 莫拉克災情網路中心

* In English for those who want to volunteer: DPP Typhoon Morakot Disaster Operations Center

* A blog set up by the DPP before Typhoon Morakot was even gone: 【莫拉克水災】南台灣救援行動網路支援中心

* DisasterTW.com (莫拉克颱風災情支援網)

* Dr. Billy Pan recruited help from other Taiwan Netizens to create a Google map detailing the disaster areas

* Claudia Jean kicks Ma Ying-jeou's ass for his and his administration's unconscionable behavior regarding this typhoon.

* Taipei Times, August 12, 2009: "EDITORIAL: A president far from his people"

* Taipei Times, August 13, 2009: MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Rescue workers, mudslide survivors share shock, grief

* Taipei Times, August 13, 2009: MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Ma media comments anger disaster zone survivors

* New York Times, August 13, 2009: Taiwan President Is Target of Anger After Typhoon

* Mon homme F. Varga says it's "Time To Ask Questions After Morakot," and he lists some key ones that the media and public should be asking.

* The blog of Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) (DPP) has documents from the Ministry of National Defense which reveal how slowly and inefficiently President Ma used the resources at his disposal.

* As early as August 5, scientists at NASA saw "a monster in Morakot"

* YouTube video: See how Morakot also covered villages in the Philippines with water and mud.

* According to Chinese state media CCTV on August 7, an orange alert -- the second highest level alert -- was issued in China for the storm

* Some death-defying (nearly whacked by a flying sign) raw footage shot in Hualien by TyphoonHunter (James Reynolds) as the storm made landfall

* A video I posted last year after Typhoon Kalmaegi: "Don't put your lives in the hands of the KMT"

* A playlist of the Monday August 10, 2009 edition of Talking Show (大話新聞)

(Άλισον and Claudia Jean contributed to this post.)

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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