Ethnicity crucial to response to Morakot

By Paul Lin 林保華

Friday, Aug 28, 2009, Page 8

“High class Mainlander” Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英) has once again given us an earful of his preposterous opinions, this time in connection to the disaster relief effort in southern Taiwan. This man is not worth the effort and the ink, but a discussion about the effects on the disaster relief of the ethnic identification issue that he plays on is.

At a presidential press conference on Aug. 18, Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) said he was Taiwanese and then washed his hands of responsibility for the weak disaster response. This awkward statement is a reflection of his views on ethnicity. Humanitarianism is a universal value, so what does ethnicity have to do with it? Small wonder that he is insensitive to the disaster.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) is another controversial individual. The wave of criticism for the rejection of foreign aid, which was revealed while Ou was overseas, had to be weathered by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Hsia (夏立言). After returning home, however, Ou said the rejection was approved by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂), a position subordinate to the deputy minister. What did he hope to achieve by saying that? If it is correct, then why did President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) ignore it?

It is well known that Chen was picked for his post from other retired senior military officers after Ma and Liu had organized their Cabinet, with the result that the president, premier and secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC) — the three positions with the power to determine the future of Taiwan — are all Mainlanders.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was given to Ou for the same reason. Chen and Ou both know they got their jobs because of their ethnic background, not because of their abilities. In the Morakot disaster, it was these “Taiwanese bottleneck” ministries that experienced problems.

Just as Chen and Ou sold themselves to Ma, Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Aboriginal Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) has been waiting for an opportunity “to do some good.” She knows there are not many politicians that can represent Taiwan’s Aborigines.

Selling this valuable asset directly to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), she stands to gain even more, in particular at a time when the CCP wants to manifest its sovereignty over Taiwan.

This is why — even as Ma and the NSC were concerned about China’s sovereignty claims, partly because of the US’ disaster aid, partly because of the fuss over the government’s rejection of foreign aid — Chin returned to Taiwan from Japan to organize an 87-strong delegation to go to China to provide Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) with a platform for manifesting Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan. That was the reason China donated 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million) to the disaster relief effort.

The unprecedented rainfall brought by Morakot caused heavy losses in human life and property in southern Taiwan, wiping out whole families. The government is treating the disaster from a northern Taiwanese perspective, and won’t correct its weak relief effort because it is directing all its energies toward China and the CCP.

The only difference between Ma and his team on the one hand and Kuo on the other is that the latter isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Don’t forget that he is a friend of the first family, and that they’re on the same wavelength. Let’s see if they show the same disregard for the lives of Taiwan’s ethnic groups when it comes to the swine flu.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

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