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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Typhoon Morakot and the Many Names of Ma Ying-jeou

With the onslaught of Typhoon Morakot, Ma Ying-jeou's leadership skills proved sorely lacking. So as the country of Taiwan struggles to recover, it is time for its citizens to give President Ma a second look. Not just a second look but a long hard second look. This is the man that promised them 6-3-3 and gave them 3-3-6. This is the man who lived on promises but never had a good track record for performance as Mayor of Taipei. This is the man who ironically is already talking like he should be re-elected in 2012. And finally, this is the man that wants the people to give him complete blind trust and not ask for details as he presses for a potentially dangerous ECFA agreement with China.

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Risks of Obama giving in to China

At the G20 meeting in London in April, Beijing persuaded Washington to engage in a serious discussion of Taiwan’s future at the next meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama. Earlier press reports said Hu might visit the US to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly next month and call on Obama at the White House. However, the latest report from Washington is that Obama will visit Beijing in November.

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The price of incompetent leadership

It is now a week since Typhoon Morakot struck Taiwan. Amid growing public anger, the government is struggling to demonstrate that it can handle this crisis and its formidable ramifications.

Even now, thousands of people remain trapped in mountain villages — running out of food and running out of time. The risk of disease is growing. Official rescue efforts, including military helicopters and special squads on the ground, are finally beginning to resemble an operation that reflects a disaster of this enormity.

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How can Ma appease the military?

President Ma Ying-jeou’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration is now bound and driven by big business and financial institutions to a degree that is probably unprecedented in the history of the party.

Given the close relationship between big business, the banking sector and the KMT, it comes as no surprise that Ma’s cross-strait policies have been tremendously beneficial to those sectors.

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A muted response to real disaster

Over the past few days, volunteers and Netizens across the nation have turned their compassion into action, serving as rescue workers and searching for typhoon victims and transporting relief aid, or donating money and disseminating rescue and missing persons information via e-mail, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook and other social networking Web sites.

Yet the broadcast and print media continue to be filled with heartrending images of frightened survivors recounting narrow escapes, tearful villages wailing for their missing or dead loved ones and horrifying scenes of villages annihilated by water, rocks and mudslides.

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A president far from his people

As hundreds of people wait for news of missing loved ones and hundreds of thousands mourn the damage to their towns, homes, shops and fields, solace is needed as urgently as relief efforts. But victims of Typhoon Morakot looking to President Ma Ying-jeou for that solace will be disappointed.

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Newsflash


A tugboat escorts French Navy frigate Vendemiaire on its arrival for a five-day goodwill visit at a port in Metro Manila, the Philippines, on March 12.
Photo: Reuters

A French warship passed through the Taiwan Strait earlier this month, US officials said, a rare voyage by a vessel of a European nation that is likely to be welcomed by Washington, but increase tensions with Beijing.