Tuesday, August 11, 2009
“Being punctual doesn’t just mean being on time. Being punctual means you care.”
Today, our Chinese teachers was talking about the typhoon and some of the disaster left in its wake. She spoke explicitly about the government’s incompetence in terms of dealing with large scale situations like this, and basically, at the end of her rant, we all thought she should be president. Obviously she modestly laughed off our rally cries for her to enter into politics.
“Hell no, I ain’t throwing myself into that chicken fight.”
While she was venting her frustration, Anna and I recorded her. She later threatened (jokingly) to sue me if I ever decided to forward the recording to the media. I believe Taiwan, like many other countries, has a policy against faculty members discussing politics in class.
Here’s a taste of the 30 minute rant we had front row seats for (translation below):
『所以意思就是說，都沒有理他們報案的那個案件。然後他就覺得奇怪，怎麼會這個樣子？ 後來（馬英九）到了，那個兒子就很激動得跑去跟馬英九說：「我投票投你耶！ 我們全家人都選你耶！ 你怎麼這麼久才來？！」
他應該要知道那個災民不是那個意思。那你今天去，你這個下鄉的，你要表現你的親和力。你應該就怎樣？ 就抱住那個人啊！ 對不對？ 因為他感覺就是可以做他兒子那個年紀嘛，就抱著他就說：
『Claire for president! （歡呼)』
『不是啦，我的意思是說，我覺得今天馬英九可以做什麼，我覺得他其實，說真的，他如果可以趕快表現出他的獲利，就是我覺得，你去每一個地方看，我自己覺得很浪費時間。你不需要到那裡去看，你也會知道到底那些地方現在的狀況是怎麼樣。新聞媒體這麼多，每24小時一直不停的在播這些畫面，然後你也可以直接用電話遙控嘛，或是怎麼樣，請當地回報災情。那你就趕快把那個數字統計出來啊，然後呢，哪個地方嚴重，趕快先撥金費、撥人力去救災嘛。你自己去那裏走…你知道，我通常都覺得總統不知道在想什麼，這些高官。你到那個地方去，那個地方還要撥出人力來安排你的行程，還要撥出人力來帶妳去看，還要撥出人力來保護你的安全。我實在是覺得這種事情，你可以等你做完了很多大的計劃，你開始把命令傳下去了，然後每個地方開始動起來了，你在下去看到底有沒有落實，按照你的這些計畫去做。我覺得你那個時候再去看，OK. 那你現在去看，我…唉…我不知，我自己覺得很浪費時間，又沒有意義。然後你又沒有顧到那種 ‘我跟你們在一起’ 的那種感覺。也沒有啊。然後不是每一個都被罵嗎? 行政院長也被罵說，他到災區去巡視，本來說要跟那些災民住在一起，結果他自己又去住另外一個地方。唉，那你不覺得這根本就是…唉…一點幫助都沒有。哼，好啦，我當總統（歡呼)。』
『我覺得當市長跟當總統不一樣。市長就管那個小地方，那你當然要去。就像里長一樣，你的里發生什麼事，里長當然要自己趕快去看啊，去解決。那事長也是。可是總統，我覺得有先後緩急啦。他當然也一定要去看，但是我並不覺得那是現在要做的事情。真的。我覺得現在就很像無頭馬車，就是到底現在我們的國家，就是現在這個政府，對於這個災件有沒有任何的計畫、應變措施? 我不知道，因為沒有人提出來該怎麼做，然後我看到的是什麼? 政府在罵氣象局。責怪氣象局的預報不準，就是說氣象局所抱的本來沒有這個嚴重，結果實際上很嚴重，下了很多的雨。這個是你現在該講的事情嗎? 而且氣象，說真的，誰也都知道，要怎麼預測啊? 是一件很難的事情，當然，而且氣象局也說啦，他們那個時候也公布他們所謂的 ‘土石流’ 滅村的這些地方，也都認為這些地方雨量真的會很驚人，所以叫他們遷村。就是要他們離開那個地方，太危險了。可是問題就是，氣象局說:
「我們馬上要遷村，」如果我不同意能怎麼辦? 如果我們全村都說「我們不要」呢？ 「我們都要待在這裡。」
那像這樣到時候該怎麼辦？ 我覺得政府對於這種事情的一直發生從頭到尾沒有任何法律規定說這種情況該怎麼做。就是一直每次不斷發生、發生、發生，就這樣。然後每次發生了之後就在吵，吵完之後呢？ 又沒有了，因為反正水災過了，然後大家不是災區的人就繼續過我們的生活。對，好，寫信給馬英九好了。（鼓掌） 我想他也不會聽。』
Someone said something about the president that made her go again, while Anna said to me, 『她真的很不喜歡馬英九耶。』
Claire continued: 『對啊，你知道台灣有一句話: 「換了一個位子就換了一個腦袋。」
Anna adds, 『他有投馬英九嗎？』 Ha ha ha ha!
“(Referring to the government’s slow response to pleas of help from villagers) So what I’m trying to say is nobody paid any attention to the emergency calls. Then he thought how this could be possible. Afterward he [President Ma] arrives. The son runs up to President Ma and says, ‘But I voted for you! My whole family voted for you! Why did you come so late?!’
“I think we all understand what he was feeling. Of course his [President Ma] arrival has nothing to do with whether or not his [the boy] father gets rescued, but his being somewhat emotionally compromised I can understand. And do you know what Ma said? He said: ‘Well, I came didn’t I?’ His response, it just makes people think…”
“Inexplicable,” K interjects.
“Don’t you think that to the victims it sounds like he’s saying, ‘Stop shouting, stop yelling, here I am’? He should have understood what the victim of this natural disaster meant. And so here you are today, you’ve gone to inspect the damage in the village, you need to show your affinity. So what should you do? Just hug him! Right? The boy could easily be his son, so just hug him and say, ‘OK, I know. We will do everything in our power. We will help.’
Instead he just says, ‘Well, I came didn’t I?’
What is that even supposed to mean?”
“Claire (Ms. Lee) for president! [Loud cheers]”
“No, no, I’m just trying to say that what I think President Ma can do is, honestly, show that he understands priorities. I think if he goes to every single place, then it’s a waste of time. He doesn’t have to go everywhere. What he should do is check the situation of each affected area, then decide. There’s so much information on the news, playing the happenings 24-hours a day. And what’s more, you can call people remotely, or have the local authorities report back to you. And then you just take these statistics and form a report about which area is more severely affected. You provide financial aid, and you send emergency services right over. Today you’re going to inspect the place yourself…you know, sometimes I don’t know what the president is thinking, these bureaucrats. Visiting this area means that you’ll need additional manpower to organise your schedule, then you have to have someone show you around, then you need more people for security. I honestly think with situations like these, you really have to finish the big strategic planning first. You send your orders down the line, and after all the areas have initiated their rescue plans, you can go check if the plans have been enforced according to the initial strategy. I think it’s fine to go check then, but going there now…I…sigh, I don’t know. I personally think it’s a big waste of time. And it’s pointless. And on top of that, you haven’t been sending out that ‘we’re in this together’ feeling. So after all this everyone gets criticised. Administrators are also being criticised. One said he was going to the affected region to live and help the victims, and then he ended up living some place else. Sigh, so it’s completely pointless for you to go there. OK, fine. I’ll be president [loud cheers]”
“But didn’t Ma go visit areas affected by naturally disasters when he was major too?” I asked.
“I think being major and being president isn’t the same. Majors take care of smaller areas, so of course you should go. Just like the heads of neighbourhoods. If something happens in your neighbourhood, of course you’re supposed to go check it out and sort out the problem. But as president, I think one should really judge according to severity. Of course he should go, but I don’t believe this is something he should be doing right this moment. Really. I think right now our country is a bit like a headless chicken. Does our government even have contingency plans and measures? I don’t know, because to date nobody has suggested anything solid. And what do I see? The government blaming the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) for inaccurate information, saying the initial predictions were not that serious, whereas the resulting typhoon was much worse. There was a lot of rain, but is this really what you should be doing now? And besides, we all know weather reports are never completely accurate. It’s a very difficult thing to do.
By the way, the CWB said that when they announced the projected ‘mudslide-affected’ regions, they already predicted that there would be a surprisingly large amount of rainfall. So they suggested that those villages relocate. That is, to leave the area because it’s too dangerous. But here’s the problem: the weather bureau says, ‘We’ve already informed the government.’ OK, so it could be the municipal governments in Kaohsiung, Tainan County, Tainan City, Chia-Yi County and City, etc. So what do the authorities do? If they say, ‘Right, you have to relocate,’ what if they meet resistance? What if today the village doesn’t want to move? What if they say they just want to stay where they are? What do we do about situations like this?
From start to finish, I’ve always felt that the government hasn’t had proper laws put in place for this. Every time these situations just keep happening, happening and happening. And after every occurrence there’s an argument. And what then? Nothing, because the flood will have passed, and then those of us living in areas outside of the affected zones will just continue living our lives. Right, I’m going to write a letter to President Ma (huge around of applause). But he won’t listen anyway.”
Someone said something about the president that made her go again, while Anna said to me, “She really doesn’t like President Ma.”
Ms. Lee continued, “Yeah, you know in Taiwan we have a saying: ‘when you change a position you change a brain’. Even those who aren’t in high-ranking positions should still be able to think of these things, with their level of intelligence. OK, that’s all.”
Anna adds, “Do you think she voted for him?” Ha ha ha ha!
Anna turned off the recording on my cellphone and that was the end of that. What a day. Proper politics in the classroom from a proper educator. JSF.