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Aug 19, 2009

Ma feeds the fire at his feet

The pro-KMT China Times has a biting news piece on Ma's painful press conference yesterday. Translated below:

President Ma Ying-jeou's press conference, designed to dampen criticism aimed at his typhoon response, was instead full of surprising language. Examples include statements that the damage done by this typhoon has "taught a lesson" to many people [victims unable or unwilling to evacuate], and that in the future they would cooperate better. Vice Premier Chiu Cheng-hsiung (邱正雄), responding to questions of how victims could find information regarding compensation, said "The Executive Yuan website already has that information [as if victims have easy internet access]." The string of gaffs managed not to sooth public anger, but rather to inflame it once again.

At yesterday's press conference, President Ma Ying-jeou affirmed local government efforts to evacuate areas prone to heavy damage, such as Hsin-shan Village in Nantou County's Shui-li Township (南投縣水里鄉新山村), where Village Chief Lin Mei-ling (林美玲) successfully evacuated 50 villagers. "I asked her, 'How is it that you are so amazing and foresaw the mudslides?' She said she followed her training from the Water Conservation Bureau." Ma approved of the effectiveness of WCB training, which explain to everyone the extreme dangers of mudslides, and noted that Chief Lin had saved the lives of her villagers by following her training [AG: As last night's Talking Show covered, many destroyed villages were following disaster evacuation plans but it made no difference as emergency convergence areas were destroyed as well].

Afterward, Ma emphasized that he hopes to quickly establish an effective [evacuation] system; "This typhoon has taught many people a lesson, and they will cooperate more fully in the future. Human effort is the decisive factor, and effort can be made."

Responding to questions that the military had not activated enough units, Defense Minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) cautiously started by saying such things as "I am Taiwanese, and Taiwan is my home." [A-Gu: This is a given for most of the public, who are probably just bewildered by and suspicious of this kind of introduction, because it seems to show Chen fears he'll be called a non-Taiwanese in a time where such accusations are not really flying around.]

When asked by the media about how citizens could get details on how to ask for compensation from the disaster, Vice Premier Chiu arrangements for shelter allowed each person to get NT$5,000 of compensation, which would be provided by the red cross over a period of three days. Those households who had suffered damage from flooding by water over 50cm high would receive NT$20,000 in compensation, which would be distributed by local governments. Should their funds be inadequate, the central government would foot the bill. "This plan was decided Monday by the Executive Yuan and announced on the website."

Vice Premier Chiu further explained that compensation for rent for those forced to move would be 30,000-50,000 per household and could be obtained immediately. "Those with any questions can contact the relevant government departments; relevant phone numbers are on the Executive Yuan website." As soon as Chiu made these remarks, media were dumbstruck, and had no choice but to ask him in response, "How are flood victims who have been stripped of all their possessions and have a flooded house going to get online to find these phone numbers?"

For the record, the last two days of Talking Show have been excellent, fact-filled shows about the government's response and its inability to present a plausible reason for its paralysis. Start watching them here (Monday) and here (Tuesday).


skiingkow said...

This just in...

PandaMa has now wet himself inside of the wet paper bag. The bag may now be so wet that it will just fall apart without any management from PandaMa.

Whether we want him free from that wet paper bag is now a puzzling question for analysts.

Carlos said...

This is surreal. Half of a president’s job is to act as a psychologist to the country and tell them what they want to hear… it’s not that hard, and I thought Ma was pretty good at BSing. Yet from the start of this typhoon saga the central government has been on a totally different wavelength than the public.

It’s just PR. All you have to do is pretend you feel the same way!