With flooding caused by Typhoon Morakot wreaking severe damage in southern Taiwan, experts must now consider how such a disaster could have been repeated 50 years after the notorious flooding of Aug. 7, 1959. Over the past two years, Taiwan’s ability to handle disasters has deteriorated. Compared with their disaster response measures last year, the incompetent bureaucrats in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government have made no progress.
First, Ma criticized the Central Weather Bureau for “misleading” the government last year, and he has done so again this time.
Second, flooding caused by heavy rains damaged central and southern Taiwan in late May and early June last year. Ma, however, was busy having a health check, acting like a zhainan (stay-at-home youth) and avoiding the front line. After severe criticism, he finally inspected the disaster area in mid-June.
But to avoid losing face because people might think he was admitting to making a mistake, Ma claimed he was simply visiting old friends.
On the evening that Typhoon Morakot struck, Ma attended the wedding of Taiwanese poet Chan Che (詹澈) and his Chinese wife. Chan was a celebrity among the “red shirts” who protested against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Third, in response to last year’s flooding, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄) said total losses were “only” about NT$20 million (US$608,000). Last Saturday, the media reported that former vice premier Chiou I-jen’s (邱義仁) watermelon farm in Kaohsiung County alone suffered losses of about NT$400,000 from Typhoon Morakot. Yet on the same day, the council estimated that losses in all of Taiwan amounted to only about NT$5 million.
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