Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Knowing when to put politics aside

The Ma camp committed a faux pas of sorts on Sunday by insisting on talking politics as the nation braced for a powerful typhoon

As a powerful typhoon approached Taiwan on Sunday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election in January, did what any true leader would do in such a situation: He called an impromptu press conference.

However, rather than discuss emergency preparedness before the storm, which had already killed eight people in the Philippines, Ma decided to take his main opponent in the election, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), to task on a question that clearly was on everybody’s mind on such a day — the so-called “1992 consensus.”

With the mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, which left more than 700 people dead or missing in the south, still fresh in everyone’s mind, the matter of an alleged consensus that may or may not have been fabricated post-facto is evidently what any responsible president should be focusing on. Thankfully, it now appears that Typhoon Nanmadol will not cause such devastation, but the fact remains that on Sunday, there was no way of knowing.

Had entire villages been devastated by mudslides in the coming days, somehow the victims would have felt better knowing that Ma is a true believer in the consensus and that this was what he was focused on as the storm was closing in.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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