Sunday, January 26, 2014

A rude awakening for Taiwan’s Presidential Office

While walls can be erected to ensure better protection, they will do nothing to resolve the widening chasm between those in power and the growing number of ordinary Taiwanese who have lost faith in the ability of their government to rule their country 

Chang Ter-cheng (張德正), a 41-year-old truck driver and former Air Force officer, had serious grievances against the government. As he explained in a letter he sent to various Taiwanese media prior to his act, he did not expect to come out alive in the early hours of Jan. 25 after he crashed his 35-tonne truck into the Presidential Office in Taipei.

In the end, a bulletproof gate pulled down in extremis by security staff stopped the speeding vehicle in its tracks, but not after it had rammed through a series of light protective barriers and careened up the steps leading to the main building. Chang suffered serious injuries, including a collapsed lung, but didn’t die and remains in intensive care.

Still signs of damage two days later
As more details emerge, we can slowly piece together the factors that pushed Chang over the edge. Some media, as well as police authorities, have sought to downplay the political aspects of the attack — Chang had recently lost a legal case following a troubled marriage — but his aforementioned letter and blog entries tell a much more complex story.

My article, published today on the China Policy Institute blog at the University of Nottingham, continues here. (Photos by the author)

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