It is natural for people to want to help those struck by disaster such as Friday’s deadly Taroko Express derailment. First responders and search-and-rescue teams, many of them volunteers, worked tirelessly in the aftermath of the accident, and the 76 Monks (76行者遺體美容團隊) mortuary team was at the scene repairing mangled bodies and providing other services free of charge.
For people who cannot lend a helping hand, the only thing to do is to donate money to the injured and the families of the victims. Local media have reported about people from all walks of life in Taiwan and abroad pitching in.
However, even the simple act of donating money sparked controversy after some people showed their ugly sides instead of showing support.
An Internet celebrity surnamed Wu (吳) was called out for falsely claiming that he donated NT$1.5 million (US$52,657) to disaster relief. He has since apologized, but said that he lied out of “goodwill” to encourage others to donate, which is preposterous. He should be deeply ashamed of himself.
On the other hand, some Web celebrities who announced their donations online were blasted for “showing off” their good deeds. However, since when have donations been done “silently”? Donors from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and celebrities to business owners and foundations have all publicized their efforts, and doing so is nothing out of the ordinary.
It is important to lead by example and some of these Web celebrities have millions of followers who would follow in their steps. Furthermore, with so many scammers looking to take advantage of people’s goodwill, these public figures can help disseminate correct information about where to donate.
Part of the issue is mistrust toward the government, as many of the public figures are donating to an account set up by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which on Monday said that the funds would only be used to help the victims and their families.
However, the naysayers have accused the government of misappropriating funds in the past and they tried to dissuade people from donating, while attacking those who did. People have a right to harbor doubts about officials and to hold the government to account, but it is not sensible to invoke their personal misgivings to attack people who are trying to help others, as this would only impede relief efforts.
Some have even suggested that the government should “clean up its own mess,” and not ask for donations for anything short of a natural disaster. An online post proposing that relief costs be covered by the government and insurance funds has gone viral.
Mistrusting the government is one thing, but is it appropriate to make such statements in the wake of a disaster? Of course, individuals should not be asked to pay for every accident that happens, but the derailment is the nation’s deadliest train disaster in decades.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Monday announced the establishment of an oversight committee formed by stakeholders and third parties to strictly regulate the use of the donations, and make sure they would not be used to pay for government expenditures.
This should be closely monitored, and hopefully there will be a detailed plan and a report soon so that donors will know exactly where their money went. If they do not like the plan, they should be able to get their money back, but the important thing to do now is to help those in need.
“Testy,” “divisive,” “frigid,” “an exchange of insults” were some of the media descriptions of last month’s meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts. Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass said that, rather than the “deft handling” needed in US-China relations, this encounter was “mishandled, a terrible start [with] way too much public signaling.” Yet, contrary to conventional wisdom, the acrimonious encounter with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) and Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) was a great success for US diplomacy
In studies of Taiwan’s demographic changes, the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica has found that a mere 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women think getting married is an important life event. The institute also found that the government spending money or amending laws and regulations in order to encourage families to have children is having no impact on the birthrate. Opinions differ on whether this kind of change is a matter of national security, as Japan faces a similar situation, without having a negative impact on its economic strength. Fewer women are willing to marry and the divorce
Interrupting the assimilation of Xinjiang’s Uighur population would result in an unmanageable national security threat to China. Numerous governments and civil society organizations around the world have accused China of massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and labeled Beijing’s inhumane and aggressive social re-engineering efforts in the region as “cultural genocide.” Extensive evidence shows that China’s forceful ethnic assimilation policies in Xinjiang are aimed at replacing Uighur ethnic and religious identity with a so-called scientific communist dogma and Han Chinese culture. The total assimilation of Uighurs into the larger “Chinese family” is also Beijing’s official, central purpose of its ethnic policies
Early last month, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), officially approved the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The strategy was supposed to demonstrate that China has a long-term economic vision that would enable it to thrive, despite its geopolitical contest with the US. However, before the ink on the NPC’s stamp could dry, China had already begun sabotaging the plan’s chances of success. The new plan’s centerpiece is the “dual-circulation” strategy, according to which China would aim to foster growth based on domestic demand and technological self-sufficiency. This would not only reduce China’s reliance on external demand; it would also