Sunday, November 18, 2007

To the Powers that Be

To the Powers that Be
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
November 15, 2007

The media has a duty to oversee the government. Unfortunately in the eyes of the government, members of the media who fulfill their duty are agents bought and paid for by the political opposition. According to this logic, are members of the media who willingly act as government mouthpieces, who persecute dissenters, not bought and paid for by the government? Do members of the media bought and paid for by the government have any credibility whatsoever?

Since the China Times began publishing its special column, entitled "Taiwan's Hope 2008," the ruling regime has continually attempted to vilify this paper. It has evaded questions this paper has raised and attempted to change the subject. Review our column and ask yourself: Did any topics fail to accord with the facts? Did any statistics not originate from the government's own agencies? Frank Hsieh is the Democratic Progressive Party's own presidential candidate. To quote Frank Hsieh, no matter how good a job the government does, it is never going to score 100. Even if it scores 80, that still means that it has fallen short by 20. That means it will have to do better. This is how public servants whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers should be thinking. Your salary, your wealth, is the sweat and blood of the people. The government does not exist to serve either political parties or individual politicians. The government exists to serve the peoples' needs.

In our column, we raised the issue of government waste. This is not merely the current administration's problem. It was the previous administration's problem. It is a problem for anyone in current or past administrations. Shouldn't it be a problem for which those struggling mightily to ascend to the imperial throne and wield political power, ought to be seeking solutions?

Sad to say, the Democratic Progressive Party government, which has been in power for over seven years, has nothing to say in its own defense. All it can do is attempt to discredit its critics using political labels. Concerned only about its election prospects, it denies responsibility altogether. Forget the unusable and unoccupied public buildings constructed at enormous public expense. A single, year long national conference of civil servants cost 1.8 billion dollars. Is this normal? Even the Control Yuan Ministry of Audit has urged that such excesses be corrected. Can the Executive Yuan really look us straight in the eye and claim that government officials are right to spend so much money on junkets at luxury vacation spots?

The gap between rich and poor has widened. Taiwan has become an "M-Shaped Society." "The rich get rich and the poor get poorer" sums up our next generation. We see children growing up in two different worlds, starting out from very different stations in society. The wealthy lavish enormous resources on their children, allowing them to develop their innate talents and acquire valuable skills. The poor can't even afford 3000 dollars a month to enroll their children in tutoring classes. Their children bring their school lunches home, to be served as the entire family's dinner.

How can anyone learning of such hardships in our society, not feel a twinge of pain in his heart? Yet our government spokesman have the temerity to say "The China Times is unqualified to report that life is hard." Apparently they weren't aware that the Ministry of Interior is already preparing to revise the poverty line downward, enabling more people to obtain relief, to prevent them from committing suicide. Apparently they weren't aware that the Child Welfare League has confirmed that 3.5% of all children cannot afford to buy school lunches. Of this 3.5%, approximately 30,000 are elementary school children in the fourth to sixth grades. If we include elementary school children in the first through third grades, as well as junior high and high school students, the numbers are staggering.

Those in office refer to 3000cc vehicles on Taiwan as small cars. They tell us "Since produce is expensive, why are you buying them at traditional farmer's markets?" They ask us "If you can't afford to live, what are you doing at a hi fi exhibit?" They obviously have no conception of how hard life is for the poor. They lack first hand experience. Seeing living examples of such suffering, most peoples' response would be, "How can I help them?" Not our government. Its reaction is to point an accusing finger at the media, insisting that the media is unqualified to report that life is hard under its misrule. High ranking political appointees lives are indeed good. Ordinary citizens must work hard and pay taxes. Their taxes become these political appointees' salaries, special allowances, and per diem. We must ask in response: What right do political appointees who live off the people's tax money, have to pass judgment on ordinary people struggling to get by, let alone forbid them to speak the truth?

The ruling DPP regime has accused the Jungli Investment Co and the Kuomintang of making a "Three Chinas" deal, involving the Broadcasting Corporation of China, the Central Motion Picture Corporation, and the China Television Company. It says the China Times has sacrificed its journalistic ethics, therefore it is unqualified to comment on the government's record. Excuse me, but the withdrawal of the government and the military from the media is government policy. The Jungli Investment Company's transactions were carried out under government oversight, in accordance with government regulation. What do they have to do with the China Times' journalistic ethics? The only reason the ruling DPP regime is using the "Three Chinas" deal to smear the China Times, is that it hasn't knuckled under to the ruling regime, but instead embarrassed it by reporting the truth. The real issue is the upcoming elections. The Democratic Progressive Party has decided that its election strategy will be to demand that the KMT account for its party assets. That is why the DPP is treating privately owned and operated businesses as expendable "collateral damage" in its election campaign.

We must solemnly advise the powers that be: The China Times, in contrast with certain other media organizations, will never allow itself to become a government mouthpiece, let alone a government attack dog. The China Times will forever stand with the people and speak for the people. This is the China Times' raison d'etre. As for trading insults in public, we refuse to play that game. Such individuals, who have forfeited their humanity, are unqualified to discuss journalistic ethics.

中國時報  2007.11.15










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