Expose City Hall, But Do Not Destroy the Flora ExpoUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 3, 2010
The DPP has turned the Taipei International Flora Exposition into a campaign issue. Their move has left members of the Hao Lung-ping city government on tenterhooks. It has also turned the Flora Expo into headline news, well in advance of its official opening. But when the smoke surrounding the flower growers cleared, many people learned for the first time that the Flora Expo was never a "one man show" for the Taipei City Government. Rather it is an international flower show important to Taiwan as a whole. Taiwan flower growers have high expectations. They hope the Flora Expo will establish Taiwan as a "Kingdom of Flower" on the international stage.
The general public's superficial impression is that the Flora Expo is merely the Hao city government's attempt at self-aggrandizement. It is evidence of budget abuses in the nation's capital. Therefore some think that nearly 10 billion NT for a Flora exhibit of flowers which will eventually wither and die, is simply a waste of money. In fact, the Flora Expo was organized in 2006 by the Ma city government and the flower growing industry on Taiwan. Together they applied to the organizers of the International Horticultural Exposition, and won the right to hold the Flora Expo. It was no mean feat. In other words, the Flora Expo is a stage for everyone on Taiwan. It is not a one man show for Hao Lung-ping. It is not a solo performance by the Taipei City Government.
More importantly, it is different from sporting events such as the Kaohsiung World Games and the Deaflympics in Taipei. The purpose of the Flora Expo is to showcase to the world the diversity, productive capacity, and creativity of Taiwan's flower growing industry. The Flora Expo will promote the manufacturing industry and tourism. It will run for six months. Its planning, implementation, and maintenance will all require the close involvement and cooperation of the local flower industry. Only then will it be able to maintain the quality of the expo and its attractions. The project is vaster, more complicated and more difficult than one can imagine. This is precisely why the Flora Expo requires close coordination between all parties involved. Even more importantly, this grand event will require goodwill and support by outsiders.
The Flora Expo will open in November. It will coincide with the five cities elections. It was inevitable that the Flora Expo would become a campaign issue. The DPP has played the Xinsheng Highway Overpass construction scandal card. Now it is playing the Flora Expo card. Naturally its strategy is to play it by ear. Inattention and carelessnes on the part of Mayor Hau's city government handed the DPP a pretext. The Hau city government has only itself to blame, no one else. We would also like to remind the DPP however, that it cannot equate opposition to the Flora Expo with "whistleblowing." If it lashes out indiscriminately at the Flora Expo in an effort to hit Hao Lung-ping where it hurts, the DPP may fall into its own trap.
One. As mentioned above, the Flora Expo is a stage on which Taiwan flower growers can market themselves to the world, and establish an international image. It represents the common interests of flower growers and the public. Hau Lung-pin is merely the individual charged with the construction of this stage. The public has no desire to see this stage for the entire nation discredited, and even destroyed. Two. The public supports whistleblowing. But it does not support the sowing of confusion and the villification of hard-working individuals. The Green Camp is attempting to equate the Xinsheng Highway Overpass scandal with the Flora Expo. The fact is, among 3000 species of flowers, only four kinds involved excessively high price quotes. The DPP went after a sparrow with anti-aircraft artillery. It seriously undermined the image of the Flora Expo. Its methods were disproportionate to its ends. Three. The flower growing industry has invested four years of hard work in the Flora Expo. The Flora Expo has purchased 20 billion NT worth of flowers from from local flower growers. The Flora Expo is also expected to attract eight million tourists. It will create 14 billion NT in indirect benefits. Four. The Flora Expo, like the Kaohsiung World Games and the Deaflympics in Taipei, are efforts to allow Taiwan to shine. Who can tolerate anyone wantonly discrediting it? It may not be difficult for the DPP to resort to political means to destroy its targets. But is it prepared to assume responsibility for the consequences?
We urge the DPP to be careful. The Flora Expo is a stage that many members of the public value and have invested their dreams for a better future. The Green Camp is beginning to engage in indiscriminate artillery fire. For example, 90% of the merchandise sold on the perirphery of the Flora Expo is made in Taiwan. Yet Green Camp elected officials listen only to handful of people who complain that the souvenirs "are all made in [Mainland] China." Such rhetoric is irresponsible. Perhaps it is the by-product of blasting Hao for becoming too full of himself. But why should the Flora Expo be the one to suffer? Flower growers complained that city officials were too finicky when selecting the flowers they wanted. But what is that, except evidence that the Hao city government was taking great pains to do its job properly?
The Flora Expo is getting closer with each passing day. It is continually creating new miracles in planting and cultivation technology. Its annual output has reached 120 billion NT. This shows how far Taiwan's green industries have come. The Taipei Flora Expo is our first step in challenging Holland's status as the "Kingdom of Flowers." In any event, the Flora Expo must not be aborted by internal bickering. The Flora Expo is a stage to be shared by everyone on Taiwan. Whether Blue or Green, everyone must share this consensus.
A Western proverb says, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." By the same token, a problem arose with the pricing for a handful of flowers. The proper response is to investigate the matter, demand accountability, and determine whether corruption was involved. The proper response is not to tar everyone with the same broad brush. The proper response is not to malign the Flora Expo as a hotbed of corruption, and utterly worthless. If a tree becomes infested with a few insects, should we get eliminate the pests, or cut down the entire tree?