Can Law-Abiding Citizens Tolerate Such a System?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 19, 2016
Executive Summary: Last month President Tsai Ing-wen met with representatives of the Chinese National Federation of Industries. She said, "My job is not to please people one after the other". Recent events show what she really meant was that the Tsai government will treat ordinary, law-abiding citizens with bureaucratic contempt. Only those able to raise a huge stink, will gain the president's ear. That being the case, expect taxi drivers to follow suit. After all, isn't Uber the result of the government's “regime change”?
Full Text Below:
Toll collectors for the national highway system have been protesting for the past two years. The new government has announced a "special subsidy" in hopes of bringing the protests to an end. The Lin Chuan Cabinet appears to be “adept at martial arts”. But the reality is far simpler than that. Government officials are forcing private companies to throw public money at the problem, hoping it will go away. No particular aptitude is involved. What is particulary objectionable is the government's indifference to the negative impression this is leaving on law-abiding citizens.
The moment Lin Chuan took office, he dropped all charges against the Sunflower Student Movement. Ho Nuan-hsuan caved in to all of the China Airlines flight attendants' demands. As a result, the major concessions Lin Wan-yi and Kuo Fang-yu made to toll collectors came as no surprise. People were initially willing to believe that the government sincerely sought to embody "progressive values". But when it enacted the same script again and again, progressive values became indistinguishable from throwing money at problems and vote buying via public policy. Meanwhile, the government continued to persecute Taiwan fishermen who sailed to Taiping Island to reassert our national sovereignty. The government's alleged “compassion for ordinary folk” and “respect for the working man” have been exposed for what they are -- hypocritical lies.
The general public is mostly sympathetic to the plight of toll collectors for the national highway system. They believe the government should attempt to resolve the problem. Since the toll collectors' chief concern is unemployment, the government should help them find jobs, and not merely provide subsidies. The toll collectors are still of working age. Yet the government claims they are unable to work, and reduced them to the status of recipients of unemployment. This reveals the Ministry of Labour's incompetence.
If we look closer, electronic highway toll collection has led to job losses. For two years, the government has been doling out either subsidies or severance pay. It has also provided job training. Out of 947 toll collectors, 795 have already changed their line of work. The government has provided the 795 toll collectors with 200 million NT in subsidies or severance pay. That is even more incomprehensible. When just over 100 toll collectors protested recently, the government agreed to provide 590 million NT in special subsidies, and promised to provide them to everyone. Such irresponsible scattering of public funds, merely digs the government into a deeper and deeper hole. How can this possibly be considered a reasonable solution?
Providing protesters with generous subsidies is like giving candy to children who throw the loudest tantrum. It penalizes law-abiding citizens who behave reasonably. What fate awaits a nation that penalizes the law-abiding, while rewarding the trouble-makers? What fate awaits the rule of law and public morality?
Consider the Lin Chuan cabinet's logic. The Ma era Ministry of Transportation could not resolve the problem. The new government bypassed the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. It put Lin Wan-yi, a political appointee who heads up health and welfare, and Minister of Labour Kuo Fang-yu, in charge of negotiations. It clearly wanted health and welfare to throw money at the problem until it want away. Lin Wan-yi argued that toll collectors were out of work because of "regime change". Therefore the state must provide them with subsidies. But lest we forget, Lin Wan-yi is charged with pension reform. He used government authority to change the pension system. Based on his logic, military personnel, civil servants, and public school teachers can also cite “regime change” in response to their pension cuts. They too can stage mass protests, and demand that the government compensate them for the loss of their pensions. If so, Taiwan will never know peace.
The government's handling of the toll collectors' protest appears successful. But its flawed logic penalizes law-abiding workers. Negative consequences are inevitable. The government is attempting to showcase its compassion for grass-roots workers. But what people are seeing is officials mercilessly persecuting fishermen who are attempting to reaffirm our nation's sovereignty over Taiping Island. From the fishermens' departure to return, these officials have shown the public the ugly face of bureaucratic indifference. The government claims that out of work toll collectors are suffering. Therefore the government must treat them with compassion, and provide them with special subsidies. But the government refuses to give patriotic fishermen similar subsidies. So be it. But why is the government intimidating down? Why is it hunting them down? Why is it mercilessly punishing them? The contrast reveals the government's hypocrisy, and rips the mask off the government's purported "love for the people".
Last month President Tsai Ing-wen met with representatives of the Chinese National Federation of Industries. She said, "My job is not to please people one after the other". Recent events show what she really meant was that the Tsai government will treat ordinary, law-abiding citizens with bureaucratic contempt. Only those able to raise a huge stink, will gain the president's ear. That being the case, expect taxi drivers to follow suit. After all, isn't Uber the result of the government's “regime change”?