Saturday, June 17, 2006

Paralyze the Government, Attack Chen

No better illustration of the Blue strategy of paralyzing the government and putting the blame on Chen can be found then the recent spat in the legislature over the flood-control bills. Taking the article out of order, first we find that the two camps originally set aside the day to discuss much-needed flood control:

The disagreement occupied the legislature for most of the day, even though cross-party negotiations on Thursday had specified that the two flood bills would receive due attention.

Not only did the recent rains pound the island, inducing landslides and flooding, but the big typhoons that roll out of the Pacific each summer are likely to cause problems again this summer. The nation needs movement on this legislation. What, instead, did the Blue camp push for?

Pan-blue legislators, who initiated the recall motion, came up with a version of the recall procedure, in which they demanded that the president or his representatives should attend the review meeting to give his response to the recall.

But pan-green legislators opposed the proposed procedure, arguing that there was no legal basis for either the president or his representatives to be required to attend the meeting.

The pan-Blues, instead of working for the flood control measure the island needs, are demanding that the President attend the session on the recall motion. They want Chen there so they can abuse and humiliate him -- and further, since he won't show, so they can blame him for not showing and bollixing up the works. However, the recall rules do not require him to visit the legislature, and the Blues do not need him to in order to process the recall motion. Of course, it goes without saying that the motion will fail, so why is any time being wasted at all? The Blue camp is simply working on another way of paralyzing the government and blaming Chen, again.

What's at stake? Lots of funds for local governments:

The flood-control budget bills include NT$30.9 billion (US$0.95 billion) earmarked for an eight-year "Flood-prone Area Management Plan," which is expected to reduce flooding risks in around half of the flood-prone areas around the nation. This directly affects 2.5 million people.

Another NT$14 billion has been earmarked to improve the Shihmen Reservoir, which has been plagued by turbidity problems that periodically leave millions of residents in Taoyuan County without water.

Yesterday, a group of farmers from Yunlin County carrying rotten vegetables destroyed by last week's flooding in southern Taiwan gathered in front of the legislature urging lawmakers to pass the budget bill.

Taiwan runs on concrete, and here is a bill that promises a lot of new concrete use. Meanwhile, the environmentalists correctly noted:

Meanwhile, a group of environmentalists led by the Green Party also gathered in the legislature, voicing their opposition to the flood-control bills.

"The budget bill will not resolve the flooding problem completely as most of the budget will be used for constructing dams, protecting embankments and upgrading pumping stations, which will do more damage to the environment," the group's statement said.

Taiwan's concrete-heavy water management systems often make things worse. For example, although it is not clear from merely seeing a stream, in many cases the natural appearance of a given stream is an illusion. Many of the streams in my local area have had the bottoms and sides lined with concrete and then re-covered with dirt. The result is that the stream appears healthy but it is in fact dead. Water flows through such streams at high velocity, because there is less friction from healthy banks sucking water out of the stream, and when the water reaches an area that has not yet been processed, it does even greater damage. In the long-term, Taiwan's water management systems need to return to a more natural system of management. In the short-term, we need this bill passed so that vulnerable areas can at least get some protection.

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