Saturday, April 21, 2007

DPP Legislators Run Mock Attack on NTU

Earlier this week two dim-witted DPP legislators staged a simulated hostage situation at National Taiwan University (NTU) -- without telling anyone:

Democratic Progressive Party Lawmakers Lee Chen-nan (李鎮南) and Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) Wednesday entered a building at National Taiwan University and said that three students were being held as hostages by two unidentified armed suspects, said NTU Secretary-general Fu Li-chen.

Hsiao Yi-shan (蕭依珊), the head of NTU's student association, showed her strong disapproval of the stunt, noting that the ridiculous dry run actually caused immense inconvenience to students, as examinations are being held this week at NTU, and criticized the lawmakers for being so arrogant in thinking that they could conduct such a simulated attack without any notice.

According to local media, several police cars rushed to the campus, along with a large number of policemen, who were reportedly unamused to arrive at the school to be confronted by lawmakers sand members of the press instead of armed assailants.

According to Cabinet spokeswoman Chen Mei-ling(陳美伶), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also expressed his anger over the incident, explaining not only did the lawmakers create a disturbance at the university, they also wasted the time of the police and school authorities over the hoax.

The legislators somehow got the Ministry of Education (MOE) involved:

Chen added that the officials at the Ministry of Education who accompanied the two lawmakers to the NTU should also be punished.

In reply, the MOE denied being in the know about the plan. According to an MOE official Ke Hui-chen (柯慧貞), the MOE received a message from the lawmakers saying that they wanted to see how the university takes precautions against such incidents.

Ke noted that after she came to the NTU and discovered the two lawmakers intention to conduct a dry run, she insisted that nothing could happen on campus unless the two lawmakers' plan had the approval of the university authorities as well as the school principal.

Once she received NTU Principal Lee Si-chen's (李嗣涔) approval, the two lawmakers started the dry run, Ke stressed.

Several things are interesting about this case. First, the issue of whether the two legislators committed a crime:

The Executive Yuan yesterday condemned the act and urged relevant authorities to look into whether Lin and Lee should face criminal charges.

Lee has yet to apologize for the incident.

Trong Chai, DPP acting chairman, yesterday said that he had received phone calls from NTU students demanding that the party expel Lin and Lee, but said that the party cannot act unless the students complain to school authorities or ask the NTU student association to send a formal complaint to the party.

Lin said yesterday that he had acted with Lee after hearing about the Virginia Tech massacre in the United States, which claimed the lives of 33 people.

Ye, they committed a crime. Submitting false reports to the police is a crime deserving of punishment. However, it looks as if none of the relevant institutions, the DPP, the legislature, or the police, are going to punish these men. As usual in Taiwan, the law is not enforced. When Li Ao gassed the legislature, nothing happened to him either.

The Taipei Times provided a very detailed account that shows a recurrent problem in Taiwan society -- officials arrogating unto themselves powers they do not have, simply because they are officials:

Speaking to the Taipei Times yesterday, university secretariat Fu Li-chen (傅立成) said schools nationwide had received a notice from the education ministry on Wednesday "at almost 1pm," stating that one university would be selected at random that afternoon for a "security exercise."

"We didn't know at that point what the exercise would be, or even at which university it would be staged," Fu said.

An hour later, an education ministry official phoned NTU president Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔) to inform him that an exercise would be held on his campus, to which Lee Si-chen agreed, Fu said.

The story out of the university contradicts the one given by the MOE, which puts the blame on the two legislators:

Ministry of Education spokesman Lee Po-yen (李泊言) said yesterday that the two lawmakers had orchestrated the entire scenario, and that not even his ministry had known which school the exercise would be held at, or even what the nature of the exercise would be.

The lawmakers had merely informed the ministry that they sought to stage an exercise to test the response of police to an on-campus crisis, which led to the ministry's general notice earlier on Wednesday, Lee Po-yen said.

"They [the two lawmakers] decided where to go only after they had boarded a bus from the legislature with education officials to go stage the exercise," Lee Po-yen said, adding: "They had decided on the story, with two gunmen holding 30 hostages at the agriculture school, only after arriving at NTU."

The lawmakers then phoned campus security, who, believing that the situation was real, contacted police, Lee said.

Where did the legislators acquire the authority to give orders to the MOE and NTU? Simple. They don't have it. They walked in and people obeyed them because they were high-ranking individuals. That blurring of lines of authority is a serious impediment to the development of a democratic political culture.

Lin, who represents a district in Chiayi, later apologized, as did the DPP caucus, but Lee (from a district in Taoyuan) is still refusing, citing a case that happened the other day that he says supports him. Apparently a student was smoking and a couple of students who were acting in a role similar to prefect told him to stop. Enraged, he got on his cellphone and called over a half dozen of his buddies, and then they stabbed the two students to death. How the two cases are related is a mystery. ESWN cites media reports of Lee's defiance:

When informed about the public criticisms of his 'show,' Lee Chen-nan said: "This is crazy! How can they say that? I'm such a serious legislator and they criticize me? Is campus safety unimportant? It is alright if TVBS is criticizing me. They can do that all day." When informed that it was his DPP colleagues who are criticizing him, he said: "This is a sectarian problem. The Su Tseng-chang sect wants to take this opportunity to attack Lin Kuo-ching. Meanwhile Lin Kuo-ching said that he was called to attend at the last moment and when he got there, he reminded Lee Chen-nan not to disturb the students. "Anyone who wants to make this into a sectarian problem will be rejected by the people. If they do that, they will be ousted sooner rather than later! What have I got to do with the Frank Hsieh faction? They have too much time on hand if they want to politicize and sensitize everything."

Lin Kuo-ching has been in trouble before. In March he was successfully sued for slandering Shih Ming-teh, and got in a fistfight on the platform at the National Day celebrations last October. As I've noted in the past, stunts like this are designed to keep the legislator's name in the paper, but this one looks like it backfired. Not only did it generate negative publicity at home, they made the international news as well. NTU is a sister school of Virginia Tech, where the mass murder of students occurred.


Anonymous said...

Two legislators showed up, lacking any authority, and out of the blue demanded that the MOE stage a terrorism drill?

Geez, all MOE officials had to do in this case was say one simple word: "No."

Anonymous said...

The Legislative Yuan is full of a bunch of monkeys. On the one hand, the larger districts are going to reduce the monkeys both in absolute number and in ratio. But on the other, the monkeyness of a monkey that knows he is 1 in 100 vs 1 in 200 is much, much more monkey. What'dya do?

By the way, officials that think they're above the law ain't limited to Taiwan/

Haitien said...

I commend the two legislators for their work in ensuring emergency preparedness and hereby volunteer to test their reactions to a baseball bat swung at their faces.

No need to thank me, just exercising my civic duty and freedom of speech.