Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News: Taiwan's president defends handling of typhoon

這是馬總統國際記者會後, 美聯社所寫的新聞稿, 標題就直接點出馬總統還在為自己的救援遲緩而辯解,...

網路上有一篇值得推薦的文章: 不要再把責任推給災民 (by 黃世澤)

Taiwan's president defends handling of typhoon

Associated Press Writer

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou defended his handling of Typhoon Morakot, saying Tuesday that he was still a strong leader despite the resignation of a senior official in the wake of criticism of the government response to the disaster.

The storm hit Taiwan 11 days ago, causing more than 400 deaths and property damage in excess of $2 billion. Friends and foes alike have blamed Ma for reacting too slowly in dealing with Morakot's aftermath, saying that his weak leadership - including an initial rejection of foreign aid - let down the people of the island.

But in comments Tuesday, Ma rejected those claims out of hand.

"I have exercised strong leadership throughout this process by ordering the armed forces to increase their participation in the disaster rescue operation," he said.

Ma said that he would likely accept the resignation of Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia, who offered to step down late Monday to take responsibility for his agency's rejection of aid from other governments after Morakot hit.

The Foreign Ministry initially instructed Taiwanese missions abroad to reject offers of aid but reversed the decision five days after the storm hit.

Still the criticism is mounting. An editorial in Taiwan's normally pro-Ma China Times newspaper Tuesday said Morakot highlighted fundamental flaws in the president's role as a leader.

"(Ma) has been distant and arrogant, and he has only made (victims) more angry instead of comforting them," the newspaper said. "Second, he is not fast enough in his judgment ... he has not shown decisiveness required in a leader when facing a sudden disaster."

Some lawmakers from the ruling Nationalist Party echoed the China Times claim.

"Ma's problems are that he appointed unsuitable people to senior positions, and he failed to declare the disaster a national emergency, which prevented the military to be mobilized right away," said lawmaker Chiu Yi.

Colleague Lu Hsueh-chang said Ma's Cabinet appeared totally unprepared to cope with Morakot's fury.

"The Cabinet did not show any empathy and it was too careless," he said. "It was unforgivable that the Cabinet did not make any move during the first hours after the typhoon hit."

Meanwhile, a U.S. relief team backed by heavy-lift helicopters stepped up its efforts Tuesday to help local authorities get aid to the hundreds of people thought to be stranded in mountain villages.

Relying mainly on 70 Taiwanese choppers, local rescuers have already ferried more than 35,000 villagers to safety, many stranded in and around 44 hard-hit mountain communities, cut off from the outside world after roads and bridges were washed away by Morakot's fury.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Tai Chan-te said more than 200 people were rescued Monday but could not give an estimate of how many still needed aid. Officials said late Sunday that at least 1,000 people were still stranded.

In addition to the damage it wrought on Taiwan, Morakot also caused 22 fatalities in the Philippines and eight in China.

That figure does not include the 22 seaman China's official Xinhua News Agency says disappeared when their ship sank off Taiwanese waters on Aug. 8. The seaman were employed by a shipping company in eastern China, Xinhua says.

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