Where were you four years ago, when President Chen was being sworn in for a second term of office? It suddenly occurs to me that I was in Ohio, piling stuff in the back of my Toyota for a honeymoon trip to New Orleans. On Monday, my wife and I took a day off from work to celebrate four years of marriage. We bundled our little daughter off to the babysitter's and then headed off for lunch at the Grand Fomosa Hotel followed by the afternoon matinee, where we saw Iron Man, based on a Marvel comic book I used to read as a kid. One thing that really struck me about our time off was all the other people taking a day off too. My wife kept asking: "Doesn't anyone have to work anymore?" The restaurant we ate in was packed (although with a little help from a lunch party hosted by the Belize government - I guess big wigs in town for the inauguration) and even the theater, at 3:05 p.m., was half full.
Today, when I returned to work, I was greeted by mayhem, as Ma was being sworn in as President across the street at Taipei Arena (see above cell phone pic). Although I'm happy to see Chen go (I'll work on this in later posts), I'm also a bit worried to see this American-educated president take the helm. Mainly, I'm concerned that he's in way over his head with the Chinese. As much as Chen's "us and them" attitude and constant picking on out-groups disturbed me, I think I could even be more uncomfortable with Ma's, or least his party's, insistence that we people here in Taiwan are Han Chinese. To me, that seems naive. Taiwan is made up of people from all over the place. At least one in five babies is now born to a "foreign" parent. And that's not even getting into the Aboriginal contribution to the Taiwanese blood-line. There also seems to be a bit of disingenuity going on here. I mean what are guys like James Soong, Lien Chan, Ma, and others, with their American degrees, houses, bank accounts, passports or green cards or what have you thinking when they're chatting it up with someone like Hu, Wen or one of these other odd-balls?
BTW, some people are now questioning the double-standard in aid, why the government here is willing to give so much of our tax dollars to China for earthquake relief, NT$2 billion, versus a piddly NT$6 million for the Burmese, who are probably even in worse shape: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2008/05/16/2003412099 It's nice to see all of the Tzu Chi volunteers now out raising money for Myanmar. Just in case you're wondering, they're the ones wearing blue polo shirts and white pants, out on every corner, at every MRT exit and even at today's inauguration, shaking donation boxes and looking pleasant. I just looked up their Website: http://www.tzuchi.org/global/index.html