A few days ago, an elderly farmer in the southern county of Yunlin attempted suicide after he failed to rent a harvester to reap his rice crop, already severely damaged by days of torrential rain.
This was not an isolated case. Various rain-battered rural counties in southern Taiwan have experienced difficulty renting harvesters due to high demand, causing many farmers to resort to extreme measures in order to get help.
The situation is in sharp contrast to what President Ma Ying-jeou was shown during a trip to the southern countryside last week to inspect the rain-damaged areas.
If Ma was trying to use the trip to portray himself as a people-loving leader, he should have made proper preparations in advance, because the sole purpose of his going there was to help farmers solve their problems. He should have, for example, required the Council of Agriculture to submit a complete report on the disaster situation and farmers' needs before he ever embarked on the trip.
As to the harvester issue, there should be a mechanism to allow for the flexible deployment of the machines from the north to the south of the country in times of natural disaster.
Our national leader was flying blind when he went to the countryside without a clear objective or sense of direction. This is the core reason why Ma's popularity has continued to decline. (Editorial abstract -- June 28, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)