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United Daily News: Silent majority not made up of 'arrogant elitists'

2012/07/22 17:01:11

A meeting of Jinan Ward residents in Taipei's Daan District on Monday evening will be closely watched, as it is known that some of them were firmly against a proposal to establish a free shelter for sick children.

Three ward residents, known to have initiated a campaign to nix the plan, have apologized since they were roundly criticized as lacking sympathy and acting like the "arrogant elitists" in a Japanese animation story called "One Piece."

At issue is a plan by the Ronald McDonald Children's Charity to set up the home in Jinan Ward to provide a temporary free shelter for sick children from outside the city undergoing treatment in Taipei.

The issue is evolving toward a happy ending but we are somewhat concerned whether the outcry against those who opposed the plan may have destroyed the chances of having a rational debate on the project.

As it turned out, it was not just netizens, prominent figures and the mainstream media that expressed views in support of project, but also residents of the ward.

Jinan Ward residents have shown that most them, who had earlier remained silent on the issue, are not "arrogant elitists."

A moral from the Jinan Ward incident is that people should not rush to criticize each other, but rather should learn to listen to different views when faced with a public issue.

When ordinary citizens can achieve progress, government officials should also try to improve their way of doing things.

For instance, a few ward residents whose interest would have been affected by the proposed project attended two "briefing sessions" at which different views were to be discussed.

If there is no real communication, how can local residents forge a consensus on a major issue? How can they articulate their hopes for the future?

When Jinan Ward residents finally have a third -- and real -- chance to voice their true feelings about having a sick children's shelter in their community, it will be a time for them to prove that they are not "arrogant elitists" but rather free citizens making a rational choice of welcoming the shelter.

When this happens, the whole of Taiwan should pay tribute and say thank you to the 6,200-odd residents of Jinan Ward. (Editorial abstract -- July 22, 2012)

(By S.C. Chang)
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