» 08/19/2009, 00.00
Typhoon Morakot hits Ma Ying-jeou’s government
The vice-foreign minister resigns; the Premier, the Minister of Defence and the Secretary of Parliament also expected to resign. The popularity of the president is down to a minimum. The army will be directed to form a civil protection force to deal with natural disasters.
Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Typhoon Morakot that struck the island of Taiwan last week is leaving many disasters in its wake, even political ones. On 7 and 8 August last, the typhoon made landfall with unprecedented violence, dropping up to 3 meters of rain, leaving 500 dead and more than 100 billion Taiwan dollars (2.14 billion Euros) in damages to agriculture , trade and construction.
Criticism of the superficiality with which the government has dealt with the emergency, delays in aid, and finally the refusal of aid from foreign countries (including China) are testing the stability of the government of Taiwan. Yesterday Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia Li-yan, who refused foreign aid, resigned. According to rumours, the Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, Hsueh Hsiang-chuan, Secretary General of parliament, Chen Chao-min Minister of Defense, Chen Shen-hsien, director-general of the Agency for water resources are also threatening to resign.
A survey published today by the national newspaper United Daily News, reveals that the president Ma Ying-jeou has also been hit: his approval rating has fallen to 29%, 46% said that the government is unreliable in dealing with emergencies and Reconstruction.
Pressed by the fear of a party collapse in upcoming elections scheduled for the end of the year, today Ma went to visit the village of Hsiaolin, among the most affected by the flooding. Yesterday he held a press conference in which he defended the actions of his government highlighting that the strength of the typhoon was completely unexpected, that delays in aid were caused by the impossibility of transport and of rescue helicopters being able to take off. In an attempt to restore the image of the military, Ma has also said that he will create an agency to deal with disasters (a kind of Civil Protection) by re-organising military troops.
In a sign of mourning and sobriety celebrations for the "double 10", the national holiday of October 10, have been cancelled. Ma also promised an investigation into the eventual responsibility of the leadership in addressing the emergency, but stated that it will start only in September.
Taipei, Morakot death toll “over 500”
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou admits for first time to number of deaths. Government agency speaks of "more than 390 people buried alive" in the village of Hsiaolin in the south of the island, the hardest hit by the typhoon. Political controversy mounts overt delays and inefficiency in relief.
Billions allocated for reconstruction in wake of typhoon Morakot
An initial allocation of over 2 billion Euros set aside today. President Ma visits the population most affected by the earthquake. Meanwhile the political crisis worsens with the resignation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, but the premier does not accept any resignation.
PIME missionaries among the victims of Typhoon Morakot
Fr. Paul Spanghero recounts the miseries and tragedies wreaked by Typhoon - the most violent in the past 50 years - that caused the deaths of 292 people and left 395 missing two weeks ago in Taiwan. The national economy is sorely tried and displaced people struggle to survive. The priest also reveals signs of hope.
Card. Shan receives Taiwan peace prize
The cardinal has contributed to peace and ethnic harmony especially visiting the victims of Typhoon Morakot. Also awarded an NGO of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, for the care of teenagers forced into prostitution. Awards will be presented by Ma Ying-jeou on 1 November.
Devastated Manila heals the wounds of typhoon Nesat. Forecasts of another hurricane
The death toll rises to 18 victims, 35 missing. One million people in the island of Luzon are still without electricity. For first time waves break sea barriers, flooding vast inland areas.
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