08/19/2009, 00.00
TAIWAN
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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.

 
 
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