Taiwan Headlines – July 2, Covid and the KMT transcript

Welcome back to the show.
Recently the pandemic has sucked most of the oxygen out of the news cycle, so there has been very little worth discussing.
Unless, of course, you are interested in former lawmaker Yen Kuan-hung losing 10 kg, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai not having enough time to dye his greying hair and a seemingly endless series of local Taipei battles involving Mayor Ko Wen-je.
We have, however, been recording some Taiwan Context shows for you, which hopefully will be released soon.
But finally, we do have some local news to discuss!

On the pandemic front, this week marked the first week in awhile where the numbers continued to drop after Monday.
In previous weeks, Mondays usually showed a significant drop in the number of cases due to lower testing over the weekend.
This week, however, Monday’s case count was 60, and every day since has been lower.
The Central Epidemic Command Center is even considering lifting level 3 restrictions after July 12, though nothing is certain yet.

Both the KMT and CCP mouthpieces have been on the attack over Taiwan’s death rate, which at over 4% has been double the world average.
They suggest that this means that there are probably twice as many cases out there than are being reported.
There may indeed be cases out there that aren’t being counted, the CECC has ruled out mass testing, preferring to stick to people with symptoms, people who have come in contact with known cases and those in especially hard-hit areas.
That, however, probably only accounts for a relatively small number.
There are other possibilities to consider.
Taiwan is an aged society, far more so than the world average–so the percentage of the population that is elderly and with chronic conditions is significantly higher.
There have also been outbreaks in nursing homes.
Another possibility is lack of experience.
In most other countries around the world, doctors have been handling mass numbers of cases and have grown more sophisticated in their treatment of the coronavirus.
Taiwan’s doctors had a lot of catching up to do.

Speaking of KMT criticism, several prominent KMT members have been attacking the vaccines Taiwan has procured, but jumping the queue to get them for themselves.
Among many such examples, former KMT legislator and Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) urged people to receive Chinese vaccines and publicly said that he would take the lead in doing so.
Turns out he had already received his AstraZeneca jab, reportedly by using his connections to get on a priority list.
Other examples include a lawmaker who had said that Japan donated AstraZeneca vaccines to Taiwan because Japanese did not want them and called Taiwan a “vaccine beggar”, and another former candidate for Taipei mayor Sean Lien (連勝文) who said online that the AstraZeneca vaccine had adverse effects–but his father, former Vice President Lien Chan had also jumped the queue to get that very same vaccine.
The DPP issued this accusation: “KMT officials spread fabricated news against the AstraZeneca vaccine. They pushed these lies to make people hesitant to receive the jabs, thereby giving themselves the chance to jump the line to be vaccinated through their connections and privilege.” This doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
In almost all cases, the attacking comments made by these KMT figures were after they had already jumped the line and received their vaccines, so the timeline doesn’t add up.

Miaoli has finally lifted their requirement that all foreign workers not be allowed out of their dorms and residences.
This taking away of basic human rights was widely criticized–including in the international media–as being discriminatory and racist towards Southeast Asians, which of course it was.
Most of these workers are in cramped, overcrowded dorms provided by their employers–or worse outsourced to labor brokers–and make their living conditions perfect for spreading disease.
That was of concern prior to the pandemic, but it wasn’t significantly addressed.
Other than the CECC saying Miaoli should follow their guidelines, the central government didn’t interfere, at least not publicly.
Now that the restrictions have been lifted, however, it appears that like in other areas around the country, the companies that employ them are imposing their own restrictions of varying severity.
For example, one factory in Miaoli is only allowing their employees out for 45 minutes a week.

Image courtesy of Ting Shou-chung’s Facebook page

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