Air raid drills, country made to look dumb


#1

Just got back from being stuck in Taipei city center for a half-hour air raid drill. For those of you who don’t know, they run the sirens and the cops clear everyone and everything off the street. Some of the locals were none too happy at being told to stop walking around I can tell you.

Well Chen Shui Bian you have succeeded in making the country look dumb again. Why pick Computex week when Taiwan is trying to showcase it’s wares to the world? It’s not as if buyer confidence has already been hurt enough by the worry of quakes, floods and drought. Do we need to remind everyone of the countrys political troubles and the shortsightedness of the people who run it?

While on the subject, why air raid drills? Why not fire drills or earthquake drills. Flood drills might also be worthwhile if you witnessed the chaos in Neihu last summer. Frankly when the air raid comes (missile attack more likely), I think even the locals will know the best thing is to get off the street and hide in the basement.


Air raid drill May 18th 1:30pm to 2pm
#2
quote:
Originally posted by Malkie: Well Chen Shui Bian you have succeeded in making the country look dumb again.

Dare I ask what A-Bian has to do with this?


#3
quote:
Originally posted by SCL:

Dare I ask what A-Bian has to do with this?


Simple… the central government requires that each country conduct air raid drills. Chen Shui Bian is the chief executive of the government and (best I am aware at least) the person who would be responsible. I would suspect, but don’t know, that he would have significant powers in matters of national defense.

True the policy was not instigated by his government (in fact I am told that historically the air raid drills lasted several hours) but he could probably get it called off.

If this is not the case then I stand corrected.


#4

In your original post you seemed to be blaming him for the timing of the drill. IMO that would be micro-management of mind-boggling proportions.

People always complain about fire drills, etc. because they’re a hassle. That doesn’t mean they all think it’s a waste of time.

Also saying the drills remind everyone of the country’s “political troubles” and “shortsightedness” was a little over the top…

By the way, they did announce the drill on the news for the last few days, so people who live here at least should’ve known it was coming.


#5

In my opinion the drill is pointless, especially when there are no drills for more likely perils, fire for example.

Then scheduling it during the week when Taiwan is showcasing its leading industry’s products to the world is careless. Visitors were probably watching CNN last night, have no idea why they would be propelled into what looks like a war zone. I can assure you that this type of caper is not exactly great for business.

I would hardly agree this was micromanagement. Taiwan’s IT industry is one of the main reasons why the country enjoys a high standard of living, and depends on exports for its livelyhood.


#6
quote:
Originally posted by Malkie: In my opinion the drill is pointless, especially when there are no drills for more likely perils, fire for example.

Actually, there was a recent drill for anti-flooding measures (these seem to be regularly held by firefighters and the like) and sometimes there are even fire drills - mostly after one of those fires that make it into the tv news. It was very funny when I had my first local fire drill at NCHU a few years ago (I had worked at a chemical company with VERY strict rules regarding fire before):
The drill was announced a week before (would never happen in Germany, only teachers would know) and was scheduled on a Sunday morning 8.00am in summer. Because it could be that the fire destroys the electricity infrastructure, the power was shut down at eight - in bright daylight… The dorm I lived in was the fifth and most remote (from the only gate) building. There was a small door to the “stadium” quite close, but that door was usually locked - but not on that day. That door was explained as our escape way. When I asked who would come during a fire all the way from the gate (where guards and keys were) to open that small door, I was simply told “someone would come then”. Then a “jiao guan” (I love those incompetent people…) displayed a map of our building to tell us about escape ways, locations of fire extinguishers… I was told the map displayed the fourth floor - impossible, I lived there and that definitely was not the fourth floor. Then it should be the third, but I had lived there before and knew for sure…
Same with fire extinguishers: “Don’t get too close to the fire, that’s dangerous!” “But don’t stand too far, or it will not be very efficient.” “How long you can use it? Well, not very long…” “What kind of fire extinguisher to use? Well, just those you have there in your dorm.”
Anyway, it was all but prepared and meaningful. Luckily, we (at least a few students from our department) expected it to be that, got up earlier, bought something to eat and drink and walked slowly to the assigned gathering point in the stadium. That way, we had at least one meaningful thing to do during the whole drill: Have a nice breakfast…


#7

Perhaps the drill was ment to drill the authorities and not the people!?

BTW: Ever walked 31 floors down during a fire drill? - Now that’s an effort for a lazy bugger like me who relies on escalators and lifts. (Better than walking up though …)


#8

Seems I am not the only one who thought the air-raid practice was a bad idea, check out today’s Taipei Times:

quote:
[b]Air-raid drill a major PR disaster By Richard Dobson[/b] GRIM REMINDER: Yesterday's half-hour exercise couldn't have been scheduled for a more inopportune time, as thousands of electronics buyers were at Computex.

A half-hour air-raid drill yesterday designed to test the nation’s air-defense system in case of a Chinese military attack failed to avert another, foreseeable, crisis: A major PR disaster.


The rest of the article can be read online at:
Taipei Times - June 5th, 2002


#9
quote:
Originally posted by Rascal: Perhaps the drill was ment to drill the authorities and not the people!?

I think all drills are meant to drill both the public and the authorities! Usually the authorities have a lot of their own practices too, it’s their job after all.

quote[quote]BTW: Ever walked 31 floors down during a fire drill? - Now that's an effort for a lazy bugger like me who relies on escalators and lifts. [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] (Better than walking up though ...)[/quote]

Although some aspects of fire and earthquake drills can’t be simulated in full (we can hardly set the office on fire after all) the point is that you will know what the fire alarm sounds like, where you are supposed to go, and who you should report to after you get out. In a 31 floor building it might be enough to go to the 30th floor or something like that!

My only experience of a fire drill here was laughable. I worked in a 10 storey building. The fire escape was normally used for parking bikes, storing trash and smoking. Since they knew we would have to practice in the dark they removed all the trash from the escape - including all the wedding cake tin ashtrays that were always lined up on the steps and were a major hazard even with the lights on. Needless to say after the drill all the junk went back again. Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture – certainly not anyone in charge of that building.

Now my office has moved. We have been here two years and I have never been in a fire drill.


#10
quote:
By the way, they did announce the drill on the news for the last few days, so people who live here at least should've known it was coming.

Are you sure? Everyone I knew seemed surprised. If they did announce it int he Chinese media, why didn’t the soddign Taipei Times announce it?

Bri


#11

Yeah, I was caught with my pants down too. And the copy of the Taiwan News that I was using to wipe my derriere didn’t have any mention of it. Still, I was able to bluff my way (on foot) from Da-An and Xinyi Road to Jilong and Xinyi Road. Stuck to the minor intersections (where they keep the minor cops), spoke no Chinese except for the words Shi Mao (World Trade Centre), which I repeated over an over like a mantra. It didn’t work half bad, either!

There’s a story in the Taipei Times about what a public relations disaster the whole thing was.


#12

In a 31 floor building it might be enough to go to the 30th floor or something like that!

It actually was a 60 storey building and formerly we resided in the 51th floor.
Good we moved down (or rather back). However there was no excuse, everybody, except handicapped or pregnant, had to get down and out to the assembly area. Lifts were of course shut-down.
We actually had a drill when on the 51th but it was announced days before, so I made sure my coffee break would match the time …

I mean I am not against it, makes some sense IMHO but it just is an inconvenience.


#13

Apparently Maoman wasn’t the only one caught with his pants down. The Taipei Times didn’t even know about the raid until it happened, and thus didn’t report it.


#14

How in the name of all that is sane is an air raid drill designed to protect the public against a power that has repeatedly threatened it with military action a public relations disaster. The utility of such a drill would be obvious even to my 7-year-old daughter. If the fact that such a drill was held was a surprise to any of the buyers at the show they must belong to a peculiar breed of businessperson; most I have become acquainted with have their feet quite firmly grounded in the real-life situations of the real world.


#15

Daltongang, you surely read all the articles in this thread? If you did, you could notice the focus was not on “why” (though that was mentioned and is a question too) but on “how”. No-one in this thread said fire drills in general would be nonsense, but many agreed that they are nonsense the way they were carried out here several times.
Same for the air raid drill: What good it is if you are kept on the road side without the ability to move back or forth? Do you seriously expect you would behave like that in case of an air raid?


#16

Having the drills during Computex was hilarious…

I work at the WTC (we had to turn the lights off as part of the requirements), and upon looking out the window all I saw was a scattered bunch of foreigners roaming aimlessly around outside (Computex attendees) and being hurdled around from door to door by men in uniform patrolling the streets.

The foreigners were probably like, “What the F***?!” And yeah, what a horrible time to be running the drill.

But to top it off, the other thing that “they” (the powers that be) did was to TURN OFF THE WATER IN THE EXHIBITION BUILDING as a regular scheduled water rationing! Do you have any idea how disgusting that is?! Think about just how many people need to PEE at an event like that!

Holy smokes!

… If I were a foreign visitor to Computex… impressed with Taiwan, I would not be.


#17

I remember reading something about the raid in the Chinese post, but didn’t read the whole article because usually they just run the siren for 30 seconds and thats it. Apparently this time was much more serious.

I was at Computex at the time also, but didn’t notice anything different. I recall walking between Hall 1 and Hall 2 during that time, but I don’t remember seeing anything strange. Must have gotten lucky.

I’d have to agree with the general concensus that duing this during Computex was a bad idea. What a great impression some people will have…

Jeff
jeff@oriented.org


#18

Yes I did read them all Olaf, twice in fact. Indeed “why” was questioned implicitly several times. As for “how” I don’t know about you but if God forbid an air raid were to occur I would head to the nearest shelter I could find and not wander around the streets window shopping.
Regardless I don’t consider myself in any way an authority on the subject of how to conduct an air raid drill, and if the government feels it is necessary to conduct it in such a fashion I’m not going to whine about it. I too had to stop what I was doing for half an hour, big deal! Going by some of the people above, you would think they had asked you to cut your arm off.

Jeff I doubt seriously that any single businessperson attending the show is unaware of the situation between Taiwan and China and will have their impression of Taiwan changed due to a regularly scheduled air raid drill.


#19
quote:
Originally posted by daltongang: ...I doubt seriously that any single businessperson attending the show is unaware of the situation between Taiwan and China and will have their impression of Taiwan changed due to a regularly scheduled air raid drill.

I really have to disagree with this statement. Most buyers at this type of trade show will only have seen a little Western press coverage of the situation. To them this might look like a 53 year war of words and intellectual posturing (is it?). Most Westerners have a pretty weak understanding of Chinese politics.

On the other hand to see firsthand the country practicing wargames in the street I think would very much influence their view about the stability of the country.

Just in case you think the situation is easy to understand, try this test on your next foreign visitor (or yourself!):

    [*]Name one figure in Chinese 20th century history other than Mao[*]When did Taiwan split from Mainland China?[*]What events led to the split?[*]Who was running Taiwan prior to WW2?[*]Who were the following figures and what were their role in history: Ci-Xi, Pu-Yi, Sun Yat Sen, Chang Kai Shek, Mao Zedong, Dung Xiaoping, Lee Dung Hui?[*]What is the most recent political positions of Taiwan, China, and the USA regarding Taiwan's status?[*]Who is the current president of Taiwan?[*]How has he tried to influence the situation?[*]What is the present role of the Guomingtang?[*]How does the current situation affect trade and investment between Taiwan and Mainland China?[*]How do you think the situation will be resolved, when, and why? [/list]Hopefully most people who visit this board would score well, but I doubt many visitors would get very far. If you beg me I'll tell you the answers (well the less controversial ones)

#20
quote:
Originally posted by Malkie: I would hardly agree this was micromanagement.

So you expect A-bian to be involved with the scheduling of trade fairs, the scheduling of air drills, AND to make sure they don’t conflict?

If you don’t consider that micro-management, we’ll just chalk it up to differences of opinion…

quote:
Originally posted by Bu Lai En: Are you sure? Everyone I knew seemed surprised.

Well, I exaggerated a little. It was announced on the FTV evening news (no comments from the peanut gallery please) the previous night, and also in that morning’s Chna Times.

I didn’t check any of the English dailies – I usually only read them when they’re free.

This whole thread reminds me of what a little bubble we expats live in, to be honest. I could barely find any post-coverage of this in any of the Chinese language media, not even in those that would not pass up an opportunity to slam the DPP.

I’m sure any large foreign firm that invests or purchases parts in Taiwan will thoroughly research Taiwan’s political and economic risks first – there are entire battalions of analysts that do this for a living.

As for leaving a bad impression on the attendees of Computex, that’s unfortunate. But you’re always going to inconvenience somebody. When they schedule fire drills in the US, they don’t go around asking us if we have any important meetings that week either.