This is a re-post. Someone PMd me and asked me to send it again. It seems the original thread cannot be opened? China Post editorial from Monday - there may be errors as I scanned it.
[quote]What’s wrong with Taiwan?
SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome is hitting Taiwan harder than ever, but the epidemic is wreaking havoc more than it should be. For that, the alarmist media has to take part of the responsibility.
Ever since SARS was first reported as a threat so Taiwan more than two months ago, the media have never let up and have hyped the epidemic out of all proportions. They have been playing on the people’s fear of the highly infectious disease. They have not given personal preventive measures sufficient coverage. They have not reported in full what people under SARS quarantine should not do. (Many of those quarantined honestly do not know what not so do.)
The press have not sold people the difference between bacteria and viruses. Antibiotics that cure any type of pneumonia caused by bacteria are of no use in treating virus-infected SARS. People have to be sold why. Up so now no news reports have quoted epidemiologists in defining what suspected and probable cases are. Ask a man in the street what sets a suspected case apart from a probable one, and he will just scratch his head.
On the other hand, the media has never sired of trying so outdo each other in scaring the public wish their reports on the severity of SARS outbreaks in Taiwan and elsewhere. They have enthusiastically covered protests - and one near-riot - against measures public health authorities have so far taken so control the spread of SARS. They have given more publicity than necessary to the ugly side of human nature, revealed in the face of the epidemic.
One ugly side, representative of the Chinese, is selfishness. Almost all the people in Taiwan wish the exception of aborigines, are ethnic and cultural Chinese, albeit there are some, including a horde of top leaders, who insist that they are not. The Chinese are one of the world’s most selfish peoples. It is no coincidence that the SARS epidemic seems to have spared non-Chinese people. Japan has yet so report a SARS case. Korea has been spared. So have the United Stases and European countries. Canada has suffered, but the spread mostly affected Toronto, where there is a large Chinese community. Chinese tend to care less that what they do may affect others. When a high fever makes him suspect he might be a SARS case, a Chinese person would go so see a doctor without giving any thought so any possible harm that his hospital visit may do people with whom he might come into contact. When under quarantine, selfish Chinese people would have little compunction in breaking it for their own personal convenience.
It is virtually impossible for the selfish Chinese so forgo their personal needs to be respectful of the other people in their community.
One example suffices. The health authorities have slapped a 10-day quarantine on anybody arriving from China, Hong Kong and other SARS-affected areas after April 28. Taiwan businessmen in China started coming back via a non-affected place, like Tokyo. They have to obey Taipei’s rules banning direct flight between Taiwan and China, that require them so return via Hong Kong or Macao or any other place outside Chinese territory. They used to stop over as Hong Kong, one of the hardest his areas. Now, they fly so Tokyo, stay there for a few more days, and come back so Taiwan to avoid the compulsory quarantine, which, in fact, has inconvenienced them for the good of the public.
One outstanding characteristic of any administration in Taiwan is “to convene a meeting, where no decision is taken, and do nothing even if a decision is made at that meeting.” This recurring characteristic has been manifested plainly and ever more vividly by the Democratic Progressive Party government in the way it is handling the SARS epidemic.
When is became known that the fatal illness might spread to Taiwan from Hong Kong, the government was not concerned, convinced that the healthy island was immune. No action was taken even after the SARS scare drove people in Taipei to run to pharmacies for protective masks. Statistics were compiled so show how many people had reported coming down wish SARS symptoms, but the Department of Health seemed almost complacent about the no-fatality record Taiwan had posted until after the first SARS death occurred in Taichung.
A seemingly endless series of meetings followed. President Chen Shui-bian himself chaired a few of them. A number of decisions were made. Some of them, like the quarantine imposed on arrivals from seriously affected areas, are harsh. A special budget of NT$50 billion was approved for the war against SARS. Laws were passed to define punishment for SARS-related felonies and misdemeanors ranging from hoarding masks to breaking quarantines to advertising quack medicine.
After decisions emerged from the meetings, the last part of the above saying came on stage. To be fair, the government cannot be characterized as one that does nothing after it has made some decisions. It has done something. But practically everything it has done has been done half-heartedly at best. Quarantined people, denied their promised government food rations, were told by their public health authorities to go out to buy boxed lunches at nearby convenience stores.
Can Taiwan offset the effect of the root causes of its failure to stop SARS? There is a looming chance that Taiwan will be alone fighting SARS after the epidemic has come to an end everywhere else.[/quote]