Top news stories can show top priorities to next leader

The China Post news staff

It is the first Monday of January again and, as usual, The China Post on this day, a Monday after a refreshing weekend of New Year celebrations, looks forward to a fulfilling, wonderful year ahead. The world has fulfilling, wonderful years and has disappointing ones, too. But this year, there is reason to be especially optimistic, as it is the 13th year in the 21st century, or the first year in a new 12-year cycle. Since time immemorial, the Chinese have long believed in a return of good fortune as a new, 12-year cycle begins.

So much for the return-of-good-fortune theory. But the people in Taiwan do entertain high hopes this year, because 2012 is an election year, one in which they either give an incumbent president a new mandate or elect a new president. When they go to the polls in less than two weeks, they will be exercising their democratic right to choose a leader to lead them for four long years. They hope, whether the Republic of China president for the next four years is a re-elected President Ma, a newly elected President Tsai, or a President Soong, their most pressing concerns will be addressed and their nation will be in good hands when the ballots are counted and the results announced. But what are their most pressing concerns? Don’t worry, for starters — they do have a shopping list. The lists of top news stories put together year after year by news organizations are, among others, a gauge of the people’s “love-hate” relationship with the world. They tell us, and even the president, what the people would love and hate to see happen and what they would love and hate to see gone. The president of the Republic of China should look no further when he or she embarks on a new, four-year term. In domestic news, the number one news story last year was the so-called “plasticizer crisis,” in which irresponsible businessmen cut corners to cut costs at the expense of the citizenry’s health. Thus, we can safely assume that health issues are the people’s number-one concern. And there is plenty of evidence to support it. The HIV-tainted organ transplant scandal and the “second-generation” health insurance plan which gained approval with a decrease in premium payments — both health-related issues — also made the list of top-10 news stories of last year. So the president beware: Health issues are of paramount importance.

Aside from the health-related news stories, the other top stories were passage of amendments to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act; Taiwanese female golfer Tseng Yani winning the first Taiwan-hosted Ladies Professional Golf Association championship title; the introduction of a luxury tax to rein in speculation on real estate; Taiwan winning the first IBAF 12U Baseball World Championship in Taipei; Taiwan female Taekwondo champion Yang Shu-chun’s withdrawal of her protest against a controversial judgment that had disqualified her at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China; the total number of countries granting Taiwan visitors visa-exempt treatment reaching 100; and the establishment of the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) under the Ministry of Justice in July.

In the same vein, we also can assume that the people’s other pressing concerns are personal safety, their performance and image in the international sports arena, affordable housing in which to enjoy their good health and watch their sports representatives shine at home and abroad, other countries and peoples’ goodwill toward them, and a government that is fair and square. This is far from exhaustive. But it is a reasonable starting point for the next government, whether it is re-elected or newly elected.