Opinion | An open letter to President Tsai Ing-wen

President Tsai Ing-wen visits the Central Epidemic Command Center on April 2, 2020. (CNA)

Dear President Tsai Ing-wen,

Thank you for taking care of us. It seems to me that you’ve presided over a non-political, cohesive and effective health care strategy that saw Taiwan effectively beat back the first wave of the Wuhan Pneumonia by mid-March.

And we’re not doing all that badly with the wave of secondary affections, which is almost more amazing considering what’s currently going on throughout the rest of the world.

Of course, every effective captain needs a good crew and the government workers, doctors, nurses, police, administrators, security guards, and the local and foreign community have all stepped up and played a role in our ongoing battle against Wuhan Pneumonia.

Steven kindly wants to thank President Tsai for protecting his children, his family, his local community, and his adopted country. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

Then when the rest of the world saw how effective Team Taiwan had been, they adopted similar approaches, and as a global community, a brotherhood and sisterhood of nations, we collectively did something never before achieved in human history and beat back a deadly pandemic with only a small number of casualties. Well, that’s what could have happened…

Unfortunately, while Team Taiwan has been receiving some positive press throughout the world and rightly so, much of the rest of the world has been dancing to the beat of a different set of drums played by our noisy neighbors and their partners in crime the WHO.

Do you remember when the WHO was praising China’s transparency and holding up their approaches as a model that other countries could adopt in the global battle against the Wuhan Pneumonia? How can such a statement be uttered when clear evidence to the contrary shows that this is certainly not the case.

Steven has been living in Taiwan for 14 years. He has two young children. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

Surely the leaders of the free world and even the not so free world have the critical thinking abilities to assess the validity of a range of approaches that would best protect their citizens from this insidious and terrible pandemic. Unfortunately, it seems not…

And it’s worth pointing out how Team Taiwan has achieved this with minimum negative impacts to our daily lives. Yes sure, the kids were at home from school for a couple of weeks.

Actually, as a busy father with busy children, I kind of enjoyed that. Sometimes we’re all too busy in Taiwan, and a few months before the kids were required to stay at home, I was asking myself why do I need to make an appointment to spend time with my children! And we’ve had to queue up for masks but at least we’ve got them.

Despite the crisis, you can find all necessities in Taiwan. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

And yes we do have to sign in, get our temperature’s checked, and sanitize our hand before we do anything communally, which can take up a bit more time, but it’s certainly time well spent. Have you noticed how there are fewer colds and flu in our schools and wider communities right now?

Although we’ve taken these actions to stem the tide of this deadly pandemic, as we’ve pushed back against the Wuhan Pneumonia, we’ve also given common colds and other flu a bit of a kicking too. I find myself wondering if anybody is collecting data on the incidences of other respiratory problems at this time?

Probably not, since we’re all too busy; nevertheless, it would be interesting to see if improvements in personal, communal and societal hygiene levels are having a positive effect by lessening the incidence of other sicknesses also?

Steven runs a teacher training at National Taiwan Normal University. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

The level of transparency of your government has also been unprecedented. Team Taiwan has provided us with daily updates, so we have known where it’s relatively safe to go, and also where we should avoid.

We knew when community transmissions we’re lessoning and how the government was dealing with the wave of imported incidences of Wuhan Pneumonia in round two of this terrible battle. That gave us all and is still giving us peace of mind to go about our daily lives in a way that people in many other countries simply cannot do at this time, and also minimizing negative impacts to the Taiwanese economy and Taiwanese society.

When Maria from Mornings with Maria on Fox News said to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) that “this has been an incredible approach and a successful one,” Minister Wu explained Team Taiwan’s “whole government approach” clearly and concisely, later adding that “overall speaking this is quite successful.” I had to laugh! You’ve got to love that Taiwanese “understated-ness” since Team Taiwan is arguably the world leader in this battle against Wuhan Pneumonia.

Like many children of the members of the foreign community in Taiwan, Steven’s son attends a local public school. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

Is it hyperbole to say that Taiwan’s “whole government approach” has provided a model for the rest of the world to follow? Is it hyperbole to say that Team Taiwan has achieved something never before achieved in human history and successfully pushed back against a currently incurable infectious disease that is causing so much damage throughout the rest of the world? Well, the battle continues… But when the dust settles, and the international community starts to get back on its feet as it will then we’ll have time to talk about this in more detail.

There have been some opinion pieces in the local and global press as to whether some of the technological and tracking based approaches taken by Team Taiwan are pushing back on our freedoms, rights to privacy and even our human rights and this is a great debate to have in a thriving and progressive democracy.

For me though when I put a post in the cloud about Yoga and then I’m bombarded with a series of targeted ads about Yoga classes, this is most definitely an infringement of my rights to privacy.

Steven lives in Taipei with his family. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

Arguably, this is how technology is used in a negative manner to the detriment of the users, and I don’t think many of us like the idea that almost everything we do in the Internet era can be tracked. But in this case, can it be said that Team Taiwan has provided a model of how to use the best of modern technology to help its citizens.

So, what’s next? China and the WHO have effectively and unequivocally closed off one road which would have allowed us to assist other countries in their battle against Wuhan Pneumonia. Why? For geopolitical egotistical based reasons maybe?

For reasons too convoluted to go into here. But let’s forget about this for now and just concentrate on helping the people that need our help. While the WHO arguably has a significant amount of blood on its hands, Team Taiwan can still save lives by looking for bilateral (in fact any) opportunities to assist our brothers and sisters, who so clearly need our help.

Steven has two children. (Courtesy of Steven M.)

Taiwan has been unceremoniously and unjustifiable left out in the cold politically for a long time. Let’s return the favor by showing the rest of the world our generosity in their time of dire need. As I’m writing this letter, my wife has just told me that I can now send 30 masks back to my grandmother in the UK so thanks for that too.

Apologies for the length of this letter. Hopefully, you get the sense of the depth of my gratitude but I’ll try to summarize as simply and clearly as I can.

Thank you for protecting my children, my family, my local community, and my adopted country, and keep up the good work in what must be a really busy and stressful time for you. Taiwan has always had a special place in my heart and is unequivocally more than ever before number 1.

 


Steven M. sent this letter of gratitude to President Tsai Ing-Wen, which represents his personal opinions and the opinions of many of those in the foreign community, who he has talked to at great length about the awesome, tremendous and outstanding work that Tsai Ing-Wen and her government has been doing in our battle against Wuhan Pneumonia. Steven said that he wants to publish this letter so that the wider Taiwanese audience knows how much the approaches taken in Taiwan are appreciated by those of us in the foreign community.

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