Taiwan Govt. Enacts Emergency Decree

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from Yahoo Saturday September 25 11:14 AM ET

Taiwan Govt Enacts Emergency Decree

By DENIS D. GRAY Associated Press Writer

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan's government approved an emergency decree to better cope with the aftermath of an earthquake that killed nearly 2,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless, a spokesman said today.

The decree, imposed only three times in the past four decades, would supersede all existing laws for six months, mete out severe punishment on black-marketers and allow troops and police to be dispatched to maintain order in stricken areas.

The decrees, approved by the Cabinet and President Lee Teng-hui after a 5-hour meeting, must still go before the country's legislature to take effect. The body, which has the power to veto or modify them, is expected to meet Tuesday.

With more than 100 hours passed since the earthquake rocked Taiwan early Tuesday, hopes of finding survivors were fading. Still, Taiwanese and foreign teams continued to search for signs of life beneath tons of concrete and steel.

The Disaster Management Center said today that 1,965 people had been killed, 8,541 injured, 301 were trapped under rubble and 33 were still missing. Officials at the center said they dropped the death toll after discovering that two adjacent counties had both reported some of the same dead.

Providing one of the few bright spots was the dramatic rescue Friday of a 6-year-old boy from the rubble of an earthquake-battered apartment building. But it seemed virtually certain his parents and two sisters had perished.

Rescuers saved Chang Ching-hung after he spent 87 hours in the wreckage of a building where his parents and two sisters were buried in Dali, central Taiwan.

South Korean and Japanese emergency workers spent six hours digging the boy out, and said he told them: ``I need water. Why am I here, and where are my parents?''

Searchers later found what were almost certainly the bodies of his entire family, but positive identification was pending.

Many victims and their friends and relatives said the government had botched its reaction to the catastrophe, moving too slowly when the 7.6-magnitude quake struck and then working inefficiently and without proper central coordination.

The government admits it was not fully prepared to cope with a disaster of such magnitude. Taiwan is prone to periodic quakes, but most occur harmlessly under the sea.

Besides continued search and rescue operations, local officials, civilian teams and soldiers are struggling to provide adequate shelter, food and health facilities in many areas, including remote, mountainous regions of central Taiwan.

Health officials in the central Taiwan town of Tungshih reported garbage strewn in the streets, unclean water, lack of running water in toilets and other health hazards they said could bring on a host of ailments.

In Taiwan's third largest city of Taichung, many residents were still sleeping in safe, open spaces, fearing powerful aftershocks could still rock the island. Several thousand have, but caused no known fatalities.

Many shops, department stores and restaurants, including McDonald's outlets, were still closed in the city.

An emergency decree would allow the government to more easily acquire private land where housing could be built for homeless quake victims. Officials say that some 10,800 housing units were totally destroyed or severely damaged.

Public security has not proved a problem in wake of the quake. Only minor, scattered looting has been reported.

The decree was earlier imposed after devastating floods in 1958, when the United States and Taiwan cut off diplomatic relations in 1979 and when then-President Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1989.

Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted Vice President Lien Chan, who proposed the decree be issued, as saying the move had nothing to do with next year's presidential elections. Lien is a candidate.

The emergency decree may draw fire from elements of Taiwanese society, sensitive to anything that smacks of authoritarianism.

Democratic rule was only introduced in 1987 following 38 years of martial law justified by threats of an invasion from mainland China.

``Many areas are seriously affected. Tremendous loss of property. It certainly conforms to the definition of the state of emergency according to the constitution,'' Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou was quoted as saying in the China Times newspaper.

He said the decree would have neither political implications nor affect peoples' daily lives.


Six months huh? When are those elections scheduled anyway? Weren't the Chinese concerned if Martial law was enacted then they couldn't threaten the populace and affect next years elections? I think this act if passed by the Taiwanese congress would be reason enough for the Chinese in theor eyes to invade. They couldn't pick a better time country in ruins and the major semi-conducter industry suppling the US stalled in preproduction. I bet Silicon Valley could get the US to accept Chinese "reclaiming their rebellious state" in exchange for restoration of the semi-conductor factories.

-- The Count of Meijer Crisco (40@cansof.course), September 25, 1999


Here's some 1st hand news:

Turkish, South Korean rescue workers showed the most bravery going into the most dangerous locations where others would not dare to go to search for survivors.

China offered to send rescue workers while actively lobbying the UN to stop the UN from offering help. Taiwan declined respectfully.

Indonesian and Fillipino migrant workers are looting the neighborhoods. Taiwanese communities are forming 24 hour neighborhood watches armed with just baseball bats. Some organized criminals have guns.

Something interesting I found out was that the stores were still stocked with foods. People buy only what they need. Also, the nearby army bases are open for people to get food, shelter etc.

-- Sandwich (anon@anon.anon), September 25, 1999.

So, how does Taiwan's local, national emergency, situation impact the domestic U.S. scene?...

Silicon Valley Vulnerable To Foreign Disasters--Fallout: Taiwan Quake Shows Global Economic Linkage (Critical Choke Point--Added Y2K Analogy)

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 001TAr

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 25, 1999.

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