In recent years, Taiwanese people have indulged in a beautiful fantasy about their nation, as it was seen as a place with "small happiness," good quality and inexpensive goods, and was ranked among the world's freest countries.
But a tour bus accident on Monday ripped apart that façade.
An old vehicle, an overworked driver, a cheap and unsafe tour, underground rules of shell and license-leasing transport companies, and empty regulations and law enforcement have shown that all the glory was merely an illusion.
The legal loopholes that have remained in Taiwan for decades and the excuses given by officials are more unbearable than the scene of the accident.
For example, the casualty number was high in Monday's crash because many passengers were thrown from the vehicle. It took a tragedy for people to realize that there are no government regulations that require bus passengers to wear seatbelts.
Many tour buses do not even have seatbelts, and some seats are secured by just metal wire. If we want to save even on seatbelt costs, how can Taiwan possibly enter the era of managing dashboard camera cards?
Seatbelt-less kit cars are common in developing countries. But unbelievably Taiwan has retained them and brought them into the 21st century. Kit cars have been around for at least three or four decades and they exist because the tariffs on a finished car are much higher than on auto parts in Taiwan.
The tax rate difference was first put in place to support the domestic auto industry. But Taiwan has been a member of the World Trade Organization for 17 years, yet this regulation remains unchanged. We would like to ask why the people in our legislative and executive branches have not noticed what other countries have done for the past 17 years.
As for the overworked driver, no employer purchased insurance for him, which means that his family will not be able to claim death benefits.
One accident has exposed the backward mentality, legal loopholes and broken hardware and software in Taiwan.
Taiwan has become nothing more than a third-rate country with only feel-good democracy and freedom. It is no longer pursuing progress and quality. Can we live safely by continuing to sing the praises that "Taiwan is good"? (Editorial abstract -- Feb. 17, 2017) (Summarized by Christie Chen)