Despite the relative lack of mainstream coverage, a trickle of negative press regarding the DPP and CECC’s abdication of their responsibilities to manage COVID indicates a deep undercurrent of disillusionment with the government.
Polling continues to indicate that the majority of Taiwanese people still consider COVID to be a serious threat and want lockdowns enforced.
In a clear attempt to sway public opinion, an increasing shift in government discourse has tried to undermine the seriousness of the virus, even as the state makes contradictory moves in increasing the vaccine mandate requirements for nightlife establishments.
This is highly reminiscent of the frequently criticized language of Tsai Ying-wen, labelled “double-speak,” for suggesting that Taiwan could control the virus, but would no longer need to make any quality of life sacrifices, a notion disproven in virtually every other country of the world.
Contrary to her public statements, internal reporting from inside the DPP show that the government is prepared and willing to let the pandemic take full hold of the country, and is thus willing to sacrifice as many lives as are necessary to preserve the economic interests of party elites and their donor class.
As the government, too, sets the definitions for so-called “serious cases,” and even what constitutes a “death due to COVID” rather than co-morbidities, the government’s figures itself are increasingly becoming suspect to many within Taiwan.
With Taiwan’s aging population, this distrust has led to businesses creating their own COVID rules as reported yesterday, with some requiring daily proof of a negative test result before children are even allowed to go to school. This private enforcement of COVID rules represents a breakdown in trust in the government, and its ability to handle COVID bode poorly for the future of the DPP. This comes as many see the party as increasingly internally corrupt and beholden to elite interests rather than the public interest or even those of its constituents.
Without quick action, it seems like the government will in time find itself in a situation similar to Hong Kong, whose elites may now largely regret pushing the government to relent as their economy is left in tatters. Hong Kong’s house prices have fallen 6% since August, and are expected to plunge 25% within 3 years, exacerbated by the political crackdown.
The government in Taiwan may find that with their capitulation to COVID, that not only do they risk permanently losing power for their perceived corruption, their elites may also turn against them too as the economy suffers from a acute shortages of both goods and manpower, spurred by early retirements, emigration, and mass death.