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Protection for politicians not just for their own safety

The timing of the two incidents also underlines another difference. Lien was shot the night before a major election to which lies the interest of a host of people — politicians, their supporters, bookies and gamblers in estimated hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars-worth underground election bets. The U.S. lawmaker was attacked the weekend after the new Congress convened. While the consequences of the shooting can be profound, they will probably take place much more slowly and with much less obvious potential beneficiaries, making the shooting simpler in terms of possible motives.

While vitriol in politics and the extreme actions it incites should be condemned, the truth is that bigotry and divisive language are often the norm in politics. Political assassination is also not new in both the East and West. Stories in the “Biographies of Assassins” of the Chinese canon “Records of the Grand Historian” (also known by its Chinese transliteration Shiji, 史記) are some of the most well known in the Chinese culture. Assassinations are also the themes of several Shakespearean plays.

It is understandable that under the trend of “getting close to people,” modern politicians are often shunning their entourage of security details, the sight of which could be ungainly to the public. However, the heavy damage political assassinations can do to the victims personally and to the country generally make increased protection necessary. Public figures in the Taiwan should consider such protection not only one for themselves but also for a more stable country.

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