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No matter the cause, acts of terror can never be justified

The Boston bombings sent shockwaves across the globe and here in Taiwan the horror left us wondering what harm would have been inflicted on us had the attempted bomb attacks targeting the local public last week succeeded.

We can only imagine the extent of casualties if the two bombs — one planted on a Taiwan High Speed Rail train and one in front of a legislator's office in New Taipei City — had gone off.

The scale of the tragedy probably would not have been as massive as that which hit Boston, but the horror might have been even more intense because the Taiwan populace has been much less psychologically prepared for such bombings than the U.S. people, who experienced the 9/11 ordeal.

Most foreign visitors to Taiwan and most of the nation would be apt and happy to point out that the island is a friendly place, and it is mostly safe. Guns are strictly controlled and the politically marginalized island — in terms of its global and cross-strait positions — has always been far from the center of those conflicts that trigger terrorist attacks in other parts of the world.

But Taiwan has seen a few cases of bombings of its own in the past few decades, rare though they may be. In 1972, provincial Governor Hsieh Tung-min lost a hand in a parcel bomb attack.

Hsieh later went on to become the nation's vice president. The pro-Taiwan independence bomber, Wang Sing-nan, was jailed for life, but received a pardon from President Lee Teng-hui in 1990. Wang was released and is now a member of the Legislature representing the Democratic Progressive Party.

In the early 2000s, the “Rice Bomber,” Yang Ju-men, planted several bombs in public places in a campaign to raise awareness of the possible plight that local farmers might face after Taiwan entered the World Trade Organization.

His bombs were hardly meant to cause major harm. Two went off but no one was injured. But they were enough to inflict fear in the public.

Yang was caught later and was given a relatively light sentence. Public opinion was not too harsh on him, and many sympathized with him and his agenda, which was to help local farmers.

The villains in these two incidents have since become more or less heroes. Wang now continues to advocate his pro-independence cause — openly — in the nation's Legislature.

Yang, according to one 2009 AFP report of his story, continues to promote his agenda, “only now he pursues it by peaceful means” in the form of organic farming.

April 19, 2013    carcasonne@
@ " ... the Taiwan populace has been much less psychologically prepared for such bombings than the U.S. people, who experienced the 9/11 ordeal."

I'm sure Americans appreciate your backhanded compliment here.

I really doubt Americans are more psychologically prepared than Taiwanese. I think people will continue to go about their business without believing the worst will happen to them.

If we are any more psychologically prepared, we might go out wearing bullet-proof vests under our clothing or decide not to venture out again.
April 19, 2013    carcasonne@
@ "No matter the cause, acts of terror can never be justified"

Many legitimate governments, too, have carried out acts of terror.

Further, they often *somehow* justify themselves, even if their acts are unjust or unjustified.
April 21, 2013    curtisakbar@
Wang Sing-nan, was jailed for life, but received a pardon from President Lee Teng-hui in 1990. Wang was released and is now a member of the Legislature representing the Democratic Progressive Party.

What a terrorist is part of the DPP?

After the Bombings and university attacks, will America change its laws? Nope, you can buy machine guns in the USA but can't buy traditional Kinder Eggs as they are dangerous.

So glad ROC is a safe country, very little crime, no real risk of terrorism but we just need to keep vigilant as today's youth are just as bad as kids in Anglophone countries. Taipei could soon turn into Jo-burg, Taichung into Atlanta and Kaohsiung into any UK city center on a Friday night.
April 23, 2013    carcasonne@
@ "Taichung into Atlanta"

Why Atlanta? Why not NYC or LA?
April 26, 2013    curtisakbar@
Because Atlanta historically had a high rate of violent crime and murders and I didn't want to say a city that has almost the same population as the entire island of Taiwan.
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