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May 30, 2017

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Are 'Typhoon holidays' used as weapons for elections?

According to meteorology expert Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明), only a third of the cities and counties that declared school and work cancellations for yesterday actually experienced weather conditions that justified the cancellations.

 Peng said that according to data obtained from the Central Weather Bureau, only Taoyuan, Yilan, Hualien and Taitung saw weather conditions that warranted school and work cancellations, whereas Taipei, Keelung and New Taipei City barely qualified.

 Taiwan needs to raise the threshold for local governments to declare school and work cancellations, Peng said.

 The guideline for determining school and work cancellations is called the Operation Regulations on the Suspension of Offices and Classes Because of Natural Disasters, and can be found on the Ministry of Justice's online database.

 It is possible that most of the local governments decided to declare the cancellations because of the upcoming nine-in-one elections at year-end. People like holidays. They generally don't like going to work or school in torrential rain. And as the cliche goes, it's better to be safe than sorry, as far as the local governments are concerned. Employers, however, generally don't like paying their workers when no work is being done. According to local reports, businesses lose NT$600,000 on average during a "typhoon holiday" — that adds up to an output loss of NT$20 billion nationwide.

 It's no secret that upper-echelon politicians rely on the corporate sector for campaign funds, but politicians are elected into office by votes — the majority of which comes from non-business owning individuals. Whenever there is a typhoon, the heads of local governments face the choice of either irritating business owners or salaried workers. Given that November is only just over three months away, giving the salaried worker less to complain about is not that bad of an idea and the island will, at the end of the day, prevail without a day of work.

 That being said, government policies probably ought not to be used for personal advantage. The aforementioned guideline was after all established to "allow government agencies and public/private schools to take precautions so as to minimize casualties or damage" and not for electioneering.

 Many of those who live in the capital were probably wondering yesterday where the typhoon was and what all the fuss was about.

July 24, 2014    curtisakbar@
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I personally can't understand how they can declare a 'Typhoon Day” but still allow domestic flights, they would be the first things I would cancel.

People that treat the time off as a holiday and go out for non-essentials not only risk their lives but potentially those of others. As for businesses losing money, how come all the shops etc. are open and busy? Peng probably has some vested interest such as owning a factory, as that sort of business won't open during a typhoon.
July 24, 2014    ludahai_twn@
I have never understood why the local governments need to make the decisions before everyone goes to bed. I grew up in a blizzard-prone part of the United States. Only on very rare occasions did the local government make calls on school until the morning. Usually the announcements came just before six o'clock in the morning and were announced on local radio and via the local fire horn. (no Internet in those days)

I don't understand why that can't be done here. So many times, the forecast the night before makes things look bad but actual conditions in the morning aren't so bad. Looking at the storm track Tuesday evening, one could definitely see possible problems here in Taichung as the forecast track at that time had it almost directly over the city at about 8am. However, by the time morning came, the storm had already passed south of the city and the weather conditions were actually not bad at all here. The governments seem to be under unwarranted pressure to make the call before people go to bed. This is a mentality I don't really understand.
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