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Talk of the Day -- Most often asked questions in Taiwan

Talk of the Day -- Most often asked questions in Taiwan

As the year wound down to its final day, newspapers devoted coverage to "year-round summaries" of activities in different sectors of society or hot topics, such as the "most often asked questions." Common sense "shortfalls" were one such topic. Prominent lawyer C.V. Chen raised the question, for example, of why Taiwan had not yet adopted an "absolute majority" voting system to decide the winner in presidential elections. The following are excerpts of a column contributed by writer Shu Kuo-chih to the United Daily News on the many common sense questions that have been frequently raised in Taiwan but whose answers are not even remotely in sight: Why are roads not even in Taiwan? Many have asked, because Taiwanese roads are even only right after they've been paved. More frequently, they are not smooth even when they have just been repaved or newly built. We can attribute this phenomenon to a "unique" culture in which not only corruption or graft, but also "a mythical reason," can explain why roads have never been even in Taiwan. Taiwanese parents spend so much time and energy getting kids to and from school that double parked or even triple parked cars have become a common scene on roads near school gates. But are parents' love and care helping their young ones avoid excessive homework, stay away from electronic games and gadgets, consume less junk food, better appreciate nature, and socialize with other kids in a normal environment? Everywhere in Taiwan, people are talking about gourmet food. But how many of them have eaten vegetables that have not been tainted by pesticides or pork or chicken raised without growth hormone for a year or longer? Foreign friends often point to a swath of land in rural Taiwan that is lying fallow, and asked "How come this sort of land can't be used to grow some vegetables, in a healthy way?" Well asked! Numerous people have asked why Taiwan's TV news stations rarely broadcast foreign news stories. Indeed people have been wondering why and asking the question so often that the fact has just remained unchanged -- for so long! In Taipei, the number of unoccupied taxis have suddenly mushroomed. Have people all of a sudden decided to take MRT trains or bike around? Not necessarily. Still, people who think that making a living by driving a taxi in Taipei is simple and easy and offers a comfortable way of life must think again. But in southern Taiwan, it's not easy to get a taxi. You can stand on a curb for a long time without seeing a cab approaching. Apparently, it's no longer that easy to earn a living by selling noodles at a roadside stand or driving a taxi. You better think how many people are already doing these jobs before deciding to join in. One way for Taiwanese to get rich is to buy houses or apartments. Since people want to own a house or apartment, builders and developers are happy to provide them. But when it comes to where and how to build residences to make them comfortable, builders are often sloppy. Leaking is a common problem with Taiwanese houses. No precise figures have ever been given on how serious the problem is, but it is very often heard in conversations. As to why leaking is a common problem in Taiwanese living spaces, well, it's just a cultural habit to raise the question without trying to seek an answer. Leaky houses are probably just an indication of Taiwanese not being a serious and scientifically rigorous people -- probably the same reason why Taiwanese roads are never even and smooth. Don't forget that most Taiwanese houses are dotted with metal windows. Metal windows for the very houses you're living in, why? Not for aesthetic reasons, to be sure. For security? But why are metal windows not seen in foreign countries? Electronic monitors have become so widely used that they might be able to replace ugly iron or steel window frames. But when will that happen? Are Taiwan's designers ready to provide good looking monitors outside the houses? (Dec. 31, 2011) (By S.C. Chang)