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Those were our masks from our own production lines in Taiwan, but “cannot see also cannot touch”

By April 20, 2020Current

TL;DR – Those who do good deeds, should not do so out of a desire for others to know about it.

Some of you may remember that back in February, we published an article where Mdm Ho Ching talked about masks and mask production in Singapore.

Back then, she had said that ST Engineering produced this one type of Air+ N95 masks in Taiwan and how they were stuck as Taiwan had banned export of all types of masks. She had shared then that ST Engineering had been working on relocating two of the production lines back to Singapore, and were also busy setting up the factory space here.

Ho Ching talks about ST Engg starting own mask production lines in Singapore, possibly as early as March

Fast forward to today, some two months later.

Our two production lines have been relocated back to Singapore in March. But we had effectively lost a month of precious time because during that time when we really really needed the masks, we weren’t able to export our own masks back for our own needs due to Taiwan’s ban on exporting masks.

You have to bear in mind that during that critical period, China, which accounts for over half of the world’s supply of masks, was also in dire need of masks. This means that China was not able to export much of the critically needed masks back then since they needed the masks for themselves.

The shortage was sharply acute two months back, and it was not a problem that could easily be solved with money. Because there was just no supply, and a lot of demand.

By now, the coronavirus situation in China has eased and it is now able to export masks to other countries. Other than China, there are also more sources to buy masks from now, including Vietnam, Indonesia and others. So it’s reasonable to say today, the pressure is a lot less.

And now, Taiwan is suddenly going all out with their mask diplomacy, including telling the media about how it’s donating masks to countries to combat COVID-19.

Yeps, they have been shouting “Taiwan can help” in a very high profile manner.

And yeps, Singapore’s one of the countries that Taiwan’s donating their masks to.

Check out how their pallets of masks to be exported to donee countries are plastered with the slogan, Taiwan can help.

Yeps, “mask diplomacy” at its best showing.

Taiwan’s “mask diplomacy” (via Taiwan News)

 

Those were our masks, but “cannot see also cannot touch”

Back two months ago, the coronavirus situation in Taiwan was actually quite OK, not critically widespread. For Singapore, we weren’t even asking Taiwan for their masks. We were just asking for our own masks which were made in Taiwan to be shipped back for our own use.

But nope, it was a blanket ban of export. So yea, cannot see and also cannot touch.

Mdm Ho Ching is the chief executive at Temasek Holdings, and Temasek Holdings is a controlling shareholder of ST Engineering. It’d hardly be surprising if she was involved when Singapore was talking to Taiwan two months ago about letting us have our own masks shipped back to Singapore.

So to me, it’s perfectly understandable that she would have an “Errrr….” moment when she heard about Taiwan donating, what, 100,000(?) masks to Singapore. Two months after the critical period for us.

Truth be told, if I were her, I’d be having more of a WTF moment than an Errrr…. moment. OK, I guess I’m more easily agitated and shorter-tempered, LOL! But I honestly think she’s already being polite and giving face with just this mild “Errrr….” expression. It’s, at best worst, a disagreement with the contents of the article.

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The Taiwanese netizens and also the over-zealous DPP supporters did not understand the context of the matter and just went attacking her. And along the way, they lashed out at Singapore and Singaporeans too. Well, we probably look like ungrateful brats to them.

Mdm Ho Ching then edited her Facebook post in response to the online spat. I suppose there’s no point stoking the online sparring, so best to put out the fire before it escalated into a diplomatic crisis.

In her edited post, Mdm Ho expressed her thanks to the people in Taiwan who had offered their helping hands when we needed them the most. She said that no matter if the attempts were successful or otherwise, she’s “forever grateful”. 

She also added (cutely, LOL!), “And mistakes? Also forgiven, lah!”

Oh, she also urged everyone to “stop trying to beat each other up in cyberspace”.

Anyway, someone Whatsapp’ed me a video this morning.

It’s an episode from a news talkshow in Taiwan (无色觉醒) with English subtitles added. The host of the programme, Lai Yue Qian (赖岳谦), is supposedly quite the expert when it comes to international affairs and also Taiwan-China relations.

I thought this episode was a fairly rational walk-through and analysis of the online row between the Taiwanese and Singaporean netizens.

I’m sharing the video here, and I’m also publishing the English text in case you prefer to just read instead of watching the video. Now the whole idea of sharing this is so that Singaporeans are clearer about what really happened. I’m not encouraging anyone to launch any online attack on the Taiwanese, so chill, OK?

Note that I didn’t do the English translation, the video already had the subtitles embedded when it was sent to me. I’ve no idea who did the translation, but thank you!

Welcome to Wu Se Jue Xing. I am your host, Lai Yue Qian.

We have a very traditional mindset, that is “When you give, do not let your left hand know”. That is, when you are doing charitable work, there is no need for you to tell the whole world who you have helped. This is to take into consideration the feelings of the donee. And also, we are doing charitable work because we sincerely want to help others. We are doing good deeds not to become famous. This is what our forefathers have taught us. And this is the principle one should uphold as a decent human being. If we do not uphold this principle, the good work one did might have bad consequences. 

This is what we see now between Taiwan and Singapore recently. 

The relationship between Taiwan and Singapore is very important, and we have been enjoying good relationship for a very long time. Singapore’s position among the 10 countries in ASEAN is formidable, despite her small size and population of only 5-6 million. But Singapore is still ranked 7 out of the top 10 richest countries. The average Singaporean is richer than an average American. Singapore does not produce oil. Their wealth is accumulated due to its good governance, the hard work of its people, and their ability to make good use of their foresight, This is how they managed to amass great wealth. Singapore knows how to aim for balance among super powers and always safeguards the interests of Singaporeans. This is why the quality of Singaporeans is high, the quality of its government officials is high. Their remuneration is also very good. These are the reasons why Singapore is influential in ASEAN despite its size. Even the West would ask Singapore’s PMs, from Lee Kuan Yew to Lee Hsien Loong, for their advice and ideas when they want to enter ASEAN markets. 

Singapore’s current PM is also able to handle the West with confidence and flair without giving in. Their confidence convinced and impressed the Western leaders. This is how Singapore managed to continue to be valued highly among ASEAN countries. Despite its small size, the country and its people are rich and cultured. 

The official and personal relationship between Taiwan and Singapore, started from Jiang Jing Guo and Lee Kuan Yew. However, despite the close relationship, there were also times of disharmony. E.g. tensions during Lee Teng Hui’s ruling and Chen Sui Bian’s Foreign Minister belittling the size of Singapore to a booger, insulting Singaporeans.  And now there is another episode of storm in a teacup. 

I said it’s trivial because it is something Taiwan has to reflect upon. The recent response from Minister for Health, Chen Shi Zhong, is very appropriate, that Taiwan did not consider the feelings of Singaporeans (over the donation of masks). I feel that Chen Shi Zhong’s response is much better than our foreign affairs spokesperson. Our foreign affairs department did not know how to manage the misunderstanding between Taiwan and Singapore properly. But Chen Shi Zhong was able to diffuse the misunderstanding aptly. Chen Shi Zhong had handled the conflict with Singapore better than our foreign affairs. 

The conflict is due to a Facebook response from PM’s wife, Ho Ching, over a piece of Taiwanese article stating Taiwan’s alleged donation of masks to Singapore. This is a deliberate act of letting the world know that we are doing charity. However, Singaporeans would have read the news and react differently form what DPP expected. Why? Because Singapore has their own mask manufacturing factory. They have two manufacturing lines in Taiwan. 

In January, Premier Su Tseng-Chang announced the ban on mask export from Taiwan. So no masks could be taken out from Taiwan. This meant the Singapore-owned factories in Taiwan could only manufacture masks, only to be sold in Taiwan and they were unable to export back to Singapore. Singapore needed a lot of masks during that period, but they were denied access to their own masks which was manufactured in Taiwan. This created a lot of pressure for Singapore. 

At that point in time, the situation in China was also very serious. The situation in Taiwan was not very serious. The most serious was China who also needed a lot of masks. Hence they restructured their factories to produce masks. There were not enough masks in Singapore and China. Taiwan’s situation was alright, yet they disallowed the export of masks. 

Left with no options, Singapore Government had to recall their two manufacturing lines in February disassembled the machines, shipped them from Taiwan to Singapore, and then re-assembled them back in Singapore. The whole process, including shipping of the machines, dragged till March. Which means when Singapore was in serious need of masks, they couldn’t get any masks. Singapore only began producing masks in March, and the virus control situation in China had improved, China then began to export their masks. 

So China began to export their masks. With the price of masks being so cheap, Singapore was then able to purchase masks from China in bulk. With masks available from China and Singapore’s own production, there were enough masks in Singapore to meet their own demand. 

Secondly, Singapore is a wealthy nation.

Thirdly, masks are very cheap. 100,000 masks will only cost 500,000 NT (approximately, SGD24,000). Five hundred NT (or SGD24,000) is nothing to Singapore. 

So when Taiwan announced to the world that we are going to donate masks to Singapore, PM’s wife posted a comment on her Facebook, “Errrr”. Her comment broke the fragile hearts of some Taiwanese netizens, resulting in the Taiwanese keyboard warriors beginning to attack Mdm Ho Ching online. DPP’s politicians also started to criticise Mdm Ho Ching. This incurred the wrath of Singaporean netizens and both countries’ netizens began an online battle of words. 

But the truth is, when Singapore was in dire needs of masks, many Taiwanese tried to help Singapore address the shortage of masks in their private capacity. And these Taiwanese did not reveal their kind acts, even till today. Hence Mdm Ho Ching was aware that many Taiwanese and their friends tried to help Singapore, and these Taiwanese were also trying to help China with their masks. Mdm Ho Ching published a second Facebook post to thank all the Taiwanese and their friends, out of gratitude. 

After Chen Shi Zhong’s clarifications, the conflict was quickly diffused between Singapore and Taiwan. Chen Shi Zhong adopted a very simple approach, that is, self-reflection. Whether did we take into consideration the feelings of Singaporeans? Chen Shi Zhong managed to resolve this conflict. Whereas these 1450 (i.e. Taiwanese keyboard warriors) and DPP politicians’ way of insulting Singapore failed to solve anything. Our foreign affairs tried to make amends, but they didn’t perform as well as Chen Shi Zhong. 

This is how we can also interpret news. I am Lai Yue Qian. Thank you for watching.

 

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In case you’re really interested in this topic, here’s another Taiwanese talkshow you can watch. Or click on this Facebook post to read the English summary.

 

Editor’s Update @23:38
Mdm Ho has shared this article on her Facebook page this morning, and she also left some food for thought:
 

I actually have no problem with ppl who want to let others know of their good deeds.

It’s one way to encourage many more to step up to be in the company of the good and better.

Just don’t make others beg to be helped, ok?

Respect the worth of all individuals.

Recognise that even the poorest of us have something to give to others, whether in money, ideas, services, dignity, or values.

And very often when we give, we get more than we give – except it may take us a while to find out!

😄😄💖💖😄😄

 

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you the Chinese copy of the Wu Se Jue Xing (无色觉醒) episode too.

欢迎收看“无色觉醒”,我们追求过好日子,新闻也可以这么看,我是赖岳谦。我们有一个很古老的观点叫做为善不欲人知,也就说当你在做善举有很多的捐助的时候,我们不需要大张旗鼓,敲锣打鼓的去告诉所有的人说我帮助了谁谁谁。这个是因为要考虑到受赠者的感受的一个问题。二方面也是我们行善事是因为我们真心实意像这样做,我们不是用行善事来博得虚名。这是我们老祖宗传给我们的非常久远的一个格言,也是一个非常重要的一个做人做事的一个行为法则。如果我们超越了这个行为法则,常常可能就会适得其反。

星国地位举足轻重!世界富裕名列前茅!

最近在台湾跟新加坡这个部分就出现了这样的一个问题。台湾跟新加坡的关系非常的重要,而且我们有良好的关系也非常的久。新加坡的在东盟十国里面,他的地位非同小可。最然他的国家面积很小,虽然他的人口总数才五六百万人很少,但是新加坡是全世界最富有的前十名中的排名第七名。新加坡人比美国人还要富有。

星国人民勤劳奋斗!审时度势创造财富!

新加坡本身不产石油,新加坡的富有是靠着他的政府的优秀,他们的人民的勤劳奋斗,然后他们本身善于审时度势所以他们创造了巨大的财富。他们本身非常懂得在列强之间怎么样来进行一些平衡,怎么样很务实的让新加坡人获得更多的利益。所以新加坡的国民素质高,新加坡的政府的官员的素质非常的高,待遇当然也非常的优渥,这也是为什么新加坡在东盟十国中,虽然他的国土面积小人口少,但是呢他的东盟十国的影响力却很大。为什么?

星国领导屹立东盟!政治智慧不卑不亢!

因为你欧美的国家要跟东盟的国家打交道的话,其实新加坡总理,从李光耀到李显龙,他们的政治判断,他们提出来的很多的建议都会影响东南亚的东盟的这些其它国家的领导人。而且呢,新加坡的历届的总理,他们本身在跟欧美人打交道的时候,他们的的不卑不亢总满了自信,总满了政治智慧的这一些方式也让西方国家的这些领袖都大大的慑服。这个就是为甚新加坡能够屹立于东盟十国之上,也就是国家虽小,国家人民却非常的富裕,水平却很高。

台星关系久远深厚!高调行善情生涟漪?

而且呢台湾早期从经国先生以来,跟这个李光耀总理建立起来的,不管是公的友谊以及私的友谊,是我们两方之间的关系就非常的紧密。这个关系很紧密的过程中,那么也经历过了多次的波折,例如说李登辉时代的时候,两边的关系就搞得比较紧张了。在陈水扁时代的时候,当时的我们的外交部长还骂人家像鼻屎一样大的这样侮辱新加坡人的动作,现在又出现了一些小风波。

将心比心!反求诸己!CDC缓颊台星僵局!

这个小风波,我用小风波,但是我觉得这个是我们必须要重新检讨跟思考的一个地方。陈时中最近的回答做的不错,也就是说我们当时没有考虑到新加坡人的感受。我觉得陈时中的这样一个讲话有效的比我们的外交人员的讲话还有高明。因为我们的外交人员他面对的,目前台湾跟新加坡的这些矛盾跟冲突,我们只会刹车,但是陈时中却反求诸己的情形下把这个事情做了一个很好的解决。这个是陈时中在处理跟新加坡的关系上比我们外交部处理的还要好。

还原始末!“呃” 掀议!台星网友隔空论战!

来龙去脉是怎么样?是自于新加坡的总理夫人何晶在她的脸书上引用的台湾的一个新闻。这个台湾的新闻写的就是台湾要捐赠给新加坡口罩这样的一件事。那也就是为善要人知了。那为善要人知,要告诉全世界我们送给新加坡人口罩,所以新加坡热当然也会看到这个新闻。可是新加坡人考到这个新闻的时候的感受是跟我们台湾或是民进党的感受是不一样的。为什么呢?

台当局禁口罩出口!星国在台产线暂停!

因为新加坡原本他们就有这个口罩制造厂,他们的两条生产线是放在台湾。在一月下旬的时候,苏贞昌行政院院长宣布禁止口罩出口令。禁止口罩出口令,所以台湾所有的口罩都不准再出口了。那我们的所有的口罩不准出口,那新加坡在台湾的的工厂,他们继续制造口罩,可是只能在在台湾卖,但是不能够卖回自己的国家。而在那个时候,新加坡非常缺口罩,非常的需要口罩,可是他们却拿不到他们自己的公司的口罩。这个对新加坡来讲,压力就很大。

关键时刻口罩危机!星国撤回台生产线!

而在那个时间,中国大陆的疫情非常的严重,台湾在那个时候的疫情并不很严重。最严重的是中国大陆,那中国大陆的情况那么严重的情形下,他们大大的缺口罩。大大的缺口罩,所以中国大陆一直在进行企业的转型生产口罩。新加坡口罩也不够,大陆口罩不够,台湾的疫情在当时没有很严重,口罩却不准出口。新加坡政府没办法,只好在二月的时候把他的两条生产线拆下来,再装上船运回新加坡,再组装完成,这样的一来一往就已经是到三月了,也就是在新加坡很紧张的时候,那么他们没有口罩。三月口罩组装完毕,开始生产制造,而大陆的疫情也获得有效地控制的时候,大陆的口罩开始对外出口。

陆疫情缓口罩复工!解决星国不足困境!

大陆的口罩开始对外出口,口罩又是一个这么便宜的东西,所以新加坡已经可以向大陆订购大量的口罩,再加上他们自己所能够生产的制造出来的口罩,对新加坡来讲,已经够了。也就他们自己已经可以满足他们自己的需求了。这第一点,第二点新加坡是如此富有的国家,第三点口罩是如此便宜的东西。十万个口罩,了不起也不过就是五十万台币,五十万台币对新加坡来说的话,这个根本不算什么样的钱。

总理夫人社群风波!台网民政客齐出征!

所以当台湾告诉全世界我们要送给新加坡口罩的时候,对新加坡总理夫人来说的话,她就只用了一个字叫呃 (Errrr) 这样的一个动作。这样的情形就使有一些人的玻璃心破碎了,所以台湾的义勇军,特别是这些网军们,就蜂拥过去然后去大骂这个何晶女士。民进党的有一些政客也开始去酸这个何晶女士。这样的情形也引起了新加坡网民的不满,彼此之间在空中有较量。

总理夫人抒发肺腑之言!感谢台湾友人相助!

但是事实上在新加坡大缺口罩的时候,台湾有很多朋友以私底下个人的方法一直在帮新加坡解决和帮助口罩的问题,但是他们都是为善不欲人知。他们没有大张旗鼓,到今天也没有公布他们的名字,所以何晶富人很清楚的知道当时有很多台湾的友人,以及友人的友人,听到新加坡缺口罩,他们也想法设法在帮新加坡解决口罩的问题。他们也知道大陆缺口罩,也在想方设法帮大陆绝技口罩的问题,这就是何晶女士为什么要在她的第二份的脸书上要写明要感谢台湾的朋友以及台湾的朋友的朋友,其实我相信她是有感而发的。

台指挥官晓以大义!台星关系调和维稳!

当陈时中发表了这个讲话以后,我们看到他很快的解决了调和了新加坡跟台湾之间的关系。因为陈时中采用的方法很简单,反求诸己。自己有没有反省?有没有注意到新加坡人的感受?所以陈时中的讲话在反求诸己中,反而解决了问题,而这些1450们以及民进党的一些政客们采用攻击侮辱谩骂新加坡的方式没办法解决问题。我们的外交部是刹车了,但是没有像陈时中做得那么的漂亮。

新闻也可以这么看,我是赖岳谦,我在“无色觉醒”。

 

 

 

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Maggie O

Author Maggie O

Digital extrovert. Social introvert (warning: 93% introverted!) In the day, I work to put cai-png on the table and ice-cream in the fridge. In the night, I read a lot and write a little. Also, all views expressed in my contribution pieces here are based on my personal opinions, and they do not reflect the ideas, ideologies, or points of view of my employer (past, current and future).

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Po says:

    Fast forward to today, get your facts right. Taiwan only band export of mask wich was manufactured by Taiwanese company. Taiwan band export of mask because it was just not enough at that point of time. On the other hand, did Singapore government saw this coming? What was done and did it work ? I suppose you dare not to ask that to the Singapore government.
    Now, of course Taiwan is to be blamed for the out break in Singapore, why not? In the eye of Singapore government Taiwan is not a country, so why not push all the fault to Taiwan. After all Taiwanese don’t speak english, so what do they know right.
    Good show

  • Jessie says:

    Did you see recently how Singapore was sending medical supplies to other countries too?? Do you think that the photos of a Sg representative passing a box with a big SG flag was candid shot?? Or that international transport of stuff, ANY STUFF, is routinely done with some sort of photographer present, according to SOP? Here’s an example,https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-sends-additional-supplies-to-help-indonesia-s-covid-19-12607746

    • The Editor says:

      Hello Jessie,
      Thanks for swinging by and leaving us a comment. Yes, we’re familiar with those publicity shots and all too. In fact, we’ve also googled for how other countries sending masks and other PPE were doing this. It’s fairly standard practice to at least indicate the donor country, like you’ve rightly pointed out.

      One key difference though. No one country we’ve seen has adopted a slogan even remotely close to how Taiwan does it. They’ve gone with “Taiwan can help” and “Taiwan is helping”. You can have a look at how some Taiwanese themselves have described this high-profile mask diplomacy tactic by Taiwan:

      最初日本捐贈中國物資 送去的貨櫃題詞是:
      「山川異域,風月同天」

      後來當中國回贈日本口罩 題詞是:
      「一衣帶水,源遠流長,隔海相望,櫻花滿開,眾志成城,抗疫必成」

      馬雲基金會捐贈義大利口罩
      用的是經典歌劇「公主徹夜未眠」中的詠嘆調詞:
      「消失吧,黑夜,黎明時我們將獲勝!」

      然後台灣捐贈物資時 題詞是:
      「台灣能幫上忙」 Taiwan can help

      日本 中國 馬雲基金會的例子
      在乎的是受贈者的感受
      而台灣 標榜的卻是捐贈者的角色

      ‘Nuff said.

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