Taiwan Church News
December 7 – 13, 2015
Air Pollution, A Point Of View From Human Rights
As 2015 is commemorated as the 70th anniversary after the end of World War II, which is a monumental historical event for us human beings to revere the basic values of basic human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was reminded to be pass solemnly by United Nation in Paris the very date on 10 December 1948. Since 1950, 10 December was further established by UN as Human Rights Day ever!
In the same vein, during two weeks’ COP21 conference held in Paris from November 30, the special arrangement of Human Rights Day within the climate warming agenda seems to suggest the world that there is a very close relationship among human rights, environmental protection and economical justice. Yet such relationship is kept being undermined, resulting an irrevocable climate change, by human beings’ relentless destruction of our ecological environment. Now, the basic right to survive, which is exactly one of our human rights, for all creatures is seriously endangered!
When the world focuses on the issues of climate changes, environments and the development of human rights, Taiwan is suffering the most severe air pollution since this autumn. The level of PM 2.5(size of particulate material less than a diameter of 2.5 micrometer) reaches a very dangerous level in central and southern Taiwan. But the Taiwan government can do nothing to alleviate the pollution, not to mention to propose an effective control of the pollutants. If breathing the clean air became a luxuary, how could other human rights be expected. For a country like Taiwan, having boasted to the world as a big nation of human rights, this is a great irony!
KMT took the power in 2009, though, claiming to abide by two very important human rights laws, i.e. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights(ICESCR), as a matter of fact the status of Taiwan’s human rights is notoriously backslid. For example, the pressingly grave air pollution in Taiwan is obviously a breach of the principle complying to “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”(article 12.1 in ICESCR). In addition, with lots of opaque decisions and suspicious policies like “Black-Box Cross-Strait Service Trade Act”, “Black-Box High School Curriculum Guidelines”, “Ma-Xie Meeting”, deteriorating gaps between social classes and etc., most Taiwan people do hope a new regime to emerge after the Presidential election in next January 2016.
As Taiwan society is so seriously ill with many social problems, many PCT ministers and elders are prompted to attend “The National Supporters Association for Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chien-jen” expecting a better future to come for Taiwan. It is really touching that so many Christians standing up for Taiwan, though, an attitude of “critical support” toward KMT regime under the leadership of the late President Lee Teng-huei, advised in a prophetical voice by Rev. Shoki Coe, is still necessary for Taiwan churches. Everything done by the state has to be checked and inspected without passion by the church.
In the past 8 years, there are uninterrupted reports of frauds, embezzlement and stupid decisions made by Ma Ying-jeou administration which is an overwhelmingly dominant power both in administration and legislation. And this reminds us the crisis warned by Lord Acton: absolute power corrupts absolutely! Though there are several weeks before the Presidential election, Taiwan churches and their members should prepare themselves for the inevitable ministry of loyal opposition and criticism.
This critical stance toward the future administration is compliant to John Calvin’s basic teaching about human being: “All people, like our primordial forebear Adam, are fallen from the grace of God. That is everyone of us is under the shadow of sin.” Also, this reflective thought conforms to the Confession of Faith of the PCT: “[Men] have social, political and economic systems, arts and sciences, and a spirit which seeks after the true God. But human beings have sinned, and they misuse these gifts, destroying the relationship between themselves, all creatures, and God.” Taiwan churches and the Christians should cautiously keep themselves away from from the temptations of worshiping themselves as idols, walk humbly with God and stand up bravely for human rights. Let us not forget: “When human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High – does the Lord not see it?”(Lam. 3:25)