Written by K. Thiruchelvam. Our earlier article described how governments in Malaysia and Taiwan have responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health systems. We identified common themes from both countries’ responses to the pandemic and acknowledged the importance of public sector capacities and capabilities in shaping and steering them. This second part of the article will describe how governments in Malaysia and Taiwan have responded to the challenges of the pandemic in their economic sector.
Written by K. Thiruchelvam. Why have some countries responded to the COVID-19 pandemic more decisively than others? How have seemingly under-resourced countries performed better—in terms of the number of cases and fatalities—than their richer counterparts? These and other vexing questions have continued to confound many of us as we enter the third year of a pandemic that has brought governments all over the world to their knees.
Written by Frank Siedlok, Natasha Hamilton-Hart, Hsiao-Chen Shen. As the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the related news spread for the last two years, the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment became apparent, causing policymakers globally to panic. Having learned from SARS in 2003, Taiwan foresaw the need to address the demand for facemasks.
Written by Ian Inkster. When attempting a summary prediction of Taiwan’s political economy in January of 2019, I admitted that even annual forecasting can look very foolish, especially during the decline in democratic systems perceived at that time and the importance of complex external commercial relations to the country’s growth and welfare. The forecaster turns idiot with awful speed. I asked to be forgiven during the gentle days of Chinese New Year! Like everyone, I did not predict the coming Covid 19.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly affected Taiwanese’ travel destination choices. One of the most significant changes is the recent boom of citizens’ participation in nature-based outdoor recreation. These changes have clear influences on the environment. Some are positive, and some are negative. This impact can be observed in Taroko National Park and Yushan National Park. However, for destinations that have been heavily impacted by tourism, such as Lanyu, the sudden tourist increase makes environmental problems much worse.
Written by Roman Shemakov. As the metabolic flow of a city is commandeered by a virus, urban sensing is amplified. The proximity of animals, people, and capital in markets is one of the foundational functions of city life. Random evolutions of ingenuity, community, and viruses thus become a natural by-product of urban proximity. Since the invention of every technology (and a city is certainly a technological mechanism) is also an invention of a new accident, we must think of viruses as a feature of cities, not an anomaly.
Written by Kai-Ping Huang. To fight against Covid-19, there is only one solution for every country striving for a return to normality: vaccination. Herd immunity is the goal as advanced countries aim to vaccinate at least 75 per cent of their citizens. The discovery of different variants worldwide makes booster shots increasingly necessary to prevent severe symptoms even for the fully vaccinated. Although speed is vital, it is also essential to determine the proper order of vaccinations.
Written by Chunhuei Chi. For Taiwan to move toward the post-pandemic era, it must be understood that its main challenge is political rather than biological. Besides fighting disinformation and external and internal attempts to divide Taiwan and undermine its control effectiveness, it needs to consider the vaccines’ critical role in ending this pandemic. Further, the criticism of its government’s vaccine under-preparedness has shifted Taiwanese to inward-looking and toward vaccine nationalism.
Written by Brian Hioe. Vaccines have proved a contentious issue in Taiwan from the beginning. As the first vaccines that arrived in Taiwan were AstraZeneca vaccines, the Taiwanese public was initially unwilling to get vaccinated. The public was discouraged from being vaccinated by reports of blood clots and other adverse reactions after using AstraZeneca. As Taiwan had gone for more than a year mostly COVID-free, it is probable that members of the public did not see the need to get vaccinated.
Written by Chih-chien Lin. Mark Twain once said ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.’ On December 31st, 2019, the WHO office in Beijing reported unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. On February 23rd, 2020, right before Chinese New Year, governments enforced large-scale traffic control (aka lockdown) in Wuhan. On February 27th, the Central Epidemic Command Centre in Taiwan gave its highest alert. It was a serious warning about the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic.
Written by Paulina G. Karimova and Kuang-Chung Lee. Discussion of resilience and adaptive capacity of Taiwan’s scenic rural areas has never been more pertinent than at the times of COVID-19. Over 2020-2021, these two seemingly academic terms have promptly secured their spot in local vocabulary (as 韌性 and 調適能力) and became an intrinsic part of hands-on local solutions.
Written by Viola van Onselen. Tourism can significantly burden the natural environment, such as developing hotels or campsites in fragile ecosystems, pollution, or noise disturbance. The fact that tourism leads to environmental degradation has led to sustainable or eco-tourism, a concept that aims to minimise the impact on the natural environment and maintain tourism over a long period in one area while educating tourists and benefitting the social, economic and natural environment.