Saturday, October 18, 2014

Feel Safe Letting Margaret Chan Watch for Pandemics? [Not On Your Life]

Feel Safe Letting Margaret Chan Watch for Pandemics? [Not On Your Life]

 The Epoch Times, Nov 16, 2006

The World Health Organization (WHO)'s World Health Assembly on November 9 elected Chinese candidate Margaret Chan, a former health director from Hong Kong, to be the organization's next director general.
Chan's major qualification for the job is her experience handling the outbreaks of bird flu and SARS in Hong Kong. She comes to the job with the full backing of the CCP regime, whose representative has complimented her on her, "solid professional background, strong leadership skills, and tremendous experience in the public health field." According to the regime, she is an expert on bird flu and SARS.
But the residents of Hong Kong, the ones who witnessed Chan's work during the bird flu and SARS outbreaks, may not agree with these complimentary words.
Susanna Ng, a Hong Kong resident, writes in her blog, "During those times (bird flu breakout), Mrs. Chan was so obviously incapable of handling crisis. She was indecisive, slow in response to quickly occurring changes, and always made foolish remarks about the situation�some of the things she said were truly laughable. During SARS, most Hong Kong residents felt that Margaret Chan's performance was completely inadequate. In fact, they blamed her poor performance for the high death toll."
SARS victims from Hong Kong are particularly bitter about Chan. On hearing of Chan's success in the election, the director general of the Patients Advocacy Association, Peng Hongchang, was quite upset.
He said, "As a former health official in Hong Kong, Chan has received much criticism from the local authorities and society for her incompetence in handling the pandemic crisis. Yet she was still elected to lead such an important world organization charged with the task of preventing and combating global health threats. We think this is ridiculous." Peng also blamed Chan for never apologizing to the many SARS victims.
Some may argue that Susanna and Peng do not represent the majority opinion among Hong Kong residents, and it is indeed hard to prove or factually quantify public sentiment, but it is a fact that one year after the SARS outbreak Hong Kong's Legislative Council issued a report in which they blamed Margaret Chan for failing to recognize the importance of the disease when it first appeared and for failing to take the necessary immediate steps. Chan is also accused of refusing to quarantine patients during the early stage of the SARS outbreak.
Chan has said in a recent interview that she has learned her lesson from past failures, but what really has people worried is not her skills or lack thereof, but rather her unwillingness to directly confront the CCP regime in Beijing over health policy issues. Most Hong Kong residents view China as the probable source of future pandemics.
Chan's critics say that she has always been unwilling to risk her political well being to challenge the CCP regime in the people's interest. "As a HK health official, she didn't have guts to ask China to give us information about the real SARS outbreak situation in China (which later determined by scientists as the source of SARS)," complains Susanna Ng.
If this inability to work against the Party's wishes, when necessary for the good of the people, is the true source of her past failures, then she may prove a serious menace in her new office. After all, China is the country whose denial of the SARS outbreak allowed the virus to spread to more than 30 nations, leading to the death of more than 700 people (299 in Hong Kong) and infecting more than 8,000. Now, it is China that wants to put Chan in a leading position at the WHO, and has spent a fortune on her election campaign.
Other than paying for all Chan's campaign expenses, the CCP regime has also sent a team headed by China's Minister of Health, Gao Qiang, to Geneva to support her. Even Chairman Hu Jintao himself wrote to the leader of each WHO member-country, asking them to support Chan. In the end, it was mostly the votes from the African leaders that provided the majority of Chan's support base. China has very good trade relations with several African leaders who are received much less warmly in the West, because of their poor human rights records and history of persecuting their own peoples.
Prominent among these is President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan, who has earned himself a reputation for genocide for the present situation in Sudan's Darfur region. China signed almost US$2 billion in trade deals with various African nations at the Sino-African Summit in Beijing, which took place just prior to the WHO elections.
Some say the WHO's acceptance of Chan is an effort to push China to improve transparency in public health and pandemics information. But the question is, with China's notorious record from the SARS crisis, is it really practical to expect the leadership of China to change out of respect for Chan? Did China make all the effort to, in effect, buy the WHO so that it will deal more strictly with China? Will a WHO led by Chan be more willing to dig-up China's buried secrets and search hard for answers to important questions?
People may have different answers to these questions, but the fact of China's denial of the existence of a new strain of bird flu right after Chan was elected surely has cast a shadow of doubt on any optimistic expectations.
Can we trust Margaret Chan to watch over the health of the Chinese people? Can we trust the woman who did not stand her ground in 2003, the woman who could not be at her current position without the support of Chinese regime? Will she stand up against China next time for the good of the world?
Sadly we cannot know for sure until some new infectious disease arises in China, is inevitably covered up by the regime, and then crosses the border and takes some foreign lives. Now that it is too late to prevent Chan's election, let's just pray it does not take too many lives to prove that she is the wrong woman for the job.

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