Fri, May 26, 2000 - Page 12 News List

Marching backwards while moving forward

By Shih Ming-teh 施明德

The sun was blisteringly hot on the afternoon of May 13 as I prepared to join the anti-nuke rally that day. When I arrived at the rallying point, however, the atmosphere was surprisingly cool, despite the hot weather. It was different from previous anti-nuke rallies.

There were fewer people than at past anti-nuclear rallies, particularly the number of politicians. There were people from the DPP, though just a few of them. Those mobilized by the DPP were from Taipei City and Taipei County, but where was I supposed to register for the demonstration? And which section of the march was I supposed to join?

As I moved to join the mass of people gathering and preparing to march, I saw a lot of sad, dejected faces among the crowd.

I didn't want people to know who I was, so I put on a pair of dark sunglasses and a hat that hid my face.

The march began, but I still didn't know where my place was. I just started walking along with everyone else. Some of my fellow demonstrators saw through my admittedly half-hearted disguise.

A student asked me, "Why are you opposed to nuclear power? Why are you taking part in this march?"

Further on, I saw a group of elderly marchers holding a sign saying, "Plebiscite on the Fourth Nuke!" When they saw me they yelled out, "Chairman! Which section of the march should we join?"

"I don't know," I yelled back. "Just march with Chairman Lin [Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), DPP Chairman]."

"He didn't come," was their reply.

"Well, just pick any section and join," I said.

Actually I felt that the march was lacking in spirit. Everyone seemed like they had given up hope. Or so I felt as I marched along.

More people recognized me later on. A professor from National Taiwan University (NTU) saw me and yelled out "Shih Ming-teh from the DPP is here!" I nodded, but kept on walking.

My heart got heavier and heavier as we approached the NTU gates.

I thought:"We've been fighting against nuclear power for so long and even enshrined our opposition by including it in the DPP charter. Now the DPP is Taiwan's ruling party, a longtime opponent of nuclear power has become president and another nuke opponent has been appointed as head of the Environmental Protection Admini-stration (EPA). But we still have to march to express our opposition."

Many people had similar feelings that same day.

The DPP and people who in the past resolutely opposed nuclear power completely changed their positions as soon as they got into power. They no longer say that they will carry out the promises they made, or even carry out their party charter. Instead, they tell people they will have to "re-evaluate" the issue. Even this was enough to break the hearts of many.

The sun may have been hot that afternoon, but my heart was chilled to the core. Halfway through the march, I could walk no longer.

I felt that if a party and leader could change so quickly, then what was left for people to believe in? What were policy statements worth? What was the party charter for? It seems that there is nothing that power cannot distort. All the slogans and ideals of the past now seem like nothing more than lies to win votes.

So I left the march and stood next to a pillar in front of a convenience store, watching the rest of the marchers go slowly by.

There were still quite a few people out for the march, but all I saw were people walking without hope, as if they were going to vanish into thin air.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top