An open letter from the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP):
In September last year, in his desperation to pass the service trade pact, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) thought little of violating the constitutional principle of the separation of the three main branches of government, thereby instigating a series of events that has caused political turmoil in this country. Now he has sought to interfere again in the legislature, leading to the constitutional mess we have before us.
A group of students, with public support, have been occupying the legislative chamber in what has been a peaceful, rational and non-violent protest in the hope of saving this country’s democracy and system of constitutional government. The occupation is, at the time of writing, into its seventh day.
Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) have neither responded to the students’ grievances, nor attempted to understand what it is the public wants, and are still insisting that the service trade agreement is passed, come what may. They have tried to pass the blame for this situation onto the legislature, and accused academics of fanning the flames of student discontent, spurring them on to resorting to violent action.
Not only is this response to the current crisis utterly incapable of resolving it, it is actually deepening the constitutional deadlock. The actions of Ma and Jiang are revealing the failings of our very system of constitutional government that have allowed Ma to behave like an autocrat.
The TAUP calls upon the public to support the actions and the demands of the students occupying the legislative chamber, and wants representatives from all quarters of society to hold a conference on civil society and the Constitution.
The initial constitutional crisis precipitated by the occupation of the legislative chamber in protest at the service trade pact has already escalated into students’ and members of the public exercising their right to protest, to safeguard democratic freedoms and protect the country from a perilous situation, and occupying the highest executive organ of government, the Executive Yuan.
This crisis is not rooted in the whys and wherefores of the service trade agreement, nor is it born of Jiang’s willful intransigence. The root cause is Ma’s autocratic, dictatorial behavior, and his actions that have threatened the very survival of this country and the orderly operation of constitutional government in a free democracy.
He has proven himself unfit to be president.
The association calls on Ma, the main instigator of the mess we are in, to resign with immediate effect, and for constitutional interim provisions to be made. We need to uphold democratic principles, convene a conference on civil society and the Constitution, and then hold another presidential election, to set this country back on the path of democracy and freedom.
Taiwan Association of University Professors.
Translated by Paul Cooper