The rejection of a Green Party Taiwan (GPT) campaign event and objections to the possible presence of Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏), a student who surged onto the national scene during the student-led Sunflower movement, in the government-supervised Huashan Creative Park might be a sign of the grudge that the government still harbors against the “rioting” students, but it could also be an intimation of an ongoing disintegration of the rule of law, which has been further fueled by the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s recent deviation on the ousting of a diplomatic official.
The Park’s Taipei Brick House canceled the GPT event — which was due to take place on Sunday — at the last minute, claiming that the park was not suitable for political or religious events. However, the GPT said that the venue knew of the event’s nature from the beginning. According to a party campaign director, right before the sudden cancelation, a Taipei Brick House staffer told her that the chief executive officer saw Hung’s name on the list and demanded his absence.
A member of the GPT, Hung is also a student activist who was in the media spotlight for allegedly mobilizing a demonstration outside the Zhongzheng First Police Precinct headquarters in Taipei a day after the Legislative Yuan occupation ended on April 10.
Singling out Hung as persona non grata was an ugly move.
It was also reminiscent of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’s Cultural Center in Washington refusing to allow Academia Sinica researcher Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) to deliver a speech on Taiwan’s democracy at the facility late last month.
Why would a government-associated agency want to risk media exposure while knowing, one would expect, that public criticism might ensue? Some netizens ridiculed the officials responsible, pointing out that they had unnecessarily attracted public attention and provided gratuitous advertising for the parties involved.
However, what if they knew but did not care about the avoidable public denunciation? Not giving them the benefit of the doubt, the move could also be translated as a performance of loyalty, aiming to showcase their politically correct position to those at the “top.”
The speculation might sound conspiratorial, but not totally uncalled for, when Ma has been repeatedly accused of interfering with public institutions — for example, former prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming’s (黃世銘) personal report during Ma’s political feud with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and the Investigation Bureau placing former Mainland Affairs Council deputy minister Chang Hsien-yao’s (張顯耀) case on file at a call from a minister who claimed to have Ma’s full support — demanding his party’s absolute adherence to his creed (the cross-strait service trade agreement and Ma’s Control Yuan nominations) and acquiescing to his confidant, National Security Council secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), over-reaching his authority.
The country’s headlines were not so long ago hogged by Ma’s feud with Wang and now they are all about the administration’s “a-story-a-day” explanations for a clumsily handled ouster of an ex-official accused of leaking state secrets, but who was then offered a position as chairman at a state-run company in order for him to “feed his family.”
Calling Wang’s suspected influence-peddling “a major offense” before the court had made any judgement and this time calling Chang a “pest” — along with alleged blackmailing by unnamed officials who fed information to the media — prior to the investigation, Ma has long been hinting to those around him, intentionally or not, that it is his words, not lawful regulations, that should be followed.