Thu, Sep 17, 2015 - Page 8 News List

KMT fights democracy with word challenges

By Steve Wang 王思為

Taiwan’s democratization is the result of a long-term struggle and social movements. All sorts of democratic developments — be they elections, removal of the ban on political parties and newspapers, the re-election of the National Assembly and direct presidential elections — were all fought for by the public.

The democratic achievements that Taiwan enjoys today were possible only because countless people in previous generations brought protests to the streets, shed sweat and even blood. The momentum of democracy was completely driven by the public; not one bit came about through the magnanimity of the party-state and the dictatorship.

During the Martial Law era, any form of protest or social movement was met with the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) accusations of their being communist spy activities, propaganda for Taiwanese independence, conspiracies, subversion or anything considered a threat to national security. Those who took part in such movements or protests were deemed, without exception, to be insurgents threatening social stability.

Even after martial law was lifted, when a group of academics, led by former Academia Sinica member Lee Chen-yuan (李鎮源), formed the Action 100 Alliance to promote the annulment of Article 100 of the Criminal Code through peaceful and nonviolent protests on the street, they were depicted in the media as rioters.

However, the growth of the Internet and transparency of information has made it difficult for some media outlets to interpret facts as they see fit. The use of the term “riots” has become less credible. So a new word was selected to replace the old terminology — populists.

The pan-blue media and politicians no longer seem able to make a comment without using this word. What they want to imply is that the public is a group of rioters who lack the ability to debate, who make decisions and blindly follow others based on emotional impulses instead of calm cool reasoning. They attribute all of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) failures to the new scapegoat, the populists.

Although their use of terminology to counteract social movements has improved with time, what remains is the KMT elite’s mentality of superiority and entitlement. As for the real causes of the problems in this nation, they usually just stick their heads into the sand like ostriches.

However, by reviewing the past some interesting occurrences can be seen. After the pan-blue camp lost the 2000 presidential election, groups of people illegally gathered and surrounded the KMT’s headquarters and the presidential residence. In 2004, despite the coalition between former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), the pan-blue camp lost the presidential race again, after which pan-blue supporters illegally protested on Ketagalan Boulevard for 21 days, even burning cars, throwing stones, attacking the police, hitting civilians, throwing Molotov cocktails and the like. If that was not populism, or rioting, I do not know what is.

In 2006, before former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was even put on trial and found guilty of corruption, a group of people in red shirts illegally rallied on Ketagalan Boulevard and at Taipei Railway Station to try to pressure the judicial system through extra-legal means. If this was not populism, what is?

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