The “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia quickly spread to Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt and Libya, as well as Bahrain, Iran and Yemen. Despite crackdowns by police and military using tanks and fighter jets, democratic awareness among the Arabic peoples has surged as they continue to fight a long-term battle.
The Jasmine Revolution has brought the democratic civic awareness of the Arab world more in line with the international trend toward democracy.
Chinese Internet users have also tried to launch a Jasmine Revolution in 13 cities across China. Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) responded by ordering a tightening of Internet censorship and surveillance. The Chinese government also put hundreds of protesters under house arrest.
Taiwan deepened its democracy, freedom, human rights and economic development to create a democratic miracle under former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Products made in Taiwan achieved a better reputation internationally.
However, ever since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power in 2008, his government has acted irresponsibly despite the fact that his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) holds a great legislative majority. Prices have skyrocketed, putting pressure on the public, while the unemployment rate has seen a sharp increase. With a government that only cares about big conglomerates, Taiwanese live in hardship with no hope in sight, and the lower class passes their poverty on to the next generation.
The government has also weakened our national defense, as key government officials ally themselves with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Taiwan. It has also belittled the nation’s sovereignty. For example, Taiwan’s delegation to the Tokyo International Film Festival last year was bullied by the Chinese delegation, and taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君) was controversially disqualified during the Asian Games in China. More recently, the Philippines deported 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China on Feb. 2, while Ma has had nothing of merit to say.
Meanwhile, the government has interfered with the judiciary, and used political oppression against those with dissenting views. It has replaced Taiwanese history, geography and culture with Chinese in school textbooks, and tried to eliminate the languages of ethnic minorities. It has attempted to perpetuate its rule using vote-buying, gangsters, violence and even bullets. It has encouraged Chinese students to study in Taiwan, thus threatening to limit Taiwanese students’ educational and job opportunities.
The government has allowed politicians and big business to abuse residents in Dapu Borough (大埔) of Jhunan Township (竹南) in Miaoli County, and those who live on the land wanted for the Central Taiwan Science Park expansion project.
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement will only bring disaster to this nation and her people, while further broadening the wealth gap. What is worse is that the government has allowed Chinese colonial rule in Taiwan, as low-level Chinese officials frequently visit for “inspection tours.”
The government has shaken the foundations of democratic Taiwan, bringing it to a dead-end in which the lower class is forced to pass poverty from generation to generation.
Taiwan’s situation today is not much better than that of the Arabic countries in the throes of the Jasmine Revolution. We must use our votes to oust Ma to save Taiwan and rebuild the country, perhaps through a “lily revolution.”
Chang Yeh-shen is vice chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG