On Tuesday night, student and civic organizations stormed the Legislative Yuan and occupied the legislative floor. They are protesting the government’s decision to submit the cross-strait service trade agreement to the legislature for reference, but not debate. On Wednesday, the occupation began to appear in international media outlets, where it was given a degree of importance. However, in a meeting with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus leaders, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is the main target of the protesters, demanded that legislators “do all in their power” to make sure that the agreement is passed during the current legislative session. As for the demands of the students, he behaved as if he was in complete ignorance of them.
What are the students’ demands?
“If I had been born 30 years earlier, I would never have left this kind of country to the next generation.” One young person told protesters on Tuesday evening.
This kind of criticism is the result of the “masterpiece” that Ma has been working on over the past few years. He wants to continue the destruction of the nation because his own children have already left, and do not need to settle down and build a life here.
Ma has demanded that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) handle the protest by the young generation “in accordance with the law” and that the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police Agency handle “illegal and disorderly conduct by strict enforcement of the law.”
It has now become necessary to give the Ma administration a stern warning: Politicians, who have a mandate due to public support, have no right to establish a dictatorship, which violates democratic principles, or to use violence against the children of the nation. The young are the future masters of the nation and have the right to decide their own future. If the government suppresses the public, they will revolt — a revolution like the Jasmine Revolution in Northern Africa or the Orange Revolution in Ukraine could break out at any time.
At this crucial moment — which might cause history to be rewritten — the adult generation, rather than arguing with each other, should read the Declaration of the “3/18 Youth Occupation of the Legislature in Opposition Against the Opaque Handling of the Service Trade Agreement” issued by the students. This will give a detailed understanding of their concerns.
Are we leaving them with a bright future or a dead end? Have we plundered the next generation of every opportunity or have we provided a forceful defense of the invaluable assets that our forefathers left us on this beautiful island — a legacy we can leave to the next generation and ask them to pass on to future generations?
A review of the students’ demands reveals three clear principles:
First, they are strongly opposed to the Ma administration holding the Legislative Yuan hostage and pushing through the service pact without proper scrutiny. This is a clear violation of the KMT’s previous resolution to do a clause-by-clause review. They worry that this will have an impact on the nation’s economic autonomy and destroy its future, and that is why they feel that in the name of the public they are compelled to take back power over the legislature.
Second, they stress that their opposition to the service pact is not a knee-jerk protest against everything Chinese, but rather a protest against market liberalization which only benefits those at the top. Allowing big corporations to expand without restriction across the Taiwan Strait will damage the nation’s small business owners.
Third, they say that they are not averse to challenge or competition, but that they do not want to face unfair competition or have their lives controlled by cut-throat capitalists working on both sides of the Taiwan Strait whom at any time in the future might abandon the nation’s work force in pursuit of cheap labor. This is why they feel they have to come out in defense of their homeland which they rely on to support their livelihoods.
The increasing number of protesters surrounding the Legislative Yuan only want an environment that gives young people the opportunity to develop and compete on a fair playing field.
Isn’t that the fundamental goal of any state? Why should we stand by watching, allowing a dictator and his party to trample over the principles of democracy, restore an authoritarian system and push through an unjust and unfair agreement without reviewing the details to determine whether it is equitable? What should the disadvantaged companies being sacrificed do and what should the response to constantly rising unemployment be?
Ma with his “Greater China” ideology wants to use economic integration to bring about political unification with China, however he keeps claiming that the pact is for the good of the Taiwanese economy. We must condemn this man who has abused his power with the result that entry-level salaries now are a measly NT$22,000.
The economy of Ma and his friends is not equivalent to the Taiwanese economy — it works against the interests of the nation’s economy as a whole. It deprives the young of all hope, does not benefit the majority of the public and allows the powerful to line their pockets with public funds. The group of 65 KMT legislators led by the party’s Policy Committee chief executive Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) and convener of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) must let us know if they are willing to turn Taiwan into a new Ukraine in the international media.
This is the first time in the nation’s history that the the Legislative Yuan has been occupied by the public. Commentators on US news TV station CNN asked if this was the death knell for Taiwan’s democracy, or if it represented a rebirth. Every citizen has the responsibility to say, “We are doing all we can to stop Taiwan’s democracy from walking down a dead-end road. We promise coming generations that they will have a fair and just future.”
Translated by Perry Svensson