Thu, Apr 03, 2014 - Page 8

Sunflowers a sight to behold

I went to the demonstrations held in Taipei on March 30, as did many of us who care about Taiwan.

The event was organized by the student leaders who occupied the legislature two weeks ago, to prevent the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from rushing through the approval of a trade pact with China.

This pact could jeopardize Taiwan’s political and economic survival.

I have attended numerous pro-Taiwan events over the years.

I expected to see a few hundred disillusioned elderly Taiwanese or just some bored people looking for entertainment and possibly a free lunch.

But, my goodness, fortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong.

By 11 o’clock in the morning, when I exited the High Speed Rail terminal in Taipei, there were already thousands of people waiting for the arrival of other supporters of this most crucial development, the Sunflower movement.

Standing across the MRT station and looking at the endless arrival of people from all over the island dressed in black, I felt, for the first time since 2008, that there truly is a chance for Taiwan to mature into a real democracy, a country that can be proud of its identity and its people.

After lunch at the National Taiwan University Hospital, I walked outside and was stunned and literally moved to tears when I saw the tens of thousands of people moving purposefully in a steady stream towards the Presidential Office Building.

Throughout the afternoon, I was thoroughly impressed with the organization and execution of every aspect of the mass gathering.

From traffic management to garbage collection, everything had been thought through and carefully planned, and the operations were carried out cheerfully, gracefully and with magnificent professionalism.

As I left the rally for my return trip to Greater Taichung, I was again moved to happy tears as I saw the hundreds of thousands of people covering the entire area around the Presidential Office Building.

They were all intently listening to the speeches presented by student leaders.

I could see the determination and conviction on their faces, as well as a passion that I had not yet seen in today’s younger generation of Taiwanese.

This event was a powerful message to the government, but it is just the beginning.

Much depends on the government’s reaction to the demands of the student leaders.

Beijing is putting immense pressure on the KMT and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to finalize the integration of Taiwan into China.

The Taiwanese must prepare to participate in many more of these peaceful demonstrations.

This mass protest was not the end of a minor conflict between an authoritarian government and the people of Taiwan.

It was, and indeed is, the first step on a very long march to democracy, integrity and global acceptance.

Daniel Luthi

Greater Taichung