Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: Life after the Wild Lily

The student protest in March 1990 was a pivotal moment in Taiwan’s democracy movement, with many of its members still active in politics and activism

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Lee made good on his word, holding the conference from June 28 to July 4. In the following year, the Temporary Provisions were abolished, and the National Assembly members finally stepped down after 44 years in power with new elections held at the end of the year. And at the end of Lee’s term in 1996, Taiwan saw its first general presidential election.


After the Wild Lily Student Movement, Ho writes that many student protesters entered politics, mainly serving the DPP. It wasn’t a happy ending for everyone — for example, Yen Wan-chin (嚴萬進) rose up the ranks to deputy minister of the interior, but was later convicted in a corruption scandal and remains in jail.

Many remain in politics to this day. In addition to several legislators, current Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) and Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) both played key roles during the student movement, and so did Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), who serves as the deputy speaker of the Legislative Yuan. In addition, former Council of Agriculture deputy minister Weng Chang-liang (翁章梁), who was the general commander in 1990, is running for Chiayi county commissioner in November.

Fan Yun (范雲), one of the few female leaders during the protest, spearheaded a call for then president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to step down in 2006 and later formed the Social Democratic Party (社會民主黨) in 2015, unsuccessfully running for a legislative seat in 2016. She was present during the occupation of the Executive Yuan during the Sunflower Movement, after which she quipped, “I did not think that I would be carried out of the building by riot police at over 40 years old.”

Others continued on as activists or continued working for society’s betterment through civil organizations, most notably Ku Yu-ling (顧玉玲), a prominent figure in migrant worker rights.

Lawyer Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) became an outspoken figure on cross-strait policy — especially that of the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration — and human rights. Most notably, he founded the Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (反黑箱服貿民主陣線, today’s Economic Democracy Union (經濟民主連合)) in 2013.

An interesting case is Lo Ming-yung (駱明永), an engineer who dedicated his life to the protection and recovery of actual wild lily flowers in Taiwan.

“From the 921 Earthquake to the flooding caused by Typhoon Morakot, environmental issues, women’s rights, Aboriginal rights, media and legal reform as well as the abolishment of the death penalty — we can see members of the Wild Lily Student Movement putting in long term work into these issues,” Ho writes.

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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