Influential student movement takes place
March 17, 1990: Thousands of university students stage a sit-in at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to demand a fully-elected legislature and direct elections of Taiwan’s president and vice president. Participating students wear Formosan lilies as a symbol of resilience to advance Taiwan’s democratization. The six-day rally, known as the Wild Lily Student Movement (野百合學運), marks a significant turning point leading to Taiwan’s transition to pluralistic democracy. The movement results in the abolishment of the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion (動員戡亂時期臨時條款) in 1991. Effective since 1948, these provisions had established martial law in Taiwan.
The ongoing student activist occupation of the legislative floor, which began on Tuesday to protest the government’s push for the cross-strait service trade pact, is reminiscent of what happened 24 years ago in the same week.
Ruling party alternates
March 18, 2000: The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) win Taiwan’s second direct presidential election and end 55 years of rule under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The next day, KMT supporters demonstrate in front of party headquarters and force the incumbent president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to step down as party chairman.
President gets shot and re-elected, Taiwan’s first referendum fails
March 19, 2004: President Chen and Vice President Lu are shot during a campaign rally for their second four-year term in Greater Tainan, a day before the presidential election. Chen receives a wound to the stomach while another bullet hits Lu’s knee. The failed assassination attempt is known as the 319 shooting incident. In 2005, investigations conclude that Chen Yi-hsiung (陳義雄) — a lone shooter found dead 10 days after the incident — is responsible, but speculations and doubts over the incident remain. In recent years, DPP and KMT supporters as well as Chen and Lu have requested a reopening of the case, with Lu’s renewing the call on Wednesday, saying a secret witness saw Chen Yi-hsiung moving away from the scene of the crime before the shots were fired.
March 20, 2004: A day after the 319 shooting incident, Chen and Lu win the presidential election by a slender margin, or 50.11 percent of the votes, over their rivals Lien Chan (連戰) and James Soong (宋楚瑜), who demand a ballot recount and lead their supporters in a march to the Presidential Office and stage a sit-in following their defeat.
Taiwan’s first referendum takes place on the day of the presidential election, with two questions regarding the purchase of anti-missile weapons and establishment of a peaceful framework for cross-strait interactions. Less than 50-percent voter turnout invalidates the referendum.
Bus crash kills young children
March 20, 1965: A tour bus crashes on Taipei’s Yangmingshan. Brake failure leads to the accident, which kills 29 people and injures 71. Most of them are students and teachers from Taoyuan County’s Yungan Elementary School (永安國小).
Derailed train turns to alleged murder
March 17, 2006: An express train traveling westbound from Taitung City to Kaohsiung City derails. Vietnamese passenger Chen Hong-chen (陳氏紅琛) dies in the hospital after the derailment, which was allegedly caused by her husband Lee Shuang-chuan (李雙全), who commits suicide, and her brother-in-law Lee Tai-an (李泰安). A few days prior to the derailment, Chen’s husband took out a NT$20 million life insurance policy for her, establishing the motive of the crime. The lengthy trial process, which finds the brother-in-law guilty of murder and sentences him to life imprisonment, is later dismissed, appealed and is yet to be finalized.
Foot-and-mouth disease spreads
March 20, 1997: The Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) confirms the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic among swine. First found in a sow in a Hsinchu farm, the disease spreads fast and leads to the culling of 3.8 million pigs. Foreign markets halt imports from Taiwan, and only a few countries partially resume pork imports in the following years. The COA estimates the outbreak caused economic losses of more than NT$100 billion.
Beijing opera master dies
March 18, 1962: Chi Jushan (齊如山), Chinese theater theorist, dies of a heart attack in Taipei at the age of 86. Chi, a prolific playwright, was known for his extensive research in Beijing opera. He examined the art with a systematic approach in books including The Organization of Chinese Opera (中國劇之組織) and The Study of The Art of Chinese Opera (國劇藝術匯考).