Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Hundreds of university students gather in Taipei to protest Next Media deal

By Chris Wang and J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporters

Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), one of the student leaders, said the students had two serious concerns — that a media monopoly is taking shape while the government remains clueless and fails to deal with the issue, and the growing influence of China on Taiwanese media.

Representative from civic groups also voiced their concerns about the deal, with Taiwan Democracy Watch saying in a statement that the government should do whatever it takes to keep media outlets from falling into the hands of a select few.

Leung Man-to (梁文韜), a political scientist at National Cheng Kung University who supports the students’ cause, said the deal was neither a business nor a legal issue, but a political issue.

Leung said he fears a “purple terror” is descending on Taiwan, in reference to Beijing’s influence, because “when you mix red [which represents the Chinese Communist Party] and blue [the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)], you get purple.”

Several promising young film directors, including Yeh Tien-lun (葉天倫), Yang Ya-che (楊雅) and Cheng Yu-chieh (鄭有傑) also showed up to express their support for the students, as did Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, led by Pan Men-an (潘孟安), and People First Party (PFP) Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪).

In the afternoon, the demonstrators headed to the legislature, where they continued their protest as about 100 police officers equipped with riot shields looked on.

The legislative caucuses of the DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the PFP all signed letters of commitment pledging to do their best to block the deal and to work on an anti-media monopoly law.

The KMT caucus refused to attend the event and sign the letter, saying the students’ protest was illegal.

Unhappy with the KMT’s response, the students marched to the front gate of the legislature and asked the party to “come out and address the issue.”

Student organizers surprised everyone with what they described as a “call-out tactic.” They telephoned KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih’s (林鴻池) office and played the conversation on loudspeakers.

Li Shing-hong (李成康), a student leader in Hong Kong’s “anti-brainwash movement” earlier this year telephoned Lin, but the person who answered the telephone said that the caucus whip was in a meeting and could not take the call.

The students then folded the letters of commitment into paper planes and threw them into the grounds of the legislature.

Before the protest ended at about 3pm, the students pledged to return to the streets of the capital — possibly in front of the Presidential Office — if the government “keeps playing dead” on the deal.

The DPP caucus said it would propose suspending the deal until anti-media monopoly regulations are in place.

DPP headquarters reiterated the party’s opposition to the deal and pledged to “take all possible and necessary action” to block the merger, party spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.

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