While thousands celebrated New Year’s Eve by going to rock concerts or watching the sunrise on the east coast, more than 200 people — mostly students — chose to attend a rally in Liberty Square in Taipei last night vowing to continue their anti-media monopoly campaign this year.
Aside from the protesters, Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝), Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), Taiwan independence advocate and historian Su Beng (史明), and National Taiwan University professors Flora Chang (張錦華) and Lin Huo-wang (林火旺) were also present.
A political science graduate student surnamed Chou (周) said she found it “boring and low-class” to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
“Freedom of speech is important for everybody and is a basic element of democracy,” she said. “We may not have so much freedom of speech after 2013 if nobody pays attention to it. That would be tragic.”
Chou and a friend planned to stay at the rally until early this morning.
The Anti-Media Monster Youth Alliance, which organized the event, said the rally would last until about 3am today. The event was to be followed by a sit-in at 4am near the Jingfu Gate (景福門), which directly faces the Presidential Office.
The group will also issue an immediate response to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) New Year address to the nation after the flag-raising ceremony.
The group said it has been stressing that Want Want China Times Group’s (旺旺中時集團) purchase of media outlets will have a huge impact on the nation’s democracy and freedom of speech.
The alliance said the takeover must be kept under tight scrutiny to safeguard civil liberties.
Although the Fair Trade Commission has said it will arbitrate the case from the perspective of market competition, the group wants to remind the government that the mass media serves a social function and the case involves issues of public interest and national security.
“However, the Ma government and the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] caucus only said they would respect reviews made by professionals and said absolutely nothing about entrepreneurs having monopolized the operations of media outlets or the China factor,” the alliance said.
The group said it had no intention of going near the Presidential Office or joining the crowd attending the flag-raising ceremony.
Rather, it said protesters would sit quietly near Jingfu Gate and listen attentively to what Ma said in his address.
Several Taiwanese students studying overseas have made a video clip in support of the cause, which was shown at the rally last night.
Meanwhile, Chinese democracy activist Wang Dan (王丹) said on his Facebook page that what happened in Hong Kong after 1997, when media outlets were purchased by pro-China corporations, is gradually occurring in Taiwan.
“Dear students, people fight for their freedom using drastic means, but they tend to be unaware when they lose it,” Wang said. “In Taiwan, there is a need for some people to publicize the facts and warn the public about the penetration of that monster [in every facet of Taiwanese society]. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of young students. This is the history you have to live with and the responsibility you have to bear.”
“I salute you for sitting here tonight, because you are building the first line of defense to protect freedom,” Wang said. “Taiwanese society should thank you for your passion, devotion, sense of responsibility and ideals.”