Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday faced calls from more than 700 students and former students of political science at the National Taiwan University (NTU) to resign for ordering police to forcibly evict student protesters and later on insisting that the officers did not use excessive force in carrying out his order.
Among the people who signed the open letter within 24 hours since Monday night was Lien Yung-hsin (連詠心), daughter of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), his assistant, Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超), has confirmed.
The NTU students said they regretted that they had to come forward to condemn Jiang, who used to be a professor of political philosophy at the university, but what he had done and said showed that he had run counter to the faith intellectuals of social conscience should keep.
“We sincerely appeal to you to step down to shoulder the responsibility for the downward spiral of democracy in Taiwan,” the letter read.
Jiang ordered the National Police Agency to evict thousands of protesters opposing the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement who occupied the Executive Yuan on Sunday night from the complex before dawn.
On Monday, Jiang spoke in defense of the action by riot police using shields, batons, sticks and water cannons, leading to more than 100 people being injured.
Jiang told a press conference that the police had acted in a rational and peaceful way to disperse the protesters by lifting them from the ground or patting them on the shoulder to get them to leave, and censured media outlets for publishing and repeatedly broadcasting images of wounded people.
“Professor Jiang in our eyes has become a premier who has allowed the government to do whatever it pleases and to violate the principle of democracy, but he still insists that his administration has observed rule of the law,” the letter read.
“Have you ever thought of how many of the students who were oppressed by the police under your instruction were your students?” it asked.
The NTU students said that what Jiang, an expert on Hannah Arendt, one of the leading political thinkers of the 20th century, had taught them laid down the basis of their knowledge about democracy and constitutionalism, and enabled them to reflect on the evil of totalitarianism.
Jiang taught them that the core of constitutionalism was that the rulers should not abuse power and the power of the government should be constrained, they said.
However, “what we saw in recent days was that you disregarded diverse opinions in the society and acted as a henchman of the brutal state apparatus,” they said.
The NTU students said they would call a press conference tomorrow.