The Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation yesterday called on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration not to make Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) another 228 victim, warning that the incumbent government would be held historically accountable for the increasing polarization of Taiwanese society if action is not taken.
On the fifth day of Lin’s hunger strike, the association — a group that has been working on the newly democratized nation’s transitional justice — held a press conference in a park near Gikong Presbyterian Church, where Lin is conducting his fast, and slammed the Ma administration for its “passive response and playing with words.”
“The Chinese Nationalist Party’s [KMT] resolution on the issue, which states that the activation of a finished, post-safety-check Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) will not take place without a referendum, is not a concession,” said Huang Chang-ling (黃長玲), the association’s chairperson and an associate professor of political science at National Taiwan University.
“It is even worse than the conclusion reached by the cross-party negotiation last year, which granted that no additional budget could be allocated for the construction of the facility until a referendum has been held,” he added.
“A crisis of Taiwan descending into a divided nation is imminent and it can only be resolved on a democratic basis,” Huang said, referring to a referendum with a threshold that is in line with democratic principles.
“The decision to build the plant was a product of the authoritarian-rule period, its budget being allocated through a process in violation of democratic procedure,” she said.
“A referendum, if its system is well-designed, could complement and empower representative democracy. However, the design of our existing ‘bird cage’ referendum system has not merely failed to complement representative democracy; it has further restricted the rights of the people, who are deprived of a veto power,” Huang added.
Thirty-four years ago on Feb. 28, Lin’s mother and twin daughters were murdered in their home, now the Gikong Presbyterian Church, which was under 24-hour surveillance by the then-KMT regime’s special agents, when Lin himself was in custody on a charge of “insurrection” for his involvement in the Formosa Incident.
“New wounds would form in Taiwan’s collective memory of 228 if Lin falls in the same place where his family was murdered,” Huang said.
Tsai Kun-lin (蔡焜霖) and Tsai Kuan-yu (蔡寬裕), both in their 80s and victims of political persecution during the Martial Law period, were also present at the press conference to pay their respects to Lin.
“The KMT’s resolution is a swindle, countering changes with procrastination… Many people say that Lin is kidnapping Taiwanese society by his hunger strike, but the real kidnapper of Taiwan is Ma Ying-jeou himself,” Tsai Kuan-yu said.
Contending the criticisms that have been leveled against Lin, the association said that “the means to implement policy discussion and execution is never in the hands of people without political power.”
Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, said the nation’s current leadership was plagued by “hubris.”
“Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) did not know why Lin chose the place to stage the hunger strike and President Ma exchanged barbs with Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) like kids mouthing off to each other,” Wu said.
“Jiang called himself an Aristotelian. He should go back to read Rhetoric by Aristotle, where he would be reminded of what Aristotle said about hubris. It is defined as shaming others for a person’s own gratification, which is what Jiang and Ma have been doing,” Wu said.
“It is also an omen of the downfall of a regime,” he added.
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