Sunflower movement leaders Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) yesterday announced the establishment of a new social activist group, Taiwan March (島國前進), saying the group would focus on the “unfinished business” of the three-week-long movement’s goal of promoting “direct democracy.”
“It seemed to us that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] have not learned a thing [from the Sunflower movement] and they still refuse to listen to the public,” Chen told a press conference.
Having vowed to keep safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy after the Sunflower movement withdrew from the Legislative Yuan on April 10 — which they occupied to protest against what they described as the opaque negotiation of the cross-strait service trade agreement — Chen said the government has not changed.
“In the past month, the government has insisted on its own version of a statute to monitor cross-strait agreements, tried to push through the statute on the free economic pilot zones and launched a counter-offensive against the campaign to recall KMT lawmakers,” Chen said.
“What’s worse, the Ma administration began its judicial persecution against the protesters after they pulled out of the legislature,” added Chen, who is a student at National Tsing Hua University.
The group’s name, Taiwan March, indicates the group’s determination to keep marching forward and to highlight the month the Sunflower movement rose up.
The group’s founders include Academia Sinica associate research fellow Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) and Shih Hsin University assistant professor Frida Tsai (蔡培慧), as well as students and citizens.
The group’s goal is to “drive Taiwanese politics with social forces,” said Lin, a National Taiwan University graduate student.
However, he reiterated that the group would not establish a new political party, nor would it recommend candidates in future elections.
The group’s first task, Lin said, would be promoting the lowering of the threshold of the Referendum Act (公民投票法), known as a “bird cage” act, among a wide range of issues.
Taiwan March is soon to launch a petition drive across the nation to gather in six months the required number of signatures to pass the first stage, Lin said.
Next up is the free-trade issue, with a comprehensive discussion about how Taiwan should position itself in the free-trade system, which the group does not oppose, Lin said, to safeguard people’s wellbeing and the national interests at the same time.
On other issues, such as the cross-strait service trade pact and the statute governing the economic pilot zones, Lin said that the group would collaborate with other social groups, including Democracy Kuroshio (民主黑潮), Democracy Tautin (民主鬥陣), the Black Island Nation Youth Front (黑色島國青年聯盟) and the Appendectomy Project (割闌尾計畫).
The founding of Taiwan March and separate efforts by various groups should not be interpreted as “division of the core leadership of the Sunflower movement,” Lin said.
“It’s just that each group shared the same goal, but decided to tackle different issues with various approaches,” he said.
Lin also denied that the group had any connection with the Taiwan Citizen Union (公民組合), a political group initiated by former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄).
Information about the new group can be found at www.facebook.com/taiwanmarch.tw.