Under the Formosa Alliance’s rallying call, tens of thousands of people yesterday gathered in front of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) headquarters in Taipei, demanding an amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to allow for a poll promoting Taiwanese independence and rejecting Chinese annexation.
Amendments to the act promulgated in January have lowered the thresholds for proposing and passing referendums, but proposals about changing the national territory, flag and name are still not allowed.
Shouting slogans such as “Taiwan yes, China no” and “[we] want a referendum,” nearly 130,000 people rallied outside the DPP’s headquarters, according to the alliance’s estimate at 3:30pm.
Photo: EPA / Ritchie B. Tongo
“We should tell the world that we want to establish an independent country,” alliance convener and Formosa TV (民視) chairman Kuo Bei-hung (郭倍宏) said, encouraging people to press the ruling party to amend the law again.
Former Presidential Office adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) said that many of his friends had asked him not to attend the rally, but he still went, even though he might lose friends.
To strive for a better future, Taiwanese should fight Beijing’s attempts to swallow the nation, otherwise China might eliminate Taiwanese, as it is doing to Uighurs in Xinjiang, Peng said.
There should be no limit to referendum proposals, given that initiating referendums is a basic democratic right, he said, adding that Taiwanese independence should be achieved through a referendum.
“Long live the Republic of Taiwan,” Peng shouted at the end of his speech.
The act has evolved from a “bird cage” to an “iron cage,” because it does not even allow people to decide on the name of their own country, former Presidential Office adviser Wu Li-pei (吳澧培) said, urging people not to let Taiwan become “another Hong Kong.”
“We are at a critical juncture of history,” Wu said. “There might be a long way to go to achieve Taiwanese independence, but everyone should play his or her own part to realize the goal.”
It has been more than 50 years since Peng initiated the Declaration of Formosan Self-Salvation in 1964, but Taiwan has not yet become a “normal” country, because Taiwanese did not fight for their rights bravely enough, Social Democratic Party convener Fan Yun (范雲) said.
The nation should be named “Taiwan” instead of the “Republic of China,” otherwise other countries would continue confusing the nation with China and rejecting Taiwan’s international presence, Taoyuan resident Teng Pang-yuan (鄧邦圓), 32, said.
Teng said that seeing Beijing’s bullying and the insistence of using the name “Chinese Taipei” at sports events makes him more inclined toward independence.
Taiwanese should make the nation independent, even if other countries refuse to admit this status, Teng added.
Yesterday’s event might be the biggest rally trumpeting independence in recent decades, event host Dennis Peng (彭文正) said, adding that the DPP’s march in Kaohsiung yesterday was not serious, because it averted the independence issue and only copied the alliance’s call to oppose Chinese annexation.
While the DPP has forbidden party members from joining the alliance’s activities, many still showed up at the rally, including Wu and former minister of foreign affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山).
Asked if the party would punish those who attended, DPP Deputy Secretary-General Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said the order was to protect candidates running in the Nov. 24 elections, and that Wu and Chen would not be affected, because they are not candidates.
Additional reporting by Su Fun-her
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations