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Mon, Apr 24, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Former student activists recall rebellious wonder years

LOOKING BACK The youths of yesterday are all grown up now, but they will never forget what it took to push the KMT aside and get the opposition into power

By Liu Shao-Hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ten years ago, a movement called the Lily Student Campaign (野百合學運) was launched in a bid to force leaders to advance political reform in Taiwan. Many of the same student activists were instrumental in mobilizing support for President-elect Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and now they see his election as the attainment of a Holy Grail.

"We've realized our dream. From now on, we need to create a new dream among the younger generation to improve Taiwan," said Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), an activist who helped launch the movement a decade ago and is currently a National Assembly member.

Over 70 prominent members of the movement -- which is widely acknowledged as having been the most influential student activist alliance in Taiwan -- gathered yesterday to bask in the triumph of Chen's victory and reminisce about their early days.

In particular, members spoke about their one-week rally at the CKS Memorial Hall in March 1990, where more than 10,000 students gathered to protest the slow pace of political reform since the lifting of martial law in 1987.

"Ten years ago we never considered the possibility of an alternation of political power in Taiwan. But it happened," said Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成), director of the DPP's department of youth development.

Jou said almost all of the party's young members and those who had served on Chen's campaign team were members of the so-called "lily generation."

"The dedication of those students and socio-political activists has had an immense impact on Taiwan's democracy," Jou said, adding that their legacy has been carried on by the new generation of youth activists.

During that eventful week 10 years ago, students presented an appeal of four basic points to President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝): to abolish temporary constitutional amendments relating to the period of Martial Law, to convene a national affairs conference, to schedule a politico-economic reform timetable, and to disband the National Assembly.

The first two appeals have seen implementation, and the third is in progress.

The fourth -- disbanding the National Assembly -- appears within days of being realized.

"Disbanding the National Assembly is not only a dream now," said Chung Chia-pin, a student activist in the 1980s who was elected to the Third National Assembly in 1996.

"To win a seat and thereafter [work to] abolish it was our motivation for participation in the Assembly," Chung said.

"We've almost realized our dreams. The next step is to help the younger generation to create other dreams for Taiwan," Chung said.

"The Lily Student Campaign was not one occasion -- it was like a relay baton passed down from our predecessors," added Chiu Yu-bin (邱毓斌), secretary-general of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, who was a demonstrator in 1990.

Chiu recalled an incident when students were collecting donations from the public at the CKS Memorial Hall.

An elderly veteran wanted to donate a lot of jewelry, telling them these were all his valuable possessions.

"We almost kneeled down to beg him to rethink. But he insisted, saying amid tears that he had been hoping for national reforms all his life. He said that it was the only thing he could think to do at the time," Chiu said.

It was a formative event in his life, Chiu said, as he felt the burden of responsibility that came with being a political activist and he sent the veteran home with his valuables.

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