Taipei Times: Since the success of the Feb. 28, 2004 hand-in-hand rally that championed Taiwan's sovereignty and rejected China's missile threat, the Taiwan independence movement seems to have been unable to move forward. Do you think the movement has suffered any setbacks?
Yao Chia-wen (
The first stage was before 1971, a period during which we focused on advocating Taiwan's separation from China because the government ruled by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) claimed it was a regime that represented China, with the official name of the Republic of China (ROC) only. Therefore, many independence campaigners overseas at that time argued that Taiwan should separate from China and announce its independence.
PHOTO: WU WEI-GUNG, TAIPEI TIMES
The second stage was from 1971 to 1986, the year that the DPP was founded. During this period, the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件) occurred in 1979, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) passed away and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) succeeded him. What we worked on during this period was trying to rid Taiwan of the color of China or China's influence and trying to change Taiwan from a "Chinese nationality" into a "Taiwanese nationality." In practical ways, we facilitated full-scale elections for the legislature and promoted the direct election of the president.
The third stage of the Taiwan independence movement started in 1986 and is still ongoing. We are now in the latter period of the third stage. What we [the DPP] have tried to highlight and restate during this period is that Taiwan enjoys independent sovereignty. In that regard, we proposed a Constitution for the Republic of Taiwan in 1990. And then Lee announced the abolition of the "Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion" (動員戡亂條款) and enabled people to vote directly for the president and vice president.
With the subsequent chain of democratic reforms, Taiwan has confirmed the fact that its territory covers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. Since then, the DPP has stopped championing separation and moved to highlighting Taiwan's status quo, which indicates that Taiwan is an independent sovereign state with a democratic system.
After that, Lee proposed his "special state-to-state" theory (
What independence campaigners are doing now is to promote something that will enable Taiwan to become a state that has a name and constitution matching the present reality and its people's needs. I think the Taiwan independence movement moves forward slowly but you can't say it has been dealt any setbacks.
However, we do face some difficulties in revising the Constitution and promoting the name-change movement because the opposition parties control the legislature. Besides, I think the DPP has not disseminated enough information regarding the independence movement. But that's another issue.
What Taiwan does now is to fight against China's rule and refuse to become a part of the People's Republic of China (PRC). In this regard, it also means that Taiwan has never been a part of the PRC.
So far, we've made some initial achievements regarding the name-change movement, for example, the word "Taiwan" has been added to Taiwanese passports.
However, there are still many government departments and social groups using the word "China," such as state-run China Steel (
As for writing a constitution, it is true that we face some hitches and difficulties. In Taiwan, there are still many people who are reluctant to wipe away China's influence. But I have to say that it was not wise for the president to claim that "Taiwan is the ROC and the ROC is Taiwan" as he did in his 2004 National Day address, because that does not reflect the reality.
Taipei Times: Do you think the issue of constitutional reforms and the name-change movement are overused by leading figures in the DPP at election time? It seems that leaders like the president often bring up these issues to stimulate voters' will, yet remain oblivious of their campaign promises after the election campaigns end.
Yao: The president did not participate in the independence movement from the very beginning; therefore, he might not exactly understand how we got through it and what we have achieved over the years.
Taipei Times: I talked to people who participated in the march held on Sept. 25 to protest against the pan-blue opposition's ongoing obstruction of the special arms budget. Many of them felt that the independence movement has lost its energy since the DPP won power. What exactly is the problem?
Yao: Well, I have to say that the DPP now lacks a complete discourse for the independence movement. But that is only one of the problems. The DPP's organization is not strong enough either. The campaigning style should be changed too.
For example, from my observations, the constitutional task force established by the Presidential Office is weak and doesn't function effectively. Gathering academics and governmental officials to discuss constitutional topics in luxurious meeting rooms in hotels doesn't really help.
I think the biggest reason for the current inactivity of the Taiwan independence movement is the negligence of political leaders. It seems that leaders of social groups, political parties and governmental departments have more interest in campaigning for public office than in the campaign for reforms.
Some people holding important office who have power and influence either have no time or have no interest in [promoting the independence movement.]
Therefore, reforms are consequently stalled. Besides, Taiwan's mass media is also a strong reactionary force in blocking the reform movement. But the obstruction that we encounter is no less than that during the era of martial law.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
SEEKING OPTIONS: A Sinyi Realty corporate realty official attributed the spike to proposed legal changes in the territory and the ongoing pro-democracy protests More Hong Kongers purchased real estate in Taiwan last year than other foreigners, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed. The ministry attributed the spike to a proposed extradition law that the Hong Kong government submitted last year, which would have allowed suspects to be sent to China and other nations, which sparked mass protests that are continuing. The rate of purchases last year by Hong Kong natural and juridical persons stood at 40 and 60 percent respectively, with building area purchased by both standing at 47.41 percent and 52.59 percent respectively, ministry data showed. Department of Land Administration statistics showed that Hong Kongers
ZERO TOLERANCE: National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin said that he ordered Kaohsiung police to investigate reports of planned voter intimidation Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) yesterday denounced the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for asking people not to vote in a recall poll against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), while National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) called on police to follow up on reports that gangsters are planning to intimidate voters. Yen said that in an effort to save Han, the KMT has mobilized all of its members, who have increasingly tried to prevent Kaohsiung residents from exercising their right to vote in the poll on Saturday next week. She called on Kaohsiung residents to have the courage
Taipei is to reopen public facilities starting on Monday next week under three conditions, and allow indoor and outdoor events with fewer than 250 and 1,000 people respectively, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) yesterday. The three conditions are practicing social distancing measures or wearing a mask if the proper distance cannot be kept, enforcing a real-name registration system for indoor activities and prohibiting meal sharing, Huang said. All municipal facilities would resume operations under those principles, with the exception of school campuses, she said. School campuses at high-school level and below would remain closed to the public to protect student health, but