Concerned about Taiwan’s future under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, which advocates closer ties with China, a group of pro-Taiwan bloggers launched a Taiwan Bloggers Association (TBA) yesterday, vowing not only to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty but also its freedom of speech.
“Back in March, another blogger and I decided to organize a ‘pain-healing’ gathering for pro-Taiwan bloggers [after the Democratic Progressive Party lost the presidential election],” Billy Pan (潘建志), one of TBA’s co-founders, told members at the group’s inaugural meeting yesterday.
“We posted the announcement only six days prior to the event, but somewhere between 700 and 800 bloggers came out that day,” Pan said. “Some friends of mine and I were amazed to see what can be accomplished via the Internet, and discussed the possibility of creating a group to coordinate all bloggers with similar ideas.”
During TBA’s preparatory stage, there were a few circumstances that served as the test run.
On Aug. 30, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to express their discontent with the government’s performance on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) 100th day in office, the bloggers succeeded in mobilizing more than 4,000 people via the Internet, Pan said.
On Oct. 31, the TBA called together more than a thousand people to show their support to Taiwan Association of University Professors chairman Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) — also a TBA member — who was on his sixth day of a hunger strike outside the Legislative Yuan to demand changes to amendments to the Referendum Law (公民投票法).
Earlier last month, when three bloggers waving Tibetan flags during the visit of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) were arrested by police, they also found help and support — including an attorney who is also a blogger — on the Internet.
The “Mango Daily” incident was only the latest addition to the long list of bloggers showing their solidarity with each other.
The Mango Daily is a blog that often criticizes KMT policies while poking fun at KMT politicians. It was shut down by the blog service provider, Yahoo-Kimo, more than a week ago after the blogger, nicknamed Black Jack, posted a controversial article.
Hundreds of bloggers protested by sending letters to Yahoo-Kimo, accusing it of violating freedom of speech. Some even moved to boycott the Internet portal. Yahoo-Kimo finally agreed to reinstate the Mango Daily last week.
“If you’re treated unfairly, or if you see someone else being treated unfairly, you must speak out,” Black Jack, another of TBA’s co-founders, told the meeting yesterday. “Always remember that unity is power.”
“The online world is an intangible one, but we can make a difference in the real world if we stand together and use the Internet as a tool of coordination,” Pan said.