People from all walks of life took to the streets in Taipei yesterday to voice their dissatisfaction with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) governance.
A group of Hakka people held big black flags with calligraphy in white that read yimin (義民, “righteous people”) as they marched. The flag is modeled on the black flags used by Hakka militias who defended their home villages during an uprising against the Qing Dynasty in 1786 and again when they fought against the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in 1895.
“The flag symbolizes the Hakka resistance against injustice and the Hakka spirit of defending our homeland,” said Lee Ting-kun (李廷坤), from Taoyuan County. “We’re here today to tell Ma that most people are suffering in this country. We want to survive and live happily. Isn’t this what the government is supposed to do for us?”
Another group, from Greater Taichung, that stood out staged a mock funeral procession.
Two men were dressed up as Taoist priests and performed funeral rites as they marched, followed by people carrying big black-and-white portraits of Ma and Premier Sean Chen (陳?) and an ancestral tablet for the deceased with Ma’s name written on it.
“Doomed by the public, died without disease,” one placard read.
“Skyrocketing utility prices have aroused the anger of gods and men alike,” another placard read.
A 66-year-old woman, Lee Chuang (李妝), wore a pair of hand-woven traditional shoulder pads connected to a “halo” behind her head, and held a hand-woven flag that read: “Step down.”
“This is the outfit of the goddess of mercy,” Lee told the Taipei Times. “My son had a dream a few days ago in which the goddess of mercy told him that Ma should step down to end people’s suffering, so he hand-made this outfit for me to wear in the parade.”
Besides being worried about rising utility prices, Lee said she was also worried that a rising national debt would increase the suffering of the next generation.
“As a mother, I’m really concerned that my children and my grandchildren will have to carry the debts that Ma leaves them,” she said.
Many people who supported Ma during the presidential election also took part in the demonstration.
“I regret voting for Ma. I regret it a lot,” one man said. “Ma had a different attitude before his election. He acted as if he cared about the people before the election, but now he doesn’t listen to what people want.”
The People First Party, normally seen as an ally of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), said on Friday it encouraged its members to take part in the Democratic Progressive Party-sponsored protest on their own accord.
PFP spokesman Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) and PFP Taipei City Councilor Lin Kuo-cheng (林國成) were spotted in the rally yesterday, chanting slogans calling on Ma to step down.
“Ma should pay more attention to what people want; otherwise he is not suitable to be the president,” Lin said.
Chen Che (陳哲), the host of the Facebook group “Let’s Meet Up on May 20” (520我們不見不散), held up a sign that said: “Net friends, let’s meet up here,” .
“The Facebook group was created on March 18, because I think that, with so many Internet users complaining about Ma, we should do more than criticize him and his policies on the Internet. We should turn our dissatisfaction into action,” he said, adding that two months after the online group was created, it has attracted nearly 3,000 members.