Chen said that active participation in and leading of social movements by students have flourished with such an abundance of energy and wide participation because of an accumulation of results through several years.
He said a number of the leading figures behind the student movements on social issues have “fought many battles” to protest against government, big business, exploitation and social injustice.
Chen listed these “battles” as including the fight to preserve Lo Sheng Sanatorium in New Taipei City (新北市) against demolition, beginning in 2005; the Wild Strawberries Student Movement of 2008 and 2009; environmental groups’ opposition to Kuokuang Petrochemical Refinery project in Changhua County starting in 2008; the fight against the Miramar Resort project development on the coast of Taitung County in recent years; protests against the demolition of resident housing under the urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林); and worker protests against Huanlong Textile Co in Miaoli County over fraudulent bankruptcy and unpaid wages last year.
Chen Cheng-liang said the ability of students to organize movements, mobilize and get their message out is becoming more mature, whereas government officials and politicians from both major parties are slow to respond, or even display an uncaring attitude or do not know how to respond.
Hsu Tao (徐韜), a spokesperson for the “Hug the Earth with Smile Youth League” and a history major at the Tunghai University, said that in the past, student movements tended to give people the impression of “angry youth” in action.
“Students have gradually changed their tactics in recent years. We are now taking a gentle, proactive and positive approach. By using ‘hugs instead of anger,’ our actions are more acceptable to the public,” Hsu said.