Sun, May 12, 2013 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Democracy Watch speaks on ‘Declaration’

A group of Taiwanese academics at Taiwan Democracy Watch recently published a manifesto titled ‘A Declaration of Free Men,’ aimed at reframing cross-strait relations, which it said have prized economic prosperity above everything else and have been monopolized by egotistical politicians on both sides of the Strait. Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Jieh-min, one of the manifesto’s drafters, commented on the manifesto in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Tzou Jiing-wen and called on the public to protect their democratic way of life by employing the ‘weapon of human rights’

By cloaking their defeatism as “pragmatism,” these media outlets are merely championing hegemony and demanding that the people [of Taiwan] succumb to [China’s might] and embrace its preferred ways for cross-strait engagement.

It is easy to deride idealism and take cheap shots, but it is hard to devise alternative measures.

We have never claimed the “Declaration of Free Men” to be flawless, but at least we have made the effort to put forward a new ideology.

We expect to see in this society more people who possess the sort of integrity advocated by French novelist Albert Camus in his work The Plague, and who could propose other possibilities to help Taiwan overcome its political predicaments.

Camus said only people who have integrity could fight off “the plague.”

We believe that integrity exists in every person who does their duty to society, no matter how small.

Also, we hope to see more people who are empathetic to Chinese citizens [not the Chinese regime] and sympathetic to the values of freedom, democracy and human rights to join our discussion board.

LT: During the social dialogue [promoted by the declaration], there has been a side debate over whether “Taiwanese independence” has lost its marketability. What are your opinions?

Wu: Some media outlets have tried to capitalize on the manifesto to manipulate the issue of “Taiwanese independence’s loss of marketability,” and use this twisted assumption to dismiss the declaration.

When discussing the debatable topics of Taiwan independence and unification [of Taiwan and China], the worthier question should be: Is there a market for unification?

In China, government officials are busy sending their children overseas, applying for foreign citizenship, purchasing real estate in abroad and living lavish lifestyles with money extorted from common people. It is these officials, who themselves don’t even want to be Chinese, are wrapping their hands around our necks, trying to browbeat us into becoming one of them.

Does anyone find such a nation attractive? That is a question our media should be asking China.

Now, do democracy and human rights have a market in Taiwan? Are they marketable in China?

The democratic political system we enjoy today in Taiwan is the fruit of countless sacrifices and the devotion of many generations of Taiwanese over the past decades. Yet, this system is still delicate and imperfect. The nation’s democracy still needs to be further deepened and entrenched.

Because of the painful price our forebears paid to achieve democracy, we are able to see more clearly the fragile nature of this universal value and China’s apparent efforts to encroach on our nation by buying people off and the necessity of safeguarding our hard-earned democratic way of life.

We must not back down from our obligation to defend our “social openness.”

Over the past decade, people from China have been watching closely every election carried out in this nation. Why? Because they live in a country where democracy and direct elections don’t yet exist and by showing a great interest in Taiwan’s elections, they are actually launching an “unspoken protest” against their one-party government and venting their frustration.

Chinese students were present at several recent social movements in Taiwan, such as those against nuclear energy, forced relocation [of city residents], and media monopoly, as well as the large-scale demonstrations staged by workers and labor unions on May 1.

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