The anger expressed by the more than 100,000-strong “White-Shirt Army” at a mass protest on Saturday served as a serious warning on the legitimacy of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and political stability in Taiwan, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.
“People are the masters of their country. The ‘White-Shirt Army’ movement was a perfect example of why people’s voices matter and showed that citizen participation will feature in policymaking in the future,” she said.
The demonstration was held to protest against the government’s poor handling of the investigation into the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘).
Tsai made the remarks as she prepared to work with lawmakers across party lines today to reissue a demand to Ma to hold a national affairs conference.
The DPP heavyweight wants the conference to deal with major issues that have recently sown social divisions and bred public mistrust of the government, such as pension reforms, cross-strait engagement, military reform and nuclear energy, among others.
She made a similar appeal earlier this year that was primarily focused on the pension system reforms.
In a recent interview with Internet news channel UDN TV, Tsai reiterated that the direction the country takes should be agreed upon by the public, but that Ma appeared to be making the decision unilaterally and according to his personal political agenda.
This is especially true of the cross-strait service trade agreement, she added.
Tsai yesterday urged the president to establish a platform that would promote citizen participation in national affairs.
She also advised Ma to cancel a planned trip to the Caribbean and Latin America, which is to begin on Sunday, as domestic political and social instability is the primary concern right now.
Tsai appeared to give a lukewarm reception to the idea of a one-on-one meeting with Ma, who had said through a presidential spokesperson that he welcomed such a meeting after his overseas trip.
“I didn’t feel that his response was sincere. It seems to me that he still has the mentality that he can get by just with casual responses and lip service,” Tsai said.