Fri, Mar 28, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: INTERVIEW: Activist-academic explains student movement

Academia Sinica research fellow Huang Kuo-chang said in an interview with Tzou Jiing-wen, a staff reporter with the ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’), that the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by student-led protesters showed that the younger generation in Taiwan is cognizant of the regression of the nation’s democracy and the harsh employment environment they face, adding that a realization of these problems is what galvanized many younger people to make an effort to step forward for the future of Taiwan

By Tzou Jiing-wen  /  Staff reporter

The voters of this nation depend on the legislators they have elected — in accordance with the system of representation — into the Legislative Yuan, and yet it is clear these lawmakers have not been fulfilling their duties.

We sustain these legislators with our hard-earned tax money, but they have completely robbed us of any possibility for civil participation and oversight of the issue through a completely nondemocratic procedure.

More importantly, we have seen the Ma administration repeatedly place itself on the opposite side of civic will. It has even attempted to cement his rule through stringent regulation of administrative power and efforts to infiltrate legislative power.

Despite the president’s low popularity, the Ma administration does not fear the populace and has forged ahead with its plans, leading to an overwhelming atmosphere of discouragement in society, including those who have demonstrated against Ma.

It is in such an atmosphere that we have chosen to make a stand against an administration bent on fomenting political anarchy and cheapening the value of our Constitution.

LT: Can you give a definition of this student-led movement?

Huang: The essence of this movement is that this generation of Taiwanese are now aware that they are being backed into a corner of a wall.

The analogy of the wall could be taken two ways — the first being the chasm over which Taiwanese democracy dangles. If the process used to pass the cross-strait service trade agreement could be called democratic, then can all accords be done in such a manner? This is a scary thought.

The second way the analogy of the wall could be interpreted is as the less-than-friendly employment environment in Taiwan.

Under the Ma administration, Taiwan’s economy has become heavily reliant on China, causing the massive outsourcing of industry from Taiwan and the hollowing of Taiwanese industrial sector.

The low pay people face upon graduation is even worse than the standards of a decade ago.

These young people are being taught in schools that with a good education they will have a brighter future, but the reality of the situation is that even if one studies hard, there is no future in such an employment environment.

The movement is the students’ strongest critique against this government.

We have seen that there are still young people in all corners of Taiwan who are willing put effort into this thing [the student movement], whether they have traveled here to participate in person, or have sent material aid through whatever channels or even left a message on the Internet for spiritual support. We are also aware that Taiwanese abroad have also been moved by the students’ actions.

Some Hong Kong residents have also come to join us at the event, and they have said that the courage of Taiwan’s young people is extremely helpful to the morale of the younger generation in Hong Kong, adding that they hope Hong Kong has the same vibrancy.

This proves that as long as we are willing to work, willing to fight, Taiwan still has hope. These young people are — with their actions — lifting the society out of the oppression of defeatism.

Through this action, we are also sending out a strong message — that Taiwanese young people are ready to defend Taiwan’s democratic freedoms and determine their own future.

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