Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday praised the student movement against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement, saying it allowed Taiwanese “to see the signs of hope in the nation.”
Lee made the remarks in a statement released on Facebook yesterday morning, 13 days after a group of students occupied the Legislative Yuan in an effort to press President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration into renegotiating the controversial service trade agreement with China.
The student-led protest has been dubbed as the “Sunflower student movement” by media.
“Over the past few days, these students have demonstrated their enthusiasm for the nation, their unshaken determination to uphold their beliefs and their unstoppable pursuit of the future. They have shown the world the vitality of Taiwan’s democracy and have shown us that there is still hope for the nation,” Lee said.
Lee said he hoped the student movement could teach Taiwanese the true values of democracy, which require a lot more than just elections — including people’s full and active participation in society and their continuous supervision of the government.
“I look forward to seeing more opinion leaders and members of the public come forward to shoulder responsibility and think about the nation’s future. In the meantime, I urge [the government] to call a civil constitutional or a national affairs meeting to settle political disputes,” Lee said.
As for yesterday’s massive demonstration against the cross-strait service trade pact called by the student protesters on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei, which the event’s organizers said has attracted an estimated 500,000 participants, Lee urged the public to respect the students’ peaceful and rational demands and help them safeguard the nation’s democracy.
In light of riot police’s forced eviction of students occupying the Executive Yuan on Monday, Lee said the duty of law enforcement officers was to protect people’s lives and property and that both sides should remain calm and rational.