Sun, Apr 06, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Varied views reflect democratic manner

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

People discuss the proposal for an act regulating the oversight of cross-strait agreements at a forum organized by protesters outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

On Wednesday night, student movement leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) left the legislative floor and entered Jinan Road, one of the streets surrounding the occupied Legislative Yuan where performance stages have been set up for the public, professors, NGO workers and artists to express their opinion, give talks and perform.

He was soon recognized by a group of people standing and sitting a few stalls away from the back of Jinan Road’s main stage, away from the spotlight splashing for the front rostrum.

Lin was asked to join among them, and jokingly, to take off his famous green coat, which has caused a fashion stir among netizens.

Lin has received a great amount of media attention since March 18th, the day the students stormed into the building housing the Legislative Yuan.

The group of people here, without an elevated podium for the speaker, gathered under a banner that reads “the liberated area of the untouchables (賤民解放區).”

They have been staging “the liberated forum next to the public toilet” since March 27, three days after the attempt to occupy the Executive Yuan.

Lin appeared for a reason.

The Executive Yuan incident on March 24 was said to be led by groups other than the one occupying the Legislative Yuan.

The latter had been consulted and did not support the action, but did release a statement after the incident saying that they would stand by their comrades.

However, it was the start of a series of conspiracy theories about factional struggles within the movement regarding what to do next, which some media labeled a “dove-hawk dispute” and discontent toward the opaqueness of the decisionmaking “center.”

The collaborating groups that set up the makeshift forum, including the National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories (NAWCF), Taiwan International Worker’s Association, PLURS Electronic Music Anti-nuclear Front, the Hua Guang Community Self-Help Association, Losheng Youth Alliance and labor unions, were among those at the center of such rumor.

Emphasizing that they are not planning to “seize the power from the ‘center,’” the coalition who launched the liberated forum have indeed been dissatisfied with how the sit-in outside the occupied building has been conducted and its order maintained.

The order, cleanliness and the demonstrators’ self-discipline shown in the March 30 demonstration were the culmination of the protesting sit-in on the streets that has been staged for days since the March 18 legislative chamber siege.

Garbage is collected and recycled, smoking is frowned upon, areas clearly demarcated for walking and sitting and emergency medical routes lined and vacated for fast transport should accidents happen, leading some people to say that going to the sit-in was like going to a concert.

Some complained about how they were yelled at by the “order-maintaining volunteers” for staying in the emergency medical routes.

The groups now occupying the space beside the public toilet decided to challenge the protest movement’s power structure, spending several days discussing and questioning topics such as the reasonability of how the space is divided, whether the presuppositions of peace, rationality and non-violence have confined the possibility of the movement and how the decision-making mechanism can be more democratic.

Video footage of the Wild Lily student movement 24 years ago was played that night, with Lu Chih-hung (盧其宏), the adviser of the Taoyuan Labor Union, saying that the students at the time had a transparent and democratic decision-making mechanism, with each school having a representative responsible for conveying their peers’ opinions to the final decision-making group.

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