As the student-led protesters’ occupation of the legislative chamber in reaction to the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact enters its 20th day, its success can in part be attributed to the cooperation and organized labor division of the protesters.
Among those who have taken charge of the situation is Lee Yu-hsin (李郁欣), a graduate of Soochow University’s Department of History.
Lee heads a team that distributes supplies such as meals to the occupiers, and manages daily living requirements inside the chamber, such as personal hygiene and sanitation.
The team’s responsibilities range from taking account of foodstuff, sleeping bags and chargers for computers and smartphones, to garbage collection and cleaning.
Lee, nicknamed Pi Pi (皮皮), is a no-nonsense, tough-talking student. Some students resisted her strict command at first, but she stood firm.
She laid down the rules through written instructions and stern warnings, which went on to become hot topics among netizens as students circulated pictures of her messages online.
Some of her infamous warnings were: “If you don’t know where the trash goes, I will stuff you into it,” and “Whoever writes graffiti in the washroom or elsewhere, our team will make sure you go home crying for your mommy.”
She also wrote: “Don’t talk about ‘procedural justice’ if you cannot even keep electric cords in order” and “We can change society only when we learn to put things back in their rightful place.”
Lee, 27, was among the students who, on the night of March 18, broke through a side door of the legislature to start the occupation.
“At the start, no one thought we would stay inside for such a long time,” Lee said. “In the following two days, large quantities of goods and food poured in, from many donors and civic groups.”
“We also got items like switch-blade knives, gas burners, but have no idea who donated these,” she said. “I like to keep things in order with a ‘hardline’ approach, so on the third day, I decided to take charge and manage the supply inside the occupied legislature.”
Lee said she began by organizing distribution routes for incoming supply.
She devised regulations to check up on all incoming items, and then she designated a few specific locations for materials at which enter.
Later, Lee also banned noodle soup, because it is prone to spilling, which she said is difficult to clean up and leaves a lingering smell.
She said there was some resistance at the start and many questioned the need for such stringent regulations.
“After a few days, everyone saw that the place was tidier, and no more dangerous items were getting through, ” she said.
“I chose this way of doing things so this student movement would not be discredited. I was worried that images of students wasting food, or trash being throw around would get published by the media. They could write very horrible things about us,” she added.
Lee admitted that over the past two weeks, there has been a lot of pressure.
“I really believe we can make a difference. There is a need for change in our society. People should not just elect politicians, then leave them to do whatever they fancy. We must scrutinize politicians and hold them accountable,” she said.
Lee has been involved in rallies against the forced expropriation of houses and other social issues.