Thu, Mar 19, 2015 - Page 3 News List

SUNFLOWER ANNIVERSARY: Ma’s time ‘over’: Huang

TIMES ARE CHANGING:Huang Kuo-chang said that the nation has matured and that it is “no longer in the palms of the KMT and the CCP for them to control as they wish”

By Tang Chia-ling and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Protesters hold a banner against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as they attend a rally in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday evening to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the Sunflower movement.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has lost the public’s trust and his mandate to govern following a series of policy mishaps, and there is little he can do during the remaining 14 months of his second term, Academia Sinica researcher and Sunflower movement leader Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.

“The Ma administration is over,” he said.

However, he added that the government could work toward three goals if it is willing to make substantial policy changes in the “post-Sunflower movement era.”

The first is to engage in democratic reforms, which the current legislature also needs to come to terms with, Huang said.

The legislature must pass an amendment to the recall mechanism stipulated in the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公務人員選舉罷免法), while pushing for the legislation of a cross-strait agreement oversight act proposed by civic groups, he said.

Otherwise, voters will seek change in next year’s presidential and legislative elections, in a bid to restructure the legislature and advance the amendment and legislation, he said.

The second goal should be to expedite social reforms, especially those involving the pension and taxation systems, Huang said, adding that the government must not rely on public employees and large businesses for political support.

The government should also aim to facilitate a fair distribution of wealth and prevent large conglomerates from monopolizing economic gains, he said.

As a core member of the Sunflower movement, Huang said that the movement has not been an individual effort, but a collective achievement.

The Sunflower movement refers to massive protests that activists — mostly university students — began in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on March 18 last year, in which they voiced anger over the speed of the legislature’s review of the cross-strait service trade agreement.

The activists stormed the legislature and occupied its main chamber.

The occupation lasted until April 10, several days after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) agreed that the cross-strait agreement would not be reviewed before an oversight act was passed.

Huang said that the movement’s biggest achievement was that it awakened civic consciousness and promoted youth participation in public affairs, such as politics, environmental issues, social reforms, human rights and workers’ rights.

The movement disrupted the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) initial plan to establish a liaison office on each side of the Taiwan Strait, as well as a proposed meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), he said.

“[The Sunflower movement] slows Ma’s pace in accommodating [China’s] ‘united front’ tactics,” he said.

The movement also forced China to modify its Taiwan policy, he added.

“Taiwan is no longer in the palms of the KMT and the CCP for them to control as they wish. It is a mature society and its public is against those magnates who benefit from the nation’s economic growth at the cost of Taiwan’s democracy and social justice,” Huang said.

Asked whether the Sunflower movement would happen again, Huang said he could not make any projection, but that “a mature society would proactively react and resist when democracy is at risk.”

The movement sent a message to people in power that the public will react if they abuse their power at the expense of democracy, he said.

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