The nature of the ongoing pension reform protests and the 2014 Sunflower movement protests are different and incomparable, former Sunflower movement leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) said on Facebook yesterday.
Chen made the comments after people protesting against pension reform outside the legislature in Taipei yesterday held banners with the slogan: “If the Sunflower [movement] can, why can’t we?”
The slogans referred to Sunflower movement members occupying the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan from March 19 to April 10, 2014, to protest Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators attempt to force through the passage of the cross-strait service trade agreement.
The Taipei District Court declared on March 31 that the actions of the 22 Sunflower movement members were in line with the concept of “civil disobedience” and found them not guilty of inciting others to commit a crime, obstruction of police officers in the discharge of their duties and other crimes. The verdict can be appealed.
“The Sunflower movement really was different from you [pension reform protesters],” Chen wrote.
Chen drew a comparison between the violence faced by New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) and Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) when they passed through the crowds to enter the legislature yesterday and the ease with which then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) communicated with the Sunflower movement protesters.
Hsu had water poured on him and was involved in a scuffle, while Wang and Tsai were chased by angry protesters before they managed to escape into the building.
Chen said that even during the students’ occupation of the legislature, both DPP and KMT legislators were able to come and go as they pleased, and that they held a total of six or seven cross-caucus negotiations.
It is understandable that many still question the need for pension reform, but the legislative review of the draft bills has only just begun, Chen said, adding that there is still time for debate or protest in the coming months.
If protesters truly feel that “we’re just doing what the Sunflower movement did” and continue to let such violence represent them, it would hasten society’s aversion to the protests, Chen said, adding that it is impossible to win popular support through such actions.
Chen, who threw a shoe at then-Miaoli County commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) in September 2013, said that was a special circumstance aimed at preventing Liu from forcing his way into the home of Chang Sen-wen (張森文) to pay tribute to him.
Chang committed suicide after the forced demolition of his pharmacy on a contested plot of land in Miaoli’s Dapu Township (大埔) when the family went to Taipei to protest the county government’s seizure of farmland to expand the Hsinchu Science Park.