President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday saluted Taiwanese on the 30th anniversary of the lifting of martial law, saying they are the driving force behind Taiwan’s democratic development.
Martial law was imposed on May 19, 1949, and lifted by then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) on July 15, 1987.
“On this day 30 years ago, Taiwan finally broke free of the martial law imposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] and took a major step toward freedom and democracy,” Tsai said.
Some attribute the lifting of martial law to Chiang, but “I think today, on the 30th anniversary of the lifting of martial law, the focus should be on Taiwanese,” she said.
The president said she has three hopes for Taiwan’s democracy.
First, that more young pro-localization advocates will enter politics, as it would help Taiwanese democracy stay young and vibrant.
Second, that political parties and the public will find a healthier, more rational way of interacting as the nation’s democracy matures.
“Governing the nation cannot be achieved by granting all civic groups’ wishes, but rather by achieving a balance between ideals and reality,” Tsai said.
Lastly, she said she hopes that all political parties would end their incessant wrangling and would strive for a better future from a Taiwan-centric perspective.
The public has proven over the past 30 years, with valor rarely matched, that democracy is not the “dreadful and menacing beast” that some had imagined it to be, Tsai said, adding that she hopes people will show the same level of courage in building a society in which no one will have to worry about Taiwan’s sovereignty being lost over the next 30 years.
The president showed a photograph of a group of people standing with their backs to the camera during one of the nation’s democracy movements, saying they might have been truck drivers, teachers, factory workers or small business owners.
“It is likely nobody knows their names, but it was they who pushed Taiwan’s democracy forward,” Tsai said.
“Taiwanese democracy will continue to develop only when the belief exists that people are what push democracy forward,” Tsai said, calling on all Taiwanese to promote the nation’s values of freedom and democracy worldwide.
Separately yesterday, former Presidential Office secretary-general Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), widow of late democracy pioneer Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), said that the nation is facing a threat that looms larger than the one posed by the KMT 30 years ago — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) trying to annex Taiwan.
The CCP is more autocratic and brutal than the KMT, and it is constantly trying to brainwash Taiwanese youth with China’s economic prowess and “united front” tactics, Yeh said, expressing concern over the ability of young Taiwanese to resist such temptations.
She called on young people to ask themselves whether they would in 30 years still be living in a free society where democracy and the freedoms of speech and expression are guaranteed, and where human rights are treated with respect.
In reference to Chinese authorities denying Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) the choice to seek medical treatment abroad, Yeh said that his death serves as a reminder that China has no respect for human rights and cannot be trusted.
Additional reporting by Tseng Wei-chen and CNA
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