Former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said that he has never regretted evicting protesters from the Executive Yuan compound on March 23, 2014, during the Sunflower movement, asking: “Was anyone killed in the incident?”
The incident, which followed the occupation of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber by protesters opposing the legislature’s handling of a cross-strait service trade agreement, saw thousands of people surround the Executive Yuan and more than 100 protesters break onto its premises, Jiang said.
“The leaders of the Executive Yuan and police could not compromise. We definitely had to evict them,” he said in a radio interview.
Attempts to occupy the central government’s executive branch through violence cannot be tolerated, he said, adding that he had told police clearly to minimize any physical conflict in the process of eviction.
Although some level of physical coercion was inevitable, the National Police Agency and police officers were well-instructed, and no serious injuries were reported, he said.
To his knowledge, no protesters were beaten or injured by police, but as he later found out, some had injured themselves as they ran into utility poles or fell, he said, adding that he could not address each individual case.
Using police force was the right decision, as those who broke into the Executive Yuan had to be evicted, he said.
“As a premier and as a member of the public” he had “never regretted” the decision, he said.
Some students at the time called him a “murderous premier” and accused him of failing to appear in court after being charged with injuring protesters, but the accusations were nonsense, Jiang said.
Some claimed that he did not appear in court on Dec. 18 last year, but he was not required to attend that day, he said.
“They said I am a killer and wanted to commit murder, but was anyone killed in the incident? he asked. “That was a groundless accusation.”
“The Sunflower movement sentiment has led Taiwan down a dark road of no return,” he said.
The movement thwarted the government’s plans to integrate Taiwan with the region’s economies, he said.
It also saw the emergence of a new tide in Taiwanese politics, yet almost five years on, Taiwanese have not become less anxious, he said.
Many accusations made against the agreement at the time, including that it was a backroom deal, were made up to obstruct the development cross-strait interactions, he said.
“Which aspect of the trade pact would have actually sold Taiwan’s sovereignty?” Jiang asked, adding that the pact’s politicization has deprived the nation of many opportunities for development.
The movement was a result of political manipulation and the Democratic Progressive Party has benefited from it, Jiang said.
He added that he feels sad for the students who surrounded him in protest on Dec. 18 last year, when he visited National Taiwan University to give a speech.
It is disheartening to see that they are yet to let go of their hatred, he said.
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