A special train carrying foreign and Taiwanese passengers yesterday departed Taipei on a five-city “democracy tour,” which is to culminate in a forum on modern global democracy.
The “Taiwan democracy train” is to take about 200 passengers to landmarks in western Taiwan that are important to the nation’s democratic development, said Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who initiated the three-day tour.
The train is to stop in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, allowing the passengers to visit important locations, for example a museum in Taichung dedicated to Taiwan democracy pioneer Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂).
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“Democracy can be as enjoyable as a tour and tourism can involve many elements of democracy,” Lin Chia-lung said at the launch ceremony.
It would be interesting for the passengers to discuss the role of democracy in their lives as they tour Taiwan, as trains and train stations hold people’s memories and many touching stories, he said.
Tomorrow, the train is to arrive in Taichung for the annual Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, which the city is hosting for the first time.
Forum copresident Bruno Kaufmann, who is also on the train, said that there are many similarities between building a railway and building a democracy, because they both connect people.
“This is the right time to board the Taiwan democracy train,” he said, adding that the trip provides an opportunity to see how generations of Taiwanese worked hard to overcome a military regime, a corrupt one-party state and a top-down political culture to develop Taiwan into one of the world’s most livable, democratic societies.
At the launch ceremony, Lin also commented on the democracy movement in Hong Kong, saying that Taiwanese should support Hong Kong and other places fighting for democracy.
A demonstration was held in Taiwan to highlight that the “one country, two systems” formula applied by China in Hong Kong would not suit Taiwan, because it would hurt freedom and democracy, he said.
The “one country, two systems” formula, put forth by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) in the early 1980s, is based on the premise that there is only “one China,” but allows distinct regions, such as Hong Kong and Macau, to provisionally retain their own economic and administrative systems.
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