Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday called for support in the southern cities of Pingtung and Greater Kaohsiung for a protest against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) scheduled for Sunday in Taipei, saying that only “direct pressure from the people” could force Ma to change his “authoritarian” leadership style.
In a pre-recorded radio interview aired yesterday morning, Su said that “it was part of Ma’s personality to resist change until he was faced with enormous pressure.”
The DPP is organizing the protest to make it clear to Ma that it is time to recognize that his governance is failing and that he needs to work with the people through a consociational democratic process, Su said.
The DPP has been planning the protest — the first street movement since Su took charge of the party in May last year — for weeks. The rally is expected to draw a crowd of more than 100,000 and will make three demands of the president: reshuffle the Cabinet, reject the controversial Next Media Group deal and hold a national affairs conference.
Yesterday afternoon, while speaking to hundreds of supporters in Pingtung at the first of the two-a-day rallies leading up to the Taipei event, Su said the DPP did not decide to “take to the streets just for the sake of hitting the streets,” but because Ma had not only failed to adequately govern the country, but had also repeatedly refused to communicate with the opposition and the public.
“While the people suffer, all Ma does is cite numbers and rankings and tell you that this country is doing well. And while he was never tired of talking about reforms, he has always chosen to stand on the opposite side of them,” Su said.
Su played down some critics’ argument that the protest would be meaningless and unable to bring about any change, saying that Taiwan’s democratization had been made possible by many similar street movements.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who hails from Pingtung, also spoke on the eve of the anniversary of her failed bid for the presidency and lamented Ma’s failure to protect the well-being of those he is supposed to be serving.
Tsai described the past year as “the most difficult period for Taiwan since the end of World War II,” because most people not only suffered financially, but also lost all hope and confidence in the future.
“And they found out that they could no longer trust the government because it failed to accomplish anything,” Tsai said.
“That was why you saw a group of young students step up and say they were going to safeguard their nation’s democracy and oppose media monopolies. And that is also why now is the time for us to be on the street, speak our minds and pave our own way,” she added.
The only goal for Ma after he was re-elected was to secure his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship this year, which explains why the president was never serious about implementing reforms.
The last DPP rally before Sunday’s protest is scheduled to be held in Changhua City on Wednesday.