The effects of the Sunflower movement continue to be felt even after the protesters have left the legislature. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) both announced on Monday that they will not contest the party’s chairmanship election. In an instant, the heated competition between Su, Hsieh and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) turned into an expression of party unity and support for Tsai.
The DPP was unable to direct or manipulate the demonstrations against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement, instead being reduced to providing protection, assistance and logistical support. Although the party’s ideas are close to those of the protesters, that the DPP, Taiwan’s second-largest political party, was unable to join the front lines of the movement and lead, direct or influence protesters and instead had to passively react to their demands and stand behind them has had a great impact on the party.
Su’s announcement that he is dropping out of the chairmanship election shows an understanding of the current political situation and a capacity for reflection that is becoming of a political leader. Facing the challenges of future civic movements, cross-strait relations, the year-end seven-in-one local elections and a generational change is not an easy task, and Tsai will have to shoulder a heavy load.
The protests were aimed at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but while the KMT continues to act as if nothing has happened, it is the DPP that has picked itself up.
As the students wrapped up their protest, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) continued his battle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) by appealing the Taipei District Court’s decision that Wang could retain his KMT membership, ignoring Wang’s rising popularity after he persuaded the students to evacuate the legislature, while Ma was unable to come up with any kind of response.
Not only is Ma’s popularity in Taiwan in the doldrums, even international media are critical of him. In addition, he is ignoring calls within his own party for party unity and to patch things up with Wang.
Wang promised the students that the agreement will only be reviewed after legislation regulating the oversight of cross-strait agreements has been passed, which resulted in Ma immediately issuing a statement saying that he wanted exactly what Wang wanted. However, the next day he instructed the party’s legislative caucus to continue with the review while an oversight act is being formulated.
Sunflower leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) responded that the activists had not reached a settlement with Ma and KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) tendered his resignation.
Regardless of how loud the protests are and that both domestic and international media see the agreement as dead in the water, Ma remains in his ivory tower, where he dreams about passing the agreement and negotiating an agreement on trade in goods.
Ma is a lame-duck president, and does not face the pressure of future elections. He can ignore the voices of 500,000 protesters and that his party could lose the votes of the younger generation en masse.
Although he is a dinosaur and it might take some time for signals of any kind to reach his brain, other KMT politicians still have to deal with political realities in the wake of the Sunflower movement.
If the KMT is unable to respond to the challenge of dealing with a leader who is out of touch with public opinion and wants to avoid a disaster of titanic proportions, that challenge will spell the end of the KMT as we know it.
As a person raised in a family that revered the teachings of Confucius (孔子) and Mencius (孟子), I believe that both sages would agree with Hong Kong students that people-based politics is the only legitimate way to govern China, including Hong Kong. More than two millennia ago, Confucius insisted that a leader’s first loyalty is to his people — they are water to the leader’s ship. Confucius said that the water could let the ship float only if it sailed in accordance with the will of the water. If the ship sailed against the will of the water, the ship would sink. Two
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly