Under normal circumstances, these young Taiwanese professionals would be doing just what about any other people their age would do on a Saturday afternoon: rest, or go shopping. But for the three or four sitting at the table sipping cappuccinos and smoking cigarettes, shopping is the last thing on their mind.
It’s only a couple of days before the arrival of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yulin (陳雲林) and already their anxiety is palpable. Like many others this past week, they are planning on demonstrating his presence in Taiwan, as well as the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s opening to China.
What truly worries them, however, isn’t Chen’s presence here, or even Taipei’s closer relations with Beijing. Their primary concern lies at home, with what they see as a dangerous and rapid shift toward authoritarian rule under Ma.
“Look at the indictment of [Democratic Progressive Party Tainan City Councilor] Wang Ting-yu (王定宇). It only took them eight or nine days” to conduct the investigation, one said.
Added to this are the government’s restrictions on assembly and demonstrations outside the Presidential Office Building and the many instances where police have disrupted the activities of people who were not breaking the law, such as Wu Ting-ho (吳庭和), a World United Formosans for Independence member, who was manhandled by a group of police officers in front of the Presidential Office Building on Oct. 11.
Wu wasn’t doing anything wrong, he wasn’t breaking the law, one of the young professionals told the Taipei Times. They stopped him because of what was written on his T-shirt. Video footage shown to the Taipei Times also showed two elderly individuals being forced to leave the premises.
“We’re scared,” another said.
Because of the arbitrariness of police action and how unclear the rules about what constitutes a violation of the law have become, “we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we’ll be arrested.”
For many of them, such police action is new, as they were too young to remember when the nation was still under martial law.
“Look at the [anti Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)] demonstrations by the ‘Red Shirts’ last year,” one said. “They were allowed to demonstrate for months, to camp at [Taipei Main Station] and the police didn’t bother them.”
Asked if Chen Yulin’s motorcade would try to avoid demonstrators by using the back streets, one of them said: “No. For such an important figure, using the back streets would be a loss of face. His car will use major roads.”
“That’s why there will be such a large police presence,” the person said. “There’s going to be 7,000 police officers deployed for Chen’s visit.”
“We’re pretty pessimistic,” another said. “Maybe some of us want to be arrested. It feels like it’s martial law all over again. Perhaps what the Ma government is doing by cracking down on dissent and freedom of speech is preparing the terrain” for a Taiwan that is part of China.
A Keelung high school on Saturday night apologized for using a picture containing a Chinese flag on the cover of the senior yearbook, adding that it has recalled the books and pledged to provide students new ones before graduation on Thursday. Of 309 Affiliated Keelung Maritime Senior High School of National Taiwan Ocean University graduates, 248 had purchased the yearbook. Some students said that the printer committed an outrageous error in including the picture, while others said that nobody would notice such a small flag on the cover. Other students said that they cared more about the photographs of classmates and what was
GOING INTERNATIONAL: Rakuten Girls squad leader Ula Shen said she was surprised that baseball fans outside of Taiwan not only knew of them, but also knew their names Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland Athletics on Saturday hosted its first Taiwanese Heritage Day event at the Oakland Coliseum with a performance by Taiwanese cheerleading squad the Rakuten Girls and a video message from Vice President William Lai (賴清德). The Rakuten Girls, who are the cheerleaders for the CPBL’s Rakuten Monkeys, performed in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 people, followed by a prerecorded address by Lai about Taiwan’s baseball culture and democratic spirit. Taiwanese pitcher Sha Tzu-chen (沙子宸), who was signed by the Athletics earlier this year, was also present. Mizuki Lin (林襄), considered a “baseball cheerleading goddess” by Taiwanese
WAY OF THE RUKAI: ‘Values deemed worthy often exist amid discomfort, so when people go against the flow, nature becomes entwined with our lives,’ a student said “Run, don’t walk” after your dreams, Nvidia cofounder and chief executive officer Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) told National Taiwan University (NTU) graduates yesterday, as several major universities held in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. “What will you create? Whatever it is, run after it. Run, don’t walk. Remember, either you’re running for food, or you are running from becoming food. Oftentimes, you can’t tell which. Either way, run,” he said. Huang was one of several tech executives addressing graduating students at Taiwanese universities. National Chengchi University held two ceremonies, with alumnus Patrick Pan (潘先國), who is head of Taiwan
A 14-legged giant isopod is the highlight of a new dish at a ramen restaurant in Taipei and it has people lining up — both for pictures and for a bite from this bowl of noodles. Since “The Ramen Boy” launched the limited-edition noodle bowl on Monday last week, declaring in a social media post that it had “finally got this dream ingredient,” more than 100 people have joined a waiting list to dine at the restaurant. “It is so attractive because of its appearance — it looks very cute,” said the 37-year-old owner of the restaurant, who wanted to be