There has been a transition from a wave of social movements to the formation of new political power after last year’s student-led Sunflower movement protests, as society witnesses young people actively participating in politics and their influence resounds beyond this past year, an academic said yesterday.
The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has taken note of public grievances that have boiled over since the 2012 opposition to media monopolization, followed by various other movements culminating in the Sunflower movement on March 18 last year, which started as a response to the attempted forced passage of a cross-strait service trade agreement, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said.
“However, Ma’s administration has not made any changes to its governance,” he said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Due to the Ma administration’s slow reaction to public demands suffocating society, the eruption of the 318 movement — as the Sunflower movement is also known — spurred young people into action to take back the nation’s future and lead society forward, Wu said.
The 23-day occupation of the legislative complex, including the main legislative chamber, was a test of the maturity and resilience of Taiwan’s democratic politics, as it showed the extent to which society accepted practices of civil disobedience, Wu said.
While the fact that no police force was deployed to evict protesters from the legislative floor during the siege received positive recognition, the crackdown at the Executive Yuan on March 23 last year and the ensuing judicial prosecution of protesters in ongoing trials require the public’s continuing attention, Wu said.
If Ma’s administration continues to turn a blind eye to justice and issues of concern to the younger generation, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will lose the presidential election next year in similar fashion to its rout in the Nov. 29 last year nine-in-one elections, Wu said.
In other news, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that the Sunflower movement highlighted the fact that the nation’s politics has long suffered from “a deficiency of transparency and public participation.”
The problems that Taiwan faces are not issues of a political or ideological nature, but rather issues affecting the daily lives of people, Tsai said.
If transparency could be introduced into the political system and room made for public participation in politics, “politicians would make less mistakes,” Tsai said.
Tsai said that political parties should serve the public good and must shoulder the responsibility of carrying society forward, adding that “political parties alone cannot change society.”
The DPP will serve as an instrument to gather people from all walks of life to shape the future of the nation and face challenges ahead, she said.
Tsai, the DPP’s prospective candidate for next year’s presidential election in January, said she has been thinking about what the party’s mission is after losing the presidency to Ma in 2012.
“As the Sunflower movement demonstrated, politics is not just the business of political parties and politicians. Politics has to do with choice of values. It is how people respond to public affairs. It is something that everyone should participate in,” Tsai said.
The Sunflower movement has presented challenges for political parties, Tsai said, adding that another movement of fiercer and bigger scale would erupt if political parties fail to cope with these challenges.
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