More groups must join ‘Ing’ as she faces ‘Ying’

By Paul Lin 林保華

Sunday, Nov 23, 2008, Page 8

Although Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) has left Taiwan, the tension between the government and the opposition remains. Not only are there wounds that need healing, but Taiwan must also continue to move forward.

Did the large anti-Chen demonstration on Oct. 25 bring any concrete results? No. Taiwan Association of University Professors Chairman Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) foresaw that the government in its arrogance would dismiss public opinion and so he staged a hunger strike outside the Legislative Yuan, calling for amendments to the nation’s electoral system and the Referendum Law to ensure the right of the Taiwanese public to be the “bosses” of their country. To hold onto these appeals, people with different backgrounds have shown their support by joining the ongoing protest.

The protest against the Nov. 6 meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chen hasn’t ended. Students assembled to protest alleged police brutality toward demonstrators and the danger to human rights this behavior posed. After being dispersed by police, the student demonstrators re-assembled at Liberty Square and launched the “Wild Strawberries Student Movement.” One of their demands is an amendment to the ill-designed Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法), according to which their demonstration is illegal. But isn’t this the reason they fight this flawed law? It is an act of civil disobedience.

Although Taiwan is a democracy, transitional justice has not yet been carried out. This has left many ineffective systems in place from the past authoritarian regime, and legislation has not had time to catch up. These remainders and the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorship have put Taiwan’s democracy at risk. Because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration failed to fix these problems, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) resumed these old practices following its return to power. The public has had to resort to civil disobedience to resist the regression of democracy and to establish a healthier civil society.

When DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected as the DPP’s party leader in May, she expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue with civil organizations, the party’s long-term allies, saying she would consult both with elites inside and outside the party and with intellectuals from all walks of life. Maybe she has been too busy dealing with her party’s constant internal and external conflicts to do so. But following the government’s reactions to Chen’s visit to Taiwan, its economic policies, tactics of political persecution and humiliation of the judiciary, the DPP must strengthen its cooperation with these groups as it struggles with the KMT. The old, the middle-aged and the young must come together as a positive force for Taiwan’s future development.

The government and the media outlets under its influence continue to block and distort these campaigns, especially the “Wild Strawberries Student Movement.” We don’t need any reasoning back and forth — all the government needs to do is give a straight answer to why the Chinese flag was allowed on Zhongshan N Road while people holding the Taiwanese flag met with violence. This was in violation of basic civil rights, and it has impacted on national identity.

Trying to purge its image of violence, the government struck first by calling Tsai “Violent Little Ing” (暴力小英). Tsai has changed that name to “Anti-violence Little Ing” (抗暴小英), and instead calls Ma “Violent Old Ying” (暴力老英). This is basically a confrontation between the general public and an authoritarian government. If Ma continues to do as he pleases and lets social conflict intensify, anything could happen.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

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