Injustices give rise to student movements
By Paul Lin 林保華

While the main cause for the Chinese Nationalist

Party’s (KMT) collapse during the Chinese Civil

War was its battlefield losses, the party also

suffered crushing defeats as a result of the

influence of student movements in the KMT-ruled


These movements were important because students

came from every sector of society and focused more

on social unfairness and injustice. The 1989

demonstrations by students in China began partly

because students had recognized the corrosive

influence of corruption. Unfortunately, they were

suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and

now corruption is rampant in the party. Their

example was followed by the Wild Lily Student

Movement in Taiwan in the 1990s, which helped push

the pro-democracy movement further along. The

democratic regression in the country is now

igniting yet another wave of student movements.

On Sept. 1, almost 10,000 people, most of whom were

students, took to the streets to express their

opposition to media monopolization backed by CCP

money. The demonstration was representative of the

new wave of student movements. On Nov. 26, the eve

of the Next Media Group sale in Macau, a group of

students gathered in front of the Executive Yuan in

Taipei to express their opposition to the deal.

That activity was led by Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), the

head of the National Taiwan University Graduate

Student Association. Lin, who was also in charge of

the Sept. 1 demonstration, excels in analyzing big

issues. He also possesses the passion as displayed

by students from southern Taiwan in particular, and

he conducts himself in a dignified and calm manner.

The protesters who gathered at the Executive Yuan

demanded that Premier Sean Chen (陳?) or Vice

Premier Jiang Yi-hua (江宜樺) listen to their

demands. Their demand was rejected and a lower-

level official was sent out to handle the

situation. The only thing that remained for the

students to do was to break through the police line

and move toward the Executive Yuan. Lin’s

leadership shows an understanding of how far one

can push and when to stop to exert pressure, while

avoiding mishaps and injuries — something that

requires an ability to read a situation and have

the knowledge to control it. The ability to exert

crowd control is a good test of a leader’s

abilities. Lin has performed well on all counts.

The statements of a few leaders of social movements

and a couple of academics at the demonstrations

also provided inspiration for the protesters, in

particular a speech given by Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人),

an associate research fellow at the Institute of

Taiwan History at Academia Sinica.

His speech outside the Fair Trade Commission the

next day has been widely disseminated, but the

speech outside the Executive Yuan was also very

moving. Both times Wu said President Ma Ying-jeou (

馬英九) likes to refer to Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水),

a key figure in the resistance movement against

Japanese colonial rule, to bolster his own image.

However, Chiang always stood on the side of the

disadvantaged and he advocated the democratization

of Taiwan.

Wu also said that more than a decade ago, during a

discussion between him, Jiang Yi-hua and Chinese

students at Harvard, Jiang gave a forceful

declaration of his democratic ideals. Wu said that

Jiang seems to be completely different today.

The students who have been participating in the

protests are the elite of the student movement.

They will plant new seeds on their campuses, so it

is not strange that the education minister was so

upset about the student demonstrations. With

widespread injustice in Taiwan, there is a lot of

room for student movements to proliferate.

By Paul Lin 林保華

Paul Lin is a political pundit.

Translated by Perry Svensson


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