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Mar 24, 2014


I've been following protests in Taiwan with a great deal of sympathy for the students, admittedly lukewarm support for the details of their cause, and tremendous trepidation about how the government would react. Judging by what happened through the night at the Executive Yuan, things will be getting uglier for a while.

What infuriates me most is not the water cannons or the batons, but how disingenuous the KMT is being, simultaneously pretended to respect the students and yet finding their cause and methods utterly unacceptable.

The grossest offender is President Ma.  In his "response" [Full text, Chinese] to the students on the morning of March 23rd, his most egregious statements included:
"When I was studying at university and overseas in America, I paid a great deal of attention to national (political) matters, and participated in student activities." 
The causes Ma took up were anti-democratic; he may well have spied on his fellow students; and his concern for the Pinnacle Islands (Senkaku/Diaoyutai) in his college years demonstrates insincerity more than any other action, since ROC claims to the islands were simply fabricated.
The rule of law is the foundation of democracy; without the rule of law, there is no democracy. Strongly upholding the rule of law is the root of our country's founding.  
There are several utterly laughable aspects to this claim. Martin Luther King Jr. answered Ma's general point in his Letter from Birmingham Jail:
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all." 
But let's also address some of the specifics. Most absurd of all is the claim that the ROC was founded on the rule of law, when the opposite is true and best exemplified by party's decade long deathgrip on the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion and the suspension of the constitution in Taiwan in favor of martial law.

More relevant to last night's events, this President and his party have for decades refused to amend an Assembly and Parade Law that was so restrictive it should have easily been scrapped  -- but we had to wait for the Council of Grand Justices to strike it down just last week.

This is a President and a party who in 2005 encouraged former PFP Legislator Chiu Yi to join their party -- in spite of the fact, or perhaps because, Chiu Yi openly called for revolution against the DPP government while ramming a truck into a Kaohsiung Court's front gates. Now that's violent protest!

This is a President and a party that insisted in 2006 that holding two elections together -- a referendum and a presidential election -- was flatly unconstitutional; yet in 2008 holding two elections together -- the legislative and presidential elections -- would help the KMT, so Ma led the charge, throwing out the "unconstitutional" argument in favor of the government "saving resources" and increasing voter mobilization.

And perhaps most ironically, this is a President and a party whose entire leadership spent months taking part in a large scale protest that frequently  broke the law over a period of months -- especially the idiotic Assembly and Parade Law -- but since that protest was aimed at Ousting President Chen, it was A-OK by Ma.
The fruits of Taiwan's democracy did not come easy.臺灣民主的成果得來不易
Yes, and no thanks to President Ma.

I don't know what comes next, but I hope it will ultimately help heal these new wounds and the rift between the government and youth.