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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.


Anonymous said...

"admittedly lukewarm support for the details of their cause" could you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

"admittedly lukewarm support for the details of their cause": could you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

LMAO! So 民進黨 will make Taiwan's future better? Dream on! You probably forget that democracy is to choose the lesser of two evils! Welcome to the new world!

Anonymous said...

I have been in Taiwan and pay taxes here. I fail to see how causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to government buildings, the people tax dollars is democracy. Protest outside in the street if you want. They are not above the law. We have laws for a reason. I lived here during the KMT protests. They were because ex pres. Chen took millions of dollars of the people's money and put it in Swiss bank's. This is a fact. It was the Swiss government that contacted Taiwan to inform them of this. This is no KMT invention. Yes, they broke the protest law by protesting without a permit. They did not break into ans destroy government buildings. This is no peaceful protest. These demonatators have broken doors, windows, desks, computers, stolen government property and show no respect for anyone other than what they believe in. You change government at the ballot box and not by the use of force.
These protest leaders are the same ones who protested in Da Pu over tearing down their houses for an industrial park. They are also political science majors who do not care about the rights of the people who do not agree with them.
I live in Chiayi. This is a DPP area. I have asked about a hundred Taiwanese people about their opinon, only one person agrees with them. The other 99% said they are going about it the wrong way. They also worry about how much money they are costing all of us by the damage they have caused, the cost of police overtime and the blocking of the Legislature.
Today the protesters said that they will never leave. Can you imagine this happening in any other country? They would call in the army! I am an American, to compare this to Martin Luther King and the struggle is really funny. I dought that any of these students have even read the agreement. They only see that China is bad. Taiwan is getting left behind the other Asian tigers really fast. Income had been the same for 15 years. Why? Taiwan has too many trade barries. When you sign an agreement, you never get everything that you want. Look at NAFTA and The European Union. Both of these agreements made all industries have to compete globally. Competition breeds invention. I do not here anyone complain about all the money that Chinese tourists bring here. Taiwanese can go to China and live, open factories and join in their communities. To bad they can not do the same.
BTW. When writing a blog, you ahould at least try to show both sides of the argument. You did not so I did. Not everyone agrees with the student protesters meathods and tactics. You have shown here, by not mentioning why the KMT was protesting with the Red Shirts, that you are not writing a balanced blog. Too bad that it has to be green is good (green is the DPP color) and blue (the KMT color), instead of what is good for the country.
America will soon start the TPP (Trans Pacific Parntnership) talks for all Pacific countries. The goal is to start a free trade zone. Do you really think they will ask Taiwan to join? First, Taiwan signs a beef agreement with Taiwan over raptopamine in beef. Then Taiwan breaks the agreement. Now this. Part of being a responsible country is keeping your word. Taiwan is a small country with few natural resources. Taiwan needs to worry less about protectionism and more about integrating with the rest of the world. Otherwise we will be left far behind. I love Taiwan dearly. Taiwan needs to work together like the other Asian tiger and not only care about who wins elections. Instead of saying no no no, they should actually come up with a different way.

Gilman Grundy said...

Can I just point how ridiculous it is to cite MLK's letter in this case? MLK was saying that they were trying to protect the law by upholding a decision of the US supreme court, and that failing to follow that decision was a much greater wrong than anything he or his followers had done.

By contrast, Ma's government, whilst they did breach a non-binding agreement and went against the spirit of how legislation should be done, has only done what the ROC constitution and their democratically-conferred majority allows them to do. Furthermore the agreement which they wish to sign is (scare-stories aside) fairly uncontroversial stuff, something that can only be objectionable if you think deeper economic links are bad by themselves and that Taiwan should have nothing to do with the mainland.

阿牛 said...

Anon #1: I feel opposition to the service agreement is a bit too little too late, and I also don't think the demands as they've been formulated can be met by the government. So there's no way to win the argument. So I'm not a big fan.

Anon #2: I will say this, I don't imagine these protests will in any way help the DPP.

Anon #3: Very thoughtful comment. I think the DPP is a party completely out of ideas and it's no wonder they can't win an election. For the reord I also think the protests in Dapu were for a very good cause.

I also think Taiwan needs to regionally and globally integrate, but that is an entirely different proposition than letting in Chinese and almost only Chinese money into so many sectors. A better way to go about this would be through WTO mechanisms that guarantee equal and fair access for companies around the globe.

And this post was not aiemd at being balanced. It was aimed at expressing my deep frustration with KMT appeals to the law when they have no respect for it.

FOARP: MLK was in fact discussing his own willingness to break the law at the protests in Birmingham as well as protests throughout the South. The paragraphs before adn after the one I quoted make this more clear.