After my “epic,” jam-packed ‘kend (see pts. 1, 2 + 3), I was looking forward to sitting down at my favorite cafe + doing some work on Sunday evening. But as I was getting my things together, sounds of distant chants started to echo in my room.
I knew there would be a protest because the ICLP sent out an email advising students to stay away from protest activities + to exercise caution if we did decide to check it out. As with any protest rally, you never know what might happen. That in mind, I grabbed my camera + decided to take a few shots on my way to the cafe. I hadn’t realized the march would come so close to my apartment. It seemed silly not to at least take a look.
I had forgotten how much the power of a mass of people doing an action moves me. I have participated in many protests in the U.S. + have been arrested for a civil disobedience action. That is another story, but emphasizes my point that I firmly believe in the right to protest! In fact, it gives me a thrill to see people exercising that right. However, on Sunday I had no idea what was being protested so I did not let myself get too excited, nor did I have the urge to join in the festivities.
The protest rally, called “Fury” (火大), was organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to protest President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration’s policies. President Ma is a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which was the R.O.C.’s first political party. Think Democrats vs Republicans, but with quite different issues on the table, like, oh, for instance moves towards unification with Mainland China (KMT) vs moves towards independence from Mainland China (DPP). Both sides have been known to fight dirtier than our politicians Stateside + politician arrests for corruption are fairly common.
DPP Chair Su Teng-chang (蘇貞昌) was interviewed by Chris Wang + J. Michael Cole of the Taipei Times on the Thursday before the protest. In the interview, Chairman Su is quoted as saying the following:
…The difference between the DPP and the KMT is that the KMT deals only with communist China and the “economic China,” and regards China as a static country. By contrast, the DPP sees China as an ever-changing country and is determined to engage China in various areas, including religion, culture and civic society. We are ready for closer engagement with China on the precondition that we maintain our own identity rather than prepare for eventual unification. This is the biggest difference between the DPP and the KMT. (p2)
…China maintains its assertion that Taiwan is part of China. The DPP’s position — that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country — remains unchanged as well. It is unnecessary for a man to tell everyone all day that he is a man. (p2)
…Someday China will become a democracy like Taiwan, but Taiwan will not abandon its democracy and become a second Hong Kong. We should cherish and safeguard our democracy. If there were to be any changes to the ‘status quo,’ it would require a national referendum, a democratic mechanism. Having spent the past decades fighting for democracy, the values espoused by the DPP will be the mainstream values in the future, not the other way around. (p2)
While digging up info about the protest, I came across James Wang’s raw, scathing editorial about Ma. If you’re interested in checking out this seriously anti-KMT, anti-Ma piece, do so here.
But, back to the rally. Chris Wang reports that the DPP’s three demands driving the 火大 rally were: a Cabinet reshuffle, a rejection of the Next Media Group (壹傳媒集團) deal [which, to my understanding, would monopolize Taiwan’s media] and the organization of a national affairs conference.
In regards to the Next Media Group deal mentioned above, DPP Chair Su is quoted as saying,
…Opposing media monopolization is one of the three demands of our protest on Sunday. Elections alone do not consolidate democracy. Democracy also requires freedom of the press. While the media was monitored and oppressed under martial law, the current media concentration is a creation of large corporations. The movement against media monopolization is not an anti-KMT movement. (p3)
Since Ma did not agree to any of the demands, Sunday’s rally went on as planned. Protesters not only voiced their discontent, but asked for President Ma to step down.
Time will tell if this protest will spur any policy changes in Taiwan or bring the DPP more votes in the 2014 legislature + 2016 Presidential elections. In the meantime I will continue to explore Taiwan’s political scene + share as much as I can.
In 2008-2009 I performed in the International WOW Company‘s Drama Desk nominated production, Surrender. We played this Rage Against the Machine song at the end of the play. Rage is another band seriously committed to social change + political music. There’s a big ole parental advisory on this one, but I’d say it’s appropriate.
+ thus concludes the first “my epic ‘kend” series. Epic, no?
Thx, will share directly with judith who i believe is tuned in. Glad to see some youth although it looks much like USA protests with lots of us oldies. xxx