Monday, November 10, 2008

Interviewing the Student Protesters in Tainan

Students chant during the student protests across campuses nationwide. This video was taken at NCKU on the afternoon of Nov 10, 2008.

I stopped by the student protest in front of the gate of NCKU on Da Shue Rd in Tainan and spoke to a spokesperson for the protesters:

How long are you going to be out here?

"We are going to stay until tuesday. If the government hasn't given us a response by then, we'll probably continue. But we'll vote on that. If everyone decides to continue, then we'll continue."

Has the government contacted you yet?

They've talked to the people in Taipei, but not directly to us. But we are in contact with Taipei and Taichung, where we are carrying out this activity as well. If they get a response in Taipei we'll hear about it.

So what do you call yourselves? The Wild Strawberries? Why that?

Because people say -- in Taiwan many of the media organizations say -- that young people are just like strawberries [weak and easily bruised --mt]. We think we're not like that, and we wanted to show that we could do something.

So you didn't want to recall the "White Lily" student movement of the late 1980s?

We didn't really hope to do that. Many of those people have gone on to enter political parties, and we didn't want people to see us as supporting or connected to one party or the other.

What are these three goals?

First, we hope that President Ma and Premier Liu will apologize for the recent police violence. Our second goal is that the heads of the National Police Administration and the National Security Administration step down. Third, we hope that the Assembly and Parade Law will be revised. We ask that it be revised in four directions. First, we'd like to change the application for a parade permit to a notification system, just like in the US, where you just notify the police that you will march, instead of asking permission to hold a march. That way the police will not be saying who can protest and who can't. The second thing we want changed is the Police Administrative Judgment authority. At present the police can decide when they will go arrest people and when they won't. [drowned out by traffic and crowd noises.] The third change we want is that at present violations of the Assembly and Parade Law are criminal acts under the law and determined under criminal law, so you can be sent to jail for a year or two years, for example. We believe that this is against the freedom of the people. We want that changed so that violations fall under the administrative laws and only fines are handed out for violations of the Assembly and Parade Law, so you won't get a year or two for violations of the law. Finally, we want them to lift the restrictions on places where assemblies and parades can be held. These restrictions are a violation of the basic rights and freedoms laid out in the Constitution. Now [the Assembly and Parade] law is clearly of lower status than the Constitution, but it has [unintelligible] the Constitution. So we think it should be revised.

NOTES: The interview was conducted in Chinese and recorded on my Canon Powershot IS S5 with the permission of the speaker. This is a translation, with some of the more informal and repetitive language paraphrased. Between the passers-by, the protesters chanting, and the traffic, a few parts are not clear.

UPDATE: ETaiwan News' excellent article on the Wild Strawberry protests.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am very impressed with the goals of the student protesters. They have a set strategy and have spelled out some acceptable solutions to their concerns. They sound reasonable and intelligent. Their demands are rational. I think future protesters need to take a lesson from these kids.

Anonymous said...

Funny these students didn't demand that DPP apologize to the police who were hurt by the mob. There were over 150 policemen who were injured, many times more than the mob who were hurt.

Ah-Ben said...

i agree with anonymous

Anonymous said...

Seriously, the Taiwan govornment is't doing crap. Why cant we just have a revolution? There selling Taiwan, people get angry and abracadabra a REVOLUTION!

STOP Ma said...

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Very impressive, indeed! It gives me some hope for Taiwan's future. It can also not be over-stated how effective this new internet technology will be at helping future protests to come.
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Michael Turton said...

Funny these students didn't demand that DPP apologize to the police who were hurt by the mob. There were over 150 policemen who were injured, many times more than the mob who were hurt.

Probably because the DPP didn't hurt any policemen, and because it was not DPP policies that led to the policemen being hurt, but the longstanding policy of another political party of using gangsters to discredit political protests. Not to mention that street demonstrations would not be necessary if the government included the organs of democratic oversight -- the legislature, other parties, and popular referendums -- to vote on the outcome. Why is the KMT so afraid of democracy?

Michael

Prof. Chen said...

A cogent statement of reasonable goals. I support the students 100 per cent and call upon our national government to modernize Taiwan's public assembly laws as stated.

TCL said...

The students are indeed impressive. But what happens if the government just waits them out? Did you get a sense if they have an exit strategy?

Stefan said...

Well, I hope the DPP learns something from these protests. These laws should have been revised long ago, and it was (at one time) in the power of the DPP to do just that.

It's something all democratic parties should realize: you are not going to be in charge for ever, at some point minority rights will become important for you. Protect them while you can.

Oh, and kudos to these students. I don't think they'll achieve anything directly (the KMT likely won't fulfill these very reasonable demands). However it's important to show that there is opposition, it could help limit the damage Ma might do.

Dixteel said...

haha...micheal, what you said reminds me of this scene from Karate Kid -

Miyagi: Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do "yes" or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so,"
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Understand?

I think maybe that's one part of the reason why democracy didn't work out in a lot of places...because half ass democracy will get squashed like grapes sooner or later. But then...if a country is transforming from authoritarian to democracy, it will be in between for a period of time because people are still learning about it and government are usually reluctant to release authorities. It's an interesting paradox.

Anonymous said...

http://tw.news.yahoo.com/article/url/d/a/081110/35/197hs.html

文中提到紅衫軍嗆扁當時也不被民進黨許可,真是天大的謊言,顛倒黑白的媒體!
當時許可權在台北市長馬英九手上,而實際上紅衫軍未申請即強佔台北火車站,馬英九還開方便之門就地合法的。

Anonymous said...

"Why is the KMT so afraid of democracy?"

Why was DPP so afraid of democracy that they didn't want to change the law in 2006 when KMT proposed the change? hahaha... this is called DPP bitching at this point. hahahahaha...

LA said...

Would the new law allow anybody to stage a protest anywhere just by notification?
I don't know any country that allows "anybody" to publically protest "anywhere" just because they wanted to.

Anonymous said...

The protesting students' spokesperson kept saying that they are "neutral", because they have both pro Green and pro Blue professors sponsoring their protest, yet he couldn't even name ONE pro Blue professor during an interview. Not even one, when he knew exactly which professors are pro DPP. This is a "fake" neutral protest by supposedly neutral students. DPP is now hiding behind these students, because DPP oppopsed these proposed changes in 2006!!

改名叫爛草莓運動吧..連事實都搞不清楚的一推爛草莓學生

Anonymous said...

To Stefan and Anonymous...

I'm not an expert on how laws are passed in Taiwan, but how exactly was the DPP ever in power to change the law by themselves? If I understand correctly, all laws in Taiwan are passed and changed by the Legislative Yuan. And who's had the majority in that branch of government continuously for 60 years? Oh yeah, the KMT!

True, both parties have not done much to change these offensive left-overs from the Martial Law Period. But to claim that the DPP was ever in the position to change these laws by themselves is disingenuous, isn't it?

And I can totally understand why the DPP was loath to liberalize these laws when the KMT was regularly running amok, trying to overturn a democratic election (March/April 2004) and run out a democratically elected president by mob-rule (September/October 2006).

Dixteel said...

From my understanding, this demonstration doesn't really come from DPP. So it's not DPP bitching, it's the student bitching if you really want to put it that way.

And here is the problem that people often ignore or forget...DPP were minority in the legislature even during 2004 and 2008. They can't pass any law/bill unless KMT agree as well. Look at the arm procurement plan. It was blocked for 2 to 3 years. With all these things blocked in the process you think they have time to discuss more new laws, which would probably be blocked as well?

People always say DPP should do this, DPP should do that...but seriously can they actually do anything they want during their administration? Look at what happen to the referendum bills. DPP was behind it all the way but the end result is a piece of shit because KMT just doesn't want it. When KMT is pressured by others they passed it because they don't want to be viewed as anti-democratic, but they put a bunch of unreasonable restriction and counting scheme around it anyway. And using massive television/newspaper propaganda to tell people not to participate in the referendum because it's tied with presidential election etc. What a bunch of bull crap.

You think if DPP put all their effort in changing the demonstration law during 2004 and 2008, it will come out well? I think not. It would probably become a half ass work as well.

If the KMT really wants to pass the law, it would be passed. Now it looks like KMT doesn't really want to pass it, you think they really wanted to pass it back then? Plus KMT official always bend the law to their advantages anyway does it really matter for them if the new law is there or not?

Don't be fooled by KMT or CPP, they usually say one thing and do another...it's quite natural for them actually.

Taiwan Echo said...

TCL said... The students are indeed impressive. But what happens if the government just waits them out? Did you get a sense if they have an exit strategy?

In fact, Premier Liu already said that he's gonna wait it out:

道歉?劉揆:挺兩天就過去了
劉揆回說,立委在立法院要他道歉,「我就沒有,這種事挺兩天就過去了」,意外說出真心話。

Translation:

Premier Liu, in response to a question that he was asked in Legislative Yuan to apologize (for the police brutality), said toady,

"I didn't apoligize. This kind of thing, you just wait for a day or two and it will pass."

With a slip of words Premier Liu exposes what he really has in mind (about the student protest).


As for the exit strategy, I didn't hear any. I was online with them very often, started very early since their first day sit-in in front of Executive Yuan on 11/6. For a couple of days I asked through the chat room many times about the exit strategy, but no one provided an answer.

That indeed makes me worried.

Ma and Liu will never apoligize in response to a score of students. The government, Legislative Yuan, Juridiciary system, police ... all power of Taiwan politics are in Ma and pan-blue's hands. Why on earth would they apologize ?

I believe that the only exit is to link their protest with internal media as deeply as they can. I hope they can see that too.

Anonymous said...

Stefan was totally right saying that "Well, I hope the DPP learns something from these protests. These laws should have been revised long ago, and it was (at one time) in the power of the DPP to do just that."

Check out this Taipei Times article:
Part of the article:"...KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) told a press conference that although he sympathized with the student protesters, they should be demonstrating against the DPP. The DPP had blocked the KMT’s proposals to amend the law 10 times during the sixth legislative session, Chang said." Karma is a bitch.

If Ma is smart, he should agree to have the laws amended, because KMT could be voted out of power again in 4 or 8 years- who knows. However, given DPP's recent vows for holding more violent rallies, it's more likely that DPP will have enough ammo to shoot themselves in the foot and lose even more independent voters!!

Thomas said...

"Why was DPP so afraid of democracy that they didn't want to change the law in 2006 when KMT proposed the change? "

I take it this means that you agree that the law should be changed. Nobody said the DPP is always right and always has been.

This goes back to the fallacy of the whole "my country/party is blameless because your country/party has done X" argument.

Anonymous said...

Keeping it up! Instead of staying at the Liberty Square, and because a lot of people have exams and need to go back to their schools, it's going to spread all over the island nation. We're not going away. We're organised and spreading. Hold the protest in your local parks!

Anonymous said...

Michael,
it partly was DPP policies' that led to the riots. ex-Prez Chen publicly called Taiwanese people to put Prez Ma in jail, just because he is meeting mainland Chen.
no sentence, no legal procedures, simply because he thinks it is right.
as much as I despite ex-Prez, this is not right

Anonymous said...

My buddy's friend is working on a PhD at Tai Da. He wanted to join the protest but was afraid of what would happen if his professor saw him on TV.....

Raj said...

The DPP had blocked the KMT’s proposals to amend the law 10 times during the sixth legislative session, Chang said.

So because he said that it's true? Since when did the KMT never exaggerate or lie?

Maybe the DPP did object, but it couldn't hold the bill up forever. That's why the KMT and PFP were able to push a bill restoring the preferential interest rates for civil servants - the DPP objected to that just as much.

I think what really happened was that the DPP objected and the KMT weren't interested in pushing it that much so just left it in limbo. Note that they actually sent other amendments back to the procedural committee - the DPP couldn't do that because they never had a majority in the legislative.

Anonymous said...

An 80-year-old man was rushed to a hospital in downtown Taipei Tuesday after he set himself on fire at Liberty Square where a group of university students are in a sit-in demonstration against police actions during the recent protests over a top Chinese negotiator's visit.

http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=785998

Anonymous said...

"Prez Chen publicly called Taiwanese people to put Prez Ma in jail, just because he is meeting mainland Chen.
no sentence, no legal procedures, simply because he thinks it is right.
as much as I despite ex-Prez, this is not right"

Dear, I wonder who did this bad example first.
I already get used to countless Pro-blue medias and politians talking about execute Chen.
ex-vice President Lian said in public that ex-president Chen "steal the country" and eceryone can "execute him".

no sentence, no legal procedures, simply because he thinks it is right.

Anonymous said...

"Prez Chen publicly called Taiwanese people to put Prez Ma in jail, just because he is meeting mainland Chen.
no sentence, no legal procedures, simply because he thinks it is right.
as much as I despite ex-Prez, this is not right"

Dear, I wonder who did this bad example first.
I already get used to countless Pro-blue medias and politians talking about execute Chen.
ex-vice President Lian said in public that ex-president Chen "steal the country" and eceryone can "execute him".

no sentence, no legal procedures, simply because he thinks it is right.

Anonymous said...

Karma's really a bitch ehh? DPP? Now we're back into the 90's again. The difference is that now you've lost all credibility.