Let Students Besieging the Legislature Speak Before Resuming Review
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
March 21, 2014
Summary: As for the students laying siege to the Legislative Yuan. They have had the pleasure of occupying the legislature. They have had the pleasure of heckling the premier. They have even had the pleasure of scolding the president. Now they may wish to settle down, take a calm look at the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. Just what is it? Do not equate your "Books for Dummies" understanding of it with the truth.
Full text below:
The day before yesterday, Premier Chiang went to the Legislative Yuan to speak with the students gathered outside. Instead, he was heckled. President Ma also went to the firing line, where he held a press conference with the foreign media. He stressed the importance and necessity of the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. He responded to questions from reporters. President Ma has already presented a comprehensive case for the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. But the response of the student leaders occupying the grounds of the legislature was swift. It made clear that the president and the protesting students are not even on the same page. The president considers the protesting students' demands utterly unacceptable. Conversely, most students are not the least bit interested in listening to the president's argument for the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. As a result, situation remains deadlocked.
In fact this was predictable. The protesting students initially demanded that the premier step down and that the president issue an apology. Later, they demanded that the president "take back the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services" and "establish rules for oversight of the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services." This alone made it a non-starter. This alone precluded the possibility of any dialogue. Premier Chiang visited the protest site outside the Legislative Yuan. He even asked for the chance to say a few words. His request was rejected outright. President Ma is not about to visit the site and be subjected to even worse humiliations. The ruling authorities have labored for eight to nine months on the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. Will their efforts be for naught, merely because the legislature grounds are occupied? If they are, then maybe we should demand that the premier step down, and that the president apologize. Frankly, no elected government would dare submit to such demands.
So what next? The halls of the legislature belong to the people as a whole. It has been reduced to the protesting students' sit in site. They have made it clear that unless the government acquiesces to their demands, they will continue to occupy the site and refuse to leave. They will soon test the patience of the community. The legislature is authorized by the taxpayers to legislate. Legislation has always required negotiations. It has always required the minority to obey the majority. A minority party forcibly occupies the podium because it is unable to prevent the passage of a bill. It even helps students occupy the entire legislature. It spins this as "citizen participation." In any dialogue with them, the only acceptable answers are their answers. All other answers are brushed aside. One has to wonder. What do those citizens who must pay taxes think of this?
President Ma convened a press conference. He patiently described the role of the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. The circumstances may have influenced the manner of his presentation and its audience. He was clearly not addressing the protesting students besieging the legislature. He was clearly addressing the people of the nation as a whole. He was speaking to those individual taxpayers whose careers and futures would be affect by the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. Most of them are working hard to increase Taiwan's competitiveness. They have no time to kill surfing Internet comments sections. They have no time to engage in online debate. They are more concerned that their children might skip class and catch a cold while laying siege to the legislature overnight. Naturally these people have no time to express solidarity with President Ma. They have no time to sound off in the media. President Ma probably realizes praising the students' patriotism and humiliated himself before them would have done little to resolve the impasse.
What will the protesting students' next move be? Will they declare victory and go home? Will they struggle to the bitter end? The latter seems more likely. Unfortunately the decision to wage long-term war may be simple. But discovering an honorable way to step down may be hard. Executive branch agencies have made it clear they will not forcibly evict the students. They probably will not talk to them either. This is the middle of the university semester. If the students decide to sacrifice their studies, and stand their ground to the bitter end, they will eventually find that their aspirations are unachievable. All they might be able to do is cultivate a few new generation candidates for future DPP election campaigns. Besides Wang Jin-pyng, they are the biggest beneficiaries of the struggle.
The student occupation of the legislature has taught everyone a lesson. Today's Taiwan remains dogged by divisions. In addition to reunification vs. Taiwan independence divisions, Blue Camp vs. Green Camp divisions, Northern Region vs. Southern Region divisions, and class divisions, there are generation vs. generation divisions. The young students gathered around the legislature are a preview of coming attractions. The 90s generation on Taiwan has officially debuted and spoken up. This is the "PC mouse generation," whose hands are never far from their cell phones. During all these years the economy has been poor. Youth employment has been difficult. Starting salaries have been low. Consumer prices have risen. Housing prices have been even more terrifying. This generation has become a stifled, lost, and anxious generation. Their understanding of the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services derives mostly from Internet "Books for Dummies." They gathered at the Legislative Yuan mostly through social media mobilization. If one attempts to dialogue with them while ignoring these facts, one will naturally talk past them. Unfortunately, few in the ruling administration are willing to make an effort in this regard. They persist in using older generation language and communication techniques. Is it any wonder they have wound up with egg on their faces from beginning to end?
As for the students laying siege to the Legislative Yuan. They have had the pleasure of occupying the legislature. They have had the pleasure of heckling the premier. They have even had the pleasure of scolding the president. Now they may wish to settle down, take a calm look at the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services. Just what is it? Do not equate your "Books for Dummies" understanding of it with the truth. Before entering a mature civil society, cultivate your own reason and judgment. Let this experience become the key to your becoming an adult.
中國時報 本報訊 2014年03月24日 04:10