Pay Attention to the Middle Class
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
March 25, 2014
Summary: Many young people are concerned about low wages, and about being worked to death. That is why Taiwan businesses must expand onto the world stage. They must create more and better high-value added jobs. That is something Taiwan must consider when signing various economic agreements, including the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services. Even the ECFA trade in services agreement has turned Taiwan upside down. What will happen to Taiwan when the tsunami of globalization strikes? This is truly cause for concern.
Full text below:
The night of March 23 may have been the longest and most worrisome night for Taiwan's democracy in nearly 30 years. The "Sunflower" student movement, begun on March 18, is opposed to the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement. It has begun drawing to a close. But student movement hawks suddenly expanded the battlefield from the Legislative Yuan to the Executive Yuan. Fortunately Premier Chiang Yi-hua moved decisively. He ordered police to expel the protestors. After several clashes, the area in front of the Executive Yuan was cleared at 4:00 on the morning of the 24th. Alas, some of the students and crowd broke into the Executive Yuan. They smashed, looted, or tossed the contents, leaving behind them a trail of destruction. This deliberate act of vandalism in the name of a student movement, left many deeply fearful and concerned.
How did Taiwan wind up in this mess? Political schemers with ulterior motives draped themselves in the clothing of the student movement. This rendered them invulnerable. It made them exempt from outside criticism. The government wanted to respond, but was deterred by the possible repercussions. It feared charges of "adults bullying children," and of "police beating students."
The students who occupied the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan included naive, romantic, idealistic young students. But the leaders at center stage were all well-versed in manipulation. They used hand signals to order the crowds to link arms and lie down, to increase the difficulty of police eviction. They carried wire cutters to destroy barricades. If anyone even brushed against them, they screamed bloody murder. After breaking into the Executive Yuan, they went straight to the electrical closet, the premier's office, and the offices of key officials. One cannot help wondering. Would amateur activists really be so sophisticated? Were they really ordinary students?
The movement opposed to the Cross-Strait Agreement in Trade in Services was swift to take shape. Currently it includes student groups from the National Taipei University Department of Sociology and the Tsinghua University Institute for Social Research. It includes student groups from National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chengchi University, National Taiwan Normal University, Donghua University, and Soochow University. They coordinated and urged students all across Taiwan to skip classes. Five major school association chairmen, including National Association of Colleges Chairman Yang Hung-dun, Private Universities and Colleges Association Chairman Lai Ting-min, National University of Science and Technology Association Chairman Yao Li-teh, Private Colleges Technology Association Chairman Ke Chi-hsiang, and Vocational Institute Association Chairman Chen Wen-kui issued a joint statement. They urged students to remain rational in their means of expression. They said schools respect the students' freedom to participate in anti-trade in service agreement protests. But they said that occupying the Executive Yuan was obviously disorderly, illegal, and bore no relation to free speech.
The student movement is degenerating into student protests. What kind of unrest and anxiety will these student protests bring society? Are the students, and the politicians and teachers who urged the students to take to the streets, willing to bear responsibility? Different segments of society may have different views about the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services. But are they willing to see Taiwan society divided in this manner, to the point where they hate each other?
Besides, President Ma Ying-jeou, who is KMT party chairman, and Premier Chiang Yi-hua, are willing to review the trade in services agreement on a line item basis. On the 24th, the Legislative Yuan passed the proposal in a Joint Committee, then asked the Executive Yuan to immediately withdraw all cross-strait trade agreements and restart negotiations. As one can imagine, the process is rife with challenges and difficulties. But the ROC is a free and democratic nation. The people use their votes to decide their own future. Where is the need to resort to the means adopted by the student movement?
The student movement issued an endless string of accusations. It accused the administration of being a dictatorship. There was no shortage of university and graduate school students among those who participated in the student movement. Do higher echelon intellectuals on Taiwan really care about global political change? Do they even know what a dictator looks like? The police used batons to evict those occupying the Executive Yuan. They were assaulted by the mob. The KMT is the majority party in the Legislative Yuan. When KMT legislators serve as co-chairman, they are physically prevented from even mounting the podium. They are denied the opportunity to speak. They must stand in the corner using their personal megaphones to be heard. When the premier attempted to speak to the students, he was booed off the stage within 10 minutes. After the president held a press conference with the foreign press, he was blasted from all sides. Will everyone please look into your heart? Can such a free, open, diverse, and precious society really be termed a dictatorship? Do we really intend to denounce it, trample over it, and finally destroy it and lose it?
Many young people are concerned about low wages, and about being worked to death. That is why Taiwan businesses must expand onto the world stage. They must create more and better high-value added jobs. That is something Taiwan must consider when signing various economic agreements, including the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services. Will the occupation of the Legislative Yuan, the occupation of the Executive Yuan, or even the occupation of the Presidential Palace, result in jobs descending from heaven? The future is now. It is hurtling straight toward us. How much time can Taiwan afford to waste? Even the ECFA trade in services agreement has turned Taiwan upside down. What will happen to Taiwan when the tsunami of globalization strikes? This is truly cause for concern.
中國時報 本報訊 2014年03月25日 04:10