Settle Down and Confront Taiwan's Collective Challenge
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
April 3, 2014
Summary: President Ma has responded forthrightly in a number of ways to the student protestors' demands. But the student protestors refuse to acknowledge his efforts. They cling to their hardline "Withdraw the CSSTA! All else is irrelevant" stance. We call on the Ma administration to be patient. Better to settle down and allow society to absorb the shock and resolve the problem.
Full text below:
President Ma has responded forthrightly in a number of ways to the student protestors' demands. But the student protestors refuse to acknowledge his efforts. They cling to their hardline "Withdraw the CSSTA! All else is irrelevant" stance. Agitiation by White Wolf merely hardened the stance of the masses occupying the Legislative Yuan, and intensified the confrontation. We are deeply concerned. If the Ma administration feels compelled to resort to forced evictions, the consequences may be unpredictable. Society on Taiwan may be irreparably split. We call on the Ma administration to be patient. Better to settle down and allow society to absorb the shock and resolve the problem.
It is clear how we got here. The large scale protest march on Sunday gave the student movement a shot in the arm. The government beat a hasty retreat. Most pundits sided with the student movement. Their victories have eclipsed the DPP's eight to nine month long "fillibuster." Quitting while one is ahead may be the rational choice. But the student movement was an irrestible force that conquered everything in its path. They forced the ruling party to retreat, again and again. So what motivation do the students have to retreat? Besides, for many universities, this week is spring break. Students aren't even subject to academic pressures. The student movement already has the advantage. It is free of time pressure. The Ma government may be anxious, but the student movement is not. It has done the math. The longer it can delay implementation of the CSSTA, the greater its victory.
The key lies with the Ma administration, in particular President Ma himself. How exactly will he judge the seriousness of the situation?
Recall the past two weeks. But let us be fair. President Ma forcibly evicted the masses occupying the Executive Yuan. But otherwise he has kept a low profile. He held several press conferences. But each time he adopted a moderate tone. He never once engaged in provocation. He responded to student movement demands in good faith, but clearly to no effect. Instead his responses have merely provided Netizens with more fodder by which to humiliate and ridicule him. As matters stand, even if President Ma were to withdraw the CSSTA, the student movement would probably still refuse to disband. They might even use the opportunity to demand that President Ma step down.
Therefore we suggest that President Ma not be in a hurry to resolve the situation during the current legislative session. He might as as well slow the process down. Let the passage of time provide a solution. Let Taiwan society provide a solution. After all, Taiwan society is stable. Its roots run deep. The dispute will be resolved eventually. We hope future history remembers the CSSTA dispute as a legislative dispute, rather than a bloody clash between police and students. Such wounds are difficult to heal.
We understand the Ma administration's time pressures regarding CSSTA legislation. If the legislation is not passed during this session, TPP and FTA negotiations cannot begin. Taiwan will probably be further marginalized in regional and even global economic competition. President Ma has mentioned this several times in his public statements. Many industry elders, even ECB President Perng Hui-nan, have come forward to emphasize this point. Obviously to no effect. The students and masses inside and outside the Legislative Yuan continue to come and go. They have made clear they are preparing for long term occupation.
As matters stand, the Ma administration and President Ma himself must realize that Taiwan may have to undergo this process as part of its historical evolution. It may be unavoidable pain. The CSSTA itself is not that complicated. But it reflects a multitude of contradictions within Taiwan society. These include of course Blue vs. Green conflictd, reunification vs. independence conflict, and of course class conflict. These economic and social conflicts have simmered for some time. These contradictions and tensions have accumulated for some time. They merely chose the CSSTA to erupt. The Ma administration must not perceive the conflict as purely Blue vs. Green political conflict, and ignore other, more profound social psychological factors. It must not adopt the wrong measures. Otherwise it will pay too high a price.
President Ma must take note of some simple facts.
One. The DPP by itself could not have mobilized so many students. During the current wave of protests, the DPP was actually reduced to a supporting role. It was marginalized. Two. The younger generation protestors inside and outside the legislature have already reached a consensus. Their anger and frustration have long been ignored. They have their own language and mobilization techniques. Unless they decide they no longer wish to play, no one can talk them down. This includes the DPP and Wang Jin-pyng. Three. President Ma's rational persuasion can convince only those who would not have protested in the first place. For those students holding sit-ins inside and outside the legislature, such attempts at persuasion are akin to "mosquito bites on a bull's horn."
Therefore instead of feeling anxious, it would be better to slow things down. At this point, any radical political or legal measures would only provide the protestors the illusion of greater legitimacy. Better to settle down and let Taiwan society heal this wound.
中國時報 本報訊 2014年04月03日 04:09