When Democracy is a Reality, Revolution is a Betrayal
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
April 18, 2014
Summary: The Sunflower Student Movement is a "Not enough sleep. It's your fault!" fairy tale revolution. Take a closer look at the two themes of "defend democracy" and "withdraw the STA." The public on Taiwan must be honest. Is this really defending democracy? Or is this a betrayal of democracy? Is this anti-China demagoguery? Or is this simply visiting disaster upon Taiwan?
Full text below:
The student movement advanced two themes, "defend democracy" and "withdraw the STA." First take "defend democracy." The student movement was ostensibly motivated by democracy. But as time went by it became increasingly anti-democratic. The occupation of the Legislative Yuan and the invasion of the Executive Yuan were illegal and lacked all legitimacy. Now take "withdraw the STA." The proposed "Cross-Strait Agreements Conclusion Ordinance" attempts to hijack the government and force it to adopt a Taiwan independence cross-Strait policy, and reject globalization as the strategy for Taiwan's survival.
Daniel R. Russel is U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. What he says can be regarded as the U.S. government's official comment on the student movement. First, Russell said that the United States welcomes the progress made by the Ma government in promoting cross-Strait relations. He said it was a continuation of the U.S. government's long held positive evaluation of recent cross-Strait policy. He spoke in no uncertain terms. Conversely his statement can be considered a critique of the student movement's cross-Strait policy demands. Secondly, Russell said that he hoped the students and organizations demonstrating against free trade would act responsibly. That they would adopt free, civilized, and peaceful means of demonstration, and avoid violence. The U.S. government harshly criticized the Chen government's Taiwan independence political maneuvers as unhelpful to Taiwan's democracy. This is the first time it has criticized civilian sector political demonstrations. Its statement implied that the student movement was "uncivilized, not peaceful, violent and failed to make responsible use of its freedom." Russell said America does not agree with the student movement's cross-Strait policy. It does not think the student movement's occupation of the Legislative Yuan and invasion of the Executive Yuan were civilized and responsible democratic behavior.
The student movement invoked the slogan "When dictatorship is a reality, revolution is a duty." But conversely, "When democracy is a reality, revolution is a betrayal." Politics and government on Taiwan are flawed. But the ROC is one of the freest, most democratic nations in the world. This is universally recognized. Therefore, no one can arbitrarily accuse it of being a "government of jackals and hyenas" or of being an "authoritarian regime." The student movement proclaimed that "revolution is not a crime, rebellion is justified." But when democracy has become a reality, occupation of the Legislative Yuan and invasion of the Executive Yuan is a betrayal of democracy and the rule of law.
Taiwan was witness to the 2004 "Two Bullets" mass protests in 2004, and the Red Shirts protests in 2006. During the Red Shirts protest one million individuals participated. Yet no one stormed the presidential palace. This is where the ROC differs from Thailand and Ukraine. The student movement occupied the Legislative Yuan and invaded the Executive Yuan. Where is their legitimacy?
Legislative review of the STA may have contained procedural defects. But this "nine months plus thirty seconds" Legislative Yuan farce is old hat. Does the failure of representative politics justify occupying the Legislative Yuan? The Legislative Yuan resists passing Sunshine Laws, capital gains taxes, market price reporting. The DPP occupies the podium, holds "sleep-ins" on the floor of the Legislative Yuan. Wang Jin-pyng engages in judicial influence peddling. So when should one advocate civil disobedience and when should one occupy the floor of the Legislative Yuan? Opponents of the STA occupied the floor of the Legislative Yuan. Can supporters of the STA invoke the same justifications to moblize the public and occupy the floor of the Legislative Yuan?
Every time chaos erupts in the Legislative Yuan, the opposition demands a "Citizens' Constitutional Convention." But why not ask a different question? If Wang Jin-pyng were not playing "party consultation" tricks, would the STA have become a "nine months plus thirty seconds" farce? It is easy to occupy the floor of the Legislative Yuan. It it hard to get Wang Jin-pyng to change his political tricks. People are forced to sit and watch as Wang Jin-pyng and Ker Chien-ming destroy popular representation and majority rule. They are forced to listen to slogans such as "When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty." The misuse of such slogans tramples over democracy, and insults revolutions.
Had student movement demanded "procedural legitimacy." it might have retained its democratic bona fides. But the student movement proposed a "Cross-Strait Agreements Conclusion Ordinance." If the Legislative Yuan failed to meekly obey, the student movement threatened to lay siege to the presidential palace. If this is it thinks, the student movement may as well establish a "revolutionary provisional government." Why bother with the Legislative Yuan? There is an even deeper question. The "Cross-Strait Agreements Conclusion Ordinance " is an attempt to coerce the government into adopting a Taiwan independence cross-Strait policy, and rejecting globalization as Taiwan's strategy for survival. Do the Oligarchs of the student movement really believe this is saving Taiwan and loving Taiwan? At one time they demanded a "referendum on the STA" and a "referendum on Taiwan independence." Such demands might be consistent with democracy. But to combine such demands with threats of violence, is anti-democratic and has no legitimacy whatsover.
The student movement was a reflection of its supporters' concern for the nation and patriotism. These must be faced squarely. But there are two concerns. One. The Oligarchs of the student movement occupied the Legislative Yuan and invaded the Executive Yuan. Their behavior had no legitimacy. Even Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting admitted that these were "illegal acts." If the public on Taiwan concludes that the occupation of the Legislative Yuan and invasion of the Executive Yuan were glorious feats of democracy, Taiwan will become the next Ukraine. Two. Taiwan's cross-Strait policy may not be flawless. But opponents of the STA want to go back to promoting Taiwan independence or rejecting globalization. Is that really the answer?
This is a "Not enough sleep. It's your fault!" fairy tale revolution. Take a closer look at the two themes of "defend democracy" and "withdraw the STA." The public on Taiwan must be honest. Is this really defending democracy? Or is this a betrayal of democracy? Is this anti-China demagoguery? Or is this simply visiting disaster upon Taiwan?
2014.04.18 03:14 am