Taiwan Citizen Union: DPP Ally or Rival?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 8, 2014
Summary: The anti-nuclear and anti-STA movements constitute a serious challenge
to the Ma administration. But they have also marginalized the opposition
DPP. DPP insiders hold two very different views about the two
movements. Lin Cho-shui believes that Lin Yi-hsiung's Taiwan Citizen
[sic] Union (TCU) poses a major threat to the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen by
contrast, believes that the student movement and social movements
provide synergy for the DPP and promote social change. She believes
"Students will always need the DPP."
Full Text Below:
The anti-nuclear and anti-STA movements constituted a serious challenge to the Ma administration. But they have also marginalized the opposition DPP. DPP insiders hold two very different views about the two movements. Lin Cho-shui believes that Lin Yi-hsiung's Taiwan Citizen [sic] Union (TCU) poses a major threat to the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen by contrast, believes that the student movement and social movements provide synergy for the DPP and promote social change. She believes "Students will always need the DPP."
These social movements have an ambiguous relationship with the DPP that requires further observation. But judging by the anti-STA and anti-nuclear protests alone, the DPP already has a close relationship with student movement and social movement leaders. The only question is whether the social movements, which are currently allies, will eventually become rivals. Will they erode or cannibalize the DPP's support inside the Green Camp. That is difficult to predict.
Lin Yi-hsiung is the key figure behind both the anti-STA and anti-nuclear movements. When the students occupied the Legislative Yuan, Lin Yi-hsiung began a sit-in outside the Legislative Yuan. That was no accident. When Lin Fei-fan tearfully embraced Lin Yi-hsiung, that was no accident. When the students withdrew, Lin Yi-hsiung announced his hunger strike. That was no accident. When the Ma administration announced that it was mothballing the NPP4, Lin Yi-hsiung ended his hunger strike and asked the public to hone its skills, learn from experience, and become better fighters. This was of course also part of his step by step plan.
Early this year, rumors emerged that Lin Yi-hsiung was forming a "new political group." This group would call itself the "Taiwan Citizen Union," or TCU. On 31 March, the organization officially applied for legal status as an "association." On the same day, the student movement launched its "3/30 March on Ketegelan Boulevard." Obviously it was striking while the iron was hot. In addition to to Lin Yi-hsiung, TCU players included legal scholar Huang Guochang, whom students refer to as the "student movement god of war." They included former Judicial Reform Foundation chief executive Lin Feng-cheng. It is easy to see how the professors and lawyers are speaking out for the student movement on stage, while offering them guidance from behind the scenes.
Student movement supporters and participants may not be aware of what is going on behind the scenes. They participated in anti-STA or anti-nuclear demonstrations merely because they were dissatisfied with the status quo. Key members of the movement combined the power of the student movement with the power of the anti-nuclear movement, and forced the Ma administration to knuckle under on the NPP4. This was quite an accomplishment for the TCU. The next surgical strike could take place anywhere. Lin Yi-hsiung has even declared his opposition to free trade zones. He is not the least bit worried that he will lack supplies, ammunition, or public support.
Lin Cho-shui is concerned. He believes the TCS constitutes a threat to the DPP inside the Green Camp. The STA and NPP4 have been stopped in their tracks. Unfortunately the public thinks this was the work of street protests, and that prolonged DPP obstructionism in the Legislative Yuan achieved nothing. The public therefore, is disappointed with the DPP. It may switch its allegiance to the TCU, which displays the banner of "civic movement" and characterizes itself as a "Third Force." According to polls conducted in the wake of the Sunfllower Student Movement, over 40% of the public now categorizes itself as "neutral." This is more than those who categorize themselves as either Blue or Green. The recent wave of social movements may or may not have been instigated by the DPP. But at least on the surface, they have hurt both the ruling KMT and the opposition DPP.
Tsai Ing-wen considers the student movement and social movements allies of the DPP. She believes "Students will always need the DPP." Tsai Ing-wen may be overly optimistic. Or she may know exactly what she is doing and is maintaining strategic and tactical control over the movement. Current DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has been criticized for poor performance during the student movement, He was forced to withdraw from the May party chairmanship election. Tsai Ing-wen, on the other hand, is the beneficiary of the post-student movement changing of the guard. Two of the student leaders were local youth corps members when she ran for president. Of course she has no reason for concern. In late February Lin Yi-hsiung announced his intention to organize a political group. He made clear that his goal was to "prevent the KMT from achieving a legislative majority in 2016." This being the case, perceiving the TCU as a DPP ally rather than as rebels or rivals, is entirely reasonable.
Long-term confrontation between the Blue and Green camps has hobbled Taiwan's democracy. The public is dissatisfied with increasing Blue vs. Green confrontation. If Green Camp allies wearing "citizens' movement" clothing break such a deadlock, what will happen to democracy on Taiwan? What if most people are unwilling to don Green Camp uniforms? What if they defy or rebel against the DPP? What will happen to democracy on Taiwan then?
It would appear that Lin Yi-hsiung has yet to predict or grasp the consequences of that outcome.