Sunflower Student Movement: Tale of a Green Frankenstein
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 14, 2014
Summary: The Sunflower Student Movement has become a political asset and a
political liability for the DPP. In the asset column: Hardcore Sunflower
Student Movement members are a new generation of Taiwan independence
elements who advocate a Closed Door Policy. As such, they have become an
important bargaining chip in DPP realpolitik. In the liability column:
This force appeared at a critical juncture, just when the DPP was
embarking on reform. In fact, it has become a major obstacle in the
DPP's path toward reform.
Full Text Below:
The novel "Frankenstein" and its film adaptations depict mad scientist Viktor Frankenstein in his laboratory struggling to create a "perfect man." Instead he created a runaway monster known as "Frankenstein's monster" and incited a riot.
The Sunflower Student Movement has become a political asset and a political liability for the DPP. In the asset column: Hardcore Sunflower Student Movement members are a new generation of Taiwan independence elements who advocate a Closed Door Policy. As such, they have become an important bargaining chip in DPP realpolitik. In the liability column: This force appeared at a critical juncture, just when the DPP was embarking on reform. In fact, it has become a major obstacle in the DPP's path toward reform.
The Sunflower Student Movement took place exactly six months ago. Now that the dust has settled, we may wish to reassemble some the pieces in this jigsaw puzzle. On the night of March 18, a number of important events took place. One. A group of green camp professional students assumed leadership of a number of social movements and protesters. Two. Taiwan independence elements organized and led the movement. Three. The Legislative Yuan underestimated the situation and failed to respond adequately. Four. DPP legislators monitored the doors. Five. Wang Jin-pyng forbade police to touch the legislators who were monitoring the doors. Six. The administration tripped over its own feet in all the confusion. The result was the occupation of the Legislative Yuan. But the occupation was not initially perceived as a "student movement." It was perceived as merely another green camp political incident.
Once the leaders occupied the Legislative Yuan premises they immediately spun their protest as part of a "student movement." Their main agenda was: One. They do not trust cross-Strait political exchanges. They guard against "China," i.e., Mainland China. They resist "China." They fear "China." They worry about globalization and liberalization. In short, they remain an integral part of the green axis. Two. They hope to inculcate a "deprived generation" political consciousness. For students late to the game this is especially compelling. It smacks of a "student wave" or "student movement." In the beginning, the occupiers' chief demand was to "review the STA line by line." But by the time the protests drew to a close, the demands had become "first legislate, then review," amend the referendum law, and convene a "Citizens Constitutional Conference." The occupiers' quickly changed their tune, and obstructed passage of STA and FEPZ Regulations. In other words, the occupiers' agenda changed from "review of the STA line by line" to forcing Taiwan to adopt the path of Taiwan independence, politically as well as economically. By this time, the green innards of the entire political struggle were clear for all to see.
The Sunflower Student Movement impacted campuses, students, the community, and the political scene. But its Taiwan independence and anti-globalization agenda was clear for all to see. This ensured that it would not become the ROC's strategy for national survival. In fact, these are all core DPP policies. The DPP knows it has failed to reform its cross-Strait policy path. Today the Sunflower Student Movement's inner party members have taken up the banner of Taiwan independence. But advocacy of Taiwan independence and opposition to globalization can never become the mainstream solution to Taiwan's survival.
Six months after the protests, the result has been just as predicted. The Sunflower Student Movement "stars" have not become standard bearers of the mainstream solution to Taiwan's survival. What they have become is stumbling blocks standing in the way of DPP cross-Strait policy reform. Some participants in the 1990 Wild Lily Student Movement are DPP supporters and followers. But Sunflower Student Movement leaders consider themselves DPP competitors. They have expressed solidarity with Hong Kong. They have visited the United States. They have established their own organization. They have proclaimed themselves the new standard bearers for Taiwan independence. Sunflower Student Movement inner circle leaders have affirmed their green political colors. They also consider themselves "new green" as opposed to "old green." Given current developments, the Sunflower Student Movement could become another green party allied with the DPP, such as the Taiwan Independence Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union. Anyone who imagines that the Sunflower Student Movement offers a new solution for Taiwan's survival acceptable to the mainstream, is sorely mistaken. Why? Because Taiwan independence is not new. It is old. Sunflower Student Movement inner circle leaders occupied the Legislative Yuan. Do they think their successful occupation means that young people or society as a whole endorses Taiwan independence, they are badly deluded. The Sunflower Student Movement had only one significant impact. It emerged as a competitor with the DPP for green camp standard bearer status. This has made DPP cross-Strait policy reform even more difficult.
In recent years, the DPP has boasted that that "Taiwan independence poll ratings continue to rise." The Sunflower Student Movement was even seen as evidence that "Taiwan independence has a new generation of supporters." But how many people in fact support Taiwan independence? Can Taiwan independence become a viable strategy for national survival? These are two different things. How does the DPP intend to perceive the Sunflower Student Movement's "belated Taiwan independence?" Is it an asset or a liability? That is the DPP's political dilemma.
The Sunflower Student Movement "celebrities" were either mentored by the DPP or have green camp pedigrees. DPP "big shots" now realize they must forsake their Taiwan independence path. Meanwhile, the Sunflower Student Movement has become the new Taiwan independence standard bearer. A handful of Sunflower Student Movement leaders have hijacked the DPP. If they fail to change the Sunflower Student Movement, the DPP will not be able to undertake cross-Strait policy reform. The Sunflower Student Movement leaders are no longer vassals of the DPP. They have their own flag. Are they likely to yield to the DPP?
The Sunflower Student Movement is the result of long-term DPP indoctrination. Now however, it has become a massive barrier standing in the way of DPP policy reform. If the DPP cannot break through the Sunflower Student Movement barrier, it cannot meet the test of global challenges and cross-Strait policy. The stalled STA is a clear illustration.
The DPP must cope with its own creation, a Frankenstein's monster. Should it be glad or sad?
2014.09.14 02:04 am