Debunk the Myth of the Sunflower Student Movement: Allow the New Generation to Be Heard
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 27, 2014
Executive Summary: Chen Wei-ting should calm his mind. That would do him good. Society meanwhile, should take the time to rethink its deification of the Sunflower Student Movement. That may allow the true voices of the new generation to have their say. Who reaped the fruits of the Sunflower Student Movement? That too should be abundantly clear.
Full Text Below:
Once his record of sexual molestation surfaced, Chen Wei-ting announced his withdrawal from the Miaoli legislative election. This was lamentable not because it shattered Chen Wei-ting's image. It was lamentable because it tarnished the halo of the Sunflower Student Movement. It may even weaken the enthusiasm young people have shown for politics. The public must use this opportunity to re-examine the spirit of the Sunflower Student Movement. Perhaps it is not too late.
Chen Wei-ting's record as a serial sex offender will tarnish the image of the Sunflower Student Movement. Why? Because his halo shone too brightly before. He became an icon of the student movement. During social movements, the media often focuses on a small number of leaders. This makes it easier for them to frame the issues. But it also sidetracks the issues. Have Chen Wei-ting's sexual offenses tarnished the Sunflower Student Movement's halo? If they have, were we right to equate Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting with the student movement as a whole?
We must first dissociate student movement leaders from the student movement itself. We must clear away the smoke. Only then will we be able to see the true nature of the Sunflower Student Movement. Put simply, the Sunflower Student Movement actually consisted of three different layers. At the very core was the group that occupied the legislative chambers itself. Basically they were pro-green, anti-Ma students. Their political coloration however was overshadowed by their status as students. The second layer was those who waited outside the Legislative Yuan. They were youth who responded to the "anti-STA" and "anti-China" clarion calls. The third and outermost layer consisted of those who responded to the call for a public demonstration on Ketegelan Road on March 30. Their participation reflected dissatisfaction with the status quo. They were a new generation that demanded sound reforms. Each of these three layers was different. But they were incorrectly equate with one another.
In other words, the Sunflower Student Movement as a whole is anxious about the future of the younger generation. It is worried about Taiwan's stagnation. It is worried about a powerful Mainland China. It is angry because its generation has been deprived of its birthright. It doubts the Ma government's ability to protect Taiwan's interests. Amidst the chaos, calls for generational justice issued by the outermost layer of the student movement were lost. Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting were the only ones on stage and enjoying the spotlight. When time came to reap real world political benefits, the green camp was only too happy to partake. The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was sealed. The STA was frozen. The nine in one elections were manna from heaven. Wave upon wave of benefits fell into the green camp's lap.
The Sunflower Student Movement was too hastily deified. As a result its downfall was a case of “easy come, easy go.” In fact, another group organized a "da cang hua” (large intestine) forum. Their motive was to break the Sunflower Student Movement's monopoly on the movement agenda, and the deification of Lin Fei-fan (sail god) and Chen Yen-ting (yen god). But they were ants attacking an elephant. Furthermore, female protestors at the sit-in even gave Lin Fei-fan massages. This revealed the classism, sexism, and male Chauvinism in the student movement. All of these call for serious soul-searching. This was why when the Chen Wei-ting sexual molestation scandal came to light, he showed scant remorse. It is likely that he felt his unique status warranted even more special privileges.
Suppose Chen Wei-ting had been able to participate in the election? Suppose he was even elected to the legislature? Suppose he had used the opportunity to move off the streets and become part of the system? For the Sunflower Student Movement and other social movements, a successful candidacy could have provided powerful inspiration. It could have shown them they can reform the system from within. Alas, Chen Wei-ting's egregious record of sex offenses could not be ignored. He showed little if any remorse. For one, he waited until two days before the DPP nomination before copping to to sex offenses. He knew the truth had to come out, so he "vaccinated" himself against it in advance. Such devious behavior shows that he is hardly the naive idealist he is imagined to be. For another, even his admission was selective in nature. Earlier sex offenses soon came to light, revealing his deceit.
Chen Wei-ting's declaration of withdrawal was long-winded and full of hot air. One could see how he was struggling to cover all bases. He used a lot of pretty words. But he had already lost all credibility. His words had already lost their power to impress. Step back and think about it. A young student shouted slogans, threw shoes, and delivered speeches. He swiftly became a celebrity and a political star. But the flame that burns twice as bright, lasts half as long. He turned out to be a flash in the pan. His rise to fame was swift. His fall from grace was even swifter. The standards one applies to others, are also the standards that others will apply to oneself. This was Chen Wei-ting's inescapable fate.
Once Chen Wei-ting withdrew from the election, rumors emerged that the Miaoli DPP candidate wuold be DPP Youth Director Fu Wei-tse. Fu Wei-tse was Chen Wei-ting's predecessor at National Tsing Hua University Community Center. He too was one a key figure in the Sunflower Student Movement. He joined the DPP earlier. He also joined Tsai Ing-wen's Party Central Committee in mid-year. Therefore, he probably has more experience and maturity than Chen Wei-ting. Unfortunately, the "ting god" is dead. The DPP's self-interested attempt to bask in the glow of "civic groups" has been frustrated. Does the DPP really think it use the same strategy again?
Chen Wei-ting should calm his mind. That would do him good. Society meanwhile, should take the time to rethink its deification of the Sunflower Student Movement. That may allow the true voices of the new generation to have their say. Who reaped the fruits of the Sunflower Student Movement? That too should be abundantly clear.
2014.12.27 02:16 am