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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Sunflower legacy: no complacency

Sunflower legacy: no complacency

The Sunflower movement, which started on March 18, 2014, had a great influence on Taiwan. Although now part of the nation’s history, the movement’s spirit will endure forever.

Most important of all, the movement inspired young people to engage in politics. It taught them to think independently, articulate their ideas for themselves and contribute to social development — leading to the establishment of youth departments in local governments, an amendment of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to allow the voting age to be lowered to 18.

I was a senior-high school student at the time the mostly undergraduate students occupied the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei and I was shocked at how the police violently suppressed those who entered the Executive Yuan compound.

After that, I dedicated myself to politics and engaged without hesitation in 2015 when the movement to oppose opaque curriculum changes began during the administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), which promoted a non-transparent change to high-school textbooks with a “greater China” perspective.

Moreover, the rise of “natural independence” — the idea that the younger generation has grown up in a society in which Taiwanese independence is a mainstream ideal — prevents Taiwan from being like Hong Kong.

Watered by dissatisfaction with the Ma government and its pro-China policies, the Taiwanese consciousness brought about by the movements has now taken root.

Following the “umbrella movement” in Hong Kong and protests against a proposed extradition law in the territory, as well as the “blank paper” movement in China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has not only intensified its totalitarian regime domestically, but also intervened in Taiwan’s elections, a reminder that it is vital to protect the nation in the same spirit that gave birth to the Sunflower movement.

Meanwhile, Taiwan retains economic independence without the CCP’s interference, avoiding the negative effects of China-US trade disputes.

In an apparent attempt to emulate the ridiculous behavior of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers in 2014 when they signed the proposed cross-strait service agreement within 30 seconds, KMT Legislator Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲) this month proposed a two-round presidential vote system and said that legislators and officials are in a “top-down” relationship.

Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) ironically said that he only opposed the lack of transparency, not the agreement itself, turning his back on the Sunflower movement.

The KMT and the TPP’s pro-China actions — including restarting the proposed agreement, supporting an amendment to decrease the stand down period before Chinese spouses can be granted Taiwanese IDs and supporting the wrong agenda after a Chinese boat encroached on the nation’s waters, resulting in two deaths — show that Taiwanese must not be complacent just because a pro-Taiwan party is in power.

After a decade, Taiwanese should keep passing on the Sunflower movement’s spirit of “save the country on our own,” especially as pro-China forces are playing a waiting game.

Lai Yen-cheng is a doctoral candidate at National Yangming Chiao Tung University and a member of the university’s Gender Equity Education Committee.

Translated by Chien Yan-ru

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2024/03/20

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