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Tsai Ing-wen: Let’s Change Taiwan Again, Let’s Push Forward with a Second Democratic Reform

May 17, 2009

Tsai Ing-wen delivered this speech at 10pm on Ketagalan Boulevard, directly preceding the 24 hour sit-in.

It’s almost 10pm now. The DPP deeply thanks those who have spent the past seven hours with us. We are all here to fight for Taiwan’s future, to fight for Taiwan’s democracy, to fight for Taiwan’s sovereignty. We appreciate your hard work today. Moreoever, these days have been an extremely difficult time for the DPP. Yet you are always here with us, you never leave or abandon us. We are truly grateful, from the bottom of our hearts. Today’s demonstration is the largest we have had since we became once again the opposition party, truly the largest demonstration and the largest event.

During our march today we saw many enthusiastic supporters, and this heartens us greatly! We also met many enthusiastic supporters who have given generously to help support the DPP. The party’s senior staff has even told me that it has been a very long time since they have been so moved by this kind of rally and the response from the people. We of the DPP must say thank you from the very bottom of our hearts to all you supporters!

In yesterday’s Liberty Times there was a letter from a professor who said that he would definitely join the demonstration today, even if he had to crawl! When I read this I was deeply moved and most thankful. I feel thankful because there are still so many people who never leave us, never abandon us, and still willing to follow the DPP and stand together in order to protect Taiwan. It is regrettable that this government, in power for one short year, has caused people to come out now for the fourth time, because this government has disappointed us so greatly, and has given us no reason to hold any expectations. Saving Taiwan, protecting Taiwan is our very own responsibility!

I believe that there are many supporters who have not joined us today either here or in Kaohsiung, but their hearts are with us. They are in front of their TVs, listening on their radios, or watching on the Internet. They are with us. We are starting today, standing together. The DPP takes up the challenge; we stand together to once again change Taiwan!

The DPP already played a key historic role in changing Taiwan. We pushed forward the first wave of democratization: the 1992 the Legislative Yuan elections; the direct presidential elections in 1996; and the repeal of article 100 of the Criminal Law. These all were accomplishments of the DPP’s older generation, those who risked their lives, who sacrificed their own safety, who blazed the trail for us with their own blood. When the DPP was in power for eight years, there were many who didn’t agree with us, and we made our share of mistakes. Sometimes we didn’t do enough. But it must be said that the DPP’s eight years in power were Taiwanese society’s freest and most open years!

In the past we never had to worry about the possible loss of our sovereignty, and we never had to worry that our hard won democracy would be rolled back. However, today we can see clearly that our sovereignty is being lost, our democracy is being rolled back. It is now up to us, this generation of the Taiwanese people, to lead Taiwan. We, the whole citizenry, must set up a democratic foundation that will last for generations. This is our historic responsibility!

Since I took over as DPP chair a year ago, I have been deeply moved by this experience. Our DPP members, our supporters have had a complex set of emotions, with ups and downs. We have experienced disappointments, pain, exhaustion, sadness, and concern. Disappointment because of the loss of political power and the lost opportunity to serve our people; pain over the continuous humiliation that all of those who served in the DPP administration have suffered at the hands of the current government and some of the media; concern over the fact that Taiwan’s sovereignty is slipping away, the economy is deteriorating, and democracy as well as human rights are being rolled back.

I stand here today to tell our DPP members and supporters that history has harshly judged the DPP, and is putting the DPP to a difficult test. This shows that history has had great hopes and expectations for the DPP, and the Taiwanese people have great expectations of the DPP. We must work harder than ever, while standing straighter and taller than others. Then, and only then, can we stand on the front lines to protect Taiwan. Come stand with us!

Over this past year we have seen that the KMT is not a party in which we can place any expectations. In the course of this past year, we have seen many KMT high officials rushing into China’s warm embrace. They say not a word nor do they expend any energy for Taiwan’s sovereignty, Taiwan’s independent sovereignty. Can this kind of party really continue to act as the governing party of Taiwan?

The international situation changes rapidly. The international community possesses its own strategic thinking, its own strategic considerations, and its own strategic calculations. If Taiwan gives the international community the impression that we are leaning completely toward China, completely depending upon China, completely moving toward unification, then I believe, in the blink of an eye, the international community will definitely change its strategic considerations regarding Taiwan, and change its strategic calculations toward Taiwan. We face an important choice. People of Taiwan, we must decide! We must not become a part of China, we must become a part of the world!

Having made our decision, we must bravely set forth, and speak out with a loud voice. Today we are witnesses to history, witnessing that the Taiwanese people are our choice, that we raise our voices for the future of our country, and that we wish to let the international community know what the Taiwanese people have chosen!

China, a rising China, has already reached the front door of our home’s front door. Our government has held the door open. Our government has placed our own economic growth in hands of the number of Chinese tourists and the amount of Chinese capital into Taiwan’s stock market. Taiwan and China are not one and the same place. Taiwan is a democracy, with a free market economy. China, on the contrary, is a totalitarian country, with a state controlled economy. Thus the Chinese government is capable of manipulating the number of Chinese tourists who come to Taiwan and the amount of Chinese investment that flows here. The KMT has lost its bargaining leverage, and thus has no power in the negotiations. Our future is falling into Chinese hands. Do we want our future to fall into Chinese hands? No, absolutely not!

Our people are suffering, angry, and fearful. This is why we cannot not stand up! 60 years ago the KMT lost China because of their corruption. We will not let them lose Taiwan!

We must not let our country sink like this. We must determine our own future. We do not want to lose our own country, so we must stand up and denounce President Ma in order to safeguard Taiwan. This is our most important objective today!

Ma Ying-jeou is afraid. Ma Ying-jeou’s government is afraid, so they have begun to confiscate Taiwan’s democracy. Taiwan’s democracy is our last line of defense. Ma’s government already started to confiscate our Taiwanese democracy when Chen Yunlin came to Taiwan. At that time, the government wouldn’t let people hold their country’s flag in their hands! People were arrested. When students protested against Ma Ying-jeou, they were held in custody for several hours. The proposed amendments by the KMT party caucus to the Parade and Assembly Law are another example. Ma wants to take away our right to demonstrate and assemble. This is an attempt to confiscate the rights of the people. Aren’t these the actions of a reactionary government?

Ma Ying-jeou is attempting to bring us back the authoritarian days to Taiwan. He stresses that even evil laws are laws, and uses evil laws as instruments of control. He shows no willingness to get rid of those evil laws. Taiwan must move forward. Our ruler wants to take us back to the old days and ways. We definitely don’t wish to go back to those times. We want to go forward and make progress.

In Ma Ying-jeou’s dictionary, there are no checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government, nor any oversight of the executive by the legislature. In Ma Ying-jeou’s dictionary, there is no respect for public opinion. Because of his own incompetence, he must try to humiliate and eliminate the opposition. Because of his own incompetence, he must amend the Parade and Assembly Law in order to take away the streets from the people. Because of his own incompetence, he must make the government structure of Taiwan into a structure dominated by one person. Thus his ruling power will not have to face many challenges and no person will be able to challenge his ruling power.

We can expect nothing from Ma’s team. They haven’t got a clue how to get us out of this economic tempest. Their sole answer is to bring China into Taiwan and to lead Taiwan into one China. We Taiwanese must save ourselves. The key is our willpower and our democratic institutions! Let’s use them!

As I already noted, the DPP has already changed Taiwan’s history: we changed the KMT’s authoritarian rule over Taiwan; we promoted the democratization of Taiwan, which included the revision and reform of the Legislature, the direct election of the president, and the many benefits of democracy our Taiwanese people enjoy today. Even more importantly, we changed the Taiwanese people’s self-identity. From the KMT conceptualization of Taiwan, who possessed a “Greater China” consciousness and saw Taiwan as only a temporary place of residence, we changed to a Taiwanese self-identity, to viewing Taiwan as our permanent home.

As I already noted, when the DPP was the ruling party, Taiwanese society was the freest it has ever been, that was the most open time in our history. We did not worry about the loss of our sovereignty or human rights violations.

What we must do now is to once again change Taiwan! If in the past we could overthrow the authoritarian KMT regime with its massacres and persecution and bring forth the beautiful flowers of Taiwan’s democracy, then, today, we can act as a tremendous force to stop the decline of Taiwan’s sovereignty, stop Taiwan from slipping, one step at a time, into a situation whereby it becomes part of China. We must stop the rollback of democracy in Taiwan.

One year into the Ma Ying-jeou Administration, the Taiwanese people have come to realize that Taiwanese democracy is still very young and fragile. So, it is incumbent on our generation to push for a second democratic reform, to make up for whatever shortcomings there were in the first wave of democratization.

This second reform effort can not rely solely upon the Legislative Yuan. In fact, we are witnessing the revival of the student movement of the 80s and the social movement of the 90s. We have to remobilize the power of our grassroots support. Only in this manner can this second wave of democratic reform be successful. Today, we have begun!

My dear Taiwanese people, perhaps you took part in efforts to protect Taiwan during the 1950s, the economic takeoff during the 1960s, the “Ten [Infrastructure] Projects” in the 1970s, the industrial transformation of the 1980s, or the reform of the 1990s. We cannot let a lifetime of hard work be ruined! Please stand up to protect Taiwan. Together let us stand up, let us not let Taiwan disappear!

Let us stand together to safeguard Taiwan! Let us cheer each other on and, for the sake of the generations of Taiwanese to come, let us devoted ourselves fully to the task of guarding Taiwan!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2009 11:39 pm

    I would like to quote it on my blog. ok?

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