Tsai Ing-wen’s Opening Speech at the 517 Rally
Greetings to all of you, the true owners of Taiwan. From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for coming!
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets today, outnumbering the number who joined the October 25th rally last year. There are friends from the DPP, the TSU (Taiwan Solidarity Union), various civil groups, social movement organizations, people from every walk of life – professionals, farmers, workers, business people, and our young people. Today, we are using our feet to write history!
Today, in such a hot weather, hundreds of thousand people have walked many different roads to come to Ketagalan Boulevard to raise their voices so that President Ma Ying-jeou might hear us! Why? Because we have such deep, heart-felt discontent and indignation that we have to take to the streets and shout out our disapproval towards Ma.
Hundreds of thousands of people have come out today to Katagalan Boulevard, braving the hot sun and unafraid of walking a great distance. We, this huge crowd, are unhappy and angry, and so we have come out to raise our voices in protest against President Ma. Why?
Because during this past year of Ma’s presidency, Taiwan’s sovereignty has vanished, our economy is in recession, and there has been a rollback of our democracy.
Over this past year, numerous agreements have been signed during the three Chiang-Chen talks. We do not agree with Ma’s policy of taking China as the only salvation for Taiwan! Ma Ying-jeou has traded Taiwan’s sovereignty for unrealistic economic benefits from China. This is what we cannot tolerate!
Ma Ying-jeou’s China policy has handed the destiny and future of we Taiwanese into China’s hands. To this policy we do not give our consent! The negotiations between Ma and China has never been supervised by our Legislative Yuan and neither have they gained the consent of our people. This is an anti-democratic government!
Regarding the Ma administration’s economic performance, our unemployment rate has reached a historic new high. There are seven hundred thousand people who have lost their jobs while more people are at the edge of losing their jobs. Our GDP is decreasing. Our government, in the name of saving the economy, has borrowed heavily and caused the government deficits to scale to a historic high. This government is creating debt that our children cannot afford, this is what we cannot agree on, am I right?
Outrageous bills have been proposed, such as raising the salaries of officials! We do not want this kind of irresponsible legislature, do we?!
For the past year, Taiwan’s democracy has changed from one-party dominance to one-person dominance. Why has Ma Ying-jeou dared to do this? Because he has external help from China and domestic cover from the Legislature. Moreover, he is backed by entrepreneur friends and big companies. Thus, he can impudently disregard the checks and balances in the democratic system! This is what we cannot agree with, isn’t that right?!
The Ma administration has broken its campaign promises. As China, which has deployed one thousand missiles aimed at Taiwan, and has started to penetrate Taiwan with commercial interests and political tools, Ma has shown no determination to defend Taiwan. Moreover, he has even actively accommodated China by self-disarming with a “Diplomatic Truce” policy. This is what we cannot agree to, right?!
Many of those who voted for Ma, including the middle-class and intellectuals, have even said to me, “Chair Tsai, we made mistakes. Please make the DPP strong!” Hasn’t Ma Ying-jeou heard these voices?
If swallows leave, they will come back again some day; if an economic cycle goes bust, it will boom again. However, if a country is lost, it will never re-appear.
Taiwanese don’t have the right to be pessimistic. It’s our country, and so we must take it upon ourselves to save it. We must be united and we must save this country using democratic means!
Democracy is our last defense. Without democracy, there are no human rights; without democracy, there is no sovereignty. We, the Democratic Progressive Party, will stand with Taiwanese people. By combining all our strength and maximizing our best efforts, we will protect our democracy! Will you join us?!
To meet this goal, today I am pronouncing the “Citizens’ Movement to Protect Taiwan!” Let’s start today! All citizens unite, let’s protect our democracy and protect Taiwan!
There are still many excellent speeches and presentations for the rally tonight. I hope you will join us. After 10pm, we will start the 24-hr sit-in to protest the evil-spirited amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act. I invite you to join us. We will, through our peaceful voice, demonstrate the strongest power – that of the people.
Tonight, let us be together! Let us stay together for 24 hours! Let us gain a better understanding of each other! Let us become more united! Let us safeguard our Taiwan!