A Political Protest in Taiwan
Just as there were beef protests in Korea, today there was a protest in Taiwan. The protest is basically a coverup of the truth.
The real issue is that Chen Shuibian (the former president of the Republic of China) was corrupt and pocketed money for his family’s use while in power. He also engineered a large increase in University capacity – watering down the quality of higher education in general within Taiwan and being another huge hole into which government money disappeared. In this year’s college entrance examinations, people that got 7 points out of 600 made it into college – people that really aren’t fit for University. Chen was down in the polls when trying to get re-elected in 2004, so he paid somebody to pull off a fake assassination attempt against himself so that he could continue to serve as president.
Chen’s party, the DPP, otherwise known as the green party, wants to cover up all the problems experienced under DPP rule and claim the current president, Ma Yingjiu is selling out Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China. Ma is from the KMT, popularly known as the blue party, which believes that Taiwan is in fact part of China. The DPP drummed up a lot of people to march in force today:
The sign with English and Chinese on it may be hard to read in English without some historical knowledge. Quisling was a Norwegian politician that assisted Nazi Germany in conquering his own country – a traitor to his country. The Chinese just says Ma Yingjiu is a traitor, and that he should step down. It does not seem to make any reference to the Nazis directly.
Compared to the beef protests in Korea, this walk did not obstruct traffic on other streets – the parade of protesters stopped at red lights to allow cross traffic to go through. It was also unlike Korea in that nobody tried to get me or other foreigners to participate in the protest. I think all foreigners present were simply assumed to hold the same political opinion of the protestors.
Some protestors wore bandanas that said "Made in China 有毒" (Made in China has poison). While contaminated milk from the People’s Republic of China has been a popular item in the news, it is not like non organic milk in other places is any better. Tonnes of hormones used to make cows grow faster and fatter leech into the milk and cause side effects in humans just as the melamine does. Specifically regarding Taiwan, I’ve heard that Taiwan has some of the highest pesticide use in the world. Non organic farms are also often built right next to heavily polluting factories or pig farms (which themselves heavily pollute the water supply in their vicinity). Many farmers won’t eat the fruits or vegetables grown on their own farms for this reason.
While meant to chastise mainland China, I thought the bandanas only highlighted how hypocritical and how far the Republic of China has to go with regards to food safety. I know Japan is concerned enough to test every lot of fruits, vegetables, and fish that come into their country from China. Taiwan obviously doesn’t think it is worthwhile to test products from other places except after unsafe food makes it into the news. That doesn’t even include the problematic food sourced from inside Taiwan. While in most places I do not notice any difference in my sense of well being after eating non organic fruits and vegetables versus when I do eat organic fruits and vegetables, the difference in Taiwan is very, very noticeable.
In all, I was unimpressed with the reasons behind the protest. It was like a Chinese moveon.org. Even if I did completely agree with their platform, I wouldn’t associate with them politically because many of them can’t make intelligent arguments and defend their beliefs without looking at a canned list written by somebody else. That list also doesn’t necessarily logically apply to the issue under discussion.
In any case, I am glad people got to make their voices heard. Even if I disagree, the fact that people can say their opinions openly and not be persecuted for them is an example for other places, especially other places that claim to provide that.