The recent tragic suicide of a 19 years old high-school student and the arrests of young people following the latest protests are deeply worrying, and the kind of events that Taiwan would have been a better place without. Almost on daily basis, the reasons why KMT is not capable of running a modern Taiwanese society become ever more clear. Political developments over the past few years provide encouragement that change in Taiwan after the January elections that will provide greater transparency and further positive democratic development. The main opposition party DPP with new parties, such as the New Power Party, can ensure that Taiwan is going to have a government that is more in sync with the population and knows how to run a modern society.
The recent tragic suicide of a 19 years old high-school student and the arrests of young people following the latest protests are deeply worrying, and this is the kind of events that Taiwan would have been a better place without.
Almost on daily basis, the reasons why Taiwan’s governing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is not capable of running a modern Taiwanese society, and why it is set to lose the January 2016 general elections become ever more clear. Among the reasons is that the KMT now lacks connection to society and promotes unsustainable and old-fashioned Chinese identity and cultural policies. Various protests over the past years such as the media monopoly movements and the Sunflower movement’s occupation of the main chamber of Taiwan’s parliament, among others, reveal that the Taiwanese will protect their democracy, want increasing transparency and want politicians that develop Taiwan.
There is support for such movements among the public in Taiwan and widespread dissatisfaction with the KMT government. A survey about the Sunflower Movement from April 2014, commissioned by pro-KMT media group TVBS, revealed that 55% see the youth as a part of the political center, and 65% believe that their movement supported democracy while only 26% took the opposite view. The recent November 2014 local elections were a major devastating blow to the KMT party.
Protest among high-school students
Changes to high-school history textbook are the reason for the latest protests among high-school students.
The history textbooks are to become more pro-China and changes were made behind closed doors. In short, this is the background to the July 23 storming of the Ministry of Education by high-school students.
In the aftermath, 33 persons were arrested and 24 of the arrested were students. One of the high-schools students, who faced criminal charges, was 19 years-old Lin Kuan-Hua who tragically committed suicide. He was spokesperson for the Anti-Curriculum Changes Alliance.
On Thursday July 30 protesters held a memorial for Lin Kuan-Hua and demanded that the Minister of Education, Wu Se-hwa, resign. The same evening, they moved the protest in front of the Ministry of Education. Talks with the Minister on Friday ended with no result as he refused to stop the adjustments to high-school curriculum guidelines, or to stop the lawsuits against student and step down.
This comes after nationwide protests against the changes in the textbooks in June and after more than 150 schools have demanded that the changes are withdrawn.
What are the changes in the history textbooks?
There many changes in the history books and here follows a few examples of the new guidelines to the history books.
Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895 until 1945 and during this period is described as the “Japan-governed period” in the current textbooks. This is going to be re-named the “Japanese occupation period”. The term “Japan-governed period” had been adopted after careful debate and was deemed to be more accurate and neutral.
The guidelines also maintain that the tragic 228 Incident and the White Terror during the authoritarian period were a result of the civil war between KMT and the Chinese communist party. Those with even a cursory knowledge of the 228 Incident and the White Terror will know that this is not the case.
Moreover, Chen Tsiu-lien from National Taiwan University says in Foreign Policy that the guidelines suggest that the ban on media and political parties in 1980s were lifted but the guidelines do not discuss the social movements that were fighting for democracy.
Future – after the January elections
Political developments over the past few years and the local election in November 2014 provide encouragement that change in Taiwan after the January elections that will provide greater transparency and further positive democratic development. The main opposition party DPP with new parties, such as the New Power Party, can ensure that Taiwan is going to have a government that is more in sync with the population and knows how to run a modern society.