Monday, June 02, 2014

Walking Through the Sunflower Student Movement Protest (太陽花學運) @ Taipei [Taiwan]

I had a very innocent objective as we walked towards the direction of Qingdao East Road shortly after leaving our luggage at CityInn Hotel; to try the lunchbox at 青島便當. 

What i didn't expect was the scene in front of me; the protest zone of the recent sunflower movement which i had read about in The Straits Times! But i had to cut through it as we were too hungry for lunch! 

From memory, i recollected that students had occupied the legislative chamber in order to prevent the passing of a Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement said to be damaging rather than benefiting the Taiwan's economy. I am not going to bore you with the details which you can read from the wikipedia page here

Personally from the viewpoint of a Singaporean, it was an eye opener to see the road flanked on both sides by vehicles belonging to the many media companies; each giving their own real-time interpretation of the situation! 

It's quite easy to see who was the person spat on and condemned by the protesters; current Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou. The liberal use of his surname, which means horse in Chinese, was played creatively by the students in a number of posters, placards and even objects!

Shouldn't take you long to translate the meaning of dumping the horse in the toilet bowl! Honestly, shouldn't we love the horse more during this lunar year of the horse? After chatting with a taxi driver, i had a better understanding of the students' frustration with the government.

Many young Taiwanese have ambitions (like many of us when we were young) and most have the chance to get a degree. However, the economy wasn't doing that well with the starting pay of a fresh graduate hovering about NT$22,000 a month. For easy of reference, you might wish to note that a hundred Singapore dollars is worth around NT$2,391. 

They were not opposing the basis of the trade agreement; what they took issue with was the lack of information and debate on the individual clauses which might give China a bigger advantage over Taiwan in the future. As comparatively young citizens of Taiwan, they know they have a vested interest in its future.

Sadly, even the poor panda was demonised! By the way, the sunflower symbolised hope for the student's movement and was popularised after a florist supplied over a thousand stalks to the protesters! 

The main stage where the media was waiting patiently for someone to take the microphone. Compared to what i read in the newspapers, the overall atmosphere was actually quite calm and there was no confrontation between the students and the police / military.

As you can see, the older generation was also supporting the students' cause. As this movement can be deemed as anti-China, i guess it would attract those who are pro-independence rather than pro-unity. 

With a big group of protesters taking over the road and staying there indefinitely, this would spell business for some. Humans need to eat and drink what! Most appeared to be sponsored though although nothing really beats having a hotly steamed sweet potato in your hand on a cold weather. 

They would need to pee and shit too! Not so sure about bathing facilities as i didn't check further; my tummy was too hungry for food!!! 

Alex was thankfully quite nonchalant about it as he wasn't really a current news follower. What he saw was more like a peaceful gathering rather than a violent protest portrayed in some media. 

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