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Hunger strike for referendum law amendment in Taiwan



Following the October 25th protest against Ma Ying-jeou and China, a group of protesters, led by the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP), started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament. David has an article on this with photos. They are demanding an amendment to the Referendum Law.


Here’s a passage from Taipei Times about this strike[1], explaining the problem with the law:


The law, enacted by the Chinese Nationalist Party-dominated (KMT) legislature in 2003, stipulates that the number of signatures required for a referendum proposal to be reviewed is 0.5 percent of the voters who participated in the most recent presidential election — or approximately 80,000 individuals — with an additional 5 percent signatures from the population needed for a referendum to be held.


Not only was the threshold unreasonably high but decisions passed by a referendum still have to be vetted by the Parliament! In any democracy, the power of referendum (directly from people) should be above that of people’s representatives (indirect) but the KMT didn’t take any notice of this. Because pan-Blue coalition always get over half of the seats in the parliament, they can easily reject any referendum results.


Prof. Tsai made this demand at this time because when faced with Ma’s dodgy motives and conducts, the only legitimate way Taiwanese can really make their own decisions on sovereignty and reject any illegitimate agreements between Ma’s government and CCP is through proper referenda. Therefore, Prof. Tsai and his supporters are adamant to make their voice heard. He said in an interview that if Taiwanese, including himself, have to be suppressed by the Chinese and the KMT from generation to generation, then the life is not worth living. Here’s a clip of Dr. Hsieh Chih-wei’s interview with Prof. Tsai on 29th October, 4 days after the hunger strike began. The same page also has more photos.


Here are clips, photos and daily updates on this hunger strike: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6. Yufu’s Yushan internet TV team has been following this event around the clock and uploading the latest visuals online every day since it started.


Over the past few days, the police have been warning the protesters to leave. On the other hand, a lot of long time activists and pro-Taiwan groups and supporters went there to support this strike such as the popular host of Talking Show, Cheng, Hung-yi, representatives and the spokesperson from Frank Hsieh’s Shadow Government, the current and former DPP chairpersons… etc.


This evening (31st October), 7pm Taiwanese time, around 1,000 people were outside the Parliament supporting this strike. Prof. Tsai has been taken into the hospital as his physical condition was deteriorating. Here are some photos for this evening in the following links.


Mr. Lin, Yi-hsiung, former DPP chairman, has also endeavoured to push for an amendment but not seemed to receive any meaningful and positive responses from the KMT. Not surprisingly, the KMT has not said a word this time.


 [1] Hunger strike continues at the Legislative Yuan

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/11/2008 11:00

    I went on Friday night and took more photos. I’ll get them uploaded to flickr later tonight or tomorrow. It was good to see many people coming out on Friday night and there was a lot of emotion in the crowd. This event was largely ignored by the mainstream media though. Even the police were barely present.

    btw, I would like to give you permission use my photos from my blog or flickr on your blog as long as you include a link back to the original page.

  2. Claudia Jean permalink*
    01/11/2008 17:11

    Hi David,

    Thanks for letting me use your photos and of course I’ll say who took them and include the links (if I can’t link the photos directly, I always put the link in the text. Is this OK wit you?).

    Thanks for supporting the protests and this strike. I must say that TAUP is not really a political organisation and didn’t really organise this or inform the press. I heard on Talking Show that Prof. Tsai didn’t tell anyone and decided to do it alone. His wife only found out on the night of 25th or in the early morning of 26th when she realised that her husband didn’t come home from the protest. She learned from the TV news that her husband was going on a hunger strike outside of the parliament. All the support we see afterwards came from people who heard about this from the news or blogs rather than organised by TAUP. Now, Prof. Tsai is in the hospital. Some people wonder how it’s going to continue or who is going to continue to achieve its aim.

    Because it wasn’t organised, the press wasn’t informed beforehand. Only Sanlih and FTV had some coverage. Pro-China media of course align themselves with the KMT, so no hope there. Instead, they are busy digging up or making up stories about A-Bian and other pan-Green figures. This is the level of bias and callousness of those mainstream pro-China media.

  3. 09/11/2008 01:32

    I agree that the referendum laws in Taiwan need to be changed. During the elections, the referendums by each side to decide on what name to use for applying to the U.N. both failed simply because of the threshold not being met. On one hand, Ma talks about how he wants the people of Taiwan to be heard and will put their interests first, and yet, his campaign and he attempted to suppress the referendums at the time, which are as you say, are the voice of the people, by calling on the people to boycott the referendums and splitting up the referendums on separate ballots from the presidential ballot. Everyday, I find it hard to believe that a Harvard grad who has experienced the freedoms in America has the guts to do what he is doing in Taiwan…

  4. Claudia Jean permalink*
    09/11/2008 18:29

    Hi Richard,

    I think you’ve spotted Ma’s strategy all along. He says one thing but does another. I believe the reason why they started ‘return to the UN’ referendum, seeking to restore their status in the UN is bogus. They just wanted to mess up the other referendum. Everything points to one thing: Ma and the KMT are anti-referendum and anti-democracy.

    I don’t know what a Harvard Law graduate behaved the way he did. Here’s the question: how much time did he actually spend on studying and learning the American culture? Can the American way he saw trump his longing for control and power – the way that’s been fed to him and surrounded him since he was a child?


  1. Hunger strike for referendum law amendment in Taiwan « In Claudia …
  2. Global Voices Online » Taiwan: Hunger strike for referendum law change
  3. Links 3 November 2008 - David on Formosa

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