Hundreds of thousands join DPP democracy march

Event inspires youths to take action for sake of Taiwan's future

Democracy supporters gathered in front of Hsinchu's Shiangshan Station on February 24 to greet the marchers as they headed back to Taipei from the sou

Former National Youth Commission Chairperson Cheng Li-chun led marchers and gave high-fives to supporters as participants arrived in Hsinchu.

Miss Tibet Tsering Chungtak, who withdrew from the Miss Tourism Queen 2007 competition in Malaysia after China requested that she change her "Miss Tib

A large-scale campaign event called the "March Against the Wind," which had participants travel from northern to southern Taiwan in a bid to gain voter support for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's presidential ticket, has boosted the morale of DPP supporters who were frustrated by the party's poor performance in January's legislative elections.
The march began on February 6 in Erluanbi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan, and ended with a large rally at Chungshan Soccer Stadium in downtown Taipei. It attracted the participation of more than 100,000 people.
The march was organized by the DPP and several civic groups, including the U.N. for Taiwan Alliance and the Hand-in-Hand to Safeguard Taiwan Alliance, in order to consolidate voter support for DPP candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and his running mate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) during the final stage of the presidential campaign.
Most of the participants at the event said they marched for Taiwan's democracy, not for a particular candidate in the coming elections.
"I decided to take part in the march to see our green pals, and I must say that I have regained my confidence in the DPP after I experienced their passion for Taiwan's democracy during the march," said Huang Kai-chu, one of a dozen of young pro-democracy activists who have taken concrete action to rekindle people's passion for Taiwan's democracy.
Huang was eager to share what he thinks about Taiwan's politics, saying that Taiwanese people should do whatever they can to protect Taiwan's democracy.
Huang, who served as a policeman a few years ago, did not conceal his resentment towards the Taipei City government when some city government officials expressed their intention to break through a police barricade to stop workers hired by the Ministry of Education from replacing the plaques bearing the name of the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
Huang also said he felt ashamed of the red-clad protesters who had caused a disturbance during the October 10 National Day rally in 2006, and expressed frustration with legislators who had gotten elected by bribing voters in the elections two months ago.
Thinking ahead
"The march has helped me realize what people at the grassroots level think about Taiwan, and I will tell Frank Hsieh and my friends who are apathetic about politics about what most people in this society think about Taiwan's future," Huang said. "We should give priority to strengthening our people's national identity through education, as it is vital to Taiwan's international status," he added.
Huang did not conceal his worry that Taiwan may become a "second Hong Kong" should the KMT regain ruling party status.
Born in 1983, Hsu Ling-yi is a young but mature girl who cares very much about Taiwan's future. "I did not come here to campaign for any candidate; I am here to show my concern for the future of Taiwan's democracy."
"I have learned a lot from my grand father and parents about the White Terror era, when Taiwan was under the KMT's authoritarian rule," Hsu said. Taiwan's democracy did not come easily; it was the fruit of the efforts of those Taiwanese dedicated to this country's democratization. Hsu said she believes that voters are by now able to tell which one of the two presidential candidates is more capable of running this country after watching the televised debates.
Some of the marchers injured themselves from the long walk, as it started on February 6, but their participation has successfully rekindled people's passion for Taiwan's democracy. By the time the marchers arrived in Hsinchu City on February 24, there were over 60 participants. By the time the marchers arrived at the city's main train station, hundreds of supporters had gathered to show their support for the march.
'All walks of life'
Those who took part in the march were from all walks of life. Their union is a reflection of how people with differing backgrounds can work together for the good of a common cause.
Mr. Kuo, an employee of Formosa Plastic Corp., said that he joined the march in Miaoli to show his support for the effort and to express his determination to safeguard Taiwan's democracy.
Since commencing their march around the island, the marchers have organized a series of campaign rallies in Kaohsiung City, Tainan City, Chiayi City, Taichung City, Hsinchu City, Taoyuan City and Taipei County. The march concluded with more than 100,000 people pledging to support the DPP in the coming election in order to safeguard Taiwan's democracy.
Former DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) kept a low profile during the march, but many people approached him for his autograph whenever he stopped to rest. Among those who lined up for Yu's autograph was Academia Historica President Chang Yen-hsien (張炎憲), who holds a Ph.D. in literature from Tokyo University.
Chang said that he came to Hsinchu to show his support for the principles that inspired the march. Chang also said he was not worried about whether he would become a target of criticism in the Legislature, as he believed that he must offer such shows of support in order to protect Taiwan's freedom of speech.
Importance of democracy
"It won't matter if I lose my job if Taiwan does not have democracy and freedom," he said.
A retired chef surnamed Lee was also among the marchers in Hsinchu. Lee told DPP supporters that he used to travel a lot as a caterer. He said that he has seen many corrupt officials in KMT government positions, but that none of them had been arrested or put in jail. It was not until the DPP became the ruling party that the government and the judiciary began to take concrete action against corruption, he said.
A noodle stand owner said sarcastically that he had decided to join the KMT because Ma, as a green card holder, can help him and his family settle in the United States if China decides to take Taiwan by force.
Cheng Li-chun, director of the DPP's youth department, the group that organized the march, came down with a cold more than 10 days ago and had a fever for the past three days. Cheng also injured her leg keeping a steady and face pace, as she led all the other participants throughout the march.
Cheng said that it was not until she got injured that she realized how great her father was for enduring so many hardships as a low-level worker to support her family. She said that the DPP government and should apologize to workers and farmers for being unable to improve their living conditions since the party took power. "It's time for the DPP to review its original ideals and deliver what it promised to give the people at its inauguration over 20 years ago.
Former DPP Deputy Secretary-General Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), who served as the commander of the march, was very happy to see his wife and son come to Hsinchu to help him celebrate his birthday.
Chung talked about the importance of honoring the DPP's heritage and listening to what the people here have to say on what they can do to make Taiwan a better and more beautiful place to live. He admitted that the march has helped him learn more about this land and its people.
As a history major, Chung compared history to being perched on a giant's shoulder, where people's line of sight would be expanded so that they could learn what is necessary to improve themselves in a more efficient way.
Chung compared his participation in the march to "buying an insurance policy" for his children. "The best thing I can do for my son is to help build a democratic environment so that my son and his children can enjoy freedom when they grow up," he said. He said that smart people not only care about themselves but also other people.