It’s been a while since I’ve written a “News about Taiwan” article. The latest news out of Taiwan have been developing issues with daily updates. It’s hard enough to keep up with fast moving news, let alone write a blog post about it. Also, some of the news is not making it to the English media outside of Taiwan and Asia.
When the completed version of 入陣曲 (the title song by 五月天 for the drama 《蘭陵王》) was released, it was evident that even though the lyrics reflected the drama plot, they were also appropriate to the current political and social climate in Taiwan. On September 20, 2013, the official music video was released, which cemented the song as commentary on Taiwan. The video contains concert footage, paintings that depict recent incidents, and photos of protests in Taiwan. Here is a list of the incidents reflected in the images, from 「五月天 [入陣曲]新MV 片尾獻給張森文」[NewTalk 新頭殼 via Yahoo奇摩新聞 2013年9月20日]:
Here’s my translation:
0:20 forced demolition (強拆)
0:24 Miramar Resort Hotel (美麗灣)
0:29 government wiretapping (皇城監聽), enforcing tight security (戒備森嚴), refusal to listen to public opinion (拒聽民意)
1:09 nuclear power debate (核電爭議)
1:12 media monopoly (媒體壟斷)
1:16 case of the death of army corporal 洪仲丘 (洪仲丘案)
2:35 forced demolition and dividing the spoils (強拆分贓)
3:07 send-off for 洪仲丘 protest (萬人送洪仲丘), interspersed with images from different protests: abolish nuclear power march (廢核遊行); resistance by the Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories (關廠工人連線抗爭); demolish the government, surround the Ministry of the Interior (拆政府包圍內政部); against Miramar Resort Hotel (反美麗灣); Dapu township demolition (大埔強拆現場); pleading by the Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories (關廠工人連線陳情); protest about Dapu township demolition (大埔抗爭)
3:24 death of Dapu township pharmacy 張藥房 owner 張森文 (大埔張藥房老闆張森文之死)
The last frame of the music video contains the words 入陣去, meaning to enter into battle.
Even though there are many events, the main issues are 美麗灣事件, 媒體壟斷, 核電爭議, 洪仲丘案, and 大埔強拆. I’m going to try my best to summarize each situation and some of the other things mentioned.
美麗灣事件 is the dispute about 美麗灣度假村 (Miramar Resort Hotel) at 杉原海岸 in 台東. The resort began construction without an environmental study. Different meetings resulted in different decisions on the approval. Environmentalists are concerned that the coral in the region would be damaged by construction and tourism. Also, the government is involved not only in environmental approval, but the construction of the resort as well. The project is a joint project between the developer (the Miramar group) and the 台東 government. Several protests have occurred calling for the resort to be torn down (拆美麗灣). There were multiple 反美麗灣 protests, including a march on April 20, 2013.
“Miramar broke law with Taitung project: advocates” [Taipei Times; April 30, 2007]
“Protesters want hotel torn down” [Taipei Times; November 11, 2012]
“Miramar resort EIA approved, sparking anger” [Taipei Times; December 23, 2012]
“Groups to hold rally against Miramar Resort Village” [Taipei Times; April 14, 2013]
「千人上街反美麗灣 期盼美麗東海岸永存」 [NewTalk 新頭殼 via Yahoo!奇摩新聞 2013年4月20日]
核電爭議 is refers to the protests about building 核四, the fourth nuclear power plant in 貢寮 in 新北市. Construction of the power plant ran into multiple problems and its safety was strongly questioned. Concerns about nuclear power escalated after the disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Nuclear power is not a major source of energy in Taiwan. Also, there were claims from Taipower (台電) that there would be an increase in energy prices if 核四 was not activated. Unfortunately, energy prices have been increasing even without 核四. There have been multiple protests: against the use of nuclear energy (反核) and for stopping the construction of 核四. 廢核遊行 refers to the anti-nuclear power rally that occurred on March 09, 2013.
“Activists protest fourth nuclear plant” [Taipei Times; August 05, 2011]
“Minister downplays Fourth Nuclear Plant problems” [Taipei Times; May 23, 2012]
“Academics call for halt to New Taipei City nuclear power plant construction” [Taipei Times; February 24, 2013]
「309全台串廢核遊行高喊：核斃（何必）公投 直接停建核四」 [環境資訊中心 via Yahoo!奇摩新聞 2013年3月9日]
“Nuclear Opponents in Taiwan Work to Change ‘Unfair’ Referendum Law” [GlobalVoices; August 05, 2013]
“Referendum on Taiwan’s Fourth Nuclear Plant Suspended” [GlobalVoices; August 07, 2013]
“Taiwan May Face Further Delay in Completion of New Nuclear Plant” [Wall Street Journal; September 10, 2013]
“Taiwan’s 4th nuclear plant might be ready for loading fuel rods in Sept.: ministry” [Kyodo News International via GlobalPost; September 10, 2013]
“Taiwan nuclear power plant progresses amid resistance” [UPI; September 11, 2013]
“Activists want no referendum and no nuclear plant” [Taipei Times; September 18, 2013]
大埔強拆 is a land grab incident in 大埔 (Dapu Township), in which four homes were marked for demolition by the government because they were hindering plans to expand a science park. Negotiations to prevent the demolition of the homes did not resolve the situation. 大埔張藥房老闆張森文之死 refers to 張森文, the owner of one of the properties that was demolished, who was found dead the morning of September 18, 2013. He was the owner of 張藥房, one of the properties marked for demolition. The forced demolition of people’s homes (強拆) and division of the wealth (強拆分贓) has been an ongoing issue in Taiwan. Land development companies have managed to force the demolition of older apartments to build high-rises. 台灣農村陣線 (Taiwan Rural Front) has been organizing protests against the demolitions in 大埔. The slogan for the protests is 「今天拆大埔，明天拆政府」, meaning today the demolition of 大埔, tomorrow the demolition of the government.
“Dapu houses torn down amid protests” [Taipei Times; July 19, 2013]
“Taiwanese Professor Arrested in Protest Against Forced Demolitions” [GlobalVoices; July 25, 2013]
“No confidence: protests over land grabbing in Taiwan” [openDemocracy; August 21, 2013]
「大埔拆遷案又一死！張藥房老闆溺斃」 [東森新聞 via Yahoo!奇摩新聞 2013年9月18日]
“Dapu resident’s death sparks impromptu protests” [Taipei Times; September 20, 2013]
洪仲丘案 is the military incident in which 洪仲丘, an army corporal just days from completing his required military service, died while under detention. During the investigation, it was found that there was only partial footage from a surveillance video. There was no evidence to determine what really happened to him. A referendum was passed for the civilian judicial system to handle military criminal cases rather than the military judicial system. 公民1985行動聯盟 was formed by regular citizens concerned about the investigation of the incident. 1985 is the Ministry of Defense hotline for military personnel to log complaints. The group organized (and continue to organize) protests for the military (and government) to tell the truth. 萬人送洪仲丘 was a protest that occurred on August 03, 2013.
“Heat exhaustion mooted as cause of soldier’s death” [Taipei Times; July 10, 2013]
“Missing footage probed in Hung case” [Taipei Times; July 22, 2013]
“Outrage Over Taiwan Death Underscores Military Woes” [Wall Street Journal; July 26, 2013]
“Taiwan defence minister resigns after corporal’s death” [AFP via globalpost; July 29, 2013]
“Protest over Taiwanese military conscript’s death draws 100,000″ [AFP via TheRawStory; August 03, 2013]
“Soldier’s Death Sparks Massive Protest in Taiwan” [Wall Street Journal; August 05, 2013]
“Military judicial system altered” [Taipei Times; August 07, 2013]
“Taiwan’s military loses right to its court-martial system” [UPI; August 16, 2013]
“Taiwan’s recent protests signal a maturing democracy” [Vancouver Sun; August 25, 2013]
媒體壟斷 is media monopoly. Concerns arose from when Want Want China Times Group wanted to expand its Taiwan operations. First, there was the acquisition of cable television services. Then, there was the potential sale of Next Media’s Taiwan magazine and newspaper to a group led by the owner of the Want Want China Times Group. A major concern with the acquisition is the increase of China-based companies controlling the media in Taiwan, and that it would be approved by Taiwan’s China-friendly government. University students organized classes to discuss media monopolies. A major protest occurred on September 01, 2012.
I DONT WANT WANT – 三分鐘讓你了解潮到出水的「反媒體壟斷運動」VS「蔡旺旺」事件簿！
“Taiwan: Threat of Media Monopoly and Power Abuse” [GlobalVoices; July 30, 2012]
“Taiwan: Smear Campaign Sparks Historic Media Monopoly Protest” [GlobalVoices; September 4, 2012]
「反媒體壟斷 全台17校本週聯合開課」 [自由時報 via Yahoo!奇摩新聞 2012年12月20日]
「反媒體壟斷 近千學生自由廣場守夜」 [NewTalk 新頭殼 via Yahoo!奇摩新聞 2012年12月31日]
“Tough Talk in Taiwan on Media Deals” [Reuters via New York Times; March 11, 2013]
“Next Media Says $536 Million Taiwan Asset Sale Falls Through” [Bloomberg; March 26, 2013]
「901反媒體壟：馬政府失信於民、毫無誠信」 [NewTalk 新頭殼 via Yahoo!奇摩新聞 2013年7月28日]
全國關廠工人連線 (Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories) is composed of organizations that were formed to assist people who were victims of factory closures between 1996-1998. Factories closed at a large scale during that time and moved to other countries. However, the owners declared bankruptcy and refused to compensate the factory workers. They continue to fight for justice for displaced workers and also coordinate with other organizations to protest societal injustices.
全國關廠工人連線 [懶人包; 2013年2月5日]
“Laid-off Workers Turn from Victims to Debtors in Taiwan” [GlobalVoices; November 12, 2012]
皇城監聽 and 戒備森嚴拒聽民意 are not specific issues, but are attitudes by the government. 皇城監聽 refers to government wiretapping. This was part of the scandal involving the president and a legislative speaker. The family of 洪仲丘 expressed concern that their phone was being tapped during the investigation into his death. 戒備森嚴拒聽民意 means stern or strict alerts (by the government or police) and refusal to listen to public opinion. The strict police presence was an issue with 大埔抗爭, in which people were dragged away on the road.
“Taiwan’s president, ruling party hit by scandal, rifts, anger over wiretapping” [The Washington Post; September 12, 2013]
A few days after the official music video for 入陣曲 was released, an unofficial video was posted.
The video contains news footage from protests and interviews. The additional incidents shown in the music video are 雙子星案, 林益世案, 菲律賓射殺台灣漁民事件, and 文林苑都更案.
雙子星案 is the scandal involving the Taipei Twin Towers. The project was a city project that was proposed in 2004. The project has encountered a series of issues. A major problem was the bidding process, where there were allegations of bribery.
“Taipei’s Twin Towers project collapses” [Taipei Times; February 23, 2013]
“Taipei Twin Towers bid can be nullified: mayor” [Taipei Timesl April 05, 2013]
“Twin Towers corruption probe begins” [Taipei Times; April 25, 2013]
“Two detained in Twin Towers probe” [Taipei Times; May 26, 2013]
“Taipei’s Twin Towers project to be continued” [Taipei Times; September 20, 2013]
“Councilors question Taipei mayor about Twin Towers project” [Taipei Times; September 25, 2013]
林益世案 is the case of Executive Yuan secretary-general 林益世. He was accused of accepting a bribe from a metal-recycling company to secure contracts. He was found guilty and sentenced to a seven years in prison.
“Lin Yi-shih guilty on two counts” [Taipei Times; May 01, 2013]
“Netizens decry ‘light sentence’ for Lin Yi-shih” [Taipei Times; May 03, 2013]
“Control Yuan impeaches Lin Yi-shih” [Taipei Times; June 12, 2031]
“Lin Yi-shih quits amid bribery claims” [Taipei Times; June 30, 2013]
“Lin Yi-shih released on NT$50m bail” [Taipei Times; October 27, 2013]
菲律賓射殺台灣漁民事件 was the incident in which a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by the Philippine coast guard. The government response was not satisfactory. There were prior instances of fishermen in danger, but the government did not protect the fishermen.
“Taiwan demands Philippines investigate fatal shooting of fisherman” [AP via The Guardian; May 10, 2013]
“EDITORIAL: Protecting Taiwanese is Ma’s duty” [Taipei Times; May 16, 2013]
“Ma touts efforts to protect nation’s rights, fishermen” [Taipei Times; June 12, 2013]
“Sanctions depend on Philippines: Ma” [Taipei Times; June 27, 2013]
“Family of shot fisherman willing to accept apology” [Taipei Times; August 07, 2013]
“Philippines Apologizes to Taiwan for Fisherman Death” [Voice of America; August 08, 2013]
“Taiwan Ends Sanctions Against Philippines Over Shooting Death” [NY Times; August 09, 2013]
文林苑都更案 is the case of an urban renewal project in 士林. The project involved the demolition of a block of apartment buildings to build a high-rise apartment complex. One family did not want to give up the land. But the construction company only needed 75% approval from landowners. There were protests over the forced eviction. The government subsequently demolished the homes. Construction has not started due to lawsuits.
“Property owners want law change” [Taipei Times; July 15, 2011]
“Wang family protests eviction” [Taipei Times; March 16, 2012]
“‘Homeless’ owners slam Taipei over project delays” [Taipei Times; March 23, 2012]
Protesters, police clash as homes are razed” [Taipei Times; March 29, 2012]
“Hau meets owners of torn down homes” [Taipei Times; April 11, 2012]
“Hau asks for interpretation of the Urban Renewal Act” [Taipei Times; April 13, 2012]
“Urban renewal sparks protests in Taipei” [Taipei Times; December 29, 2012]
“Inspection of Shilin project site canceled after protests” [Taipei Times; March 09, 2013]
“Talks on stalled urban project fail” [Taipei Times; June 21, 2013]
The government is not responding to public concern. The government is the one responsible for causing these problems and it is time for citizens to stand up. This is not an issue about political parties. It is an issue of people unnecessarily being harmed or displaced. It is also an issue of a corrupt culture in all levels of government. A protest was originally scheduled on September 29, 2013 to coincide with the 19th assembly of the KMT. Since the KMT moved the meeting to October 26, 2013, the protest date has been moved as well (post and post by 全國關廠工人連線). A protest is also scheduled on October 10, 2013 (十月十日，天下為「公」-公民1985行動聯盟).