The Taiwan Association of University Professors is currently staging a hunger strike in Jinan Road, Taipei next to the Legislative Yuan. The hunger strike began on Saturday evening after the 1025 Safeguard Taiwan protest that drew half a million people.
The goal of the hunger strike is to demand changes to the Referendum Law (公投法). An article in Monday’s Taipei Times details the problems with the existing 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.
The law has long been criticized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a “bird cage” law. The DPP has made several attempts to have the law amended over the past several years, but its proposals never clear the legislative floor.
I visited the protest last night. There was a small crowd of around a hundred people supporting the hunger strikers. Two people approached me shortly after I arrived lamenting the fact that they felt powerless and that Taiwan was lost.
The protest was notable for the complete absence of both media and police. Many people, seeing my camera, asked me if I was from the media. Unfortunately a silent sit-down protest is an event that attracts little media attention no matter how worthy its goals might be.
Anti-Ma posters and slogans were abundant. The above poster makes reference to Ma allegedly holding a US green card. Some others were much more explicit in their criticism of Ma. The fact that Ma’s name (馬) also means horse leads it to being used in many words and puns, both good and bad.
There will be more protests over the next week as ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan next Monday. And I am sure they will attract a lot more attention from the media and the police.
Update: More photos in the hunger strike photoset at flickr including photos from Friday night’s “Shine a light on the Legislative Yuan” action.