Taiwan¡¦s Red Movement: an introduction / Kuan Hsing CHEN
The Red movement to depose President Chen Shui-bian and to oppose corruption of the government marks a new page of democratic movement in Taiwan¡¦s history. The sit in protest began on September 9th, in front of the President¡¦s office, and then moving back and forth to the open square of the Taipei train station. Lasting for one month, with immense intensity, the movement was attended mainly by those who were across gender, class and ethnic lines and never had the experiences with street demonstration. On September 15th and then on October 10th, 2006 over one million people, dressing in red, took the issue to street, expressing their determined will to remove the President from his post.
Though anti-corruption is the surface appeal of this unprecedented movement, it is really the culminating point of an accumulated discontents of the new regime established since 2000. For the Red movement supporters, over the past 6 years, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has not delivered what the new state promised to achieve: a more clean, just and democratic government. Instead, the DPP politicians have continued to reproduce the problems of the old regime, and continued to play ethnic politics, further dividing the population. The escalated discontents finally reached the limits when the President¡¦s inner circle and his family used their privileged positions to acquire personal interests. The image of being ¡§progressive¡¨ and ¡§democratic¡¨ finally broke down.
What makes the movement worth documenting is not simply its intensity, but its non-partisan stand to question the assumptions and practices of political party politics. The Red supporters have expressed strong sentiment against being pushed into either the Green (led by DPP) or the Blue (led by the KMT). In effect, it is a democratic struggle to insert the subjectivity of social power into political arena.
The problem of democracy operating through the form and institution of political party has increasingly and globally been called into question. In the so-called newly democratized countries in Asia, the growing sentiment has been that political parties are and will always be ¡§partisan¡¨, and people feel they are hijacked and abducted by these parties which they just cannot identify. To find ways moving out of the impossible trap has become the desire.
With a strong commitment to rethink the notion of democracy and to find new ways of imagining politics, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies makes the effort to translate the following short pieces, mostly first published in local newspapers, written by members of the Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies (one of our affiliating journals). We also publish images taken by Malaysian intellectuals, TAN Leang Lee and NGOI Guat Peng, who were visiting Taipei during the movement, as an instance of Inter-Asia process.
The editors wish to thank Mon Wong for his time and immense labor in translating these essays.