This morning I was downtown, and I walked by the legislature. There is a group of people opposed to the DPP’s proposed pension reform who have been protesting outside it for a few weeks now. They label themselves the 800 heroes, and have claimed that if President Tsai persists they will turn into 8000 or maybe even 80,000. However, when I walked by I think there may have been closer to 8 than 80, much less 800. Well, it was lunchtime, so maybe they were busy.
The legislature has beefed up security. The government clearly doesn’t want to allow another occupation of the legislature by protesters.
Anyway, they have lots of signs and banners up identifying their members and stating their views. Let’s look at some of the photos.
This one identifies them as members of various graduating classes from the military academy.
Here they are complaining that their benefits that they were promised are being taken away. This is supposedly the heart of the controversy.
This sign says they are both against unfair pension reform and “mobbing.” Does that mean that they don’t believe protesters should be allowed to affect public decisions? No? Maybe only the “good” protesters should be heard.
“Pension reform; first change the ministers and legislators.” Actually, the Ma administration tried pension reform, but it went nowhere. So just over a year ago, we changed the the ministers and legislators. Public opinion doesn’t seem to be clamoring to change them again just yet.
The sign on the right says, “Oppose Tsai Ing-wen’s cultural revolution-style struggle.”
Wait, what? Did I miss something? While I was looking the other way, did Tsai become tremendously charismatic, institute a cult of personality, mobilize mobs of students to hold a massive demonstration demanding that she sweep away the regular institutions of government and the conservative members of the DPP in order to impose a pension reform? Are those students organizing themselves into paramilitary bands, arresting opponents, and holding struggle sessions? Did I miss that? Well, what exactly do they think happened in the Cultural Revolution? Do they really think it was about pension reform or getting a majority of votes in the national legislature?
Um, maybe a good place to start would be by studying some Chinese history so you don’t make a fool of yourself when you invoke the Cultural Revolution.
Somehow, we don’t seem to be talking about pension reform any more.
Is that what they mean by reviving Chinese culture? Institutionalizing inequality? Ok, maybe that little bit of snarkiness was unfair, but what the heck is this sign asking for? Every democratic constitution in the world sets out formal equality of all citizens as a fundamental principle. Opposing equality is like opposing families or prosperity; you aren’t going to get very far if that is your appeal.
I guess I’m just a bit confused by these protesters. Maybe they are revealing a bit too much about themselves.