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Taiwan is Sick: Student Protesters Tell the Minister of Education

Last month, Hong Kong based Next Media Ltd. announced its decision to sell its Taiwan print and television operations for HKD4.64 billion (USD 598.7 million) to a number of Taiwanese corporates, including 32% shares to Want Want China Holdings, considered a controversial media giant since its Chairman Tsai Eng-meng has a lot of business ties with mainland China and has been advocating closer cross-strait cooperation through its TV, newspapers and magazines, with their positive reports about China related news.

Foreseeing the adverse impact of the deal, editors and journalists from Taiwan Next Media Group have been demonstrating for editorial independence from the future management, while Taiwanese students have gone on an Anti-Want Want campaign over the past two weeks, to warn the public against the adverse effect of media monopoly.

Protesters, held a press conference outside Executive Yuan on November 27, 2012.  Photo from Facebook Page: I don't Want Want. Non-Commercial Use.

Since November 26, 2012, students started gathering outside the Executive Yuan, demanding [zh] the legislation for Media antimonopoly law, calling for editorial independence agreement within media organizations and against the deal between Next Media Ltd and Want Want China Times. Despite the cold weather and rain, many students stayed overnight and the next day, the students, together with a number of journalism professors and media workers, held a press conference at the protest venue.

Several confrontations between the police and the students took place as the head of Executive Yuan failed to show up and answer their demands; the student activists then decided to hold another gathering on November 29, 2012 outside the Fair Trade Commission. Meanwhile, overseas Taiwanese students have been expressing their support by uploading photos with the following slogans [zh]:

Collage of support photos from Taiwanese students in Europe. Photo from Facebook Page: Taiwan EU Watch. Non Commercial Use.

反對媒體壟斷
拒絕中國黑手
捍衛新聞自由
我在___守護台灣

Against Media Monopoly
Reject the black hand from China
Defend Free Press
Protect Taiwan in_______

Back home, students from eastern and southern part of Taiwan travelled to Taipei to join the November 29 protest. Wang Weilong (黃瑋隆)was among one these students and he made a video to record his feelings and journey:

It turned out that more than 30 universities [zh] had student representatives in the protest and they marched together from the Executive Yuan to the Legislative Yuan so as to put pressure on their representatives to follow up the legislation of anti-media monopoly law.

In reaction to the student protest actions, the head of the Taiwan Education Bureau issued a letter on November 30, 2012 asking various universities’ student affairs offices to pay attention to their students’ health and hand in the list of students who had participated in the protest. The document leaked out and outraged the students who issued a statement [zh] condemning the Education Bureau for being hypocritical in showing their care:

我們要再次呼籲政府勿破壞台灣民主自由的根基。在行政院前,我們面對警棍、盾牌與鎮暴警察;在公平會,我們面對層層拒馬與鐵絲網;回到校園裡,我們又必須被教官、校方關切。我們想告訴蔣偉寧部長:「報告部長,我們有理想,我們想捍衛台灣的言論自由與民主,我們很健康。但是教育部病了,企圖壓制學生運動;而這個國家也病了,她的自由根基正被掏空」。

We appeal to the government not to undermine the foundations of democracy and freedom in Taiwan anymore. We were faced with riot police armed with batons and shields outside Executive Yuan, barricades and iron net outside the Fair Trade Commission. Back to school campus, we have to be cared for by school officers. We want to tell the head of Education Bureau, Chiang Wei-Ling, “Chief, we have a dream, we want to defend Taiwan's democracy and freedom. We are very healthy, but the Education Bureau is sick. It tries to repress the students’ movement. This country is sick, its foundation for freedom has been eroded away.”

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