Sunday, 4 August 2013

Righteous Anger & Hatred By The Hundreds Of Thousands In Taipei

"The demonstration was held on the eve of Hung’s funeral and attracted 200,000 people, according to event organizer and activist group Citizen 1985. Police estimated the crowd as numbering 110,000. 
Among other appeals made by the demonstrators were calls for the Special Investigation Division to immediately launch a probe into the case, a review [of] all similar cases reported in the past and the passage of legislation to allow service personnel to be tried in civilian courts in peace time rather than by court-martial."
Two hundred thousand people is an awful lot; J.M. Cole reports the number as being as high as two hundred and fifty thousand, which is larger than the total number of servicemen in the Army itself. The obvious conclusion to draw is that the ROC Army is now openly regarded with contempt and perhaps outright hatred by a significant proportion of the general public, and that expressing these sentiments in public is no longer feared as it may have been even last year.

The new defense minister Andrew Yang must surely accede to the three demands listed above; if he is to somehow get the military through this crisis and out the other side again in some sort of functional state. A public protest of this size must mean consequences; an organized refusal of "national service" by young men up and down the country until the demands are met? That would be a starting point.

Meanwhile, Cole is worried about the implications of this crisis vis-a-vis the military's ostensible function of deterring PLA aggression...
"I had the very uncomfortable feeling... that the crisis would be a formidable victory for China’s United Front efforts. Destroy Taiwan’s ability to defend itself from the inside, by turning the public against the military. Defeat the enemy without a fight. Such fears were reinforced when the rhetoric turned anti-military."
On the other hand, there is always William Of Ockham's demand for parsimony of explanation; my own feeling is that large numbers of people had already turned against the military years ago - in large measure due to the perceived futility of military resistance to PLA aggression and the uncertainty over possible U.S. support in the event of armed conflict, and probably also due to long-time seething resentment at the organized system of gratuitous abuse that the Army allowed to take place under the sick pretense of compulsory "national service".

For years now I have been asking young Taiwanese men whether they would consider defiance of the command that they "serve the ROC" for a year of their lives by sweeping stairwells, cleaning toilets and other petty acts of ridicule. It might be that this actually starts to happen now.

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