|Young protesters mobilize in Taipei|
It’s often been said that young Taiwanese are not political enough, naïve, or simply don’t care about politics or the future of their country. Whenever I hear this being said of younger generations, my answer is to tell the (usually older) critics that it isn’t so much that young Taiwanese cannot be mobilized, but that the issues that awaken the fire in their bellies tend to be different, focusing more on matters of social justice than abstract concepts about, say, unification versus independence.
|Who's the monster?|
Earlier this year the chairman of the group and Taiwan’s richest man, Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), denied during an interview with my friend Andrew Higgins of the Washington Post that the events of June 4, 1989, constituted a massacre, a convenient denial for someone who has made his fortune in China. As his empire grows, Tsai has awakened fears in Taiwan that if the CNS deal went through, his group would become a “media monster” with too much control over information and distribution. The National Communications Commission (NCC), Taiwan’s media regulator, needed 18 months to look into the controversial acquisition, and finally have conditional approval last month, which Tsai, contemptuous as ever, said he was not required to follow.
|Very few elderly there|
|Tsai heckling protesters|
Whether the exercise will have any impact on the group or the NCC remains to be seen, but what is known is that young Taiwanese do care about issues and will act if powerful individuals or government are perceived to be compromising their interests and future. Today’s protest was very moving, renewed my hope for Taiwan’s future and confirmed beyond doubt that the nation’s future leaders were somewhere in that crowd.
Some additional thoughts: There are some people out there (usually people from older generations) who will say that efforts like yesterday were “naïve” and ultimately “fruitless.” Some of those people are purportedly friends of Taiwan and presume to speak on behalf of its people in newspaper editorials or at various gatherings. Do not ever let such cynics destroy your sense of purpose or make you doubt whether it’s worth your time and effort. Today’s youth are like that of three decades ago, who fought the first battle to pry this nation from the cold iron claws of authoritarian rule. New, equally daunting challenges lie ahead, and whether Taiwan safely navigates the stormy seas will depend on you, your conviction, and the expression of your leadership. What you did on Saturday was as commendable as it was beautiful. More of that will be required of you.