Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Discontent rising among Taiwanese

Anti-nuclear protesters in Taipei on Saturday
So far Taiwanese have been uncannily peaceful, and almost unnaturally patient with government officials, in their protests. That could change 

From the general mood on Saturday, it was hard to imagine that the 100,000 people who protested in downtown Taipei were mobilizing against a policy that, as they interpret it, is a matter of life and death for themselves and — judging by the large number of babies and children — their descendants.

What with the laughter, gaudy costumes, soap bubbles, incessant picture-taking and lively songs, one would think one had chanced upon a festival of some sort, not a rally against an ill-understood form of energy that, in the wake of the nuclear incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan in March 2011, fuels people’s fears of the terrible consequences should a catastrophe occur at one of the nation’s three operational plants. The same could be said about other, large protests held in recent months, such as those targeting the risks of monopolization of the nation’s media.

Festive mood notwithstanding, the issues that have catalyzed protesters are no laughing matter. If we factor in the several, smaller protests held over the past four years, it becomes clear that the general mood that has descended upon Taiwanese is far more somber.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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