I met Chen Wei-ting at a café in Dapu in November 2013. I had gone there to visit the fellow activist I'd met in 2003, Lim It-Hong. Lim said he opened his café after he moved to Miaoli from Taichung to get away from the city and a failed marriage. I wonder which came first: the chicken or the egg, because Dapu was where Youth Alliance, young Taiwan independence-supporting activist students from Taipei had come to protest the demolition of four farmers homes bulldozed by the Dapu Borough government to widen a road. They said proper hearings were not held before their land was confiscated. Lim It-Hong let Youth Alliance use his café for meetings. He said he received threats from local gangsters and his café did have windows broken twice.
Chen Wei-ting got into trouble when Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung attempted to visit the family of Chang Sen-wen on Sept. 18 after the farmer had committed suicide. Chang’s family and friends blocked his entrance. Liu was hit by a sneaker during the confrontation. Chen Wei-ting later admitted he threw the sneaker and Liu filed a lawsuit against him.
Chen Wei-Ting, the acknowleged leader of the student activists that took over the Taiwan legislature a few days ago, swaggered into the café that day, proud of the sneaker on display in a plastic box there on the shelf. The young man was basking in the limelight and brazen about being sued for throwing the sneaker.
I stayed in his café until 8pm talking with Lim and his protégées Fu Wei-Chi, Chen Wei-ting and others about joining the union. As a delegate, I described Rusty's Rules of Order and the IWW. I gave them a CD of a Taichung radio interview I had done ten years ago and a Mandarin Chinese IWW introduction booklet. They weren’t interested in workers unions, they said; only property rights. I retorted that if the bulldozer drivers that raised the house in Miaoli were union, they wouldn’t have crossed the picket line. They couldn’t disagree. I was offered dinner and told that there would be a meeting that evening that I was welcome to attend.
Lim It-Hong claimed that Youth Alliance was independent and not politically aligned with the Democratic Progressive Party. Lim himself claimed to be non-aligned even though I had met him eleven years earlier on introduction from FAPA (Formosan Association for Public Affairs) members in Flushing, New York. FAPA is a lobbyist group for American interests in Taiwan. Some members, like David Chou and David Chu, even proposed Taiwan become the 51st State in a 1999 New York Times article!
Despite claims of being non-political, into the café that day walked DPP Deputy Director for the Department of Hakka Affairs, Fi Chen Liu. She was there to attend the meeting, too. Why was she there to support these non-political student activists? I smelled a fish and it wasn’t coming from my dish.
The on-going student protest in Taiwan's legislature building is about a trade pact between Taiwan and China being pushed by the Kuomintang. The secret pact would affect workers rights, not property rights, unless the property in question is Taiwan itself. Nothing has been said about the how the property of Taiwan has been corralled by the influence of United States of America since the puppet Kuomintang took power from the indigenous Taiwanese in 1947 after Japan’s defeat in WW II. The U.S. corporate government has used Taiwan as a listening post, an R&R for American soldiers fighting in South Korea and Vietnam, and as a sweatshop for military industry and consumers. They'd hate to let it become independent or lose it to China.
I smell that fish again.
This is the fifth day of the student occupation of the legislature. The ruling KMT and President Ma Ying-Jeou have refused to talk with the protesters or back down from their goal to pass the trade pact with China. Tens of thousands of supporters wait outside while Chen Wei-ting with two-hundred Youth Alliance, Cooloud, and other student activists swelter in the un-air-conditioned chamber and piss into bottles because of shut-down plumbing. Their only protection from violence is untouchable elected DPP members who stand guard at the chamber doors; thousand of police and S.W.A.T. teams wait outside getting ready to storm in on a signal from the ruling party.
Whoever wins this battle in the tug-of-war for Taiwan, the Chinese leaning Kuomintang or the American leaning Democratic Progressive Party, the workers of Taiwan are the forgotten losers in the political battle. Until all workers are allowed to form workers unions and there is collective bargaining agreement, until there is a living wage, work-place safety, compensation, and pension for all workers, until there is job security and overtime pay for hours worked over forty a week, until there are full-time jobs for all who wish to work, until that happens, it doesn’t matter if the fish is black or white. Workers are suffering on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. It stinks either way.
For One Big Union,
For One Big Union,